Mini-max 7!

Mini-max 7!

“Who cares?”

I knew I would hear that from observers when covering the unveiling of the first Boeing 737 MAX 7 in Renton, WA this week. I get it. Sure, the MAX 7 is the runt of the MAX family, but often runts can grow up and do amazing things, like going fast.

This is going to be one fast plane to fly. The entire MAX family, from 10 down to 7 will have the same CFM LEAP 1-B engines. With the 7 being the smallest and lightest, I am sure it will become a favorite to fly for pilots. Of course being fun to fly isn’t really a great business case for airlines, and so far they haven’t bought many.

Where the entire MAX family has accumulated over 4,300 orders, from 93 customers from around the world, the MAX 7 has only 63 of those orders from four customers in the U.S. and Canada (Southwest has dibs on 30, WestJet has 23, Canada Jetlines has five and ILFC has the final five). Is there a bright future for this airplane? Personally, I hope so.

Norwegian flight DY 7131 taxiing after landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Norwegian 787 taxiing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

High risk, high reward. That’s how I viewed my booking on Norwegian. They recently started serving Denver, Colorado (DEN) from London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW) using their ever-expanding fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.  The one-way, one-stop fare from my family vacation in Copenhagen was only $600 per person in their “Premium” cabin – a steal for holiday travel.

Why did I need a one-way fare? I had used United miles to book my family from Denver to Copenhagen (via SFO) on Christmas Day. 30,000 miles per person for a pretty convenient one-stop routing on United and SAS was too good to pass up. But it made getting home a challenge. That’s one of the things that drew me to Norwegian. Also, we’re not exactly rolling in international service here in Denver. Norwegian is a new player, and I wanted to try them out.

For some reason, international travel has not reached the same parity as domestic U.S. travel when it comes to one-way fares. Piecing together an itinerary in the states is pretty easy, but just try booking a one-way flight from London to Denver. Norwegian is disrupting that model with its a la carte approach to everything, as are its long-haul international competitors such as WOW and Icelandair.

Lovely weather in London right before boarding – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

So, why high risk, high reward? Norwegian only flies to Denver three times per week. They also don’t interline with other carriers. So, when things go bad (delayed/canceled flights) they go really bad. I knew not to expect to be booked on another carrier if things went wrong. I had a backup plan in case we got stuck in London (there are worse places to be stuck), but we were lucky that our travel was flexible.

So, how was the trip? Did I win the gamble? Read on…

My 747-400 Awaiting Departure in Seattle – Photo: Colin Cook

In late 2016, my girlfriend Molly and I began planning a 2017 trip to Europe, with the goal of using points and miles to fly in a premium cabin. After considerable research, we ended up flying on a British Airways 747-400 to London, and on a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 home. This first post will review our British Airways first class experience, and the second will review the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) product.

One of the items on my AvGeek bucket list has been to fly international first class. I’ve had some wonderful experiences flying international business class (Air Canada 767, Lufthansa 747-8, and British Airways 777-300ER), but I’ve never had the chance for the best of the best. That all changed with this trip. I was already excited to be flying in first class, but I also unlocked another AvGeek desire: I was able to make the coveted “left turn” upon boarding the aircraft. When I have flown in a premium cabin previously, I have always boarded from the front left door. Sure, sure, there are benefits to both, but if you’re a passionate flyer, you can probably understand my excitement.

If you fly often, airport lounges aren’t just an occasional treat; they’re a home away from home. However, at a lot of lounges it’s hard to do more than plonk yourself down in a chair, chow down on sugary snacks, and help yourself to free booze. Sure, sometimes that’s just what you want. But it’s not a particularly healthy way to pass the time.

To make airports a bit more livable, SAS Scandinavian Airlines has been working on a new generation of airport lounge for its passengers. We got to swing by Oslo Gardermoen Airport to explore the first of SAS’ so-called “next-gen” lounges. We found a lot of features there that were definitely out of the ordinary, like a real-deal gym, a cafe staffed with a barista, and a dining area decked out to look like mom’s kitchen. There were also some quirkier features, like a VR flight simulator and a 3D body scanner.

Read on for a photo walk-through of a lounge that’s definitely anything but ordinary!

Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter