A new year always gives us a chance to step back and see what we enjoyed in the previous year, how much we have grown and changed, and what we look forward to in the new year.
I have to say that I am so proud of what our team has been able to do in 2014. We have become a true team of dedicated folks who love to share our passion for aviation and airlines. We also love how the AirlineReporter family has grown (that includes you, amazing readers). We have been given bigger and better opportunities and we couldn’t do it without our readers supporting what we do!
Let’s take a look at our numbers. We had our best month ever in 2014, with hitting a half-million visitors in a month. Man, I remembered how excited I was when we got 5,000. We also surpassed 50,000 Twitter followers and are getting close to 55,000. We have over 6.3 million views on our Flickr page, 2.2 million views of our YouTube videos, over 3,400 Facebook fans, and we recently started our Instagram account (and could use a bit more love there).
Our team flew over 360,000 miles in 2014, which is about 30,000 miles more than 2013. We once again didn’t make it to Africa (we did in 2012), so that is a big goal for us in 2015. Since the site was started in 2009, we have flown over 921,600 miles. That means that in early 2015, we should hit the 1 million mile mark, which is very exciting (if anyone cares, we flew about 91,000 miles in 2012; 81,000 in 2011; 50,000 in 2010; and only 5,000 in 2009).
So let’s take a look at some of the highlights of this past year…
Top Seven Most-Viewed (non-accident) Stories of 2014
As with previous years, when tragedy happens, we see a spike in traffic. 2014 was not any different and reviewing all stories, the Malaysian MH370 missing, Ethiopian 767 that was hijacked, and, most recently, AirAsia flight QZ8501 all topped our traffic. But trying to stay a bit more positive, these were the top seven stories written in 2014 on AirlineReporter:
- From First to Last: Etihad Airways Economy Class Review
- LEAKED — New Southwest and Frontier Airlines’ Liveries?
- 2013 – Boeing vs. Airbus…. Who Won?
- Flight Review of British Airways’ 747 First Class
- A Historical Look at the DC-10 Before its Final Passenger Flight
- A Soviet-Built L-1011kov? Almost — Too Bad It Never Flew
- Comparing the Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR & the 787 Dreamliner
I was surprised that an economy review was the most popular story of the year. All of our reviews that we do are quite popular (you would find that make up the majority in the top 50 stories of 2014), but why did an economy review do better than business or first?
Also strange that the background story on the DC-10 made the top list, but the actual last DC-10 flights did not make the top 50. As I always try to tell our writing team — let’s not go shooting for stories that give us the most traffic. They aren’t always the best stories and we never know which ones will take off (pun intended) anyhow.
Top Six Most-Commented Stories
One of my favorite parts (and actually, also least favorite parts) of running AirlineReporter are the comments. It is amazing when people get engaged on a topic, but they can also be quite hurtful. Luckily for us, most of the time, the readers are kind and wonderful!
We had way more comments this last year than previous years, which means that our community is growing — keep up with the comments please! Here are the top six commented stories of 2014:
- Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Has Likely Crashed But Where? (375)
- I Say “No” to Reclining My Seat (129)
- Details for Aviation Geek Fest 2014 (121)
- AirAsia Airbus A320 Flight QZ8501 Confirmed Crashed – Wreckage Found (97)
- Updates and Our Thoughts on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (92)
- LEAKED — New Southwest and Frontier Airlines’ Liveries? (45)
Actually, our TAM Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER model giveaway made number two on the list for 2014, but really people were commenting to win a model, not being engaged, so I didn’t count it. The Malaysian story ends up being the most commented story we have ever had. Second place would be our Singapore Airlines model giveaway last year which got 373 comments.
David’s Top Five Experiences in 2014
I ended up not flying and doing as much this year as I have in the past. I was a bit busy with other things, plus wanted to share the love with our writers to take some of the trips. It doesn’t mean I didn’t get some miles under my belt and enjoy some trips. My favorites of this year:
- Flying High at Ground Level – Checking out Alaska Airlines’ New Flight Simulator: I have been in a few flight simulators by now and each of them is cool in their own way. What I really loved about this experience was not only the high level of detail, but the fact that I was able to spend so much time in the simulator and actually fly.
- One Night in Brazil: What a whirlwind! 15,000 miles for just one night? Yup. And I ended up with eight stories out of the adventure — a record. I was also able to test out a new type of story, which was the behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes which seemed to be pretty popular with readers. And the BIG thing with this trip: my first time going down an emergency slide — yeehaw!
- Going to Frankfurt with Condor: Before this trip, I had been to Frankfurt twice, but each time I was only on the ground for 24 hours. I never left the airport. This time, we had some time to not only explore Condor’s operations, but also the city.
- Heading to Thailand — the LONG way: I went to Bangkok in early December, and I loved this trip, because I got to be on the ground for a few days. Most of my trips are only one or two days at the destination, but not this one. Not to say that my other trips had bad groups of media that I was with, but this one had some really rad folks, which makes the trip even better! I have to say that after 25,000 miles of flying the long way from Seattle to Bangkok, I was ready to be grounded for a bit.
