I have been running AirlineReporter for over 15 years now and over that time I have been very lucky to experience some pretty rad things and I genuinely treasure all my adventures. Every now and again, someone will ask me which trip was my favorite and often my answers will differ. That said, there are three that consistently stand out. Since I was recently reminiscing about those good times, I figured why not share…
#1 – RWANDAIR’S FIRST 737 DELIVERY FLIGHT (September 2011)
RwandAir’s first Boeing 737-800 sits in a hangar at Boeing Field
During the delivery of RwandAir’s first 737, I remember being out on the flight line in Renton (where all 737s are built) and there were about five for Southwest Airlines. Getting a new 737 for an airline like that is just your typical Tuesday and there is no big fanfare. However, Rwandair’s 737-800 delivery was very different.
Although they already had two 737-500s and some smaller regional aircraft in their fleet, they weren’t purchased new. This 737 wasn’t just something exciting for the airline, but for the entire nation of Rwanda.
There ceremonial keys to the plane (they don’t actually work)
Due to fuel and crew rest requirements, we ended up with a fun flight path. We left Seattle and landed in Iceland to refuel. Then after spending some time on the very cold ramp, we were back in the air to Istanbul where we spent the night. We were hoping to get a feel of the local area, but we were there during Ramadan, so most businesses were closed.
My gate at FLL gave amazing views of my Alaska Airbus A321…. not!
“What the heck is a diagcon look of an Alaska Airlines A321 first class product?” Don’t worry, I will get to that.
I had no expectation that I was going to write this review. I recently flew down to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to hang out with Embraer and they were nice enough to put me in first class. When I was preparing for my flight home (I flew on Delta to FLL), I saw it was on an Alaska Airlines Airbus A321. Sweet. I knew that I would either be flying on one of Virgin America’s old birds with their first class product, or Alaska’s new product win/win. I did my thing and looked up the registration number, found the delivery date of the aircraft, and determined that I was going to be trying out the new product. Heck yea.
The good news and bad news is I just had a really long day, got very little sleep previously, and had just flown across the country the day before. That is bad since I wasn’t really prepared to do this review, but good since what better time to test out a product when you aren’t feeling 100%?
Pretty cool display of the new Alaska Airlines first class seat that I viewed during my previous media trip with them
Previously, I had the chance to fly down to SFO to preview Alaska Airlines’ new first class product on their Airbus A321s. I was only able to sit down in a first class seats for a short amount of time, and obviously media flights like that don’t give you a real experience of how the product compares. Know what does? A six-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Seattle (SEA), that’s what! And looky there, I just recently did flew that diagcon flight.
Follow the signs to the Hugo Junkers Lounge in DUS.
Recently on a oneworld itinerary connecting through Dà¼sseldorf Airport (DUS), I was able to visit the Hugo Junkers Lounge, which is contracted by several airlines to serve their premium passengers. As I said in my review of the Hamburg Airport Lounge, I’m always iffy when it comes to third-party lounges, so I headed up the elevator with cautious optimism.
As a oneworld Sapphire elite member (in my case, Platinum on American Airlines), flying with Oneworld partners grants me access to airport lounges, though with the caveat that lounges operated by third parties may not be available. Fortunately, that restriction wasn’t in place on this trip; previously, flying Air Berlin on my first leg from Hamburg (HAM) to DUS, I was given access to the Hamburg Airport Lounge. My next leg from DUS to London Heathrow (LHR) was on British Airways, which contracts with the Hugo Junkers Lounge operated by DUS, to which I was also granted access thanks to my status.
Wikipedia: Who is Hugo Junkers?
The Hugo Junkers Lounge also contracts with several other airlines departing out of in the Schengen zone (read: mainly any airline not named Lufthansa), as well as a few membership programs. One could also pay €21 for access (credit cards only).
Entrance to the Airport Lounge at Hamburg Airport
I’ve been through many lounges, and a big ’œred flag’ for me is whether I’m about to step foot into a contracted lounge instead of one run by an airline itself. Being a oneworld alliance guy at a non-hub outstation like Hamburg, it could have been like being stranded in a desert, parched and wanting of nourishment. On top of that, I was flying Air Berlin, which isn’t usually among the first three or four airlines one thinks of in terms of quality oneworld lounging. Was I going to have to kill some time [like a savage – too much snark?] or [perusing duty-free items] in the main terminal area, or would I be pleasantly surprised…
London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
I recently had the opportunity to fly both British Airways and Iberia in short-haul economy, and talk about a 180-degree difference, especially striking when both are owned by the same parent company. While short flights don’t generally get much consideration, when one carrier offers so much more than another on the exact same route (namely between London and Madrid) for the exact same price, it’s probably better to go with the airline that will offer more and avoid the one that (spoiler alert) won’t even give you water.