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My Six Favorite Airline Reporter Blogs of the Year

Me, in the engine of a Boeing 777 at the Future of Flight

Me, in the engine of a Boeing 777 at the Future of Flight

This year has been amazing. 2009 brought some interesting blogs, a name change, syndication with the Seattle PI, coverage from multiple media outlets, some wonderful friends in aviation, travel around the country and much more.

I started this blog about a year and a half ago just to share my passion of commercial aviation with others. I started with only a few readers and now have thousands everyday. I have enjoyed the wonderful comments on my blog, syndication, and of course Twitter.

Looking back, in January 2009 I only wrote three blogs for the whole month and now, I work very hard trying to get one up daily. The task is not easy; I work a full-time job, own a house, have a wonderful girlfriend, and try to keep a decent social life. But I love following the airline industry and it seems some of you enjoy my perspective, so it motivates me to keep it up!

Next year is already looking great. I am currently working with a few airlines on some pretty cool projects I plan to take on early next year. I will also have a close relationship with the Future of Flight which has already inspired some of my blogs and allowed me to have VIP viewing of the Boeing 787 first flight. I also ask you, my readers, to think of interesting blogs you would like to see!

Now, to my top Airline Reporter blogs of this year. It was hard to choose just five of my favorite blogs, so I changed it to my top six (hey, this is my blog, I can do what I want :) ). They might not have been the most read, but they are special to me for different reasons. Here they are in no particular order and why they are my favorite:

#1 AirTran’s Big News (part 4): Every AirTran Airways plane will get Wi-Fi

Back in May 2009 I was invited by AirTran to fly from Seattle to Baltimore to go on their special Wi-Fi media flight. This was still at a time where being an aviation blogger was new, I didn’t have a solid direction my blog was going and I had never had an experience like this previously. This event really opened my eyes to the potential of my blog. I was lucky enough to meet Benet Wilson with Aviation Weekly, Ben Mutzabaugh with USA Today, Joe Sharky aviation legend, and many others who are very inspiring writers.  The trip really started me thinking big and motivated me to aspire for bigger and original blogs.

#2 Pics and Video of Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s First Flight

What can I say about this? Being there in person on the Strato Deck at the Future of Flight, seeing the Boeing 787 take flight for the first time was absolutely amazing. 10 years from now, I am certain this post will make my “Top 5 blogs in the last 10 years.” Seeing this gorgeous plane lift off, while Boeing employees cheered them on, I felt so lucky to be there. I also got to meet the famous Flight Blogger Jon Ostrower to boot!

#3 Row 13: Why some airlines have it and others do not

I have wondered about row 13 for over 15 years. When I started to think about writing a blog on it in May, it took me five months to complete the write up (and posted it on Friday the 13th). When I started the research, I had no idea where it would lead me. Some airlines had no row 13 because of luck, another because of a canceled Boeing order. It was neat to make connections with many airlines and the fine folks at SeatGuru.com during my research.

#4 Mom Tells How Flying Used To Be

It is awesome that my mom has written a few blogs for me.  This one was my favorite where she took a look back at what flying used to be like. She didn’t just blame the airlines for treating people like cattle, but realizes that airlines have just been meeting passenger demand for cheaper flying.  Her story got put on the front page of the Seattle PI and got quite a bit of attention (something I was a little jealous about). People have really enjoyed reading her blogs and she is working on a few more for 2010!

#5 Putting Alaska Airlines 25 Minute Bag Guarantee to the Test

This one was just fun. I had just bought a car that was in Phoenix and a friend and I were flying down on Alaska Airlines to drive it back to Seattle (it was a great trip). I had just read that Alaska  started charging for checked bags, but was giving passengers a guarantee — your checked bag will be at baggage claim 25min or less after the plane reaches the gate or you get a $25 discount on a future flight or 2500 bonus miles. This was a  genius idea and I knew I wanted to cover it! It was perfect timing, since I already had booked my ticket on Alaska and I could put them to the test. I started my timer right as the plane stopped at the gate. It took us 15min 18sec to get from row 26 on the plane to baggage claim and the bag was already on the carousel. Good job Alaska Airlines! When I wrote the blog, they were planning to end the promotion at the end of the year, but since it has gone so well, they are extending it until at least July 31, 2010.

