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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.
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There’s some moving and shaking in the world of low cost carriers this week, as AirAsia Japan is going under the knife for a little bit of work. They’ll still be around to whisk you off to here and there and, depending on where you want to go, their new destinations may even be more appealing than their former spots.
All Nippon Airways—ANA to their friends—are getting ready to try something new with AirAsia Japan. The new focus will be on warm and sunny destinations, as the carrier wants to do a little more travel to resort and leisure locations. Spots like Guam and Hawaii have been mentioned, but that's just the beginning of the possibilities.
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Is it a panda or an airplane? The correct answer is...it's a panda-plane! Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) may have had this special livery Boeing 767 since 2007 as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of their flying to China, but this is the year the panda look really gets a workout.
Starting October 1, 2013 ANA will increase seats from Tokyo to Chengdu, China, aka the "panda capital of the world." Instead of the 737 that once serviced this route, ANA will fly it using a 767. You can expect to see this panda plane as often as possible at Chengdu's Shuangliu International Airport. Imagine being able to fly a panda plane there, stay in a panda hotel, and then visit actual pandas? Even British Airways has famously gone bonkers for Chengdu this year.
You’ll need to act quickly if you still want to escape on a spring break of your very own, and All Nippon Airways (ANA) is trying their very best to help you out by pointing you in the direction of Tokyo. A slick new website and interactive elements are part of the whole promotion called “Let’s Do Japan.”
Sure you can check out what’s available both on board and on the ground, but the way in which ANA is involved is pretty creative. They’re using what they’re calling the "Manganizer" to help you create your own manga—like a Japanese comic. Upload your photo or take a new one, and then you’re free to modify your image accordingly. Add glasses, snazzy eyebrows, and maybe even a little facial hair. After a brief load time you’ll be starring in your own comic, and the next thing you know you’ll be booking a trip to Japan—well, maybe.
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We find it exciting to walk through an airport and catch a glimpse of a specially painted airplane gliding by the windows, or even sneak a peek at vibrant liveries while taxiing to our gate in a foreign land. Thankfully the airline world is chock full of super quirky, stand-out airplane designs and, while some make us raise an eyebrow and tilt our head, all bring a smile and make us reach for our camera.
Here are some of the more flamboyant aircraft paint jobs::
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"Everyone on the bus!"
It was a nippy morning outside of Seattle and two loads of Boeing top brass and members of the press were being bussed out onto the tarmac at the airline manufacturer's Paine Field Airport. This would be the very first peek inside the shiniest airplane on the flight line before ANA/All Nippon Airways flew her away to Tokyo. The other airplanes on the tarmac, windows still blacked out and engines still unconnected, could have felt nothing but jealousy (if airplanes had feelings, that is).
This was 16 full months ago, in September 2011, when Boeing first delivered a 787 Dreamliner to a customer airline. We were there, onboard that bus, and then, later, inside that plane, running our palms over the new seat fabric and imagining the thousands of eager travelers who'd sit in each individual seat during only the first few months of service. Would they know what a special plane they were on?
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We don’t know where the time has gone, but it’s been roughly a year since the first Boeing 787 took flight into the world of commercial aviation. Just in case you can’t remember that far back it was All Nippon Airways that scored the inaugural, and since then there’s been a lot of flying for ANA and their new planes.
There’s no birthday cake—at least not yet—but ANA was pretty eager to share some facts and figures about their newest toy, and as always we’re suckers for anything and everything related to the 787. In the last year the carrier has had around 9,000 flights with the plane, and they’ve shared the new airplane smell with about 1.8 million paying passengers.
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Too much awesome aviation news came down the pipeline this week, so we'll just wrap it up neatly for you with some bullet points:
· LAN's first 787 Dreamliner hit the South American skies: Well, it's official; South America's first Dreamliner is running its first regularly scheduled service, flying 22x week between Santiago (SCL) and Buenos Aires (EZE). The inaugural happened on October 1 after the plane got some fresh ink (check out the 787 underneath the cockpit windows). Wanna see more? LAN's Facebook page has an entire gallery from the event and our own photos and video of the delivery event are still hot and fresh.
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It's an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel. It's an even more unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel so much that we have to write about it on a Friday afternoon instead of easing you into the weekend with baby animal pictures. And yet here we are, with flights being emptied or cancelled across three continents because of a variety of geopolitical flare-ups.
The most dramatic bit of travel politics comes out of Japan, where no less than 40,000 seat reservations to China have been canceled. China has been on a bit of a tear recently, claiming a bunch of islands that by and large aren't straightforwardly quite theirs. The campaign has put them on a collision course with various other countries in the region (obviously) and one of those countries is Japan. There have been anti-Japan protests in China and, apparently, lots of Japanese people are sufficiently pissed off to cancel vacations to China.
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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.
· Virgin America:
If you’re looking for somewhere warm this winter there’s always Palm Springs, and thanks to Virgin America it’s now available nonstop from New York-JFK. The airline has been connecting passengers over to PSP for quite some time, but it’s only been a nonstop option out of San Francisco during the cooler months. The new nonstop flight between New York City and Palm Springs will be a seasonal affair, and the plan is to do the flight once per week on Saturdays beginning on December 22. There’s always the option to fly through San Francisco on your way to Palm Springs, but we’ve got to say—nothing beats a nonstop option.
There’s quite a bit of an oil boom going on in North Dakota, so it’s time for the airlines to start cashing in. It might not be the ideal route for a weekend getaway—especially in the winter—but Delta is banking that plenty of business folks are interested in swinging into Williston, North Dakota. The airline is adding a pair of nonstop flights each and every day of the week, as they do their thing between Williston and their base over at Minneapolis-St. Paul. The new service in and out of Sloulin Field International Airport will start up on November 12, and there are even plans to drag in a trailer to add some additional space to the terminal—we’re thinking that means no pre-flight Starbucks.
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And yet it seems like only yesterday we were perched atop the Future of Flight Center in Everett, WA, in the early morning cold and mist, as the absolute very first Dreamliner was delivered, to Japanese carrier ANA. In fairness it's been a solid year since then and while five airlines now boast Boeing 787s in their fleets, there's a whole slew more champing at the bit to get their mitts on the sleek plane.
Let's review who's got it and who wants it, shall we?
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You know we’re pretty critical of an airplane’s paintjob, and to be honest we’re still not so sure about the design United picked after merging with Continental. Anyway, it’s now time for everyone to put their crayons and colored pencils to the test, as there’s one carrier actually looking for input when it comes to designing the outside of one of their planes.
ANA is stumped over how to decorate one of their Boeing 767s, so they’re asking for a little bit of assistance. As the airline celebrates its 60th anniversary, they’re looking for a design they can utilize. We’re not sure if they want to paint the plane like a giant birthday cake, but we’ve got to say that’s the first thing that came to mind.