Airline bids farewell to its jumbo jets by inviting fans for a business class lunch

Julia Buckley, CNNUpdated 4th December 2020
Virgin Atlantic is retiring its 747 fleet -- but not without giving fans the chance to say goodbye
(CNN) — As the pandemic has continued to ravage the aviation industry, airlines worldwide have rushed to speed up the retirement programs of their aging Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
But while fliers might not be likely to get airborne with the "Queen of the Skies" again, one airline is giving her a proper send-off -- by allowing fans to come and spend the day with her before she's taken out of action.
Virgin Atlantic -- an airline that launched with a 747 flying from London to New York City -- is planning what it calls "the ultimate 747 experience" for fans of the aircraft on December 12 at Heathrow.
At the Virgin Atlantic hangar there, pilots, cabin crew and engineers, all of whom have worked with the 747, will welcome fans for a three-hour experience, starting with an access-all-areas tour, and even including a meal in Upper Class seats.

Fancy onboard food

The three-course a la carte meal will be "inspired by Virgin Atlantic's onboard cuisine."
Participants will quaff Champagne on the coveted upper deck, snap a selfie in one of the engines, and tour the aircraft -- including sleeping areas for crew, the cargo hold and the flight deck.
They'll also hear anecdotes about the 747 from those who used to fly her, including Yvonne Kershaw, Virgin's first female 747 Captain.
Virgin is retiring its jumbo fleet in favor of Airbus A350-1000s and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which are less damaging to the environment. These twin-engine aircraft are on average 30% more fuel efficient than the jumbo jets, according to the airline.
Tickets, costing £50 ($67), go on sale on Monday 7 December at 9 a.m. GMT via Eventbrite, although "avgeeks" will need to be quick -- numbers are restricted to ensure social distancing. The proceeds will be donated to the Trussell Trust, which supports food banks in the UK.