Stories by John Nguyen

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - LOS ANGELES, CA. With LAX serving as a second home, John enjoys being confined to an aluminum (or now carbon composite) cylinder jetting through the air miles above the terra firma. He has logged millions of miles in such conditions and enjoyed it 99% of the time. Email: You can also read more about John's non-AVGeek musings on his personal blog, VNAFlyer.
American's satellite terminal (affectionately known as the "Eagle's Nest") for regional flights at LAX.

On May 16, American unveiled a series of operational and visual updates at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in an attempt to better streamline passenger flow and optimize capacity ahead of the summer travel season. From gate renumbering to new signage, the changes were implemented overnight, in time for the busy Monday morning rush. While […]

Gategroup's "food hall" demonstration exhibit at WTCE 2016.

In conjunction with the Airline Interiors Expo last month, the World Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) was also co-located in Hamburg, Germany… talk about a week of #PaxEx (passenger experience)! WTCE brought together vendors who showcased the best of their food and drink, wares, and concepts, all in the name of passenger comfort and meeting customers” demands (of course, by that we mean the airlines as customers). Everything from futuristic catering systems to plastic spoons and condiments, we take a look at some highlights and personal favorites.

WTCE Highlights: Automated Beverage Cart by SkyTender

One of the coolest and game-changing technologies at WTCE was an advanced beverage cart that recently received FAA certification. SkyTender has a pop-up fountain that automatically dispenses a pre-set amount of the selected beverage at the touch of a button. The cart uses tanks of purified water in a closed-loop system to mix and create up to ten different beverages, hot or cold, still or carbonated from a CO2 tank.

Each cart holds enough water to make up to 250 beverages, and can be easily replenished in-flight by the crew from additional storage carts. On a single charge of its swappable battery, the cart can dispense 2,000 beverages or more.

The SkyTender setup itself weighs just under 45kg (100lbs), while in comparison a standard, fully-loaded beverage cart weighs around 98kg (more than 215lbs). Beyond its own weight savings, the system is designed to reduce over-catering, which improves operating efficiency by reducing product waste decreasing fuel burn due to additional weight. An onboard computer not only manages its primary function of dispensing tasty drinks, but also collect data on how the drinks are dispensed, giving the airline insight as to which beverages are popular… and which are not.

The only waste produced by the SkyTender cart are empty drink syrup boxes, which are collapsible and recyclable. Consolidating beverage service into SkyTender frees up space in the galley by both reducing the number of carts and eliminating redundant systems such as the coffee maker, saving further weight and fuel burn, simplifying maintenance, and allowing for additional ancillary revenue by having space for other carts, such as duty free or buy-on-board.

LAX at sunset.

I would be willing to wager that most of the traveling public simply buys whatever airfare suits them best to get from Point A to Point B, and probably back to Point A. Whether it be the ever-popular nonstop, the obvious geographic connection, the shortest connecting time, and/or simply the lowest price, most people don’t really think outside the box when it comes to booking tickets. The carriers rely on the fact that customers will simply select from among the first few options they see when booking online; as such, there have been PR battles and even lawsuits over what order online travel booking sites list certain fares and airlines.

What you may not know is that fare rules (you know, those long-winded, multi-page things full of legal mumbo-jumbo you never read before clicking the box saying you agree to them and purchasing the ticket) many times have built-in flexibility that’s just waiting to be utilized for maximum effect, even on the cheapest fares…

The view of LAX's Theme Building from the Terminal 2 atrium.

A couple of weeks ago, I was one of the first to report on the opening of the new Connector facility between Terminal 4 (T4) and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). While this is exciting news in my world, I will admit that sometimes I forget that not everyone is a frequent-flying fanatic or even an #AvGeek. So here I am, to make the case to the everyday person on the street on just why the new T4 Connector is so monumental to the improvement to the passenger experience at LAX.

A bit overly dramatic? You be the judge…