- Back in 1994, I had to fly from Washington, D.C. to Singapore. I decided to take the east coast route: DCA-JFK-FRA-SIN. I thought that was the longest flight ever, despite how comfortable it was because I was on Singapore Airlines. But it looks like Qantas’ Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth flight is even longer, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- I admit it — I’m one of those people who does mileage runs to keep my elite status. One year, I made a 24-hour trip from Washington Dulles to San Jose, Calif. I rented a donut-wheel rental car and drove up to Oakland to have lunch with my cousins. On the way up, I was mesmerized when I saw Hangar One at Moffett Field. So check out this post on CheapFlightsFinder.com covering 7 Awe Inspiring Aircraft Hangars.
- I’m a regular listener of NPR’s Planet Money podcast. On Jan. 9, they took a look at how airlines manage to stay in business despite losing hundreds of billions of dollars. And they brought in none other than retired American Airlines Chairman and CEO Bob Crandall to explain it to us. Nice to see that Mr. Crandall is as charming as ever!
- Normally this story of a Transportation Security Administration officer being caught stealing two iPads from a passengers’ checked luggage, from a story reported by WMC-TV, would have been included in Strange But True Aviation News. But I included it here because of the obvious question — WHY would anyone put an iPad in their checked luggage?
- San Francisco International Airport is one of my most favorite on the planet, not to mention my original hometown airport. One of the things that makes it so great is the world-class museum that just happens to reside on the premises. Check out this profile of the airport’s museum in the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The View From The Wing blog waxes poetic about the benefits of having an American Express platinum card. It does look nice, but not everyone can spring for the $450 yearly fee. I get treated very well with my Amex Zync card, at only $25 a year. Read about my treatment, here.
So I managed to finish my first week on the new job. LOVED it!! Now, onto the week’s aviation news.
- Ted Reed of The Street.com wrote two interesting airline pieces last week. In the first piece, he writes about how the lack of a deal between American Airlines and its pilots could cause the Dallas-based carrier to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the last of the legacy carriers who have avoided this fate. In his second piece, Reed notes that Phoenix-based US Airways has two goals for 2012: cut its presence at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and upgrade its aging fleet.
- Plans for a supersonic business jet have been floating around for decades. The latest player to enter the market, U.K.-based HyperMach used last week’s Dubai Air Show to tell Aviation International News that its 20-seat SonicStar will be able to fly at speeds up to Mach 4.0, allowing to fly from New York to Dubai in only 2 hours 20 minutes.
- Regular readers know I am a fan — and student — of all things dealing with first and business class travel, as witnessed by the Facebook group I created: I Love Sitting In 1st/Biz Class (my Dec. 15 blog post about the group is here). So I’m passing along Jaunted’s review of Delta Air Lines’ Economy Comfort product. My view? I’d pay extra for the room.
- My 6-year-old daughter has become addicted to video Skype. She loves chatting with her grandparents and her aunt. So I’m betting she’d love being able to check in for her flight via Skype, which you can now do at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- Trust me, I am NOT a regular reader of Perez Hilton. But I could not resist when I saw his hysterical rant about Spirit Airlines pop up on my Google Alerts. He rambles on about all the fees charged by Spirit. You won’t see me flying on that airline — ever — but I admire their business model. They charge ultra low fares, but charge fees up the ying yang. Don’t like the fees? Don’t fly the airline.
I’m a bit behind on my Airplane Geeks episodes, but I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 171, which featured former Air Force pilot Mark Jones. He had some great stories about training at Edwards AFB. At one time, my dad was deputy base commander there, and my sister worked on the flight line, so I was reliving all that when Mark was chatting.
And finally, I am a sucker for aviation/airline commercials. When they come on, I stop and watch in rapt fascination. Recently I saw one featuring the folks who build GE Aviation engines, where they got the chance to fly to Boeing Field Seattle to see their product hung on the 787 Dreamliner and actually fly on the 747, my favorite plane. And yes, I got a tear in my eye as they watched the fruits of their labor in total awe. Enjoy!
Kids, I must confess — I was so busy with this week’s National Business Aviation Association annual conference that I barely had time to keep up with the rest of the industry. But I did manage to find five interesting stories I’d love to share with you.
- Back on July 9, I got to take a day trip up to United Airlines’ Chicago O’Hare hub for a party being held for Tom Stuker, who accumulated 10 million (yes, million) Mileage Plus miles (my AvWeek blog post on that is here). One of the gifts given to Stuker was a Boeing 787 model. During his remarks at the festivities, United CEO Jeff Smisek said the 787 would be in the fleet by 2012. He also quipped about how he had been waiting four years for the delayed plane. And now, my Aviation Week colleague Darren Shannon writes about how another 787 production delay has caused United to cut its 787 delivery schedule from six to five of the type.
- Are you one of those people who use websites to manage all of your frequent flyer miles (I’m not one of them)? if you’re using sites including AwardWallet, MileWise and GoMiles, you may be facing some trouble, according to the Wall Street Journal. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have sent “cease and desist” letters to these companies over their activities.
