Browsing Tag: United

Roll-out of E1 (N7001U) from Boeing Renton Plant, 27 Nov 1962 - Photo: Bob Bogash

Roll-out of E1 (N7001U) from Boeing Renton Plant, 27 Nov 1962 – Photo: Bob Bogash

More than 27 years after it was gifted to the Museum of Flight, the first Boeing 727 is still being restored at the museum’s Restoration Center at Paine Field in preparation for its last flight down to Boeing Field.

This plane first rolled out of the factory on November 27, 1962, and took its first flight (from Renton Field to Paine Field) on February 9, 1963. It was then used for a year as a Boeing test flight aircraft before being delivered to United Airlines on October 6, 1964.

With United, it flew 64,495 hours, with 48,060 take-offs and landings. After being repainted to its original livery, N7001U flew, in January 1991, from Boeing Field to Paine Field, where it has been sitting ever since.

This is N7006U, but N7001U sported this same livery in 1964 - Photo: The Boeing Company

This is N7006U, but N7001U sported this same livery in 1964 – Photo: The Boeing Company

Restoration work has stopped and started more than once over the years. Some restoration work started in 1997, but was hampered by the lack of 727 parts. (United had removed any usable components to support their other 727s still in service at the time). Sadly, the plane was left open for several years after it was delivered, and many parts “disappeared” during that time, as well.

A new restoration effort started in May of 2004, after the donation of N124FE (aka Marcella) from FedEx. That plane had the majority of the components needed, but additional parts were taken from three other 727s as well.

A United 787-9 touching down at Paine Field - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

A United 787-9 touching down at Paine Field – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

We’ve all seen the statistic; Airlines For America (a U.S. airline trade organization) is predicting 2.4 million passengers per day this summer in the 91-day period between June 1st of this year and August 31st. 332,000 of those enplanements are going to be international.  Obscene!

Great for the industry. Yes. But be careful what you wish for.

At least, if you happen to be United Airlines. Things do not seem to be matching up with their peers over there? What’s going wrong?

Let’s start with the most recent on-time statistics for United for the month of June. 42% of flights in the United system departed without any delay. Amazing! Especially when their internal goal was 52%. Again, all this is fine in a vacuum- there are things like bad weather, known unknowns, and the like; except it trails its two largest competitors by a large margin.

Delta’s on-time performance for June was 66%, American’s was ~60%, and even Southwest was 53%. This is, of course, last month’s data. This month’s will have the blip of United’s router failure that knocked every flight into at least a two-hour delay on July 8.

Updating the United Gate area means that they can have seating that can be enjoyed by everyone - Photo: United

Updating the gate area means seating that can be enjoyed by everyone – Photo: United

On my recent trip to Chicago with United to experience their new United Club cuisine, we were shown something that the airline had been working on. Something that would have been obvious to so many, but that not so much to others. United has been working on many different ways to improve their boarding experience.

We have all had a bad boarding experience. A delayed flight, people massing at the gates (gate lice), no order at all, bad communication, and confusion. Airlines all board aircraft in different fashions, and each airline has someone (or a team) of people, who are consistently re-evaluating how the boarding process can efficient. Some new methods work well, others are silently stopped and never spoken about again.

But what is sometimes forgotten about in the boarding process is what that gate area looks like, how it is handled, and how passengers actually feel about it. United has decided to take a look at all of these factors and decided on trying a new boarding experience — one where even passengers had some role in the decision-making process.

Afternoon offerings include hot soup, artisinal bread along with Hummus, crackers and other more refined snack options - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Afternoon offerings include hot soup, artisinal bread along with Hummus, crackers and other more refined snack options – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter

Domestic airline lounges in the USA do not have the best reputation. A place to get a drink and sit out your flight delay in a dark, cigar lounge atmosphere? United does not like that thought, and they have decided to do something about it.

At first they started renovating their clubs, bringing them up to a new standard. Now they have come into the second phase, and are going to be updating the food and snacks on offer. For many frequent fliers, this should be a welcomed change.

The entry way to United Club in Terminal 2 at O'Hare - Photo: United

The entry way to United Club in Terminal 2 at O’Hare – Photo: United

I have been through my fair share of United Clubs. I have been a Star Alliance Gold member for years, and like many of you, I am inherently familiar with Goldfish crackers, Tillamook cheese, and yogurt (or chocolate) covered pretzels/raisins. I have had my binge sessions while waiting out a delayed flight snacking on those things while powering my devices.

Considering that an annual club membership could run you as much as $500 a year, the meager snack offerings don’t seem all that great.  Those days are now going to be history.  United has decided to follow the feedback of their guests, and also a similar trend among their competitors, to offer something a little bit more substantial, even palatable.