Around the World

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

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Flying First Class…On a United Q400

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

As a Silver Premier member with United Airlines (their lowest-level elite tier), getting a complementary first class upgrade happens almost as rarely as spotting a unicorn.  In a year and a half of being an elite, I’ve gotten two first class upgrades.  Recently, upgrade number two came in an unlikely form; on a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

That’s right, folks – United is offering a first class cabin on planes with propellers.  I caught my upgrade on a quick business trip from Denver (DEN) to Durango (DRO), Colorado.

All of United’s Q400s are actually operated by Republic Airlines, one of many regional carriers for UA.  They are configured with 71 seats; seven in first class, 10 in Economy Plus, and 54 in economy.  As to be expected on a regional plane, “first class” really only meant a wider seat, more legroom, and a free beer.  Well, we got some pretzels too.   Continue reading Flying First Class…On a United Q400

Flying Art: Experiencing Lufthansa’s 747-400 First Class

D-ABVS, my ride to FRA behind double-glazing. Photo- Bernie Leighton|AirlineReporter.com

D-ABVS, my ride to Frankfurt, behind double-glazing – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

As we all know, I am insane – I do stupid things, usually inspired by a picture I saw of something from years ago on the internet, fanning an intense jealous desire to have the same experience for myself. Why this is of any interest to the readership is because I consider getting there to be, at least, half the fun.

This time, I was off to UACC (IATA Code TSE, or as most people call it, Astana, Kazakhstan) to attend the third KADEX (also known as Kazakhstan’s defense expo). Originally, I was booked in Lufthansa business class for the Vancouver-Frankfurt portion of my itinerary, but after being informed by our Associate Editor that the aircraft I would be flying was not only rife with available first class seating, but that it was D-ABVS (an aircraft equipped with the new first), I felt it was my duty to exchange currencies of various forms and reasonable amounts for a soon-to-be vanishing experience.

Lufthansa, you see, is configuring these aircraft from three class (First, Business, Economy) into a different three class (Business, Premium Economy, and Economy). First class on a Lufthansa 747-400- will be gone for good soon- and I will sorely miss it.

Continue reading Flying Art: Experiencing Lufthansa’s 747-400 First Class

IMAGES: Qatar Airways Unveils its New Airbus A380 First Class

Qatar Airways new A380 First Class. Photo - Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways new A380 First Class – Photo: Qatar Airways

This week, Qatar Aiways unveiled what their new First Class product on the Airbus A380 will look like and it is impressive.

There are some immediate things that jump out and excite me beyond the hard statistics. The colors and branding fit right in with the overall Qatar Airways color palette. Many airlines, to their detriment, completely lose all branding in their premium cabin and begin to focus on creating an atmosphere that attempts to soothe the passenger away.

Qatar Airways’ first A380 took off from Toulouse on its maiden flight to Hamburg where the aircraft will be fitted with its cabin before being painted. Image: Airbus.

Qatar Airways’ first A380 before being fully painted – Photo: Airbus

There are some airlines that even make their premium cabins look like hospitals covered in billboards… but I won’t mention names.  It looks as if Qatar Airways has decided to create an elegant, welcoming living room-like atmosphere without losing their identity as an airline inside. As an aircraft interiors geek, I find this exciting.

Continue reading IMAGES: Qatar Airways Unveils its New Airbus A380 First Class

Flight Review of British Airways’ 747 First Class

The First Class Cabin of a British Airways 747-436 (G-BNLK). Photo by Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

The First Class cabin of a British Airways 747-436 (G-BNLK) – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The entire reason I ended up in Poland was because my travel thought process doesn’t work like that of a normal person. If I see an enticing airfare, on a new airline or a new product, I tend to book it, then figure out the details later.

In this case, I had discovered that British Airways was offering some reasonable fares in their most recent Prime First product across the Atlantic. Better still, one leg (LHR-ORD) was going to be on a 747. In this case, G-BNLK.

I flew to Heathrow from Seattle aboard a G-VIID, a 777-236ER built in 1997. The only advantages I can point out between it and the 744 are the larger overhead bins and slightly more modern AVOD In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system.

The legs to and from Warsaw were aboard an A320. Club Europe is a bit tight, but the lamb rogan josh was nice. What was not nice was arriving into Terminal 3. The flight arrived early, giving me a two-and-a-half-hour layover. Ample time to change terminals and go to the lounge, right?

Wrong – this is Heathrow! Having to walk half a mile from gate 24 to the transfer bus was the first nuisance. The second was the fifteen minute drive to Terminal 5. This was followed by another aimless walk to the connections desk and finally, Fast Track security. It is “Fast Track” in name only – I was stuck behind at least three passengers who forgot the 3-1-1 rule. Noticing that we were at gate B42, I realized that I  would have no time to visit the Concorde Room (British Airways’ first class lounge), which I was really looking forward to.

Boarding was also a little odd. Instead of BA staff looking at IDs, security was inspecting everyone’s travel documents to confirm the ability to enter the United States. Evidently, he was either very suspicious or just slow. I shall stop dwelling on my sub-par airport experience and talk about the aircraft experience, as it was infinitely better.

Continue reading Flight Review of British Airways’ 747 First Class

PHOTO TOUR: Inside American Airlines’ Trans-Con Airbus A321

American Airlines' Airbus A321 sitting at JFK. Image: Eric

American Airlines’ Airbus A321 sitting at JFK – Photo: Eric Dunetz

This story was written for AirlineReporter.com by Eric Dunetz (@southpawcapture)

Out with the old and in with the new.

American Airlines showed off their brand-new Airbus A321 at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on Tuesday and upped the game in the ever-competitive transcontinental market.  I was invited to take a tour.

The A321 with be replacing American’s aging Boeing 767-200 on the JFK/LAX route starting January 7th, and the JFK/SFO shortly thereafter, and will offer a welcomed upgrade for passengers.

Premium seat on the American Airbus A321. Image: Eric

A First Class seat on the American Airbus A321 – Photo: Eric Dunetz

American will be the only carrier to offer a three-class cabin, featuring fully lie-flat seats in both First and Business Class, on a narrow-body aircraft. The First Class cabin will be outfitted with 10 fully lie-flat seats in a 1-1 configuration, giving each seat direct aisle access.

Business class will have 20 fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. Each premium class seat features a 15.4-inch HD-capable touchscreen monitor offering a selection of in-flight entertainment including movies, TV programs, audio selections, and games.

In Main Cabin (economy) every seat will have an 8.9-inch HD-capable touchscreen monitor with an assortment of movies, TV programs, games and audio selections.  Only a portion of the content is free.

Continue reading PHOTO TOUR: Inside American Airlines’ Trans-Con Airbus A321