Believe it or not there are still a number of airlines flying what we consider to be classic airliners, and it’s possible to fly on them just by booking a regular scheduled flight.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the days of Boeing 707s, Douglas DC-8s and BAC One-Elevens are sadly gone and I don’t think we’ll ever see them back.
But there are a bunch of what are now increasingly considered classic airliners – namely those built from the 1960s to 1980s, and even some older types, still carrying passengers. Here are just some that you could fly this year:
Douglas DC-3 Buffalo Airways
After a brief spell where the famous airline of Canada’s wild north was grounded for breaching regulations, it is now clear to begin flying again.
Buffalo Airways is the only airline in the world to still fly the Douglas DC-3 on scheduled services, linking Yellowknife with Hay River. Book online at www.buffaloairways.com
With the recent relaxing of sanction on Iran, we are on the verge of seeing massive change within the country’s airline’s. However, at present the national carrier Iran Air still flies a few elderly Airbus A300B2 and B4 models on domestic and regional routes from Tehran. This is your last chance to catch these classic European wide-bodies before they’re retired or turned into cargo carrying aircraft.
Air Transat is the largest operator of Airbus A310 aircraft in passenger service. They are common on flights across the Atlantic, linking Canada with France, Germany and the United Kingdom amongst others. It’s sometimes difficult to predict whether you’ll get an A310 or A330, but with a bit of research this is a good opportunity to fly on this type before it disappears.
Like with Iran Air and its A300s, Iran Aseman is likely to revitalise its fleet now that sanctions on Iran have been lifted. At present it is one of the only airlines to fly the Boeing 727 in passenger service, and usually on domestic flights, or flights linking Tehran to Dubai. I’d book sooner rather than later, as the first 737-400s are already joining the fleet as a replacement!
A number of operators to Canada’s remote northern communities still use the rugged Boeing 737-200 in a combi (mixed freight and passenger) configuration. These aircraft were once so common, but now are becoming incredibly rare.
Air Inuit is one such carrier, flying their 737-200Cs on flights between Montreal, La Grande and Puvirnituq. Book online at www.airinuit.com
Most of the shorter Boeing 767-200s that were so common in the 1980s and 90s have now been scrapped or turned into freighters. One airline still operating a decent-sized fleet in passenger service is Thailand’s Jet Asia Airlines. They use their aircraft on scheduled services mainly from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a number of charter routes also operated. Book online at www.flyjetasia.com
British Aerospace 146
One of the largest operators of the original British Aerospace four-engine classic airliners is Star Peru, based in Lima. They have focussed on the type after initially operating Boeing 737s, and at present fly the 100, 200 and 300 variants. You can usually catch them on domestic services, such as the popular Lima – Cusco route. Book at www.starperu.com
British Aerospace ATP
The only airline still operating the British Aerospace ATP in passenger service is NextJet. This is a domestic airline in Sweden, operating links across the country, often on public service flights. How long their ATPs will last before conversion to freighters I don’t know. Here’s a trip report from when I flew one!
Book online at www.nextjet.se
Again, it’s to the Canadian north for a bit of classic airliners action. The fleet of Nolinor includes four Convair 580s, set up for a mix of cargo and passenger capabilities. It does appear that Nolinor mainly operates their Convairs on a charter basis, so it’s hard to plan a trip on one of these veteran airliners. But get in touch at www.nolinor.com
DHC-6 Twin Otter
With Viking Air building new Twin Otters again, the older examples may start to disappear. Plenty of airlines still fly them all over the world, but few are in scheduled service.
A really easy way to get on an original Twin Otter is by flying from Glasgow to one of the remote Scottish island airports through the Loganair / Flybe partnership. Beware, however, that Viking Air examples have started infiltrating this fleet too! Book online at www.flybe.com
Travel on Classic and Rare Airliners with Last Chance to Fly