Skip to content

25 years of the Boeing 777: My story with the Triple Seven in pictures

June 10, 2020
8 min read
25 years of the Boeing 777: My story with the Triple Seven in pictures
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Boeing 777 just turned an important milestone: 25 years from its first commercial flight. The story that began on June 7, 1995, when United Airlines flew its first 777 from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles, has turned out to be one of the great successes in commercial aviation. The Triple Seven is now the best-selling wide-body airplane ever, and it's second only to the ubiquitous 737 as the best-selling Boeing jet.

With so many of them around, it's no surprise that they should appear frequently, and prominently, in our coverage of aviation. The best long-haul first class in the world, according to the TPG Awards? It's Air France's La Premiere, at the front end of a 777. And the best business class? Also found on 777s, it's Qatar Airways' Qsuite. What about the best premium economy? That was on Virgin Australia's 777s. Then you have the dazzling suites in Emirates first class and ANA business — both on 777s.

That dominance of the Triple Seven is no chance. The plane may not have the aviation-history charm of the 747, but it has largely taken its place in the world's airline fleets because of its better economics.

Sign up for TPG’s new weekly newsletter written by Brian Kelly

A technical marvel, the world's biggest twinjet — powered by the most powerful engines in the history of aviation — does almost everything the 747 can, but cheaper. Thanks to its huge belly holds, it has also been pulling double duty as a cargo carrier, after airlines found themselves almost without passengers due to the coronavirus.

Like many frequent flyers, my personal story with the 777 goes way back: my first ride in a Triple Seven was in the early 2000s in a Delta bird from Atlanta to Paris. I've logged hundreds of thousands of miles on the 777 since, without a hitch — the plane has an excellent safety record — but with many memorable moments, none more so than the first time I flew in a 777 cockpit.

In a bid to impress my girlfriend while flying from New York to Rome in 2006, I asked a friend who happened to be an Alitalia captain if he might be able to ask his colleague commanding our flight to let us peek into the flight deck. Not only did we peek: we sat in it, as our plane cruised toward Spain and the captain sipped an espresso — because of course Italy's flag carrier has espresso machines on board. You'll see the navigation map and coffee cup on the left of the image.

Clearly the flight-deck visit (and a dazzling display of the Northern Lights from our business-class windows) worked as intended, because the following year we found ourselves headed to Rome again — for our wedding. On a 777, of course. And because by then Alitalia knew us, we got another cockpit visit. I snapped this photo of the displays, showing us at 39,000 feet over Italy, 36.3 nautical miles from our next waypoint over the Genoa airport. Almost there!

During a tarmac tour of JFK in 2004, I had seen one of those Alitalia 777s from up close, too. Little did I know that one of them would fly me to my own wedding just three years later.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Over the years, I got close looks at many more 777s doing interesting things, like this Virgin Australia 777-300ER landing in Moses Lake — a huge and semi-deserted airport in Washington state — at the end of what was probably its very first flight, fresh from the factory. Boeing often sends brand-new planes to Moses Lake on their first test flight, and that day in 2009 I happened to be there with a camera.

A couple years later, the Italian newspaper I was working for sent me to that Boeing factory to report on the first delivery of a 787 to a customer. Boeing threw in a tour of the Everett assembly line for the journalists, and that's when I saw a 777-300ER being built for Emirates. Still unpainted, it showed clearly how aluminum skin panels are riveted onto the frame, and how modern aircraft manufacturing is a highly computerized process, with monitors sitting right by the fuselage.

The 777 holds another distinction for me: it's the only airplane I've flown in all four classes. Several of those flights have been for TPG reviews, like one my most unusual inflight experiences, a Kuwait Airways long-haul trip in first class from Dubai to New York via Kuwait City and Shannon. The seat was a great enclosed suite that could have been a contender for one of the best inflight products in the world. The service and soft product were, let's say, not on par with the seat.

In business class, on the other hand, I had one of the best flights of my life on an EVA Air 777 from Seattle to Taipei. From exquisite attention to detail to near-perfect service and outstanding food, it was a delight. No wonder we think EVA is an underrated gem.

Premium economy on Aeroflot from Moscow to New York stayed with me more for the exceptional inflight entertainment system than for the hard-shell seat.

Economy class on Air France from Boston to Paris stood out for one unpleasant detail: the dirty state of the aircraft.

All in all, though, my encounters with the Triple Seven have been an aviation-geek delight. One time, taking off from Newark, I spotted ahead of us in the takeoff queue the OG 777: the United bird that started it all with that first flight to Dulles, easily identifiable by its tail number, N777UA. It's still going strong today, doing domestic runs all over the United States.

I owe 777s two of my favorite aviation photographs, as well. One was taken on a flight from Singapore to Seoul aboard a Korean Air 777-300ER, as the full moon hung below our left wing. While my fellow passengers in Korean's excellent coach class slept unaware of the wonder outside their windows, I took frame upon frame until I finally got the exposure I wanted. The 777's rock-solid ride helped avoid any camera shake.

And one summer evening on the ground, at Bayswater Park in New York City, I spent hours waiting for the setting sun, a fisherman's boat and a plane landing at JFK to all line up just so. When it finally happened, the star of the shot was a Triple Seven.

All photos by the author.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.