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April 1 may be known for April Fools' Day pranks, but the United 777s that dotted the tarmac at Sydney Airport were no joke. Yesterday marked the first day for United's regular LAX and SFO service to Sydney to be operated by all 777-200s, instead of the older 747-400s. The last UA 747 to depart Sydney said "so long" on March 31, and with it goes the worst plane to fly between the US and Australia, in terms of passenger comfort and entertainment.
Our friends at Australian Business Traveller detailed the change after it was announced, and noted that this means fewer seats in all classes. Overall, however, the news is excellent for travelers on the 14-hour non stop flights.
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Well, it's been a good run. Today marks the end of Boeing 747 service on Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA). The double-decker Queen of the Skies first took to the skies for ANA in 1976, flying Tokyo-Sapporo and Tokyo-Fukuoka.
ANA flew 47 of the jumbos, and its 38-year career ended with a domestic flight from Naha to Tokyo-Haneda. That final aircraft will now make its funeral flight to the recyclers.
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After all the hype (and drama) with the introduction of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, this summer should see the arrival of another 787 sibling to the family, the 787-9. Like the long-wheelbase version to the existing 787-8, Air New Zealand will be the first to fly it, but Virgin Atlantic is hoping to get their hands on the first few of their order list too.
While the airline hasn’t formally announced launch routes yet, it did brainstorm possible destinations way back when the aircraft order was placed, before being hit with its years of production delays.
So what will it be? In addition to replacing older aircraft for routes in its existing network (we wouldn’t be surprised if it goes head to head with some of the choices British Airways has made), Virgin mentioned routes of London to cities like Bangkok, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle, Toronto, and Vancouver.
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We’ve had a thing for American Airlines over the last year, and rightfully so. The carrier gobbled up a competitor, scored a new paint job and branding, and ordered a bunch of new airplanes. They’re going for a fresh look and identity moving forward, and the latest plans to upgrade some less-than-new Boeing 767s just moves them further forward.
One could call the Boeing 767-300ER the workhorse of the carrier’s fleet, and they’re going to upgrade and improve the business class cabin and most of the other interior bits and pieces in about half of the them. It sounds like April 1 will be the day these updated planes hit the skies, as a nonstop flight between New York-JFK and Zurich will be the first route with the refreshed aircraft.
The planes will head into the hangar for this extended maintenance through 2015, so be on the lookout for more and more updated aircraft arriving to a route near you.
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Above: the cockpit lavatory of the Boeing 747-8i
We mention it now because the 747-8 is the only Boeing commercial aircraft with a built-in feature which would've prevented a hijacking situation like what happened with Ethiopian flight 702 earlier today. That feature: a restroom and rest area just for the cockpit, located behind the armored flight deck door, which means both pilot and co-pilot never have to leave the secure area to use the restroom.
At the debut of the 747-8 Intercontinental in June 2012, Boeing chief pilot Mark Feuerstein noted the advantages of having this lavatory and crew rest quarters inside the cockpit, as it increases security and minimizes flight crew absence from the flight deck. [Update: The restroom within the flight deck is actually an option on all 747s, and some older 747-400s have it (such as in the case of Qantas' 744 fleet), but the 747-8i is the first aircraft where it's been the popular option].
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It seems like just the other day that Delta’s final DC-9 flight took to the skies, and now the plane has already found a place to spend its retirement years. For those that are sad without DC-9s zipping across the sky here at home, you can now pay your old pal a visit at the aviation museum over in Charlotte.
One of Delta’s DC-9s is now a resident at the Carolinas Aviation Museum, and it will be doing its best to make friends with the other airplanes that call the place home. Another famous resident is the US Airways' Airbus that did the impossible during the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident.
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It’s time to bust out the credit card digits, as the final DC-10 flight—this one is the real deal—is now scheduled and up for sale. Biman Bangladesh Airlines will be taking the ol’ bird up into the skies for its last voyage, as the plane and people travel from Dhaka to Birmingham with a little bit of a stopover in Kuwait. As you may recall from a few weeks back Birmingham—the one in the UK—will be the final resting place for the plane, as it’s going to do the retirement thing at an aviation museum.
For those that want to be part what they’re calling the DC-10 Farewell Tour it’s going to cost you, as the last flight will set you back between roughly $850 and $1000 depending on where you want to seat—they’re charging more for those next to the windows. February 20 is the date for the last commercial flight, but after that there’s a few scenic flights scheduled that might be a little more affordable.
Last week another Airbus A350 XWB—that’s a mouthful—rolled off the assembly line, as the airplane manufacturer moves forward with the latest and greatest from its most recent line of jets.
This is airplane number three, and it’s designed for all the testing required before a plane like this can take to the skies packed with passengers. The folks over at Airbus refer to this one as MSN2, and what makes it a little more unique and design forward from its plane siblings is its paint-job. This one has a special livery to reflect the carbon-fiber composite materials that are utilized as part of the construction of the new bird.
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Just last month we were talking about the DC-10 making its last scheduled flight, and now this week there’s something similar happening with the DC-9.
Delta inherited a bunch of that type of plane during their merger with Northwest, and ever since the DC-9 has been busy doing its thing with the Delta logo and colors along its fuselage. Well now it’s time for things to come to an end, as Delta is sending the plane into the skies one last time.
The final flight of the DC-9 from a domestic carrier is now scheduled for January 6, as Delta looks to mark the end of an era. There’s still a few of these planes scattered across the globe, but when Delta stops flying them that will pretty much close the book on the story and life of these aircraft.
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Six hours is an incredibly long time to be sitting on a domestic flight. To a frequent flyer, that stretch from New York to LA or SF means lost hours of work and sleep. To an infrequent traveler, it's an interminable wait only made bearable by the promise of eventually getting off the thing.
Why does transcontinental travel suck so hard? The problem: old airplanes, with old seats and old technology. The solution: new airplanes, with new seats and new technology. Please welcome American Airlines' fresh and fighting Airbus A321s to the skies.
For travelers who've experienced American's current transcontinental service onboard the achy-breaky old 767-200s, the new A321s will be a revelation. No doubt; we fully expect passengers to board these aircraft and think "hallelujah, this is going to be a great flight," no matter the class.
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As if the shiny British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner isn't cool enough with their service between Newark and London, new and especially exciting routes to more North American cities were just announced this morning.
Currently, British Airways only flies their 787s from Heathrow to Newark and Toronto. Beginning next year, however, two more lucky destinations will join the list: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport from March 3, and Philadelphia International Airport from June 5.
To score a seat on the 787, you'll want to book flight numbers BA 191/190 for Austin, and BA 68/69 for Philadelphia on or after the start dates mentioned above.
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From Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s to the smaller Bombardier CS100—we’re always interested in the latest and greatest in shiny new airplanes. However, we certainly can’t look forward without looking back, as we also have a soft spot for those aircraft which paved the way. That’s why we’re a little sad to say goodbye to one airplane in particular, as the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 just completed its last regularly scheduled commercial flight.
The plane’s Wikipedia article is a good read for while you’re waiting for your inbox to load this morning, and that’s where you can learn all kinds of fun facts about the plane, which first took to the skies in the early 1970s.