Monthly Archives: February 2018

Review of 15-hour QANTAS flight from Los Angeles to Sydney

From the Alaska Airlines blog:

By Dave Anderson, Jones Around the World

Flying from Los Angeles to Sydney is not a short distance, and normally when I complete this 15-hour journey I can’t wait to get off the plane. But not this time …

qantas wine Review: A 15 hour journey flies by, thanks to business class on Qantas, an Alaska Global Partner

The sommelier in the sky explains the extensive collection of wine in Qantas business class

This last flight, I was fortunate enough to be sitting business class with Qantas, an Alaska Airlines Global Partner.

And I honestly didn’t want to get off that plane! In fact, I could have easily done another 15-hour journey back to Los Angeles in that comfortable lay-flat bed.

The top-notch customer service, unbelievably delicious meals and endless hours of entertainment were truly outstanding, and made this international journey completely enjoyable.

Here are some of the highlights of flying with Qantas:

Put on the ‘uniform’ and get to work

img 0025 Review: A 15 hour journey flies by, thanks to business class on Qantas, an Alaska Global Partner

Dave Anderson tries on his Qantas pajamas.

After take-off, I was stoked to head to the bathroom and put on my “Qantas business class uniform,” aka, the provided designer pajamas. Then I got back into the award winning Skybed, zipped open the “Qantas Curates” amenity kit, and slathered on some luxurious moisturizer (to avoid skin dehydration during the flight).

The cabin crew welcomed everyone with a glass of bubbly, but the real fun started when the sommelier in the sky came and chatted with me about their extensive Qantas business class wine selection. I didn’t know much about wine at the time (I learned a lot more during a wine tour of Australia’s Yarra Valley), but I was definitely loving the glass of Brokenwood cab-merlot that the friendly sommelier recommended.

Right when I felt my stomach getting a tad-bit hungry, the flight attendant arrived, set up my tray table, and gave me the multi-course dinner menu (designed by leading restaurateur and Australian chef Neil Perry). I glanced through the delicious meal options, and finally came to a decision on the pumpkin & chickpea curry with rice. When it arrived I quickly realized I ordered the vegetarian meal (which I’m not), but didn’t care in the slightest as it was incredible!

Then came time for sweets, and I smashed a ridiculously tasty slice of cheesecake paired with a cheeky glass of dessert wine!

“Business class life suits me!” I comically told myself.

jon4756 Review: A 15 hour journey flies by, thanks to business class on Qantas, an Alaska Global Partner

The dessert wine pairs well with … dessert.

After-dinner entertainment

During the dinner process, I was watching one of my favorite TV shows, “VEEP” on the beautifully sharp 12.1-inch screen. I normally opt to watch movies while on airplanes, but was pleasantly surprised to find out the Qantas entertainment system had Season 6, which had just recently ended, and I hadn’t seen yet!

Oh, and did I mention that this entire time I was enjoying a light chair massage? Yes, that’s right — the business class Skybeds come complete with an enhanced massage and lumbar system!

After a few more episodes of television, I decided it was time to get some shuteye, and reclined to the fully flat Skybed setting. I finished my glass of wine, threw on my sleeping mask, and then enjoyed the best sleep I’ve ever gotten on a plane while dreaming of friendly kangaroos, koalas, and quokkas.

Waking up to breakfast

jon4763 Review: A 15 hour journey flies by, thanks to business class on Qantas, an Alaska Global Partner

Breakfast before arrival in Australia.

When I woke up, I noticed that breakfast was being served to my nearby business class teammates (since we’re all wearing the same uniform). So I quickly filled out the room service breakfast card, and was brought what I had marked “x” over. The French toast with macerated strawberries and yogurt was out of this world, and I nearly asked for a second serving but knew my stomach didn’t need anymore!

Then before I knew it, we had landed in Sydney!

“Thanks for flying with us, Mr. Anderson, and enjoy your time in Australia” the cabin crew told me as I exited the plane and made my way to immigration.

“Did that just happen? Am I really already in Australia?!”

The flight honestly flew by so quickly (pun intended), and I couldn’t believe how refreshed and ready to explore Sydney I was. While yes, business class is definitely a bit more expensive than the economy and premium-economy seat options — it will provide one amazingly comfortable flying experience!


jon4724 Review: A 15 hour journey flies by, thanks to business class on Qantas, an Alaska Global Partner

Thanks to these Qantas pilots for a great flight!

