The Pacific Coastal Air Beech 1900D we flew back to Vancouver

The Pacific Coastal Air Beech 1900D we flew back to Vancouver

Why drive hours to Canada just to take two 20 minute flights on a pair of Beechcraft 1900Ds, on two different airlines? Why not?

Back in February, my friend (and sometimes contributor to AirlineReporter) Jason made a visit to Seattle from his home in New York. He stayed with another friend of mine Jeremy (who is pretty much my AvGeek archnemesis and really good friend — it is how I roll). Instead of doing the normal (and boring) touristy stuff, Jeremy had another idea in mind. He wanted to create a fun little AvGeek adventure, taking two different forms of aviation transportation on an amazing day-trip in Canada. I was down.

NERDS! Jeremy and Jason welcome our plane back to YVR.

NERDS! Jeremy and Jason welcome our plane back to YVR.

He ran through different options and landed on taking two small airlines from Vancouver (YVR) to a small town called Campbell River, BC (YBL). I was told what tickets to purchase and what time to be at his house — that is all I needed. With my passport and GlobalEntry card in hand (yay, I actually got to use it for once), I was ready for our little adventure.

Flying from Vancouver (YVR) to Campbell River (YBL) and the star is Seattle – Image: GCMap.com

Saying goodbye to any 747 is hard, but one that is unique, is harder.

Thanks to COVID, the majority of airlines have grounded their four-engine widebody planes. Most A380s, A340s, and 747-8s will see the skies again. But a return to flight isn’t as certain for many 747-400s, which were already long in the tooth.

The same KLM Boeing 747-200 now with a Stretched Upper Deck. Taken in August 2003.

The same KLM Boeing 747-200 now with a Stretched Upper Deck. Taken in August 2003.

The Dutch airline KLM was already working towards a 2021 retirement for its 747-400s, but thanks to COVID the fleet was retired a few weeks ago. And the AvGeek nostalgists that we are, we felt it was a departure worth commemorating. Especially because KLM operated the oddball passenger/freighter hybrid called the Combi, which included a cargo bay in the rear part of the main deck.

Read on for a quick farewell to the KLM Combi and the rest of its proud 747 fleet.

Update 4/18: It looks like KLM has brought back a small number of 747 Combi flights connecting Amsterdam and a few Asian industrial centers. Not sure how long that will last, but we’re happy the Combi has one final job to do with KLM. 

United and Flexport covid collaboration

United and Flexport covid collaboration

In just a few weeks, because of a lethal invisible enemy, all the world’s airlines and aircraft manufacturers have abruptly gone from the best of times to the worst of times. This devastating free fall is the worst in the history of the industry. The culprit, Covid-19, has not only nearly paralyzed the world’s economy but has bought the industry to its knees with a near shutdown situation. Indeed, airlines were the first to be afflicted so severely.

The words “good news” and “aviation” now don’t ever appear in the same sentence or even story. But there is good news to report in this Aviation Airpocalypse. In the spirit of the AirlineReporter brand, we’re going to focus on the positive and in many case life-saving efforts airlines and airframers, are making even as they fight for their own very survival.

The worst of times bring out the best in people. And in this dire time, airlines are no exception. Even with much of the country shut down, airline, airport employees, and many from the supporting industries are classified as essential employees in a necessary business, continuing to provide vital air services: Repatriation and humanitarian flights bringing people home to their own coupled with transporting essential cargo.

They do this while putting themselves at risk of becoming infected by the virus. Many consider them second responders, and due to their medical training some flight and cabin crew have become first responders. For that, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. It’s no exaggeration to call them heroes too, even as they face an uncertain future.

Here’s a roundup of what these companies powered by the human beings who work for them are doing to give back in this global time of war.

And at the end of this story, I let you know how you can also help make a real change!

The nose of our 757 shadowing the engine nacelle as we climbed above the clouds. Heading west from Iceland at 5 p.m., we had sunset conditions for the whole flight

The nose of our 757 shadowing the engine nacelle as we climbed above the clouds. Heading west from Iceland at 5 p.m., we had sunset conditions for the whole flight

þetta reddast is an iconic Icelandic phrase that roughly translates to “it’s all going to work out.” It seems a suitable title for the review, because everything on my economy-class flight on Icelandair worked out very well.

My flight was from Keflavik International Airport (KEF) to Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) in seat 14A aboard TF-FIK, a 20-year-old 757-200 that must have gone through a refurbishment relatively recently, as the interior looked very fresh. The aircraft had originally been built for Iberia back in 2000, and, if you look closely, you can find traces of that heritage — the aft lavatory doors still have their “occupied” signs written in Spanish.

I was headed to Seattle on a Monday evening in February (before the coronavirus became an issue); not exactly prime tourist season, even by busy Icelandic standards. Correspondingly, the flight had quite a few empty seats. Once people finished  shuffling themselves around to sit with their traveling companions, it left me in the fortuitous position of having an entire row to myself, a treat that I haven’t enjoyed in a very long time.

Backing up a bit, though, boarding was fast and easy. It was my third visit to Iceland, and my first time departing from a jet bridge at the terminal instead of being bused to a hardstand – KEF has been busily building out its terminals to add more jet bridges and basic capacity.

It was snowing outside, so even though I was disappointed at the missed photo opportunities you get when boarding from the ramp, it was nice not having to go out in the snow to get on board.

A snowy February afternoon at KEF airport

A snowy February afternoon at KEF airport