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Another airline says goodbye to the Boeing 747

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/22/2017 Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, special for USA TODAY
Flight attendants serving on EVA Air's last passenger Boeing 747 take photos of one another before departing Hong Kong for Taipei, Taiwan, on the carrier's final revenue 747 flight on Aug. 21, 2017. © Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, special for USA TODAY Flight attendants serving on EVA Air's last passenger Boeing 747 take photos of one another before departing Hong Kong for Taipei, Taiwan, on the carrier's final revenue 747 flight on Aug. 21, 2017.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Another airline has said its final goodbye to the Boeing 747 passenger jet. That come Monday as Taiwan-based EVA Air retired its last passenger version of the jumbo jet in Taipei. 

Throngs of aviation enthusiasts gathered in Hong Kong to join the airplane for its final flight to EVA's Taipei headquarters. Pressed against the glass, they snapped photos and traded stories with one another while waiting to board.

“This is part of the reason I joined the aviation-industry,” said passenger Benjamin Hui of Hong Kong before boarding the jet. Hui worked as a loadmaster on the jet, and EVA 747s were some of the first airplanes he serviced.

On the flight deck, Capt. Dave Grose and first officer Ali Shu were readying the airplane for its final departure but found it tough to get any work done, thanks to the never-ending queue of passengers hoping to pay them a visit. Fliers packed the airplane's cozy upper deck and clogged the stairwell in the moments before pushback and taxi. Visitors snapped photos, posed for selfies, and asked the two pilots to sign all manner of memorabilia.

“This is a little bit crazy,” laughed Grose.

 

That chaotic vibe continued once airborne. Within moments of the seat-belt sign turning off, passengers flooded the aisles, galleys and even the lavatories. It was all part of an effort to take in as much of EVA's 747 as they could. Flight attendants hurried about the jet as they worked to complete a meal service for all 370 passengers on the short, 1-hour, 17-minute flight.

After landing, enthusiasts rifled through seat-back pockets for unclaimed safety cards, taking them as unofficial momentos of the experience. A line once again formed for the two pilots, though this time down on the main deck.

For a jet that has served many airlines since the 1970s -- especially in Asia -- EVA's nearly 25-year run is comparatively short. But the addition of the plane to the EVA fleet in 1992 enabled the then-fledgling airline to spread its wings on trans-Pacific routes that had previously been beyond its reach.

EVA added Los Angeles first, in late 1992, before expanding to New York and Seattle the following year. EVA's 747 went on to serve 28 cities in its tenure with the company, airline officials said.

 

EVA also used the plane’s unique size to roll out one of the first premium economy cabins in the industry, making it one of the first with four classes of service (first, business, premium economy and economy).

When the airline cut first class from its jets, EVA installed economy seats on the airplane's considerably more-private-feeling upper deck, a perk almost exclusively limited to business class passengers on most airlines.

Related Video: Boeing 747's first commercial flight (Provided by CBS News)

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As for Monday's retirement, it comes roughly two years after the airline retired its fleet of 747-400 “combi” jets, a variant of the plane that could hold both passengers and freight on the main deck. The airline will continue to use its fleet of 747 cargo jets until 2019.

EVA's passenger 747 is exiting the airline's fleet at a time when many of the other carriers that have flown the "Queen of Skies" have already made similar moves. In the U.S., the last two 747 operates -- Delta and United -- each plan to retire the jet by the end of 2017.

EVA is planning to hold a big retirement ceremony for the passenger 747s on Thursday in Taipei. Afterward, the aircraft will join its already departed brethren at a scrapyard in the United States.

“It's emotional; now they're gone,” said passenger Hui. “Maybe I need to retire also!”

See Gallery: 11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Airplanes (Provided by Travel + Leisure)

11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Airplanes: <p>Planes have changed a lot since the days of the Wright Brothers (or, perhaps more accurately, <a href="http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/who-flew-first-290750/?no-ist">Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos</a>). Those first wood-and-cloth contraptions are an entirely different species than the sleek Boeing Dreamliners of today.</p><p>With the continual advancements in aerospace technology, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing things planes today are capable of doing (and withstanding). Below, 11 things you didn’t know about airplanes and air travel.</p> 11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Airplanes  

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