Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 25,266
2014: 363,407
Total: 946,866

Airline April Fools’ Goodness From Around the Web

It is that time of year again for airlines and organizations related to aviation to come out with crazy stories for it being April Fools’ Day. Once again, we will try and track them down and share them. If you see others that are not covered here, leave something in the comments.

This is something that AvGeeks might like, but probably not most passengers. Image from Virgin Atlantic.

This is something that AvGeeks might like, but probably not most passengers. Image from Virgin Atlantic.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC TO OFFER SEE-THROUGH FLOORS:
From Richard Branson: I’m thrilled to announce that Virgin has created another world-first with the introduction of the technology required to produce the world’s first glass-bottomed plane. This technological innovation coincides with the start of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first ever domestic service to Scotland.

In 1984 we started the wonderful airline that is Virgin Atlantic. I am incredibly proud of yet another aviation breakthrough which has been years in the making. I can’t wait to experience the first flight for myself with my family and other natural born explorers.

Read more and see some pretty sweet mock-up photos…

Take a Southwest Airlines hot air balloon. Image from Southwest Airlines.

Take a Southwest Airlines hot air balloon. Image from Southwest Airlines.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES ADDS HOT AIR BALLOONS

From the airline: When you’re flying nearly 500mph at 35,000 feet above ground, life passes by pretty fast.  Sure, Southwest has a suite of things to keep you entertained inflight: Video on Demand; WiFi; Live at 35; hilarious Flight Attendants.  Heck, we’ve even transported a miniature seeing-eye horse, and a couple endangered sea turtles.  But figuratively, you can’t have the hare without the tortoise.

Realizing the possibility that slow and steady may truly win the race, the answer became clear: it was time to float the grandest idea Southwest has ever had.  It was time to take things slow. The tortoise and the hare. Hot air balloons and Boeing 737’s, soaring fancy free, albeit at distinctly different altitudes, and at significantly separate speeds.

Read more…

Flying does not have to be "ruff" any longer. Image from Virgin America.

Flying does not have to be “ruff” any longer. Image from Virgin America.

MAIN CANINE SELECT WITH VIRGIN AMERICA

From the airline: We’re of the mind that man’s best friend shouldn’t get the raw deal when flying long distances, so we partnered with Boo, World’s Cutest Dog — and our very own Pet Liaison — to throw furry flyers a bone. Over the last year (and with Boo’s doggy design expertise) we’ve converted our first class cabin into a space as tricked out as our state-of-the-art digs at SFO’s Terminal 2.

See more images and learn more…

JetBlue adding more destinations? Probably not really these ones. Image from Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

JetBlue adding more destinations? Probably not really these ones. Image from Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

JETBLUE FLYING TO THREE NEW DESTINATIONS

From the airline: We’re excited to announce three tantalizing new destinations, expanding this fun-loving airline’s borders to three new countries and giving travelers more options for flying to some of the farthest-reaching dots on the globe, including:

  • April River Airport (APR) in Papua New Guinea;
  • Ilford Airport (ILF) in Manitoba, Canada; and
  • Gold Coast Airport (OOL) in Coolangatta, Australia

Customers looking to climb an active volcano in Rabaul Caldera, experience a new sub-zero Canadian vacation spot or visit their Coolangattan relatives can now hop a flight with their favorite, customer service-friendly carrier. Once-daily flights to all three new destinations will be offered from our existing stations in Portland, Maine and Aquadilla, Puerto Rico. Twice-weekly flights will also be offered between Papua, New Guinea and Coolangatta, Australia with connecting service in Ilford, Canada(a).

Keep reading and see video…

More room for the arms. Image from Delta.

More room for the arms. Image from Delta.

DELTA DOUBLE DECKER ARM REST

Posted on Delta’s Twitter account: Introducing the new Double Decker Armrest — coming soon to the middle seat. More arm space. Less elbow rubbing.

