I made up a binder to plan our trip and this was on the cover... it is how I roll!

I made up a binder to plan our trip and this was on the cover… it is how I roll!

The movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is one of my favorite classics. It never gets old watching how a simple trip falls apart into complete chaos. It might have been a bit odd for me to be excited taking a trip using those exact forms for transportation (in the same order, none-the-less), but I was optimistic that our trip would turn out much better. Brittany (my lovely wife) and I were planning to take a plane from Seattle (SEA) to New York (via EWR); a train from New York (NYP) to Jacksonville, FL (JAX); and then a nice little drive down the Florida coast to Vero Beach, FL.

Brittany had never been to New York City and we wanted to visit my dad in Vero Beach. You probably can tell that I love flying, but I was at a place in my life where the idea of flying back and forth across the country twice in a few 737s was not appealing, so I started to get creative.

The outside of an Amtrak car with Viewliner Roomettes - Photo: Amtrak

The outside of an Amtrak car with Viewliner Roomettes – Photo: Amtrak

I realized that for about the same cost to fly from New York down to Florida, we could purchase a Viewliner Roomette on the Amtrak Silver Service. Of course the travel time would be a bit more… but the experience would be very different. Neither of us had traveled overnight on a train and I was stoked about the idea!

Although the train continued farther south, I wanted to round out the experience by de-training (that a thing?) in JAX and renting a car to drive the rest of the way. The drive is only about three hours to our final destination, but we decided to make it a two-day adventure. We wanted to smell the roses and also stay at a hotel right on the water. We had our quest locked in!

Buckle up… it is time to first start the PLANE portion of our journey!

The KLM 747-400 City of Nairobi sitting at the gate in Toronto. A sight that, not long after my flight, was no more - Photo: Matthew Chasmar

The KLM 747-400 City of Nairobi sitting at the gate in Toronto. A sight that, not long after my flight, was no more – Photo: Matthew Chasmar

How does one get to Rwanda, anyways? This is probably not a question many North Americans have asked themselves. But it is one I heard a lot recently, when I had an unprecedented opportunity to travel to the East African country of Rwanda. This was an incredibly unique experience in many ways, and the flights involved were no exception. For this trip, I flew from Toronto to Kigali (Rwanda’s capital city), via Amsterdam on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. This is one of only a handful of options for that particular trip, the others being Brussels and Turkish Airlines. So, this February, I found myself at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, ready to embark on one of the longest series of flights I’ve ever taken.

That's no plane! The first leg of my journey was a train ride into Toronto - Photo: Matthew Chasmar

That’s no plane! The first leg of my journey was a train ride into Toronto – Photo: Matthew Chasmar

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.

We are in unprecedented times, with so many justified emotions and frustrations. What’s happening right now is not okay and should not be tolerated. Out of respect of our current situation, we have decided to pause publishing any new content on AirlineReporter.com for the time being. This will allow us the opportunity to genuinely listen, learn, and grow.

Although we might not have the answers today, we know that we want to be a part of the solution. We want to start looking at how we can help bring more diversity to the AvGeek community, to our stories, and to our writing team. If you have positive ideas on how to make our wonderful community more inclusive, we would love to have a discussion in the comments, or via email. We know that our actions won’t change the world, but hopefully we can do a small part in improving the airline niche that we love so much.

Thank you and stay safe, from the AirlineReporter leadership:

David Parker Brown, Editor-in-Chief
Blaine Nickeson, Managing Editor
Francis Zera, Editor-at-Large
JL Johnson, Managing Correspondent 
Manu Venkat, Senior Correspondant