Browsing Tag: Flight Review

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER at a cloudy JFK.

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER at a cloudy JFK.


Airline: American Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (N719AN)
Departed: John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
Arrived: London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business Class
Seat: 9A to and 8J back
Length: About 6 hours

Cheers: Amazing new Business Class product that goes head-to-head with international carriers.
Jeers: Still some grumpy employees who need to smile more.
Overall: American is not just talking the talk; they are walking the walk — they just need to walk a bit farther.

Delta Boeing 777. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Delta Boeing 777-200LR in Atlanta. Notice the special signature on the nose. Photo by Brandon Farris.

I recently had the opportunity to fly from Atlanta (ATL) to Los Angeles (LAX) on Delta Air Lines flight 110, that was operated by a Boeing 777-232LR. Being the AvGeek that I am and having never flown on a 777 I just couldn’t turn this opportunity down.

I hopped on a red eye out of Seattle (SEA) that got into ATL at 05:30am giving me nearly 3 hours for my connection. I believe it literally took me maybe 20 minutes to get from where my SEA plane was parked in the B gates to gate F4 where I lay eyes on N708DN, a 2009 777-232LR that would be my ride back to the west coast. This aircraft is dedicated (with a special logo on the nose) to Delta’s former CEO David C. Garrett Jr who served for the airline from 1978-1987.

Being that I was at the airport so earl,y not many shops were open yet, so I mingled around the terminal where I saw a Boeing 767-432 arrive from Rio as DL60 and an Airbus A330-323 pushed back at 06:10am and depart as DL8860 to Saint Martin which was a surprise.

Delta configures their 777's in a 3-3-3 layout. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Delta configures their 777’s in a 3-3-3 layout. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Gate agents finally arrived around 07:00AM for our 08:10AM departure, at this point I was assigned 53E which is literally middle middle on this aircraft as it is a 3-3-3 configuration in the coach cabin.

It finally approached time to board, but were told that there was a slight delay with the cleaning crews onboard the aircraft and boarding would begin as soon as possible. Once boarding began I waited until the very end to get on since all I had was a backpack and wouldn’t require any overhead space.

Walking down the jetway the excitement began to settle in that I was about to step foot on my first ever 777 flight even if it was domestic, it is still a 777. By the time I boarded near the end, it didn’t take very long to get to my seat near the very back of the aircraft.

The time was now 0819 and our push-back began, only 9 minutes late so not too shabby. This was the part that I was most looking forward to; that howling growl start of those amazing General Electric GE-90’s as they spool up and come to life. I heard the first one start and it was like music to my hears. I know that I had the biggest and dorkiest smile/look on my face like a 5 year old.  Yes I am in love with that howl!

Delta's IFE. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Delta’s Economy in-flight entertainment. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Following the push-back, we begin our taxi out. The pilot came on the intercom and alerted us that we are number five for departure, 19 minutes after departing the gate the aircraft begins to turn on the runway. I was ready to feel the full 220,000lbs of thrust but since we were so light with only going to LAX the pilots really didn’t seem to throw the throttle that high. It didn’t seem very long for us to climb to our cruise altitude of FL400 as we headed west. I must admit that this was one of the quietest cabins I have flown on at cruise.

Now, I had the opportunity to check out the seats. They seemed very wide which I absolutely loved but at the same time each row is extremely narrow to where my knees were almost in the seat in front of me (I am 6’0″). I couldn’t imagine if someone had been sitting in front of me and reclining the seat. It would have crippled my space, in a long haul flight I definitely would consider upgrading to the front cabin if possible, but luckily this was a shorter flight.

The lack of leg space however was made up for with the ability to plug my phone in to charge and a seatback TV which had a very wide array of movies to choose from including ones that had just come out on DVD last week like Life of Pi, to classics like The Goonies.

I choose Lincoln, but since I was so tired, I fell asleep about 20 minutes into it and I actually took a nap for about 3 hours. When I woke up, the cabin crew was coming through with a final beverage service. As a part of the service, they offered three choices for snacks: pretzels, peanuts or the infamous biscoff cookies. This was a welcome change as I am just used to the standard AM or PM snack depending on when my flight was.

Flying on the 777. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Flying on the 777. Photo by Brandon Farris.

