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2014: 201,532
2013: 330,818

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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

Change is Here: Airlines Increase Their Change Fees Again

United Airlines First Boeing 787 on Launch Day at the Boeing Factory in Everett.  Phone: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com

United Airlines First Boeing 787 on Launch Day at the Boeing Factory in Everett. Phone: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com

Recently United Airlines decided to increase their change fee on all domestic bookings from $150 to $200 per person.  US Airways followed suit shortly after. Eventually Delta & American matched.  With those change fees in mind, it got me thinking, “where is the spectrum of these fees in the US right now?”

Before we look at all the change fees each airline charges, we first need to look at what a change fee is and why airlines charge them.  A “Change Fee” to the airlines is a fee that is charged when you need to change the date or time on your flight booking.  On heavily discounted airfares, changes are restricted so that you can be given the cheapest price possible.  At least… that’s the idea.  In essence this is a fee charged by the airline, as a penalty to you for changing your mind.

Changing the airfare on the airline’s end probably doesn’t cost them much, if anything.  In this day and age of overselling most flights, the airline has probably already sold it within seconds of your change.

Continue reading Change is Here: Airlines Increase Their Change Fees Again

Video: Antonov AN-124 vs Southwest Boeing 737

During a recent trip to Paine Field, an Antonov AN-124 with Volga Dnepr Airlines was blocking the taxi way. A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 (there for maintenance) had to taxi down the runway and turn around before take off. It it is intereting seeing the size difference between the two aircraft.

OTHER GOOD AN-124 STUFF:

Airline April Fools’ Goodness From Around the Web

It is that time of year again for airlines and organizations related to aviation to come out with crazy stories for it being April Fools’ Day. Once again, we will try and track them down and share them. If you see others that are not covered here, leave something in the comments.

This is something that AvGeeks might like, but probably not most passengers. Image from Virgin Atlantic.

This is something that AvGeeks might like, but probably not most passengers. Image from Virgin Atlantic.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC TO OFFER SEE-THROUGH FLOORS:
From Richard Branson: I’m thrilled to announce that Virgin has created another world-first with the introduction of the technology required to produce the world’s first glass-bottomed plane. This technological innovation coincides with the start of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first ever domestic service to Scotland.

In 1984 we started the wonderful airline that is Virgin Atlantic. I am incredibly proud of yet another aviation breakthrough which has been years in the making. I can’t wait to experience the first flight for myself with my family and other natural born explorers.

Read more and see some pretty sweet mock-up photos…

Take a Southwest Airlines hot air balloon. Image from Southwest Airlines.

Take a Southwest Airlines hot air balloon. Image from Southwest Airlines.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES ADDS HOT AIR BALLOONS

From the airline: When you’re flying nearly 500mph at 35,000 feet above ground, life passes by pretty fast.  Sure, Southwest has a suite of things to keep you entertained inflight: Video on Demand; WiFi; Live at 35; hilarious Flight Attendants.  Heck, we’ve even transported a miniature seeing-eye horse, and a couple endangered sea turtles.  But figuratively, you can’t have the hare without the tortoise.

Realizing the possibility that slow and steady may truly win the race, the answer became clear: it was time to float the grandest idea Southwest has ever had.  It was time to take things slow. The tortoise and the hare. Hot air balloons and Boeing 737′s, soaring fancy free, albeit at distinctly different altitudes, and at significantly separate speeds.

Read more…

Flying does not have to be "ruff" any longer. Image from Virgin America.

Flying does not have to be “ruff” any longer. Image from Virgin America.

MAIN CANINE SELECT WITH VIRGIN AMERICA

From the airline: We’re of the mind that man’s best friend shouldn’t get the raw deal when flying long distances, so we partnered with Boo, World’s Cutest Dog — and our very own Pet Liaison — to throw furry flyers a bone. Over the last year (and with Boo’s doggy design expertise) we’ve converted our first class cabin into a space as tricked out as our state-of-the-art digs at SFO’s Terminal 2.

