Stories by Manu Venkat

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - SAN FRANCISCO, CA. Manu got his private pilot license in high school, setting the tone for his interest in all things aviation. He earned his frequent flyer credentials working as a journalist, and is now a medical resident in New York City. He enjoys writing about air travel from a millennial's perspective.

http://www.airlinereporter.com

I’ve always loved the plane spotting at New York’s JFK International Airport. A lot of America’s other biggest airports are dominated by hub operations from individual airlines, like Delta @ Atlanta, American @ DFW, United at nearby Newark. But JFK feels more like the United Nations of airports, with a variety of airlines from tons of countries. Here’s a quick video of a loop between some of the terminals at JFK.

If you want another way to virtually travel to New York JFK, check out our inside look at the airport’s new and VERY avgeek-friendly TWA Hotel, which we pass by in the video above. The plane spotting from the hotel’s roof is AMAZING.

Air France A380 Close-Up

A little over ten years ago, Air France took delivery of its first Airbus A380 and flew its first commercial service from Paris to New York. Since then, the superjumbo has been the flagship of Air France’s fleet. But ten years is an eternity in the fast-moving airline world, and time takes its toll on hard-working airplanes. Air France originally announced plans to retire its A380 fleet by 2022, but with COVID capacity cuts, the airline just announced yesterday that the plane will be removed from service immediately. So whenever your last flight on an Air France A380 was — if you ever flew it — it was your last.

I had the chance to fly an Air France A380 last year on the same historic route that started its story with Air France: CDG to JFK. I’ve had some good times flying A380s in the past. My very first AirlineReporter story was a Lufthansa A380 trip report. And I got to fly a BA A380 in Club World a few years ago.
But by the time the flight was over, I could see why it was a plane that wasn’t going to be in the fleet for much longer. I did appreciate some things, like the super-smooth takeoff, whisper-quiet ride, and soaking in the spectacular scale of the double-decker. But the AF A380 is a plane that’s stuck in the past, and overall I won’t miss them much as they transition to their well-earned retirement. Whether you’re an A380 fan or a hater, read on for the full scoop.

Al Boraq

Crazy times require crazy measures. There’s only so many stories about airplanes we can write at a time when none of us are actually flying. So how about something completely different?

In last year’s April Fools’ Day post titled “Reporter Empire,” our fearless leader David Parker Brown floated the idea of side projects like TrainReporter, ShipReporter, and CatReporter. Sadly I don’t have a cat. And going on a cruise ship seems like a really bad idea right now. But I did get to ride a pretty cool train a few months ago: Morocco’s new Al Boraq high-speed line — the first-ever bullet train on the African continent.

We never left the ground, but writing this story I was surprised how much my train trip report had in common with our usual flight stories. So choo choo, AvGeeks and TrainGeeks alike! Read on for some thoughts, photos, and videos from my 186-mile-per-hour run on the Al Boraq bullet train.

Air France 777 Business Class Cabin

What’s a French spin on long-haul flying look like? Until a few months ago I had no idea. I’d never flown Air France, their recently-retired millennial spinoff airline Joon, or a French leisure carrier like French Bee or Corsair. For my first flight on a French carrier I opted for the classic, and scored a nice deal with miles on Air France in business class from Sao Paulo to Paris. It would be on a Boeing 777-200ER, a plane well equipped to handle a long-haul flight like mine. The triple-seven isn’t the largest plane in Air France’s fleet (the A380 is) and newer dual-engine long-haul planes like the 787 and A350 get more love and attention nowadays. But Air France has a long proud history with the 777 — they were the launch customer for the 777-300ER — and the 777 is the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet.

In terms of the onboard experience, Air France embraces the stereotype of French style and service. So as I geared up for my flight, I was looking to see if cabin design, dining, and service would do the airline’s home country justice. Did they? Read on to find out!