At this point we were now about 40 minutes out from LA so I decided to get up and stretch a little and see if I could find a window to peak out somewhere and at least get a couple of pictures and was lucky to find that the cabin doors all have windows and was able to snap away for a couple of minutes. I also took this opportunity to visit the lav to find it was surprisingly very spacious.

But now it was time for me to return to my seat as we began our descent into LAX and was a fairly smooth approach. We landed on 25L and the pilots brought us in very gently before I was able to hear the roar of that GE-90 as the thrust reversers were kicked in. Following a short taxi we parked at the gate at 0957, three minutes early even after the late push.

Deplaning was brief, only being about 15 minutes from the back of the plane. I had the opportunity to talk to the pilots and was invited to make a brief visit to the flight deck before finally leaving the aircraft.

Flight deck of the 777. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Flight deck of the 777. Photo by Brandon Farris.

Overall for this being my first time ever flying on Delta and the Boeing 777 I was extremely impressed on both fronts. The gate agents were extremely friendly which can be rare to find, especially at 0600 and 0700 in the morning. The inflight crew was great and was willing to answer any questions I had. It was nice to see such happy and helpful employees working for Delta after I have heard mixed reviews. Now to try and test out the 777 on a longer flight.

NOTE: Brandon covered the cost of this flight on his own and it was not paid for by Delta.

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr


I talk about airlines and airplanes a lot; it’s a part of who I am. Fairly often, my conversations about such topics end up on Virgin America. At this point, I am forced to divulge the fact that I had never been on Virgin America, a statement which is often met with a blank stare followed by the response, ’œreally?’

Most of my domestic flights are on JetBlue and Delta, simply because of their much larger route network out of New York, where I am based. When I finally had the opportunity to give Virgin America a try, I immediately jumped at the chance. I flew from New York’s John F. Kennedy International (JFK) to San Francisco (SFO) and back in 12 hours as part of a media event, so travel was paid for by the airline (note: the airline paid for my trip, but all opinions are my own).

At JFK, Virgin America is based out of Terminal 4, which mainly houses international carriers. Virgins gates are in the A concourse, which is simply not where you want to be. With extremely limited restaurant and shopping options there, you will want to spend as little time as possible at the gate. Thankfully, Terminal 4 is undergoing a massive renovation which will remedy this issue. The terminal is in the process of unifying the two security checkpoints, and when complete, passengers will have access to a markedly wider selection of restaurants and shopping.

Virgin Americas gate at JFK T4 does not stand out in any way over any other domestic airline. There is no fancy seating, no nice lighting, and not so much as power outlet in sight. However, the instant you board the aircraft, things immediately start to change.

Most passengers will quickly notice the colorful mood lighting, which is a great upgrade from the typical dim white fluorescent tube lighting.  At first it might appear the lighting is all LED, like we are seeing in new Boeing interiors, but it is actually a combination of fluorescent tubes and white LEDs with a color gel on them.

It’s warm, inviting, and just overall pleasant. Once settled, I found the seat to be quite comfy. The adjustable head rest is a great addition to the black leather seat. At 6’2’’, legroom was not an issue, as I had room to stretch, something becoming increasingly rare in economy.


Virgin America features one of the most advanced in-flight entertainment systems I have ever used, and I took this opportunity to put it to the test. The system, called RED, features movies and TV shows on demand, live satellite TV, food and drink ordering, and other information features. What I liked most about the system was how responsive it was. I never encountered any lag in the system, which makes the user experience quite enjoyable. I was thankful that the live TV was free, as I found the other selections a bit too expensive for my taste.  The satellite TV selection is limited to 18 channels compared to 36 on JetBlue, and certain channels did not work, but I was always able to find something to watch.


One thing that did irk me about the entertainment system was that there seemed be a lot of features that either didn’t work, or weren’t yet available. For instance, on the main menu there is a button labeled ’œread,’ but when clicked, a message told me that the feature is not yet available. A feature that is not yet activated should not be displayed as an option to the passenger.

I was able to follow up with Virgin American and they explained to that they are, replacing the Read section with an Info Section, “that includes static content that will be updated every six weeks, but that relates to travel, destination and other info that is more ‘evergreen’ and that fits better with what guests want to engage with in-flight.”

