Living in the Age of Airplanes – preview on an A380


From “Living in the Age of Airplanes” – St. Maarten Fly Over


I was a fortunate guest for the in-flight preview of “Living in the Age of Airplanes”, a new National Geographic film by Brian Terwilliger, that is narrated by Harrison Ford, with an original score by Academy Award-winning composer James Horner.

The film opens this Friday in IMAX, giant screen, digital and other special specialty theaters but on Monday, Emirates hosted a reception in its new lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport and then invited guests on board one of the carrier’s newest double-decker A380s for a special film preview flight over the Los Angeles area.

The 47-minute “Living in the Age of Airplanes,” was shot in 95 locations in 18 countries across all 7 continents and starts off with a quick review of transportation history that reminds viewers that “in a single century aviation went from impossible to nearly perfected.”

After guests watched the film on the 20-inch seatback monitors in Business Class, filmmaker Brian Terwilliger chatted with reporters. “It’s not a movie about airplanes, but how the airplane has changed the world,” he said. “We don’t know what it’s like not to have airplanes, so it’s hard to imagine how life would be without them.”

Terwilliger is known to aviation enthusiasts for his 2005 high-definition documentary “One Six Right,” which told the story of general aviation and the role the local airports.
In his new film he calls airports “portals to the planet,” suggests that “If we couldn’t fly, we probably wouldn’t go,” and poses the question “And if we didn’t go, how different would our lives be?”

A380s for DFW – first Qantas, now Emirates

It’s been a big A380 week for DFW International Airport:

On Monday, I was pleased to be on board when Qantas began flying the world’s largest airplane – the Airbus A380 – on the world’s longest nautical route – from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth.

The Qantas kangaroo got a makeover for flight from Sydney to Dallas

On Wednesday, DFW International Airport celebrated the arrival of another A380: this one belonging to Emirates and arriving from Dubai.

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As part of the celebration on the ground, not cupcakes, but cake.

Etihad Airways rolls out 3-room “Residence” on A380

You’ll likely be hearing quite a bit this next week about the ‘revolutionary’ new lay-out and products being rolled out by Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 airplanes.

Most talked about will be the The Residence – a 3-room, 125-square-foot upper-deck cabin on the A380 that accommodates one or two people and has a living room, separate double bedroom, shower – and a personal butler who has been trained at the Savoy Butler Academy in London.

For those who don’t want to shell out for The Residence, Etihad’s A380s will also have “First Apartments,” which are private suites with a separate reclining lounge seat and full-length bed, a chilled mini-bar, vanity unit and wardrobe.

Here’s the airline’s promotional video about the new cabins on the A380 and a video tour of The Residence apartment by the Etihad guest ambassador who is, as you might imagine, very enthusiastic.

Malaysia Airlines will have child-free zone on A380

A humorous commercial showing kids flying cargo may have been an April Fool’s Day joke by Canadian airline WestJet, but many travelers do harbor hopes for child-free flights.

Now Malaysia Airlines is taking steps to create make that dream come true.

When the airline’s first Airbus A380-800 takes to the skies on July 1, flying the Kuala Lumpur–London route, families with children won’t be welcome in the airplane’s upper deck, which will have 70 economy and 66 business class seats.

Instead, those passengers will be asked to book in the 350-seat economy class zone on the main deck, which the airline has designated as its child-friendly zone.

In a statement, the airline cites the availability of extra family-friendly facilities, including eight toilets for the lower-deck economy section and a dual aerobridge that offers “speedier/faster embarkation and disembarkation for this group of passengers.”

But the policy may have more to do with the comfort of its upper-deck fliers.

“Malaysia Airlines is trying to make its premium product on the A380 more appealing to the high-yielding business passengers,” said Shashank Nigam, CEO of SimpliFlying, a company specializing in airline branding and customer engagement. “They value their peace and quiet and [this way] can rest assured that they won’t be disturbed by kids on long-haul flights.”

Along with the new Airbus A380-800s, Malaysia Airlines has already reconfigured the first class cabins on the airline’s Boeing 747s to no longer accommodate bassinets, effectively making that section baby-free. Bassinets, however, are available in business or economy class.

Some have called Malaysia Airline’s plan discriminatory to families. But child-free sections on airplanes would be “no different than the ‘quiet cars’ provided by train companies,” said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, editor-in-chief of WeJustGotBack.com. “My guess is that many parents would opt for kid-free zones on planes when they’re traveling without their children.”

Kelleher said many family-friendly hotels and resorts now have designated spaces, such as spas, adult-only pools, fitness rooms and formal restaurants, where kids are not allowed. And most cruise lines offer adult-only areas such as pool decks and quiet restaurants. “Even Disney Cruise Line does this, much to the delight of adults on board,” said Kelleher.

Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the business-travel website JoeSentMe.com, understands those who would want babies and young children banned from the premium-class cabins. But he suspects that when it comes to other carriers following Malaysia Airlines’ lead, dollars may overrule toddlers.

“I doubt anyone will match, although Asia is a unique market,” said Brancatelli. “But it comes to this: If a parent wants to pay to bring a child in a premium cabin, well, it’s hard to turn away the money.”

He may be right. In a memo clarifying its policy, Malaysia Airlines states, “Where there is overwhelming demand for seats in economy class from families with children and infants, resulting in full load in the main deck, we will still accommodate such demand in the 70-seat upper deck economy class zone of our A380.”

(This story first appeared on Today Travel)