Tag Archives: Weekend Reads

Your Aviation Weekend Reads for January 26, 2017

An exterior shot of Kansas City International Airport. Photo courtesy of Kansas City International Airport

An exterior shot of Kansas City International Airport. Photo courtesy of Kansas City International Airport

During the campaign, one of the big priorities for President Donald J. Trump was major spending on infrastructure, including airports and air traffic control. More details of what he wants to do were released in an exclusive document –with $137 billion and 50 projects — revealed by McClatchy D.C. The include $10 billion for NextGen air traffic control system, a new terminal for the Kansas City International Airport and a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston.

Speaking of Trump, the Big Three U.S. legacy carriers — American, Delta and United — are hoping that the new president will be more sympathetic to halting expansion by the Big Three Middle Eastern carriers — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways — reports Skift. The U.S. carriers have been fighting this expansion, and the latest shot fired was an announcement that Emirates was launching a Dubai-Athens-New York flight. The  Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, a trade group representing United, Delta and American, called the move a violation of the Open Skies agreement.

Staying in the Middle East, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths has offered to give advice to President Trump on how to fix America’s airports, reports Skift. During the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, candidate Trump echoed sentiments expressed by former Vice President Joe Biden, saying “Our airports are like from a third-world country. You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, LAX, and you come in from Dubai, China, you see these incredible airports and you land, we’ve become a third-world country,” according to NewsMax.

Sometimes I get slightly peeved with how the media reports on the airlines. An example is how they reported the Basic Economy fares announced by United and American to compete with ultra-low-cost carriers. With these low fares, travelers can’t put anything in the overhead bin, they can’t choose their seats in advance and there are no refunds if a flight is canceled. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is unhappy that “one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel” is being eliminated, reports Fortune. He wants to fight back by pushing to expand the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights in the upcoming FAA bill to ban the practice.

Whenever I fly these days, I make sure that I have magazines and at least two movies downloaded on my iPad. While I appreciate that airlines offer inflight movies, unless you’re flying out of the country, the selection is usually limited and it’s cut to hell in order not to offend passengers. The Runway Girl Network issued a statement explaining why it won’t offer seatback screens in its new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX jets. “More than 90 percent of our passengers already bring a device or screen with them when they fly. So it makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years,” the airline said.

A United Airlines Boeing 747. Photo courtesy of United

A United Airlines Boeing 747. Photo courtesy of United

Anyone who knows me knows that I am 100 percent in love with the Boeing 747, the jumbo jet dubbed “The Queen of the Skies.” I love this plane so much I made it a part of my Aviation Queen logo. I knew it was coming, but long-time operator United Airlines has announced that it will retire the 747, with the last flight scheduled for Oct. 29, 2017, reports Airways magazine.

Travel is uncivilized enough these days,with cramped flights and airports getting on our very last nerves. I wrote a post on my Aviation Queen blog on rules passengers should obey to keep things calm while traveling. And now Lizzie Post — the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary etiquette expert Emily Post — has offered her own air travel etiquette tips in Budget Travel magazine.

My apologies for skipping the past two weeks. I moved during that time, and lots of things fell by the wayside. So please enjoy reading these five stories over the weekend.

17096557489_f0c56cdd15_kEDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.

Your Aviation Weekend Reads for January 6, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Airbus

In 1982, author John Newhouse wrote a book called The Sporty Game: The High-Risk Competitive Business of Making and Selling Commercial Airliners, a fascinating read about the hard competition for airline sales among aircraft manufacturers Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell-Douglas and Airbus.  While the widebody market is dominated by Boeing and Airbus, Business Insider writes about the manufacturers that want to compete with the Big Two in the single aisle market, including: Russia’s Irkut MC-21, Canada’s Bombardier C-Series, Embraer’s E-Jet E2, Japan’s Mitsubishi MRJ and China’s COMAC ARJ21 and C919.