Similarly, I had some issues with the program guide for the live TV. I would click on it and an error message would appear. That must have just been an isolated instance.  Additionally, I would like if some on-screen reference was made to the tethered remote in the armrest. Had the passenger next to me not removed it first, I probably would never had known it could be moved.

My favorite part of the Virgin America experience was probably the in-flight ordering process. Virgin has done away with the traditional cart down the aisle system, and instead passengers order what they want through their screen and a flight attendant delivers it. I was extremely impressed at how simple the ordering process was, and how quickly items were delivered. If I could change one thing, it would be the inclusion of any free food option, even if just a small bag of chips. All food is purchase only in economy, no freebies except for drinks.

Once arriving to SFO, I made my way to my hotel and did not really check out the terminal. The following day, I made an effort to arrive at SFO early in the morning and was relieved to discover how beautiful Virgin America’s terminal was. Wide open spaces, bright, restaurant choices to satisfy even the most picky of eaters. This terminal clearly reflected Virgin’s attitude.

Unlike the terminal at JFK, SFO features lovely seating areas, classy furniture, free wifi and power outlets everywhere. These upgrades go a long way when it comes to unwinding after passing through security, and I wish any of these features were present at JFK.


Now that I have finally flown Virgin America, I can give an honest opinion of this high-tech, feature packed airline. While the airline did not disappoint, I’m not sure I would pay a premium over other airlines such as JetBlue for the privilege. The entertainment system may be more advanced and the mood lighting may create a brighter atmosphere, but overall, I felt the overall experience was different, but comparable. However, when compared to some legacy carriers that fly the route, I would absolutely consider upgrading to Virgin America.

The flight from SFO to JFK was a special media flight to fly the San Fransisco Giants World Championship Trophy to New York… stay tuned.

This story written by… Jason Rabinowitz, Correspondent.

Jason is a New York City native who has grown up in the shadow of JFK International Airport. A true “avgeek”, he enjoys plane spotting and photography, as well taking any opportunity he can get to fly on an aircraft.

@AirlineFyer | FaceBook |

The Bahamas puts the "blue" into JetBlue.

The Bahamas puts the “blue” into JetBlue.

Airline: JetBlue
Aircraft: Embraer E-190 N317JB, Deja Blue
Departed: Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS)
Arrived: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
Stops: None
Class: Economy
Seat: 7D
Length: 3hrs

Cheers: Great little bonuses: full soda can, free TV, lots of snacks and one free checked bag.
Jeers: Wish there was some Wi-Fi — it is coming soon.
Bottom Line: JetBlue does not feel like a low-cost airline

Taxxing at NAS towards the runway.

Taxiing at NAS towards the runway. There is a Bahamasair Boeing 737-500 in the background.

Being based in Seattle, I do not get the opportunity to fly JetBlue very often. It has been a few years since I have experienced one of their flights and I was excited to see I was flying them home after a recent press trip to The Bahamas (note: The Bahamas Tourism paid for my ticket on JetBlue).

I have only flown the E-190 once before in a business class flight on Air Canada from Toronto to Seattle. I was impressed with the larger seats up front on my Air Canada flight, but I have been wanting to try out what it is like sitting in the back of the E-190 and this flight gave me the opportunity.

JetBlue E190s are configured with 32″ seat pitch, but if that is not enough for you, then you can upgrade to Even More Space, which gives you (wait for it…) even more space. Rows one, 12, 13 and 14 offer 6-7 inches of additional space and give priority boarding for an extra charge. The aircraft is set up in a 2-2 layout with 100 seats — this means aisle and window seats for everyone.

The E-190 provides a window or aisle seat for every passenger.

The E-190 provides a window or aisle seat for every passenger.

The flight was only about half full, so after allowing passengers with Even More Space seats and those who need additional assistance to board, everyone else was allowed to board in one group.

I normally try to take photos of the aircraft before I board, but NAS does not offer great photo angles from the airport. However, the photos after take-off more than make up for it.

The overhead bins on the E-190 are not too large, so I planned ahead and checked my larger carry-on bag. Extra bonus: JetBlue allows you to check one bag for free. Was kind of a pain to haul my camera, laptop and chargers around Boston (where I had my layover), but I managed.

