A sunny break from the Pacific Northwest’s typically gloomy winter weather is always a pleasant opportunity. Last month I ventured south from Seattle for a couple days seeking some sun and planespotting.
My wife and I stayed at our favorite LA hotel, the H Hotel Los Angeles. It’s walking distance from the airport and to the famed spotting viewpoint park at the end of runway 24R/06L, a.k.a. the In-N-Out park, so named for its proximity to the famous burger restaurant. It’s actually just across the city line in Westchester for those who like to be exacting about locations.
This trip, 24R/06R was closed, and had been for months, for a big refurbishment project. This meant the spotting at the park was poor, as the planes have been landing on 24L/06R on the north side of the airport, and the two southside runways are seeing additional traffic.
Not having a rental car to go visit the Imperial Hill viewpoint on the airport’s south side, the best option turned out to be the most comfortable one – the H Hotel’s magnificent roof deck. I did walk over for a burger, and some spotting along Sepulveda Boulevard, but the best light and angles for the situation were definitely from the hotel.
Even for repeat visitors, LAX never gets old. The photo options are great, and there’s a seemingly neverending assortment of airlines and planes.
Japan Air Lines has retired all of its Boeing 777-200s, and its very last one stopped overnight at LAX before being flown over to the Victorville boneyard.
Southern California gets winter inversion layers with fog, but sometimes it’s clear as a bell. The weather on this visit was slightly foggy in the morning, and the haze never quite lifted, but there were views of the downtown core and Hollywood sign from the rooftop.
Late last year we spent a fun couple of days flying long-haul with Finnair and interviewing the head of their flagship Airbus A350 fleet. But we never actually flew the A350 ourselves, since Finnair’s US routes were all handled by their older A330s. That changed a month ago, when Finnair re-launched flights to LAX after a long hiatus and gave the honor to the A350. Obviously we weren’t going to miss the chance to cover the inaugural, and the folks at Finnair gave us the chance.
The onboard product lived up to the hype, with universal aisle access, lie-flat seats, Nordic style, and even a northern lights simulation on the ceiling. And it was just as fun covering Finnair’s pre-flight festivities on the ground. Clearly this route was a big deal for the Finnair team, getting the honorific flight numbers AY01 and AY02.
Read on for the full scoop on Finnair’s (re)inaugural celebration of its service from Los Angeles to Helsinki.
Most people looking for the stars in SoCal head to Hollywood. But when we were in town recently, we headed the exact opposite direction and made a beeline for LAX. That’s because we were on the hunt for one particular star. The northern star, AKA Polaris. United Airlines has been making gradual but steady headway with the rollout of both the Polaris seat (now on its 787-10 Dreamliners in addition to many of its 777s and 767s) and its top-of-the-line Polaris lounges. We’ve already been to the Polaris lounges at SFO, Newark, and Chicago. And we hear great things about Polaris Houston. So when Polaris LAX opened earlier this year, we knew we had to swing by.
We found a lounge just as impressive as the other stellar Polaris lounges we’ve seen before, though with a smaller footprint. With plenty of sleek decor, amenities, and local flavor, Polaris LAX is definitely worth visiting. Read on for the full details and prepare to be starstruck!
With other carriers bringing in record profits, United Airlines struggled to find the “Friendly Skies” after merging with Continental. In eight years together, they’ve experienced more PR nightmares than any other carrier in North America, by a country mile. Burdened by a negative reputation, United became an afterthought; soon overtaken by Delta and American Airlines.
After CEO Jeff Smisek resigned in 2015 under suspicion of corruption, things looked bleak. When incoming CEO, Oscar Munoz, experienced a heart attack one month into the job, the pulse appeared to be gone completely. We struggled to keep an open mind about the airline.
Our first experience with the new United, back in 2015, did not go well. In Vancouver, we had difficulty checking in and selecting our seats, our flight from Denver to Austin was canceled and when we were finally re-booked on a later flight, our seats were separated. However, when I visited Austin a year later for the U.S. Grand Prix, United felt like a new airline. This time I had no issues selecting seats, no delays, and no unexplained procedures. Considering my moderate expectations for a basic economy fare, I had nothing to complain about. I couldn’t really judge the airline on my first two experiences; the sample size was too small. I needed another experience to break the tie.
Unfortunately, due to the personal circumstances which were about to unfold, the flight experience would be the least of my concern. But it became an opportunity to put United to the test and come up with a new conclusion. Read on to see a bit more what I am talking about and my two-stop journey on two airlines, and three aircraft types (including flying a 777 domestically).
The bar for premium airport lounges has reached stratospheric heights in recent years. In the U.S., spaces like United’s Polaris lounges and American’s Flagship First facilities now offer restaurant-quality dining. And outside of the U.S., airlines like Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, and the big Middle Eastern three offer lounges that are even more opulent. How could you top that?
How about designing an ultra-exclusive airport within an airport, built to provide complete seclusion from the rest of the traveling public? That was the idea behind The Private Suite, a recent addition at Los Angeles (LAX). For those willing to splurge for access, it offers an intensely private, luxurious, and unique experience from curb to plane. Read on for our inside look, from extravagantly-stocked suites to a one-person miniature TSA facility and a fleet of BMWs to drive you to your plane.