Although I know many readers of this site are more interested about the flight itself, I tend to be more intrigued with what goes one between searching for a ticket and stepping on to the plane. Odd for some, I know, but I wanted to share my own insight.
My most recent adventure started when I decided to go to Paris (CDG) from Seattle (SEA) for vacation. After some work, I narrowed my dates to flying out on a Thursday so that I could have a full weekend in-country. Last year, I made the same trip on Icelandair and chose that airline mostly on having the lowest fare. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with the lowest fare this time; I was also interested in the experience, so I decided to start my ticket hunt early. This all resulted with me flying on a British Airways Boeing 747-400 out of Seattle.
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.
A view from the Singapore Flyer. Photo by Blaine Nickeson.
Maybe it’s not to the extent of the regular contributors to this site, but I’m an #AvGeek. I love planes, airlines, and miles. But given my busy career, two toddlers, and a wife who thinks I’m crazy, I don’t get to participate in nearly as many adventures as I would like. My wife’s come a long way in supporting my habit; I think it may have had something to do with flying her to Europe this spring in Lufthansa First Class on miles. Maybe that helped lead to the amazing adventure I had recently.
I live in Denver, and I fly United Airlines (UA). There has been lots of local media coverage about the introduction of UA’s DEN-NRT flight, operated by the 787 Dreamliner, which started on June 10th (unfortunately that flight had an issue after having to divert back to Seattle).
This is a big deal for DEN, not so much because of the Dreamliner, but rather it’s our first nonstop to Asia. A few weeks ago my wife casually opened a can of worms, stating, “I looked at booking you on that Dreamliner flight for Father’s Day, but it was just too expensive. I know you really want to fly on a 787, and also need to re-qualify for your status-thingy.” I, of course, sprung in to action trying to take advantage of this moment that was sure to be fleeting.
Long story short, I scored a ride on the (re)inaugural ANA 787 Dreamliner flight from San Jose (SJC) to Narita (NRT). To make the ticket cheaper (this logic fails me) I continued on to Singapore. Final routing was 19,000 miles; DEN-SJC-NRT-SIN-HKG-SFO-DEN, or about 39 hours in the air during a 77 hour period. Yes, I’m crazy, but it was worth it.
Madrid-based Pullmantur Air recently changed up its livery and it is quite the drastic change from the old livery if do say so myself. The fuselage of their aircraft is still predominantly of a white paint scheme, but the tail, forward section and winglets are now proudly sporting aqua & navy blue paint.
From the video description from SpeedBirdHD: “The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world’s most recognizable aircraft and was the first wide-body ever produced. Manufactured by Boeing’s Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the original version of the 747 was two and a half times the size of the Boeing 707, one of the common large commercial aircraft of the 1960s. First flown commercially in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.”
I am guessing probably most people reading this site are well aware of the 747. So less reading, more watching these amazing machines in action .