Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

Flying 15,000 Miles to Spend One Night in Brazil – PART ONE

Hanging out on a safety slide next to the TAM pool. Lots of funny jokes about pushing me in

Hanging out on a safety slide next to the TAM pool. Lots of funny jokes about pushing me in.

Who flies 15,000 miles to just spend one night in a foreign country? This guy!

I was recently invited to Sao Paulo to take a look a behind the scenes look at TAM Airlines’ operations. When invited, my first thought was, “hell yes,” but once seeing that I would be flying 15,000 miles for one night in Brazil, I felt that there might be some challenges (and lack of sleep). But was it worth it? I wasn’t sure at first. So, I decided to take you behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes trip — what is it like to do a media trip in such a short amount of time.

Lots of miles, lots of things to do, not a lot of sleep - Image: GCMap.com

Lots of miles, lots of things to do, not a lot of sleep – Image: GCMap.com

The media schedule was cram-packed of activities and not too much time to sleep. I would fly from Seattle to New York in economy (well, premium economy on the way home), then take the red-eye on TAM from New York’s JFK to São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport, and then take another red eye back to the US. With such a short trip, this meant that I needed to do the best I could to rest when possible, keep hydrated, and heck, why not have some fun too.

When I take these media trips, I think most of my friends and family visualize me on the beach or next to a pool with a nice drink (probably one with an umbrella in it) and it is all wine and dine. These media trips are VERY different than that, but it doesn’t mean that I do not love them. Even though there is a lot of fun in doing them, I am on a job and doing work. Sometimes, that means pushing through when all my body wants to do is shut down. This trip put me to the test.

Continue reading Flying 15,000 Miles to Spend One Night in Brazil – PART ONE

Visiting the World’s Largest Airline-Owned Museum – the TAM Museum in Brazil

The TAM Museum has quite the impressive collection. You can go into the TAM Fokker 100.

The TAM Museum has quite the impressive collection. You can go into the TAM Fokker 100.

When I was invited to check out the Museu TAM (aka the TAM Museum, Museu Asas de um Sonho, or the Wings of a Dream Museum), of course I was excited. I was expecting to check out a facility that told the history of TAM Airlines and was mostly focused only the airline. I was surprised to find out that there were parts of the museum that focused on TAM, but really there was also a broader look at Brazilian aviation and aviation in general.

You can see the TAM MRO behind the museum

You can see the TAM MRO behind the museum

If you are a fan of airlines, military aircraft, or old war birds, you will find something of interest. Of course, if you like all those different things, then this is the place for you. The best part — it is open to the public to check out!

Continue reading Visiting the World’s Largest Airline-Owned Museum – the TAM Museum in Brazil

Photo Tour of TAM Airlines’ Flight Attendant Training

TAM Airlines' flight training area - with pool

TAM Airlines’ flight training area – with pool

By now, I have been to a few airline flight attendant training facilities and I am always in awe with what is similar and what is different. What I liked most about TAM’s training facility was they let us get really hands-on with the experience. Not just learn about what their different training devices can do, but we got to experience them first-hand.

The outside of TAM's training facility located in Sao Paulo

The outside of TAM’s training facility, located in Sao Paulo

Although visiting an airline’s training facility can be quite fun for a visitor, there is no question that the facility is designed to train flight attendants on how to save lives.

Everytime I go to one of these facilities, I am reminded how flight attendants have complex  jobs. Many see them as glorified waiters and waitresses, but they are anything but.

My only regret for this trip — I didn’t bring my bathing suit for the pool!

Continue reading Photo Tour of TAM Airlines’ Flight Attendant Training

An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

One large task of an airline is to make sure that all their employees are dressed properly. Typically, each position within an airline will have a different dress code. From the fancy outfits that flight attendants often wear to the more mundane look of those who work behind the scenes and away from passengers. They each have their purpose and it is quite the feat to make sure that every employee has a proper uniform.

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with employee lounge on the first floor

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with an employee lounge on the first floor

TAM Airlines has a specialty uniform shop, located in Sao Paulo, where all 22,000 employees can go and pick up their uniforms.  The process is quite the task.

The facility is unique in that not only do employees come in person, but the airline wants the uniform process to be a part of their culture. I was excited to see what it was all about — I had never seen a shop quite like it.

Continue reading An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

Touring TAM Airlines’ Maintenance Operations in Brazil

A TAM Airbus A330 and A320 get worked on at the MRO

A TAM Airbus A330 and A320 get worked on at the MRO

The location of TAM Airlines’ Maintenance Operation Center (called “MRO” for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) is in a unique location. It is not found at a major airport or even within a large city. It is located about three hours (by car) northwest of Sao Paulo (GRU) in the middle of farm land.

The facility used to be a tractor factory, with a runway built next to it to fly in the company’s parts. Turns out building your own airport and flying in parts, rather than shipping them via road, was not the best business decision and the tractor company went out of business.

TAM's maintenance facility is located about 15 miles from Sao Carlos

TAM’s maintenance facility is located about 15 miles from Sao Carlos

TAM saw this as a great opportunity to purchase the land and open their MRO. Large facilities already existed and, more importantly, a runway. So just over a decade ago, TAM opened up their MRO about 15 minutes north of Sao Carlos, a town of around 220,000. I was recently invited to check out the facility, and it was a semi-adventure just getting there.

Continue reading Touring TAM Airlines’ Maintenance Operations in Brazil