All photos by Alaska Airlines.


Embraer E190-E2 is granted certification by ANAC, FAA and EASA

The new Embraer E190-E2 at Farnborough

In a ceremony held on February 28, 2018 at the Company’s facilities in São José dos Campos, Embraer received Type Certificate for the E190-E2, the first member of the E-Jets E2 family of commercial aircraft, from the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil – ANAC), the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency). It is the first time that an aircraft program with the level of complexity of the E2 receives a type certificate from three major worldwide certification authorities simultaneously.

Photo Above: Embraer.

It took just 56 months from program launch until the E190-E2 was certified. The E190-E2 features new ultra-high bypass ratio engines and a completely new wing and landing gear. Compared to the first-generation E190, 75% of the aircraft systems are new.

The flight test program comprised four prototype aircraft which were subjected to rigorous testing. The E190-E2 test fleet completed over 2,000 flight hours. Some 45,000 hours of tests were conducted in laboratories with rigs for aircraft avionics, flight controls, and electrical, hydraulic, and environmental systems.

Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, is the first airline in the world to receive the brand-new E190-E2 and will put the aircraft in revenue service in April. The airline has a contract for up to 15 E2 family jets consisting of three firm orders for the E190-E2 and purchase rights for 12 further E2 family aircraft.

Embraer recently announced some final flight test results confirming the E2 as the most efficient single-aisle aircraft on the market. In fuel consumption, the E190-E2 proved to be 1.3% better than originally expected, a 17.3% improvement compared to the current- generation E190.

The E190-E2 also becomes the most environmentally friendly aircraft in its class, with the lowest levels of external noise and emissions. Flight test results also confirmed the E190-E2 to be better than its original specification in takeoff performance. The aircraft’s range from airports with hot-and-high conditions, such as Denver and Mexico City, increases by 600 nm compared to current-generation aircraft. Its range from airports with short runways, such as London City, also increases by more than 1,000 nm allowing the aircraft to reach destinations like Moscow and cities in the north of Africa.

The E190-E2 will also have the longest maintenance intervals among single-aisle aircraft with 10,000 flight hours for basic checks and no calendar limit for typical utilization. This means an additional 15 days of aircraft utilization over ten years compared to current generation E-Jets. Another key gain is with pilot transition training time. Pilots of current-generation E-Jets will need only 2.5 days of training and no full flight simulator to be qualified to fly an E2.

Embraer is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jets up to 150 seats. The Company has 100 customers from all over the world operating the ERJ and E-Jet families of aircraft. For the E-Jets program alone, Embraer has logged more than 1,800 orders and 1,400 deliveries, redefining the traditional concept of regional aircraft by operating across a range of business applications.

Top Copyright Photo: Embraer ERJ 190-300STD (E190-E2) PR-ZEY (msn 20001) (E2 FleetSmart) FAB (Antony J. Best). Image: 933758.

AeroMexico adds its first Boeing 737-8 MAX 8

AeroMexico added its first Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 (XA-MAG, msn 43704) on February 23, 2018.

The pictured XA-MAG is the first of up to 90 737 MAX airplanes.

In 2012 Aeromexico placed an order for up to 90 MAX airplanes, including the MAX 8 and the larger MAX 9 variant. The two models offer the airline the flexibility to fly between approximately 160 and 190 passengers on flights of about 3,550 nautical miles (6,570 kilometers), both with better operating costs and passenger experience.

Photos. Boeing.

Virgin Australia announces Sydney – Hong Kong flights

Virgin Australia Airlines Airbus A330-243 VH-XFB (msn 372) SYD (John Adlard). Image: 912544.

Virgin Australia on February 28 announced plans to launch flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, increasing the airline’s presence into Greater China.

Subject to authorization, Virgin Australia plans to operate daily return services between the two cities with its dual aisle Airbus A330-200 aircraft, featuring ‘The Business’, which has been named the world’s best Business Class for two consecutive years1.

The announcement comes just seven months after Virgin Australia commenced its inaugural flights to Hong Kong from Melbourne, bringing choice and competition on this route.


Virgin Australia plans to commence services between Sydney and Hong Kong in mid-2018, subject to relevant approvals.

