His Excellency Akbar Al Baker flanked by two senior Qatar Airways executives at his DC press conference – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
There is a ridiculous war of words over whether or not American customers deserve to have choice. Â I’ve been over the open skies debate before, many times. Both here and other places. You know where I stand; I support the middle eastern carriers.Â I am not here to talk about the whole debate today, but am here to talk about only one facet of it -Â Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways has been the targetÂ of a certain American that neither myself nor H.E. Akbar Al Baker would like to name. I flew to Washington D.C. to watch Qatar’s headÂ shoot down these allegations of questionable legality in person. Furthermore, it’s always a pleasure to see my favorite aviation personality.
JAL Boeing 777-300ER landing in Haneda – Photo: Kentaro IEMOTO | Flickr CC
Recently, I visited Japan for the first time, and thanks to codesharing, my American Airlines ticket was for a flight operated by Japan Airlines. Itâ€™s always fun to try a new airline, and even better, I got an opportunity to fly in their Premium Economy cabin!
There’s my seat, 18A – Photo: Lauren Darnielle
Prior to boarding, I visited the Sakura Lounge at SFO, which is available to those traveling in Premium Economy – a nice benefit. It was pretty small, plain, and crowded, but I did appreciate the chance to have a little something before my flight. It was just after midnight, so at that hour, they had a selection of Japanese and American snacks along with mini sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I had a glass of orange juice, a mini egg salad sandwich, and some rice crackers, which were all tasty, and then headed back to the gate.
The lounge was a bit of a walk from the gate, up an elevator, and down a hallway, but with my very short layover from Seattle, I didnâ€™t want to hang around too long and miss my pre-arranged early boarding.
In part one of this series I provided an overview of my airline sampler trip (5 airlines over 4 days) and offered my thoughts on my very first flight with Virgin America, from Dallas to San Francisco. Here we pick back up at SFO for a quick journey down to LAX in the first class cabin aboard a United 787-8.
This leg of myÂ airline sampler was actually the catalyst for the entire trip. I happened to stumble upon an announcementÂ that United would be briefly returning the 787 to domestic service for once weekly (Friday) service from SFO-LAX.Â I didn’t get the opportunity to check out the DreamlinerÂ when United had them on domestic runs when they were first introduced. After a number of friends booked their own 787 experiences only to be disappointed by the wrong plane at the gate,Â due to operational issues,Â I decided to hold off. I was skeptic for too long and wound up missing my opportunity. Some time had passedÂ and UnitedÂ now had a number of 787s in service, so I figured that the time was right.
The economy fare was very attractively priced at a meager $72.10 — what a bargain! When United.com solicited me to pay an extra $29 for economy plus I jumped atÂ it.
As a Boeing fan-boy, I was excited, but that joy would soon evaporate like spilled Jet A on a hot day.Â It pains me to report that problems began before I everÂ stepped foot on the planeâ€¦
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.