#6 Blogging on Ryanair

Ok, this is kind of cheating because it is not just one blog, but I just love blogging about Ryanair. I know that Ryanair says crazy stuff to get free media attention, but heck, I see it as win-win situation. In July I also gave out my “More Crazy Than Ryanair” medal (which I have more recently changed to “Crazier Than Ryanair”). Oddly I haven’t been able to give it out much since few airlines are crazier than Ryanair. I truly hope they can keep up the good (and crazy) times in 2010.

I wish everyone a wonderful and safe New Year!

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Racial Profiling is Wrong and it Doesn’t Work

A reader took a picture of my Tweet on CNN and emailed it to me. It says, "Pasngrs are demanding SMARTER security not more restrictions. Racial profiling goes against the spir

A reader took a picture of my Tweet on CNN and emailed it to me. It says, "Passngrs are demanding SMARTER security not more restrictions. Racial profiling goes against the spirit of freedom in the US"

I was recently asked by CNN to Tweet my opinion on racial profiling. That got me thinking a little deeper about the subject. Tonight I have been talking to some of my Twitter followers about my opinions and realized I needed more than 140 characters to express my opinion since Twitter limits me to only 140 characters.

Quite simply I feel that racial profiling is very wrong and it can actually hurt our security. All over the internet people are demanding that we start racial profiling. People feel that concentrating on one type of person (normally middle eastern male in his early to middle 20′s) will make us safer. Here are the reasons why I don’t agree:

* The guy who just tried to blow up Delta flight 253 was Nigerian and he would not have fit into the typical “racial profiling” that people are looking to have. A real profiler should have seen he paid in cash, had no ID, and I am guessing showed signs of being nervous.

* If we did discriminate people based on race, wouldn’t terrorist groups  just use people of different races? Remember John Walker Lindh? The American citizen who was captured in 2001 and was being trained by Al-Qaeda? With a nice shave and haircut he would NEVER be racially profiled at an airport. I am sure he is not the only person training with Al-Qaeda that doesn’t match the proper “profile.” While we spend time, effort and money training people to racially profile, terrorists will spend time training people that don’t fit that profile.

* As I said in my Tweet to CNN, we don’t need more security, but smarter security. Part of the smart is getting people who are highly trained to detect a person who is about to kill himself and a few hundred other people. No matter how much they hate America or are ready to die for their cause, that is going to make anyone a little nervous. Professional (not the people making ~$35k with a TSA patch on their shoulder) profilers are able to tell the difference between someone who is nervous to fly and someone nervous that their bomb won’t go off.

* It is just wrong. Even if I honestly thought racially profiling passengers would increase my security, I would rather be less secure than participate in a system that places people into categories based on their race. We have worked very hard as a society for the past 50+ years for racial equality and this would be a HUGE step backwards.

* Will it spread? I hate the saying “it’s a slippery slope” but it kind of works here. If we start racially profiling with flying, then why not with shoplifting or with jay-walking? I am NOT ok with even thinking about what precedent it could set.

I have seen the quote from Benjamin Franklin a lot today (mostly thanks to FlightWisdom) and it is perfect for this concept: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”

Thank you to all my Twitter followers for motivating me to write this. Also be sure to read Lou Young’s, story about racial profiling (thanks to @JonUPS for pointing this out to me)

Ok discussion time, what are your thoughts?

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Thanks Rita for taking the picture

Fun with Photos: Boeing 747-200 Testbest for Trent 1000 Engine

Notice the size difference of the Trent 1000 engine that is being used on the Boeing 787

Notice the size difference of the Trent 1000 engine that is being used on the Boeing 787

Most of you were right on with the photo I posted yesterday.  It is a  Boeing 747-200 that was the test bed for Rolls Royce to test the Trent 1000 for certification taken at the Future of Flight in 2007. The odd part of the photo was engine #3 was a bit larger than the other three.

The aircraft was purchased by Rolls Royce from Cathay Pacific Airlines. The engine was being tested to be used on the Boeing 787.

One of my readers, Ian, found additional pictures of the aircraft in flight from Flight Global.

Image: TheNewArea51

Homeland Security Subpoenas and Search Computer of Two Bloggers

You don't want to get one of these!

You don't want to get one of these!

