Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 93,970
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,015,570

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?

Fallen Soldier Saluted by Alaska Airlines and LAX

The LAX fire department gives our flight with a fallen soldier a water cannon  salute. Photo: David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com

The LAX Fire Department gives our flight with a fallen soldier a water cannon salute – Photo: David Parker Brown | Airline Reporter

The thought of a fallen soldier coming home to their family is not easy, but a reality of the world that we live in. I have previously taken a look at how Alaska Airlines professionally handles when they are transporting a fallen soldier, but recently I got to view first-hand not only how the airline, but also Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), treats heroes with the respect they deserve.

On January 15th, I was on a flight from my home town of Seattle (SEA) to LAX and everything went just like normal, until we landed at LAX. A flight attendant made an announcement that there was a soldier who had died for our country on-board, and asked if everyone could please remain seated when we arrived at the gate to allow the military escort to leave the aircraft first. As we taxied, passengers on the plane clapped in support and to show their respect — it was pretty amazing.

Continue reading Fallen Soldier Saluted by Alaska Airlines and LAX

My Challenge to Only Spend $100 for a Weekend in Kansas City

My travel map for the USA... Could I tick an extra state off that list?

My travel map for the USA… Could I tick an extra state off that list? – Image: TravBuddy.com

Each year I set some travel goals for myself; that way throughout all the craziness that may happen during the year, I have a guideline of the things I want to see or do. OshKosh was on my list, as well as my trip home to Australia back in April. I was able to complete those and needed some additional challenges.

I realized fairly late in the year, after returning from New Zealand, that I had left a goal off my list. Being new to living in the USA, I want to see more of this country that I now call home. I had set a goal to add at least one more state to my list of those visited (I was sitting at 42 and I decided that I wanted to make it to at least 43 by the new year).

My colleagues at Airline Reporter found out about this and thought they would have a bit of fun with it. I could check off a state, but I had to do it for less than $100 and make a whole weekend out of it. I accepted the challenge.

Continue reading My Challenge to Only Spend $100 for a Weekend in Kansas City

Delta Unveils a Special “Spirit of Seattle” Livery – Alaska Responds

Delta unveils special "Spirit of Seattle" livery on a Boeing 737 in Seattle. Image: Delta.

Delta unveils special “Spirit of Seattle” livery on a Boeing 737 (N809DN) in Seattle – Photo: Delta Air Lines

In October, we gave our $.02 on the Delta expansion in Seattle, home base of “partner” Alaska Airlines.  Delta had announced new service on a number of routes that Alaska was already serving.  In theory, this was to feed Delta’s growing international gateway from Seattle.  We opined that it was possible Delta and Alaska were going to start playing hardball.  A couple of days later, news broke that Delta pulled the plug on providing ground services at some Alaska remote stations.   Things haven’t gotten much better in the meantime.

This past week, Delta announced a further expansion in Seattle, launching flights to Vancouver (5x daily) and seasonal service to Fairbanks, Alaska (you can guess who also flies there).  Delta and Alaska are now competing on ten routes out of Seattle.

The Spirit of Seattle seen from the air. Image: Bernie Leighton

The Spirit of Seattle seen from the air – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Last week, Delta unveiled their newest special aircraft, a Boeing 737-900ER named the Spirit of Seattle.  This is a big deal, because it is rare for Delta to do any sort of special livery. But it seems that Seattle is special enough.

“For 80 years, our customers, employees and partners in Seattle have embraced Delta, and our growth here would not be possible without them,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president – Seattle. “The Spirit of Seattle aircraft will proudly bear its name as it travels around the country as a representation of Delta’s history in Seattle and a sign of our thanks and commitment to our future here.”  Delta also points out that they’ve spent $14 million enhancing their passenger facilities in Seattle.

Would Alaska respond? Oh yes…

Continue reading Delta Unveils a Special “Spirit of Seattle” Livery – Alaska Responds