Welcome to the KLM Pop-Up – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
KLM: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a … radio station, maybe? Actually you were right the second time. But despite its proud 97-year history in aviation, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines isn’t a recognizable brand name for some Americans (AvGeeks excluded, of course).
To fix that issue, the folks at KLM were excited to spread the word about their airline’s onboard product and customer service ethic. The result – a “pop-up” that just made an appearance in downtown San Francisco – featured seat demos, interactive displays, a chance to win flight tickets, and even a dose of virtual reality. What more could any aviation enthusiast ask for?
Join AirlineReporter as we count down our top five favorite parts of the KLM San Francisco Pop-Up.
Don’t forget to grab a Dutch stroopwafel on the way in – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 at SFO
Traveling from the Bay Area to Europe? Chances are you may find yourself on the Star Alliance trunk route from SFO to Frankfurt. I did recently as I kicked off a trip to Germany, India, and Southeast Asia, celebrating my final few months of freedom between a journalism job and medical school. In my experience, flying to Lufthansa’s “Fraport” mega-hub from San Francisco generally meant a trip on United’s venerable – and noticeably aging – 747-400s. While they are beautiful birds from the outside, they don’t make for the best long-haul economy class flights: no seatback screens, no power outlets (although that has since been corrected), and cramped seats, unless you can bump up to Economy Plus or better. Interested in something new, I leapt at the chance to try out Lufthansa’s A380 flight on the same route.
I was glad to be able to book the flight on United ticket stock (ticket number beginning with “016”), which meant I earned both premier qualifying miles (PQMs) and dollars (PQDs) for the flight. With the current UA premier qualifying system, you earn PQMs when you book non-UA ticket stock with Star Alliance partners, but not the PQDs – which are needed for elite qualification.
Heading to the back of the plane, to then go upstairs
Curiously, the confirmation code United provided me allowed me to manage my reservation on Lufthansa’s website, but did not work for online check-in. I found a Lufthansa-specific code buried in a separate email. A bit confusing, but not a huge deal. One downside of booking a Lufthansa-operated flight through United is that you are not always able to pick a seat in advance. That ended up being the case for this flight, and I was dreading the possibility of a back-of-the-bus middle seat. Luckily, seat availability was still good when I checked in online, even though the flight ended up being full.
I had only flown the A380 once before (on Emirates) and assumed that the upper deck was first and business class only. To my surprise, there was an “upper deck” tab on the seat selection window during online check-in. It turns out that on Lufthansa’s newest layout for some of its A380s, there is a premium economy section in the front of the lower deck and a small section – five rows, to be exact – of standard economy at the back of the upper deck. I snagged a window seat at the front of the latter section, thrilled that I would finally get upper-deck bragging rights (though without the usual business class accouterments that usually go with it).
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 burns at SFO. Photo by Nick Rose.
Local San Fransisco photographer Nick Rose took these photos shortly after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed at SFO. He as having lunch and heard about the crash and rushed to SFO. For the San Mateo Daily Journal, Nick photographed the airport’s last two crash drills [see read the first and second] and said it was “crazy,” seeing a real event.
He was kind enough to allow us at AirlineReporter.com to share his photos.
Parts of the 777 on the field while the United 747 waits. Photo by Nick Rose.
Photo of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 flight 214 crash from the NTSB.
There is no question that the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 is tragic and we are all looking forward to finding out exactly what happened. As more facts and opinions come in about the crash, here are just some of my raw thoughts:
- It is not a miracle: I have been reading quite a bit about how so many people survived was a “miracle.” I am not trying to say that this was not amazing, but I think by just saying it was a “miracle,” really down plays all the hard work and effort that so many people have put in through the years to increase the chances of surviving an accident. Thousands of people have died from airline accidents and after each accident every aspect of the business is made safer. There have been many smart people in aerospace that have designed and built aircraft, the items inside and airports in ways to reduce the likelihood of injuries and deaths. Finally, the passengers & crew on flight 214 and the emergency responders on the ground did an amazing job evacuating everyone. Even with the speculation that a fire truck might have been involved with one of the two deaths, the quick response and evacuation saved lives [read a good detailed account via the WSJ and Philly.com]. Call it a miracle if you must, but also be sure to follow up by appreciating the people that helped to keep this accident from being worse.
- A little perspective: It is no question that the two deaths from this crash and those who will forever be scarred is no small thing. I cannot imagine what the family of those who were lost are going through and by no means am I trying to down play these loses. We are all lucky to be in a time where an accident like this does not cause more deaths. Statistically, in the US there are about 90 people who die each day in auto accidents. This is far, far less than even a fraction of the fatalities we see from airline accidents. Flying is still very safe and will only continue to become safer.