American Airline's flight crew are ready to welcome guests to see the new Sky Interior at Boeing's delivery center at Boeing Field (BFI).
Yesterday American Airlines took delivery of their first Boeing 737-800 (N867NN) with the new Boeing Sky Interior. I felt privileged to hitch a ride on the airplane during its delivery flight from Boeing Field to Dallas-Fort Worth with American and other invited guests.
Before getting outside to see the aircraft and interior we had to go through a little security. There was a conveyor belt and metal detector, but no requirement to remove shoes, laptops or put your toiletries in a ziploc bag — nice.
The aluminum fuselage glistened in the sun outside Boeing’s delivery center waiting to fly passengers for the first time. After the ribbon was cut and photos were taken, it was time to check out the new Sky Interior first hand.
You have to love walking onto a brand spanking new plane and breathing that new-plane smell. There is something to be said about flying on a plane with only 21 other people (including the pilots) on its delivery flight from an airport that doesn’t see scheduled jet service.
Although I thought the ceiling lighting was going to be the most noticable aspect when entering the 737, I was actually first drawn to the new window openings and clean interior walls. Being an airline nerd, I spend a good chunk of my time staring out the window and this was a welcomed sight.
The Boeing Sky Interior on American's newest Boeing 737-800 (N867NN).
A combination of the larger window openings, blue lighting in the ceiling and new luggage bins, there really is a sense of space with the new Sky Interior. Boeing allows airlines to customize their lighting and American has pre-programmed the following:
* Boarding and de-boarding: blue top, white side lights * Take off and landing: blue on top and blue on the side * Cruise: wall lights are off, top is blue * Night/Sleep: dark blue on the ceiling, wall lights are off * Meal: Amber on top and side * Sunrise/Sunset During Takeoff/Landing: Deep orange tones
On top of the nifty colors, the overhead bins have been improved to mimic the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s bins. They are larger and are able to hold more luggage (48 more bags to be exact in the 737-800). They also fold up into the ceiling to provide more cabin space. If you are 6’1″ you will still hit your head while standing, but those of shorter stature should have better luck.
Even though the windows are the same size in the fuselage, the new interior shows more of the window.
The American interiors on the 737 are newer than other aircraft in their fleet and aren’t too bad, but after seeing the new interior, the standard interior looks a bit aged and cramped.
The new Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior is part of American’s fleet renewal plan. Later in the week I will go into more detail on American Airline’s future plans to let customers know they mean business.
Check out all the Boeing airplanes behind the Boeing 747-8I at Boeing Field. Click for larger.
I love living in Seattle and covering the airline business. There is so many aviation related things to do in the Seattle area and there always seems to be something going on. Sometimes I will get a photo that really encapsulates that feeling of Seattle being someplace special and I think this one does just that.
During this event, there was sure a lot of eye candy to be seen. Of course, there is the first Boeing 747-8I (hard to miss in her orange livery) and a 747-8F. There are also five Boeing 787 Dreamliners and I see 12 brand spanking new 737s, which will be delivered all around the world.
SeaPort Air Pilatus PC-12 (N58VS) parked at Portland before our flight back to Seattle.
You might be an aviation geek if you take a flight, wait around for five minutes, then get back on the plane to fly home. I love doing that stuff and I recently got to fly SeaPort Air from Seattle to Portland to check out their product (disclaimer: I did not have to pay for my flight).
SeaPort Air is one interesting airline. Service started in June of 2008 flying between Seattle and Portland. However they not only fly to additional destinations in Oregon, they also fly to destinations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Say what? Do not worry, I will explore the airline’s interesting history in another blog. On this one I want to take a look at their flight from Seattle to Portland.
Not a shabby view. Nice thing about a small plane is you can take photos out of your neighbor's window.
