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How to Fly on Classic Airliners Today

by Matt Falcus
How to Fly on Classic Airliners

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

Buffalo Airways DC-3

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


Airbus A300B2/B4

Photo (c) Stefano Ciccarelli

Photo (c) Stefano Ciccarelli

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.


Airbus A310

Air Transat A310

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.


Boeing 727

Iran Aseman 727

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!


Boeing 737-200

Air Inuit 737-200

Photo (c) Jean-Philippe Richard

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

Other airlines include First Air and Nolinor.


Boeing 767-200

Jet Asia 767

Photo (c) Maarten Visser

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

Star Peru BAe 146 in Cusco

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

BAe ATP at Arvidsjaur

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


Convair 580

Nolinor Convair 580

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

Flybe 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



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Michael Cahill January 29, 2016 - 12:10 pm

Really liked the info on these older aircraft. I was in Lima last week and saw the 146. I know it is a long shot but are there any YS-11’s still airworthy? If not other than the example along the Japan transit is there any good static displays? Thanks.

Matt Falcus January 29, 2016 - 2:01 pm

Thanks Michael! Fil Asian was operating the YS-11, but closed down in 2014. As far as I know there are no other examples flying – certainly not with passengers anyway.

Eddie Swift January 31, 2016 - 8:01 pm

The Japanese Milatary are still flying YS-11 out of Iruma Air Base.

Matt Falcus January 31, 2016 - 8:03 pm

Ah, thanks for the info Eddie. I guess there’s no way the public can get on board?

Keishi May 20, 2019 - 12:23 pm

Hi Matt, great info – didn’t realize Buffalo’s DC-3 was back in service!

You might want to add Air Chathams from New Zealand, to the article – they still operate Convair 580s and Fairchild Metroliners on scheduled flights.

Matt Falcus May 20, 2019 - 1:07 pm

Thanks Keishi! I think Buffalo have stopped flying passengers on their DC-3s again. now 🙁

Gibby January 30, 2020 - 10:13 pm

Air Chathans still fly vintage aircraft such as the DC3 Metroliners and the Convair 580


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