Wednesday, December 21, 2016

United Takes Delivery of its First 777-300ER

United has received its first 777-300ER aircraft from Boeing. The 777-300ER will operate domestic flights between San Francisco and Newark beginning on February 16th before replacing one of United's outgoing 747-400 aircraft on the SFO-Hong Kong route beginning on March 25th.  

United's new 777-300ER holds 366 passengers in a three class configuration with 60 seats in United's new Polaris business class, 102 seats in United's Economy Plus, and 204 seats in economy class. United has 13 more 777-300ER aircraft on order.  

The 777-300ER is part of United's long haul fleet renewal plan.  United plans to retire all 20 of its iconic 747-400s by 2018. The 777-300ER, which holds 366 passengers compared to the 747-400's 374, is a more than adequate replacement for the outgoing 747-400, especially when cost savings are taken into account.  

United is currently in the midst of shifting many of its smaller 777-200 aircraft from international to domestic flying.  United will also begin receiving the first of its 10-aircraft order for the A350-1000 in 2018. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Definitive 2016 Avgeek Holiday Gift Guide

Home and Office Furniture Made From Aircraft Parts 
For avgeeks, there is nothing cooler than bringing part of the aviation world back to their homes. The design firm SkyArt takes this premise to the next level by offering a variety of furniture made from aircraft parts perfect for the home or office of an avgeek. Some of SkyArt's coolest items include a meeting table with a base made out of a classic Airbus A320 family wingtip fence, a reception desk fashioned out of an engine cowling, and a double ottoman made out of A310 seats.   
A table with an aircraft door as a base

A table with a base made out of a classic Airbus A320 family wingtip fence

Aircraft Models 
As any Avgeek can attest, there is nothing better than receiving a beautiful commercial aircraft model as a gift. This year is no exception. Some of the coolest releases this year include a Qatar Airways Cargo 747-8i, an American Airlines 777-300, an MRJ90, and a JetBlue A320 with the iconic "I Love New York" special livery.

Living in the Age of Airplanes Movie 
Living in the Age of Airplanes  is an incredible visual journey through the world of commercial aviation. The documentary, narrated by Harrison Ford, elegantly captures the magical wonder of modern commercial flightLiving in the Age of Airplanes is most definitely a must have and a must see for avgeeks this holiday season. 

An Essential Item For Frequent Travelers 
For avgeeks who can't wait to get on their next flight, it's essential to have an easily packable duffel bag capable of surviving the brutality of frequent flying. The Cenzo Weekender Duffel Bag is perfect for quick weekend getaways and business trips. Plus the durable brown calfskin leather duffel looks great 

A Stay at a 747 Hotel 
The Jumbo Stay hotel has to be near the top of every avgeek's bucket list. The Jumbo Stay is a hotel and hostel located in a retired 747 near Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The Jumbo Stay offers three types of rooms: dorm rooms, standard rooms, and suites. The premier room at the Jumbo Stay is most definitely the Double Ensuite Cockpit room. There is no experience quite like it.  

Smart Luggage 
Smart luggage offers travelers with convenient tools such as digital scale, baggage tracking, charging ports, and remote lock capabilities. Raden, with the A22 and the A28, and Bluesmart, with the Bluesmart One and the Bluesmart Black Edition, both sell highly acclaimed and TSA approved smart luggage packed with the latest technology in both carry-on and check-in size luggage.

The Raden A22's charging ports. The A22 smart luggage also comes with a digital scale and remote tracking
                                     The Bluesmart Black Edition

Alaska's Codeshare Agreement With Delta Has Been Axed

Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines have formally ended their codeshare partnership. April 30 2017 will be the last day the DL code will appear on Alaska flights and the AS code will appear on Delta flights. 

On May 1 2017 Alaska frequent flyer members will no longer be able to earn and redeem miles when flying on Delta. The same goes for Delta SkyMiles members flying on Alaska Airlines. 

The move was widely expected due to Delta's recent encroachment onto Alaska's home turf in Seattle. Delta has built a sizeable international hub at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport having more than tripled the number of flights the airline offers from Sea/Tac in the past three years, even in the face of intense competition from Alaska.  

In recent years the two carriers had become competitors rather than allies. This led to a significant reduction in flights that the two airlines shared codes on. In response, Alaska bolstered its codeshare agreement with American Airlines.   

The elimination of Alaska's codeshare partnership with Delta marks another change in direction for Alaska Airlines after its $2.6 billion merger with Virgin America was approved by the DOJ last week.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

8 Aspects of Air Travel to be Thankful For

As millions of Americans take to the skies this Thanksgiving holiday, there will no doubt be countless horror stories told of lost baggage, odorous seatmates, and 11th-hour flight cancellations as friends and family gather around the dinner table, although without poor old Uncle Joe who is still stuck at O’Hare. 

