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The Margin: Queen Elizabeth’s final flight was the most-watched plane of all time


Bow down, Nancy Pelosi — Queen Elizabeth’s final flight became the most-watched plane in history on Tuesday. 

Global flight tracking service Flightradar24, which provides real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world, said the military C-17 Globemaster carrying the queen’s casket was watched by about 5 million people in real time as it flew from Edinburgh, Scotland to RAF Northolt, an air force base near London. This included 4.79 million people following the flight across the tracking service’s website and mobile app, as well as another 296,000 who tuned in over the YouTube livestream. 

Related: Casket of Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Buckingham Palace

In fact, those figures could have soared even higher if the surge in online traffic didn’t crash the Flightradar24 site. The tracking service reported that 6 million people attempted to click on the flight carrying the Queen within the first minute of the aircraft’s transponder activating, which was just too heavy a load to handle. “The stability of the site suffered,” it acknowledged in a post on Tuesday night. “We expected a large influx of users, but this immediate, massive spike was beyond what we had anticipated.” 

Flightradar24 said that it processed 76.2 million requests in total related to the late Queen’s flight. These requests included user actions such as clicking on the flight icon or clicking on the aircraft information.

Last month, Flightradar24 also saw a spike in traffic as more than 700,000 people attempted to follow House Speaker Pelosi’s flight to Taiwan, which set the record for most-watched flight at the time. “That’s as busy as it gets,” Ian Petchenik, Flightradar24’s director of communications, told MarketWatch last month. But the unprecedented interest in the flight carrying the Queen’s casket has flown far above those figures. 

“Queen Elizabeth II’s final flight from Edinburgh to RAF Northolt, is by far the all-time most tracked flight on Flightradar24 and will likely remain at the top for a long while,” the service said. 

What’s more, Queen Elizabeth II’s death is set to spark a massive demand for London hotels as visitors flock to U.K. capital to honor the beloved monarch.

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