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[Also check out Part 1, Business Class]
Premium Economy is so hot right now.
Or, rather, the class between Economy and Business has been a popular addition to aircraft for many years now, every since Virgin Atlantic introduced it way, way back in 1992(!!), but some airlines have held off and, in turn, benefitted from the wait by introducing Premium Economy classes with all the latest bells and whistles.
Flying AC00611 hours back from Tokyo-Haneda to Toronto-Pearsonwe settled into a window seat and experienced what this new class for Air Canada was all about.
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[Also check out Part 2, Premium Economy and Economy]
"Whoever said man wasn't meant to fly didn't see this coming."
These were the words printed on a banner welcoming passengers to gate 172 at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on July 15, 2014.
Outside the windows was one of Air Canada's airplanes, sitting chill in her ice blue livery and scarlet maple leaf logo while a flurry of ground vehicles prepared her for a 12-hour flight to Tokyo. Passengers waiting to board forwent selfies and instead pointed their cameras outside, at this aircraft which stars in the celebration of a new era for Canadian aviation.
But, um, hasn't Air Canada been flying from Toronto to Tokyo for, like, decades? Yes, yes they have, but never before to the Japanese capital's other, very recently updated and better located airport of Haneda, and never before with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Flight AC005 is non-stop from YYZ to HND, a lengthy trip which gives the benefits of the 787the greater cabin humidity, lower altitude level, improved personal space, and fuel efficiencya chance to strut their stuff. It was, in fact, the longest flight we've ever done in a 787, and absolutely one of the best in our own travel log.
Now, let's delve into the delicious details:
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Just when it seemed that front page focus on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner would peter out now that Boeing has delivered over 160 of them, the aircraft is again making headlines with the launch of a new version: the 787-9.
What that little "-9" brings is a bigger plane, as we've explained, and this week marks the introduction of the airliner to its first regularly scheduled commercial routes.
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Virgin Atlantic used the occasion of its 30th birthday a few days ago (the airline flew its inaugural flight on June 22, 1984) to announce where it will be sending its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner when it joins the fleet this fall: Boston. Appropriately enough, the airplane will be called “Birthday Girl."
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Good news for fans of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner—like us—as the latest and greatest version of the airplane has been cleared to take to the skies.
Just the other day regulators and rule makers in both the United States and Europe gave the green light for the plane to continue on its way to the commercial skies. The approval has been granted to the bigger and badder version of the plane, as this one is the 787-9. It will be roughly 20 more feet in length when compared to its 787-8 sibling, and of course that means there’s room for a few more passengers as well.
So far there are 26 different airlines and aviation enthusiasts that have placed an order for this plane, and all in all Boeing is getting ready to deliver 413 of the new jets. Air New Zealand is scheduled to be the very first to fly the 787-9, and their plane should be reaching cruising altitude—complete with commercial passengers—before the year comes to an end.
[Photo: Midland Intl. Airport
[Photo: Midland Intl. Airport
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AA will be the second carrier in the United States to score a little Dreamliner action, and flight crew is already hard at work learning the ins and outs of the airplane. Depending on one’s experience, it can take anywhere from ten days to a month before getting the approval to move from the simulator into the real planes.
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Canada is psyched.
Why? Well, simply because they've finally received a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to call their very owntheir first 787 landed in Toronto on Sunday, fresh from Boeingand the campaign to promote it is one of the most endearing airline projects yet.
It begins with Air Canada's 787 slogan, "Everything You Dreamed Of," and continues to slick promises like, "All Jet. No Lag."
Beyond the snazzy photos of interiors and that icy blue livery, however, we're most in love with a touching video series introducing the aircraft with a sentimentality that's so delightfully Canadian.
Air Canada has 37 Dreamliners on order, and an incredible 15 of them will hit the skies come this autumn, with the full lot delivered by 2019.
In the above "Born to Fly" video, the experience of such a technologically advanced aircraft is paired with the journey of one Air Canada 787 First Officer to his spot in the right seat. With it, Air Canada is answering a question we always find ourselves asking those lucky enough to sit up front in a brand new airplane: "where did this passion of yours originate?"
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If you’re looking to catch a ride to Italy aboard a Boeing 787—you’re in luck—as a carrier from the country has signed on to lease a few of the new airplanes. The only catch is that you have probably never heard of the airline that plans to take these Dreamliner aircraft into the skies, or at least that was the case when we learned of things.
Neos is based over in Italy, and when it comes to a home base they operate many of their flights out of Milan-Malpensa. Most of their flights are geared towards the leisure market, so don’t expect nonstop flights New York or Chicago. Flights to the Caribbean, Middle East, and across the Mediterranean are some of their usual offerings.
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AeroMexico has had some 787s hanging out in their hangar for a little bit of time, and now they’re using them for some new options. The carrier sees the need for a little more demand on one route across the pond, so a Boeing 787-8 is coming to the rescue.
The planes are on their way to three weekly round-trip flights between Mexico City’s Aeropuerto Benito Juárez Internacional and London Heathrow Airport beginning this month, and it will remain that way throughout the summer. This will boost back and forth capacity by like 70 seats per flight, as the 787s replace some 767s on the Atlantic crossing.
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They’ve been working overtime up at the Boeing factory just outside of Seattle, as a few new Boeing 787-9s have been rolling off the assembly line. As we saw with Air New Zealand just last week, these planes are slightly longer Dreamliners, the latest type of next generation aircraft.
United also has a few of these on order, and their very first plane just appeared outside of the hangar for a sneak peek the other day. This is the airplane that’s scheduled to begin service on United's new nonstop route between Los Angeles and Melbourne—the one in Australia—a little later this year.
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It’s almost time for Air New Zealand to take to the skies with their very first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, but the closest we can get right now is admiring the new livery from afar.
You may recall that Air New Zealand announced that they’d be mixing up their paintjob with a couple different versions, and here's a preview of one, which retains the koru and New Zealand fern looks and logos.
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Of course it won't have the old stripes...
American is due to receive 42 total Dreamliners (12 787-8s and 30 787-9s) and the first delivery should happen in the fourth quarter of 2014. All we want for Christmas is the option to fly an American Airlines 787, truly.
These planes were first projected to arrive in 2012, but you know how the Dreamliner program met with delays? At least it's two years late, but not too late.