Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 271,099
2013: 330,818

Flying High at Ground Level – Checking out Alaska Airlines’ New Flight Simulator

The HUD on Alaska Airline's newest flight simulator

The HUD on Alaska Airlines’ newest flight simulator. Notice Mount Rainier off in the distance on the left.

When Alaska Airlines recently reached out to me, asking if I would like some time in their brand-spanking-new Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, I didn’t know if I should reply with just “yes,” or “hell yes.” (I actually think I went for the latter).

The simulator was so new that it hasn’t been added to Alaska’s training schedule (that will start next week). That was a huge benefit, because it allowed me to experience the simulator for over an hour. I have had the opportunity to be in six other simulators, but typically they are in high demand, so the max time in one is about 15-20 minutes. I was excited to give this one a full-on ride.

Taxiing at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The attention to detail was amazing.

Taxiing at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The attention to detail was amazing.

Captain Burton, our instructor Dave, PR guru Halley and I had a great time (I felt special that I was given the Captain’s seat). We flew by downtown Seattle, made a difficult approach into Juneau, completed a foggy aborted landing, and more. The only thing Captain Burton wouldn’t let us do is a barrel roll — that’s okay, but I had to ask.

To learn more and follow along with my simulator adventure, check out the full story (with more photos and video) on Alaska Airlines’ new blog. When you are done there, you can also check out more photos of the simulator and Alaska’s flight operations center on our Flickr.

Continue Reading Flying High at Ground Level – Checking out Alaska’s New Flight Simulator

2014 World Airline Award Winners

Emirates Airline Boeing 777-200LR with GE-90 engines. Photo by Brandon Farris.

The 2013 World Airline Award winner was Emirates; who will it be this year? Photo: Brandon Farris

The 2014 World Airline Awards were held recently, in conjunction with the Farnborough Air Show, and the winners have been announced.  In a star-studded event held at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Wind Tunnels, the winners were announced by Skytrax, who manages the awards. Some of the winners this year came as a bit of a surprise.

The World Airline Awards are an independent and totally non-biased process, with nearly 19 million people voting online (between August 2013 to May 2014) to decide who has the best services, cabins, cabin crews, and even lounges.  This is not just for your big name full-service airlines; even Low Cost Carriers have their own categories!  More than 105 different nationalities participated in this year’s survey and helped to define who was going to be named “World’s Best Airline”.

Continue reading 2014 World Airline Award Winners

Alaska Airlines Celebrates The First Copper River Salmon of 2014

A kiss welcomes the first Copper River Salmon to Seattle.

A kiss welcomes the first Copper River Salmon to Seattle – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

When my alarm went off early this morning, I was actually excited. On paper, the idea of waking up early and driving 45 minutes south to welcome some fish to Seattle might not sound like something worthwhile. But when Alaska Airlines celebrates the arrival of the first Copper River salmon to Seattle, it is worth getting up and joining in on the celebration.

Alaska Airlines brought over the Salmon-30-Salmon, although the salmon flew on a 737-400 Combi

Alaska Airlines brought over the Salmon-30-Salmon, although the salmon flew on a 737-400 Combi

This year is the fifth year that Alaska has done this special event and each year seems to get a bit more exciting. It is just so… well, unique.

The event takes place in the parking lot of Alaska Air Cargo with a bunch of tents, grills, and seats on a Friday morning. There are invited guests, chefs, some famous people, and media all waiting for a fish to come off a plane.

Continue reading Alaska Airlines Celebrates The First Copper River Salmon of 2014

Amazing Experience: Flying an Alaska Bush Plane Through Glacier Bay National Park

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The Yakutat Coastal Airlines de Havilland Otter – Photo: David Delagarza

Having recently embarked on a fair number of adventures around the world, one of the questions I sometimes get asked is what my favorite airline is.  No one expects the answer: Yakutat Coastal Airlines.

Never heard of them? I’d be surprised if you had.  Their fleet is pretty limited, at two aircraft, and they only have one full-time pilot, Hans Munich. The passenger experience is a bit different as well.  The seats are uncomfortable.  There is no food or drink available on board.  You even have to load your own luggage into the hold.  But you’re not going to find many others operating the charter routes they do, and the in-flight views couldn’t be any better.

Our flight was the culmination of a grand adventure my wife and I took, along with a small group of friends, in the summer of 2012.  The main reason for the trip was a twelve-day whitewater rafting trip on the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers through Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska), Kluane National Park and Preserve (Yukon Territory), and Tatshenshini-Alsek Park (British Columbia.)

Just getting to the starting point of the rafting trip was a logistical adventure in and of itself.  It all started with a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Seattle, followed by an Alaska Airlines flight to Juneau, Alaska.  Then, we hopped on the Alaska State Ferry for a spectacular four-hour trip up the Lynn canal to the small town of Haines.

In Haines, we stocked up on food, rented rafts and other gear, and hired transport for the final 100-mile drive to to the north.  Our launch point into the wilderness was at the end of a rough road in Yukon Territory, at a place called Dalton Post. We spent 12 days on the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers running rapids, watching Bald Eagles soar overhead, embarking on some magnificent hikes, and trying to avoid grizzly bears.

The last few days of the trip brought us over the international boundary and into Glacier Bay National Park, where we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with glaciers. The highlight of the river trip was floating on Alsek Lake, surrounded by dozens of towering icebergs.  Once we reached the end of the river trip at Dry Bay,  there was no road to greet us – a grass landing strip was our only connection back to civilization. Continue reading Amazing Experience: Flying an Alaska Bush Plane Through Glacier Bay National Park

Is Delta Angering Passengers in Seattle Over Bag Tags?

The tags found on bags coming into Seattle on Delta flights

The tags found on bags coming into Seattle on Delta flights

Over the last few days I have heard some rumblings about luggage tags that have been showing up on luggage of passengers who have flown on Delta Air Lines (DL) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). They will be waiting for their bags at baggage claim, and when they show up, find a Delta / American Express advertising tag on them.

Some frequent fliers, on sites like Flyertalk.com, have not been so happy about the tags. Others on sites like HackMyTrip.com, title their story Delta Pisses Off Seattle Customers. The complaint was their bags were already taking long enough, why does Delta need to delay them more by putting unwanted advertising on them?

My first thought, honestly, was to be a bit annoyed as well. That would anger me if I had to wait longer for my bag just to find ads on them. I decided to give Delta a call and find out some more information on these tags and what the purpose was (I figured surely it wasn’t to anger passengers).

Continue reading Is Delta Angering Passengers in Seattle Over Bag Tags?