Flying China’s Broken Air Force One – Air China B747-400

I made an attempt to fly on China’s former Air Force One - an Air China B747-400 but the plane broke down after boarding. What happened?

The former Chinese Air Force One; B-2472 was used until 2020 and returned to Air China’s fleet. It is currently deployed on domestic trunk routes such as Beijing to Shenzhen. I started my journey at Beijing Capital Int’l Airport with a visit to the Air China domestic lounge. Boarding was swift and the B747-400 is showing its age with old recliner seats in Business Class.

After pushback and engine start, we returned to the gate due to an unspecified mechanical issue. The delay went on for almost three hours and passengers were finally swapped to an even older B747-400; 28 years old B-2447 which was used by President Jiang Zemin before return back to Air China service. During the delay, passengers were furious with how Air China handled such an unexpected issue.

The replacement 747 took off fast and climbed straight to 38,000 ft. I documented the in-flight service and tour around the whole plane. It was nostalgic to be able to fly on one of the last active B747-400 in China. The landing in Shenzhen was an extremely smooth one.