Exploring the Forbidden City in Beijing – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
Back in April, I wrote about taking my nine-month-old on a series of long-haul flights to New Zealand. Â I concluded that piece with the rather ominous sentence, “Toddlerhood is just around the corner, and I know that wonâ€™t be the same experience.” As it turns out, truer words were never spoken.
The genesis of this trip was a Twitter post from one of the airfare alert websites: Denver to Beijing on United Airlines. Â Cheap. Â Very Cheap. Â Heck, the miles alone were worth a substantial portion of the ticket – not to mention this trip would push me up to elite status with United. Â My wife and I had been considering visiting China to see some friends, but we hadnâ€™t seriously thought about going this year. Â The availability of cheap tickets over Labor Day made us reconsider. Â Some quick discussions and a few clicks later it was settled – we were going to China for a week at the end of August. Â Does anyone else get that pit of the stomach feeling when buying plane tickets for a big trip?
The next decision to be made was whether to bring our fifteen-month-old son with us. Â Conventional wisdom seems to be that fifteen months is just about the worst possible age to fly – they are too old to sit still, but too young to pacify with electronics. Â AirlineReporter Associate Editor and fellow father Blaine Nickesonâ€™s exact words were, â€œIt would be AWFUL. I’d strongly recommend against it.â€ Â Other friends told me horror stories of their young toddlers on much shorterÂ domestic flights. Â No one that I talked to had ever even considered taking their children of that age on long-haul international flights. Â I myself was firmly set against taking my son along. Â Â Iâ€™m still not sure how she did it, but my wife talked me into taking him with us. Â Here we go. Â Again.
It finally happened Â – one of my greatest traveling fears – I lost my wallet in a foreign country.
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation after more than 20 hours en route, maybe it was the chaos of wrestling withÂ my squirmy 15-month-old, or maybe I’m just that absentminded, but I somehow managed to leave my wallet on the plane after a 14-hour flight from Washington Dulles to Beijing.
I realized it when we were at the baggage claim – far too late to turn around and go back to the gate. Â Before we left the airport,Â I contacted United’s baggage services, whichÂ had someone check around my seat on the plane for the wallet, without success. Â I also filed a claim with the airport’s lost and found. Â But I left the airport that day thinking it was gone forever. What a pain.
United’s latest 737-900ER, taxiing at Boeing Field
On Wednesday April 16th, United took delivery of its latest 737, but this one was special.
A 737-900ER was deliveredÂ from Boeing Field, marking a special occasion for not only Boeing but also United. Â The aircraft was the 8,000th 737 to roll out of the Renton factory, and became one of over 550 of the type to be delivered to UnitedÂ since its inception.
United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is pulled out of the factory. Image from Boeing. Click for Larger.
Wednesday night, Boeing pulled out United Airline’s first 787 Dreamliner from the factory and off the final assembly line. The first 787 Dreamliner has already been delivered to the launch customer, ANA, but United will be the first North American airline to take delivery of the new aircraft. Â From United’s press release: “While in final assembly, the aircraft moved through four factory positions, including the final aircraft body join, landing gear installation, weight-on-wheels testing and installation of interior components and systems. Over the next several months, the aircraft will move to the next phase of completion, which includes final cabin configuration, installation of engines and painting.”
United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner gets pulled in front of the factory located in Everett, WA. Photo by Boeing. Click for larger.
United will configure their first 787 with 36 seats in BusinessFirst, 63 seats in Economy Plus and 120 seats in Economy. There was some speculation if United might be offering a special livery, but I doubt it. When I was on the factory floor recently, the tail wasÂ definitelyÂ a solid blue, which matches United’s current “new” livery. With United recently switching their brand over from the tulip to the globe, it wouldn’t really make sense for them to also introduce a special livery. Normally I am all for any livery that spices things up, but at this stage it would just cause brand confusion.
Nose show of United Airline's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner outside the factory at Paine Field. Photo by Boeing. Click for larger.
Although the exact date of delivery is unknown, United told AirlineReporter.com that they expect to get their first 787 during the, “second half of 2012.” It will be the first of 50 that the airline has on order.