The FINAL Post (6/2)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: I’m dead out of puns…sorry that the last post is punless

In terms of aviation this week, not much happened besides some the first Airbus A321neo flight in the world. The flight was operated by Virgin American and took place on the San Francisco to Washington-National route on Thursday, June 1. This is a major step for Airbus as well as for Virgin American and their parent company, Alaska Airlines.

Another piece of aviation news is that Japan Airlines announced the resumption of flights to Kona Airport at Keahole in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The flight will link the largest city on the island of Hawaii with Tokyo-Narita International Airport with a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. This service is in competition with Hawaiian Airlines who flies from Kona to Tokyo-Haneda Airport.

There was also an incident of a potential kidnapping and/or human trafficking incident on an American Airlines flight, however it has not received much media attention. If reports are true, this a very serious incident that should not ever go unnoticed, otherwise it may cause more attempts at this type of human trafficking.

I am sad to say this will be my final post on the blog as I am moving on to bigger and better things. I have enjoyed writing these posts, but you can continue to follow my aviation writing at airlinegeeks.com.

See ya never again!

A Weekend on Alaska (5/26)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: I’m seriously out of puns…

My attempt at drawing a window to make up for the lack of one provided for me

My attempt at drawing a window to make up for the lack of one provided for me

This weekend I flew down to Orange County in California on Alaska Airlines. The relatively quick flights took place on Saturday morning and Monday night. The flight time is just over two hours with extended block time for delays while on the ground.

On the flight to Santa Ana, my flight departed at 6:20 am which meant a very early morning wake up for me. The trip to the airport was very easy and security took a total of 3 minutes due to TSA PreCheck. Once on board, the flight was very easy, especially due to the fact I had free WiFi for the day, kindly provided by GoGo In-Flight Entertainment. The only issue with the service was that on the first drink run, the cabin crew missed my row completely and we did not get served until the crew made a second round. To make up for this mistake, we were offered free drinks or food, to which I gratefully accepted a nice breakfast. All in all the flight was very easy and up to par with the rest of Alaska’s flights, minus the fact I had no window.

The return was just as easy, with security taking even less time than in Seattle. The only issue was the late arrival time into Seattle, scheduled for 10:05 pm. Due to this late arrival time we were parked at a gate with no jet bridge and deplaned via a single ramp located at the aircraft’s main cabin door. All in all it was a good flight and a good experience on Alaska Airlines.

A:

See ya next week!

New Seattle Area Service (5/19)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: What is one trait pilots must possess?

Alaska Airlines recently announced that they would be starting flights out of a new airport in the greater Seattle area. While the airport itself is not new, commercial passenger service to airport is finally becoming a possibility. Snohomish County Airport, also known as Paine Field is going to open its runways to commercial flights for the first time.

A photo of Paine Field in 2009

A photo of Paine Field in 2009

Although Paine Field is relatively close to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Bellingham International Airport, the introduction of service provides more options for those living to the north of Seattle. Flights are planned to start beginning in 2018, with the ground breaking for the terminal expected to be later this year.

So far, Alaska has said that flights will be operated by Boeing 737s and Embraer 175 jets. It is believed that the airline will have about 9 daily flights once operations commence. There have been no destinations announced, but the airline did say it would be a mix of business and leisure destinations.

This announcement comes as the City of Mukilteo continues its long fight for commercial service, even taking the issue to court on previous cases and having more court cases pending.

One of the biggest arguments against the opening of commercial service is an increase in noise for surrounding areas. While there will be an increase in noise, I do not think that it will be that noticeable, because jets are relatively quiet and Boeing already operates many test flights a each from bigger and louder jets from the same location.

A: A good attitude…

See ya next week!

Aviation Collections (5/12)

Hi all! Iranoutof puns here…

Q: Why do airplanes never prepare for tests?

Aviation memorabilia and collectibles can be hard to come by, just due the sheer rarity and complexity of items from aircraft. Unlike cars, it is hard to build up a collection of full sized airplanes. In this case, many aviation enthusiasts collect scale models of various different aircraft and airlines.

These model collections vary from single models to a vast array of models and sometimes fully “operational” model airports, with buildings included. Gemini Jets and Phoenix Models are the two largest producers of scale models producing a wide variety of aircraft types and airline liveries in 1:200 and 1:400 scales.

Other items that are commonly collected from aircraft are in-flight magazines and safety cards. Although these are not as common to keep as collectibles, there are still significant markets for collectors. While in-flight magazines are freely livable to take off of flights, taking safety cards pushes the limits of what is technically legal.

