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Philadelphia will become the first US city to land passenger flights on the new A350 when Qatar swaps in Airbus’ latest aircraft on its flights between Doha (DOH) and Philadelphia (PHL) on January 1, 2016.
According to Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker, Philadelphia was selected because it’s the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the US, home to seven Fortune 1000 companies and it’s an important international business hub. However, if you are anxious to fly the Qatar A350 and you’re not located in Philly, you’ll only have to wait slightly longer to fly the A350 from other US cities, as daily service between New York and Doha will commence on March 1, 2016, with service between Boston and Doha beginning on March 16, 2016.
Qatar also plans to launch new routes to Los Angeles and Atlanta next year, but it’s not clear yet which aircraft will serve these cities.
Currently, the PHL-DOH route is served by the Boeing 777-200LR, which has 259 seats. The new Qatar A350 has approximately nine percent more capacity than the Boeing 777-200LR, offering 283 seats, with 36 seats in business class and 247 in economy.
The official name of this new aircraft is the A350XWB (XWB stands for extra wide-body), and it’s meant to compete with Boeing’s next-generation 787 Dreamliner. Airbus plans to release three versions of the aircraft — the A350-800, A350-900 and A350-1000 — with Qatar committing to the A350-900 and the slightly longer A350-1000.
Qatar Airways is the first (and currently only) airline flying the A350. Qatar launched the aircraft between Frankfurt and Doha back in January and starting flying between Doha and Singapore with the new A350 just last month.
As Qatar is a Oneworld member, you could use American Airlines miles to fly this route as an award. American would require 45,000 each way in economy or 67,500 miles in business (the A350 doesn’t have a first-class cabin). You could also book by transferring points to British Airways from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, or American Express Membership Rewards.
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TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
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