Even though for most people flying is the stuff of nightmares—complete with body pat downs and dehumanizing terms such as ‘cattle class’—in the spirit of the holiday, let us give thanks for eight aspects of air travel that make the experience of commercial flight just a bit more bearable: 

Inflight Connectivity 
The major U.S. airlines have recently made great strides in outfitting the majority of their fleets with inflight Wi-fi, USB ports, and power outlets in all classes.  

While inflight Wi-fi used to be limited only to certain geographic regions, such as the contiguous 48 states, the introduction of satellite Wi-fi has enabled passengers to connect to the web on international flights crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific.  

While the price of inflight Wi-fi is still quite high on the big three U.S. carriers, customer friendly airlines such as JetBlue, which provides free Wi-fi on all flights, and Southwest, which charges $8 for an all-day Wi-fi pass, foreshadowing the inevitable fall of the price of inflight Wi-fi as it becomes more ubiquitous. 

The ability to browse the internet at 40,000 feet is one of the greatest advancements in passenger experience in the past few years. Even though inflight connectivity does little to make up for lost baggage or delays, at least it provides a good distraction to the little kid crying at the back of the plane.  

TSA Precheck 
Nothing is more loathed in America than submitting to the humiliation of TSA security lines at airports. The lines are long, the agents are cranky, and the travelers are stressed. With all the negativity surrounding the TSA, one of the few bright spots has been the implementation of TSA Precheck.  

With extremely short lines, limited numbers of passengers, and no requirements for taking your shoes or coat off, among other things, Precheck makes all the difference when flying. Next time the word Precheck is stamped onto your ticket (after having signed up here, of course), take some time to be thankful for the opportunity to experience how airport security should actually operate. 

Low Fares 
Airfares in the U.S. have steadily declined since the deregulation of the airline industry in the 1970s. Even after the recent wave of airline mergers, airfares are still near historical lows. 

Recently, low-cost long-haul carriers such as Norwegian Air International and WOW Air have made it more affordable to fly to Europe. While the entrance of low-cost long-haul carriers into the trans-Atlantic market is not good for the legacy carriers who have depended on the market as a money-making machine, flyers will certainly benefit from the ensuing price war. 

Low fares have enabled more people to travel than ever before. That means more people can visit family, go on their dream vacation, or simply explore all the world has to offer. That is truly something to be thankful for. 

More Destinations 
Today, a simple click of a button on an internet connected device allows anyone to book a flight to practically any destination in the world. Through joint ventures and global alliances, airlines are more efficient than ever before in transporting passengers from one exotic destination to the next.   

The growth of airlines in developing regions has also increased accessibility to far-flung destinations.

The gulf carriers, although much derided by the legacy carriers and politicians in the western world, have also done much to make the world more connected. Destinations in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa that were very difficult to fly to previously are now only two flights and a short connection away.  

The Latest Aircraft Technology 
New generation aircraft such as the A350787, and the C-Series provide a much-improved customer experience with increased efficiency. These new aircraft feature more spacious cabins, quieter and more efficient engines, and a more comfortable cabin environment, complete with increased humidity and better cabin air pressure.  

The long range and efficiency of the A350 and 787 has been key in opening new point-to-point long haul routes, increasing the options for passengers.  

Flying economy class for a 12-hour flight will never be a comfortable experience. However, the innovations featured in the latest generation of aircraft have greatly improved the passenger experience. 

When your air travel experience goes downhill, Twitter is your best friend. Airlines are very responsive to the questions and problems tweeted at them by passengers, and will generally help to the best of their ability. If you are in a more combative mood, Twitter is great for rants against airlines, their employees, and even fellow passengers 

It’s also important to note that it is an obligation for celebrities to embark on Twitter rants against airlines when flying commercially. Luke Bryan,, and Russell Crowe are just some examples. 

When your flight is delayed for the umpteenth time, or there is a snake on the plane, remember, Twitter is there for you to vent all your anger, frustration, and stress. Thank you, Twitter. 

Baggage Tracking 
There is nothing worse than an airline losing your baggage. While passengers can pay for devices such as Lugloc to track their baggage, Delta recently launched free baggage tracking in their app. While tracking your bag in Delta’s app or with Lugloc won’t cause it to magically reappear on the carousel when it’s lost, it does give you some peace of mind. At least you know where it is. That’s something to be thankful for, right? 

Gate Agents and Other Front-Line Airline and Airport Employees 
Gate agents and other front-line employees are the real MVPs of the air travel experience. While they have zero control over weather delays, mechanical problems, or an overbooked flight, these employees get to bear all the consequences. The videos below are just a couple examples of the verbal abuse frontline airline and airport employees face.  

The next time you’re ready to pop off at a gate agent because your flight was overbooked, remember that the gate agent doesn’t dictate airline policy. Be thankful for the gate agents. In most instances, they’re stuck in a bad situation and are handcuffed by company policies. Oh, but don’t forget to take to Twitter to rant about it.