United Airlines flew its new Boeing 777-300ER plane – outfitted with the new Polaris business-class cabin – from Chicago to San Francisco on Monday and I got to ride along.
The “Polaris plane” goes into regular service on Thursday, February 16, on a domestic flight (Newark to SFO), with international Polaris routes scheduled to start in March, with flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong when more of these planes arrive.
Here are some more snaps from the flight. More to come.
United CEO Oscar Munoz was on hand to welcome guests and scan boarding passes.
Special design features (and friendly crew members, of course) welcome passengers on board.
Saks Fifth Avenue bedding – pillows, blankets, throws – and more welcome passengers to their seats.
The new seats require a special harness seat belt, which flight attendants teach you how to put on.
This week I had the opportunity to go to the Boeing plant and Paine Field in Everett, WA for Boeing’s delivery of THAI Airways’ new Boeing 777-300ER, which will be used on the Los Angeles (LAX) – Bangkok (BKK) route with a stopover in Seoul. The airplane’s business class seats recline into fully flat beds, and in economy class the seats are a roomy (and pretty) 18.5 inches wide.
I didn’t have the opportunity to join the special guests on this delivery flight to Bangkok, but I did get a look at the plane in the next parking lot slot, which was also being delivered that day. This is Air China’s new 777-300ER, which has a fun ‘Smiling Faces’ livery.
On Tuesday, August 28, I was fortunate to be one of the invited guests aboard the maiden flight of Cathay Pacific’s fifth Boeing 777-300ER from the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash. to Hong Kong.
I’m still trying to figure out the time here in Hong Kong, but wanted to share a few photos – and a secret learned from Cathay Pacific’s chief executive John Slosar during the flight.
Before the plane took off, there were some short speeches, the signing of paperwork and (we were told) the delivery of a very large, final payment check. But before that, invited guests and crew members took turns getting their photos taken with the airplane. The favorite pose: with one of the engines.
During the flight, which had about 60 people aboard, including VIPs (they got the Business Class seats) and media (we had the opportunity to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy seats), Cathay Pacific chief executive John Slosar chatted with guests, occasionally came by to check that we were all comfortable and even climbed into one of the crew rest areas, located upstairs at the back of plane, to show it off and answer some questions.
When we all climbed down and were heading back towards the front of the plane, he stopped to give a pop quiz and share a “secret.”
“Look up”, he said. “Do you notice anything unusual about that overhead bin?”
Slosar pointed out that the bin has no handle, so can’t be opened from below.
But it can be opened from up above. And is, in fact, the emergency exit for the crew rest quarters up above.
The guy on the left – the one not holding a bottle of beer – was one of our pilots, who answered lots more questions for small groups of journalists invited to visit the cockpit during the flight.
Lots more photos and airplane ‘secrets’ to share later, after I find out what’s behind all the secret doors in my hotel room at the Island Shrangi-La hotel here in Hong Kong and come back from my tour of the airport and the nearby Cathay City later today.