Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

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First Southwest Flight With Family

Southwest Boeing 737-700 fresh from the factory

Southwest Boeing 737-700 taxing at KPAE

In the summer, my wife and I were planning a Christmas trip to Disneyland with our two toddlers (ages 2 and 4).  We were looking to get out of cold Denver for the holidays, and had visited Disneyland in December a few years ago and thought all of the decorations were really cool.  We decided to pull the trigger in late summer and I went work booking our travel.

I’m a very loyal United Airlines flyer, being Denver-based, and try to fly them exclusively.  However, flights to the Los Angeles-area at Christmas, even months in advance, were ridiculously expensive.  I’ve also recently come to grips with the fact that, having a newly-two-year-old daughter, four airline tickets really start to add up.  So, I looked at the options on Southwest Airlines (WN) and was shocked – less than $200 round-trip for direct flights between Denver (DEN) and Orange County (SNA), which was less than half the cost of other options.  I had never booked myself on WN, but couldn’t pass up the huge cost difference, especially for such a short flight. (Note – since I booked my “first” WN flights, I actually ended up flying on them to the Bahamas on a short-notice trip).

Continue reading First Southwest Flight With Family

Touring Denver International Airport: Preparing for the Future

South Terminal Construction at Denver International Airport - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

South Terminal construction at Denver International Airport – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with staff at “my” airport, Denver International Airport (known amongst flyers as DEN, but locally as “DIA”).  DIA is the 5th-busiest airport in the US, and 13th-busiest in the world.  During the few hours I spent with them, I got an up close and personal view of the massive expansion project in progress; the largest construction project at the airport since DIA was originally built 20+ years ago.

Continue reading Touring Denver International Airport: Preparing for the Future

Great Time Lapse Video of Southwest Airlines Flight From Denver to Burbank

David Achilles, who is an award winning director and editor (not to mention an avgeek) completed a very impressive time lapse video of his recent flight from Denver (DEN) to Burbank (BUR) and back while on Southwest Airlines. Before you get angry at David for having an electronic equipment on during take off and landing — have no worries, he received permission from the Southwest flight crew.

Update: I ran a follow up story on how it is okay to use electronic devices below 10,000 feet with the approval of the airline

Stephen Colbert Looks to See if the Denver Airport is Part of End of Times

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Is the Denver International Airport (DEN) a part of some huge conspiracy or are they there just to let planes land or take off? Are there lots of hidden phallic symbols purposefully placed around the airport to make people feel safe and secure? This is a great humorous video from Stephen Colbert that looks to see if Denver’s airport has some secret (and crazy) things going down.

So what do the folks at Denver Airport think about this? I had to ask.

“Yes, we did know it was the Colbert Report we were taping with and we knew loosely what the subject matter was going to be,”Jenny Schiavone, DEN spokesperson, explained to AirlineReporter.com. “We didn’t see the actual clip until it ran publicly.”

And really that works best for the video. Jeff Green, head of PR and marketing for DEN, reacts perfectly to the very odd questions.

“We’re not sure which is more thrilling: being featured on the Colbert Report, or playing such a prominent role in some of the world’s most compelling conspiracy theories,”  Schiavone explained. “While we were grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight on William Tapley’s fascinating thoughts about our airport, we regret that DIA has become the source of another rift between Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper.”

That’s right. It seems that Anderson Cooper got a little upset that this was “old news” that Colbert was covering.

“We hate to see the nation’s most beloved newsmen feuding openly,” Schiavone  stated via email. “In an effort to make up for the strain that we’ve caused, we’d like to invite Colbert and Cooper to Denver to settle their squabble in an epic battle of DIA conspiracy theory wits.”

I only think that William “Third Eagle of the Apocalypse” should be invited as well. Now, that would make an interesting discussion.

My Review: Frontier Airlines Q400 from Denver to Aspen

Frontier Bombarider Q400 (N502LX) sits at Denver, waiting to take me to Aspen.

Frontier Bombarider Q400 (N502LX) sits at Denver, waiting to take me to Aspen.

Being based in Seattle, I have had plenty of opportunities flying on Bombardier Q400s via Horizon Air Alaska Airlines. When I had the opportunity to recently fly from Seattle to Aspen, for a ride on a Beechcraft Starship, I did not have too many choices on what to fly from Denver (DEN) to Aspen (ASE). I could either fly on a United Airlines CRJ 700 (operated by Skywest) or a Frontier Airlines Q400 (operated by Lynx Aviation). Being the aviation fan that I am, I chose my airline based on the aircraft type and wanted to experience the Q400 flying into Denver — lucky for me, it was the cheaper of the two tickets as well.