Although many airlines have safety cards that feature the text “Do not removed from aircraft” many are still taken off, sometimes on accident and other times on purpose, either by collectors or people doing “work” for the collectors. While there is some debate whether this is actually legal, many people have opinions about it. In my own opinion, it is technically a federal crime. As announced on flights, tampering with safety equipment on airlines is a federal crime and can lead to prosecution. Removing safety cards from aircraft can be considered tampering with safety equipment because it give clear and precise instructions on how to handle certain situations. If there is an emergency and the card is not present, it may cause issues for the passenger at that seat. Although I believe it is a crime, I do not think that people that do collect are doing anything wrong…they are simply trying to collect.

A: They prefer to just wing it…

See ya next week!

Airport Overnight Transfers (5/5)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: What was the cost of the space program?

Qatar Airways announced a new upgrade to the travel experience. In an attempt to gain an edge on fellow Middle East carriers, the airline announced they would offer free overnight hotel stays at their Doha hub for airlines with overnight transfers. Although Doha, is not as large of a city as other regional hubs like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this new promotion makes Doha, just as enticing as a city to have a long layover in.

Hotels will only be free for the first night stay, but select hotels have announced they would offer heavy discounts for a second night. These attempts are an effort to increase tourism to the Gulf state. While over 30 million people travel through Hamad International Airport each year, only 30% actually leave the airport and truly enter the country using the free visa that is provided.

First and business class customers will have a selection of top of the line hotels including select five star resorts. Economy class will have options and multiple four star resorts. DSC02024

Another airline that offers “free” transfers at their main hub is Icelandair. They have offered multiple days stays in Iceland for passengers transiting between Europe and the United States. While the hotels offered in Iceland are not necessarily free and they are not the same star rating as those in Qatar, passengers get a chance to experience Iceland, a very beautiful country that not many get to visit.

A: It was astronomical…

See ya next week!

The Market of Flyover States (4/28)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: What is wrong with aviation uniforms?

The Midwest and central mountain regions of the United States are considered flyover states. They originally earned this nickname because planes flying from coast to coast pass right over them without stopping.

Alaska Airlines is the most recent airline to take advantage of these flyover states and the air travel market that they over. In the past two years, Alaska Airlines and their subsidiary SkyWest have opened many new routes from their West Coast hubs of Seattle, Portland and San Diego.DSC01331

Cities that have been added include Kansas City, Omaha, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. In the past, these cities were major connection points for airlines flying cross country. As fuel efficiency of aircraft increases, these cities have lost service as there is not a need for planes to stop to refuel.

Some flyover states are home to major hubs, many of which due to historic ties. Denver International Airport and United Airlines are on example of a hub based in the middle of the United States. United utilizes Denver as a scissor hub, a way for passengers to transfer flights from smaller west coast cities to cities on the east coast and vice versa. This prime location in the center of the country allows for this set-up to work reasonably well, however it has become less viable over the past decade.

American Airlines used to have a major scissor hub in St. Louis, Missouri, but this become very irrelevant and lost the airline a lot of money, following the 9/11 terror attacks. The flights that existed before the shut down of the hub have not come back, much to the disappointment of those wishing to travel to and from the city.

A: They are too plane…

See you next week.

Airlines Pull Out of Cuba (4/21)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: Why do people not understand aviation puns?

There was much hype when airlines began to announce flights to Cuba from the United States. However, now that these flights have started, the hype has died and died quickly.

Spirit Airlines announced last week that they would become the third airline to stop service to Cuba from the United States. They joined Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines as airlines that have axed service. American Airlines also announced that they would be cutting 25 percent of their flights to and from the Island nation.

DSC02249The airlines cited that there was not enough demand coupled with over capacity making flights unprofitable to
operate. Many of the airlines with flights to Cuba rushed to start them, with the granting of authority by the United States, in December of 2016.

As this was an untested and uncharted market, this does not shock me that the airlines are finding the market very hard to be successful in. With a rash of airlines all starting flights at once from the same cities, it is no surprise that the smaller, less powerful airlines are having to pull out after just three and four months.

I predict that this trend will continue as there is not much of a true tourism market in Cuba as of yet. Due to the very recent opening of the border for Americans, there is not the infrastructure in place to draw tourists to the country. Once the tourism market in Cuba kicks off, I can see the air travel market pick back up and see the reintroduction of airlines and routes.

A: They go Wright over their heads…

See ya next week!

