Our seat on the ride of a lifetime – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Groundbreaking. Iconic. Gigantic. Gorgeous. There’s a lot of words you could use to describe the 747-400, but as of 2017 there’s a new word that gets added to the list: disappearing. Most airlines are rushing to retire the aging beauty. A few airlines, like British Airways, plan to keep the Queen of the Skies around for a while longer. But in general, if you want to make sure you get one more flight on the aircraft that — for many of us — is the ultimate AvGeek icon, you should make it happen soon.
A ride on a 747 is special, no matter where you’re sitting. However, it’s extra awesome if you’re in the first few rows of the main deck, which give you a one-of-a-kind partially forward facing view. You can actually see the runway ahead of you as you take off and land! We made sure to include a ride on a United 747 in seat 1A as part of a recent around-the-world Star Alliance tour, and from an AvGeek perspective, it was the flight of a lifetime. We took plenty of photos and videos for your viewing pleasure — read on to re-live the magic with us.
A view that should be on every AvGeek’s bucket list – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Welcoming their new 777-300ER â€“ Photo: United
It’s not every day that an airline welcomes a new aircraft into its fleet, especially when theÂ plane hasÂ theÂ entire airline’s high expectations on its shoulders. But that’s exactly the situationÂ withÂ United’sÂ new fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs, outfitted with the long-awaited Polaris premium cabin. The first of the fleet, christened the “New Spirit of United,” will start carrying passengers this month.
Are you curious whether the Polaris seat and the “New Spirit of United” will match the hype? Well get excited: AirlineReporter will be onboard the previewÂ flight of the United 777-300ER and the Polaris seat this comingÂ Monday, the 13th.Â We’ll give youÂ a glimpse ofÂ the sleek new Polaris-branded lounge atÂ Chicago O’Hare before the brand-new 77WÂ flies us to San Francisco in style. We’ll also be providingÂ updates on Monday viaÂ Twitter.
BelowÂ we’re giving you the lowdown on theÂ 777-300ER debut, a primer onÂ Polaris, and pro tips on how you can experience bothÂ for yourself.Â Excited? Read on!
Will you be smiling that much when you fly Basic Economy? â€” Photo:Â United Airlines
Even though the vast majority of my flying is in economy, itâ€™s sometimes hard for me to know exactly what economy class isÂ anymore. In the good old days, it reliably meant aÂ seat with enoughÂ legroom, a drink, a snack, and my fair share of space in the cargo hold. But under pressure from ultra-low-cost carriers, U.S. legacy airlines have chipped away at what they offer travelers seated aft of the wing.
That trend took a major jump forward — or, depending on your perspective, backwards — with the introduction of new no-frills “Basic Economyâ€ fares that doÂ the bare minimum to get you from Point A to Point B. Delta announcedÂ the rollout of its Basic Economy in select markets in late 2014, and has expanded it to other routes since then. United unveiledÂ its own basic product late last year. Earlier this week,Â American shared that its own Basic Economy fares will be going on sale in February, starting withÂ ten markets.
Is this new category of barebones fares good news for price-sensitive flyers? Or is it a new circle of hell in the sky? Read on for more onÂ Basic Economy and what it means for you.
Looking great, even under a stormy sky â€“ Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Everyone remembers their first time. Their first time getting upgraded on an international flight, that is. For some people, it’s aÂ splurge with miles. For others,Â it’s the result of hard-won top-tier airline status. Or a cash upgrade offer at check-in that is too good to be true. But no matter how it happens, your first time flying in first or business class isÂ theÂ highlight of any AvGeek’s flying career.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of my first long-haul upgrade â€“ in a shiny new Dreamliner, no less. And yes, itÂ was everything I wanted it to be and more. But the circumstances were a little unusual, because my upgrade wasnâ€™t thanks to miles, or cash. I was upgraded because of a typhoon in the western Pacific.
This is NOT the ideal weather forecast for flying â€“ Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Wait … what? Well read on forÂ the backstory, plus plenty ofÂ photos and thoughts about myÂ experience in United’s BusinessFirst 787 cabin. And once you’re done reading, share your own stories about your first times getting bumped up.
MileagePlus X: A simple way to earn free #UA787 flights – Photo: JL Johnson
Let’s get something out of the way. I am not a United fan. In fact, I have said numerous times that all things equal, I’d rather fly Spirit. Why do I bring this up? Because after using United’s MileagePlus X App for a year, I’m starting to come around. And that, my friends, is a pretty big deal. Opinions formed from years of disappointment and failures at all levels don’t change overnight. TheyÂ certainly don’t change as the result of side-project ancillary revenue apps. But here I am, about to tell you why you should be a MileagePlus X user too.
The United MileagePlus X concept is simple: Use the app to buy gift cards for everyday purchases at thousands of retailers and get United miles as a kickback. Earnings per dollar spent at merchants vary widely, typically between one and five miles. Earnings are dependent upon on the merchant and the time of year. For example, the standard for Amazon seems to be one mile per dollar, but I have seen up to three. The norm for Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic is five, but for a while during back-to-school season earnings jumped to ten miles per dollar.
This arrangement is win/win/win. United gets a slice of the transaction (yay ancillary revenue!), the retailer gets a sale they may have otherwise lost, and the consumer gets miles. The concept United is using is far from theÂ typical dining or shopping programs offered by nearly every other airline. When I think of the words “innovative” and “pioneer” United does not come to mind. But both apply in the context of MileagePlus X.