Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

Recently, I decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Brazil with some friends and got to do so flying to Rio on the Dreamliner.

Here was my itinerary for Friday, October 7th (2016):

  • DEN-IAH 310PM-626PM UA1874 (787 Dreamliner)
  • IAH-GIG 930PM-925AM UA129 (flying to Rio on the Dreamliner)

My visa and passport came via FedEx overnight from Travisa the morning of October 7th, just in time to make my 310PM flight out of DEN so that I’d be flying to Rio on the Dreamliner. See more about that Visa process here.

I got to DEN around 1PM, with plenty of time to check my bag and TSA Pre-Check my way lickety-split through Jeppeson security in 20 minutes flat (check out tripchi’s #layovertip guide of DEN if you’re new to this airport). I often go through the Concourse A security as it’s often a shorter #travelhack, but since I was flying United this time around and would have to take the train anyways, I did the Jeppeson main security direct to the train to wind up efficiently in Concourse C.

Hello DEN Concourse C, it's been too long

Hello DEN Concourse C, it’s been too long

I had a good amount of time to kill when I hit my gate, and spent the time calling mom and Skyping with friends right up until boarding the plane and flying to Rio on the Dreamliner.

CJ Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner - easy breezy

CJ Flying to Rio on the Dreamliner – easy breezy

I used 30,000 miles and $139.66 to the entire outbound leg, and I booked the flight about 5 days in advance. There was plenty of availability which made flying to Rio on the Dreamliner both cheap and stress-free.

Tinted windows while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

Tinted windows while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

The key to surviving this long economy-class trip while flying to Rio was that both legs were on the posh Dreamliner Boeing 787 aircraft. The flight to Houston/IAH was a breeze and I had a window seat where I could play with the cool tinted windows on the aircraft (31L).

After a quick 90 minute flight to Houston, one movie on the amazing new United in-flight entertainment system (I chose the 13 hours – Secret Soldiers of Benghazi), and a bitchy flight attendant sitting next to me later (see rant on this blog here), we arrived in Houston early.

In Houston, I killed some time Skyping and then heading to the Red Carpet Club where I had some appetizers. I had brought with me two Club passes that would expire at the end of 2016, and it was high-time to use them. I have to say – it had been years since I had visited a United Red Carpet Club (I used to have annual memberships back in the 2005-2008 period when I was traveling with Unite frequently), and I was pleasantly surprised with the improvement of the food options. I tried a feta and red pepper tomato bisque, a few pieces of Parmesan cheese, some carrots (which actually were delicious dipped in the soup), and a chocolate chip cookie. A perfect snack!20161022_154105

The flight from IAH to GIG (Rio de Janeiro) was on time and I ambled on as usual last minute at the final call to finally finish flying to Rio on the Dreamliner 787. No need to hurry on-board since it would be another 10 hours since I would be able to stretch my legs. The aircraft was another comfy Dreamliner and I again had a window seat, 35K. There was a Brazilian man on the aisle but an empty middle seat between us, so we were able to spill over and stretch into the seat and shared floor space between us. Much appreciated on this red-eye flight flying to Rio on the Dreamliner!

Dreamliner 787 cabin

Dreamliner 787 cabin

Take off was on-time and I especially enjoyed the United Rio Olympics safety visit centered around Team USA. 20161007_151443

I had requested the East Asian special meal and it came prior to the regular food service. Note – another benefit of ordering the special meal is that you get served first! Of course, they failed to provide silverware, so I actually ended up waited until the regular service came around 😉 The food selection normally was a pasta dish or a chicken, but I was actually quite happy with my East Asian dish which was a veg plate of chickpea/lentil curry, a side of yogurt, and gluten free chocolate chip cookies. A wonderful (and mildly healthy #travelhack).

United in-flight entertainment while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

United in-flight entertainment while flying to Rio on the Dreamliner

The wonderful United in-flight entertainment system kept me entertained throughout the flight. Two movies (10 Cloverfield and Finding Dory) and 6 hours of restless sleep later, I awoke to a breakfast of a croissant and yogurt and found myself landing in Rio shortly after. We deplaned, wound our way through the GIG airport (a nice 15 minute walk from our gate to immigration), and made it through immigration thankfully in 10 minutes.

Overall rating for my flying to Rio on the Dreamliner experience?

A solid A

October Airport Restaurant Month 2016

HMSHost Airport Restaurant Month

HMSHost Airport Restaurant Month

This week we’ll be covering October Airport Restaurant Month returning to an airport near you. Last week we wrote about the DEN Oktoberfest beer tent coming back to the airport, and this week’s October Airport Restaurant Month blog extends the foodie theme one step further. This year’s October Airport Restaurant Month will also be at DEN, in case you’re looking for another #layovertip after you check out the beer tent. You can follow the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #AirportRestaurantMonth, and participate in person October 1 – 31 this year.

