For those airbugs among us, to whom a ride on a new model plane is like spotting a favorite old car on the road, here's the word: Your first chance to sit on an A350 flight in the U.S. will come on New Years, when Qatar puts one of its new planes on a daily Doha-Philadelphia flight.
Qatar is the "launch customer" for the A350; it took possession of the first-ever last fall. On the Philadelphia run, it will be replacing a Boeing 777. The shift comes as Qatar also continues to add cities and service, despite complaints by U.S. carriers that it competes unfairly.
The A350 is the last really new plane in the pipeline for a while. It's Airbus's answer to Boeings 787 Dreamliner in the market for fuel-efficient medium-size very long-distance planes. Neither manufacturer has a really-new model in the works right now; all the "new" planes being announced are variations of existing planes. The variations include stretches for more seats, and new, more efficient engine options.
Qatar's first commercial A350 flight lands in Frankfurt, Jan. 2015. One year later: Philly
Photo: Wikimedia / Kiefer