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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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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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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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We come across some downright awesome airline amenity kits in our travels, and the surprises of each zippered pouch can often make or break comfort on a premium flight. With this in mind, here's to our new series: Inside the Amenity Kit, wherein we unzip, unwrap, and expose the loot inside:
Hopping across the Pacific is not a short, quick flight by any means. Thus, any little added comfort is a welcome bonus for passengers on flights that approach 12 or 13 hours, depending on the route. With this in mind, Air New Zealand provides an amenity kit both quirky and functional.
Passengers gearing up for extended period of time on the airline's 777-300s are greeted with a small, light grey felt pouch filled with goodies to ensure a comfy flight. We flew in Premium Economy one way and Business Class the other on a recent trip, and were offered the same exact amenity kit for both.
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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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Last week we got pretty excited about United's news to bring some 787 Dreamliners across the Equator for the long trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, beginning in fall 2014. While this won't mark the first flight from SoCal to Australia's cultural capital, it is the first for the US airline; United used to first stop in Sydney, then hit the sky again to Melbourne.
If MileagePlus isn't your preferred loyalty program, there are plenty of other options to hop on the nearly 16-hour flight down under. In fact, there are two other airlines running here nonstop from the US, making that long way over the Pacific.
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When it comes to in-flight safety, the last thing that probably comes to mind is a bevy of bronzed swimsuit babes frolicking on the beach. If you're Air New Zealand, however, that combination makes perfect sense. And, seeing as how the airline has a strong history of creative safety videos, it makes even more sense.
Using swimsuit models can be considered gratuitous, but this time there's pretty good reason for the exposed skin. The Kiwi airline has partnered with both Sports Illustrated and the Cook Islands to bring us this season's newest pre-take-off demonstration, Safety in Paradise.
Air New Zealand actually celebrates 40 years of flying to the Cook Islands, while SI celebrates its 50th year of showcasing the newest bikini fashion in tropical locations.
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An idea from Air New Zealand that practically revolutionized economy class travel is now being licensed out to different airlines to tempt flyers to book long-haul flights. China Airlines liked the kiwi airline's SkyCouch so much, they arranged to have it on its newest planes.
China Airlines, the first airline to agree to (what we can only imagine) a hefty licensing price-tag, will now include the roomy row of economy seats to its newest delivery of 777-300ERs. The keys to these new birds should be handed over by September of this year, so if you've got plans to spend some time in the air over the Pacific on one of these planes, you might get lucky.
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Yet another new Hobbit movie has the folks down at Air New Zealand all excited to launch their latest homage to Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. The Kiwi airline has given fans of the movie a sneak peak of the latest release's namesake character by emblazoning a plane with Smaug, a mythical dragon of The Hobbit: The Desolation of the Smaug.
There's no doubt that Air NZ loves anything and everything Hobbit, as this is actually the second Boeing 777-300 to be wrapped with a Hobbit scene. Both colorful Boeings regularly fly between New Zealand and the US, which makes Los Angeles the best place to spot the new dragon.
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Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of all the new route announcements that come our way, so we’ve complied a little bit of a rundown below. As long as you can afford the fares, this should definitely help add to your passport stamp collection.
We certainly can’t complain about a new way to get to and from Los Cabos, Mexico, and thanks to Aeromexico there's now a new option in and out of New York City. The plan is to start flying back and forth beginning on January 18, as Aeromexico does the nonstop thing between New York-JFK and San Jose del Cabo. The new options will fly once per week, as planes and people will take to the skies on Saturdays around 7am and will arrive down in paradise around 11am—all times local. Sounds like the perfect timing for this kind of flight, as we’re pretty sure there are many in the area looking for a warm weather escape once January rolls around.
More news from Delta this week, as they continue to boost their options in and out of Seattle. The city is hardly a hub for the airline, but they certainly have been busy adding new options and destinations out of the area.
This week it was announced that they will be doing the nonstop thing down to San Diego four times each and every day beginning on June 2 of next year. After that—starting on September 2—they’ll also be heading to Portland with the same type of frequency. There will be some smaller planes doing their thing between these cities and states, as Delta Connection—thanks to SkyWest—will be operating some Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jets.
Just in time for the southern summer, there's an ultimate travel contest for anyone with more stamps in their passport than Facebook friends. Since the Antarctic is no ordinary place, it calls for no ordinary assignment. Air New Zealand and National Geographic have teamed up to find the world's most adventurous traveler to call the South Pole home for a little while, with the goal of bringing environmentalism to the forefront for rest of the world.
As one of the most fragile places on earth, Antarctica is home to not only a lot of ice and penguins, but a handful of research stations to expand knowledge of the frozen continent. The lucky winner of the Air NZ contest will work side-by-side with a few scientists and National Geographic photographer, Jason Edwards at one of these stations. The winner will learn about environmental issues hurting our planet's southern most ice mass and, ultimately, the rest of earth.
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We already told you how we scored a $600 last-minute upgrade on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland, so of course we want to share. Along with our super cushy mattress-covered lie-flat seat, we weren't left hungry on the 13-hour flight over the Pacific.
If you've been lucky enough to visit the island nation of New Zealand, you know they take their food (and wine) very serious. It's no different at altitude, as Air NZ have tapped celebrity chef Peter Gordon to design their in-flight menu for business class passengers.