Delta's Queen of the Skies took a victory lap across the country on Dec. 18.

Delta’s Queen of the Skies (N674US) took a victory lap across the country on Dec. 18

With Delta Air Lines’ last 747 now in the boneyard at Pinal Airpark in Arizona, we thought it would be a good time to look back at the next-to-last farewell tour in late December when it visited both the Boeing plant of its birth and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

N674US taxiing at Paine Field in Everett. Wash. Photo: Jordan Arens

N674US taxiing at Paine Field in Everett – Photo: Jordan Arens

This particular bird (N674US – LN: 1232) first flew on September 30, 1999 and was delivered to Northwest in October of that year. It was transferred to Delta’s fleet in June of 2009 and flew with the airline until being put out to pasture. With the retirement of these iconic planes from Delta’s fleet, no U.S.-based passenger airline flies them any longer (unless you count Atlas and their charters).

Emigrating in style - 9K on EK016 LGW to DXB - photo: Alastair Long| AirlineReporter

Emigrating in style – 9K on EK016 LGW to DXB – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter

I recently took a job in Hong Kong, swapping the grey skies of London for a life-changing experience in the fascinating Asian city. For my big life transition, I treated myself to Emirates (EK) business class and an upstairs berth in one of the carrier’s Airbus A380-800s. Taking a slightly more scenic route meant an overall journey time of roughly 16.5 hours (versus approx. 12 hours on a direct flight from the UK). That also included a 2.5 hour stopover in Dubai (DXB) en route. I decided to experience transiting the city for the first time ever, and also wanted to take advantage of their checked baggage allowance. I was not shipping possessions separately to Hong Kong. However, I mainly wanted to sit upstairs on the big bird!

Delta 757 on approach

A Delta 757 in the Sky Team livery on approach to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

The recent announcement by Delta Air Lines that it will be ordering 100 new Airbus A321neo jets could put a nail, or perhaps rivet, into the coffin of a 757 replacement.

I knew this Delta announcement was coming years ago when I was working for Boeing and had an insightful chat with a very high-ranking Boeing executive. The chat was not in a public forum, so I will not say who it was, but trust me – this person knew what he was talking about. He told me that he felt Delta may never buy from Boeing again. He went on to talk about how Delta’s former CEO, Richard Anderson, and its current leadership, was pretty much married to the French conglomerate

Prior to Delta, Anderson made a couple of big Airbus purchases while heading Northwest Airlines. Delta’s entire A319, A320 and A330 fleet comes from Northwest. So what’s this have to do with the flirtation of a new 757?  Delta is far and above the biggest 757 user with 128 757s, a total that was boosted after the 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. United’s the next-largest passenger carrier at 77 and American is third with 52. The aircraft is still popular in the US, but not as much overseas.

A cargo pallet is lowered away from the opened nose of an SIA Cargo 744F.

A cargo pallet is lowered away from the opened nose of an SIA Cargo 744F.

I know, I know… everyone and their mom does “year-end review” stories. I am adding one more. Really, this is more for me and our team to look back to see what and how we did for the year. While I am at it, I might as well share, right?

This was the first full year where I sort of half-assed it. Probably not the right word to use, but I am going with it. July 2018 will mark the 10th year I have been running this site. A decade. For many of those years we published one story per weekday, week after week. That takes quite a bit of time. Even just editing and formatting another person’s story can take hours. And all those emails — they never stop.

I was driven by passion and love of airplanes. I also was hoping to make this a full-time business. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to try to make that happen and I hated it. I started to lose the love for the site and that wasn’t cool. So, I decided to get a job that I love and turn AR back into a hobby. This was the right call — I am happier now than I have been in a long time.

We flew over 317,000 miles for 2017! Image: GCMap.com

Of course there have been consequences. We have moved from a very consistent five stories per week to one, two, maybe three. I think there was one or two weeks with zero.  I wish we could have daily content — I love reading our stories myself. However, the time commitment wasn’t sustainable, and that’s okay.

The number of stories might be down, but I don’t think we have half-assed the quality of our content. I am really proud of our stories and what we have been able to accomplish this year. I feel so grateful to have so many amazingly talented and passionate folks that have been able to share their experiences on AR.

Of course it is nicer when we write stories and people are there to read them. As expected, our traffic is down compared to previous years, but not as much as I thought. We still had over 3 million visitors to the site in 2017 and we’ve grown to over 100,000 Twitter followers. A huge thank you for sticking around with us, and hello to our new friends!

Alright, let’s move a bit away from the emotional stuff and let’s get into some stats (hey, we have something for everyone here).