Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

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Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney

Virgin Australia's new livery showcasing their transition to a corporate carrier - Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Virgin Australia’s new livery showcasing their transition to a premium-focused carrier                       Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Virgin Australia
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (VH-YIF)
Departed: Brisbane Airport (BNE)
Arrived: Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business class
Seat: 1F
Length: About 1.5 hours

Cheers: Fresh and funky looking cabin interior and great catering for such a short flight
Jeers: No foot-rests and no curtain divider thus limiting privacy
Overall: A great new business product on the Australian domestic market which with a few improvements will give competitors a run for their money.

During the last two years, perhaps no other airline has gone through as much transformation as Virgin Australia. Starting off as the first true low-cost carrier (LCC) in Australia in 2000 (then known as Virgin Blue) it quickly became a popular choice for leisure travelers. As the Australian market became more saturated with LCCs, Virgin decided it was time to remodel and focus more instead on the premium market. This transformation included the introduction of a business class across the fleet, with all aircraft having completed the re-fit by the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Continue reading Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney

Review: An AvGeek Finally Gets to Fly on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

United's Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Houston. Photo: Brandon Farris

United’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Houston. Photo: Brandon Farris

It has been a long journey, but I am proud to say that I have finally flown on a Dreamliner.

After two years of trying to get on the 787-8 Dreamliner, I finally had my opportunity to step aboard one of the most amazing aircraft ever built.My flight, United 1169, was from Houston to Los Angeles; they fly the aircraft once a day between these cities for positioning, and when I stumbled on it I couldn’t resist.

As time call to board my flight (in the Economy Plus section), it finally began to sink in that I was about to board the plane I have lost many nights of sleep over. I have followed the issues the plane has had throughout its flight test program and entry into service.

The aircraft I was flying on, N26902, has quite a history and actually is one of the 787s that cost me a couple night’s sleep, as it was the plane that diverted to New Orleans back in December, 2012, when the battery saga was beginning to catch fire. The aircraft also completed the inaugural flights for United to Tokyo Narita from Los Angeles, becoming the first 787 flown by a non-Japanese airline to land in Japan.  Weeks later, it completed United’s first flight to Shanghai.

Continue reading Review: An AvGeek Finally Gets to Fly on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Flight Review: Flying Economy on an Hawaiian Airlines’ A330 to Auckland

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330s at the terminal in Honolulu - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330s at the terminal in Honolulu – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Getting to New Zealand from the United States is a very limited affair.  The only way to get there directly is with Air New Zealand and at some times of the year (around Christmas, especially) capacity becomes limited due to operating only three daily flights (two from LAX, one from SFO).

More recently a new choice was offered to New Zealand; Hawaiian Airlines flying from Honolulu (HNL) to Auckland (AKL). The new flights started in March and they fly three times a week between the two cities.

Using their new Airbus A330-200 aircraft, Hawaiian’s service to the south Pacific allows one-stop service from a number of west coast cities (although all cities, apart from Seattle, require an overnight stay in Honolulu when southbound).  After I had flown down to Hawaii from Seattle and spent a brief two hours in the warmth that permeates Honolulu airport, it was time to board another Hawaiian aircraft for my journey to New Zealand.

Continue reading Flight Review: Flying Economy on an Hawaiian Airlines’ A330 to Auckland

In-Flight Review of Westjet Encore: On Board Their Newest Q400

Westjet Encore Bombardier Q400 C-FENY at North Peace Regional Airport (YXJ) in Ft. St. John BC, under a beautiful blue sky.

Westjet Encore Bombardier Q400 C-FENY at North Peace Regional Airport (YXJ) in Ft. St. John BC, under a beautiful blue sky.  Photo: Howard Slutsken | AirlineReporter.com

This was going to be a great day for AirlineReporter.com’s Canadian “Senior Contributor.” That would be me!