Read more

DEN Beer Garden – it’s back!

DEN Airport logo - DEN beer gardenJust in time for the Great American Beer Festival AND Oktoberfest, DEN Airport unveils it’s annual tradition – the DEN Beer Garden! For the third year, from September 30 – October 10, 2016, you will be able gain admission for $10. In exchange, you will get get a souvenir glass and 10 2oz samples (Beer Flights) from a variety of Colorado breweries at the DEN beer garden.

Read more

Aircraft Paint Jobs – Top 5 Best Liveries

For this week’s blog, we’ve decided to roll-up the commercial aviation industry’s best aircraft paint jobs. More and more airlines are using their planes’ exteriors as yet another means of marketing and brand expression. Some are serious and iconic, like American Airlines’ new livery, and some are more playful, like Air New Zealand’s “The Hobbit” themed aircraft paint jobs, and All Nippon Airlines rendering of Pokemon Go on its exterior. This is the next wave of airline/aviation marketing after the latest foray into novel, cool, and sometimes downright hilarious in-flight safety videos (like Delta’s “find the meme” video”).

Here’s our favorite five best aircraft paint jobs in the industry over the course of the last five years – tweet us if you’ve flown in any of these planes (#picturestoproveit)!

  1. Air New Zealand (NZ). Arguable my personal favorite since it’s a continuance of the Lord of the Rings theme that NZ has taken on over the years, this “The Hobbit” themed Boeing 777-300 livery is probably my top pick for best aircraft paint jobs. Even though it debuted in 2012, it is still arguable one of the best. NZ’s cohesive brand marketing and associating with the Lord of the Rings dynasty was a bold move to encourage travelers to get out and tour New Zealand. A wonderful example of destination marketing partnering with an airline.
    Best aircraft paint job

    Air NZ – Best aircraft paint job. Photo: Brandon Farris /

  2. Kulula Airways. We rank Kulula’s “Flying 101” livery as one of our top picks of best aircraft paint jobs for use of humor and risk-taking. This plane was apparently designed in-house by Kulula’s graphic design team as part of the airline’s greater strategy to demystify air travel. You can learn more about it here.
    Kulula Airlines has one of the best aircraft paint jobs

    Kulula Airlines has one of the best aircraft paint jobs

  3. All Nippon Airways. NH had a grand plan to piggyback off of the success of Pokemon and launch a livery under the brand Pokemon Jet. The airline even has an official website that details the various Pokemon-themed aircraft paint jobs and characteristics.
  4. GOL. Brazil’s Low-Cost Carrier G3 put together a creative and football (soccer) themed Boeing 737 livery with aircraft paint jobs focusing on the World Cup. The carrier was also named the official transport for the Brazilian national football team. The exterior was creating with the help of local street artists Os Gêmeos painting portraits representing the people of Brazil.
    GOL - World Cup themed aircraft paint jobs

    GOL – World Cup themed aircraft paint jobs. Photo courtesy of CNN

  5. Norwegian Airlines (DY).  Although not out yet, DY plans to unveil a Roald Dahl tail-fin “hero” on its Boeing 737-800 planes later this year. Roald Dahl, while not Norwegian (he’s British), is of Norwegian descent. He is famous for writing children’s classics like James and the Giant Peach as well Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl was also an aviator. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch for association, but it’s still cool either way. According to Norwegian Airlines:

    Roald Dahl is widely regarded as the world’s number one storyteller. Many elements of his universally-loved stories are said to have roots in the Norwegian tales that he heard from his family and from visits to Norway as a child

Well, those are tripchi’s top 5 best aircraft paint jobs. As always, feel free to leave a comment and let us know if we’re missing one. Or, tweet us @tripchi with some pictures of you with your favorite aircraft paint job. Keep calm and fly on!

Airport napping pods – now at AUH

If you’ve been traveling a lot lately, you may have noticed a recent airport trend where you can grab Zzz’s in airport napping pods.

Westin Denver Airport Hotel

Westin Denver Airport Hotel

Checking in to an airport hotel is one way to catch some zzz’s in between flights. But, this method has been around for decades. Check out this tripchi blog where we discuss the opening, for example, of the latest DEN Airport hotel. Other airports that feature airport hotels include DXB and Changi – airports outside of the US have actually been the most on the forefront when it comes to airport napping trends.