This is a developing story so details are a bit rough at this point. While Christopher Elliot (National Geographic Traveler’s reader advocate, travel troubleshooter, and MSNBC columnist) blogged and tweeted as he was putting his kids in the bathtub, he heard a knock at the door. It was Special Agent Robert Falherty serving him a subpoena from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The subpoena gave Agent Falherty the permission to search any faxes and emails related to TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06. Directive 1544-09-06 spelled out all the fun new rules the TSA put into place that were widely panned (even by me).

Fancy I should choose to link to Steven Frischling’s Flying with Fish blog, since he too is reporting via Twitter that the DHS served him a warrant and searched his computer (update: he has now blogged about his DHS experience). Frischling made fun of the fact that he could see many people from the TSA and DHS reading his blog. But now it isn’t much of a joke, it is just crazy!

It seems the DHS is trying to find who leaked the TSA Directive and they are obviously willing to go to ridiculous lengths to do so.

I realize I don’t have all the facts yet, but even in the best case scenario, this is not going to look good for the DHS. It makes them look aggressive by trying to cover it up, seemingly embarrassed by their own directive. I am no legal expert, but I am pretty certain the press have protections from such violations.

Elliott and Frischling are highly respected travel and aviation journalists. When the TSA and government were silent about what was going on, you could count on them to get some answers before anyone else.

Even if DHS is in the legal right, it doesn’t make it right what they are doing. As a Twitter follower of mine said, “If [DHS] were as good on security as they are on chasing bloggers…”

I will be updating this blog as more information becomes available.

* Great write up and interview with Frischling from Runway Girl
* In the gig economy, who protects journalist bloggers? from Chris Around the World
* Government harassing blogger for source of TSA directive “leak” from Gadling
* Follow all the latest developments via Twitter #tsaFAIL
* Article written up by Tnooz
* Write up by the Seattle PI
* A counter argument made by Christopher Fotos at Things with Wings on why the TSA did the right thing.

UPDATE 12/30 8am: Elliott and Frischling are reporting via Twitter that the DHS came this morning and took Frischling’s computer and plan to be back around 3pm. This is getting crazier by the hour.

UPDATE 1:45pm: Mary Kirby via her blog Runway Girl talked to TSA agents. The TSA confirms they are looking into the leak. They did not have an answer to an airline reportedly was reading the Directive 1544-09-06 before takeoff and was unable to answer what direction the airlines were given. Frischling just reported on Twitter that the DHS just delivered his laptop back to him after searching it all day. Wired now has the story and is reporting:

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer in Connecticut who writes a blog for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said the two agents who visited him arrived around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, were armed and threatened him with a criminal search warrant if he didn’t provide the name of his source. They also threatened to get him fired from his KLM job and indicated they could get him designated a security risk, which would make it difficult for him to travel and do his job.

Update 4:15pm: Wired now has a photograph of Frischling and agent Falherty. Now that is good! Looks like that is his laptop on the car hood. Frischling was interviewed on an internet radio station at 4pm CST, I am working on getting a link to that soon.

UPDATE 5:10pm: From Frishling’s Twitter account: “Well..MacBook left with TSA functioning, except a mouse issue, now I have all sorts of harddrive & operating system issues. Oy, not good

UPDATE 9:00pm: About 24hrs ago I was one of two people that blogged about this story. Now USAToday, FoxNews, NYT and many more have covered it. It is even on the front page of MSNBC. I am amazed at the grassroots efforts of a few aviation bloggers on Twitter helped to make this happen!

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Image: timsamoff/Flickr/Christopher Elliott

Fun with Photos: Boeing 747-200, What’s Odd With This Picture?

This Boeing 747 is parked outside the Future of Flight

This Boeing 747 is parked outside the Future of Flight. Image is used by permission from the Future of Flight.

Trying to read airline news now, all I see is “terrorist”, “security”, and “TSA.” Trying to do something a little lighter.

This Boeing 747 is parked outside the Future of Flight in Everett, WA. Notice anything strange with the aircraft? Any idea who might own the aircraft?

The Strato Deck (all the people on the roof) is where I caught the Boeing 787 taxi tests and the Boeing 787 first flight.

So can you spot what is odd with this 747?

SEE LARGER VERSION

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