Friday, February 17, 2012

American Airlines First to Take Delivery of New Boeing 777-300ER

American Airlines 777-300ER will feature mood lighting, archway
ceiling treatments and a walk-up bar offering snacks and drinks.
(images credit: American Airlines)
I always compare the introduction of a new wide-body passenger jet into service to the opening of a new house or condo. Especially on long-haul flights, and I'm talking about the ones that have flying times of eight to ten hours, the plane is your home away from home albeit up in the sky.

After experiencing all three cabins of service over the years to London, I have to admit it was definitely worth it to squander so many miles two years ago for a Flagship Suite on a round-trip flight between Los Angeles International and London Heathrow. I'm earning and saving my miles again to repeat the experience.

Last month American Airlines announced it will be the first air carrier to take delivery of the new Boeing 777-300ER beginning in 2012 and will continue throughout 2013. Customers in Dallas/Fort Worth, London Heathrow, New York's John F. Kennedy and Sao Paulo will be among the first passengers to experience the new aircraft. Additional markets are being planned.

Among the jet's new features are unique mood lighting and ceilings with archways to create a spacious feeling and, the first for any U.S. carrier, a walk-up bar in the premium cabin stocked with snacks and refreshments. Entertainment options will offer up to 120 movies, over 150 TV programs and 350 audio selections. Each seat will feature international Wi-Fi capability, a universal AC power outlet and a USB jack.

According to American Airlines these are the features of each cabin on their 700-300ER:

Updated First Class Flagship Suite
  • Swivel seats that transform into a fully lie-flat 80-inch bed.
  • Drop down armrests that allow for easier access and more sleeping space.
  • Aisle access from every seat
  • Privacy dividers
  • Two universal AC power outlets
  • One USB outlet
  • Two large tray tables
  • Water bottle holder and headset stowage
  • Boise Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headset
  • 17-inch TV screen and touchscreen video handset that also serves as remote

Business Class Cabin
  • Fully-lie flat seats
  • Aisle access from every seat
  • Large tray table in addition to a work surface
  • Water bottle holder and headset stowage
  • Boise Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headset
  • 14.5-inch touch screen monitor

Economy Class Cabin
  • American is expecting to designate some economy rows with extra legroom (part of new seating product announcement)
  • Seats will have a higher recline pivot providing increased knee room
  • Seat bottom articulates producing a cradling motion increasing the recline angle of the setback while protection personal space for passengers seated in the row behind
  • 9-inch touchscreen monitor

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Airfare Advertising Rules and You: Fees Become More Transparent

(image credit: Brian Cohen)
New passenger protection rules began taking effect on January 26, 2012 starting with a law requiring airlines to include mandatory government taxes and fees in advertised fares. Here's what you should know about these new Department of Transportation rules.
  • Travel booking sites and online travel agencies, in addition to airlines, must also include mandatory flight taxes and fees when advertising fares.
  • There's nothing new for fare aggregator websites such as Kayak which were already displaying fares with the full taxes and fees.
  • The rules also require vacation packages to show such fees and taxes if it includes airfare.
  • Passengers will have a choice to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours of initial booking as long as the ticket was purchased at least a week before departure.
  • Airlines cannot increase the price of a ticket after it is sold.
  • Airlines must inform passengers if a flight will be more than 30 minutes late.
  • Costs for baggage fees must be displayed on the "first screen containing a fare quotation for a specific itinerary."
  • Baggage fees must also be displayed on electronic ticket confirmations.

Monday, February 13, 2012

NIght Unfurls Its Splendor at a Matinee: 'The Phantom of the Opera' Celebrates 10,000 Performances

The Limited Edition Commemorative Playbill.
Click HERE to purchase from

When 'The Phantom of the Opera' opened in January 1988, few would have predicted that Andrew Lloyd Webber's lavish musical would be celebrating 10,000 performances and on the road to reaching a full quarter century on Broadway. On February 11, 2011 at the 2pm matinee the show just did the former and is guaranteed to do the latter in 2013. revealed the extent of the celebrations at this milestone performance. But Patrick Healy of the New York Times put the event into perspective:
  • The production cost $8 million and has grossed over $845 million just on Broadway.
  • The musical has come to define modern Broadway by proving the purchasing power of women and tourists, the durability of repeat business and the lure of the spectacle.
  • Thanks to persistent marketing, strict quality control and flexibility in ticket pricing, 'Phantom' has thrived where shows with bigger stars and better reviews brought down the curtains.
  • In December 2011, the show earned more in a single week, $1,579,428, than in any of the 1,256 weeks since the musical reached New York.
  • One pair of investors decided to put $500,000 into 'Phantom' in 1987 and have gone on to earn about $12 million through Broadway and national tours.
  • More than 40 percent of 'Phantom' patrons have seen it at least once before, and a majority of the 'Phantom' audiences in 2011 saw no other Broadway show that year; about 68 percent were women, and nearly 60 percent were tourists.
  • On Broadway only 30 percent of shows ever turn a profit.
  • The show's weekly operating cost have been tightened over the years to about $600,000, modest for any musical and low for one with such elaborate sets and costumes.
  • The show turned a profit almost every week in 2011.
  • The musical benefited considerably from the multimillion advertising budget for the 2004 film adaptation.
  • 'Phantom' did its best yearly business in 2011, grossing $44.8 million.
Click HERE to read the complete article on For me this show will always be one that propelled my interest in the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and live theatre. Though I had to make do at first with purchasing the vinyl two-record set and a copy of a libretto, it would be at least a couple of years before I actually experienced a live production of the show in Los Angeles in 1990. But I have seen the musical at least a dozen times more since and I see no reason why I shouldn't see it again.
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