When landing at DEN from Seattle (SEA), I had about an hour and a half layover. This was a good thing, since the Q400s are located pretty much at the end of the airport, down some stairs and at the end of a very long and narrow hallway. I kind of wish I would have spent more time in the main terminal, since the waiting area for regional flight do not have too much to offer.

The Q400 is not known for being very roomie, but this flight was almost empty, so I had plenty of room.

The Q400 is not known for being very roomy, but this flight was almost empty, so I had plenty of room.

Our flight was pretty empty, with about 20 people flying on the 70 passenger aircraft. Boarding was easy with one announcement made for people to start boarding and it only took a few minutes. One of the attractive parts about flying on a regional carrier is the increased chance of boarding on the tarmac. Although most air travelers probably hate boarding this way, for an airline fan, nothing can beat it.

When boarding there was a cart that passengers could put their carry-ons to be placed in the cargo-hold and not in the cabin. All I had was a back-pack, so I opted to bring that on board… bad call. Even though it was small (in carry-on standards) it still wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin. Lucky for me, I had no problems storing under an empty seat, but if the plane was full, stuffing a back-pack under my seat would have really taken a lot of my space.

For weight distribution, everyone sat near the back of the plane. I was in row 7 and I was the farthest to the front and there was no one even around me.

Many passengers might not enjoy this view when looking outside, but I love it.

Many passengers might not enjoy this view when looking outside, but I love it.

Unlike Alaska’s Q400s, Frontier’s have sun screens and the seats are able to recline. Sure, nice touches, but this flight was only about 45 minutes, so these features meant little to me.

Engine start up on a turboprop is always my favorite part of the flight and those sweet Pratt & Whitney PW150A engines did not disappoint. Being in row 7, I had a favorable view watching them slowly start up and hearing the growl of the engines. Again, maybe not something the majority of passengers would enjoy, but it is one of the reasons I choose to fly on a Q400 when I have other options.

The views flying from Denver to Aspen were prettying amazing. Flying low in the Q400 sure helped.

The views flying from Denver to Aspen were prettying amazing. Flying low in the Q400 sure helped.

As I normally do, I had my camera at the ready to take photos as we took off. Yes, you can yell at me for keeping an electronic on while taking off, but there is no way that a camera is going to affect an airplane. It is very rare for a flight attendant to say something, but this was one of those flights. I was told that I had to turn off my camera and had to wait until we reached 10,000 feet before turning it on… sigh — okay fine. I may not agree with the rules, but I am not going to argue with the person just trying to do their job.

We were also told that we would not be able to turn on our cell phones during the entire flight. Not just airplane mode, but it couldn’t be on at all. My guess is that since we never flew very high, we would still be able to get reception during the flight and possibly cause interference. Either way, I listened and kept my phone off and enjoyed the view out the window.

This wolf pup's name is Wolfgang and he looks pretty much at home in Aspen.

This wolf pup's name is Wolfgang and he looks pretty much at home in Aspen.

The short flight was pretty bumpy, especially near the end. Again, most people probably wouldn’t like the idea of flying on a turboprop in turbulence, but I actually kind of enjoy it . It was obvious that this plane had been in turbulence before. Even when the bumps were not that bad, but the overhead bins were shaking like it was a huge storm and competed with the engines on making the most noise.

The weather got worse as we got closer to ASE and with the rapid descent, the flight attendants did not even get up to do their final safety check, but asked us to make sure our seats were up and belts buckled for landing. Okay, I can understand that, but they never got up during the entire flight anyhow. Not that I need a drink during a 45 minute flight, but at least getting up once to check on the passengers would probably be a good idea, instead of sitting in your jump seat chit-chatting with each other.

Flying into Aspen was quite beautiful and a bit aggressive. We bounced around as heading down at a steep angle to make it into the airport. As an aviation lover, this flight was great, but I could see how most people would not think the same way. But, if you are looking to fly into Aspen, you do not have much of a choice, other than flying on a CRJ700 or a private plane. Good thing I love flying and most people are willing to do it to experience Aspen.

A few more photos of my Frontier Q400 flight…