It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that Boeing 777s have been flying for more than 17 years. It still seems like a brand new airplane to me. And since I’m in an inaugural mood this week from my 787 ride, here’s United’s initial layout of their 777-200s for this installment of Vintage Airline Seat Maps.
United was the launch customer of the 777 with the inaugural flight occurring on June 5, 1995. First Class seated 12 passengers in a 2-2-2 configuration with 64 inches of pitch between rows. Connoisseur Class offered 49 seats in the 2-3-2 layout with 49 inches of pitch. (As a point of reference, United’s non-flat bed 777s currently flying have 55 inches of pitch in Business Class.) And economy class seated 231 passengers in the 2-5-2 configuration with 31-33 inches of pitch (this was pre-Economy Plus).
I loved row two in First, row nine in Connoisseur and the first several rows of coach.
Where would you sit?
United Airlines 767-300 Seat Map (1998)
United Airlines L-1011-500 Seat Map
United Airlines 747-SP Seat Map
Aeroflot Russian Airlines recently released a video showing the planned configuration of their Boeing 777-300s. From what I could find online, it appears their first four will be delivered next year. Wikipedia reports Aeroflot ordered a total of 16.
President Class (business class) looks comfy in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are ever so slightly staggered in each row. I love the mood lighting.
Premier Class doesn’t look quite as stellar as the current generation of other airlines’ premium economy sections. The layout here is 2-4-2 with a gap between the middle section of 4 seats. I do quite like the color scheme of those seats.
And economy class shows a 10-abreast configuration (3-4-3).
Here’s the (silent) video:
Pod-Like Capsule ‘Air Lair’ Passenger Seating Concept
Emirates First Class Video Trip Report
Video Tour Inside United’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner
I was going through my photos yesterday and came across the batch of pictures I took when I flew on the inaugural United Airlines Boeing 777 flight from Denver to Chicago on June 7, 1995. Knowing there are a ton of aviation geeks out there like me, I figured it would be worth it to post a vintage trip report of my experience and share the pictures below.
I was employed by United at the time, took a vacation day that Wednesday and purchased a revenue ticket to ensure I’d have a seat on the historic flight. As I recall, the ticket was about $240 for the same day ORD-DEN-ORD trip and luckily I still had elite status with United so was able to upgrade into Connoisseur Class on the all-important 777 segment. I was a ‘Premier Emeritus’, the “soft landing” United used to bestow on elites in the year following not having requalified for any status. This was in the day of paper 500-milers and I do remember I had only two left so my flight to Denver that morning on a 757 was in economy. I broke the rules and booked my own reservation (a no-no for employees to book their own revenue tickets at that time) and also self-upgraded the DEN-ORD segment, but did that within my 24-hour window per the rules. Sorry United!
It was a beautiful day to fly and I arrived in Denver early leaving about an hour and a half to savor the departure gate festivities at B36 for United flight 910.
The gate area was decked out with balloons, beverages, food & cake and several members of the media were present along with United executives.
After a ribbon-cutting ceremony it was time for boarding and my heart was racing in excited anticipation of the historic flight. The business class cabin on the initial configuration seated 49 passengers and was divided into a three row cabin forward of door two and a four row cabin aft.
Onboard, champagne was served to the Connoisseur Class cabin along with commemorative baseball caps and inaugural flight certificates.
I had hair (and acne)!
Although I was disappointed in not having scored a window seat, I was still able to witness many of United’s employees and airport workers watching us taxi out to the runway. The flight was fantastic and I noticed Lester Holt, a CBS news anchor in Chicago at that time (now on NBC’s Today Show), was seated in the rear Connoisseur cabin. The flight flew by and we were far too quickly arriving at our gate in Chicago.
It remains to this day one of my all time favorite experiences flying United and I hope you enjoyed the flash back photo tour.
