Like many airlines based in the United States, Delta was an early buyer of the 747. The first jet, a -100 model, was delivered in early October of 1970.
The hulking aircraft flew its first scheduled service for the airline several weeks later, on Oct. 25. The first route was between Atlanta and Los Angeles, with a stop in Dallas. Also like many of the early airlines to fly the 747, Delta took full advantage of the aircraft’s size and modernity to provide the best in passenger comfort. The jet was the first in Delta’s fleet to offer overhead bins instead of racks, according to the Delta Museum, a non-profit that collects and archives Delta-related history.
The airline also offered personal audio systems for passengers, giving passengers several choices of channels that included both the Beatles and Beethoven. Delta’s 747 also had one of the more unique upper decks, splitting the small, cozy space between a first class lounge and a private, penthouse suite. The latter, named the “Private Penthouse”, cost the equivalent of five one-way fares and operated between Chicago and Miami, and Los Angeles and Atlanta, according the museum. The good times did not last for Delta and its 747, however. The airline decided in 1974 that the jets were too big and began trading them back to Boeing. The “Queen of the Skies” was all but gone from the Delta fleet by April 1977, the jet’s role largely taken over by the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. That would have probably been the end of Delta’s history with the 747 had it not been for the airline’s acquisition of Northwest Airlines, which closed in 2008.
With that, Delta welcomed the 747 back into its fold. With Northwest, Delta acquired 16 passenger 747-400s, two passenger 747-200s (used for charter), and 12 747-200 freighters. MORE : Midair vows: Pilot marries flight attendant on last Delta 747 flight Delta retired the -200 passenger fleet in September of 2009. The smaller freighter fleet wasn’t far behind, retiring in late December, 2009. Delta’s passenger -400 fleet held on strong, lasting for almost another decade. The jets operated mainly out of Delta’s Atlanta and Detroit hubs before finally settling on the latter in their last years. After more than a year of phasing out the jet again, Delta flew its final remaining Boeing 747 to an Arizona scrapyard on Jan. 3, 2018. TODAY IN THE SKY : Delta Air Lines sends off its Boeing 747s with grand farewell tour