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Weíve been squished, squeezed, and smooshed into all kinds of economy seats during our long haul travels, so when a new business class product comes along we get pretty darn excited. Itís not just because it makes flying for long periods of time that much better, but it gives us something to dream about when weíre crammed into the coach cabin.
This week itís KLM revealing some big news, as theyíre planning a revamp of their World Business Class seating options. These days it seems like everybody and their moms want lie-flat seats, so KLM has decided to get in on the fun as well.
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Brussels Airlines recently announced some major network upgrades and in-flight products and took to social media to brag about their new toys to all their followers. With dramatic unveilings on Twitter and instagram and the final product look on Facebook, the carrier created quite a buzz for their newest seats.
In the front of the plane, the Belgian carrier is launching lie-flat sky beds for intercontinental service with all of the bells and whistles we expect in business class. Super roomy seats with loads of work space is what premium passengers can expect with the addition of a pneumatic setting that allows passengers to pick a 'hard' or 'soft' seat.
Don't worry, there is some fun for economy too! By reducing the profile of their seats, Brussels boasts just about 33 inches of leg room and further recline.
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As you probably well know by now, we spent several days this week up at Boeing HQ in Everett, WA, peeking around the 787 Dreamliner factory and the actual thing out on the tarmac. We've showed you everything from the slick exterior and interior to the "airplane supermarket," and of course the ginormous factory line.
We captured more than photos, however; there's video too, including the Dreamliner's First Delivery Flight as she takes off for her home with ANA in Tokyo. Here's a few quick videos from our days at the Boeing 787 First Delivery event:
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It is the domain of the chosen: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner factory floor in Everett, WA. The many, many workers underneath this roof are among the brightest and most dedicated, their desks spotless and the building quiet on a Sunday. As one of the small number of people who are invited to visit all the way down to the factory floor, we were honored to get right up close to tomorrow's crop of Dreamliner, still either being put together from pieces at one end, to being shined up on the other.
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So, you wan to buy a Boeing 787 Dreamliner? Our first question is: do you have between $190 million and $220 million dollars? Our second question: do you have somewhere to park it?
If you've answered to both questions above, then it's high time you paid a visit to Boeing's Dreamliner Gallery, a 787 shopping mall of sorts, where airline customers come to pick out all the goodies they want insidefrom seats to bun warmers. It's a nice building all its own, and pretty much a playground for anyone who enjoys airplanes.
There's an entire room just for economy, business class and first class seat options, and a wall of TVs for in-flight entertainment choice. Lavatories galore, crew galleys empty of their ovens, and a another wall just for showcasing the variety of ovens and coffee makers that may be installed.
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The celebration is still going strong today in Everett, WA as Boeing and ANA welcome the first finished and delivered 787 Dreamliner to the skies. We mean literally, as today focused on seeing off the fresh bird as she took flight towards her new home in Tokyo.
It's been a long and different road for all parties involved in the 787, and it's crazy to step inside and walk the aisles, sit in the seats, poke the seatback TV screens, and think all the sweat that went into this moment.
We won't bother with the colorful adjectives as the photos speak for themselves. And now, the interior of ANA's Boeing 787 Dreamliner:
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Earlier this week, we took a pre-holiday jaunt up to Seattle for a quickie tour of the Boeing factory, including visits to the 777 and 787 production lines, with the final goal being a tete-a-tete with Air New Zealandís new SkyCouch-equipped 777-300ERs.
At their flagship facility in Everett, Washington, just outside Seattle, we heard about the companyís strategic planning for the future and itís twin-pronged strategy of promoting the 777 and 787 as complementary components of an airlineís service. As the giant planes ever so slowly inched along on their assembly lines, we learned that although Boeing is only turning out 5 777s monthly right now, the plan is to increase productivity to 8.3 a month by 2013, for a grand total of 100 a year.
And then we were off to visit the big guns: the 787 Dreamliner and Air NZ's new baby, a shiny 777-300ER.
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About a year or so ago, Continental Airlines started to roll-out new BusinessFirst lie-flat seats on some of their airplanes. Last month, we lucky enough (not really lucky, as we paid for the privilege) to squeeze into these new seats on a 757-200 from LAX to EWR and test out all that they have to offer. But first, let's address the name BusinessFirst.
BusinessFirst is one of the crazier-sounding names out there. Is it business class? Is it first class? No, it's BusinessFirst! Does this mean it's business class with some first class amenities or vice-versa? And is it better for business travelers rather than leisure travelers? The answer is no. This is essentially first class with modern technology upgrades so that business travelers who need to do work on the plane will have the ability to do so (minus the WiFi, that is.)
Still, the name bugs us but obviously, Continental wants to woo in business travelers. On the bright side, it is easy to shorten the name by just calling it BizFirst which does sound cooler. Now, onto the seats!
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And we're back, live from Hong Kong, to reveal the big news that had Cathay Pacific inviting over 3,000 of their most frequent flyers to come check out. Many announcements dropped only a couple hours ago, the most important of which is the debut of newer, wider, fancier business class seats.
We've been rolling through our photos like gangbusters, after posting the very first images online of the new seats via Twitter, and nowwithout further adohere are Cathay's new biz seats with lie-flat beds, with the space to allow "passengers to sleep in any position."
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Thatís when we looked up to find a smiling, green-shirted flight attendant named Michele extending her hand and introducing herself as our Air New Zealand In-flight Concierge. Naturally curious, we asked Michele all about the inflight concierge program, and got her picks of what to do both in London and Los Angeles.
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It just so happens that Tokyo's Haneda Airporta smaller, far more convenient airport than Narita that previously focused on domestic flightsopened their funky new International Terminal the same week we're in Tokyo. Thanks to ANA getting us security clearance, we'll be bringing you a 5-part series for complete inside looks at everything from the Monorail to the ultra-exclusive airside lounges.
Today, Part 3: Inside the slick ANA/Star Alliance Business and First Class lounges.
There's only ten gates at Tokyo-Haneda's new international terminal, but for the lucky passengers catching flights out of them, something like an airport wonderland awaits. We are not kidding. The new terminal makes us want to live in an airport, but more specifically, inside ANA's First and Business Class lounges.
Up an escalator sits the promised land, and after entering, business class passengers go left while first class goes right; each side offers comforts and amenities respective to the luxury level of the ticket. Flyers with status on other Star Alliance carriers are also welcome; in Asia, that means Singapore Airlines, Asiana, Air China, Thai and Shanghai Airlines. In the US, it includes United, US Airways and Continental.
A business class lunch on ANA
Airline food sucks, right? Well, it all depends on which class you're sitting in; First Class can be enjoying foie gras hors d'oeuvres and Kobe beef while Business munches on luscious salmon followed by tiramisu, all the while economy is just trying to figure out what type of sauce spilled all over them while trying to open the foil dinner container. Luckily, ANA just tweeted yesterday that they offer a service that allows economy passengers to order business class food.
Sure, it'll cost you extra, but on an ANA flight between the west coast and Japan say, what you eat could effect your comfort level for the entire flight, so laying off the mystery sauce may be a wise move.