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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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Think fastBusiness Class to Europe is on sale right now, but for how much longer, who knows?
Airfares are hovering around $1,500-$1,700 for scattered dates during this summer; this is half off (at least!) the usual price of Business Class and what you'd easily pay for Economy seats during peak summer travel. United initiated the sale, but it hasn't been publicized. Reading between the lines, this means act fast. The lowest airfares come from non-hub cities, so search for departures from places like San Jose versus San Francisco, or Boston or White Plains versus New York.
We recommend paying close attention to the itinerary before booking, and trying for a routing that includes Lufthansa from Washington D.C. to Frankfurt on the new Boeing 747-8i. It showed up for us while searching Dayton to Malta!
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The flight will go four times a week via a CA817/8 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and on the wings of a Boeing 777-300ER every Saturday. According to the release, the flight departs Washington at 16:35 local time and arrives at 18:15 Beijing time the following day. The return flight leaves Beijing at 13:00 and arrives in Washington at 14:35 local time.
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The opening of a new year brings new opportunity to the world's three largest airline alliances. Some movement, along with a few new entrants in the major alliances will not only strengthen networks, but open up new destinations for using those hard-earned miles. Today, we have a look at what's happening with Star Alliance for 2014.
These next months will see the largest alliance experience a slew of fond adieus and welcomes. Like we mentioned last week when we talked about Oneworld, Star is set to say farewell to US Airways and TAM. The TAM move to Oneworld with merger buddy LAN creates a considerable hole in the Brazilian reach of the alliance, hence discussion of Avianca Brazil becoming an affiliate airline to the alliance.
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At this time last year, spotting a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the skies was quite the rare occurrence. But as the aircraft's teething problems have calmed and more tails roll off the factory floor, airlines are more eager than ever to welcome the efficient jet into the fold.
LAN became the first airline in the Americas to add 787s to their fleet, welcoming the aircraft back in early September 2012. United soon followed, with the title of first in North America that November. Since then, however, no other American airlines have picked up the keys to a Dreamliner.
Air Canada is about to break that dry spell as they prepare their hangars for 787s, to be delivered in spring 2014 and running test routes both domestic and transatlantic until summer. The initial regular routeToronto to Tel Avivcommences in July, 2014 and seats are already on sale, beginning at $1,400 roundtrip (we even found availability in all classes for July 1 on AC084).
[Update 8am December 6, 2013: Air Canada has just announced that also beginning July 1, 2014 will be nonstop flights on the 787 from Toronto to Tokyo-Haneda! This will be the only daytime flight from North American to Haneda, and the only nonstop from a Canadian airport to Haneda, which is a more convenient airport to downtown Tokyo than Narita.]
By 2019, the airline will have 37 total 787s in the skies (15 787-8 and 22 of the stretched 787-9s), so Toronto to Tel Aviv is only just the tip of the route map.
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You probably know by now that Los Angeles International Airport has lifted the veil off its billion-dollar makeover of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. While that means improved facilities for all travelers, premium passengers on Star Alliance flights will also benefit from a gigantic new lounge complex, opening todayWednesday, September 25.
We attended the ribbon cutting by Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab earlier this week to give you all the details on the 18,000-square-foot spread. Come in for the shower suites and the wine wall, stay for the outdoor terrace with fire pits and tarmac views.
Last year, one of the more popular sushi "conveyor belt" restaurants set up shop in London Heathrow's Terminal 3 and we guess things have been going swimmingly for Yo! Sushi since they also plan to open in the newest Terminal 2, the Queen's Terminal. Once the shiny new digs open in June of next year, Star Alliance passengers will be able to skip the traditional airport fare and grab some nori rolls before hopping on the plane.
Besides having 80 different options for waistline-conscious travelers, the Yo! Sushis at Heathrow will accept pre-orders via the internet. Yep, you've read correctly; the ease and convenience of a sushi train has just gotten, well, easier and more convenient. While you're tap tap tapping on the keyboard to check-in for your flight, you can also order that spider roll and a few pieces of sashimi. Once you clear security and belly up to the rails, Yo! Sushi will have your order ready. This is just sheer brilliance!
