Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 228,152
2013: 330,818

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Video: Inside Look at Korean Air’s Airbus A380

This is a pretty slick video that looks more like a choreographed dance. It highlights the interior of Korean Air’s Airbus A380 and make sure to check out the Celestial Lounge, located at the back of the upper deck. Korean Air is currently operating four A380s and have an additional six on order.

From Korean Air’s video description:
Designed with ultimate luxury and comfort in mind, and featuring a pioneering spacious interior, configured in a three-class layout with just 407 seats in total, the lowest configuration of any A380 operator so far, Korean Air’s double-decker A380s feature cutting-edge amenities, with 12 ultra luxurious First Class Kosmo Suites and 301 Economy Class seats on the main lower deck, and 94 fully lie-flat Prestige Sleeper seats in Prestige Class (business class) on the upper deck. Furthermore, it boasts unique in-flight facilities, such as the world’s first ‘Duty Free Showcase’ and a new onboard bar and lounge area, offering a brand new and highly enjoyable in-flight shopping and relaxation experience.

Thanks to Brandon for pointing this out

Airline Love: Virgin America Gains a Big Fan

Virgin America First Class. Photo from Virgin America.

Virgin America First Class. Photo from Virgin America.

Meet Michael. He is a 59 year old real estate developer, builder, investor and consultant that lives in Santa Cruz, CA. I have never met Michael, but he recently emailed me sharing his recent experience with Virgin America. I loved his thoughts so much, I wanted to share them. Here is his Virgin America #AirlineLove experience in his own words:

So folks, here I am flying home on Virgin America from DC to San Francisco after three weeks of flying to Europe (around Europe) and back to the US in economy cattle coach. When booking this Virgin flight, I was given the opportunity to upgrade to First Class for two hundred dollars.

Lets see…. should I do this? It would mean no bag charge ($50.) No $80 for 2 inches of desperate extra leg room for the insulting “seat plus” option. No thirty dollars worth of marginal food and drink extras to avoid stumbling off the plane hypoglycemic. So maybe the net cost to me is $40 bucks. Should I do this? Hell yes!

So here I am sitting in First Class writing this email because frankly I’ve been abused for so long I can’t quite handle the experience. I’ve flown 1st class in the past but I think coach has gotten so much worst over the years that I’m in shock at the difference. Like many things these days, the flying public has forced the airlines to compete only on price leaving no room for a business model based on quality of experience. So why would anyone pay more for the experience of boarding first, deplaning first and sitting in front of the plane? I’m here to tell you.

TYPICAL COACH FLIGHT:
Subtitle: Trapped animal

Wait to shuffle onto the aircraft, stake out your crappy narrow no legroom seat, squirm, suffer and long for the hours to somehow go by more quickly, strategizing constantly about when to get up, use the bathroom, stretch your legs, etc. Consider drugs as an escape to the hours of hell. This is obviously a very abbreviated description of coach economy hell. No need to dwell further on the negative, we’ve all been there. Now mind you, Virgin offers an above average coach experience, nonetheless, it be coach.

Two Virgin America Airbus A320s at LAX. Photo by Ken Koller.

Two Virgin America Airbus A320s at LAX. Photo by Ken Koller.

OKAY, VIRGIN AMERICA FIRST CLASS:

Board first, plenty of room in the overhead, First Class bathroom ratio 1 to 8. Nothing you didn’t already know so far but it’s a cumulative experience. (notice how I’ve elevated the words “First Class” to proper noun status” like “Gold Bar” or “Jennifer Lopez”). By the way, I skipped lunch today because I figured at a minimum I’d receive the airplane food free and be attended to like a human. Like I said before, I’ve been abused for so long, I didn’t know what to expect. To say the least, I underestimated the experience. Oh, and the security line is shorter as well.