Unlike most other flights out of Seattle, that leave from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), SeaPort flies out of King County International Airport (aka Boeing Field – BFI), which is located just north of SEA. The big benefit of operating out of BFI is no TSA. That means, no privacy invading body scanners, no putting your toiletries into a ziploc bag and no waiting in long lines. SeaPort has no problem advertising the lack of TSA. On their website they state, “No lines. No rubber gloves. No need to take your shoes off. Simply arrive 15 minutes before your flight, board and go.” What a simple concept. SeaPort shares a common ticket and boarding area with Kenmore Express, the only two scheduled airlines that currently operate out of BFI.
This aircraft was in executive configuration. Yes, that is suede on the walls and ceiling -- classy.
SeaPort is geared towards the business traveler. They fly the Pilatus PC-12 which they have set up to hold 6-9 passengers. My flight was in an executive configuration of six passengers and I got to sit backwards flying south (photo of commuter configuration). With the pressurized cabin, turboprop engine and executive layout, the flight really felt VIP. During flight, the Pilatus felt much larger than other aircraft of the same size.
My big regret was not sitting on the left side of the plane on the flight down to Portland. Even though it was the middle of November, the sky was clear and there was plenty of great mountain eye-candy to be seen. Luckily for me, the passenger sitting next to me didn’t mine me taking a few shots out his window (he was sleeping). When coming back to BFI I wanted to sit on the right side to catch the views I missed on the way down. However Christian, one of the pilots, suggested I sit on the left side. He explained we would be doing a fly-by of downtown Seattle on a northern approach to BFI and it would be worth it. I took his advise and I am glad I did. Unfortunately it was night time by the time we reached the city, which provided an amazing few, but taking photos was difficult (photo).
Speaking of pilots, you will find two of them upfront. Airlines are able to fly with only one pilot on the Pilatus PC-12, but SeaPort has decided to fly with two. This is an unusual business decision, since not only does the second pilot cost more money, they also take up a seat that could be used for revenue. Although most passengers prefer having two pilots, I prefer only having one, since that gives me a chance to sit in the empty co-pilot’s seat.
Even though there is no direct BFI-PDX competition, both Horizon (with their their Q400’s or CRJ700’s) and United Express (with their E120s) fly on the SEA-PDX route. Flying on SeaPort Air via BFI versus others airlines at SEA definitely has some benefits. Passengers get free parking both at BFI and SeaPort’s terminal at PDX and of course you don’t have to deal with TSA at either. Even though SeaPort’s ticket prices might be a bit higher, when you factor in free parking and no bag charge, the overall cost becomes very competitive.
Time, especially with business travelers, can be worth much more than money. When I landed back at BFI, from the time the plane was stopped, to me pulling out of the parking lot in my car it was about three minutes (yes I was timing it). Try doing that at SEA.
Sigh. I really should have my own photos and video of today’s two flights. But my car had other plans. I was on a camping trip this weekend, with every intention to make it back to the Future of Flight in time for ZA003 Boeing 787 Dreamliner to take flight and then watch the second Boeing 747-8 to take off. However my car broke down and had to be towed 75 miles back to civilization. If this would have happened on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s first flight, I would have ditched the car and taken a taxi! Luckily some other great people were there to cover the action.
Above is a video of ZA003 taking off for the first time today, taken by Liz Matzelle (@ImperfectSense). This is the third Boeing 787 built, but the fourth to take the skies. ZA004 took to the skies beforehand on February 24th. ZA003 is being used to test the interiors,which I was able to tour of back in early February.
If seeing a Dreamliner taking off wasn’t enough, the second Boeing 747-8 also took the sky today after a few delays. The first 747-8 took flight on February 8th. I am currently trying to track down any video or photos taken of the flight, but I did find a photo from Kevin (@TxAgFlyer) showing RC22 waiting to fly.
Boeing recently announced before today’s flight, the Boeing 747-8 has completed 13 flights and 33 hours of flight time. The tests are going as planned — which is a good thing. Five pilots have flown the airplane taking it up to 30,000 feet and up to Mach .65. Boeing has completed initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers, and performed an extensive checkout of systems on the airplane. They are hoping to get the third Boeing 747-8 in the sky soon.