Best of all, if you're planning to take the rolls on the plane with you, the risk of being olfactory offensive to your fellow travelers is quite low. And that's something we can really get behind.
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"This Hello Kitty jet is for everyone. On it, every day is a happy day. We are spreading a message of happiness." - EVA Air's Chairman (and Captain) K.W. Chang
In 2005, EVA Air painted Hello Kitty on the side of a plane. Then they did it again in 2006. The two planes turned frowns upside-down for a few years, but went away in 2008. Then, in 2011, we showed you the return of the Hello Kitty planes, though these newest versions only flitted around Asia at the time. Now, the US finally gets in on the kawaii action as the airline debuts their first Hello Kitty Boeing 777 and a first trans-Pacific route for the cute Sanrio character: Taipei to Los Angeles.
"Other airlines only do the exterior job [of theming a plane], but we've done it all," says Chang. "We want everyone to share our world," before connecting to other Star Alliance flights and returning to their world. You've already read the 11 coolest facts about these airplanes, but see exactly what Chang is talking about in our 77 original photos of outside, inside, and all around the new 777:
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It's not every day you see dancing on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, but when that dancing is to celebrate the arrival of a Hello Kitty-themed airplane, it's completely warranted.
Slipping into a gate alongside the tails of 787s, 747-8s and A380s yesterday was EVA Air's brand new Boeing 777-300ER, its body painted all over with the cheery cartoons of Sanrio's Hello Kitty and friends.
Over 70 Hello Kitty enthusiasts were on the inaugural flight, joined by a troupe of Hello Kitty dancers, characters, artists and Hello Kitty's creator herself, Yuko Yamaguchi. The arrival marks the beginning of regular, nonstop flights between LAX and Taipei-Taoyuan for this aircraft, which is arguably the most kawaii addition to aviation since Pokémon showed up on some 747s. Even as Alaska Airlines' Mickey Mouse plane passed by, all eyes remained on EVA's Kitty.
Before booking a flight, however, there's some things you should know about EVA Air's Hello Kitty 777:
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9,500 miles on one fell swoop. Welcome to the longest commercial flight in the world, Singapore Airlines non-stop between Singapore and Newark. As much as we hate the word "bucketlist," that's what this isa superlative experience with an entry in the history books and, sadly, an expiration date.
The planned distance of flight number SQ 22 is 9,525 miles with a scheduled flight time of 18:55h. The return, SQ 21 from Newark to Singapore, is a tad longer depending on winds, but we count them together. Even the aircraft is special; it's an Airbus A340-500 arranged with only 100 seats, all Business Class. The 1-2-1 configuration means comfort and relative privacy for both solo travelers and couples.
November 23, 2013 is the final flight of SQ 22, and Singapore's route from Los Angeles (the second longest flight in the world) is also due to end, on October 20, 2013. You have been warned. This season is the last chance to get onboard the world's longest flights, but a white glove experience comes with a premium price; a roundtrip starts from $7,500 during these finale months (but they do accept Star Alliance miles for award bookings).
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Watch out, Delta; the Sky Club Sky Decks may be the hot spots at JFK and ATL right now, but there's another airport deck coming soon and it's from competing airlines.
The lounge is being designed by architectural firm Gensler (also behind other airport projects like JetBlue's T4 at JFK), so you can pretty much guarantee it's going to be worth the wait until an opening later this year. Even better is the fact that the lounge's design will be inspired by a "contemporary interpretation of modernist L.A. architecture of the 1950s and 1960s." Talk about being on-trend; there's a "nouveau retro" movement right now focusing on exactly thatwest coast mid-century style.
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WHEN I’M FORCED TO PAY $9 FOR A SANDWICH IN ECONOMY
Tumblr is good for two things: porn and GIF blogs. Oh, wait. This week we can add a third thing to that list; Tumblr is also very good at being worth over $1 billion (to Yahoo, who just purchased the microblogging platform).
Since even mentioning porn twice in this post may get us blocked from your lunchtime reading, let's talk about GIF blogs. In particular we'd like to draw your attention to one, frequentflyerlife, started over a year ago by Star Alliance frequent flyer, @melissaiscool.