- SmarterTravel’s Ed Perkins gives us the skinny behind the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck trusted traveler program, which is quite similar to the old registered traveler programs (which were privately run). But he also asks some very good questions about the program, including cost, locations and enrollment.
- My friend Sandra Gonzales, a multimedia journalist in New Orleans, shot this piece on how Louis Armstrong International Airport has become one of 8 American approved airports to fly to Cuba.
- As you know, the nostalgic aviation geeks had been waiting with bated breath for the new ABC-TV series “Pan Am.” You can see my review of it in this Sept. 26 post. Which is why I enjoyed this post from travel expert Peter Greenberg’s thoughts on the real Pan Am.
I’m still catching up on my Airplane Geek podcast episodes. I just listened to Episode 166, featuring Delta Air Lines social media guru Susan Elliott. It was a great episode., and you have to love a woman who has a genuine DC-3 prop and a white leather sofa in her work space!! And I got to guest host Episode 168, with Lori Ranson, he America’s Air Transport Editor at Flightglobal. And don’t forget to read this week’s edition of Strange But True Aviation News!
I have one more week to go at Aviation Week. And I thank you all for your kind tweets and emails. But as a result, there will be some changes on my blog. Mondays will now be my top stories of the previous week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays will remain the same. Thursdays are for Random Aviation Photos and Friday will be Strange But True Aviation News. I hope you’ll continue to support me here!
It has been a busy week for me. I started out recovering from two journalism conventions where I had the chance to speak (and raise my aviation geek flag), and it ended with me cranking out stories for my day job. So here are my picks for the week.
- I’m giving props to my Aviation Week colleagues Guy Norris and Mike Mecham, who led our team coverage of Boeing’s first 787 delivery, to Japan’s ANA.
- Speaking of 787s, I was at United’s Houston hub on Tuesday (a separate post is coming out about that) and I saw a mock-up of the 787 in the E Concourse. CEO Jeff Smisek tells the Chicago Tribune that his carrier’s first 787s are coming into the fleet by the second half of next year. He couldn’t resist a dig a Boeing, noting he’s been waiting for the plane since Continental ordered it in 2004.
- JetBlue CEO David Barger used an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley to call the partial shutdown of FAA earlier this summer “criminal.”
- I was intrigued by Scott McCartney’s Wall Street Journal story on kids attaining elite status on the world’s airlines. My daughter, 5, started flying when she was 10 days old. She was one of the youngest children to earn a Rapid Rewards ticket on Southwest Airlines.
- I’m a bit behind with this story (Sept. 19), but I wanted to share this Marketwatch story on what the Transportation Security Administration is doing to speed passengers through airport checkpoints. TSA fought the registered/trusted traveler concept for so long, it fascinates me how now they’re going in that direction.
My beloved Airplane Geeks were smart enough to interview one of my favorite social media peeps, Susan Chana Elliott of Delta Air Lines, in the latest episode. And we have the usual basket of crazy over at AvWeek’s Things With Wings blog with Strange But True Aviation News. I’m going to watch episode two of ABC-TV’s “Pan Am” this Sunday, but three strikes and they’re out!
It was a rainy, dreary week, but the news marched on. And so will I, with my picks for my top stories.
- Surprise! The Boeing 737 MAX was not a surprise to Airbus, writes my Aviation Week colleague Guy Norris. “Airbus says Boeing’s decision to develop a re-engined 737 rather than an all-new aircraft was a predictable lower-risk move, but believes the European manufacturer’s head start with the A320NEO puts it in pole position for market dominance,” he writes.
- 10 years after the 9/11 attacks and nearly 10 years after Richard Reid attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami using a shoe bomb, we are still required to take off our shoes at airport security checkpoints. But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, with Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano telling NPR that airline passengers in the future will no longer be instructed to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints. I’ve traveled the world, and only the USA still requires shoe removal.
- The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney looks at 10 years of airport security, noting that “the costs of increased transportation security run to tens of billions of dollars a year world-wide, and authorities still are groping to close obvious vulnerabilities a decade after the 2001 terrorist attacks.”
- In airline WiFi news, Delta Air Lines used its blog to announce that it was putting Gogo inflight WiFi on all 250 of its Delta Connection regional jets. And in related news. Gogo released this cool infographic on mobile WiFi usage in the air.
- And finally, US Airways CEO Doug Parker chats with TheStreet.com’s Ted Reed on how his airline has changed since 9/11. Parker had just become CEO 10 days earlier. And the Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz Blog published my 9/11 story, here.
Do you live in Chicago or will be there by September 25? I encourage you to go to the DuSable Museum of African American History to check out the exhibit Black Wings: American Wings of Flight. The exhibit uses a narrative arch that uses the Tuskegee Airmen as a jumping off point to tell the untold story of African American aviation in the last 65 years.
I hope you all have a great weekend!!