BBC News is the latest media outlet to question the future of the Airbus A380 double-decker jumbo jet despite the first orders for the aircraft in three years. One order the French manufacturer had been depending on was from Iran Air, which has been on a buying spree since sanctions were lifted in 2016. The flag carrier originally had 12 A380s as part of its original order of 118 jets valued at $27 billion, reports Bloomberg.

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Image courtesy of Spirit Airlines

If you happened to travel during the holidays, it’s more likely than not that you were affected by flight delays and cancellations due to weather. The New York Times writes about how the airlines are making it easier for passengers to make flight changes — without fees or penalties — via weather waivers.

I’m betting the passengers on a Spirit Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale to Cleveland wished they had access to a weather waiver after finally arriving nearly 12 hours after their original time on what they called “the flight from hell.” Passengers on “the flight from hell” experienced a series of issues that ended up having them bused from Detroit to Cleveland. In an interview on Cleveland’s NewsNet 5, I noted that as tragic as the flight was, travelers were lucky to get a $50 voucher and the bus because airlines are under no obligation to do anything when weather is involved. I also noted that it was a huge gesture, considering how strict Spirit is, being an ultra low-cost carrier.

I am a huge fan of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program, which allows trusted travelers to bypass long immigration lines after arriving in the U.S. CPB experience four-hour nationwide outage caused by a “technology disruption” that caused massive lines in the largest U.S. international airports including Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles and JFK, reports NBC News.

I am also a regular observer on how people behave while traveling, as I wrote in these About.com Air Travel posts, “10 Traveler Types You Don’t Want to See on Your Next Flight” and “Top Five Pet Peeves with Air Travel.” A piece in Skift offers tips on how to bring back civility and empathy to travel.

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Photo courtesy of Big Ass Fans

In 2003, I got to go on a tour of American Airlines’ maintenance facility, where the carrier strips aircraft to their studs and rebuilds them in what’s called a D check. One place I got to go was where they clean and sanitize the plane’s lavatories and the stories I was told about the regular cleaning process and things that passengers left behind brought horror to my germaphobe heart (I travel with hand sanitizer, baby wipes and a small can of Lysol and other items, outlined here).

Memories of that visit came rushing back after viewing this Business Insider short video on what scientists consider the dirtiest places on an airplane. They included: inflight magazines, touch screens and seatback pockets. And this Telegraph story offers tips from cabin crew, including why you should never take your shoes off on a flight.

I really appreciate your support of this column in 2016 and I’m excited to keep it going in the new year. So below are four more stories I think you should read this weekend. Enjoy!

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.

Your Aviation Weekend Reads for December 16, 2016

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A Bombardier CRJ parked at Pittsburgh International Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

At the beginning of my aviation career in 1993, Bombardier was bringing its 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet to the market. At the time, it was seen as a big risk because the industry had always been split between larger jets for mainline carriers and turboprops for regional airlines. At the time, Lufthansa and now-defunct Delta Connection carrier Comair had placed orders for the jet. The bet paid off, and for awhile, airlines around the globe were fighting each other to buy the CRJ and competitor Brazilian manufacturer Embraer’s ERJ-145.

Bombardier is hoping that lightning strikes twice with its larger CSeries family of jets. While the industry has applauded the Canadian manufacturer for building a sound jet, the orders have been slow to come. Lufthansa was the launch customer for the CSeries in July 2008 with an order for 60 aircraft and options on another 30. Orders currently stand at 360, including lifesaving orders of 75 CS100s from Delta Air Lines and 45 from flag carrier Air Canada, reports Skift. Colin Bole, senior vice president for sales at Bombardier’s commercial aircraft unit, said the manufacturer is pursuing prospects including some high-volume opportunities and would like to gain a foothold in the low-cost airline segment in 2017.

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An Iran Air Airbus A300. Photo courtesy of Iran Air

Now that U.S. sanctions against Iran have been lifted, Boeing is now free to sell jets to that country. BBC News reports that the Seattle-based manufacturer has inked a deal with the Iranian government to buy 80 jets, including 50 737 MAX 8s, 15 777-300ERs and 15 777-9s, valued at $16 billion. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2018.

