UPDATE: That was fast. This deal appears gone, but read below to find out what to do if it resurfaces.
When United announced its final 747 flight on November 07, 2017 would be a re-creation of its very first 747 flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, the flight sold out within an hour.
While some have reported successfully waitlisting for the flight, it remains sold out (even as a handful of seats are held for media and other invited guests). Furthermore, middle seats appear blocked according to the seat map.
But Flyertalk member zrs70 brilliantly found another way to secure a seat on this flight: by booking it as an Air New Zealand codeshare.
Air New Zealand won’t sell you SFO-HNL alone, but they will happily sell you SFO-HNL-AKL. Do a multi-city search SFO-HNL//HNL-AKL and you can force in a stop in Honolulu. This is bookable on Air New Zealand’s own website or most online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia.
Sure enough, you can find availability in both economy class and business class, forcing a 42hr layover in Honolulu.
The prices aren’t great, but economy class is cheaper than a full Y purchased directly from United. Furthermore, this doesn’t have to be a throw-away ticket. You can add a return for a minimal amount of money since one-way international tickets in many markets, including this one, are not much different in price than a round-trip ticket.
UPDATE: Space Gone
While zrs70 successfully booked it, the fare buckets have now been zeroed out (or perhaps sold out). As of now (about 3am ET), the seats still show up on ITA Matrix, but no longer show up when booking with Air New Zealand or another OTA.
SECOND UPDATE: the seats no longer show up on ITA Matrix
Don’t Give Up!
It appears the fare is no longer bookable..at least for now. But keep an eye on this if you want to join the final flight. More seats could pop back into inventory at anytime. This remains a clever back door trick to secure a seat on the coveted final 747 flight.