Stories by Manu Venkat

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - SAN FRANCISCO, CA. Manu got his private pilot license in high school, setting the tone for his interest in all things aviation. He earned his frequent flyer credentials working as a journalist, and is now a medical resident in New York City. He enjoys writing about air travel from a millennial's perspective.

http://www.airlinereporter.com

Saying goodbye to any 747 is hard, but one that is unique, is harder. 

Thanks to COVID, the majority of airlines have grounded their four-engine widebody planes. Most A380s, A340s, and 747-8s will see the skies again. But a return to flight isn’t as certain for many 747-400s, which were already long in the tooth. 

The Dutch airline KLM was already working towards a 2021 retirement for its 747-400s, but thanks to COVID the fleet was retired a few weeks ago. And the AvGeek nostalgists that we are, we felt it was a departure worth commemorating. Especially because KLM operated the oddball passenger/freighter hybrid called the Combi, which included a cargo bay in the rear part of the main deck.

Read on for a quick farewell to the KLM Combi and the rest of its proud 747 fleet.

Austrian Airlines business class appetizers

Even at ground level cooking a fancy meal can be tricky. That’s why I’m so amazed by the delicious meals I’ve had while speeding at 600 miles per hour miles in the sky in a narrow metal tube. The fact that airlines can make restaurant-quality meals happen under those constraints — at least in premium cabins — is pretty awesome.

Probably the best food I’ve had in the skies was aboard Turkish Airlines, which relies on an Austria-based company named DO&CO to deliver its “gourmet entertainment” in the skies. So of course Austrian Airlines, which also uses DO&CO for premium cabin catering, has been high on my list ever since. I finally got the chance to fly ’em and try ’em. What did I think? Read on to find out!

A while back I got to fly in KLM’s World Business Class on one of their new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. That flight was from San Francisco to KLM’s HQ hub in Amsterdam, and from there I connected onwards on another Dreamliner to Brazil. I took some photos and videos from that second flight and wanted to let them speak for themselves.

But actually.

Once you start the story below, no more words from me. If you want the lowdown on the seat and service, head to that trip report from my SFO–>AMS flight. Otherwise read on for the photo and video highlights from my long-haul flight in KLM’s flagship premium product. And don’t forget: if you’re an audiovisual sort of person, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

COVID-19: It’s here, it’s spreading, and it has people very worried. Public health authorities everywhere are hard at work containing this newest coronavirus strain, but the global ripple effects are already huge. And as with previous infectious disease outbreaks air travel is getting a lot of scrutiny as a potential means of disease spread across borders.

There’s no certainty about how far the disease will spread and how the aviation world will respond. But since some of you may have trips on the books or plans in the works, I wanted to take a brief moment to share some thoughts and resources. We discuss the basics of the virus, the level of risk if you fly during the epidemic, how to reduce your risk, whether you need to change your flight plans, and how coronavirus is impacting the aviation industry.

Before we dive into things, two big caveats:
– I’m a physician in my day job, but I’m NOT a trained public health professional or an infectious disease specialist. You should be paying closest attention to the updates and recommendations of trustworthy sources like the CDC and WHO.
– This story is evolving fast, so no guarantees that everything in here is up to date at the time you read this.

Read on for a quick take on the state of flying in the era of COVID-19, and what the epidemic may mean for you.