Read more

Labor Day Travel Wrap 2016

Today’s Labor Day travel wrap is brought to you by the letter S and the number 5, as in September 5th, 2016 (Labor Day, for those of you outside North America). Hopefully you got to do something as awesome as I did (I flew from DEN to LAX for a sailing expedition).

Sailing through Labor Day travel

Sailing through Labor Day travel

Read more

tripchi airport app newsletter – summer recap

Aug 2016 summer recap – travel on until the end of summer

tripchi airport app newsletter

Your summer recap – now that the impending end of summer is officially upon us, we all get one last opportunity to spend those hard-earned vacation days and go somewhere meaningful before the grind returns. One of the places you may want to consider is Cuba, now that the travel restrictions have eased for Americans and now that there are direct flights from the US into several Cuban cities. Another place to keep on your radar is Iceland – with the Icelandair European stopover program fares are cheap, and it promotes a vacation to several places in one for a Europe and Iceland combo. I was pricing out some flights to LHR via Reykjavík on the outbound or the inbound in late September/early October for $1400 to complete my summer recap trip.

Airport of the month Club for our summer recap edition: PIT Airport is one of the featured airports in the tripchi airport app and also is going through a bit of a revival/renaissance. We liked PIT so much from the perspective of an Airport 2.0, that we thought PIT Airport would be another interesting regional airport offering to include in the tripchi airport app. PIT Airport is the second busiest airport in Pennsylvania – and the 47th-busiest in the United States. Here are some fun facts about PIT in case you visit it for your summer recap travel:

  • Fun Fact #1: PIT airport has the longest runways of any commercial airport in PA at 11,500 feet (3,500 m).
  • Fun Fact #2: PIT is a US Airways hub, handling 26% of the airport’s traffic. Now that Southwest and AirTran have merged, combined they will have a larger share. Here’s a cool Southwest sign that can be found in the Southwest terminal.The third largest airline at PIT Airport is Delta.
  • Fun Fact #3: PIT Airport is one of the largest airports by acreage in the US – its 12,900 acres (52 km2), makes it 4th, just behind Denver International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and Orlando International Airport.
  • Fun Fact #4: PIT Airport is routinely listed on OAG Worldwide’s short list for the world’s best airport. Also, in 2011 Conde Nast Traveler ranked PIT Airport 7th best for business travelers.

This is not surprising considering the convenient and easy to navigate layout of the airport, with a central AirMall shopping center that is the hub to 4 concourse spokes. It’s a smaller scale version of Charlotte-Douglass International Airport. You can read more about PIT here.

If you’re looking for a #layovertip or dining or shopping options during that long(er) layover or summer recap travel, of course you can bring up the tripchi airport app and find a listing of what’s around you based on your flight time andthe Concourse you’re leaving from. If you’re passing through any of the airports we cover, we’d love to get your feedback! Find these tips and more on the tripchi airport app.

New to the tripchi airport app community? tripchi is your passport to explore the airport. We roll up dining and shopping options, charging stations, as well as airport art, airport secrets and #layovertips. And, you can browse lounges, find special deals and offers, and track your flight information. It’s now available on the Android through this direct download (click here), and will be on the Google Play store soon. For all you iPhone users out there, our plan is to roll the tripchi airport app out on the iTunes store next.

We’re currently looking for feedback on the Android app (send us an email at

How can you help?

  1. In the aviation industry? Pass your airport connections our way? We are looking at running a limited trial to prove that we can help not only airport guests, but also airports.
  2. Flying soon? We need your help to source more and better airport content. If you’d like to write for us or contribute your airport findings, shoot us an email:

Read on for the monthly blog highlights!

Read more

Heathrow children’s activities

One of the best airport rewards program is the London Heathrow loyalty program. We are a member and also subscribe to its monthly newsletter that covers all the LHR #layovertips and airport happenings. In this month’s newsletter, LHR covered a slew of Heathrow children’s activities. A lot of readers ask us for advice traveling through airports with the kiddos, and especially are looking for children’s play areas or other kid-friendly activities to bide the time during a long layover.

Mr. Adventure - Heathrow's children activities

Mr. Adventure – Heathrow’s children activities

Read more

Pokémon Go Airport Edition

Pokémon Go airport edition started to blow up several weeks ago, when airports realized it was a great way to engage their passenger base and incentivize guests to visit more spots in the airport. This blog rolls up all the ways you can play Pokémon Go airport edition.

Pokémon Go airport edition - Image via Corriere

Pokémon Go airport edition – All Nippon Airways tricked out with Pokémon. Image via Corriere

Read more

Delta system meltdown

Today’s Delta system meltdown comes just weeks after the Southwest debacle, that led to the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights across the U.S. Technology problems are to blame in both circumstances.

Read more

error: Content is protected !!