London-Heathrow welcomes first passenger-carrying Boeing 747 in eight months  

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London’s Heathrow Airport hosted a visit by a passenger-carrying Boeing 747 on March 26, 2024. Such an occurrence would not have caused anyone to raise an eyebrow pre-pandemic. Yet in an age where there are increasingly few 747s left carrying passengers in the world, the visit of a Lufthansa 747-8 to London’s primary airport marked the first time in eight months that a passenger variant of the ‘Queen of the Skies’ has touched down at the airport.  

The aircraft in question, registered D-ABYG and operating Lufthansa flight LH463 departed Miami on the evening of March 25, 2024. The flight departed the Florida airport at 18:15 for a routine eight-hour flight back to Frankfurt, Germany where the aircraft also happens to be based.  

However, while cruising across the Atlantic at 29,000ft (8.700m), the crew of LH463 alerted air traffic controllers they had an emergency onboard and requested to divert to Dublin Airport (DUB) in Ireland. However, following further discussions, the crew then revised their choice of alternate and elected to head to London-Heathrow instead of Dublin. The aircraft touched down on Heathrow’s runway 09L at 05:58 local time.  


Having spent a little over two hours on a widebody stand at Heathrow’s Terminal 2, the aircraft then departed at 08:19 for its onward flight to Frankfurt.  This leg lasted a mere 57 minutes with the aircraft arriving at the German airport at 10:16 local time.  

The visit of the Lufthansa jumbo was the first visit by a 747 in passenger configuration since July 2023. Coincidentally, on that previous occasion, it was also a Lufthansa 747 gracing the London airport with its presence in the form of a 747-400 registered D-ABVZ. It just so happens that this visit was also a diversion due to an onboard medical emergency and was flight LH471 from Toronto (YYZ) to Frankfurt. 

It is likely that on both occasions, Heathrow is Lufthansa’s preferred option for transatlantic diversions as the carrier has both staff and ground handling in place at the airport, and also has numerous flights from Heathrow to German airports daily should passengers need to be re-accommodated in the case of an aircraft technical issue.        

According to the aviation database Cirium, D-ABYG is one of just 53 commercial passenger-carrying 747s left flying in the world, and as such, visits to airports where once 747s were commonplace are set to become even rarer.   

D-ABYG first flew in January 2013 and was delivered to Lufthansa in March 2013. The aircraft is configured to carry 364 passengers in a four-class configuration (eight first class, 80 business class, 32 in premium economy, and 244 in economy class). 

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