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[Also check out Part 1, Business Class]
Premium Economy is so hot right now.
Or, rather, the class between Economy and Business has been a popular addition to aircraft for many years now, every since Virgin Atlantic introduced it way, way back in 1992(!!), but some airlines have held off and, in turn, benefitted from the wait by introducing Premium Economy classes with all the latest bells and whistles.
Flying AC00611 hours back from Tokyo-Haneda to Toronto-Pearsonwe settled into a window seat and experienced what this new class for Air Canada was all about.
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[Also check out Part 2, Premium Economy and Economy]
"Whoever said man wasn't meant to fly didn't see this coming."
These were the words printed on a banner welcoming passengers to gate 172 at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on July 15, 2014.
Outside the windows was one of Air Canada's airplanes, sitting chill in her ice blue livery and scarlet maple leaf logo while a flurry of ground vehicles prepared her for a 12-hour flight to Tokyo. Passengers waiting to board forwent selfies and instead pointed their cameras outside, at this aircraft which stars in the celebration of a new era for Canadian aviation.
But, um, hasn't Air Canada been flying from Toronto to Tokyo for, like, decades? Yes, yes they have, but never before to the Japanese capital's other, very recently updated and better located airport of Haneda, and never before with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Flight AC005 is non-stop from YYZ to HND, a lengthy trip which gives the benefits of the 787the greater cabin humidity, lower altitude level, improved personal space, and fuel efficiencya chance to strut their stuff. It was, in fact, the longest flight we've ever done in a 787, and absolutely one of the best in our own travel log.
Now, let's delve into the delicious details:
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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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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.
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Another round of funding and investment is underway in India, and the amount of money that's being thrown around is no joke. The national carrier announced that it has been loaned $200 million by the country's bank, Bank of India, to purchase three brand-new Dreamliner airplanes.
That's not all. Air India expects to raise an additional $500 million from bridge loans and has received a $288 million tax credit to cover the cost of fuel, simulators, and spare parts. If it all comes through as planned, as many as six new Dreamliners could be in the airline's future.
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They’ve been working overtime up at the Boeing factory just outside of Seattle, as a few new Boeing 787-9s have been rolling off the assembly line. As we saw with Air New Zealand just last week, these planes are slightly longer Dreamliners, the latest type of next generation aircraft.
United also has a few of these on order, and their very first plane just appeared outside of the hangar for a sneak peek the other day. This is the airplane that’s scheduled to begin service on United's new nonstop route between Los Angeles and Melbourne—the one in Australia—a little later this year.