Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 242,760
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,164,361






Air Serbia: Shockingly Amazing Economy Experience — on a Turboprop!

A ray of hope in the darkness of European flying sitting on the ground at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

A ray of hope in the darkness of European flying, sitting on the ground at Prague’s Ruzyne Airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

No matter where in the world, when you fly economy on a small turboprop, you likely are not going to have high expectations. This will just be some basic transportation to get from point A to point B. I was shocked when I recently flew an Air Serbia ATR-72-500 from Prague to Belgrade.

Often, flying in Europe can be an even-less-pleasant experience than flying in America. When I landed in Europe, after my not-so-stellar international experience, I said to myself, “I bet you Air Serbia can beat this.” And they did!

Continue reading Air Serbia: Shockingly Amazing Economy Experience — on a Turboprop!

Waiting My Whole Life to Fly Business Class — Just to be Disappointed

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300ER.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300ER – Photo: Thomas Becker

For my birthday this year, I planned a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and England, and since Delta had no award availability in coach, I decided to splurge and spend 62,500 Alaska miles to fly business class (since re-branded Delta One) for the first time ever.

My leg was from Atlanta (ATL) to Dublin (DUB) on flight DL176, which was operated by a Boeing 767-300ER. I have been watching, for years, others flying in a premium product and I was jealous. When I was a poor graduate student, I couldn’t really justify the expense in miles or money, but now it seemed like it would be worthwhile.

I was so excited that I planned my trip far in advance and I was looking forward to this flight for nine months. But when the time came, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed, as it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Continue reading Waiting My Whole Life to Fly Business Class — Just to be Disappointed

Flying a SATA Airbus A310 “Football” to the Azores

- Photo: Lord of the Wings | FlickrCC

SATA Airbus A310 – Photo: Lord of the Wings | FlickrCC

As part of a recent business trip, I had to make a trip to the Azores. There are a limited number of options for getting out to the island chain in the central Atlantic. As I was coming from Lisbon, I had the option of either taking the low-cost route of Ryanair/easyJet, or full-service options of TAP or SATA (Sociedade Açoriana de Transportes Aéreos).

What sealed the deal to take SATA over TAP was the fact that my desired flight was to be operated by an Airbus A310 aircraft, (affectionally known as “the football”), a classic airliner that is disappearing from active commercial service. I had never flown on an A310, nor on SATA, so I was looking forward to this trip.

Sometimes it's fun to board by a bus Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Sometimes it’s fun to board by bus on an A310 (reg: CS-TKN) – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Departure in Lisbon was from Terminal 1. Online check-in is possible with SATA, however as I had a bag to drop off and I wanted a “souvenir” paper boarding pass (something harder to come by these days), I used the classic counter check-in. As my flight was was continuing on to Boston, from Ponta Delgada, the departure was from the non-schengen area of the terminal. This necessitated passing through passport control, and was hassle-free as my boarding pass clearly stated I was disembarking in the Azores and I only needed my ID card.

When ready to board, we boarded a bus and headed out on the ramp. No complaints from me, since I enjoyed the experience of the A310 up-close-and-personal.

Continue reading Flying a SATA Airbus A310 “Football” to the Azores

Doing My Thing: Flying to Washington DC for His Excellency and Fusion Chinese Food

One day I'll have the guts to ask for a photo with him. I may be his biggest fan. Photo  - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

One day I’ll have the guts to ask for a photo with him, as I may be his biggest fan – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Look, I love His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways. If he’s doing an event and I’m free, I’ll go see him. Thing is, usually someone else is paying when he’s involved. I am not saying that derisively or sarcastically. Most of the time when I see him, Qatar Airways has provided me with the tickets out of their extreme generosity.

One time it was Airbus and Qatar Airways in a joint venture, and it is hard to say no to that. Can’t appreciate it enough, but that said, a sedate press conference across the country isn’t exactly what Qatar Airways gathers people for on their dime. Even more so when most of the press contingent is based in DC anyway.

Alaska Airlines first Boeing 737-900ER (N402AS) is seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Image from Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines 737-900ER at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Photo: Alaska

So, being the odd person that I am, I needed to find another reason to go to DC along with the press conference to justify the expense. I didn’t need to qualify for my AAdvantage account, since I  already had nearly double-Executive Platinum planned for the year. There are times when all this goes out the window and one doesn’t need to really find an excuse to fly somewhere. But I just felt like I needed a second reason and I found it.

I am a huge fan of celebrity chef and Hannibal menu designer José Andreas. I’ve eaten at é, multiple Jaleos, Minibar, and, best of all, China Poblano. When I found out that José’s next restaurant was China Chilcano in DC…boom — reason established.

Continue reading Doing My Thing: Flying to Washington DC for His Excellency and Fusion Chinese Food

Flight Review: Seattle to Frankfurt via Condor Premium Economy

My Ride to Frankfurt - A Condor 767-300ER (D-ABUB)

My ride to Frankfurt, a Condor 767-300ER (reg: D-ABUB)

I recently decided to take a trip over to Frankfurt for a few days and, thankfully, I was able to take it in Premium Economy.

This was going to be my first flight with Condor, and also my first taste of a long-haul leisure carrier (think low-cost, but to vacation destinations).  I was flying on their non-stop service from Seattle to Frankfurt. Adding to the number of firsts for me were also a new airport (Frankfurt) and my first time flying internationally out of Seattle.

The Premium Economy section in Condor's 767

The Premium Economy section in Condor’s 767

The flight was scheduled to depart mid-afternoon, which for me felt a little bit different than normal.  Generally, I end up on flights departing first-thing in the morning or late in the evening.  So having most of the day to relax, make final packing arrangements, and spend time with my wife was a good thing.  The bad part is being prime time for international departures out of Seattle.  This meant that while the line for check-in with Condor was short, even with priority access, security would be an absolute mess.

Continue reading Flight Review: Seattle to Frankfurt via Condor Premium Economy