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Ever heard of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line? We're guessing probably not, but the Smithsonian sure has; the seaplane carrier is classified as the world's first airline, which inaugurated commercial air service in 1914 when it took off with one paying passenger. It may have been a short journey (only 23 minutes!), but the Airboat Line's impact extends to today as commercial aviation has become a $2.2 trillion dollar industry, employing over 57 million people.
In 2014, the world celebrates 100 years of commercial air travel, but that's not all.
In this last century, airlines and airplanes have evolved into a fact of everyday life for travelers, and some of the pioneering companies will mark milestones this year. Here's who to wish "happy anniversary":
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Qatar Airways has 9 Dreamliners operating a number of routes out of its brand-spanking new (and humongous) Hamad International Airport in Doha, and an additional 51 on order from Boeing. We recently did a business class return between Stockholm and Doha, which gave us enough time to explore its swanky interiors.
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They may have been handed their medals by Emirates flight attendants yesterday, but today the National German Team (Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft) and FIFA World Cup 2014 champions will enjoy the hospitality of home onboard their Lufthansa flight from Brazil to Germany.
Flight number LH 2014 is typically issued to the Munich-Dusseldorf route on an A320, but today it will be specially relegated to the charter of a Boeing 747-8i (tail number D-ABYI "Potsdam," the 1,500th 747 built) from Rio de Janeiro to Berlin-Tegel, continuing on to Frankfurt.
Rio de Janeiro is on BRT, which is one hour ahead of EST. Thus, to track the flight, tune in to Flightradar24.com for scheduled departure at 4pm BRT/3pm EST. Since this is a charter flight, however, departure could be a little early or a little late, and we think they'll be heading out a little early in order to enjoy their time flying over German territory later on.
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The people over at WestJet have been offering budget flights around Canada and beyond since 1996, but now it sounds like they’re thinking about switching up their fleet to include more airplanes for more passengers, for more routes. Right now they are pretty much only utilizing different versions and flavors of the Boeing 737, but the future may bring wide-bodies.
It sounds like they’re thinking about scooping up as many as four larger planes, as they look to boost capacity—and profit—with more seats. Right now the focus seems to be Hawaii, as the carrier plans to utilize these new planes as soon as the fall of 2015.
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Good news from the planes and people over at Alaska Airlines, and this time it has nothing to do with their in-flight oatmeal. The carrier is pretty darn proud of their latest airplane advancement—thanks to Boeing—and now they’re all about sharing the news about their expanded overhead bins.
These new so-called Space Bins can increase carry-on capacity by roughly 50 percent, and that’s certainly appealing to those passengers bringing plenty of personal belongings along for overhead storage.
Alaska Airlines is apparently the first carrier that will offer these up, and for those familiar with the airline’s current Boeing Sky Interior—it’s kind of a similar look but with even more capacity.
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New airplane alert!
163 Boeing 787 Dreamliners are flying the skies right now, a number current as of this week. That includes 162 787-8s and 1 lonely 787-9 for Air New Zealand, which only headed from Boeing's headquarters in Everett, WA to its new home of Auckland, New Zealand at dawn this morning.
That 787-9 won't be lonely for long, however; over 25 airlines have placed orders for more than 400 of the sleek and efficient jets. So why are we getting excited for yet another Dreamliner? The answer is shockingly simple: it's awesomer. Sure, the original flavor 787-8 is great and Boeing will continue to roll them out, but the 787-9 is, as Daft Punk would sing, "harder, better, faster, stronger."
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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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Yesterday, we highlighted the shortest flights flown with a Dreamliner and, with its duration just at a tease at under 1 hour, we had to look at the other end of the spectrum and share the world's longest Dreamliner flight.
With so many advanced bells and whistles, this aircraft is in its element on long-haul routes, when there's plenty time to play with the self-tinting windows, self-closing toilet seats, and still catch some Zs in a quieter cabin. If you're looking spend a chunk of time sitting in one of the seats of these Boeings, look to book a flight from Washington-Dulles to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines, since they're running the longest flight on the 787 right now.
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Ah, the Dreamliner, Boeing's most advanced commercial aircraft and the darling of aviation geeks. As of today, 17 airlines operate some sort of regular service with the airplane, and the upcoming release of the 787-9 with improved range will increase destination options.
Although most of the airlines put their 787s on long routes, there are some exceptions; one airline in particular takes the top prize for the shortest regular 787 route. The launch customer, Japanese airline ANA, flies the Dreamliner between Tokyo-Haneda and Toyama, a scheduled flight of approximately 40-60 minutes from take-off to landing.