No matter what seat you are sitting in, you will get free TV with 37 channels of entertainment. There are also three additional channels that play movies and for international flights (which mine was), the movies are free. If you are on a domestic flight, the premium entertainment will cost you $5.99 to watch a movie. Make sure to bring your own headphones or purchase one for $2 once you board the aircraft, because the movies start shortly after leaving the gate. I made the mistake of waiting to buy after taking off and I missed 10 minutes of Batman: The Dark Knight (luckily I had seen it previously).

I paid for the beer, but everything else was free adn nummers.

I paid for the beer, but everything else was free and good.

Jetblue offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and a nice selection of free snacks including, blue potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, animal crackers and more.

If you want something a bit more substantial, four different “EATUP boxes” are offered for $5.99 each. There is also a decent selection of alcoholic beverages for $6.99 each, except for Bud Light which goes for $5.99. Being a fiscally responsible travel blogger, I went for a few snack selections and the cheaper beer.

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you can also purchase a head pillow for $5.99 or a blanket for $4.99 that you get to keep. Make sure to bring a credit or debit cards, since JetBlue does not accept cash.

Each seat has its own TV with free entertainment.

Each seat has its own TV with free entertainment.

Right after passing 10,000 feet, one flight attendant walked down the aisle selling food and non-food products. After that, another came through to get drink orders. I was confused when I got my beer and was not charged. Turns out that the flight attendant comes through at the end of the flight to do just one charge at the end — makes sense. However, on my next leg from Boston to Seattle, the flight attendant charged me right away for my food.

It was very easy for me to work on my laptop, while watching TV, which is not something I can say on other domestic products. It also helped that the seat next to me was empty.

I had to take this photo in Boston, since NAS did not have any place to take a photo.

I had to take this photo in Boston, since NAS did not have any place to take a photo.

Since NAS offers pre-clearence for US Customs, I was able to quickly catch my connecting flight from Boston to Seattle without having to go through much hassel.

What would make the flight more enjoyable would be Wi-Fi. The airline is staying pretty quiet about their game plan, but are publicly stating that Wi-Fi should start showing up in JetBlue’s fleet starting in “early 2013.” JetBlue is planning to provide a Ka-band satelite solution through their own subsidiary, LiveTV.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the E-190/JetBlue combination and can’t wait for my next flight on either.

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This story written by…

David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER at LAX.

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER at LAX.


Airline: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (ZK-OKM)
Departed: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Arrived: London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Premium Economy
Seat: 23A (window)
Length: 9.5 hours

Cheers: The product is great and those New Zealand accents — have to love them.
Jeers: Argh, why does my elbow keep pausing my movie?
Bottom Line: Having the word “economy” in the name seems inappropriate; it is anything but economy.

The outer seats in Premium Economy point towards the windows, giving extra privacy. I had the window seat.

The outer seats in Premium Economy point towards the windows, giving extra privacy. I had the window seat.


I recently had the opportunity to take a flight from Los Angelas International Airport (LAX) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) in Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy (note: the airline covered my airfare and I paid the taxes).

Say what? How can I fly from an American city to a foreign city on Air New Zealand? It is because of the Fifth Freedom of the Air, which allows Air New Zealand to operate their flight from Auckland to London, via LAX. Most people probably do not think about taking Air New Zealand to London, but they are a unique option that I wanted to check out.

This was my first Air New Zealand flight — kind of. I actually flew on the exact same plane earlier, when it was brand spanking new. ZK-OKM was Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300ER and I was able to hitch a ride on part of the delivery flight from Paine Field (PAE) to LAX. Since it wasn’t a real revenue flight with standard service (and only 2.5hrs long), I was looking forward to checking out the full product on a much longer flight.

WIth the outer seat angled a bit towards the window, it makes looking outside a breeze. Taking off from LAX (and yes, I had permission to take this photo below 10,000 feet).

With the outer seat angled a bit towards the window, it makes looking outside a breeze. Taking off from LAX (and yes, I had permission to take this photo below 10,000 feet).

When I first toured the airline’s 777-300ER, I had a hard time placing exactly what Premium Economy was. To me, it looked like something one would find in a long-haul business class.

