This is a continuation of our COVID fleet retirement series, where we tap our archive to commemorate the planes that retired early because of COVID. In our first installment of the series we said goodbye to the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400. In this story, we stick with the “4 engines 4 long haul” theme but switch gears from Boeing to Airbus.
An Airbus A380, A340 and a few A320’s hanging out at Toulouse Blagnac Airport
With fewer people flying, plus the increasing use of fuel-efficient two-engine long-haul planes in airline fleets, older quad-engine planes are dropping like flies. No surprise, then that a number of airlines retired their Airbus A340 and A380s fleets. The A380 is a unique behemoth, the largest and arguably most-comfortable passenger plane around. And its older sister, the elegant A340, has captured AvGeeks eyes and hearts around the world.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A340 (G-VRED)
Read on as we take a stroll down memory lane as we say goodbye to a few A340 and A380s.
When it comes to the passenger experience on long-haul flights, the gap between economy and business class just keeps getting bigger. Today’s business class is all about universal aisle access, suites with doors, and other features that used to just be for first class. Back in economy, seats and legroom are tighter, and amenities are disappearing.
But lucky for us, many airlines are offering a new island of refuge in the middle of the gulf between economy and business: so-called “premium economy.” Oxymoron? Maybe. But if it’s a way to take some of the harsh edge off of flying in economy, without having to shell out big bucks for business class, then consider us interested!
We recently did some flying with SAS Scandinavian Airlines, whose long-haul A330 and A340 fleet recently got a major interior makeover. On the outbound to Copenhagen we had a blast trying out their new business class, but on the way back we made sure to score a seat in SAS Plus, their premium economy cabin. The seat itself was more economy-plus than business-minus, but amenities like lounge access, free WiFi, and fast-track airport security were a great way to sweeten the deal. All in all, SAS Plus did a great job of making economy class much more comfortable and fun.
Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Read on for our full report and our thoughts on whether SAS Plus is worth it on your next trip.
Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A340 called Bubbles – Photo: Lewis Smith | FlickrCC
Growing up, many of us were excited moving up to the next grade level in school. For whatever reason, I assumed high school would be a totally new experience. In some respects, it is. However, when you walk through the doors, you see many of the same kids you already knew. The halls are still lined with lockers that have combination locks to give a false sense of security but you really know that with some repeated jiggling they’ll open without you having to actually dial the combination.
You still spend the day in classrooms with teachers who drone on and on about this or that, and at the end of their lecture they still assign a ton of homework. In the end, its really not much of a different experience than where you were previously. Yes, the halls were bigger, our bodies were undergoing changes that just make things awkward, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t that special. For me as an AvGeek, it was a similar experience I had when finally flying on a wide-body jet for the first time.
Main business cabin on the Swiss 777-300ER
On June 10, Swiss International Air Lines officially inaugurated its new Boeing 777-300ER (77W) on its first regularly scheduled daily service to the United States. The debut flight took off from Zürich/Kloten Airport (ZRH) and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The 77W is the first Boeing product in Swiss’s mainly-Airbus fleet, and carries 55% more passengers than the Airbus A340-300 (343) it replaces on the ZRH-LAX route. Its first 77W, HB-JNA (delivered on January 29) with its special “Faces of SWISS” livery, made the flight.
A Swiss 777-300ER (HB-JNA) in special “Faces of SWISS” livery – Photo: Swiss
Swiss gave the public a CGI-based video preview of the all-new aircraft and completely redesigned interior, and AirlineReporter was the first to confirm the delivery date of HB-JNA. We were also one of the few media to be invited to LAX for the inaugural events to take a look with our own eyes. Were we disappointed?