Last week I posted about the possibility of United being close to announcing whether or not International First Class would remain on the carrier. Yesterday a report surfaced on Bloomberg quoting United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek saying “There are certain markets in which (first class) makes a lot of sense and there are others where it doesn’t.” There hasn’t been an official press release or updates to United’s website, but this may be good news for many high value international flyers accustomed to a three-cabin aircraft.
I read the Bloomberg article as a teaser of sorts with a lot of vague and unspecific data points. Another such point by Chief Revenue Officer Jim Compton stated “we have United 747s that have gone through a real recent reconfiguration with flat-bed in both first and business. So we’ll have both.” Retirement of the 747 fleet is scheduled for around the 2016 timeframe, and since they’ve taken down the conversion schedule for what remains on their 777 workhorse internationally, I’m led to believe this is a short-term (five year) decision. Is United considering making some of the unconverted international 777s into two-cabin aircraft?
Fleet integration is definitely a logistical challenge when merging carriers, and it sounds like we’ll have fairly different lie-flat products based on which “metal” we fly and to which markets. Continental’s seat architecture is different than United’s, and it sounds like the new United will maintain both for at least this short-term period. What United will certainly have to ensure during this period is that no market selling first class ends up with an ex-Continental metal aircraft with only two classes. Jeff Smisek acknowledges this issue in the article, however.
One good thing for frequent flyers is although United’s soft product (service & meals) in International First Class is completely inferior to that of its competitors, award redemption opportunities have been easier for the front cabin to popular destinations in Australia, Asia and Europe than that of business class. I will still generally redeem my miles for Star Alliance carriers, though, unless United really makes marketed improvements and reports begin to surface lauding a transformation. Time will paint the picture.
I am still anxious to see United’s official release to support this article, but I now expect United to keep a three-class presence in most markets served by the old United today, at least for the next five years. I now anticipate during the 2015-2016 timeframe United will make a decision on a uniform international offering (seat architecture & cabin configuration) to roll out in the 2018-2020 period based on market demand and global economic factors at that time.
Very sad news to report from United’s hub in Washington Dulles, where a veteran baggage handler fell from a scissor lift while unloading a Boeing 777. Eduardo Tlatempa, 48, reportedly fell face first onto the tarmac last Friday while performing his normal work duties unloading the jumbo. Co-workers first thought it was an April Fool’s joke, only later to discover the seriousness of the situation. Sadly, he died from his injuries on Sunday April 3.
He had worked at Continental Airlines at Newark for a 15-year stretch before joining United at Dulles five years ago. A United spokesman said an internal investigation is taking place, and added the following:
A photo appears in the source article showing medical workers attending to Mr. Tlatempa, also revealing the aircraft registration as N229UA. According to ACARS data, it appears the inbound flight was United flight number 915 from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which had blocked into the gate at 2:36pm.
My sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends & co-workers.
Image courtesy Air New Zealand
Late last year, Air New Zealand took delivery of their first of five 777-300 aircraft. Currently making runs on the Auckland to Melbourne route, it will transition to the Auckland-Los Angeles-London route beginning in April 2011. This aircraft features an incredibly comfortable looking Premium Economy section, along with the introduction of Air New Zealand’s exclusive Skycouch. Several of the 3-seater economy sections have a special legrest that extends upward to create a couch-like setting large enough for two people to snuggle into horizontally. Also termed Cuddle Class by the airline, it will carry a premium over the regular economy fare, although official pricing is not yet available for comparison as of the posting of this article.
Air New Zealand is giving a pair of tickets in the Skycouch away every day between now and Valentine’s Day. You’ll need a Twitter account & email address, and full details on how to enter can be found here. (Tip of the hat to Airline Reporter.) I’m entering every day, so for those of you who follow me on Twitter you’ll see my answers to the daily questions Air New Zealand is asking. The giveaway, by the way, is for two people to fly from Los Angeles to either London or Auckland, so it would be perfect for me since I’m local. Should I win, I’ll have to decide who is snuggle-worthy to join me.