Browsing Tag: Veterans

Coinciding with the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, Alaska Airlines has unveiled its newest special livery, a patriotic-themed scheme titled “Honoring Those Who Serve.”

The Oct. 26 event had all the seriousness and dignity of a military function, and attention was called to the airline’s Fallen Soldier Program, which is designed to ensure that a fallen soldier’s remains are treated with respect and dignity while being transported on Alaska’s aircraft. The livery includes a special crest near the rear cargo door that represents the program.

The event was held inside Alaska's huge maintenance hangar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

The event was held inside Alaska’s huge maintenance hangar at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

The brand-new 737-900ER (registration number N265AK) entered revenue service the following day, and will be used across Alaska’s network.

The Snowball Express folks lined up on the tarmac - Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

The Snowball Express folks lined up on the tarmac in Atlanta with some familiar faces – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

The sun had yet to rise over the control tower at New York’s JFK Airport on the cold December morning, but the party at Terminal 8 was already well underway. This was no ordinary day at JFK. For the ninth consecutive year, American Airlines was beginning a long day of charter flights, celebration, and remembrance with the Snowball Express program.

Since 2006, Snowball Express has partnered with American Airlines to provide a weekend of fun for families that have lost a family member in active military duty since September 11, 2001. American Airlines provides the flights from around the country free of charge for all families, and the scope of the operation is absolutely massive.

The New York passengers of Snowball Express pre-flight at the Christmas tree in American's terminal - Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

The New York passengers of Snowball Express pre-flight at the Christmas tree in American’s terminal – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

Throughout the day, flights operate from their origins and converge on Dallas while picking up additional passengers at 62 cities. This year, American utilized ten aircraft to support Snowball Express flights, ranging from regional jets to Boeing 757s and Airbus A321s. In total, over 150 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants donated their time to the charter flights. The Snowball Express operation is larger than that of some entire airlines.

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The Snowball flight out of New York, operated by a Boeing 737-800, made two stops along the way to Dallas – Norfolk, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia. Before departing JFK, the day kicked off with an upbeat party adjacent to the Admirals Club, complete with DJ, photo booth, and emotional support dogs dressed up like Santa. Before long, it was time to depart for Norfolk, but not before a touching send off from the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority Police Department, TSA, and JFK employees. Once on board, however, the real fun began.

The Honor Flight Veterans all gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The Honor Flight Veterans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

Early in the morning, men were arriving at Wisconsin’s Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport. They all had one thing in common; they were heading to Washington D.C. on a very special charter flight.

Each one had been selected by the Northeast Wisconsin Old Glory Honor Flight & Experimental Aviation Association due to their service during the Vietnam War.  The four main armed services (Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines) were represented by the 110 veterans taking the flight.

I was invited to accompany them in order to experience the Honor Flight and to tell their story.