Browsing Tag: United Airlines

United's Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Houston. Photo: Brandon Farris

United’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Houston. Photo: Brandon Farris

It has been a long journey, but I am proud to say that I have finally flown on a Dreamliner.

After two years of trying to get on the 787-8 Dreamliner, I finally had my opportunity to step aboard one of the most amazing aircraft ever built.My flight, United 1169, was from Houston to Los Angeles; they fly the aircraft once a day between these cities for positioning, and when I stumbled on it I couldn’t resist.

As time call to board my flight (in the Economy Plus section), it finally began to sink in that I was about to board the plane I have lost many nights of sleep over. I have followed the issues the plane has had throughout its flight test program and entry into service.

The aircraft I was flying on, N26902, has quite a history and actually is one of the 787s that cost me a couple night’s sleep, as it was the plane that diverted to New Orleans back in December, 2012, when the battery saga was beginning to catch fire. The aircraft also completed the inaugural flights for United to Tokyo Narita from Los Angeles, becoming the first 787 flown by a non-Japanese airline to land in Japan.  Weeks later, it completed United’s first flight to Shanghai.

The New Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards Card – Mines Gold – Photo: Virgin Australia

Recently, I received a lovely little gift in the mail, all the way from the other side of the world.  In the envelope was my new Virgin Australia Velocity frequent flier card.  When I looked closer at the card, though, I noticed something different.  The back resembled a debit card; in fact, it was a prepaid Visa card.  It made me think about what has been happening lately between airlines, their frequent flier programs, and credit cards.

Over the last 12 months, two of the largest US-based frequent flyer programs have introduced minimum spending amounts to attain or maintain elite status.  In 2014, United’s MileagePlus program will require a minimum amount of Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQD) along with the usual amount of miles or segments.  Your PQD has to be made up of ticket spend on United-issued tickets or by purchasing upgrades to Economy Plus.  To maintain your Gold Status into 2015, a Premier Gold flyer would not only have to earn 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM), but they would need to spend $5,000 on airfare (taxes don’t count, sadly).

United’s move was almost a carbon copy of Delta’s SkyMiles program, however they just changed the words around.  Replace ’œMedallion’  for ’œPremier’ and hey, presto’¦ welcome to SkyMiles!  A very similar arrangement, but unlike United where all the tickets have to be issued by United, Delta allows you to earn your Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD) with partner airlines (but what qualifies as a partner is a whole story of its own).  United only allows partner earning when booked through United.

If @AirlineReporter tries to follow @United on Twitter, we are told our kind is not welcome.

If @AirlineReporter tries to follow @United on Twitter, we are told “no.” Now we cry.

There was a bit of a buzz this week about United Airlines announcing something big on Friday.  We wanted to be a part of the excitement at (aka @AirlineReporter on Twitter) and were watching United (aka @United on Twitter).  Odd thing though.  When I was looking at United’s Twitter page I saw the button that said, “Follow.”  What? I should have seen “Following,” since the site has been following United for almost ever.

I figured that maybe we had made a mistake and somewhere along the line un-followed United. Either way, I went to hit the “Follow” button again, and instead of re-following the world’s largest airline, I received this message: “You have been blocked from the following this account at the request of the user.

Uh oh. Did United Airlines break up with and we didn’t even realize it? Where did we go wrong?

This is my open letter to you United, begging you to take us back…

UPDATE: Love is in the air! Our blocking has been lifted (a push of the wrong button is likely) and the skies are once again friendly. We are now United’s 300,421st follower, but to us we feel like #1. (We are still sharing the letter for fun!)

A view from the Singapore Flyer. Photo by Blaine Nickeson.

A view from the Singapore Flyer. Photo by Blaine Nickeson.


Maybe it’s not to the extent of the regular contributors to this site, but I’m an #AvGeek.  I love planes, airlines, and miles.  But given my busy career, two toddlers, and a wife who thinks I’m crazy, I don’t get to participate in nearly as many adventures as I would like.  My wife’s come a long way in supporting my habit; I think it may have had something to do with flying her to Europe this spring in Lufthansa First Class on miles.  Maybe that helped lead to the amazing adventure I had recently.

I live in Denver, and I fly United Airlines (UA).  There has been lots of local media coverage about the introduction of UA’s DEN-NRT flight, operated by the 787 Dreamliner, which started on June 10th (unfortunately that flight had an issue after having to divert back to Seattle).

This is a big deal for DEN, not so much because of the Dreamliner, but rather it’s our first nonstop to Asia.  A few weeks ago my wife casually opened a can of worms, stating, ’œI looked at booking you on that Dreamliner flight for Father’s Day, but it was just too expensive.  I know you really want to fly on a 787, and also need to re-qualify for your status-thingy.’  I, of course, sprung in to action trying to take advantage of this moment that was sure to be fleeting.

Long story short, I scored a ride on the (re)inaugural ANA 787 Dreamliner flight from San Jose (SJC) to Narita (NRT).  To make the ticket cheaper (this logic fails me) I continued on to Singapore.  Final routing was 19,000 miles; DEN-SJC-NRT-SIN-HKG-SFO-DEN, or about 39 hours in the air during a 77 hour period.  Yes, I’m crazy, but it was worth it.

A Close up look at the new Scimitar Winglet - Photo: United Airlines

A Close up look at the new Scimitar Winglet – Photo: United Airlines

On Tuesday the 16th July 2013, a new type of winglet took to the skies for the first time.  Forget about the blended winglet or even the sharklet, the new kid in town is the Scimitar Winglet.  This new winglet is similar to the Advance Technology Winglet that is destined for Boeing’s new 737 Max aircraft, but is built for the 737NG instead.

The first flight was operated by a United 737-800 (aircraft N37277) and was conducted at Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett. Many of the test flights out of KPAE are operated by Boeing at the north-end of the airport, but this flight was completed at the south-end via Aviation Partners Boeing where the aircraft was retrofitted with the new Scimitar Winglet.