Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 271,099
2013: 330,818

NYCA Short Take: Is Plane Spotting Under Attack?

Should one have the cops called on them for taking photos like these? Probably not.

Are photos like these illegal? – depends on who you ask.

Phil Derner, owner of NYCAviation.com, posted a very important story about plane spotters and law enforcement today that I wanted to share.

I personally feel lucky that I have never been stopped by law enforcement while taking photos of aircraft, but it is always on my mind. People should be able to take photos of airplanes without being harassed, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. It is important to report suspicious people, but it is not okay to harass AvGeeks taking photos. READ THE FULL STORY

Airlines Are Putting Money into Premium Seats — Why?

At a time of “Occupying Wall Street,” type of protests seen around the world, it is interesting timing to take a look how airlines are creating a larger difference between low class (economy), upper class (first/business class) and middle class (economy plus).

Many American airlines have been suffering since 9/11, but have more recently started making profit again. Others have also been distracted with mergers (America West & US Airways, Delta & Northwest and still United & Continental), which has left many premium products (especially domestic ones) aging. Recently, airlines have started putting money into their premium products, while cutting options on economy, but why? I think there are a few reasons:

Singapore Airlines offers these first class suites on their Airbus A380's. They can cost over $20,000.00 roundtrip.

Singapore Airlines offers these suites on their Airbus A380's. They can cost over $20,000.00 round trip.

* Premium products, especially internationally, are very profitable
Scott Mayerowitz writing for the AP points out that, “first-class and business-class passengers make up only 8 percent of international travelers but account for 27 percent of revenue.” Why wouldn’t an airline go for where the money is at? At the end of the day, airlines are a business and they are meant to make profit. Now that they have money to make investments into products, does it not make sense to give passengers what they want? The wealthy want a better product and most of the non-wealthy want cheaper tickets.

* Legacy carriers need to keep their frequent fliers 
Newer airlines, like Virgin America, have been shaking things up with-in the US. They provide superior first class and economy product and might make some of the frequent fliers on legacy carriers think twice. Take away points and rewards and what would you rather fly? On an old MD-80 aircraft (still flown by American and Delta) or a newer cabin on Virgin America’s new Airbus A320s?

* It is cheaper to keep a current customer versus the money to get a new one
It is basic Business 101. Companies will spend much more money trying to attract new customers than just trying to keep the ones they already have. It makes long-term financial sense to improve first class.

* Rich people want nice things, less rich want to get there as cheap as possible
It comes down to market demand. Those that do not have the money, normally want to get from point A to point B as cheap as possible. When comparing prices, they might see that it will cost $20 more for one airline, but would rather save that $20 (or $80 if a family of four) for their trip. However, this doesn’t stop the person from complaining about the lack of service and amenities.

Those that can afford the extra costs or have earned enough rewards to be upgraded, care more about the amenities offered. They are more willing to shell out some extra money for a higher level of service.

As Mayerowitz points out, “Most of the 3.4 million Americans expected to fly this holiday week won’t get anything close to that treatment. They’ve paid a little under $400 for their round-trip tickets. And it’s a cutthroat business. To save $5, passengers are likely to choose another airline.”

* There are some things given to economy, but most cost money
Just because economy passengers are not seeing the royal treatment, doesn’t mean they are not getting anything. Many airlines have been installing Wi-Fi onto their planes and are offering some pretty decent food options — but you have to pay for both. This allows airlines to offer rock bottom prices and additional add-ons that passengers can pay more to increase their level of service. This seems to be working for most airlines, since they are making record profits on the additional options in economy.

American Airlines is replacing some of their MD-80s with Boeing 737s with the new Sky Interior.

American Airlines is replacing some of their MD-80s with Boeing 737s with the new Sky Interior.

* The middle class now have an option
Flying used to be just for the rich. Then just for the rich and middle class. Now, almost anyone can snag a cheap ticket and flying is open to the masses. You have the rich up front, the non-rich in the back and now some airlines are offering premium economy options for the middle class. Delta , JetBlue, Frontier, United and Virgin America all offer premium economy seats, but is the extra cost worth it? I guess it depends on who you are and how long your flight might be.

Edward Russell, with NYCAviation.com, recently took a look at the different options and if they are worth it.

* Conclusion
I have been flown around the world in many airline’s premium products and have loved them. However, they would have cost me anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 if I would have paid out of pocket — that is not even first class. When I am flying on my own dime, there is no way I could ever come close to afford that and mostly I am looking for the cheapest fare.

If one can consistently afford a premium product, I can understand getting spoiled and demanding a high-level of service. But for most of us, we are happy with getting to our destination as cheaply as possible.  “They want their luggage. They want to arrive on time. They want the airplane to be clean,” Andrew Nocella, US Airways senior vice president of marketing explained to the AP. “Most importantly, they want a low fare.”

Airlines know that many people in economy just care about the low fare and that people who can afford a better experience care about amenities. If airlines are just giving passengers what they want, why do so many people always seem upset at them? Oh that’s right. Many people want to pay economy level prices, but get that first class treatment. I doubt we will be seeing that anytime soon.

Short Take: 787 Cabin Experience on Apex Editor’s Blog

That's me before boarding ANA's second 787 Dreamliner for my excursion flight.

That's me before boarding ANA's second 787 Dreamliner for my excursion flight.

As previously posted, I recently was lucky enough to be able to make a trip over to Tokyo, Japan to fly on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time. I was asked by APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) to write about my experience. Since the story is quite a bit different from the story I posted on the blog I wanted to share…

TAKE A LOOK AT MY BOEING 787 DREAMLINER FLIGHT STORY ON APEX

Short Take: Trip Report of International Flight of Eastern Air Lines DC-7

The Historical Flight Foundation's Eastern Air Lines DC-7 (N836D) was waiting for us when arriving on Miami's first A380 flight.

The Historical Flight Foundation's Eastern Air Lines DC-7 (N836D) was waiting for us when arriving on Miami's first A380 flight.

When landing at Miami on the first A380 arrival, it was easy to miss that there was a special guest wishing us a warm welcome: a restored Eastern Air Lines DC-7. The DC7 (N836D) has been restored by the Historical Flight Foundation based in Miami, FL and isn’t one to be stored in a museum, it actually flies and quite a bit.

So what does one do when they have a fully restored DC-7 and want to take it for a spin? Well you fly it from Miami to St. Maarten of course and what an adventure. Self-proclaimed aviation geek, Scott Hamilton, got to take the ride and  does a great job documenting the adventure. Please check out his full report.

Thanks TC for the heads up!

 

SHORT TAKE: What’s the Difference Between Customs and Immigration

What is the difference between customs and immigration is a great question. It is also one that a reader asked Steven Frischling over on his blog Flying With Fish.

“While many nations have merged Immigrations and Customs into one larger agency, such as US Department of Homeland Security and Canada’s Border Services Agency, their roles are quite different at the airport.

In short, here are the roles of the Customs and Immigrations” … CHECK OUT HIS BLOG TO READ MORE