And Reuters reports that Iran French manufacturer Airbus is about to close a deal to buy 118 aircraft, including turboprops from ATR. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2017.

Back in November 2013, I had the opportunity to write this piece for CNN.com on why I was firmly opposed to allowing inflight cell phone calls. “Letting passengers talk nonstop during flights would be like being stuck in hell,” I wrote. Three years later, this topic has reared its ugly head again as the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed allowing airlines to decide if they will allow travelers to make inflight calls using Wi-Fi via platforms like Skype or FaceTime, reports FOX News. The proposal includes a requirement where airlines would have to inform passengers whether calls were allowed on a flight when they booked a ticket.

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A napping room at Hamad International Airport.  Photo by Benét J. Wilson

Anyone who has traveled outside of the United States to some of the global hub airports knows that they are light years ahead of what’s here at home. I’ve been to amazing terminals at Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, and they are all full of passenger-friendly amenities.

While there are some great terminals with nice amenities in the United States, they don’t hold a candle to those outside of the country. McKinsey recently estimated that the U.S. needs to spend about $125 billion more a year simply to maintain its infrastructure at current levels, reports Skift. U.S. airports are chronically underfunded and ACI-NA estimated that the U.S. needs to invest $75.7 billion to accommodate passenger and cargo growth at its airports through 2019.

No matter where they are, I am a fan of airports big and small. So imagine my delight when I found this Atlas Obscura story with photos of the world’s most unique and beautiful airports. My personal favorite is Carrasco International Airport, Montevideo, Uruguay.

I did a post for About.com Air Travel on the Top 12 Airport and Airplane Movies. The good folks at Flying magazine have come up with their own list, 16 Movies Pilots and Aviation Enthusiasts Love. I’ve seen 10 of the 16 recommended.

With Christmas and New Year’s right around corner, this will be the last Weekend Reads in 2016. I thank you all for your support and look forward to resuming this column in 2017. I wish you all a very happy holiday season. Until then, enjoy these five quick links for additional reading.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.

Your Aviation Weekend Reads for December 9, 2016

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China will need to hire 110,000 pilots in the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s latest Pilot & Technician Outlook for the Asia-Pacific region. It notes that South Asia will need 41,000 pilots, Northeast Asia will need 21,000 pilots and the Oceania region will need 13,000 pilots.  Boeing’s 2016 Current Market Outlook says that 15,130 new airplanes, valued at $2.35 trillion, will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region by 2035.

Last week, I had the chance to fly to Chicago O’Hare to check out United Airlines’ new Polaris Lounge, designed for its international business travelers. You can read my stories for Airways magazine and LoungeReview.com here and here. A week after the product was launched, two other publications weighed in with their thoughts. The Points Guy Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig took a look at the Polaris first class product before United eliminates it for good.

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The United Polaris Lounge. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

And the Runway Girl Network’s John Walton asked “what is United Polaris, the new airline brand? For most people buying it right now, the Polaris experience is essentially the same as before but with slightly nicer bedding, a bit of a food and beverage upgrade, and a teddy bear — and the bear is going away next week,” he writes.

After a protracted and long battle, low-cost international carrier Norwegian’s Ireland-based subsidiary Norwegian Air International arm was determined by the U.S. Department that it is fit to serve U.S. destinations, reports Skift. Opponents including Delta Air Lines and the ALPA union claimed that Norwegian’s subsidiary undermines U.S. wages and working standards and hurts other U.S.-based carriers. Norwegian says the ruling will allow it to offer more low-cost international flights to the U.S.

My Facebook timeline blew up this week after United Airlines announced its Basic Economy fares. The one thing that jumped out in most stories was that those buying these ultra-low fares would not be able to put a carry-on in overhead bins. But what got missed in the shuffle, reports The Verge, was that those booking the carrier’s regular coach fares won’t be affected.  United, along with Delta and American, created the ultra-low fares to compete with low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

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U.S. carriers went all out with the hoopla to unveil their new flights to Cuba. But it looks like the party is already over for American Airlines, which has already cut 23 percent of its Cuba flights, citing weak demand, reports Gary Leff in the View from the Wing blog.  