Sydney to Hong Kong Schedule3

Route Flight Number Dep/Arr Day of the Week
SYD-HKG VA89 1000/1740 Mon, Tues, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
HKG-SYD VA88 1950/0710 (+1) Mon, Tues, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

Melbourne to Hong Kong Schedule (effective mid-2018)

Route Flight Number Dep/Arr Day of the Week
MEL-HKG VA85 0030/0810 Mon, Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun
HKG-MEL VA84 1810/0540 (+1) Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun
HKG-MEL VA84 1915/0645 (+1) Mon

Photo Above: Virgin Australia Airlines.

1‘The Business’ was named Best Business Class 2017 and 2018 by global ratings agency,

2 According to Tourism Australia’s Greater China Country Profile.

3 Subject to authorization.

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin Australia Airlines Airbus A330-243 VH-XFB (msn 372) SYD (John Adlard). Image: 912544.

Virgin Australia aircraft slide show:

TUI Nordic welcomes the first Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 on a biofuel delivery flight

TUI on February 26 proudly welcomed the first ever Boeing 737 MAX 8 (SE-RNA, msn 44589) delivery flight on bio jet fuel, an important part of TUI’s commitment to the future of sustainable aviation. The flight from the Boeing manufacture in Seattle to Stockholm was performed with 30% blend biofuel.

The pictured SE-RNA is named “Rhodes Colossus”.

This was one of the most carbon-efficient flights ever accomplished by this aircraft type. The 737 MAX 8 was the second delivery of this aircraft to the world’s leading tourism business, this time to TUI Nordic.

One month ago the TUI Group welcomed its very first 737 MAX 8 at TUI Belgium in Brussels. Both aircraft are the initial deliveries of a large fleet renewal at TUI Airlines with a total 72 aircraft and to be completed by 2023.

The massively successful 737 MAX is considered the latest in aviation technology. This aircraft type has 14 percent lower kerosene consumption and therefore 14 percent lower carbon emissions compared to the aircraft of this size previously operated by TUI fly. The aircraft has also a 40 percent smaller noise footprint supporting TUI’s commitment in aviation to sustainability. TUI Group have made a significant investment in their aviation segment and ordered a total of 72 new 737 MAX 8 and 10´s.


A more sustainable approach to aviation is an important part of TUI’s long term sustainability strategy – Better Holidays, Better World. TUI aims to operate Europe’s most carbon efficient airlines and reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by a further 10% by 2020. TUI is currently looking into suppliers in the Nordics as well as in Europe and is in the process of developing a sustainable aviation fuels strategy.

“Biofuel represents a significant opportunity for reducing aviation’s carbon footprint and achieving its environmental goals. Our collaboration with TUI in 2015 on the Boeing ecoDemonstrator Program included testing of biofuel, and this 737 MAX delivery flight is a further demonstration of TUI’s interest in bringing price competitive biofuel to market”, said Sean Newsum, director of environmental strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

By the end of 2018, a total of nine 737 MAX 8 will be delivered to the airlines of TUI Group. These aircraft will be operated by TUI in Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The first 737 MAX for TUI fly Germany is scheduled to be delivered in early 2019. TUI Group has ordered the 72 new aircraft in total to renew its narrow-body aircraft fleet by 2023 according to the current planning.

All photos by TUI Nordic.

Cathay Pacific to open “The Deck” at Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific on February 27 unveiled The Deck, the airline’s newest lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, giving customers another great reason to arrive early, relax and pamper themselves before their flight.

Located close to gate 16 in Terminal 1 and designed in the signature style of Cathay Pacific’s award-winning lounges in Hong Kong and across its network, The Deck, which opens its doors to passengers on March 22, emulates a “contemporary living room” environment of understated luxury, helping customers to feel at ease and providing a sense of well-being.

Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo said: “The Deck builds on the formula that has made our other new lounges around the world so popular with our customers.

“Investing in experiences that our customers value and consider important is at the heart of our product and service philosophy, and helps us differentiate ourselves from any other airline. We look forward to welcoming the lounge’s first passengers.”

The Noodle Bar

Like our other lounges, the dining experience is at the heart of The Deck, with the Main Lounge providing a range of self-service, freshly made international offerings. Not to be missed at The Deck is The Noodle Bar – an iconic favourite among Cathay Pacific customers.

