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Christmas in Poland? Nah, I’ll Fly Qatar to Singapore

One of Qatar's two Oneworld 777s taken through the window of a QR A320 photo by Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

One of Qatar’s two 0neworld 777s viewed from the window of a QR A320 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

A few days before departing for Warsaw, I had a stark realization – I actually had no reason to be in Poland other than a milage run. Polish Christmas is not what we are familiar with here in North America. Indeed, the idea of potentially-radioactive Belorussian carp as my main feast for such a joyous occasion caused me some dismay. I admit, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Poland (including two great military and aviation museums) – just not on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Both days, the entire country – including the trains – more or less grinds to a halt.

Now, I could have spent a couple of days in a hotel in downtown Warsaw, and maybe gone shopping before my return home. But practicality is not, and never will be, how I solve problems. My original goal was to fly on Biman’s DC-10 from Kuala Lumpur back to Dacca, but I couldn’t make the times work.  After a call with my usual travel agent (who has come to understand that I have a flare for the weird), I discovered that I could, within the window of my original British Airways fare to and from Poland go on a day trip to Singapore! I also had another goal – could I do it for a similar cost to a week of peak rate hotel time at a luxury hotel in Warsaw? Thanks to Polish currency (3 Zloty =1 USD) I could, and what an itinerary I booked!

We at AirlineReporter have always been fans of Qatar Airways; it was high time I found out what the fuss was about, starting with their Airbus narrow-body fleet. To say the least, I was excited. I had heard nothing but great things about Qatar’s business class from our other staff members. I am, probably, the harshest and most pedantic critic on the AirlineReporter staff. If you are already bored of the article, I can summarize my experience with QR in one word. AMAZING! If you are interested in why, please do continue.

Continue reading Christmas in Poland? Nah, I’ll Fly Qatar to Singapore

Airline Pajamas, No Longer Just for First Class

The writer sporting the ANA Business Class pyjamas which unfortunately you have to give back at the end of the flight.  They are super comfy! - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Me sporting ANA Business Class pajamas, which unfortunately you have to give back at the end of the flight. They are super comfy! – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Recently you’ve heard often from airlines that they are cutting first class products and services from their aircraft, but that still leaves many with a competitive business class cabin.  When people say that “business class is the new first class,” the statement is becoming more truthful each day.  Lie-flat seats, designer amenity kits, and multi-course meals are now as common in business class as they are (or were) in first.  But one small item is slowly making an emergence in business class, one that has always been thought of solely as a first class staple: airline pajamas.

Airline pajamas have, up until now, been given out to those flying first class on international airlines like Singapore, Lufthansa, Thai, or Emirates.  They’re provided to the passenger so that they can relax while onboard without having to wrinkle their own clothes, or to allow them to get that full night’s sleep more comfortably.

But times are changing; as airlines roll back those first class cabins, passengers who fly in business class expect the same level of service and amenities.  So airlines like Qatar Airways, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic, and All Nippon Airways (ANA) are now providing pajamas to passengers in the business class cabin.  But are these pajamas as good as the first class offerings out there?

Continue reading Airline Pajamas, No Longer Just for First Class

Photos: First Aeroloft Installed on a Boeing 747-8I Business Jet

Private berth in the Aeroloft, located above the 747-8I's main cabin. Image from Boeing.

Private berth in the Aeroloft, located above the 747-8I’s main cabin. Image from Boeing.

If you were a fare-paying passenger and had access to sleeping berths like this, you would be elite. But in a Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Boeing Business Jet, this is where the “help” sleeps.

Today, Boeing celebrated the first Aeroloft to be installed on an aircraft. The additional space, located above the main cabin, behind the upper deck, provides an extra 383 square feet of additional space. That brings the total cabin space to 5,179 square feet. Yea… that is almost 5200 square feet… in a plane.

The Aerolof has eight private beds and a changing area for crew.

If the crew get resting areas this awesome, can't wait to see where the VIPs get to sleep. Image from Boeing.

If the crew get resting areas this awesome, can’t wait to see where the VIPs get to sleep. Image from Boeing.

Installation took place in Wichita, Kansas and now the 747-8I is heading to Hamburg, Germany to have the rest of its interior installed by Lufthansa Technik.

Boeing is still sticking to this aircraft is going to an, “undisclosed customer,” but it has been well established that this plane will go to the government of Qatar.Currently, Boeing has nine orders for the 747-8I BBJ for heads of states. Time to get into politics.

MORE ON TE BOEING 747-8 Intercontinental:
* Qatar 747-8I BBJ Delivery Ceremony
* Inaugural flight of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8I
* Tracking down the 747-8I’s owner
* Video from the 747-8I’s first flight

Photos and Info: Boeing Delivers Their First 747-8 Intercontinental

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to be delivered (A7-HHE) lines up on 16R at Paine Field.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to be delivered (A7-HHE) lines up on 16R at Paine Field.

Yesterday, Boeing delivered their first 747-8 Intercontinental. Although we know that the customer is the government of Qatar, Boeing was tight-lipped about who the customer might be.

