N863GA, a 26-year young MD-83
Earlier this year, I was excitedÂ to learn Allegiant would be the newest airline to bring service toÂ my home market here in Kansas City, MO. Allegiant wasÂ the last piece of the puzzle to complete the ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC) trifecta. So, naturally I had to be on their very first flight out.
Just last year Spirit inaugurated services at Kansas City International and in the followingÂ months brought with them unprecedented fare disruption across multiple markets. The effects were unlike any I have witnessed in a decade of paying close attention to fare trends in KC. And herein lies the secret with ULCCs; even if passengers never intend to fly with them, they bring normalcy to entire markets with LCCs and even legacies adjusting their own fare structures to keep from losing too much market share.
Inaugural Cake! An A319?
New airline aside, I’m a bit of an inaugural hound. When the day came, I elected to skip the press conference and focus on becoming the first confirmed booking, which I’m proud to announce I accomplished, while the press conference was still going, in fact.
As I tend to do, I booked the outbound leg, makingÂ a mental note to fill in the rest of the details “later” – IÂ wound up scrambling to find a way home. When I realized I was one week from my trip with no way home, I went to my preferred carrier who wanted nearlyÂ $300 one way. This, in contrast to the mere $82 (fare + exit row + carry-on) I paid Allegiant outbound. Reluctantly, I looked elsewhere and found similar prices. I soon realized what began as a one-way experiment with Allegiant would wind up being a round trip with them out of equal parts laziness, frugality, desperation, and curiosity.
Hainan Airlines inaugural of new non-stop service to Shanghai, Gate S1. – Photo: Don WilsonÂ | Port of Seattle
What’s better than one inaugural flight? Two, of course. Recently, Hainan Airlines started service from Shanghai (PVG) to Seattle (SEA) using an Airbus A330-200, and also Beijing to San Jose (SJC) using a Boeing 787-8. We had writers at both eventsÂ to cover the occasion. It might be the same airline, but each of the inaugurals were unique.
Welcoming water cannon salute for the 787 – Photo: Michael Restivo | AirlineReporter
We are going to give youÂ the run down of both inaugurals in one story, leading with Lauren, who was in Seattle, and then Michael, who was in San Jose. Both tell it from their own personal perspective — what was it like for them to attend their first inaugural flight media event?
OneJet’s gate area reminds me a lot of Delta’s new Sky Club onÂ ATL’s F concourse. Check my ride outside the windows: a Hawker 400 – Photo: Dan Phalen
Would you believe me if I told you that for under $300 you could fly aboard a posh executive jet? It’s true, thanks to the folks at the promising new upstart airlineÂ OneJet. Here’s their [very compelling] pitch: DueÂ to airline consolidation and the resulting proliferation of hub-and-spoke networks, business travelers between many medium-sized city pairs are withoutÂ non-stop service. Enter OneJet and their seven-seat Hawker 400s: For slightly more than a two-legged economy ticket with the other guys, passengers can ride direct, in style, aboard a modern lavish business jet.
When I first learned of OneJet viaÂ my friends at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport I was cautiously optimistic. I immediately began researching the company, its leadership, and business model. Far too often in this cutthroat industry with historically razor thin margins, things whichÂ seem too good to be true, simply aren’t. Or at least they don’t last.Â Imagine my surprise when I learned that OneJet has a cast of longtime industry veterans on board as their leadership and advisory team. Big names like Fred Reid, who after being being the president ofÂ Lufthansa went on to lead Delta and later become the first CEO of Virgin America. And not just airline leaders, but governmental leaders as well.
Boarding from the ramp. The carpet was a nice touch – Photo: JL Johnson
John Pistole, former TSA administrator, and John Porcari, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Combine these diverse industry leaders with others, each bringing decades of experience from other airlines, and it’s tough to discount what they are trying to do.Â
OneJet had attracted my attention and I needed to know more. There’s no better way to get to know an airline than to experience it first-hand. TheirÂ inaugural flight between Milwaukee, WI and Pittsburgh, PA was in just one week;Â a few hours later I broke down and bought my $283.10 ticketâ€¦
Air France’s inaugural Paris to Vancouver flight touches down on YVR’s Rwy 08L, just after noon on a rainy Sunday
Câ€™est magnifique! Air Franceâ€™s first flight to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) touched down in aÂ huge spray of waterÂ on a soggyÂ Sunday afternoon. The Boeing 777-200ER landed on YVRâ€™s Runway 08L, after a nearly ten-hour flight from Paris â€“ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
This inaugural flight ran a bit late, arriving at 12:04 PM.Â The normal schedule has Flight AF374 departing CDG at 10:35 AM, arriving YVR at 11:50 AM, the same day. The return flight, Flight AF379, leaves YVR at 1:55 PM, and arrives CDG at 8:35 AM the following morning.
Flags flying from the cockpit, AF374 taxiies to the gate at YVR
After touchdown, the 777 received a special escort by YVR’s emergency services along Taxiway Mike, before having the traditional “new airline water cannon salute” from two fire trucks.Â Mind you, with the monsoon-like rain, it was tough to see the water arch!
Then, with Canadian and French flags flying from the cockpit windows, AF374 taxiied to Gate 65 atÂ YVR’s International Terminal.
Over the Caribbean Sea – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
Thatâ€™s one smallÂ flight for a 737, one giant leap forward for Southwest Airlines and Houston Hobby AirportÂ (HOU).Â In a sign of things to come, Southwest added to its daily Aruba service out of Baltimore and Orlando with a seasonal weekly flight between Houston and Arubaâ€™s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). Last Saturday, I joined Southwest for the inaugural flight between Aruba and Houston.Â This flight was the first international commercial arrival into Hobby airport.
I â™¥ Aruba, the unofficial theme of the island – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
Although Hobby Airport does not have customs and immigration facilities, Southwest is able to operate the flight thanks to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance facility in Aruba, which allows passengers to clear customs and immigration prior to departing for the United States. This October, however, Hobby Airport is scheduled open a new five-gate international terminal, complete with customs and immigration facilities, which will enable Southwest to further add to itsÂ international offerings atÂ Houston.