It’s not every day that you get to fly an aircraft model for the first time. But at long last, after my fair share of missed attempts, I finally got a chance to fly an Airbus A350. I’m a bit ashamed I hadn’t flown it sooner. Being based in San Francisco, it’s been easier to fly the A350’s contemporary — Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner — courtesy of United and its star alliance partners ANA and Air Canada. I was excited to see firsthand how the A350 would compare, and it definitely did not disappoint.
Read on for this AvGeek’s take on the joys of flying Airbus’ A350, and thoughts on how it stacks up against my time flying the 787. Some of the differences are a matter of math, some are slightly more subjective. And yes, we’ll even talk about the most contentious topic of all — window shades versus window dimmers!
I knew I would hear that from observers when covering the unveiling of the first Boeing 737 MAX 7 in Renton, WA this week. I get it. Sure, the MAX 7 is the runt of the MAX family, but often runts can grow up and do amazing things, like going fast.
This is going to be one fast plane to fly. The entire MAX family, from 10 down to 7 will have the same CFM LEAP 1-B engines. With the 7 being the smallest and lightest, I am sure it will become a favorite to fly for pilots. Of course being fun to fly isn’t really a great business case for airlines, and so far they haven’t bought many.
The chevrons make it legit
WTF, it’s the ATW (Advanced Technology Winglet)
The goodies inside the rear wheelwell
Round and round we go…
Where the entire MAX family has accumulated over 4,300 orders, from 93 customers from around the world, the MAX 7 has only 63 of those orders from four customers in the U.S. and Canada (Southwest has dibs on 30, WestJet has 23, Canada Jetlines has five and ILFC has the final five). Is there a bright future for this airplane? Personally, I hope so.
My 747-400 Awaiting Departure in Seattle – Photo: Colin Cook
In late 2016, my girlfriend Molly and I began planning a 2017 trip to Europe, with the goal of using points and miles to fly in a premium cabin. After considerable research, we ended up flying on a British Airways 747-400 to London, and on a Virgin Atlantic 787-9 home. This first post will review our British Airways first class experience, and the second will review the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (business class) product.
One of the items on my AvGeek bucket list has been to fly international first class. I’ve had some wonderful experiences flying international business class (Air Canada 767, Lufthansa 747-8, and British Airways 777-300ER), but I’ve never had the chance for the best of the best. That all changed with this trip. I was already excited to be flying in first class, but I also unlocked another AvGeek desire: I was able to make the coveted “left turn” upon boarding the aircraft. When I have flown in a premium cabin previously, I have always boarded from the front left door. Sure, sure, there are benefits to both, but if you’re a passionate flyer, you can probably understand my excitement.
Delta’s Queen of the Skies (N674US) took a victory lap across the country on Dec. 18
With Delta Air Lines’ last 747 now in the boneyard at Pinal Airpark in Arizona, we thought it would be a good time to look back at the next-to-last farewell tour in late December when it visited both the Boeing plant of its birth and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
N674US taxiing at Paine Field in Everett – Photo: Jordan Arens
This particular bird (N674US – LN: 1232) first flew on September 30, 1999 and was delivered to Northwest in October of that year. It was transferred to Delta’s fleet in June of 2009 and flew with the airline until being put out to pasture. With the retirement of these iconic planes from Delta’s fleet, no U.S.-based passenger airline flies them any longer (unless you count Atlas and their charters).
A cargo pallet is lowered away from the opened nose of an SIA Cargo 744F.
I know, I know… everyone and their mom does “year-end review” stories. I am adding one more. Really, this is more for me and our team to look back to see what and how we did for the year. While I am at it, I might as well share, right?
This was the first full year where I sort of half-assed it. Probably not the right word to use, but I am going with it. July 2018 will mark the 10th year I have been running this site. A decade. For many of those years we published one story per weekday, week after week. That takes quite a bit of time. Even just editing and formatting another person’s story can take hours. And all those emails — they never stop.
I was driven by passion and love of airplanes. I also was hoping to make this a full-time business. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to try to make that happen and I hated it. I started to lose the love for the site and that wasn’t cool. So, I decided to get a job that I love and turn AR back into a hobby. This was the right call — I am happier now than I have been in a long time.
We flew over 317,000 miles for 2017! Image: GCMap.com
Of course there have been consequences. We have moved from a very consistent five stories per week to one, two, maybe three. I think there was one or two weeks with zero. I wish we could have daily content — I love reading our stories myself. However, the time commitment wasn’t sustainable, and that’s okay.
The number of stories might be down, but I don’t think we have half-assed the quality of our content. I am really proud of our stories and what we have been able to accomplish this year. I feel so grateful to have so many amazingly talented and passionate folks that have been able to share their experiences on AR.
Of course it is nicer when we write stories and people are there to read them. As expected, our traffic is down compared to previous years, but not as much as I thought. We still had over 3 million visitors to the site in 2017 and we’ve grown to over 100,000 Twitter followers. A huge thank you for sticking around with us, and hello to our new friends!
Alright, let’s move a bit away from the emotional stuff and let’s get into some stats (hey, we have something for everyone here).