Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

Flying 15,000 Miles to Spend One Night in Brazil – PART ONE

Hanging out on a safety slide next to the TAM pool. Lots of funny jokes about pushing me in

Hanging out on a safety slide next to the TAM pool. Lots of funny jokes about pushing me in.

Who flies 15,000 miles to just spend one night in a foreign country? This guy!

I was recently invited to Sao Paulo to take a look a behind the scenes look at TAM Airlines’ operations. When invited, my first thought was, “hell yes,” but once seeing that I would be flying 15,000 miles for one night in Brazil, I felt that there might be some challenges (and lack of sleep). But was it worth it? I wasn’t sure at first. So, I decided to take you behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes trip — what is it like to do a media trip in such a short amount of time.

Lots of miles, lots of things to do, not a lot of sleep - Image: GCMap.com

Lots of miles, lots of things to do, not a lot of sleep – Image: GCMap.com

The media schedule was cram-packed of activities and not too much time to sleep. I would fly from Seattle to New York in economy (well, premium economy on the way home), then take the red-eye on TAM from New York’s JFK to São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, and then take another red eye back to the US. With such a short trip, this meant that I needed to do the best I could to rest when possible, keep hydrated, and heck, why not have some fun too.

When I take these media trips, I think most of my friends and family visualize me on the beach or next to a pool with a nice drink (probably one with an umbrella in it) and it is all wine and dine. These media trips are VERY different than that, but it doesn’t mean that I do not love them. Even though there is a lot of fun in doing them, I am on a job and doing work. Sometimes, that means pushing through when all my body wants to do is shut down. This trip put me to the test.

Continue reading Flying 15,000 Miles to Spend One Night in Brazil – PART ONE

Photo Tour of TAM Airlines’ Flight Attendant Training

TAM Airlines' flight training area - with pool

TAM Airlines’ flight training area – with pool

By now, I have been to a few airline flight attendant training facilities and I am always in awe with what is similar and what is different. What I liked most about TAM’s training facility was they let us get really hands-on with the experience. Not just learn about what their different training devices can do, but we got to experience them first-hand.

The outside of TAM's training facility located in Sao Paulo

The outside of TAM’s training facility, located in Sao Paulo

Although visiting an airline’s training facility can be quite fun for a visitor, there is no question that the facility is designed to train flight attendants on how to save lives.

Everytime I go to one of these facilities, I am reminded how flight attendants have complex  jobs. Many see them as glorified waiters and waitresses, but they are anything but.

My only regret for this trip — I didn’t bring my bathing suit for the pool!

Continue reading Photo Tour of TAM Airlines’ Flight Attendant Training

An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

One large task of an airline is to make sure that all their employees are dressed properly. Typically, each position within an airline will have a different dress code. From the fancy outfits that flight attendants often wear to the more mundane look of those who work behind the scenes and away from passengers. They each have their purpose and it is quite the feat to make sure that every employee has a proper uniform.

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with employee lounge on the first floor

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with an employee lounge on the first floor

TAM Airlines has a specialty uniform shop, located in Sao Paulo, where all 22,000 employees can go and pick up their uniforms.  The process is quite the task.

The facility is unique in that not only do employees come in person, but the airline wants the uniform process to be a part of their culture. I was excited to see what it was all about — I had never seen a shop quite like it.

Continue reading An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

The Eagle Rises from The Ashes; American Airlines Inaugural 777-300ER Flight PART2

American’s First Boeing 777-300ER, N718AN, seen at DFW Gate D-23, the day of departure flew the inaugural flight. It signifies the birth of a new airline.

This is a continuation of Chris Sloan’s (@Airchive) report on flying on the inaugural American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER to Sao Paulo. Be sure to also check out PART 1 of the series.

The day began with a contingent of press crawling around and photographing the cabin, more on that later. The 2 Boeing 777-300ERs were at Gate D-23 (our inaugural aircraft) and another unpainted at D-24 for an employee event and to be used as backup. For an inaugural, the gate events were remarkably low-key. Missing were the obligatory ribbon cutting, cake cutting, ice sculpture, and balloon canopy.

Business in the front and party in the back! Reactions to the new livery were mixed: The updated Eagle icon, “billboard” American typography, and silver mica paint were generally well received. The flag on the tail was critiqued as being gaudy and incongruous with the elegance of the fuselage. In person, it is much more appealing and grows on you.

Downplaying the event seemed intentional because in this transition period with so much “up in the air”, AA had to strike the right tone in not wanting to seem extravagant or over-the-top. With this being mostly a revenue flight with very few VIPs, many in the gate weren’t even aware of the significance of the moment.

We won’t be needing ETOPS today with most of our flight over land.

There was a small snack buffet including 777 commemorative cookies, some “New American” signage, and a few words from American CEO Tom Horton and Chief Commercial Officer Virasb Vahidi with a particular shout out to the onboard products design team led by Alice Lieu. With that, the boarding began of this entirely sold out flight.

Continue reading The Eagle Rises from The Ashes; American Airlines Inaugural 777-300ER Flight PART2

The Eagle Rises from The Ashes: American Airlines Inaugural 777-300ER Flight PART1

American’s First Boeing 777-300ER, N718AN, seen at DFW Gate D-23, the day of departure flew the inaugural flight. Much more than just a new aircraft joining the fleet, It signifies the re-birth of an iconic airline. Image from Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.

This is a multi-part story written by Chris Sloan (@Airchive) on the changes at American Airlines and the inaugural Boeing 777-300 flight to Sao Paulo.

On January 31, 2013 American Airlines launched their first Boeing 777-300 ER into service with attention that rivaled any airline’s launch of a new type in recent memory. On the face of it, even though American became the first operator of the 777-300 in the United States, this event would almost seem overkill if for that reason alone. After all, American began 777-200 flights back in 1999 and the first 777-300 was first delivered to an airline, Cathay Pacific back in May, 1998. The first 777-300ER entered service nearly 10 years ago with Air France. Boeing’s two stretch variants of their venerable cash cow, the 777, easily have become the type’s most popular versions with over 680 orders and deliveries between them out of the entire 777 program’s 1,380 orders and deliveries. (as of December, 2012). In an era of smaller airliners, American inaugurated the 777-300, the largest new airliner by a U.S. carrier since the last Boeing 747-400s entered service with U.S. airliners in the late 1990s.

This inaugural, flight 963, from Dallas/Ft. Worth to São Paulo, Brazil in the author’s view is one of the most significant in the airline industry in years because it is about something much bigger than just the launch of a new airliner, it’s about the re-birth of a proud American institution that happens to bear the name of our country – American Airlines.

American Airlines Electra at Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in 1967. Image by Bob Garrard.

American Airlines Electra at Port Columbus International Airport (CMH) in 1967. Image by Bob Garrard.

American Airlines problems are well known. After becoming the world’s largest airline with its 2000 acquisition of TWA, the 2000s were not kind at all to the Silver Bird. TWA and American merged during an economic downturn and by most accounts, the merger was anything but an unqualified success.

American shed most of TWA’s assets, routes, staff, and many of its aircraft. On September 11th, 2 of American’s airliners, their crew, and passengers were forever lost in the atrocities of this horrible day. As if things couldn’t get any worse, the world’s airline industry hemorrhaged with the U.S. legacy carriers losing more money during this time then they had profited in their entire history. All of them declared Chapter 11, with the exception of American. Under the category of “no good deed goes unpunished”, this decision would come back to haunt American for years.

Continue reading The Eagle Rises from The Ashes: American Airlines Inaugural 777-300ER Flight PART1