‘Why I paid $400 for a flight to nowhere’
A planeload of passengers have paid more than $100,000 in combined airfares to be aboard a prestigious flight from Brisbane to… Brisbane.
Why? Because "it's the end of an era."
QF747 was the last ever 747 flight to depart Brisbane, leaving the airport at 10.30am on Wednesday and embarking on an hour-long 'jumbo jet joy flight' around Moreton Island, before landing, again, at Brisbane Airport.
Economy tickets on the farewell flight set passengers back $400 while business-class seats carried a whopping - but fitting - price tag of $747.
The cost was no deterrent, with tickets selling out in minutes to 264 proud passengers.
"I swore to myself I would do anything to be on one of the final 747 flights," said '747 superfan' Sara Gul.
"I was lucky enough to get a ticket from my friend who booked two… and I've flown up from Sydney for today," she said.
Plane enthusiasts Andrew Dyason and Nikolai Blok recalled hoping and 'clicking madly' in a rush for tickets.
"It was like getting tickets to a concert… we just snagged it," Mr Dyason said.
"Just after it came up tickets had sold out, so we were really happy."
Their plan for the flight was simple: "Have a drink and shed a tear," and pay homage to 'the plane that dreams are made of'.
Today - the scion of a 'magnificent' air fleet was a 'truly sad sight' - according aviation historian and veteran traffic controller Ron Cuskelly
The 70-year-old was immaculately groomed, his suit adorned with pins commemorating a 31-year career with Qantas.
In his hands he held two tickets. One guaranteed a seat on the 747 farewell flight; the other was a boarding pass for QF053D on December 12, 1971 - the first ever Boeing 747 flight into Brisbane.
They were 'bookmarks of an era'.
Almost 50 years on, Mr Cuskelly vividly remembered his first glimpse of the Queen of the Skies.
"It had beautiful colours … beautiful, bright, fresh," Mr Cuskelly recalled.
"You'd see passengers walking around with their mouths opened in wonderment."
That novelty never wore off.
"They've built bigger aeroplanes that carry more passengers, but they're not as beautiful," Mr Cuskelly said.
"They made it possible for a lot of people to travel who wouldn't otherwise have been able to."
Qantas also used the 747 to charter a world-record-setting (at the time) rescue flight that carried 673 passengers out of Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974, following the devastation of Cyclone Tracy.
"She was iconic to the very end," Mr Dyason said.
Originally published as 'Why I paid $400 for a flight to nowhere'