In remarks at his 21st Annual International Aviation Forecast Summit in September, consultant Mike Boyd said that in the near term, it will be hard for the airlines to make any money. “But in the long term, it’s the biggest opportunity they’ve ever had,” he said in Airways magazine. “But the key market reality today is that there is not a lot of business travel today. Cuba is not interested in doing business with us right now.”

Changing crew member uniforms is supposed to bring a fresh new look and buoy the spirits of front-line employees. But it appears the opposite has happened at American Airlines, with flight attendants demanding that their new uniforms be recalled, reports Andrea Ahles of the Star-Telegram. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants says that more than 1,600 of its members have experienced headaches, hives and rashes related to the uniforms.

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Polaris Lounge Mixologist Adam Seger. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

One of the fun parts of attending the United Airlines Polaris Lounge sneak peek was talking to Mixologist Adam Seger about the custom cocktails he and his friends were creating for travelers. We’ll end the week by going from the ground to the sky, with Paste magazine’s picks for the best inflight cocktails. Cheers!

As the holiday season gets busier, I’ll be doing a shorter version of Weekend Reads and I’m taking the week of December 25 off. So enjoy these five quick links you should also consider reading.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.

Your Aviation Weekend Reads for November 17, 2016

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In the aftermath of the American Airlines Boeing 767 that caught fire at Chicago O’Hare on Oct. 28, 18 of the 20 passengers injured have filed a lawsuit, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to a statement from the Geneva-based law firm representing the plaintiffs blamed Boeing and GE for having an engine constructed from defective material, and blamed the airline’s employees of being negligent when the airplane was evacuated.

In the case of the Asiana Airlines 777 crash in San Francisco that killed three, 72 of the 304 aboard the flight settled with the carrier for an undisclosed amount in March 2015.

When I worked at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, one of the top issues being covered by the government affairs department was the safe  integration of drones into the national airspace system. “UAS must be integrated into the NAS in a manner that maintains the level of safety to people and property in the air and on the ground that general aviation currently provides,” according to AOPA.

And now it looks like AOPA’s concerns were real, with a report from the Guardian about a passenger aircraft nearly colliding with a drone. A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop, carrying 54 passengers and four crew, was going to Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport when it had to swerve to avoid hitting a drone about 30 miles out. Two flight attendants sustained minor injuries.

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A rendering of a Boom Technology jet parked at London Heathrow Airport. Image courtesy of Boom Technology

Boom Technology, builder of the newest supersonic jet, went on a major media blitz on Nov. 15. I did a Q&A interview with CEO and Founder Blake Scholl for Airways magazine, where he spoke about why he wanted to do the project, how it’s being funded and when it will come to market. will get public design debut in Centennial

In last week’s Weekend Reads, I wrote about how American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have unveiled true premium economy class products. And now Airways magazine reports that Alaska Airlines is the newest member of this club, with plans to unveil its own product on Jan. 5 on its fleet of Boeing 737-800s and -900s.

United Airlines held its quarterly earnings call on Nov. 15, where it announced it would become the first large U.S. carrier to restrict travelers on basic economy fares to only a single carry-on bag that must fit under a seat, reports FOX Business. It also announced that it was deferring delivery of 61 Boeing 737-700s and converting them to MAX jets, along with buying 24 Embraer E175 smaller jets.

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Image courtesy of JetBlue

I’m the curator of the Retro Airline Liveries Pinterest board, which is my way of showcasing the cool paint jobs of the past. So you know I was delighted when I read on the JetBlue blog that the 16-year-old airline just unveiled its interpretation of a retro livery from the 1960s. “The Retrojet livery—designed by JetBlue’s Design Team—was conceptualized after hours of research at New York City’s Lubalin Archive at the Cooper Union,” according to the blog.

I’ll be on travel this week, so I have more links I think you’ll like to read for the rest of the week. Enjoy!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.