Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

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First Southwest Flight With Family

Southwest Boeing 737-700 fresh from the factory

Southwest Boeing 737-700 taxing at KPAE

In the summer, my wife and I were planning a Christmas trip to Disneyland with our two toddlers (ages 2 and 4).  We were looking to get out of cold Denver for the holidays, and had visited Disneyland in December a few years ago and thought all of the decorations were really cool.  We decided to pull the trigger in late summer and I went work booking our travel.

I’m a very loyal United Airlines flyer, being Denver-based, and try to fly them exclusively.  However, flights to the Los Angeles-area at Christmas, even months in advance, were ridiculously expensive.  I’ve also recently come to grips with the fact that, having a newly-two-year-old daughter, four airline tickets really start to add up.  So, I looked at the options on Southwest Airlines (WN) and was shocked – less than $200 round-trip for direct flights between Denver (DEN) and Orange County (SNA), which was less than half the cost of other options.  I had never booked myself on WN, but couldn’t pass up the huge cost difference, especially for such a short flight. (Note – since I booked my “first” WN flights, I actually ended up flying on them to the Bahamas on a short-notice trip).

Continue reading First Southwest Flight With Family

Southwest Pulls a Dreamlifter and Lands at Wrong Airport!

Photo of WN 3014, evacuated on the airfield at the wrong airport! - Photo: Scott

Photo of WN 3014, evacuated on the airfield at the wrong airport! – Photo: Scott Schieffer

Details are still coming in, but according to @scottDallasTX and other media sources, Southwest Flight 3014, from Chicago (Midway) landed at the wrong Branson, MO airport this evening (cause there are tons of Branson airports).  Again, details are coming, but it appears they landed at the College of the Ozarks airport (PLK), with only a 3700′ runway.  Does anybody know – is that long enough for a 737 t0 take off?

This is strangely reminiscent of the situation last month where a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, operated by Atlas Air, landed at the wrong airport in Wichita.  When fields are in close proximity, mistakes can happen.

Tweet from a passenger on WN 4013

Tweet from a passenger on WN 3014 – via Twitter

According to Scott, the landing was efficient, but scary.

More to follow!

Update (7:20PM PDT): It looks like the Southwest Boeing 737-700 CAN take off with this limited runway, albeit likely empty.  Expecting a big day tomorrow for internet viewers?  (H/T to Managing Correspondent @BigMalX).

Review: Southwest Airlines’ Bring Your Own Device In-Flight Entertainment

A Southwest 737-700 seen at Dallas Love Field sporting a Row44 Raydome between the strobe and vertical stabilizer.  Photo: JL Johnson | Airlinereporter.com

Southwest 737-700 (N711HK) seen at Dallas Love Field with Row 44 raydome between the strobe and vertical stabilizer. It also sports a retro-livery design.

On November 20, 2013 Southwest Airlines announced that, effective immediately, customers could use their portable electronic devices (PEDs) gate-to-gate. This was expected as other airlines had been making similar announcements earlier in the month after the FAA relaxed their rules. What wasn’t expected was that in-flight entertainment (IFE), through their Row 44 WiFi, would also be available gate-to-gate, making them the first U.S. airline to offer a seamless integrated experience, regardless of altitude.

Southwest Airlines has long been a renegade, going against the grain, often being successful with that strategy. When the industry zigs, they zag and usually find themselves with a competitive advantage. And that’s exactly what they did when they bucked the trend of U.S. airlines signing on with traditional passenger-level-hardware IFE. Instead, Southwest chose Row 44, an industry underdog to provide their connectivity. Row 44′s network is powered solely by satellite, whereas (at the time) the other big domestic players (i.e. GoGo) focused on terrestrial (land-based cell tower) service.

BONUS: GoGo Unveils New In-Flight Technology

I’m a known critic of IFE at the airline-provided-hardware level. I am of the school of thought that if you can give me WiFi, I’ll find a way to entertain myself, with my own device(s). BYOD (that is, “bring your own device”) is gaining in popularity across many industries and applications, so why not with airlines? Traditional IFE is expensive to implement, heavy to fly around, and requires added maintenance. With passengers likely to bring the added weight of their own devices anyway, why not simply eliminate the cost and complexity?

Southwest’s in-flight connectivity is nothing new, but has matured well beyond basic WiFi. I recently had the opportunity to try out the new gate-to-gate, or in my case, gate-to-gate-to-gate Row 44 on a business trip from Kansas City with a stopover at Dallas Love Field on my way to San Antonio. Let me say, I was impressed.

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Bahamas-Bound: Getting There, and a Great Welcome (Part 1)

Even in The Bahamas, the view is always better with AirlineReporter! - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

Even in The Bahamas, the view is always better with AirlineReporter! And no, I did not end up vandalizing the hotel – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com

Recently, the Nassau Airport Development authority in The Bahamas opened a new $83.5 million terminal to serve all non-US international destinations, as well as “Family Island” domestic travel (a new US-preclearance terminal opened a few years ago).  AirlineReporter.com was invited by the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism to come tour the new airport and view the sites and some new developments in Nassau (including the $3.5 billion – with a “B” – Baha Mar development project).  Note: While I was a guest of the Ministry of Tourism on this trip, all opinions are my own.

In this part, I will cover the “experience” of getting to Nassau, as well as the amazing cultural exchange opportunity I was afforded on the night of my arrival.

Continue reading Bahamas-Bound: Getting There, and a Great Welcome (Part 1)

An AvGeek’s First Time Flying on Southwest Airlines

Passing Mt Rainier onboard a Southwest Airlines 737 - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Passing Mt Rainier on-board a Southwest Airlines 737.

When I wanted to get between Seattle (SEA) and San Jose (SJC) via a direct flight, I didn’t have too many choices. I could have either flown on Alaska or Southwest Airlines.  Since I had never flown Southwest before, I decided to give it a try and tick a new airline off my list.

The whole experience began the day before my flight when it was time to check in.  I had read a few guides (although not the one written by the founder of this very website — oops) on how to deal with a Southwest flight.

Southwest, unlike any airline I had ever flown before, does not assign seating — it is a “Free for all”.  Your ticket simply lists your boarding group (A, B or C) and a number which is your place in line.  When you get on-board you are free to sit wherever you want.

The first 15 in the A group are reserved for Southwest’s frequent flyers or “A listers”. Some fare classes and those who pay for automatic early check-in [aka EarlyBird] snag the majority of the A group.  The first 60 guests get the A group, the next 60 get B and whatever is leftover gets C. You obviously don’t want to be in the C group, if you don’t like middle seats. I luckily scored an A group ticket — game on.

Continue reading An AvGeek’s First Time Flying on Southwest Airlines