Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 360,327
2013: 330,818

2014 World Airline Award Winners

Emirates Airline Boeing 777-200LR with GE-90 engines. Photo by Brandon Farris.

The 2013 World Airline Award winner was Emirates; who will it be this year? Photo: Brandon Farris

The 2014 World Airline Awards were held recently, in conjunction with the Farnborough Air Show, and the winners have been announced.  In a star-studded event held at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Wind Tunnels, the winners were announced by Skytrax, who manages the awards. Some of the winners this year came as a bit of a surprise.

The World Airline Awards are an independent and totally non-biased process, with nearly 19 million people voting online (between August 2013 to May 2014) to decide who has the best services, cabins, cabin crews, and even lounges.  This is not just for your big name full-service airlines; even Low Cost Carriers have their own categories!  More than 105 different nationalities participated in this year’s survey and helped to define who was going to be named “World’s Best Airline”.

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BIG TRIP: 6 Flights; 24,000 Miles; 3 Continents; and an 8-Month-Old

Start 'em early! Author's son planespotting at SFO. Photo: David Delagarza

Start ‘em early! Author’s son planespotting at SFO. Photo: David Delagarza

“That’s insane.”  That seemed to be the reaction most people, many of whom were seasoned fliers, had to our plan.  My wife and I had schemed it up over a year ago while she was pregnant with our first child.  We had always enjoyed traveling, and I had gotten into collecting miles and points when we found out that we would be adding a baby to the mix.  We didn’t want to stop traveling once the baby was born, so we booked one of the most ambitious itineraries we could think of – flying to New Zealand, with stopovers in Japan and Australia. And, yes, we would be taking the baby with us.

11 months prior to the trip, we had the miles saved up. We had accumulated enough to book the trip in business class (at least prior to the recent United Airlines MileagePlus devaluation.)  After diligently researching and waiting for availability to open up, I finally found a business class route that would work – at least until I saw the infant fare. United charges 10% of the cabin fare for lap infants on international flights.  For economy cabins, this can add up to a couple hundred dollars.  However, for the premium cabins, we were looking at paying nearly $1,000 each way.  Although I did briefly consider footing that bill, we decided to go in economy and use the extra miles to put our son in his own seat (when we could find the award space) and stay in some nicer hotels along the way.

Routing - Image: GCMapper

Routing – Image: www.gcmap.com

Our outbound itinerary ended up beginning with Denver to Tokyo Narita on United’s 787 Dreamliner.  We had a 20-hour overnight stopover before continuing onto Singapore aboard Singapore Airlines’ A380.  The final leg took us from Singapore to Christchurch, New Zealand on Singapore’s 777-220ER.   50 hours, four countries, and 14,000 miles just to get there.

Our return trip was a bit easier – Christchurch to Sydney on an Air New Zealand A320, followed by a 23-hour stopover in Sydney before continuing onto San Francisco on a United 747-400, connecting to Denver on a United A319.  The only hitch was that I was unable to find any kind of routing that made sense for the return trip once my son was born, so he was going to fly home as a lap infant.  It was sure to be quite the adventure.

Continue reading BIG TRIP: 6 Flights; 24,000 Miles; 3 Continents; and an 8-Month-Old

Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 2

A very cool (and green) pool at the Crowne Plaza.

A very cool (and green) pool at the Crowne Plaza

STAYING AT THE CHANGI AIRPORT

This is a continuation of  Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 1

I had just flown about 18 hours non-stop from LA to Singapore, it was 5am local time, and I had about 30 hours on the ground before I headed back to the states on the world’s longest flight. I wasn’t sure if I was going to head out to Singapore or stick to the airport during my “layover.”

Since I was exhausted, not feeling too well, and knew the Changi Airport (SIN) had quite a bit to offer, I ended up never leaving the airport. Yes, my name is David and I am an #AvGeek.

Continue reading Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 2

Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 1

Boarding on Singapore Airlines' A340-500 at LAX.

Boarding Singapore Airlines’ A340-500 at LAX

THE START OF THE JOURNEY

Hot damn – over 21,000 miles in less than four days is quite the adventure, but I signed up for it with smile. To cover the world’s two longest flights, I recently traveled from Seattle (SEA) to Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) to Newark (EWR) and back home again to Seattle. Lots of miles, lots of time in the air, and lots of good fun.

I have already shared my live blog of the world’s longest flight, but I want to tell this story of what the whole epic process was like.

Although I was looking forward to a big high-end adventure, it all started with a bus ride to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, followed by an economy flight on Alaska Airlines to LAX. I felt that with each step towards Singapore I was going a bit more upscale.

Checking in at LAX.

Checking in at LAX – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter.com

Getting down to LAX was easy and uneventful. I took an early flight to make sure that I had plenty of time to check out the new international terminal at LAX, but I always forget that the ticket counters do not open so early. Luckily, there were some food options that allowed me to eat before I was able to check in (have to say that the food quality at the Daily Grill was quite disappointing this trip).

I checked in and was escorted by the airline to the new Star Alliance Lounge for a tour. I was hoping to also have the time for a full tour of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal, but with the lounge and Airbus A340-500 tour, I wasn’t able to – next time.

Continue reading Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 1

LIVE BLOG: The World’s Longest Flight (SIN-EWR)

Heading out soon.

Heading out soon.

It is almost that time to board a Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500 and be a part of the world’s longest flight. Okay, well I still have a few hours left. Before then, I will be checking out of my hotel, getting a short tour of the airport, probably relax in the lounge for a minute or two and then find my seat for the next 18 hours or so. I will be departing on SQ 22, which leaves about 10:55am local time [which is 7:55pm 10/13 in Seattle or 2:55am 10/30 GMT].

You can follow along the flight on FlightAware and hopefully on this blog. Here is the catch though; due to the flight plan there is a good chance that I won’t be able to access the internet the whole time and when I do, it could be slow. Have no fear though, if I cannot connect up, I will write the story as a live blog on my local laptop and be sure to update when I have a chance. Worst case, that means after I get settled into my hotel after arriving at Newark (aka worst case scenario).

Since I will be crossing about half the existing time zones (and the international date line), I plan to update based on time spent on the aircraft. Once I enter the cabin, I will start a timer and update the post based on the elapsed time. I am hoping to stay awake the whole time, but know that I might need a little nap. Also realize that on a flight this long, there might not be too much happening between, “oh starting this movie,” and “done with the movie,” so my silence might not mean I cannot connect to the internet, but because I am doing something boring. Well, nothing is boring while on this flight, but I don’t want to give away plot lines of a movie.

With live blogging and possibly having a Singapore Sling or two, I realize that the grammar might not be 100%. No worries, it will all be worked out as the flight progresses or afterwards, so try to have a little more flexibility for the short-term and we shall do just fine. Well, I think that just about lays the ground work for how this shin-dig will work out. Hopefully you will be hearing from me soon and if not, know that I am enjoying the flight and looking forward to sharing soon.

Continue reading LIVE BLOG: The World’s Longest Flight (SIN-EWR)