EL AL Farewell B747 by Drawing special 747 plane in the sky
EL AL Farewell B747 by Drawing special 747 plane in the sky

EL AL Farewell B747 by Drawing Special 747 Plane in the Sky

EL AL is ending the service of their B747, after 48 years of operation. The Israeli airline celebrated their "Queen of the Sky" with 2 special flights from Tel Aviv to Rome and back last weekend. These flights were only available for EL AL Matmid Frequent Flyer Club members. A roundtrip on the last B747 flight cost:

  • 747 Matmid Points in Business Class
  • 400 Matmid Points in Economy Class

The seats were sold out within days. I was invited on-board one of these special flights as media. In fact, I think I was the only non Jewish or non Israeli passenger!

a large white airplane on a tarmac
a man standing in front of an airplane

Seat Map of EL AL B747-400

EL AL B747-400 has 55 Business Class seats (8 were old First Class seats) and 348 Economy Class seats.

a plane with seats and seats

Flight LY1744 Tel Aviv to Rome

There was a "Goodbye 747" sign on most of the check-in desks for this special flight. A reception was held at the gate which displayed a lot of EL AL B747 pictures and unforgettable moments. The Boeing 747 plays an important role in EL AL history, including carrying over 1,100 Ethiopian Jews to Israel on a single B747; which is still the World Record.

a blue card with a picture of a man in a hat on it
a blue and white sign with numbers
a group of people in white robes
a group of people posing for a photo
a group of men posing for a picture

The Flight

The flight was definitely an unusual one, with flight attendants welcoming guests while dressed in farewell B747 T-shirts (I was later given one of these special T-shirt's to celebrate the occasion).

a group of people posing for a picture

Our flight was operated by Captain Maoz Tsur and F/O Ayal Perry; the aircraft registration was 4X-ELC. Flight time to Rome was 3 hours cruising at FL 36,000.

a group of men in a cockpit
a map of the world
two men in the cockpit of an airplane
a white and blue towel with a picture of a plane and a woman sitting on a boat
Every seat has a special head rest cover, special menu and even the B747 is printed on the bottle water.

Many of the 18 crew who operated this flight were family, including the 2 pursers who are husband and wife; the Captain's daughter was also a flight attendant.

a man and woman sitting on an airplane

The Economy Class meal included a choice of omelette or blintzes (pancakes with sweet cheese) while Business Class meals included egg shakshuka or fried rosti vegetable.

a tray of food on a table
a woman serving a tray of food to a woman on an airplane
a man serving food to a man on an airplane

Look at these first generation IFE screens on the B747-400. EL AL was one of the first airlines to introduce personal TV screen in 1994, on their first B747-400.

an airplane wing with two engines
Wing of EL AL B747-400

The flight was an "open cockpit" flight. Who would've thought that the world's most "secured" airline would allow you to visit the flight deck during a flight?

The atmosphere on this flight was "super", just like on all the other B747 farewell flights I have had.

a group of men in a plane

After 3 hours, we landed on runway 16R in Rome FCO. We received a water cannon salute before taxing to the gate. It was Captain Maoz Tsur's last landing on the B747-400. It was a perfect landing!

two men in the cockpit of an airplane
two men in the cockpit of an airplane
two men in the cockpit of an airplane
a group of people wearing matching t-shirts
a group of people posing for a photo

LY1747 Rome to Tel Aviv

After 2 days weekending in Rome, on Sunday it was time to fly the last ever EL AL B747-400 back to Tel Aviv. EL AL were making sure that this flight would be extra special.

There was another gate ceremony, with flight attendants dressed in retro uniforms (circa 1970s).

a large sign with a man in a suit and a plane
two women in orange uniforms
a group of people posing for a photo
a cake with white frosting and brown text
a man holding a camera and smiling with a group of people in the background

This flight was headed by EL AL's Boeing 747 fleet manager, Captain Jonathan Gat and F/O Ayal Perry. We departed 30 minutes late and were finally airborne around 11:10 local time. Departure was from Runway 25 and we headed straight out to the sea.

two men in the cockpit of an airplane
two men in the cockpit of an airplane

We carried a total of 434 persons on-board including extra crew and their families. Every seat, including the jumpseat and crew rest, was filled, as there were so many who came to bid a farewell to the B747-400.

a woman and two children on an airplane

On this flight, there were special bartenders serving special cocktails to all passengers. Lunch consisted of Lasagna or cannelloni. Special farewell 747 chocolate's and tiramisu's were handed out to all.

a man standing behind a table with bottles and a silver shaker
a woman holding a tray of jars
a group of boxes with a picture on them

I enjoyed my lunch inside the best office, the cockpit at 36,000 ft. Other passengers were also allowed to visit the cockpit during the flight.

a group of men in the cockpit of an airplane
a group of people in a plane

Drawing a Boeing 747 in the sky

After 1.5 hours, we descended to 10,000 ft. Passengers were treated to a special show in the sky, a drawing of a Boeing 747.

an airplane wing with clouds in the background
Wing of EL AL B747-400

The idea was from EL AL's marketing department and it was a long planned precise operation by the flight department. Over 80 additional way points were entered into FMC (Flight management computer) to ensure the drawing would be precise.

The speed of the plane was lowered between 180-200 knots during the drawing to ensure that it could turn slowly and precisely. ATC over Nicosia (Cyrpus) were informed.

a screenshot of a computer
Flight path of EL AL Last B747 flight LY1747
a screenshot of a computer screen
EL AL B747 sky drawing flight plan
a screenshot of a computer screen
EL AL B747 sky drawing flight plan

It took nearly 2 hours to complete the complex drawing. During that time FlightRadar24 and other tracking apps were covering our flight. We received flight messages from EL AL that said "you're looking good, the engines are perfect".

a piece of paper with black text on it

The cabin was quiet during this special activity as the plane was doing many turns at various speeds. Most passengers were seated and strapped in, but many took to looking out of the window. The captain increased speed during straight line travel but had to reduce speed during the turns, to make sure the drawing kept the correct shape.

a graph with a line
Speed and Altitude graph of EL AL Flight LY1747
a screen with a map on it
a map of the world with a line of planes
Flight path of EL AL Last B747 flight LY1747

After we completed the drawing, the entire cabin erupted with cheers and joy.

We climbed back to 31,000 ft and continued our remaining journey into Tel Aviv.

Before the end of the flight every passenger was presented with these retro postcards, including a flight certificate.

two women holding a shirt with writing on it
a group of men in a plane

My thoughts

In closing, I want to thank you EL AL for inviting me on this special 747 farewell flight experience. The pilots, flight attendants and all the passengers I met were super friendly towards me. They figured out that I had come a long way to be there and they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. They gave me the best treatment, everywhere I went inside the 747.

Because the love of this airplane 747 and aviation, I got to meet many interesting people and had many great experiences around the globe. Because of the 747, it brings many of us together. It doesn’t matter our background, colour or religion. Aviation connects the globe, it unite us, not divides us. I hope you enjoyed the last flight of El Al B747 coverage.

There will be a detailed video on YouTube this Saturday.