N702VL, a former Southwest 737-700 departs BUR in September, 2021.
N702VL, a former Southwest 737-700 departs BUR in September, 2021. – Photo: JL Johnson

Long-time readers know we here at AirlineReporter LOVE an opportunity to try out new airlines and AvGeek experiences. Given that, we regret it has taken us so long to try new(ish) airline Avelo which launched in April of 2021. On the West Coast, this airline operates primarily out BURbank airport, just a hop, skip, and a $60 ride-share north from LAX.

We managed to get out to BUR last September to gawk at their fleet, but it took us a full additional year to be in the right place at the right time to finally get our opportunity to fly. Thankfully, following #SpotLAX2022, we had a bit of extra time to give them a shot for a quick trip up to Boise.

Finally, an Avelo Airlines Review!

A few months ago, Etihad Airways introduced the Airbus A350-1000 to their active fleet, which came equipped with a brand-new business class cabin. These aircraft have been flying a select few long-haul routes, including to New York JFK.

It was on that route that my wife — ahem I mean the newest AirlineReporter guest contributor Meghan Koushik — grabbed some quick pictures. And it’s a really gorgeous cabin. Take a look for yourself.

This business class cabin has the same understated style as Etihad’s previous business class seat still flying on their Dreamliners, but with more consistency from seat to seat. There’s also an improved privacy factor, thanks to sliding doors that turn your seat into a miniature suite. Notably, Etihad doesn’t offer a first class cabin on their A350s, so this business class is as fancy as you’re going to get.

We’ll be back later with some thoughts, photos, and videos from a separate flight on their B787 business class. For now, let us know in the comments section below what you think about the cabin, or if any of you have firsthand experience flying it.

Don’t look now, but United has been quietly making moves to earn some AvGeek cred. Earlier this year we wrote about the solid flight simulator game on their app. And this month they launched another aviation-related game. “Cleared to Land” is an air traffic control sim where you draw paths for aircraft inbound to an airport, until the airspace gets so crowded that you mess up, planes crash, and the game ends.

A snapshot of the gameplay

You’ll likely notice the resemblance to the original game of this type, Flight Control, which was all the rage in 2010. (And yes, realizing that game is over a decade old made us feel old too.) Flight Control’s developer FireMint was bought up by EA and the game faded away. But there have been a few similar games launched like Planes Control, whose developer RarePixels co-developed Cleared to Land with United’s in-house entertainment team.

Cleared to Land has one main difference from its predecessors: instead of nameless aircraft icons, you’re directing the current and rising stars of United’s fleet. And it’s interesting to see which planes they picked. The only representative of the current fleet is the Boeing 787-9. It makes sense to include the Dreamliner as the most technologically advanced member of the current fleet, though is a bit of a snub for the 777-300ER. The inclusion of the Airbus A321XLR is a nod to how important that long-haul narrowbody will be in replacing the airline’s aging 757s in the years ahead. The rest of the in-game fleet is comprised of the exciting up-and-comers United has invested in: Archer’s electric VTOL project, Heart Aerospace’s electric regional aircraft, and the Boom Overture supersonic aircraft (though American recently stole some of the Boom thunder).

The fleet under your control

To try Cleared to Land yourself: (1) make sure you have the United app installed, (2) make sure the app has been updated some time in the last few weeks, (3) hit the “more” button at the bottom of the home screen, and (4) go to Game Center.

A video demo of the game – Video: United and RarePixels

Cleared to Land is a little less ambitious than United’s flight simulator game, but definitely more approachable, and arguably more addictive. We’ll be glad to kill plenty of inflight time playing it.

We wonder if United’s salvo of flying-related games is a loose tie-in related to its Aviate pilot training program. In fact, there’s a banner for the Aviate Academy at the bottom of the app’s game center. There’s a huge need for new pilots right now, and the academy gives United a streamlined way to bring new trainees directly into the fold.

Give Cleared to Land a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Few US cities need their airports renovated more desperately than New York does. Its three primary airports have terminal facilities that may have been world-class decades ago, but are congested messes today. Fortunately the powers that be got the memo and are using this decade to get JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia back into shape. The LaGuardia work is well underway, with large parts of a shiny new terminal B already open. And recently, a project at JFK hit a major milestone.

An aerial rendered view of the planned New Terminal One – Photo: PANYNJ

A consortium of airlines, funding partners, project management companies, and other partners are breaking ground this month on JFK’s New Terminal One (NTO). It will cover the footprint of the current terminal one (a smattering of mostly international airlines), Delta’s terminal two, and the footprint of the demolished terminal three. For an overview of the overall planned terminal changes at JFK this CrankyFlier story from our friend Brett does a great job.

The press release lists AirFrance/KLM, LOT, and Etihad as anchor airlines for the new terminal. We’d have thought JFK’s major redevelopment could allow alliance partners to colocate. But AF/KLM’s major US partner is Delta over in terminal four, Etihad has a smattering of codeshare partners all over the place, and LOT is in the Star Alliance. So NTO may work like the current terminal one, as a grab-bag of miscellaneous airlines.

Inside the New Terminal One headhouse – Photo: PANYNJ

As for the terminal design, it will have a large headhouse and two piers with a total of 23 gates. Presumably most gates will be designed for long-haul aircraft. From the renderings it looks fresh, spacious, and *really* into letting you know that you’re in NYC.

The project will break ground this summer, with the first phase planned to open in 2026 and completion slated for 2030. So yes, you’ll have a while to wait before you can walk through the New Terminal One yourself. And there will probably be plenty of construction-related hassles for passengers passing through terminals one and two between now and then. For now, here’s some cool renderings of the final product.

The globe and route map outside the terminal is a nice touch. Hopefully the globe is a screen that can automatically update with new routes. Otherwise there’s going to be a very cranky maintenance guy climbing a ladder to adjust the string lights each time a new route launches.

Most of our AirlineReporting time and energy goes to this website and Twitter, but we also have a YouTube channel that we don’t want you to forget about. Over there we have some of our favorite window seat views, airport highlights, and other clips saved for your viewing pleasure. We’ve dabbled in some short video trip reports, like on JetBlue Mint and Finnair’s long-haul business class. There’s also some on-scene coverage of major airport infrastructure highlights, like Sea-Tac’s over-taxiway skywalk getting hoisted into place.

For fun, I lined up my three favorite takeoff videos from flights I’ve flown for the website. It was tough making the picks. Some strong contenders — like this Dreamliner #wingflex takeoff or this fine example of Newark parallel runway ops — didn’t make the cut.

This 787 takeoff view over New York didn’t make the toplist, but another Dreamliner takeoff did

Read on to watch the videos I picked. If you love aviation videos you won’t want to miss it!