The aviation sector is responsible for roughly two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. If current trends continue, its share of the total is expected to grow substantially in coming decades. Fortunately, in recent years a number of airlines have made concerted efforts to make flying more environmentally sustainable. Most of the solutions to date have involved biofuels made from plant-based compounds. But Virgin Atlantic took a different approach, partnering with the U.S.-based company LanzaTech that was developing a technology to turn industrial pollution into jet fuel.
On October 2nd, the partnership achieved a major milestone: the first passenger flight powered (in part) by the innovative new fuel. There was plenty of fanfare around the flight, which we were on hand to cover. And though the flight was one incremental step out of many required to make the tech mainstream, it was still a milestone worth celebrating. Read on for our full coverage of the announcement, press conference, and the flight itself — including a surprise appearance by Sir Richard Branson!
Photo: Doug Peters/PA Wire
Last month, I wrote about the amazing time I had flying seat 1A on a United 747. I mostly focused on the 747 and the awesome view from my seat, which may have left some of you wondering about my experience with United’s so-called “Polaris Global First.” It’s a cabin class that won’t exist for much longer, as United is phasing out long-haul first class as part of its long-awaited Polaris rollout.
Well I’m back with an in-depth review of the Polaris Global First seat, service, food, features, and more. Did the experience leave me delighted or disappointed? Should you be rushing to try Polaris Global First out before it’s gone for good? Read on to find out.
EVA Air Boeing 747-400
There is littleÂ question that the Boeing 747 is the most beautiful aircraft ever built. Itâ€™s in a class of its own. Thereâ€™s a reason itâ€™s called the Queen of the Skies.
While some modifications (just a few) have been made since the first one took to the skies in 1969, its design is timeless. From the pointed nose that rises gracefully up to the cockpit windows and that distinctive hump.
For decades, it was the undisputed leader in wide-body aircraft. With more than 1,500 ordered, airlines that flew the 747 gained instant credibility and cachet. Bigger isnâ€™t always better, and while the Airbus A380 may be the biggest commercial airplane, it has nothing on the 747’s style and panache. The 747 is a glamorous runway model that turns heads wherever it goes – the way it struts confidently through airports around the globe. And nose onâ€”rotating off the runwayâ€”itâ€™s a thing of beauty.
Flight attendants welcome me onboard
All good things must end, and so it is that the 747 is in its twilight yearsâ€”eclipsed by the more efficient Boeing 777, bigger Airbus A380, and fuel-sipping Boeing 787/Airbus A350. With only 41 Boeing 747-8Is ordered, the writingâ€™s on the wall. And in the coming decade, we will see fewer and fewer Boeing 747s. But there are still some airports where you can see the Queen, and take one last flight. Such is the case with my home airport in Vancouver (YVR), where EVA, China Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Qantas still have passenger operations with the type. Albeit, the latter three operate the aircraft only seasonally. This past year, BA began using the Airbus A380 in summer months, but reverts to the 747 in the winter months. Lufthansa is now the only carrier operating daily 747 passenger service to Vancouver.
AirlineReporter recently experienced EVA Airâ€™s Boeing 747 service on the Vancouver-Taipei-Vancouver sector. The 747 once made up the bulk of EVAâ€™s long-haul fleet. It was the aircraft the Taiwanese airline used on its first flight to North America, when it inaugurated service to Los Angeles in December, 1992. Like many airlines, EVA has been replacing its 747s with Boeing 777s, which now do most of the airlineâ€™s long-haul flying. In fact, the airline now only has three passenger 747s left in its fleet, and Vancouver is one of the few destinations to whichÂ EVA uses the aircraft. EVA executives recently told me that 747 will no longer fly the Vancouver route by July 2017, and will be completely retired from the airlineâ€™s fleet by September of next year.
Microsoft Paint is how I do all my graphic design. It’s clearly good enough for this new airline – Image: Avatar Airlines
Have you ever wanted to invest in an airline, but get nothing in return?Â I sure have.
Ever wanted to pay for a job interview to be a captain, first officer, or flight attendant?Â Oh, of course; you had me at the complete lack of employment guarantee!
Well, then I have an opportunity for you: Avatar Airlines. And if you act fast (like serious, because who knows how much longer they will be allowed to exist), you can buy your way into getting way over-priced trinkets atÂ HelpAvatarFly.com!
At least they have a real plane… sort of – Photo: Baltia
You heard it here folks. Remember Family Airlines? Remember Baltia? Complete fixtures in the aviation landscape of America. Why? Â Because they’re both in the 12thofnever alliance. I often fly Family Airlines to New York before flying the “golden cock” Baltia across the Atlantic. Truly amazing.Â Oh wait, no I don’t. Because neither of those airlines will ever exist (well, Baltia sort of — for now), except in our hearts.
But maybe Avatar Airlines will be different? At least if you invest in this airline, you are likely to get something in return (like a t-shirt). But let’s take a look at how Avatar differs from its past and non-existent competition.
I’ve always wanted to fly in seat 1A on a 747 – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Japan to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Â Because we have two toddlers (who were NOT coming with us), we wanted to travel in luxury and make it something very special.
Besides being an AvGeek, I also happen to be very savvy with airline miles and hotel points. Â While that’s not a topic AirlineReporter focuses on (there are lots of great sitesÂ out there that do), I booked all of ourÂ flights using United miles that I’ve collected through various means.
On the outbound, I booked us DEN-SFO-NRT, with the SFO-NRT segment operated by the 747-400 (the bulk of United’s 747s operate out of SFO to Asia, with a handful of 747 flights also basedÂ out of Chicago O’Hare). Â I could have booked us on United’s direct flight from Denver, operated by a Dreamliner, but United’s 787 fleet doesn’t feature a first class cabin (which United calls “Global First”). Â Also, I really wanted to check out the United Global First Lounge in San Francisco.
United 787Â at SFO…viewed from inside a Mercedes! Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
Full disclosure: on our last big trip without the kids, we flew Lufthansa First Class and got to visit the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. Â Both were so good, I think it ruined us for any future flights. Â As much as I love United, I didn’t have great expectations. Â Here’s the shocker/spoiler: our United experience was really good.