Condor inaugural San Diego arrival – Photo: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Recently, I had the opportunity to take my first ever inaugural flight. Condor inaugurated twice-weekly service nonstop from Frankfurt to San Diego and they were kind enough to allow me to tag along. This was a special trip for me, as I rarely get the opportunity to fly internationally in anything but economy class, as more opulent flying is typically not in my budget.
Condor inaugural San Diego arrival
Inaugural celebration – Photos: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Condor inaugural San Diego arrival
Not only was this a big deal for me, but this new connection to Europe is a big deal for the city of San Diego and the 3 million plus people in the metropolitan area. With the new flight, Condor becomes just the second nonstop connection to Europe, and first by a leisure airline.
British Airways flight BA85 rolls out on YVR’s Rwy 26L – the first scheduled A380 in Vancouver –
Photo: Leighton Matthews | Pacific Air Photo
Western Canada’s first scheduled Airbus A380 service began on Sunday evening, with the arrival of British Airways flight BA85 at Vancouver International Airport. YVR is the airline’s only Canadian A380 destination, and is one of only nine city-pairs worldwide served by one of British Airways’ eleven megajets.
The A380 replaces British Airways’ daily London-YVR Boeing 747 service for the summer season. “This is a terrific market for us, it does tremendously well, so the A380 just perfectly suits the market” says Robert Antoniuk, British Airways VP Customer Service and Operations, North America West & Mexico. “This flight is absolutely full to capacity today.” The four-cabin A380 has a total of 469 seats, a significant jump from the 345-seat 747 it replaces.
N863GA, a 26-year young MD-83
Earlier this year, I was excited to learn Allegiant would be the newest airline to bring service to my home market here in Kansas City, MO. Allegiant was the last piece of the puzzle to complete the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) trifecta. So, naturally I had to be on their very first flight out.
Just last year Spirit inaugurated services at Kansas City International and in the following months brought with them unprecedented fare disruption across multiple markets. The effects were unlike any I have witnessed in a decade of paying close attention to fare trends in KC. And herein lies the secret with ULCCs; even if passengers never intend to fly with them, they bring normalcy to entire markets with LCCs and even legacies adjusting their own fare structures to keep from losing too much market share.
Inaugural Cake! An A319?
New airline aside, I’m a bit of an inaugural hound. When the day came, I elected to skip the press conference and focus on becoming the first confirmed booking, which I’m proud to announce I accomplished, while the press conference was still going, in fact.
As I tend to do, I booked the outbound leg, making a mental note to fill in the rest of the details “later” – I wound up scrambling to find a way home. When I realized I was one week from my trip with no way home, I went to my preferred carrier who wanted nearly $300 one way. This, in contrast to the mere $82 (fare + exit row + carry-on) I paid Allegiant outbound. Reluctantly, I looked elsewhere and found similar prices. I soon realized what began as a one-way experiment with Allegiant would wind up being a round trip with them out of equal parts laziness, frugality, desperation, and curiosity.
Hainan Airlines inaugural of new non-stop service to Shanghai, Gate S1. – Photo: Don Wilson | Port of Seattle
What’s better than one inaugural flight? Two, of course. Recently, Hainan Airlines started service from Shanghai (PVG) to Seattle (SEA) using an Airbus A330-200, and also Beijing to San Jose (SJC) using a Boeing 787-8. We had writers at both events to cover the occasion. It might be the same airline, but each of the inaugurals were unique.
Welcoming water cannon salute for the 787 – Photo: Michael Restivo | AirlineReporter
We are going to give you the run down of both inaugurals in one story, leading with Lauren, who was in Seattle, and then Michael, who was in San Jose. Both tell it from their own personal perspective — what was it like for them to attend their first inaugural flight media event?