I sit in my seat, it’s so wide Chris Christie times two would be comfortable. I stick my legs out straight as far as I can and I can’t touch the seat in from of me with my toes, in fact, I almost can’t reach the back of the seat magazine pouch with my hand, not that I need it cause I’ve got so much cleverly designed storage and room around me. I don’t have to share an armrest with the seat next to me, we each have our own. My seat mate is so far away, he looks like he’s across the aisle. The tray table is designed in such a way that I can get up from my seat with a meal, computer, (or whatever) still on it. Get this, I can step to the aisle from my window seat without disturbing my seat mate, no “excuse me” necessary and of course, the seats metamorphose into beds. I have not one, but three windows. No one is rushing to clamp on noise canceling headphones, it’s not that noisy up here. I don’t feel I can discover or take advantage of all the amenities offered in the time it takes to fly coast to coast.

ON THE FOOD:

“Would you like something to drink”?
“Scotch please”
She preemptively brings me two. Served within minutes of takeoff.

1st course is fresh tender Calamari, hearts of palm and tomato salad perfectly prepared in vinaigrette, (the tomatoes are ripe summer tomatoes bursting with flavor, I’m not kidding)! 2nd course is tender moist chicken in a fig sauce with vegetables, fresh figs, and actual fresh baked olive bread. “Can I have a 2nd piece of bread”? “Of course.” The veggies are firm, flavorful, perfectly cooked, not the usual microlimp we expect to work around while gagging down whatever we can marginally accept on the plastic-tray-excuse for a plate. Dessert is three wonderful little pastries in a row: Macadamia nut thingy, little chocolate mousse cup and little lemon bar, (fantastic)! I don’t usually even like lemon bars. Need a snack? Just ask for the fabulous snack tray. If you want your meal tray removed NOW, just ask.

Did I mention my drink is served in a real glass? I have a cloth linen napkin. I have actual metal stainless flatware which I thought was banned after 9/11, (The airlines are afraid you might slit your own throat after a coach meal). The salt and pepper shaker is a little mini airplane. I feel like a child flying for the first time. Everything is served “a la restaurant”, I don’t have to unwrap anything or feel as though I’ve been served a meal in a hospital bed. All the food is the correct temperature. The stewardess is not rushed or bitchy. Forget the service, just on the food alone, on a scale of one to ten, I would rate the meal a solid eight, perhaps nine.

It is a party all up in here. Photo by Brandon Farris.

It is a party all up in here. Photo by Brandon Farris.

IN CONCLUSION…

Without me noticing, the flight is half over. I don’t feel any particular urgency for the flight to end, I really don’t care (a first)! Somehow the sound of crying children has been expunged. The PA system is the right volume and you can understand clearly. I’m so etherized I believe the turbulence feels milder up here. I can actually accomplish work in this environment.

Oh look, now the flight IS over, we’ve landed, who knew — and forty minutes early. No wonder we deplane first, the coach passengers won’t even be here for forty minutes. I might just pass on my privilege of deplaning first and linger a little longer, maybe they’ll bring a sedan chair and carry me to baggage claim, anything seems possible.

Like I said before, I’ve been abused for way too long.

Why Did Boeing Re-Paint Their Third 787? You Tell Me.

On the left is ZA003 in the old livery and to the left is ZA003 in the new. But why? Both photos from Boeing.

On the right is ZA003 in the old livery and to the left is ZA003 in the new. But why? Both photos from Boeing.

This is the same Boeing 787 Dreamliner (ZA003 / N787BX), but in two different paint schemes. Previously, there was only one aircraft with the “Dreamliner livery’ — ZA001. All the rest were painted either in a “light”  or ANA livery. Then a few days ago, Boeing unveiled ZA003 in and updated “Dreamliner livery,” but why? I am not exactly sure and Boeing is not currently saying.

ZA003 taking off at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ZA003, in its new livery, landing at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

It is possible that Boeing will use ZA003 to promote the 787 around the world. I thought maybe they were using ZA003 at the Seoul Air Show, but ZA001 arrived instead. According to Boeing’s Flickr page: “ZA003, the third 787 Dreamliner built by Boeing, just got a new paint job. We’ve got big plans for this airplane. It’s too early to provide details, but stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks.” That does not really give any clues.

