Delta Air Lines 747 Said “Sayonara” as It Operated Its Last Flight Out of Japan Yesterday

Delta Air Lines 747 Said "Sayonara" to Japan as It Operated Its Last Flight Out of Tokyo Yesterday

Yesterday, Delta Air Lines 747-400 got one step closer to its retirement as it operated its last flight out of Japan.

The flight, DL276 to Detroit, was pushed back at 6:23PM – about half an hour behind its scheduled departure time of 5:50PM – and took off from Narita’s runway 34L at 6:53PM.

A look at how Delta Air Lines sent off its Queen of the Skies from Japan follows.

THANK YOU 747-400 Photo Contest

The farewell started with Delta Air Lines making a Japanese website dedicated to the 747 and organizing a pair of 747-themed contests – a photo contest and a story-writing contest. The results of the photo contest were announced on September 25, 2017.

Delta Air Lines Japan Thank You 747-400 Website

The absolute winner of the contest got to join the last flight to Detroit while other selected participants got to participate in the farewell event that I will talk about below. Furthermore, all of the selected participants’ photos were used for promotional materials for the last flight and are exhibited in Narita airport’s terminal 1 for now.

When I visited the area yesterday, the selected contestants as well as the crew of the last flight were enjoying the exhibition.

Delta Air Lines Thank You 747-400 Photocontest Winner

The winning photo.
Photocontest Goods

Postcards with contestants’ photos.
Delta Air Lines Last 747 Out of Japan Pilots

Two of the pilots of the last flight posing in front of the photo exhibition.

Slightly Delayed Arrival of DL275

Moving on to the actual flight, the inbound flight from Detroit landed on runway 34L at 4:34PM, just as the sun was setting. And, it parked at its arrival gate 26 at 4:37PM.

Delta Air Lines 747-400 Taxiing to its Gate in Japan Last Time

Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-400 taxiing to its gate at Tokyo Narita one last time.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 During Sunset

Sun setting over Delta 747.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Last Arrival in Japan

Thanks to the delay, the aircraft arrived during sunset.

In the meantime, the departure gate area was already set up with banners and posters commemorating the event.

Delta's B747 Flying into Retirement

747 Panel


Delta Air Lines 747-400 Japan Farewell Ceremony

Then, shortly before 5PM, the farewell ceremony started.

First, one of the two Captains of the flight gave a brief speech. Among other things, he mentioned how the 747 has been pioneering travel across pacific for almost half a century and he even went on to compare the 747 to DC-3:

Historians will compare what the 747 has done for international flight to what the DC-3 did for domestic aviation in the United States.

Delta 747 Last Tokyo Captain Speech

The first Captain giving his speech.

Then, he continued:

A lot of things have started on the 747. There have been babies that were born on the airplane, there have been friendships that have been made on the airplane, and there have been marriages that have started on the airplane.

And, with that he introduced one of the two First Officers of the flight who started with saying that the day was special for him personally – and shared the following story:

About 30 years ago, I met a flight attendant who would eventually become my wife on a 747 flight from Narita to Chicago. 24 years ago this month, we became engaged on a 747 from Narita to Detroit. Also, today is my last flight at Delta Air Lines before I retire. My wife and I have the privilege of being part of the crew on this last 747 flight from Narita to Detroit.

First Officer

One of the two First Officers giving a speech.
First Officer with Wife

The First Officer and his wife – one of the crew members as well.

Once the speeches were over, the two Captains of the flight as well as Chief Purser were handed bouquets.

Delta Air Lines 747 Japan Farewell

The two Captains and Chief Purser after receiving their bouquets.
Captains with Bouquets

The two Captains of the last Delta 747 flight into Tokyo.
First Officer

The “747 Couple.”

Finally, the crew as well as other Delta Air Lines staff posed for group photos.

Delta Air Lines 276 Crew

Crew of the last Delta 747-400 flight out of Japan.
Delta Air Lines 747 Last Flight to Tokyo Crew with Other Delta Staff

Crew of the last Delta 747-400 flight out of Japan together with other Delta Air Lines staff.

The Last Delta Air Lines 747-400 Departure from Japan

With the ceremony done, it was time for the passengers to board and for some of us to go down on the ramp to send off the flight.

Delta 747-400

The Queen of the Skies waiting for its last departure out of Tokyo.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 at Gate Last Time in Tokyo

…and from the side.

Many Delta Air Lines employees gathered there to say goodbye to the 747 – and to take one last photo with the aircraft.

Staff Posing with Delta 747

Delta Air Lines staff taking one last selfie with the Queen of the Skies.
Delta Air Lines Narita Airport Terminal 1

Delta Air Lines 747 and Narita Airport Terminal 1 – a combination that is now, sadly, part of history.

They also posed with a big “THANK YOU 747-400” banner before sending the aircraft off.

Thank You 747 Banner

Delta Air Lines staff posing in front of the 747.

And then, finally, at 6:23PM, the aircraft was pushed back with the “Delta crowd” following it as far as was possible.

Delta 747-400 Last Push Back Tokyo

…and sending it off – the staff followed the aircraft with the banner as far as was possible.

Even though it was fairly cold and the wind was strong, tens of people waited to see the final take-off which came at 6:53PM and brought with it the end of yet another Boeing 747 at Narita airport.

Ready to Taxi

Ready to take-off from Tokyo one last time.

From today, the flight to Detroit will be operated by the A350, but more on that later!

In the meantime, check out my report about the Detroit to Narita flight onboard the Delta 747 that I took earlier this year…

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