- How Social Media is Shifting Breaking Stories Around the World: What happened with the Ethiopian 767 being hijacked and how we, as an extended team, really opened eyes up as to how the world has changed in getting breaking news. It was interesting that we were one of the first media outlets to break the story and how seamlessly five of us were able to be in person and online to gather details and update the story and our social media channels. We have been able to grow and improve how we gather information and unfortunately, we have been put to the test a few times this year with the crashes and aircraft disappearances.
Other 2014 Favorites of AirlineReporter Leadership
- Bernie Leighton: 2014 was an impressive year. I started it by jump seating around Papua New Guinea, and finished by flying on the first Qatar Airways A350. Can’t forget the fact that I closed out both the DC-10 and the MD-11 in passenger operations, and added five new Russian aircraft types (Ty-154M, AN-12, AN-26, MI-2, and AN-2). If that wasn’t enough, I’ve also helped to promote AvGeekdom and have been covered by both Bloomberg and the Seattle Times.
- Blaine Nickeson: As AR’s Associate Editor, most of my work is done behind the scenes. It’s not glamorous – more like seeing how the sausage is made – but, I believe, important to our growth and creditability. I don’t often get the chance to write, but I had two great experiences this summer. For my 10-year anniversary trip, I got to experience United’s “Global First” on their 747, sitting in the nose in seat 1A – an AvGeek holy grail. I also got to spend a day with Gogo inflight internet, seeing how the interwebs magic is made at 35,000 feet. Trust me, I won’t take inflight wifi for granted again. Those experiences aside, my favorite part of working with AirlineReporter is reporting on (and sometimes breaking) critical news.
- JL Johnson: 2014 goes down as one of the best years of my life. I had so many incredible aviation experiences to choose from that it’s really tough to narrow it down. Having the opportunity to visit Southwest’s Culture-Centric HQ after years of being a WN fan boy allowed me to check a long-standing item off of my AvGeek to-do list. However the opportunity to meet and learn from Delta’s CEO Richard Anderson was a real honor. I’m happy to report that I’m actively practicing his tips for success and have since maintained a inbox in the single digits. It’s quite the chore, but true to Anderson’s words, the rewards are well worth it. Finally, it was quite a treat checking in with Honeywell Aerospace at their Phoenix HQ to have a look at advanced tech labs. Of course the real treat of that trip was testing the EGPWS by boarding a CV-580 and aiming it at a mountain.
- Mal Muir: My favorite memory of 2014? How can it not be when I married my wife? Who else gets to marry the person they love, inside of a plane? And, for that plane to be the first 747, built in the same city I moved to and where my wife grew up, that is a pretty big moment! Travel-wise I would have to say my first taste of Alaska; that was an eye opener at just how busy the traffic is in and out of that small little airport way up north.
Top 10 Cities and Countries Reading
For 2014, there were only two countries that had no one reading our site. Of course we have North Korea (that makes the list every year), and we also didn’t have anyone from Western Sahara. The country is currently a disputed territory, so I don’t take too much offense to not having anyone reading. Here are the top 10 countries reading AirlineReporter (in order):
- United States (which is 50.3% of our readership), United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Singapore, France, India, and the Netherlands
Looking compared to last year, the newcomer to the list is Malaysia, which is likely related to the accidents that they have experienced, and the country off the list is Japan (which is #12 for 2014). Each year we gain more of a global audience and I wouldn’t be surprised that in 2015 our US readership will drop below 50%. Here are the top 10 cities reading our site this year (again, in order):
- New York, London, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sydney, Chicago, Melbourne, and Toronto
The big thing is Seattle keeps moving down on the list. We are based in Seattle and have many, but not all, of our writers here, but with our growth globally, we are getting more readers outside the Seattle area. Of course I think this is a good thing, but we still do love Seattle — there are so many aviation-related things to do here.
I think another huge accomplishment that everyone has worked towards is the greater acceptance of being an AvGeek. We now have legacy media outlets doing positive stories on AvGeeks and using the term “AvGeek” as well. I hope that our team this next year can do even more outreach to other media sites and show a bit more love to all you wonderful folks!
As we turn into 2015, we now will set back our mileage clock to zero — but that won’t last long. We already have some trips lined up in January and we are sure to add to the mileage counter soon.
I think this is going to be a big transition year of turning this from more of an enthusiast site in to a bigger business and brand. I have some big plans and ideas on how to grow AirlineReporter in 2015, but I would also love to hear from you. Do you have any ideas on how to we can grow or how we can use this brand we have developed to do other things? You can always email me at [email protected]
If you have no thoughts — do not worry. You can always just sit back, relax, and enjoy what we have planned for the new year!
Previous New Years Posts:
- Happy New Year — Airline Reporter 2013 Review
- Happy New Year — A Look Back at 2012
- Happy New Year! A Look Back at 2011 with Top 5′s
- Top 5 of 2010
- My 6 favorite blogs of 2009