Browsing Tag: Behind the Scenes

One of the trains arrives at SEA

Below ground, one of the trains arrives at SEA

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has been my home airport most of my life. I have seen the many changes over the years and I am proud to call it mine. Growing up, I lived in Oak Harbor, WA (about 90min northwest of Seattle) and I would often fly by myself from there to Reno, NV (where my dad lived). After I was 12, I didn’t need to be escorted and I would usually have a few hours of layover from my tiny home airport (ODW) to SEA. To burn time, I would often ride one of the satellite trains to the remote terminals and watch the airplanes come and go. Being a kid, sometimes I would just ride the train a few laps for fun.

Mount Rainier in the background at SEA

Above ground, Mount Rainier in the background at SEA

Throughout the years, I always wondered how they worked. I knew there wasn’t a person controlling them, but how were they programmed? How many cars were there? How did they get fixed? And how fast can they go? Luckily adult-me was in a position to find those answers, so I reached out to SEA to get a behind-the-scenes tour of their train operations. Once again, the adult-me was making the child-me jealous.

From Heathrow With Love - Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter

From Heathrow With Love – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter

Last month, I attended an ultimate behind-the-scenes airport tour, courtesy of London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). LHR’s Digital Communications Manager, Chris Loy, welcomed a select group of aviation publications to showcase its daily operations and on behalf of AirlineReporter I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Control Tower - photo: Heathrow Airport Limited

Control Tower – Photo: LHR Airports Limited

I always enjoy traveling through LHR, especially Terminal 5 (T5), and revel in what is generally a calm and serene travel experience. This is despite handling more than 75 million passengers and about 1.5 million tons of cargo (the non self-loading variety) per year.

I compare this to the utter chaos that is London’s Luton Airport (LTN) while they undergo extensive construction, or the holiday-maker maelstrom that is Gatwick Airport (LGW) during the summer. That said, I have never transited through LHR. Nor have I ever suffered from any extensive flight delays at the airport.

“Yes, transiting is an operational challenge at Heathrow,” remarks LHR Filming Coordinator and Airside Safety Officer, Joe Audcent. “The airfield is just so big from one end to another.” Chris and Joe would be our intrepid tour guides and I was looking forward to learning more about my hometown airport.

The Paine Field Fire Department, ready for action!

The Paine Field Fire Department, ready for action!

I think many people have a child-like persona that lives inside them. I know I do. When I had the opportunity to hang out with the fine folks at the Paine Field Fire Department, my inner seven-year-old was not only excited, but very jealous of my mid-30s self.

Yes. I am very much having a good time - Photo: AirlineReporter

Yes. I am very much having a good time. – Photo: AirlineReporter

I think my initial pitch was to do a story about how the Paine Field Fire Department operates at the airport — and it was very professional-like. When they told me they would love to host me for a story, I couldn’t help but ask if I could turn on the lights and sirens. They told me they could arrange for much more than that. I was down!

These will be the new Southwest ticket counters

These will be the new Southwest ticket counters

William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) has been Houston’s secondary airport since 1969, when (now George Bush) Intercontinental Airport (IAH) became the city’s main facility. Although Hobby has a long history of different airlines operating there, in more recent times, Southwest has been the dominate carrier — by far.

Part oil rig. Part airplane. All airport art outside Hobby's main entrance

Part oil rig. Part airplane. All airport art outside Hobby’s main entrance.

Currently Southwest has about 85-90% of the flights at HOU, with more than 150 departures per day. The airline has been instrumental with a new expansion at Hobby and hopes to increase the number of flights, especially to international destinations.

During a recently trip through Houston, I was invited to take a behind the scenes look at the construction of a the international concourse at the airport.