Air New Zealand has had Premium economy on their 777-200s, but this product is very different. On the -200, it is your standard economy seat, in a 3-3-3 layout with some extra recline and seat-pitch. Not bad, but the new Premium Economy is in a whole other league.

Not only are the seats in a 2-2-2 layout, they don’t face forward. The first question you have to ask yourself when booking your ticket is if you want to interact with the person next to you or not. If you want to talk, dine or even snuggle with your seatmate, you probably want to go for the inner-space seats, located in the middle of the plane. Even though the seats are slightly tilted away from each other, they easily allow people to interact if desired.

The Premium Economy is in a 2-2-2 layout. The outer seats give better privacy than the inner seats.

The Premium Economy is in a 2-2-2 layout. The outer seats give better privacy than the inner seats.

If you are on your own or want some additional privacy, then getting a seat in the outer-space is for you. Each seat is tilted towards the window and gives more of a sense of privacy.

Having my seat tilted towards the window made taking off even a better experience than usual. It was a little weird at first orienting myself when I was tilted, but after a few minutes, I didn’t even notice anymore.

Since the seat in front is not directly centered, the video screen and tray table popped out and slid over for easier usability. I had plenty of room to work on my large laptop, while watching a movie.

The in-flight entertainment system was good enough and when browsing through the eight pages of movies, I found quite a few that I was interested in seeing. The system was quite slick, having a favorite list, that I could add what I wanted to watch later, so I wouldn’t forget what I wanted to watch.

Dang you remote! Why do you have to get in my way? The round silver thing above the remote is a pop out LED light.

Dang you remote! Why do you have to get in my way? The round silver thing above the remote is a pop out LED light.

The main downside of the product was the location of the remote — which was right by my left elbow. I ended up hitting it more than once, causing issues with my viewing experience. I unlatched the remote and let it hang, so I wouldn’t hit it anymore — problem solved.

The remote is not really needed, since the you can do everything (except use the keyboard, turn on your light or call a flight attendant) via the touch screen.

When will the lights dim? When will I get my next meal? This screen will tell you.

When will the lights dim? When will I get my next meal? This screen will tell you.

One of the coolest things on the in-flight entertainment system is the “My Flight” menu. This really gives you an itinerary of where you are at during the flight, when you will eat and when the lights will be bright or dimmed. This was great to be able to plan out when I wanted to sleep, when service would start and even when I could order food on demand.

Salmon, bread and wine make sense for a starter, but desert too?

Salmon, bread and wine make sense for a starter, but dessert too?

The food wasn’t too shabby. For dinner I was first served smoked salmon, watercress shoots, toasted almonds and burnt orange mayonnaise. For the main meal I had a choice between lamb, cod and chicken. I went with the lamb with potatoes and minted peas.

Then for desert was raspberry almond cheesecake, but it was odd, since the dessert was put on my tray with my appetizer and remained there until I was done with my meal. Maybe it is a cultural thing?

For breakfast, I had a choice between a chicken herb sausage cheese omelet, or Belgian waffles with strawberries. Not going to lie, I had a hard time making that decision, but I decided on sleeping through the meal, which I later regretted.

This is how dark it got during the flight. Taken over northern Canada.

This is how dark it got during the flight. Taken over northern Canada.

The seats in Premium Economy do not fully recline, but it does go back farther than economy and there is a little beanbag pillow to put your legs up.

Although the product is slick, you don’t get all the bells and whistles as Business Class — which makes sense. Both premium classes get priority ticket counter access, but only business gets access to the Koru Club Lounge. If you want to get into the lounge, you can buy a day pass for $55, which isn’t a bad deal.

From Los Angeles to London, economy class normally runs around $1200 and Premium Economy runs about $2400. Not bad considering the product one gets when upgrading.

My biggest suggestion is to change the name of this product. The old Premium Economy was just that. An economy product with a bit more leg room, but they were the same seats as economy, with the same seat layout.

The new Premium Economy is much closer to Business Class than economy and not changing the name doesn’t do the product justice. Even calling it something like “Kiwi Class” would be beneficial, because when most people fly and see a “premium economy” seat, they just think space a few inches of extra, but this product is much more than that.

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