I was flying with a new Canadian airline in a brand new Canadian-built plane, traveling from a major Canadian airport over some stunning Canadian landscape, and visiting the headquarters of one of “Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures,” which happens to be a major Canadian airline. The Flight Attendants might have made it even more Canadian by greeting me at the plane’s door with a Timmy’s “Double-Double” and a hockey stick. That didn’t happen.

Translation? I’m flying with Westjet Encore on a Bombardier Q400 from Vancouver (YVR) over the Canadian Coast Range and Rocky Mountains, and visiting Westjet’s base in Calgary (YYC). I’ll leave it to you to find out about Timmy’s.

Westjet Encore began flying in late June with two 78-seat Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprops. Since then, five of their initial order of 20 Q400s have been delivered, and they have options on another 25 planes. Westjet Encore augments Westjet’s Boeing 737-based route structure with regional flights of distances up to 700 miles. That’s about a two hour flight time for the Q400, but most destinations are 60 to 90 minutes apart. Having the Q400 in the fleet will give Westjet the flexibility to fly to new destinations, add additional frequencies to current destinations, or “right size” the service throughout their network by swapping 737s with Q400s. The Q400s are pretty quick, with flight times within 10-20 minutes of a 737 over these short distances.

The first destinations included Nanaimo, BC in the west, and as far east as Saskatoon, SK. As more planes come into the fleet, Encore is adding  destinations and continuing their expansion eastwards. Encore brought Westjet service back to Brandon, MB in September, a destination that previously couldn’t support WJ 737 service. This YYC-YBR flight is currently Encore’s longest, at a bit under 2 hours. In addition to adding direct regional flights to the Westjet schedule, Encore will look to keep travellers “in the family” by providing connections to mainline WJ flights, and those operated by codeshare partners. Encore is also part of the “Westjet Rewards” frequent-flier program, and shares facilities with WJ at common destinations.

Continue reading In-Flight Review of Westjet Encore: On Board Their Newest Q400

In-Flight Review: LOT Polish 787 Premium Club

A warm welcome onboard a LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive.com

A warm welcome onboard a LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive.com

Story & Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren – A joint venture between Airchive & AirlineReporter.com

LOT Polish has not exactly been living on easy street over the past few years. The carrier has faced intense competition from deeply entrenched regional full service carriers such as Lufthansa and Air France that have made the effects of the global recession all the more severe. Below the surface the carrier has been shedding routes left and right since 2010 in a bid to increase profitability. The carrier has also been courting partners since 2012 to convince one to buy a major stake in the airline.

But worst of all, the carrier bet the farm on the controversial Boeing 787 Dreamliner for its long-haul operations. Originally intended to help create one of the youngest and most advanced fleets in Europe, the move instead left the Warsaw-based airline with a bunch of expensive pieces of flying plastic when the type was grounded worldwide in January.

Having already sold off all but one of their Boeing 767s by the time of the grounding, the carrier was left up a big creek with a very small paddle. With long-haul operations effectively crippled the carrier hemorrhaged cash to the tune of $50,000 per day for months on end, eventually ending up broke earlier this year. LOT has been taking government loans consistently ever since, and has already admitted that if Boeing doesn’t compensate them for the loss in revenue they are already looking at dire financial straits for 2014.

It is against that backdrop that Airchive was invited by LOT Polish on a roundtrip from New York JFK to Warsaw.

A LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive.com

A LOT Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Image: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airchive.com

The Flight

Terminal one at New York’s JFK Airport isn’t exactly the airports crowning jewel, but it’s hardly the worst of the bunch either. LOT Polish’s check-in desks are located just below and to the left of the AirTrain entrance, making it an easy find. Premium economy passengers have the option to check in for the flight in at the business class desk, where a friendly LOT employee made check-in quick and easy.

Despite having a fast track security status it took almost thirty minutes to wind through the lanes. Obviously not LOTs fault, but the coach lanes moved faster. Post-security, premium economy passengers can enjoy the Lufthansa lounge at JFK’s Terminal One: this was not clear to us however, and we missed it.

Continue reading In-Flight Review: LOT Polish 787 Premium Club on Airchive.com