Other than the registration number and information from reliable sources, there has been no official confirmation from either Boeing or the government of Qatar. Boeing stated that they are following the wishes of their customer and not publicly confirming or denying if it is the government of Qatar.

Boeing Executives answer questions about the Boeing 747-8I program before take off.

Boeing Executives answer questions about the Boeing 747-8I program before take off.

Before the delivery flight, Boeing held a press conference to answer questions about the 747-8 program. Present were Bruce Dickinson, VP and Chief Project Engineer, 747-8 Program, Elizabeth Lund, Vice President, 747 Program, Captain Steve Taylor, President of Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) and Jim Proulx, Boeing 747 Communications.

When asked if the Intercontinental might participate in a world tour, like the 787 Dreamliner, Lund explained that they are in discussion about the possibly and would prefer to work with an airline customer, like Lufthansa.

How would you like a bed in the nose of a Boeing 747-8I?

How would you like a bed in the nose of a Boeing 747-8I? Photo showing potential 747-8I BBJ interior from Boeing.

Currently there are nine 747-8 VIPs on order and Taylor stated that it is safe to say that all of them are going to government customers.

One government customer who does not have a 747-8I on order yet is the President of the United States. Lund stated that Boeing has spoken to the president and assured him that Boeing is more than ready to build the next Air Force One.

You have to love the extended upper deck of the 747-8 Intercontinental.

You have to love the extended upper deck of the 747-8 Intercontinental.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental that will go into commercial service with Lufthansa is still going through its final testing phase, which should be completed in the next week. Since the passenger version has things like seats, in-flight entertainment and more, it needs the additional time before being ready for delivery.

Lund stated that Boeing is working to get an official delivery date for the aircraft to Lufthansa and they hope to announce that date in the next few weeks. Previously, they have stated that they hope to deliver the first passenger Intercontinental in March of this year.

This is a mock up of a possible interior of a Boeing Business Jet 747-8I. The one delivered yesterday was empty. Photo by Boeing.

This is a mock up of a possible interior of a Boeing Business Jet 747-8I. The one delivered yesterday was empty. Photo by Boeing.

Near the end of the press conference, BBJ President Steven Taylor had to politely leave, since not only does he oversee the BBJ program, but he is also a pilot, that is rated to fly the 747-8I and he was going to be flying during the delivery flight. How cool is that?

After the press conference, it was time to head to the Future of Flight’s strato deck to wait for the the 747-8I to take off. Luckily it was not raining, but it was windy and very cold. Unfortunately, the aircraft was late taking off, so by the time she taxied out and lined up, my hands were having a hard time taking photos due to frozen fingers.

It was disappointing that we were not able to tour the interior of the aircraft and it was also not parked next to the Future of Flight where we could get better photos from the tarmac. But it is still not a bad thing to gather with aviation media to watch the first 747-8I to be delivered.

And lift off. The Boeing 747-8I heads off to Vancouver.

And lift off. The Boeing 747-8I heads off to Vancouver.

At about 1:01pm, the 747-8I lifted off from Paine Field, with cheers from the Boeing and media folks that gathered to watch.

First, the 747-8I flew to Vancouver for a few hours to complete customs paperwork before heading to Wichita, Kansas to begin its two year interior installation. There, the Aeroloft, which is a sleeping berth in the rear of the aircraft, will be installed before heading to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany for the rest of the interior installation.

Once completed in 2014, the aircraft will be able to carry 100 passengers in style, up to 8,840 nautical miles.

CHECK OUT MORE ON THE FIRST BOEING 747-8 INTERCONTINENTAL DELIVERY:
* 29 additional photos of the event
* Check out additional photos (from a different angle) by NYCAviation.com

Who is Taking Delivery of the First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Tomorrow? It Might Surprise You.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (A7-HHE) sits next to ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) in September 2011. Photo by Jon Ostrower.

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (A7-HHE) sits next to ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) in September 2011 at Paine Field. Photo by Jon Ostrower.

Tomorrow, the very first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will be delivered to its owner, but who is it? There have been many rumors and guesses about the plane’s owner, but nothing has officially been announced. Boeing is not talking and even though the delivery event is scheduled for tomorrow morning, there is no plan to announce the owner tomorrow and that the owner will not be present during the event. We know that the 747-8I is a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and most rumors have speculated that the aircraft is going to a head of some government.

I have gathered enough information and feel confident in announcing that the owner of the first 747-8 Intercontinental will be Qatar Amiri Flight, which is a VIP airline owned by the government of Qatar. According to Wikipedia, they operate, “worldwide charters on demand and caters exclusively to the royal family of Qatar and other VIP government staff.” Qatar Amiri Flight currently has two 747-8I’s on order.

The delivery event is set to start at about 11:00am PST tomorrow, the 28th and I am told the aircraft should depart by Noon. Make sure to follow me on Twitter and the hashtag #7478VIP as is covered live.

Image: Jon Ostrower aka the Flight Blogger