ZA003 at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ZA003 at Boeing Field (BFI). Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

So what do you think? Why did Boeing spend the money to paint over a perfectly good paint scheme? I am sure they must have a plan.

Thanks to Jeremy for sharing his photos.

My Quest to Ride on a Beechcraft Starship: Flying This Weekend (Attempt #2)

Beechcraft Starship N514RS at Mojave, CA

Beechcraft Starship N514RS at Mojave, CA

I think it is quite obvious that I grew up loving aviation. As a child, when the Beechcraft Starship first was developed, I was instantly in love. Over 25 years later, it is still one modern and beautiful looking aircraft. The story of the Starship is sad and ends with only five still flying around the world.

Back in April 2010, after watching every video of the Starship I could find and being motivated by the one hanging from the Future of Flight, I put myself to the challenge of trying to get a ride in one.

I have had a lot of great (and sometimes crazy) flying experiences, but this is the one I have been pining over for a long time. I was very lucky to find Robert Scherer who owns NC514RS. He also holds most of the remaining Starship parts to make sure the the ones left remain flying for a long time.

I had the honor of meeting Robert and his airplane while at Oshkosh 2010. We were all set to fly from Aspen to Orange, CA in January of this year, but it did not work out. I took my flight from Seattle to Denver and was waiting for my connect to Aspen, but the weather had different plans and my flight was cancelled. Luckily I was able to hitch a ride back to Seattle, but my dream of flying of the Starship would have to wait.

So, it is time once again to give this a try. I have my tickets and we are all set to fly from Aspen to Orange, CA on Robert’s Starship on Sunday. Of course, I will be documenting every step of the way via photos, video and social media. The weather looks great and I gave myself plenty of time to get there, so let’s hope this time will work out.

My Quest to Ride on a Beechcraft Starship:
IDEA | CONNECT | TOUR | FLIGHT-PLAN | FAIL | FLIGHT | PHOTOSVIDEO

Image: Kirk Kittell

 

High Resolution Photos of United Airline’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner Rolling Out of the Factory

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is pulled out of the factory. Image from Boeing. Click for Larger.

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is pulled out of the factory. Image from Boeing. Click for Larger.

Wednesday night, Boeing pulled out United Airline’s first 787 Dreamliner from the factory and off the final assembly line. The first 787 Dreamliner has already been delivered to the launch customer, ANA, but United will be the first North American airline to take delivery of the new aircraft.  From United’s press release: “While in final assembly, the aircraft moved through four factory positions, including the final aircraft body join, landing gear installation, weight-on-wheels testing and installation of interior components and systems. Over the next several months, the aircraft will move to the next phase of completion, which includes final cabin configuration, installation of engines and painting.”

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner gets pulled in front of the factory located in Everett, WA. Photo by Boeing. Click for larger.

United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner gets pulled in front of the factory located in Everett, WA. Photo by Boeing. Click for larger.

United will configure their first 787 with 36 seats in BusinessFirst, 63 seats in Economy Plus and 120 seats in Economy. There was some speculation if United might be offering a special livery, but I doubt it. When I was on the factory floor recently, the tail was definitely a solid blue, which matches United’s current “new” livery. With United recently switching their brand over from the tulip to the globe, it wouldn’t really make sense for them to also introduce a special livery. Normally I am all for any livery that spices things up, but at this stage it would just cause brand confusion.

Nose show of United Airline's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner outside the factory at Paine Field.

Nose show of United Airline's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner outside the factory at Paine Field. Photo by Boeing. Click for larger.

Although the exact date of delivery is unknown, United told AirlineReporter.com that they expect to get their first 787 during the, “second half of 2012.” It will be the first of 50 that the airline has on order.