WestJet's new animal policy might be a Baaaaad idea. Image from WestJet's video.

WestJet’s new animal policy might be a Baaaaad idea. Image from WestJet’s video.

ALL ANIMALS ON BOARD WESTJET

From the airline: WestJet today announced the easing of restrictions on pets in the cabin. All WestJet flights will now allow for any type of animal to travel in the cabin provided it fits safely on board the aircraft.

“We recognize that a growing number of families want to travel with their ‘extended’ family and we are proud to be the first airline to offer this type of service,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations.

Thanks Allen for finding this one.

Be sure to check out WestJet’s video…

Air Malta to buy a Hawker Hunter?

Air Malta to buy a Hawker Hunter?

AIR MALTA BUYS A FIGHTER JET

From the Malta Independent: Air Malta has bought a 1950s privately owned two-seater Hawker Hunter fighter jet. The historic airworthy military aircraft will be painted in Air Malta’s new livery and will be used to generate new revenue streams for the airline. The aircraft will also be used to promote Air Malta and the Maltese Islands abroad by participating in a number of air shows around the world.

Plans have already been made by the airline for a soon-to-be-launched novel product ‘Jet Fighter Adventure Flights’ – an adrenalin rushing thrill seeking fighter aircraft experience that has become very popular in several countries around the world. These flights-of-a-lifetime will be available for purchase on the airline’s website www.airmalta.com.

With its sleek design, brilliant handling and maneuverability, the Hawker Hunter aircraft will offer customers the opportunity to experience a historic flying adventure. The classic Hunter was one of the best transonic jet fighter aircraft and formed the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s jet fighter squadron in the late 1950s. The aircraft was withdrawn from active service in 1995. During the 1960s and 1970s Hawker Hunter aircraft were a common sight at Malta’s Luqa airfield.

Keep reading…

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Mileage Runs: Why Do People Fly Just for Miles? LEG 2

Delta Sky Priority Check In just one of the perks given to their Elite Medallion members - Photo: Delta

Delta Sky Priority Check In just one of the perks given to their Elite Medallion members – Photo: Delta

This is a second leg (part) in a multi- leg series. Make sure to read LEG 1 first

Previously, I mentioned that you can get some pretty sweet benefits being an elite frequent flier and hope to expand on the idea a bit more on this part,  which deserves a whole article on it’s own.

Unlike earning points, the benefits come once you have achieved that elite status and each airline has different benefits they will give their elites.  Most of the airlines though tend to give the big three:

1)  Priority Boarding – This means you get to board before the general economy passengers, obtaining not only that precious overhead bin space, but a few extra minutes to get yourself settled without being crowded and holding up the queue behind you.

2) Priority Check In – Being able to check in without having to wait in long lines, going to the “front of the queue” almost can be worth its “wait” in gold.  Getting checked in and on your way to security fast and efficiently makes any frequent flier happy.

3) Priority Security – Avoiding that long security line behind that family with 8 children and 25 bags is always a good thing.  Speedily getting up to that security check point and getting through in the least amount of time possible means you can be on your way to the gate (or lounge) faster.  If you are lucky enough you may even qualify for TSA Pre Check (but that’s a whole different story).

In some cases these benefits can be worth it on their own.  But there are other, less common benefits, that some airlines give that really make it worth the effort:

  • Bonus Points
  • Seating Upgrades
  • Change Fee Waivers
  • Lounge Access
  • Free/Extra Baggage Allowance

American Airlines & other oneworld airline elite fliers (Emerald status) allow access to the First Class lounges in their network, even if you are flying on an economy ticket.  Star Alliance gives all of their Gold members lounge access as well (for a full run down on Star Alliance Gold benefits watch this snazzy YouTube video).

United Airlines Premier 1K fliers are able to make same day changes to their flights without fees and Delta gives complimentary domestic upgrades to most of its Elites (though you still have to fight the other elites for those First Class seats).

