The last-ever 747, N863GT, departs from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its delivery flight.
The last-ever 747, N863GT, departs from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on its delivery flight

It’s the end of an era, one that revolutionized travel and brought the world closer together. After the Feb. 1, 2023 delivery of the last 747 built – a 747-8F registered as N863GT to Atlas Air – no new 747s will ever again depart from Boeing’s manufacturing plant in Everett, Washington.

Every AvGeek knows the story of the 747. Designed and built by the Incredibles – the group of engineers and mechanics and line workers who, in the late 1960s, created an unusual-looking airplane that would, in its way, change the world.

Thousands of Boeing employees, visitors, and guests fill the enormous manufacturing plant that housed the 747 assembly line.
Thousands of Boeing employees, visitors, and guests fill the enormous manufacturing plant that housed the 747 assembly line

Boeing held a two-day event to commemorate the delivery of the final 747, to Atlas Air. Thousands of people were in attendance for the event, filling a section of the former 747 assembly line, which is being dismantled and the space repurposed.

A few months ago I wrote about a flight in Etihad’s 787 business class. Later in the trip, during a long connection, I got to explore the highlights of the airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi.

Those highlights included a free hotel program for long layovers and a unique US immigration pre-clearance facility. The pièce de résistance was a morning visit to the incredible first class lounge, with a gourmet breakfast, great views of the ramp, and even a cigar bar.

Read on for a walkthrough of Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub, and for tips on how to take advantage if you pass through the airport yourself.

A young kiddo wearing a santa hat and rides an airplane rocking horse and poses next to a christmas tree topped with a captain's hat.
An enthusiastic Jr. AvGeek is ready for the holidays – Photo: JL Johnson

Every year I’m told that folks like me are hard to shop for. This is surprising since a big part of the whole “AvGeek thing” is travel. So if you’re in a rush, or you’ve been sent this article by the plane nerd in your family, it’s quite simple: Travel.

Travel is the best gift you can give an AvGeek. That’s it. But don’t take it just from me. Numerous studies conclude that money spent on experiences has a bigger impact on happiness than money spent on physical things.

“Create memories, not clutter.”

Marie Kondo (probably, sounds like something she’d say)

Before folks run to the comments, travel doesn’t have to be expensive. With a gift card of whatever value to someone’s airline of choice, or a contribution towards an experience (like those below), I am confident your gift would be appreciated by your AvGeek(s). For those who want to dig into the exciting stuff, meet us below the line…

What do you get when you combine writing about airline travel since 2008 with a few decades of being a sarcastic chap? Unsolicited Travel Advice from David (the Editor-in-Chief of this dog and pony show) — that’s what! There are way too many travel-related click-bait stories out there that give you boring and questionable information from “experts.” This series will be different — I will give you entertaining, possibly less questionable information, while not caring about any sort of clicks or bait. Let me set the mood. Imagine that you and I are hanging out, when we have just hit upon an interesting airline/travel topic (when is the best time to buy airline tickets?) and I am fired up and ready to spew my thoughts and opinions. When I wrap up, I hope that you won’t just awkwardly stare at me, but instead continue the conversation in the comments. Let’s do this…

There are lots of seats in lots of planes out there, but tickets go fast!

There are lots of seats in lots of planes out there, but tickets go fast!


Now! Crap, you just missed it… do it now! I am serious… don’t overthink this, buy them now! There are all sorts of thoughts/theories on this. Some backed with actual data, others sound more like snake oil pitches. Here are some “suggestions” that I have heard over the years:

  • Buy on a Tuesday
  • Earlier the better
  • Wait until the last minute for great deals
  • Buy on Travel Deal Tuesday (Tuesday after Thanksgiving)

Although those opinions might sound fun, I decided to search for some data to back these up. I ventured onto quite a few “legit” travel sites where there was no shortage of experts giving advice on the best time to buy airline tickets. Here is (no joke) what I found… the best time to buy a ticket before your flight: 70 days, 62 days, 90 days, 47 days, 69 days, 21 days, 110 days, 49 days, 217 days, 147 days, 50 days, 76 days, 99 days, 66 days, 94 days… I had to stop. There were more, lots more… but I could already see the total lack of trends. Or reasoning. I was starting to get the hint that there might not be some magical number, but more of people wanting you to read their story and click an ad (or two) before you leave.

Eastern Air Lines ticket from the 1950s. You waited WAAAAY too long to buy this one.

Eastern Air Lines ticket from the 1950s. You waited WAAAAY too long to buy this one.

Even if you did have a magic number, there are so many variables that can change prices; load factors, oil prices, competition, and of course my favorite… Murphy’s Law. It is a gamble and if you love the thrill of a winning streak, I will try not to judge, but I have seen enough movies to know that the house (or airlines) will always win in the long run.

I don’t use any special tricks or secrets, I just ask myself these three simple questions:

#1 Do I want to go on this trip?
#2 Do I have the money/miles to buy my airline ticket now?
#3 Will I be less happy if I do not buy them now, and the prices go up?

If I answer “yes” to most of these questions, I say the time to buy is now! Of course once I buy, there is one thing I must not do, or it could ruin EVERYTHING…

This past week, after a decade-long pause, Air France returned to Newark Liberty International Airport. The service is operated by a Boeing 777-200ER, a staple of the airline’s long-haul fleet. Passengers and higher-ups from both the airline and airport celebrated the occasion with plenty of fanfare, including speeches, a ribbon cutting, and cake.

Air France already operates multiple flights into New York through JFK, so the focus here is really on the parts of the tri-state area — like New Jersey and Staten Island — that are closer to Newark. As someone who grew up in central Jersey I can attest to that convenience advantage. Newark’s outdated terminals catch flak from some travelers, but like LaGuardia and JFK, EWR already launched a massive project to improve its ground game.

Air France 777

JFK is a SkyTeam stronghold thanks to Delta, but Newark has fewer connections with Air France’s alliance partners. United’s twice-daily Paris service is the main legacy airline competition. Both Air France and United are sandwiched between two other unique options on the price spectrum. French Bee offers a high-density low-cost service we’ve written about before. And La Compagnie offers a unique business-class-only service on an Airbus A321neo. But despite the competition, Air France sees plenty of market opportunity to relaunch into Newark, including for passengers looking to connect onward from Paris to points east.

Air France 777 Business Class Seat

A few years back I had a great experience flying on an Air France 777-200ER to Paris. And as a New York resident I’m always glad to see more long-haul options come to town. Cheers to the new route, and I mean that literally: Air France offers champagne service in every cabin *clink*.