A few years ago when JAL retired it’s last B747-200SUD on a final return trip from HNL to NRT, it was met with much fanfare, filled with people who bought tickets in advance specifically to be on that last flight.  I used to avoid the HNL-NRT run if I couldn’t get the later flight that was downsized to a newer B767 to specifically avoid that plane.  It was stinky, creaky, noisy, and uncomfortable, yet some people found some sort of nostalgia in all of that – enough to pay a premium to be on that last flight.  I was on it a couple of weeks before that final flight, and I don’t miss that old bird one bit.  

Last October as part of its bankruptcy reorganization, JAL downsized the Hawaii-bound equipment to B767’s except for one B747-400 on the high-volume route.  B747’s were even deleted from the CONUS and EU routes in favor of newer, more fuel-efficient B777’s.  Now, that last remaining B747-400 in JAL’s passenger fleet, tail number JA 8089, will be retired in March.  I’m not sure whether it will be replaced by a B777, or maybe two B767’s with an added flight number and departure time.  Whatever the case, I’m sure it was a lack of appropriate equipment to replace it that stayed the executioner’s hand.  Unlike the final flight of the old SUD, I’m a bit ambivalent about the last flight of the 400 in JAL livery.  If they replace it with a triple, the number of available seats to Japan will decrease, and there will be yet another factor driving the airfares up.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind riding in a newer piece of equipment.

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