Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 258,704
2013: 330,818

Photo: Four Airbus A380s Sitting in a Line

Lufthansa, Singapore Air, Emirates and Qantas Airbus A380s sit in Toulouse

Lufthansa, Singapore Air, Emirates and Qantas Airbus A380s sit in Toulouse. CLICK FOR LARGER.

Photo was taken by A380_TLS, who also has a lot of other great photos from Airbus in Toulouse. Hat tip to Jon Ostrower for pointing this out.

Design Your Own Boeing 787 Dreamliner Livery — It’s Easy!

I am not going to lie. This is the best livery possible. Can you do better?

I am not going to lie. This is the best livery possible. Can you do better? Click photo for full 360 interactive version.

WARNING! Reading this story might lead one to spend a good chunk of their day designing their own Boeing 787 liveries. Do  not continue if you have other, more important things to do with your day. 

All joking aside, Boeing has recently released the ability for anyone to create almost any livery on a 787 Dreamliner and it works pretty slick. You have to agree not to put cuss words on your plane and that you are over 18 and then you are given a clean, white 787 Dreamliner to start your design. You are able to add symbols, text, free hand and a much more in any color your heart desires. Although there are a few things that can become frustrating, the tool is relatively easy to use. The key is to remember that you need to make the same design on both sides, otherwise your design doesn’t really work in the 360 view.

Once you are done, you can submit it to the gallery and it takes about 24 hours for Boeing to approve your design. There are already quite a few designs to look through online now. Some are pretty amazing and some are… well not so amazing.

If the custom designs are not your thing, you can still check out the 787 in the livery of many airlines on NewAirplane.com.

So do you have what it takes? Take a shot and design your own livery and when you are done, leave a link to your design in the comments.

Big Airlines News: American Airlines Declares Bankruptcy – United and Continental Get Single Operating Certificate – Boeing to Build the 737MAX in Washington

American Airlines Boeing 767

American Airlines Boeing 767

AMERICAN AIRLINES FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
I am going to take a wild guess that probably most of you have heard the news that American Airlines has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. There are all sorts of stories out there, so I am not going to re-hash it all. The bottom line is I think this is a great opportunity for American to take a huge leap forward from being an old, out dated (in more than one way) legacy airline to being a slim-lined and successful carrier. Can they do it? I am not fully sure, but either is anyone else, so we will have to see how it will work out. I think that the airline was already on the correct path and this will allow them to speed up the process a bit.

Out of all the stories I have been reading on this, I would highly suggest checking out these two for more information: Brett Snyder’s story on CrankyFlyer.com and Terry Maxon who writes the Airline Biz Blog, via The Dallas Morning News.

United Boeing 757 and Continental Boeing 737 at LAX in August 2010.

United Boeing 757 and Continental Boeing 737 at LAX in August 2010.

UNITED AND CONTINENTAL AIRLINES GET ONE OPERATING CERTIFICATE

How do two merging airlines know when they are only one? The answer is not easy. It mostly depends on who you are and how you interact with the new airline. Yesterday, United announced that the post-merger airline was approved by the FAA to run under one operating certificate. Previously every Continental flight also had a United flight number. Now there will only be United flights and pilots will refer to all flights as “United,” to air traffic control even if it is an old Continental route.

“I would like to thank the teams at United, Continental, the FAA, the Department of Transportation and the many regulatory authorities around the globe who put tremendous time and effort into our achieving a single operating certificate,” said United’s president and chief executive officer, Jeff Smisek in a press release. “While we have much work ahead of us as we integrate these two great carriers, this is a significant milestone.”

Even though there is one operating certificate, passengers will still need to go to each individual airline’s website to book flights, change seats and check flight status. United is expecting to have only one system during the first quarter of 2012 and at that point, on the most part, Continental will cease to exist and the two airlines will function as one.

Boeing 737MAX. Photo by Boeing.

Boeing 737 MAX. Photo by Boeing.

BOEING TO BUILD THE 737MAX IN RENTON, WASHINGTON

Being based in Seattle, I was very excited to hear that Boeing will be building their next, next generation 737 MAX in Renton, WA (just south of Seattle). Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) have not always had the best relationship and it is nice to see that an agreement was reached. The union members still need to ratify the deal next week, but a four year contract and a $5000 holiday bonus should sweeten the deal. This agreement should also end the National Labor Relations Board lawsuit against Boeing for opening a 787 Dreamliner factory in South Carolina.

Previously, it would seem obvious that Boeing was to continue to build the 737 in Renton, but with the recent 787 factory being built in South Carolina, nothing was impossible. Boeing and the union conducted secret talks almost a year before the current contract was to expire and this agreement comes ten months before the old contract expires. This is great and a big round of applause for Boeing and IAM for making this happen.

Read more about the deal from Dominic Gates on the Seattle Times.

American Airlines Photo by Caribb

Have $60,000? Get Your Name on a Virgin America Plane and a Charter Flight for 145 of Your Friends

Virgin America Airbus A320 named "Runway Angel." You can name your own aircraft if you have a space $60k.

Virgin America Airbus A320 named "Runway Angel." You can name your own aircraft if you have a spare $60k.

If you have an extra $60,000.00 burning a hole in your pocket, Virgin America has a unique holiday gift idea for you. For that amount of money, not only can you have an Airbus A320-family aircraft named whatever you want, but you and 145 of your friends can get a flight to anywhere Virgin America flies.

