Airlines

Zach Griff’s 2022 journey highlights, journey stats and what’s coming subsequent 12 months

One other 12 months is within the books, and with it comes some reflection on accomplishments in 2022 and pleasure for what lies forward in 2023.

From a journey perspective, this 12 months began feeling “regular” once more. The masks mandate resulted in March, and plenty of extra international locations started reopening their borders to vacationers.

Whereas I personally didn’t prime my 2019 journey stats, I used to be nonetheless lucky to go to some locations that had been beforehand off-limits in the course of the pandemic, together with Bali and Singapore.

There have been a ton of different travel-focused highlights this 12 months, so I’ll recap a few of them beneath and share what’s on the horizon for 2023.

2022 journey stats

Zach Griff’s 2022 travels. COURTESY GCMap

Complete miles flown: 185,780 (2021: 152,033; 2020: 133,796 miles; 2019: 205,985 miles)

Longest flight: New York — Singapore (9,527 miles)

Shortest flight: Boston — New York (184 miles)

Distinctive airways: 18

Distinctive airports: 47

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Elite standing earned: 7 (American AAdvantage Government Platinum, Delta SkyMiles Gold Medallion, United Premier 1K, JetBlue Mosaic, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, World of Hyatt Globalist). Learn extra about my elite standing plans for 2023 in my devoted story.

2022 highlights

A swanky personal airplane

Earlier this 12 months, I acquired to take a look at one of many coolest planes I’ve ever seen — a Boeing 757-200 that is been transformed into an expensive VIP configuration for tour clothing store Abercrombie and Kent.

The 757 options 48 seats, unfold throughout 34 rows in a 2-2 configuration. Whereas the seats largely resemble one thing you’d discover in worldwide enterprise class, the Abercrombie and Kent personal jet expertise contains cooked-to-order meals, top-shelf Champagnes and liquors and extremely personalised service.

Higher but, the airplane flies from personal terminals at among the world’s hardest-to-reach airports, bringing you nearer to the motion — whether or not that is to a safari or to a distant metropolis.

With a sticker worth of $160,000 per individual, I do not suppose that flying this jet shall be within the playing cards for 2023, however at the very least I acquired a peek inside.

The world’s longest flight, take 2

Through the pandemic, Singapore Airways made headlines for launching the brand new longest flight on the planet: from New York’s John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport (JFK) to Singapore.

The flight clocks in at 9,527 miles, simply two miles longer than the earlier longest flight on the planet, from Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport (EWR) to Singapore.

Whereas I flew the Newark route in 2019, I used to be desperate to expertise the JFK flight — not only for the novelty of being on the world’s longest flight, but in addition to check the expertise with that of the Newark route.

Suffice it to say, it was a blast for this aviation fanatic, and I even caught a really uncommon glimpse of the northern lights.

New routes and plenty of dropped cities

As a reporter, I spend most of my time masking the aviation trade, and no storyline captured as many headlines this 12 months because the one about pandemic-era community changes.

All the foremost U.S. airways have added a slew of latest routes and locations this 12 months, although my two favorites are United’s summer time transatlantic growth and Delta’s new service to Cape City and Tahiti.

I used to be lucky to fly United’s inaugural from Newark to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in June, and it was a blast getting to affix in on the enjoyable, which included a pre-departure gate celebration, commemorative pajamas and a welcome reception upon arrival.

That mentioned, it hasn’t all been about growth this 12 months. The Massive 3 U.S. airways proceed to drop small U.S. cities from their route map.

For the reason that pandemic started, American, Delta and United have collectively pulled out of a whopping 64 U.S. cities, in response to Cirium knowledge and community evaluation carried out by aviation consulting agency Ailevon Pacific.

A significant tech improve

Every year, I sit up for trying out new travel-focused know-how, and 2022 was the most effective but.

