Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 93,970
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,015,570

Visiting King Nut – Snack Provider to the World’s Airlines

Fresh mini pretzels await packaging.

Fresh mini pretzels await packaging

King Nut and Summer Harvest: If you’ve ever enjoyed an airline snack at 35,000 feet and inspected the wrapper, chances are you are familiar with one, or both, of these name brands. They, alongside Peterson Nut Co., make up the King Nut Companies family. As a fan of the airline industry, and the companies that support it, I’ve long been familiar with King Nut, and have spotted their products on numerous airlines. Plus, here at AirlineReporter, we love telling the behind-the-scenes stories of the airline world.

A few years back, I was excited to learn that they sometimes sell direct to the public the same airline-branded snacks I’ve come to know, love, and expect up in the air. I’ve made it a habit to occasionally place orders with them online in order to bring AvGeek-themed snacks to various gatherings; we even had their product at my son’s airline-themed birthday party.

A sack of honey roasted peanuts passes through an X-ray

A sack of honey roasted peanuts passes through an X-ray machine

I guess you could say I’m nuts for King Nut (you knew at some point I had to make that joke – figured I should get it out of the way). And while I’m a fan of their products, I never took the time to really learn about what it takes to get these snacks into the hands (and bellies) of passengers.

That opportunity presented itself recently, when I was in the Cleveland area on business. It just so happens that the King Nut facilities are less than a mile from one of my company’s offices in Solon, Ohio. I reached out to Mr. Martin Kanan, President and Chief Executive Officer, to see about a tour and for a chance to learn about their company – he was happy to do so. Sit back, relax, grab some snacks, and prepare to drool over some seriously tasty snackage photos and facts…

Continue reading Visiting King Nut – Snack Provider to the World’s Airlines

Flying from Aruba on Southwest’s Inaugural International Service to Houston

Over the Caribbean Sea - Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

Over the Caribbean Sea – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

That’s one small flight for a 737, one giant leap forward for Southwest Airlines and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU).  In a sign of things to come, Southwest added to its daily Aruba service out of Baltimore and Orlando with a seasonal weekly flight between Houston and Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). Last Saturday, I joined Southwest for the inaugural flight between Aruba and Houston.  This flight was the first international commercial arrival into Hobby airport.

I ♥ Aruba, the unoffical theme of the island.  - Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

I ♥ Aruba, the unofficial theme of the island – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

Although Hobby Airport does not have customs and immigration facilities, Southwest is able to operate the flight thanks to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance facility in Aruba, which allows passengers to clear customs and immigration prior to departing for the United States. This October, however, Hobby Airport is scheduled open a new five-gate international terminal, complete with customs and immigration facilities, which will enable Southwest to further add to its international offerings at Houston.

Continue reading Flying from Aruba on Southwest’s Inaugural International Service to Houston

Plane Spotting at Midway – Chicago’s Other Airport

A Southwest Airlines 737 departs Midway Airport leaving behind the iconic Chicago skyline. Photo: Jim Wissemes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Southwest Airlines 737 departs Midway Airport, leaving behind the iconic Chicago skyline – Photo: Jim Wissemes (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Midway Airport just doesn’t get the love it deserves. Whenever there’s discussion of plane spotting in Chicago, it’s always assumed that O’Hare is the venue, and that’s just not right. Sure, as a dedicated Southwest Airlines A-Lister, Midway is the one-and-only Chicago airport that’s deserving of my regular (and frequent) business. But setting loyalties aside for a moment, the spotting at Midway is quite simply excellent for any and all, even the hard-to-please “legacy lovers” who stalk United and American at ORD.

Why? Well, the opportunity for incredible photos like the one above should be enough, but if you aren’t convinced, read further…

Continue reading Plane Spotting at Midway – Chicago’s Other Airport

So Long, Citrus! A Look at AirTran’s History and Final Flight Experience

An AirTran 717 lands in Atlanta.

An AirTran Boeing 717 lands in Atlanta

On December 28, 2014, AirTran flight 1 departed Atlanta for Tampa, retracing the airline’s first flight and bringing an end to its remarkable history. I had the honor of being on that last flight and I am excited to share my story. But before I discuss the end of “the big little a” I’d like to first revisit the airline’s history. Because only through knowledge of the airline’s legacy can we truly understand the significance of AirTran’s retirement and integration into Southwest Airlines. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

A ValuJet DC-9. Photo Courtesy of Aero Icarus

A ValuJet DC-9 – Photo: Courtesy of Aero Icarus

ValuJet: Fun and friendly… And perhaps a bit dangerous.
AirTran traces its roots back to ValuJet, an Atlanta-based upstart with dreams of chipping away at Delta’s dominance right in its own backyard. Operations commenced with just a single DC-9, and its first flight was from Atlanta to Tampa on October 26, 1993. In just over a year the airline was solidly profitable and its route map had grown to 17 cities. But fast growth and aggressive cost-cutting practices quickly caught up to the Critter (ValuJet’s FAA call sign.) In the first few years of operation, the small airline had a markedly-high percentage of emergency landings, compared to its peers. In addition, an FAA study indicated that ValuJet dominated the accident data for low-cost carriers.

On May 11, 1996, ValuJet flight 592 went down en-route from Miami to Atlanta; all 110 on board were lost. This tragic, high-profile accident would focus attention on the airline, its maintenance practices, and ultimately lead to its grounding. After a month of investigations by the FAA, which reveled “serious deficiencies in its operation” ValuJet would voluntarily halt operations. But this wasn’t the end for the fledgling airline that had lost its way. Instead, it was just the beginning.

Continue reading So Long, Citrus! A Look at AirTran’s History and Final Flight Experience

Southwest’s Social Care Team Gets a New Home

The Wall Mounted Screens of the new Southwest Airlines Listening Center

Wall-mounted screens in the new Southwest Airlines Listening Center

Airlines in the modern world seem to use social media one of two ways.  Either as an effective marketing tool with no ability to handle any customer service functions, or as a customer service tool with little-to-no ability to market effectively.  There are a rare few airlines that can do both of these things and one of them is Southwest.  Recently, they began operations in their new Listening Center, a kind of “social media command center” and I had a chance to see how it works.

A better look at the set up in the Listening Center

A better look at the set up in the Listening Center

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become so ingrained into many of our lives.  We have access to them on our phones, tablets, and computers – even on watches – that it becomes so overwhelming.

In some forms it is a great way of sharing things with others, like what you are doing or where you are going.  However, it is also a great tool in getting a message across or being able to get some things fixed.  As social media has grown over the years, it has become more and more apparent that businesses need to address these platforms as a separate communication tool and start to use them effectively.  The Listening Center at Southwest is the first of its kind and is staffed by up to nine people at a time. Continue reading Southwest’s Social Care Team Gets a New Home