Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 201,532
2013: 330,818

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My Fav AvGeek Photo: LAN Airlines 787 Delivery Party

A party erupts during LAN's first 787 delivery flight.

A party erupts during LAN’s first 787 delivery flight.

This is my favorite photo that I have taken. Maybe not the “best,” but my favorite because it tells a story. It was taken during LAN’s 787 delivery flight. After the meal service, it seemed like people were about to settle down and go to sleep. Instead, those LEDs went into “rainbow mode” and music starting going through the cabin.

Employees from the back of the plane came forward in costumes and handed out glow sticks, leis, hats and more. Everyone started singing in Spanish (a language I do not know), but it did not matter. This was truly one of the most amazing moments reporting for AirlineReporter.com and this is my favorite AvGeek photo.

Do you have a favorite AvGeek photo? Email it on over to me to david@airlinereporter.com with a short description (about 100 words or less) on why this is your favorite photo. I might end up using it in a future story or for the #AvGeek Photo of the Week on Twitter and Facebook.

Reviewing Cathay Pacific’s First Class – The Best Trans-Con Ever?

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER preparing for a Test flight at Boeing's Everett Factory - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER preparing for a Test flight at Boeing’s Everett Factory. Image: Mal Muir.

If you need to travel between New York and the Canadian west coast, there are just a few choices.  Your main options are Air Canada or WestJet, which both operate direct flights between New York and Vancouver.  Another option is flying a US-based airline (like United or American) via one of their hub cities.  But what if you have a nice chunk of points to burn and want to get the best bang for your buck? Sure, you could redeem for Air Canada business, but that would just be like flying any other US airline in the front cabin.  What if you could get a truly unique experience for the same amount of points as any other redemption? Well you can, with an unexpected airline.

Cathay Pacific Airlines (CX), based in Hong Kong, operates four daily flights between New York’s JFK Airport and Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport.  However, one of those flights has a layover in Vancouver.  The last flight of the day (CX889) makes a stop along the way and Cathay Pacific has “Fifth Freedom” rights between New York and Vancouver.

What is a Fifth Freedom flight?  It’s where an airline is allowed to sell tickets on a flight between two foreign countries as part of a service connecting their own country.  Confusing, right?  In layman’s terms it means that if, for instance, the airline needs to make a fuel stop mid-route or something similar, then it can sell a ticket from that stopping point to the end destination.

Cathay Pacific’s flight from New York to Vancouver is unique in that those in premium cabins get all the standard international service items, despite the fact that it’s only a five-hour flight.  So even though I was flying a transcontinental flight JFK-YVR, I still got the multiple-course meal, amenity kit, and even pajamas.  All the standard items you would get as though you were flying Cathay Pacific for a 14-hour flight.

Continue reading Reviewing Cathay Pacific’s First Class – The Best Trans-Con Ever?

Charlotte’s Airport & My CRJ-900 Flight to Harrisburg on US Airways

Photo by Andrew Vane.

People picking up their bags. Photo by Andrew Vane.

This Story was Written by Andrew Vane for AirlineReporter.com:

Although not filled with the glory of a wide-body international flight typically experienced by others, any opportunity to fly commercially always brings a smile to my face. Getting to fly, no matter the distance or aircraft, is what being an #AvGeek is all about! To quote a childrens book titled “Railroad Toad” by Susan Schade and John Buller (that I used to read to my children): “Give me a ticket to anywhere, the farther the better I don’t care!”

Well, that opportunity rolled around again for me. This time, I got to fly for business from my home city of Charlotte, North Carolina to the capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Up one afternoon and back the next is all I had time for with this trip.

To give you some background on Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT), in 2012 it was the eighth-busiest airport in the US and had more domestic flights than New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy combined. As a major hub to US Airways (soon to become American Airlines), the airport has grown from three small crisscrossing runways in the 1960’s to four long runways capable of handling an A340-600 or Boeing 777. CLT officials are also planning to give the longest runway a 2,000 foot extension at some point in the future. Hmmmm. My last fortune cookie said “I see big things in your future” so perhaps someday an A380 will grace CLT.

Continue reading Charlotte’s Airport & My CRJ-900 Flight to Harrisburg on US Airways

Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

There are few who can make a case against the Boeing 747 as the most majestic and beautiful airliner in the sky.  I love the 747 (any variant) for its unique shape and instant recognition; you just won’t find folks lining up to tell you about the classic lines of the A380.  Originally released in 1970, the Queen of the Skies has defined the term “jumbo jet” for multiple generations.  But, despite the 747′s 40+ years as a long-haul mainstay for airlines around the world, is the future of the 747 and its latest variant, the 747-8, in jeopardy?

The Fiero Problem

The issue doesn’t seem to be that the 747 has gotten stale in its old age (in fact, Boeing’s latest version features new engines, a redesigned wing, a fuselage stretch, and advanced avionics; some might argue that Boeing spent WAY too much capital on a plane with so few orders).  Rather, the problem seems to be that other planes have gotten so much better.  This reminds me of that 80′s darling, the Pontiac Fiero, and its cool uncle, the Chevrolet Corvette.

GM and Pontiac built the Fiero from 1984-1988.  A mid-engined, two-seater sports car with sharp (for the 80′s) looks, the Fiero did a lot of things well that the Corvette also was known for.  Although not officially acknowledged by GM as a reason for ending the program, enthusiasts maintain that GM killed the Fiero because it was encroaching on the performance envelope of the ‘Vette, at lower acquisition and operating costs.  Sound familiar?  If you’ve ever flown on a Boeing 777, it should.

Continue reading Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They “Take It To The MAX”

COPA Boeing 737 in the Renton Factory. Image by Chris Sloan.

COPA Boeing 737 in the Renton Factory. Image by Chris Sloan.

This story was written by Chris Sloan and originally was published on Airchive.com. This is the next of a multi-part series talking about the Boeing 737 factory in Renton. Read the first part: A Historical Look at Boeing’s 737 Factory in Renton and second part: Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory and the Successful Next Gen.

The Boeing 737 Goes Into “MAX” Overdrive

The Boeing 737 NextGen order book continued to bulge, growing virtually unabated even through the deep worldwide economic slowdown / crisis of 2008-12. Ironically, this era of financial strife and sharply escalating fuel costs, as well as the growth of emerging markets, helped 737 and A320 sales go from strength to strength. Boeing however didn’t stand on it its laurels or did it?

Boeing claims with the introduction of its latest performance improvement package “PIP”, today’s NGs are 6-7 more efficient then when they were first introduced in the late 1990s. Boeing’s Tinseth points out that “The (737) program has taken off with record sales. It’s simple. We make it better every time. We were first in its class with ETOPS 180, glass cockpits, Sky Interiors, and high bypass engines. We lower the operating costs through such new technologies as blended winglets, heads up display, carbon brakes, and more fuel-efficient engines. We enhance customer appeal with the new Sky Interior. This is an airplane that appeals to the heart of the market: emerging and developing economies and it is very successful with the LCC business model”. These new LCC airlines in emerging markets include Lion Air, Air Asia, and Gol! An unintended benefit of the weak economy, particularly in the U.S., is the poor financial results led to an elderly, fuel-in-efficient, maintenance intensive fleet which created an advantage and some say a bubble for airframe manufacturers, particularly in this sweet smart of the market. “The significant driver in the US is the demand to replace older and less efficient aircraft”, said Tinseth.

Continue reading Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory As They “Take It To The MAX”