En route to Nairobi, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro; sadly, not today – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
As part of a recent trip to Africa, I had to take a commercial flight from Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania) to Nairobi (Kenya). There are essentially two options for this route; either the direct flight with Kenya Airways or via Zanzibar with Precision Air. Normally, I would take the more adventurous option, but as my trip was time-critical, I choseÂ the direct Kenya Airways flight.
As Kenya Airways is part of the SkyTeam alliance, I was able to take advantage of my elite status on the flight. This not only included an additional baggage allowance, but also access to the local lounge (Tanzanite Lounge) in Dar Es Salaam. The lounge access was well worth it, as it was the only room in the whole terminal to be air-conditioned.
Boarding “The Pride of Africa” to Nairobi – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Boarding was on-time and, as expected in true African fashion, was chaotic withÂ no priority boarding enforced. Upon boarding the Embraer E190, I was surprised to find an actual business class cabin in a 1-2 layout. My second surprise came in the form of individual in-seat IFE at every seat, including economy. Whilst the size of the screen was relatively small, the selection of TV programs and movies was more than sufficient for the 90-minuteÂ flight.
Stunning livery – airberlin Saab 2000 operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad Regional – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Recently,Â airberlinÂ commenced flights between Prague and Berlin-Tegel, and I was fortunate enough to be on-boardÂ the inaugural service.
The flights areÂ operated by Darwin Airline/Etihad RegionalÂ using a 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft. Â ItÂ Â was a new type for me having only previously flown on the Saab 340. The Saab 2000 is one of theÂ fastest turboprop aircraft in commercial service, with a maximum cruising speed of 413mph.
I was curious to see what the Etihad RegionalÂ product would be like, and if it would live up to the Etihad mainline economy class experience.
airberlin has scheduled three daily return flights on the route. If we look at the route from a P2P (point-to-point) perspective, three flights is aÂ lot,Â given the numerous train and bus connections linking Berlin and Prague, in about five hours. Â The justification from airberlin for theÂ three flights per day is that Prague-Berlin will act primarily as a feeder service for their mainline European and long-haul international networks. All the flights are time strategically to connect, in particular with long-haul flights New York and Moscow.
JAL Boeing 777-300ER landing in Haneda – Photo: Kentaro IEMOTO | Flickr CC
Recently, I visited Japan for the first time, and thanks to codesharing, my American Airlines ticket was for a flight operated by Japan Airlines. Itâ€™s always fun to try a new airline, and even better, I got an opportunity to fly in their Premium Economy cabin!
There’s my seat, 18A – Photo: Lauren Darnielle
Prior to boarding, I visited the Sakura Lounge at SFO, which is available to those traveling in Premium Economy – a nice benefit. It was pretty small, plain, and crowded, but I did appreciate the chance to have a little something before my flight. It was just after midnight, so at that hour, they had a selection of Japanese and American snacks along with mini sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I had a glass of orange juice, a mini egg salad sandwich, and some rice crackers, which were all tasty, and then headed back to the gate.
The lounge was a bit of a walk from the gate, up an elevator, and down a hallway, but with my very short layover from Seattle, I didnâ€™t want to hang around too long and miss my pre-arranged early boarding.
HC-CJM, a 2010-built A320-214, still in the Aerogal livery on the ramp at SEQM – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Recently, I found myself in Ecuador to go experience endemism in person. If you are not biologically inclined, I am referring to going to the Galapagos archipelago in the Galapagos Province of Ecuador.
I flew into Quito on American Airlines, but because I was part of a group, I was given no choice, or information, on how we were getting to Puerto Baquero Moreno (SCY). If it had been up to me, I’d have flown LAN Ecuador. After all, I am Oneworld Emerald and would’ve loved priority baggage, boarding, lounge access, and whatever else LAN offers Emeralds. Thing is, it wasn’t up to me. We were to fly Avianca Ecuador, operated by Aerogal, not even with seat selection.
Having done my research and spoken to as many frequent-flying locals as I could, I had heard that LAN was head-and-shoulders above both (quasi government owned) TAMÃ‰ and Avianca. Downcast, but excited to visit islands that cause tons of theological contention, I made my way to Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito with a quiet sense of sadness.
“You’re crazy!” That’s the most common reaction I get from non-AvGeeks after describing in detail one of my typical “plane crazy” trips. Unlike a normal person, my travel tends to focus not on the destination, but the journey. That is, the airlines, airplanes, airports, and last but most certainly not least: hap-hazard routing in an effort to add the most diversity to my route map. I just completed one such trip, which I affectionately referred to as my #AirlineSampler.
Planning for this 6k (5,966) mile trek began when I learned United would briefly return a 787 to domestic service.Â What began as a trip to fly on my first 787 quickly escalatedÂ into a cobweb of lines I’d lay across the Great American West (for Missourians, everything west of the arch is west). The trip ended in just under four days, having flown with fiveÂ airlines and visiting eight airports along the way. Better yet, these would be my very first trips with three of the airlines.
A United Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 -Â Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter
The experiences I had over this long weekend were both incredible and eye-opening. I want to have enough “runway” as it were to discuss my thoughts on each of the airlines, so we’ll spread these out across a number of posts. At this point, it’s important to note these reviews will be from the perspective of a frequent flier who purposefully chooses Southwest over the other guys most times.Â I’ve written extensively about my love for Southwest so, for the most part, I’ll leave them out of this seriesÂ which was focused solely on getting out and exploring the what airline diversity remains in the US. For continuity, I’ll note where I used Southwest for re-positioning and leave it at that.