Posts tagged Boeing
Airplanes are like cars. You can buy a basic vehicle that will work just fine, or you can buy one loaded down with options like satellite radio, heated seats, built-in GPS etc. Airplanes are the same, each airline can choose the configuration they want. In the last month I have had six flights on the Boeing 737-800; four on American Airlines and two on Alaska Airlines. The planes are similar but not the same. Here are some of the differences I noticed.
Cabin: Each airline offers three-across seating. American Airlines offers cloth seats with leather headrests. Alaska offers leather seats that seem more upscale. American’s seat is slightly wider (17.2 inches vs 17 inches) while Alaska offers slightly more room between rows (32 inches vs 31 inches.) I found the Alaska Airlines seat to be more comfortable than American’s, and while there was only one additional inch between rows, it seemed like more than that. Given the choice, I prefer Alaska’s seat to American’s.
Power Ports: American not only offers power outlets at all of its seats, it’s 110 volts as opposed to the 12 volts on other aircraft. Alaska offers no power ports. Clear advantage to American.
Lavatories: American has two lavatories in the rear of the plane while Alaska has three. Advantage Alaska.
In-Flight Entertainment: American offers more than a dozen channels of music and a drop-down video screen that will play shows from NBC, or, on longer flights, a movie. Alaska offers people a digEplayer: imagine an iPad on steroids and you’ll have a good idea what this is. It’s a portable device featuring music and a choice of movies. The cost to rent the digEplayeris $6. Award this category to American.
Beverage Service: Neither airline serves meals in coach, they both have food available for purchase. American offers snack packages; and meals from Boston Market. Alaska offers both snack packages and meals for purchase on the flight. Both airlines offer complimentary soda, juice, and coffee. Alaska gives a complimentary snack (bag of nuts, cookies, etc.) with the beverage, American does not. Advantage Alaska.
WiFi: They both offer GoGo Inflight WiFi for the same price.
So, which aircraft is better? Neither, they both go from here to there. Which do I prefer? That’s hard to say.
I like the in-flight entertainment on American and really appreciate the powerport at my seat. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken advantage of that to charge my phone or keep my laptop running while I watch a movie or work on a project. So that is a clear advantage to American.
Alaska offers a snack while American does not; not a significant point, I can bring a snack on the flight with me. But Alaska does offer one major advantage — the third lavatory in the rear of the plane. There are almost 150 coach passengers on a full flight. Are two lavatories enough for that long a flight? On my last flight, as I was one of 5 people standing in the aisle waiting to get to the lavatory, my answer was a resounding no! That extra lavatory makes a big difference.
So which plane would I take? I’ll give a slight advantage (or maybe I should say AAdvantage) to American. I really find the powerport to be a huge advantage. I know my phone will be fully charged when I land after flying on American; I can’t make that claim on Alaska, and a fully charged phone is a big deal to me.
You may find the more comfortable seats and the extra lavatory to be reason enough to fly Alaska. It is, after all, a very subjective decision. As American Airlines phases out its fleet of MD-80s, replacing them with the 737-800, I know I have more and more opportunity to fly on this aircraft.
I posted an article in November 2008 about American Airlines announcement that it would purchase 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with delivery to start in 2012. Now, we have no idea when, or if, that delivery will take place.
Although Boeing executives had announced that the first test flight of the 787 would take place before June 30, they had to retract that statement this week, announcing instead that the “first flight of the 787 Dreamliner will be postponed due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.”
When will that first flight take place? Bowing was vague in its reply, “First flight and first delivery will be rescheduled following the final determination of the required modification and testing plan. It will be several weeks before the new schedule is available.”
Boeing originally planned for the Dreamliner to have its first flight in 2007 and enter service in 2008. Now, we can only hope that that they will achieve first flight in 2009. A Dreamliner video on Boeing’s website still says the first flight will take place in May 2009. In the meantime, The A-380, the massive new aircraft from Boeing’s biggest competitor, Airbus, is already in service with several airlines around the world.
The 787 is the hottest selling commercial airliner ever, even though it has never flown. How amazing is that? Imagine Ford having the largest selling car before the first model of it ever left the factory; that is basically what happened with the 787. But now with the continuing delays in production, orders may fall. Qanatas has already announced that it is canceling an order for 15 787s, and postponing delivery of 15 more for four years.
For me, this is a sad day. The 787 was truly a next-generation aircraft, unlike anything now flying. It would be more fuel efficient, make less noise, and create less pollution than any commercial aircraft now flying. The cabin would be more comfortable than any current aircraft. The seats would be more comfortable, the overhead bins larger. It would be the first commercial aircraft to be substantially built from carbon fiber rather than aluminum.
Now, some wonder if Boeing bit off more than it could chew with such a radical new design. I hope not. The 787 is such an evolutionary aircraft that I hope Boeing can resolve these issues and put the first one in the air soon. I look forward to being a passenger on one, the sooner the better
I love Cathay Pacific Airlines! In 2007 we saved up our mileage run miles and flew Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles to Hong Kong; after 4 days in HK, we continued on to Bangkok, Thailand. The service was incredible, showing that Cathay has earned its well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s finest airlines. But their Chief Pilot did something incredibly stupid at the end of February, something for which there is no excuse.
Cathay Pacific had just taken receipt of a Boeing-777 jetliner from Boeing at their plant in Everett, Washington. Cathay’s Chief Pilot, Ian Wilkinson, took off, circled the field once, and then made a low altitude pass of the field with his gear up! At one point he was less than 30 feet off the ground, according to a report on the FinancialPost.com website. (You can see photos on this website.) Buzzing the runway at just a few dozen feet off the ground? Think of Tom Cruise as Maverick buzzing the aircraft carrier in Top Gun, you’ll get the idea!
A video of the flyby is now available online. (Thanks to xbob for providing the link.) The low pass looks even worse in video than it does in photographs.
Boeing’s website reports the cost of such an aircraft as 250 – 279 million dollars. This idiotic, unsafe action by Wilkinson is only allowed if permission is requested and granted in advance. In this case, it was not. (At least Maverick asked for permission to buzz the carrier.)
Cathay Pacific did the right thing in response to Wilkinson’s unsafe action: they fired him.
Perhaps they also should confiscate all copies of Top Gun from the pilots’ locker room