No matter what program you choose, they all offer something to their VIP customers to make them smile.

Getting an upgrade to a First Class Seat on Delta could land you in a seat like this on some routes - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Getting an upgrade to a First Class Seat on Delta could land you in a seat like this on some routes – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

I am a Star Alliance Gold and a Virgin Australia Velocity Gold. These two programs probably mean nothing to the average American flier and most airline employees around the world barely know about the airline I hold Star Gold status with (and the less that know, the better). They both give some pretty great benefits to me that other programs don’t.  Just because I live in the USA (but from Australia) doesn’t mean that I need to credit all of my flying to a US based program.  Virgin Australia allows me to earn status on them, while I  fly on Delta, Virgin America or Hawaiian.

Some times the benefits can be a little confusing.  For instance if I was flying on United, I would get lounge access thanks to being Star Gold with a non us based airline. However, If I was Star Gold with only United, I would be in the Starbucks queue like everyone else for my morning coffee and not have lounge access. So doing the research on the privileges that different programs give is important.

Mileage running is just a way to get all the things you want with a travel experience as quickly, cheaply and easily as possible. Sure mileage running is not for everyone, but if it’s for you… it can be well worth it!

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.

Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Mini-Story: A Bright Light Seen From a 747 Flight Deck

Flight deck of a Boeing 747. Image from Shutterstock.

Flight deck of a Boeing 747. Image from Shutterstock.

This is a guest post written by Owen Zupp, who previously wrote on AirlineReporter.com about the differences between the classic and next generation 737. Today, he is sharing some parts of his new book, 50 Tales of Flight.

The four engines hummed hypnotically through night sky over the Pacific. While Honolulu sat only a matter of miles away, the passengers on board the Boeing 747 were blissfully unaware, curled up beneath their blankets in the darkened cabin. The cabin crew chatted in hushed tones behind the galley’s heavy curtains, planning their shopping strategy when they arrived in San Francisco in a few hours time.

On the flight deck the tone was also hushed so as not to disturb the resting crew at the compartment’s rear. The aircraft continued to track faultlessly along the magenta line on the instrument flight display as the ‘Top of Descent’ indicator and San Francisco edged ever closer down the screen. I called up the latest weather reports through the aircraft’s onboard system and shared them with my fellow pilot. It was set to be a beautiful day, but we ran through all of our available options and fuel status to ensure that all our bases were covered. The first rays of the sun had not yet crept above the horizon but a portion of the upper atmosphere was just revealing the first traces of the new day. A light, faint haze met the curved shadow of the earth’s outline in an arc that spanned the horizon from left to right. The day was encroaching on the stratosphere, but not yet on the earth below. V1 50 Tales of Flight Cover

The first indication that something special was taking place was not visual in nature. It was the chatter of American crews transiting the busy route between the mainland and Hawaii. “Can you see that?”, “What is it?” and “Is someone starting World War Three?” The exchanges peaked my interest, but gave no indication of the location or nature of the commotion. Then there was a hint. “There. On the horizon. Down low. It’s brilliant!” I leaned forward in my seat and peered into the darkness below. Nothing. Resting my arms on the top of the instrument panel, I cupped my eyes with my hands to keep the glow of the instrument panel to a minimum. Then I saw it. A tiny, bright intense light, like the tip of a white hot arc welder. Almost stationary, it was growing larger, ever so slightly.

Seemingly in a matter of seconds it grew from a needle point to a distinct flame, growing both in mass and momentum at a rate that was difficult to comprehend. “What is it?” the other pilot echoed my thoughts, equally astounded. Still it grew each and every second to a brighter and more impressive light, seemingly darting skyward. There was no perspective available to gauge distance or offer an idea of its size; just an ever-increasing intensity. Then someone identified the UFO that was captivating every crew aloft that night. “It’s a launch out of Vandenberg.”

