Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 290,939
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,212,540

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Sharing a Passion for Creating Impressive Aviation Art

A classic Continental Airlines Boeing 707-300 - Image: JP Santiago

A classic Continental Airlines Boeing 707-300 – Image: JP Santiago

I suppose I was destined to be doing aircraft profile art from a young age. Many of my notebooks and textbooks had aircraft drawings scribbled on the pages and margins, often to pass the time in class. As long as I can remember, I was always drawing airplanes – on the walls of my room, in the margins of a textbook, scraps of paper and a sketchbook here and there, some of which I’m sure are probably tucked away in my parents’ attic to this day.

As a teen, I even took drafting electives to help with my drawings as they began to develop more details and precision. In high school, I had covered the walls of my bedroom with a series of aircraft profiles all to scale — I’m not sure where they are now, but they were done with technical pen and Prismacolor pencils from large aircraft like the Boeing 747 and B-52 Stratofortress, to fighter jets and World War II aircraft. I had a McDonnell Douglas KC-10 refueling a formation of F-4E Phantoms and F-15 Eagles.

A TWA Boeing 727-100 and 727-200 - Image: JP Santiago

A TWA Boeing 727-100 and 727-200 – Image: JP Santiago

That was probably the start of my interest in “what-if” concepts and unbuilt designs, as there was also a profile of the proposed McDonnell Douglas P-9, a maritime patrol version of the MD-87 powered by unducted fan engines. Through college and medical school I tried my hand at pencil drawings as well, as I was searching for the ideal medium for my artwork. Many of my books were filled with profile art, which I scrutinized, by aviation artist Keith Fretwell.

I was a consummate model aircraft builder (and still am, to some extent, but not to the level of activity that I was before I had kids) which also influenced my own artwork as well. After all, the research I put into a particular model kit had just as much application to my artwork as well. That was probably the first use of the internet for me as an AvGeek.

Around 1993, I discovered the USENET and I’m pretty sure you can find my posts in the rec.models.scale and rec.aviation sections. I still remember my first posting; I was looking for the FS595 colors used for the Mod Eagle camouflage scheme on the F-15 Eagle that was introduced in the early nineties on the Eagles of the Pacific Air Forces before it became standard for the USAF’s F-15 fleet.

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Lost Bag? That Sucks! Know What to Expect & How to File a Claim

Ever feel like this? "The Flying Traveller" by Patrick Amiot & Brigitte Laurent Just past Domestic Security - "C" Pier - YVR

“The Flying Traveller” by Patrick Amiot & Brigitte Laurent at Vacouver’s airport

Consider these two scenarios:

Scenario One: an elite flyer with a major US air carrier files a claim with his preferred airline to have his elite status bag tag replaced, for it was inadvertently damaged during his last flight. It did remain attached to his checked luggage handle. Basically, it was bent. He is upset and advises this is the second such claim he has made within a month. He files a claim for his damages due to poor handling of his luggage.

Scenario Two: a not-so-frequent flyer is returning home on a recent flight. Once home, she starts to unpack her bag when she notices that her small, stuffed teddy bear (which she got several years prior after she survived open heart surgery and is now her “travel companion”) has been damaged. It was split on the back seam, indicating someone may have inspected it for contraband. This little bear goes with her on all her trips, no matter how insignificant. In addition to the teddy bear being damaged, she notices that her luggage has been searched, as her well-folded and neatly-packed bag is now in disarray. She files a claim for damages.

Question; which claim will be settled? The answer will be at the end.

First, let’s dig a bit deeper into the world of airline baggage claims and talk how to get the best results when things go wrong.

Continue reading Lost Bag? That Sucks! Know What to Expect & How to File a Claim

Train vs Plane: Traveling in Europe to Spain

Platform at Alicante station - Photo Ant Richards

Platform at Alicante station – Photo: Ant Richards

Spain is a proud and mesmerizing nation, perched on the Iberian Peninsula on the southwestern tip of Europe. A country that conjures many festive, passionate, and eye-watering images, as well as its fair share of sometimes erroneous stereotypes. It’s a stretch of land that is as diverse in its geography as its people, cuisine, customs, and its four official languages – yes, contrary to what many believe, there are four main languages and a few offshoots from some of these that are just as official.

A classic Boeing 737-400 for British Airways - Photo: Mark Harkin | FlickrCC

A classic Boeing 737-400 for British Airways – Photo: Mark Harkin | FlickrCC

Spain is much more than just bullfights, tapas, siestas, soccer, loud neighbors, and flamenco. It is one of the world’s tourist powerhouses, and for good reason. Spain is a country that I tend to visit quite often, for family and other practical reasons; my main destination being Madrid.

On this occasion, however, my Iberian travels took me to Alicante. A coastal city that lies on the Costa Blanca, Alicante is the second largest city in the Comunitat Valenciana, after its capital, Valencia. My final destination would be Calpe.

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Flight Review: Gatwick to St. Lucia on Virgin Atlantic in Economy Class

- Photo: Alastair Long

Virgin Atlantic’s “Golden Girl” Airbus A330 – Photo: Alastair Long

I recently flew Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick (LGW) to St. Lucia (UVF). It was a first-time experience for me, both flying the airline and riding on an Airbus A330-300. The flight was part of a Virgin Holidays package that my wife and I bought at the last minute, although flights to the island from London at this time of the year are also available with British Airways. I’d read mixed reviews about the Virgin Atlantic product, but my wife is a big fan – so I kept an open mind and we opted for the red livery.

I was excited to experience Airbus’ smallish wide-body over the distance, even though I understand Virgin operates the route with a 747 from time-to-time. The closest Boeing equivalent I’d flown on was a British Airways 767 from Moscow a few years ago, and I’d also enjoyed Etihad’s A340 from Abu Dhabi a few months ago – both en-route to London Heathrow – so I relished the prospect of adding a new aircraft type to my repertoire.

Now, I’m a European LCC short-haul aficionado for both personal and (formerly) professional reasons (I used to be the Airports and Ground Ops lawyer for a UK airline). Minimalist seat width, pitch, a single aisle, and scratching around for euros or pound coins to pay for coffee and a muffin are my norms, so frankly any change from that is a win in my book.  Actually, that’s rubbish. I love luxury, pampering, and upgrades as much as the next person. I was just full of AvGeek zeal and excitement on the day. Even the delay at LGW security whilst my Kindle Fire was tested for explosive substances was good-natured and efficient.

Continue reading Flight Review: Gatwick to St. Lucia on Virgin Atlantic in Economy Class