See more images and learn more…

JetBlue adding more destinations? Probably not really these ones. Image from Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

JetBlue adding more destinations? Probably not really these ones. Image from Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

JETBLUE FLYING TO THREE NEW DESTINATIONS

From the airline: We’re excited to announce three tantalizing new destinations, expanding this fun-loving airline’s borders to three new countries and giving travelers more options for flying to some of the farthest-reaching dots on the globe, including:

  • April River Airport (APR) in Papua New Guinea;
  • Ilford Airport (ILF) in Manitoba, Canada; and
  • Gold Coast Airport (OOL) in Coolangatta, Australia

Customers looking to climb an active volcano in Rabaul Caldera, experience a new sub-zero Canadian vacation spot or visit their Coolangattan relatives can now hop a flight with their favorite, customer service-friendly carrier. Once-daily flights to all three new destinations will be offered from our existing stations in Portland, Maine and Aquadilla, Puerto Rico. Twice-weekly flights will also be offered between Papua, New Guinea and Coolangatta, Australia with connecting service in Ilford, Canada(a).

Keep reading and see video…

More room for the arms. Image from Delta.

More room for the arms. Image from Delta.

DELTA DOUBLE DECKER ARM REST

Posted on Delta’s Twitter account: Introducing the new Double Decker Armrest — coming soon to the middle seat. More arm space. Less elbow rubbing.

WestJet's new animal policy might be a Baaaaad idea. Image from WestJet's video.

WestJet’s new animal policy might be a Baaaaad idea. Image from WestJet’s video.

ALL ANIMALS ON BOARD WESTJET

From the airline: WestJet today announced the easing of restrictions on pets in the cabin. All WestJet flights will now allow for any type of animal to travel in the cabin provided it fits safely on board the aircraft.

“We recognize that a growing number of families want to travel with their ‘extended’ family and we are proud to be the first airline to offer this type of service,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations.

Thanks Allen for finding this one.

Be sure to check out WestJet’s video…

Air Malta to buy a Hawker Hunter?

Air Malta to buy a Hawker Hunter?

AIR MALTA BUYS A FIGHTER JET

From the Malta Independent: Air Malta has bought a 1950s privately owned two-seater Hawker Hunter fighter jet. The historic airworthy military aircraft will be painted in Air Malta’s new livery and will be used to generate new revenue streams for the airline. The aircraft will also be used to promote Air Malta and the Maltese Islands abroad by participating in a number of air shows around the world.

Plans have already been made by the airline for a soon-to-be-launched novel product ‘Jet Fighter Adventure Flights’ – an adrenalin rushing thrill seeking fighter aircraft experience that has become very popular in several countries around the world. These flights-of-a-lifetime will be available for purchase on the airline’s website www.airmalta.com.

With its sleek design, brilliant handling and maneuverability, the Hawker Hunter aircraft will offer customers the opportunity to experience a historic flying adventure. The classic Hunter was one of the best transonic jet fighter aircraft and formed the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s jet fighter squadron in the late 1950s. The aircraft was withdrawn from active service in 1995. During the 1960s and 1970s Hawker Hunter aircraft were a common sight at Malta’s Luqa airfield.

Keep reading…

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We Will Miss You Brian: Southwest Boeing 737-200 and AMC Pacers

Photo from Southwest Airlines.

Photo from Southwest Airlines.

A few weeks ago someone sent me the photo above (I apologize, I forget who sent it to me, but thank you) and I had an instant emotional reaction. Classic AMC’s and a Boeing 737-200 all painted in classic Southwest Airlines livery? How can one not love that?

There was no information with the photo, but I knew exactly who to ask: Brian Lusk, Southwest Historian and a legit AvGeek. He was able to give me amazing background information on the story of the cars. Due to this not being a time-sensitive story, I did not get around to posting and feel it is a great tribute to Brian who passed away recently.

There are AvGeeks and then there are AVGEEKS. Brian was no question an amazing AvGeek, airline employee and friend. Without skipping a beat he was always able to give detailed historical information, not only on Southwest, but the airline business as a whole. He will be greatly missed in many circles and it a great loss to the aviation community and the world as a whole.

This has always been one of my favorite photos. Brian is in yellow and my father (in the green) was able to meet him during a media event.

This has always been one of my favorite photos. Brian is in yellow and my father (in the green) was able to meet him during a media event. Also Matt Molnar, another great AvGeek recently lost, is also in the photo.

Anyhow, these special AMC Gemlins and Pacers were used by Southwest sales staff to call on customers in the 1970s. That had to be an amazing site to see.

Want to learn more and see additional photos? Read one of Brian’s stories on Nuts about Southwest: One, Two, Three.