Headlining the upgrades is Apple’s new MacBook Air, which launched again in July and has rapidly develop into my go-to laptop computer. The pc is powered by the tech large’s newest M2 processor, which delivers unimaginable efficiency and all-day battery life. The truth is, I used the pc all through the world’s longest flight, and I landed with 85% cost left.

Apple hit it out of the park with different new gadgets and devices this 12 months, together with the second-generation AirPods Professional, iPhone 14 lineup and the Apple Watch Sequence 8.

I’ve additionally been a fan of GoPro’s newest Hero11 digital camera, and I’ve had a blast placing DJI’s new Mini 3 Professional drone to the check on my outdoor-focused journeys. Remember to catch all my journey gear suggestions in my annual present information.

Used planes are new once more

Delta took a really fascinating strategy to its fleet technique this 12 months.

The Atlanta-based service acquired second-hand Airbus A350s and Boeing 737s from numerous airways, and it rapidly inducted these planes into its fleet as a result of quickly growing demand for journey.

Whereas the planes now fly in Delta’s livery and shade scheme, the cabins themselves have not been up to date.

That mentioned, the “inferior” A350s aren’t essentially as outdated as you’d anticipate, particularly for {couples} touring collectively. The truth is, I used to be pleasantly shocked once I flew Delta’s first used A350 in June.

Home top quality will get a serious transformation

Delta did not simply add used planes to its fleet this 12 months — it additionally took supply of a brand-new home workhorse, the Airbus A321neo, or “new engine possibility.”

Whereas the airplane itself could seem like the basic Airbus A321, the inside sports activities maybe the largest improve but to the home first-class expertise.

Delta put in a customized recliner that options further privateness, extra storage and loads of different enhancements.

The truth is, I would say that this was the largest innovation to occur to the home onboard expertise this 12 months.

Lounges acquired nicer… and busier

Now that journey is sort of again to 2019 ranges, airports are actually busy as soon as once more. Maybe nowhere is that extra obvious than on the lounge.

After a two-year hiatus as a result of pandemic, lounge overcrowding got here again with a vengeance. However, once you do make it into the lounge, at the very least you may doubtless get pleasure from a much-upgraded expertise.

Delta opened three beautiful new Sky Golf equipment this 12 months in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. My private favourite is the one in L.A., which encompasses a year-round out of doors deck that is nice for airplane recognizing.

American and United additionally opened new outposts this 12 months, together with the huge United Membership in Newark and a first-of-its-kind Admirals Membership within the nation’s capital.

Premium financial system is all the fad

When you’re searching for a bit extra consolation in your subsequent worldwide flight, you would possibly wish to think about splurging for premium financial system.

This intermediate providing between enterprise class and financial system has develop into extra standard than ever, with an increasing number of airways including this cabin to their long-haul fleets.

This 12 months noticed the introduction of KLM’s new premium financial system, which I flew on the inaugural flight. The expertise, particularly the eating part, appeared extra like enterprise class than financial system.

The truth is, it was so good that it gained TPG’s award for the most effective premium financial system cabin.

A US airport renaissance

One of many silver linings of the pandemic has been the acceleration of airport infrastructure tasks. Maybe nowhere is that extra obvious than within the Northeast, the place new terminals sprung up in LaGuardia and Newark Airports.

American and British Airways co-located in JFK’s Terminal 8, which now options three new lounges and an upgraded premium check-in expertise.

Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (LAX) additionally acquired a giant improve with the opening of Delta’s new Sky Means in Terminals 2 and three.

Memphis additionally reinvented itself as a post-Delta hub with a brand new 23-gate terminal, which opened in February.

What’s on faucet for 2023

2022 turned out to be a giant 12 months for me, and there is tons extra coming in 2023.

I haven’t got that a lot booked but, however I am wanting ahead to flying United’s inaugural service to Dubai in March, returning to Japan and flying the brand new Qantas flight from Sydney to New York by way of Auckland.

I am certain many extra plans will pop up all year long, so keep tuned to TPG for tons extra thrilling protection in 2023 and past.

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