“We did it as part of a partnership with Gilt – as a pretty unique, once-in-a-lifetime item for their holiday gift list.” Abby Lunardini, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Virgin America explained to AirlineReporter.com via email. “You may recall that we teamed up with them a few months back as well for Gilt packs (packs of Main Cabin Select seats that sold out in a flash).”

Even though you can name the aircraft, I am going to guess there might be some restrictions. I am guessing that “I Love United Airlines” wouldn’t fly, but my choice of “AirlineReporter.com Express” would be accepted. Even though you get a charter flight with 144 of your closest friends, you might not be able to fly on the plane with your name on it for the special flight.

if you are a person of means who is planning to get this special gift and looking to bring a fun blogger with you to document your adventure… I am your man.

To learn more and place your order, check out Gilt City.

Image by: Liem

Airlines Are Putting Money into Premium Seats — Why?

At a time of “Occupying Wall Street,” type of protests seen around the world, it is interesting timing to take a look how airlines are creating a larger difference between low class (economy), upper class (first/business class) and middle class (economy plus).

Many American airlines have been suffering since 9/11, but have more recently started making profit again. Others have also been distracted with mergers (America West & US Airways, Delta & Northwest and still United & Continental), which has left many premium products (especially domestic ones) aging. Recently, airlines have started putting money into their premium products, while cutting options on economy, but why? I think there are a few reasons:

Singapore Airlines offers these first class suites on their Airbus A380's. They can cost over $20,000.00 roundtrip.

Singapore Airlines offers these suites on their Airbus A380's. They can cost over $20,000.00 round trip.

* Premium products, especially internationally, are very profitable
Scott Mayerowitz writing for the AP points out that, “first-class and business-class passengers make up only 8 percent of international travelers but account for 27 percent of revenue.” Why wouldn’t an airline go for where the money is at? At the end of the day, airlines are a business and they are meant to make profit. Now that they have money to make investments into products, does it not make sense to give passengers what they want? The wealthy want a better product and most of the non-wealthy want cheaper tickets.

* Legacy carriers need to keep their frequent fliers 
Newer airlines, like Virgin America, have been shaking things up with-in the US. They provide superior first class and economy product and might make some of the frequent fliers on legacy carriers think twice. Take away points and rewards and what would you rather fly? On an old MD-80 aircraft (still flown by American and Delta) or a newer cabin on Virgin America’s new Airbus A320s?

* It is cheaper to keep a current customer versus the money to get a new one
It is basic Business 101. Companies will spend much more money trying to attract new customers than just trying to keep the ones they already have. It makes long-term financial sense to improve first class.

* Rich people want nice things, less rich want to get there as cheap as possible
It comes down to market demand. Those that do not have the money, normally want to get from point A to point B as cheap as possible. When comparing prices, they might see that it will cost $20 more for one airline, but would rather save that $20 (or $80 if a family of four) for their trip. However, this doesn’t stop the person from complaining about the lack of service and amenities.

Those that can afford the extra costs or have earned enough rewards to be upgraded, care more about the amenities offered. They are more willing to shell out some extra money for a higher level of service.

As Mayerowitz points out, “Most of the 3.4 million Americans expected to fly this holiday week won’t get anything close to that treatment. They’ve paid a little under $400 for their round-trip tickets. And it’s a cutthroat business. To save $5, passengers are likely to choose another airline.”

* There are some things given to economy, but most cost money
Just because economy passengers are not seeing the royal treatment, doesn’t mean they are not getting anything. Many airlines have been installing Wi-Fi onto their planes and are offering some pretty decent food options — but you have to pay for both. This allows airlines to offer rock bottom prices and additional add-ons that passengers can pay more to increase their level of service. This seems to be working for most airlines, since they are making record profits on the additional options in economy.

American Airlines is replacing some of their MD-80s with Boeing 737s with the new Sky Interior.

American Airlines is replacing some of their MD-80s with Boeing 737s with the new Sky Interior.

* The middle class now have an option
Flying used to be just for the rich. Then just for the rich and middle class. Now, almost anyone can snag a cheap ticket and flying is open to the masses. You have the rich up front, the non-rich in the back and now some airlines are offering premium economy options for the middle class. Delta , JetBlue, Frontier, United and Virgin America all offer premium economy seats, but is the extra cost worth it? I guess it depends on who you are and how long your flight might be.

Edward Russell, with NYCAviation.com, recently took a look at the different options and if they are worth it.

* Conclusion
I have been flown around the world in many airline’s premium products and have loved them. However, they would have cost me anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 if I would have paid out of pocket — that is not even first class. When I am flying on my own dime, there is no way I could ever come close to afford that and mostly I am looking for the cheapest fare.

If one can consistently afford a premium product, I can understand getting spoiled and demanding a high-level of service. But for most of us, we are happy with getting to our destination as cheaply as possible.  “They want their luggage. They want to arrive on time. They want the airplane to be clean,” Andrew Nocella, US Airways senior vice president of marketing explained to the AP. “Most importantly, they want a low fare.”

Airlines know that many people in economy just care about the low fare and that people who can afford a better experience care about amenities. If airlines are just giving passengers what they want, why do so many people always seem upset at them? Oh that’s right. Many people want to pay economy level prices, but get that first class treatment. I doubt we will be seeing that anytime soon.