Passengers who yearn for a taste of Hong Kong can choose from a selection of local classics, including wonton noodles in a hearty broth, fish ball noodles and a variety of dim sum and buns. Ready-to-order Asian delights, such as dan dan noodles and Japanese-style vegetarian noodles, are also available.

The Terrace

The Deck is distinct from Cathay Pacific’s other lounges at its home in Hong Kong for the fact that it sits on a balcony on the eastern side of the terminal building.

From The Terrace, an open-ceiling L-shaped verandah featuring both table and individual seating, lounge visitors can take in panoramic views of the airport’s apron, taxi-ways and northern runway whilst enjoying their choice from a wide variety of drinks and dining options.

At 823 square meters, The Deck has seating for 180 passengers and is fitted with designer furniture and lighting carefully selected for practicality, comfort and privacy, while the use of natural materials, plenty of greenery and artworks by local artists add to the lounge’s welcoming atmosphere.

The lounge is further equipped with a relaxation room zone featuring bespoke Solo chairs, as well as eight shower suites, washroom facilities and a range of comfortable seating throughout.

The Deck will join Cathay Pacific’s other lounges at HKIA – including The Bridge, The Pier Business and First Class lounges, The Wing Business and First Class lounges and The Arrival – in providing customers with a Life Well Travelled experience. Meanwhile, The Cabin will close on April 30.

Photos: Cathay Pacific.

Azores Airlines to resume seasonal service to Providence

Azores' first Airbus A321neo, in a special "Breathe" livery

Azores Airlines on June 8, 2018 will resume weekly summer seasonal service from Ponta Delgado to Providence, RI.

The route will be operated with Airbus A321 aircraft.

Copyright Photo: Azores Airlines Airbus A321-253N WL CS-TSF (msn 7972) (Breathe) LIS (Ton Jochems). Image: 940745.

Azores Airlines aircraft slide show:

Airbus rolls out the A350-900 Ultra Long Range

The first Ultra Long Range version of the A350 XWB has rolled out of the Airbus final assembly line in Toulouse. The latest variant of the best-selling A350 XWB Family will be able to fly further than any other commercial airliner and will enter service with launch operator Singapore Airlines later this year.

Altogether, Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft, which it will use on non-stop flights between Singapore and the US, including the world’s longest commercial service between Singapore and New York.

Following completion of the airframe assembly, the first aircraft has now moved to an outdoor station where it will undergo extensive ground tests, prior to installation of its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The aircraft will then embark on a short flight test program to certify the changes over the standard A350-900 that will bring the additional range capability. These include a modified fuel system that increases fuel carrying capacity by 24,000 liters, without the need for additional fuel tanks. The test phase will also measure enhanced performance derived from aerodynamic improvements, including extended winglets.

With a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 280 tons, the A350 XWB Ultra Long Range is capable of flying up to 9,700 nautical miles or over 20 hours non-stop, combining the highest levels of passenger and crew comfort with unbeatable economics for such distances.

The A350 XWB is an all new family of widebody long-haul airliners shaping the future of air travel. The A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fiber fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these latest technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency, with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs. The A350 XWB features an Airspace by Airbus cabin offering absolute well-being on board with the quietest twin-aisle cabin and new air systems.

To date, Airbus has recorded a total of 854 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.

Singapore Airlines is one of the largest customers for the A350 XWB Family, having ordered a total of 67 A350-900s, including the seven Ultra Long Range models. The carrier has already taken delivery of 21 A350-900s.

Photo: Airbus.

AeroMexico to add Leon – Detroit flights

AeroMexico Connect Embraer ERJ 190-100LR XA-FAC (msn 19000234) MIA (Brian McDonough). Image: 925858.

Aeromexico, in partnership with Delta Air Lines, will launch new nonstop service between Detroit and Leon, Mexico, beginning on April 30.

Service on this new route will be operated by Aeromexico using Embraer 190 aircraft with 99 passenger seats, including 11 in Clase Premier, three days a week.

Copyright Photo: AeroMexico Connect Embraer ERJ 190-100LR XA-FAC (msn 19000234) MIA (Brian McDonough). Image: 925858.

AeroMexico Connect aircraft slide show: