The last United Boeing 747 sitting at SFO

The last United Boeing 747 sitting at SFO – registration N118UA

It is okay to get emotional over an airplane. That is what I kept telling myself anyhow as I experienced United’s final 747 flight recently. I was sad that this was going to be a huge milestone for the retirement of Boeing 747 passenger service. I was also happy and excited to be a part of this historic event. Turns out I was going to be able to experience a few firsts and quite a few lasts on my journey. This was to be my first time flying on a United 747 and this was also going to be my first time flying backwards.

At one point I was asked something along the lines of, “There is one other U.S. airline (Delta) that is still flying the aircraft, not to mention British Airways and others. Why is this such a big deal?” At first, I almost felt insulted, but then I realized that from a non-AvGeek perspective, why make a big deal about this plane, with this airline?

First off, I think it is like visiting a really good friend or family member you don’t get to see very often and it is hard to say goodbye. You start out saying “well, I guess I better get going,” and three hours later you aren’t quite out the door yet and still sharing stories of good times before finally parting ways. This was the first goodbye stage between me and the 747.

A Spirit A319 taking off from LAX – Photo: Thomas Hart | FlickrCC

Often, people try to avoid the ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCC), but I have been wanting to try Spirit Airlines for quite a few years now.  During a recent trip from Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX) with my girlfriend, I ended up having that chance… kind of.

There is quite a bit of competition between SEA and LAX. I hold most of my miles with Alaska Airlines and also have their credit card. That means I get extra miles when booking their tickets and I also get a free checked bag. When I compare prices, it is not just the sticker price, but also all the extras and the miles that factor into my decisions. Going down to LAX, Alaska was the obvious winner. But coming home, even with paying for a checked bag, two seat assignments, and loss of miles, Spirit was much cheaper (about $175 for both of us). To be honest, I was hoping that was the case, since I wanted to give them a shot (always been jealous of our JL doing the legit bare fare… for science).

I will say that getting to the final price on Spirit, to compare to other airlines, is not the easiest. There are so many different steps, a log-in, and up-sells before you finally get to the payment screen to see the total price. It was a pain. However, I cannot understand how someone could go through that entire process and not understand that they were being (or will be) charged more for the extras. Annoying, but also annoyingly clear.

Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter

Virgin Atlantic has a pretty slick sense of style. The many elements of the airline’s brand – from the unique metallic red of its livery down to its creative cocktail lists and small touches on its printed materials – ooze cool. We definitely picked up on that sense of style when we dropped by the airline’s small but well-provisioned lounge — called the “Clubhouse” — in the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). We put the place through its paces and came away very impressed.

Read on for a quick photo tour of the Clubhouse and all that it has to offer, from menu-order dining and creative cocktails to airfield views and even aircraft models. It’s a space that goes way beyond the bare minimum for business class lounges.

A Boeing employee inspects a composite wing spar at the Building 40-02 spar shop.

A Boeing employee inspects a composite wing spar at the Building 40-02 spar shop

In a big milestone for the program, Boeing officially started production on its new 777x line on Oct. 23. The 777X will feature new GE9X engines, an all-new composite wing with folding tips, longer range, while leveraging technologies from the 787 Dreamliner.

The one-piece composite spars measure more than 100 feet long, and each aircraft requires a total of four spars - two per wing.

The one-piece composite spars measure more than 100 feet long, and each aircraft requires a total of four spars – two per wing

777X chief project engineer and vice president Terry Beezhold said it’s taken Boeing seven years to get to this point in the project. The current project schedule calls for the first test flight to happen in the first quarter of 2019, and the first delivery about a year after that.