Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 228,152
2013: 330,818

Buy Wholesale products for your airline business on DHgate.com

The unique 2014 Cheap Wedding Gowns under $200 at Wedding Shop

Flight Review: Flying Business Class on TAM Airlines

Getting off the TAM 777-300ER in Sao Paulo

Getting off the TAM 777-300ER in Sao Paulo

TAM AIRLINES BUSINESS REVIEW BASICS:
Airline: TAM Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (reg PT-MUI)
Departed: John F Kennedy Airport (JFK)
Arrived: São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
Stops: None
Class: Business Class
Seat: 10A, no 10C, no 10H, no really 10C, heck why not 11G?
Length: About 8.5hrs

Cheers: The good customer service really made this flight stand out
Jeers: The product is old, but is in process of being replaced
Bottom Line: I hit some bumps, but still felt this was a good flight experience

The Business Class product currently on TAM's 777-300ERs

The Business Class product currently on TAM’s 777-300ERs

FULL TAM AIRLINES’ BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW:

I was recently invited by TAM Airlines to travel down to Sao Paulo to check out their operations. Of course, with any trip, one of the best parts is the flight – especially when it involves business class.

Previously, I had the chance to check out the interior of a new TAM Boeing 777-300ER, but I was excited to put the product and service to the test. My flight originated in New York at JFK and I ended up with a two-hour layover in JFK (was supposed to be four, but had a flight delay out of Seattle). I was a little bit nervous since I didn’t yet have a boarding pass for my TAM flight.

Continue reading Flight Review: Flying Business Class on TAM Airlines

Flight Review: Experiencing Spirit’s “Bare Fare” Model Firsthand

Spirit's first flight out of Kansas City receives a dual water cannon salute. Photo credit Aaron Wright, KC Aviation Dept.

Spirit’s first flight out of Kansas City receives a dual water cannon salute – Photo: Aaron Wright, KC Aviation Dept.

It’s true, people vehemently despise Spirit Airlines. Just the mention of the company elicits emotion-filled horror stories. Indeed they have a solid 1 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor, and they are frequently found at, or near, the top of various “worst airline” rankings. In direct contrast to these ratings and frequent “I’ll never fly Spirit again” claims, the airline continues to grow and increase market share. This begs the question – is the experience really THAT bad? Or, is there something else at play here?

BONUS: The Five Stages of Flying an Ultra Low Cost Carrier (Epic Comic Style) 

In their own defense, Spirit argues that the mass dissatisfaction with them is in large part due to consumers not understanding their progressive, totally unbundled Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) business model. That assertion seems to hold water. The vast majority of complaints I hear and see are indeed related to “unexpected fees” and being “nickel and dimed” to death. As the well-known cliche goes: “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Thankfully, Spirit recognizes there is a problem. To that end they recently hired Barkley, a KC-based marketing firm to assist with better educating consumers and promoting what they refer to as a “bare fare.”

"Bare Fare" crop circle spotted in a soy field just north of the KC airport. Photo: Victor Lazo.

“Bare Fare” crop circle spotted in a soy field just north of the KC airport – Photo: Victor Lazo

A few months ago, Kansas City International airport announced that ours would be a new market served by Spirit. Shortly after an unexplained crop circle appeared prompting a lot of curiosity. It turned out the image seen above is the logo for Spirit’s Bare Fare.

I was excited to finally have the opportunity to give them a shot, contrary to the advice of everyone who I’d informed of my intentions. I booked a seat on the first flight out, and this is my honest, unbiased review…

Continue reading Flight Review: Experiencing Spirit’s “Bare Fare” Model Firsthand

Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

If I had to sum up my recent Sun Country Air flight experience with one word, it would be: “kids.”

It is not the airline’s fault that I was surrounded by kids on my over three hour flight from Seattle (SEA) to Minnesota (MSP), but it did make my experience a little less enjoyable.

Now, I am not one of those who complains every time a kid is next to me. I know I was there once and I know that parents are just trying to get somewhere with their family. But when I have a gaggle of kids surrounding me and not behaving, I can’t help but take notice. Luckily the airline came through and over all I would still say I had a good flight experience.

Continue reading Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

Review of Business Class on American Airlines’ Transcon A321

Business Class on the American A321. Image: Eric

Business Class on the American A321 – Photo: SouthpawCapture

I live in the Dallas area, and don’t often fly transcon flights. However, I recently needed to go to both LA and New York close to the same time, and I thought it would be fun to try American’s new Airbus A321”T” they are flying between JFK and both LAX and San Francisco.

I am an Executive Platinum AAdvantage member (American’s top-tier elite for the unitiated) so I can often, but not always, upgrade on a regular coach fare. I looked for the flight with the most available seats in business class, reasonably figuring that this would give me the best chance of upgrading. It was a midweek flight leaving LAX at 1 PM, arriving at JFK at around 10 PM local time.

If it’s not obvious, I am a typical top-tier elite member – very spoiled. Sitting in the back of the bus is for the great unwashed, not I. Seriously, no, I am not above sitting back there, and as I make lots of last-minute changes, I often wind up squashed in with everybody else. Plus since I own my business, travel costs come out of my pocket. No high-end business class fares for me.

American's A321 in flight. Image; Eric.

American’s A321 in flight – Photo: SouthpawCapture

So when you have the opportunity to take “AAdvantage” of the few perks you get with business travel these days, you grab it. Considering this was a five-hour flight and I was already very tired, I was REALLY hoping for the upgrade, to say the least.

When I got to LAX, the upgrade still wasn’t there, and I was pouting. To make things worse, the flight was listed an hour late due to weather in JFK. But about 45 minutes before the flight left the gate, the clouds parted, the sun shone, and the upgrade gods smiled on me. Business class it was, Seat 8F on the new A321.

Continue reading Review of Business Class on American Airlines’ Transcon A321

Flying First Class…On a United Q400

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

United Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 at Durango – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

As a Silver Premier member with United Airlines (their lowest-level elite tier), getting a complementary first class upgrade happens almost as rarely as spotting a unicorn.  In a year and a half of being an elite, I’ve gotten two first class upgrades.  Recently, upgrade number two came in an unlikely form; on a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

That’s right, folks – United is offering a first class cabin on planes with propellers.  I caught my upgrade on a quick business trip from Denver (DEN) to Durango (DRO), Colorado.

All of United’s Q400s are actually operated by Republic Airlines, one of many regional carriers for UA.  They are configured with 71 seats; seven in first class, 10 in Economy Plus, and 54 in economy.  As to be expected on a regional plane, “first class” really only meant a wider seat, more legroom, and a free beer.  Well, we got some pretzels too.   Continue reading Flying First Class…On a United Q400