A rocket launch from the US Air Force base on the west coast. Now everything made sense. It was hundreds of miles away, but so powerful that it was clearly seen by every aircraft in the flight levels and as it climbed it seemed to grow in speed as its trajectory could now be viewed in profile. Up through the darkness and onwards towards the illuminated upper atmosphere, the rocket would reach the daylight before the night’s end for any of the citizens below. In an absolutely spectacular display of sheer energy, the projectile closed in on the arc between night and day, dark and light. One almost expected it to tear through some barrier between dawn like ripping fabric. And then it virtually did. Just as its furious flightpath penetrated the arc.

Wooomf!

A flash of light that seemingly lit up the night for an instant before a mammoth expanding ring of vapour exploded across the sky. Like those TV documentaries that show the final burst of light across the galaxy from a dying star, such was the scope of this amazing sight. In reality it was the rocket jettisoning a stage of its cylindrical being to leave the ‘sharp end’ to continue its journey into ‘earth orbit’. Bound for space and relieved of much of its load, the remaining portion seemed to accelerate ever-faster and ever-higher. I craned my neck to look skyward and follow the lone beacon as it roared away and finally faded from my mere mortal sight. Wow! I

t had departed as quickly as it had emerged. All that now remained was the ring across the horizon which was now merging with the moisture to develop into a cloud system of its own, like an atmospheric calling card. Its passage had been silent, but its impact was immense. Over the years, I have been very fortunate to see many wonderful sights from this treasured vantage point in the sky, but that pre-dawn morning off the west coast of the United States will always rank very highly. In a matter of minutes, a simple light had transformed the sky and left everyone who had witnessed it breathless.

Meanwhile, the four engines of the 747 still continued to hum hypnotically and the cabin crew chatted while the passengers slept, blissfully unaware. But for this boy from Sydney, Australia, I would never look at the night sky quite the same again.

Read more from Owen in his book: 50 Tales of Flight: Biplanes to Boeings.

Fiji Airways (aka Air Pacific) Takes Delivery of First Airbus A330

Fiji Airways first Airbus A330. Image from Fiji Airways.

Fiji Airways first Airbus A330. Image from Fiji Airways.

I love a good story on an airline’s name change, an updated livery or taking delivery of a new aircraft type. What can I say about one story that incorporates all three? That is what you get with Air Pacific changing their name (and livery) to Fiji Airways and taking delivery of their first Airbus A330.

The aircraft, named Island of Taveuni, was delivered from Toulouse France via Hong Kong to Nadi, Fiji. The A330 will be used to replace the older Boeing 747-400’s operated by Air Pacific. The new plane will offer 40% less CO2 emissions, which also means a reduction in fuel costs. The plane is configured with 24 business and 249 economy class seats.

BONUS: Check out our story on Fiji Airways from October 2012

Although the airline has already taken delivery of their new plane with the new name on the side, the official name change won’t happen and the aircraft won’t enter full service until June 2013.

Fiji Airways Airbus A330 receives a water cannon salute. Photo from Fiji Airways.

Fiji Airways Airbus A330 receives a water cannon salute. Photo from Fiji Airways.

Fiji Airways expects to take delivery of their second A330 in May and the third in November. They will retire their 747-400s and update their 737s with the new brand by the end of 2013.

“The arrival of our first new Airbus A330 carrying the new ‘Fiji Airways’ brand and Island of Taveuni name represents an exciting future that is rooted in our more than 60-year history and service to the people of Fiji as the nation’s flying ambassador,” said Dave Pflieger, Air Pacific’s Managing Director and CEO.

CATCH MORE FIJI AIRWAYS GOODNESS:

This story written by… David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

VIDEO: An Antonov AN-124 Visits Paine Field

I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of an Antonov AN-124 that was parked next to the Future of Flight at Paine Field. Quite the unique experience — almost like traveling through time. To help to share that experience I also made this video… enjoy.

Also check out: PHOTO TOUR OF THE ANTONOV AN-124