Monday, January 24, 2005

United #7875: The Flight That Never Was

What was supposed to be a routine day out and back for a meeting ended up being 6 hours of frustration at Dulles International Airport.

The problem is how they lead you on, giving you hope that your flight might make it out. They delay 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then 30 minutes. If they had told you up front that you would be more than 3 hours late at least you'd get a chance to go to another carrier and see if they had a flight heading out. The end result is that you end up leaving the airport and driving back to your office at a furious rate of speed to make sure you get a chance to get on the phone and hear what's going on, anyway.

The airline industry is making it almost a requirement that you travel the day before if you have an appointment. You have to leave yourself a buffer space of 12 hours or so to make sure you get there ahead of your appointment. Good for the hotel business, bad for everyone else.

On the good side, the agents at the United ticket counter gave me a full refund and were pleasant and helpful. Once I endured the tremendously long "Concourse G" bus ride back to the main terminal, and found the one gate agent who handles this.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Image: Saab 340F

Saab 340 - Photo from United's web site Posted by Hello

Copied here in case United moves the picture from their site. Saab's product page is here.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Equipment: Boeing 717

The Boeing 717 was originally created by McDonnell-Douglas as the MD-95 in 1995. In 1997 MD merged with Boeing, and the plane was renamed the Boeing 717 (more specifically, the Boeing 717-200).

The plane is a twin engine configuration with both engines at the rear of the aircraft on the fuselage. The plane is normally configured for 100 passengers, and was positioned in the market for short-haul/regional flights. The planes were mostly purchased by AirTran Airways, and their recent decision to purchase 100 Boeing 737's probably sealed the 717 line's fate. My observation has been that the Canadaire Regional Jets are everywhere for smaller regional flights (even some longer ones -- United runs a IAD-DFW non-stop on them which is a 1700 mile flight), and the 737's are the workhorse for the low-cost domestic flights.

As a side note, AirTran still promotes the 717 as part of their image.

717 cockpitI've been on a few of these, always AirTran, and they always seem nice because they're usually pretty new. The rear engines are very quiet -- usually when the engines are on the fuselage it seems to transmit noise into the cabin easier. The cockpit is also a modern "glass" cockit with modern avionics.

In January of 2005 Boeing announced that it was halting production of this aircraft. Boeing maintains that this plane continues to offer tremendous value to their customers, but that the market demand for the plane doesn't justify keeping production going.

717 taking off

Product Site:

Image: 717 Cockpit Detail

717 Glass Cockpit. From AirTran Airways web site. See

There is also a huge detail of this picture at Print it up on a large scale printer and hang it over your desk! Posted by Hello