Browsing Tag: Star Alliance

Getting ready for some long-haul flying, a 787-8 is at the gate with a 777-200 domestic in the background.

Domestic aviation in the western United States is a different operation than the population-dense East Coast. With major cities often 1,000 miles apart, often the only way to get between them in less than a day is to fly. Over the years, air traffic to the three largest Mountain West cities – Denver, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City – has increased significantly as the importance of these markets has elevated through sustained and continued growth.

United Airlines has been a dominant force in Denver for many years, with an 80-year history that reaches back into the early years of commercial aviation. It is currently, and by a wide margin, the largest carrier in Denver by passenger enplanements, flights, and revenue.

United’s focus on Denver is no accident; the airport is its most profitable hub, a key part of its route network, and is a focus for continued growth within the airline. As a frequent traveler based in Colorado, I’ve wanted to explore and learn about how United Airlines uses its position in Denver to get people to their destinations, nationwide.

This is the first part of a two-part feature on United Airlines’ operations at Denver International Airport. The second part will cover United’s inaugural 787-8 Dreamliner service to London Heathrow as an example of how United is expanding the reach and prominence of Denver within its network.

Main business cabin on Swiss's 777-300ER.

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

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?

My Ride to Newark, the First Boeing 747-8i (D-ABYA) to enter service commercially. Seen here from Ground Level!

My ride to Newark — the first Boeing 747-8I (D-ABYA) to enter service commercially. Seen here from ground level!

I have been lucky enough to fly a few different airlines in first class. I am referring though to international first class here, not domestic “first class.”  An airline that I have been obsessed to fly in first class is Lufthansa.

My flight on Lufthansa would be two firsts for me: flying their first class and being a passenger on the updated Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Having one first is normally exciting enough as it is, but two? Yes… one could say that I was excited!

Lufthansa First Class seats 1A & 1K, in the nose of a 747.  Can't get any far further into the pointy end than this.

Lufthansa first class seats 1A & 1K, in the nose of a 747. Can’t get any far farther into the pointy end than this.

The benefit of departing Frankfurt with a first class ticket starts when one arrives at the airport. I was given access to their first class terminal, which was amazing.  When it was time to board my flight, I was driven in a Mercedes Vito van that took me on a quick ride across the tarmac to my gate in the A/Z concourse.

Riding along at ground level and looking up at gate after gate of 747s is pretty special.  When we pulled up to our gate, the very first 747-8I (D-ABYA) was looming above me.  Being able to step out onto the ramp and snap a photo is nice.  Being ushered all the way up to the aircraft by our driver is even better.  Even though boarding was already underway when we arrived, our driver created a hole in the crowd and had us at the front in mere moments.  Now THAT is service.

The entrance of the new Star Alliance lounge inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

The entrance of the new Star Alliance lounge inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out the new Star Alliance lounge located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The old lounge wasn’t terribly bad, but it was ready for some upgrades. I was very excited about what I found in the new lounge.

To describe the feeling of the new lounge in one word: Home. It has different areas that each have their own energy, but all come back to being very home-like. Well, it’s a higher-end feeling than my home, but still it feels like it was meant for be lived in, rather than just looked at or enjoyed for a short amount of time.