Tenerife 40 Year Anniversary (4/7)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: I actually ran out of puns so if y’all could help me out it would be much appreciated

Just over 40 years ago, aviation suffered one of its greatest disasters of all time. March 27, 1977 marks the date of the Tenerife airport disaster. The crash is still the deadliest accident in the history of aviation.

The accident occurred on a very stormy night in the Canary Islands, a territory of Spain, just off the coast of Africa. The two airlines that were involved were Pan Am World Airlines and KLM (the national airline of the Netherlands). Both planes were diverted to Los Rodeos after a bomb threat at Gran Canaria Airport caused the airport to close.

A photo from the wreckage following the crash.

A photo from the wreckage following the crash.

The incident occurred at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife-North) in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Both aircraft were Boeing 747 variants and a total of 583 people died with only a total of 61 people surviving from both planes.

There was very poor weather including serious fog that limited visibility at Los Rodeos. As the KLM jet was taking off, it clipped the top of the Pan Am jet that was taxiing across the airports lone runways. The cause of the crash was determined to be that the KLM pilot took off without Air Traffic Control clearance, although this was due to a miscommunication between the ATC crew and the crew of the KLM jet.

This incident has had a major effect on the aviation industry, especially in the area of communication. Air Traffic Control has since gone to a standard method of communication across the world. The word “takeoff” was almost completely taken out of the air traffic control dialogue following the incident. These changes are still seen today and this crash can still be felt today.

See ya. Next week!

Circular Runways – The Future of Aviation? (3/31)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: What was wrong with the cookies the pilot made?

Recently, there has been proposals for a new type of runways at airports, circular ones. Although, this seems like a good idea, I personally don’t think it will work. There are many reasons why people believe these are good ideas, but I fail to see all of the positives in the proposal.

Full details have not been released, but original designs are proposed to have circular runways within each “aerodome”. This is much different than an average straight runway layout that is seen at every airport. The new layout of airports may save some space compared to the vast expanses that some airports reach, but it will not reduce noise like proposals have stated.

One of the proposed positives of a circular runway is the possibility of multiple planes landing at the exact same time. While this would a major positive, most airports can currently land multiple planes at the same time, just on different runways. The issue with one runway and multiple planes landing at once, is if two planes have a difference in speed. This would potentially lead to more incidents with close calls or just more crashes all together.

Some people that are pushing for circular runways also say it cuts down the need of air traffic controllers as it would allow a controller to only have to watch a single runway. This also seems a little bit silly as it still does not cut down the number of planes that would be moving across the airport. It is very important for planes to be given instructions, but for one person to handle too many aircraft would cause serious issues.

A: They were a little plane…

See ya next week.

Alaska Announces End of Virgin Brand (3/24)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: Why could the police search the plane?

Earlier this week, Alaska Airlines announced that would be dissolving the recently acquired Virgin America brand. The brand logo and livery is expected to be gone from the sky and airports by some point in 2019.

There has been much discussion since Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America, as to what was going to happen to the much loved brand. While this announcement answers some questions about the future of the two airlines, it does leave some unanswered.

The goal of Alaska is to combine the two airlines to be able to compete against the major airlines and try to become the largest and most dominant airline on the west coast of the United States. Currently the two airlines, have large and loyal followings that are currently growing at rapid rates. This is expected to change with a combined airline with major hubs in four major cities on the west coast, including Seattle and San Francisco.

Even with the shutdown of the Virgin brand, aspects will be seen across Alaska Airlines within the near future. Alaska has announced that sometime in the next year, the airline will redo the interior of their cabins to include some features that are very closely associated with Virgin America, such as blue cabin LED lights. Virgin is also known for their in seat entertainment available to all passengers, Alaska also has plans to make this available for all passengers on mobile devices. DSC03290

A: The contraband was in plane sight…(4th Amendment joke)

See ya next week!

Virgin America Expands in San Francisco (3/17)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: Why could the baby understand aviation?

Since their acquisition by Alaska Airlines, Virgin America has seen recent growth out of their largest hub, San Francisco International Airport (SFO). This has lead many people to believe that Alaska Airlines is indirectly “attacking” the largest airline at SFO, United Airlines.

There are 13 new routes out of the two main airports in the California Bay Area. The routes are split between SFO and San Jose International Airport (SJC). The routes will also be split between Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and regional carriers. Officially, Alaska never said the routes would be operated by Virgin America, but they did say the would be flown by the A320 family, which is only currently operated by Virgin America.

The mainline service includes flight from SFO to Philadelphia (Aug. 31), New Orleans (Sep. 21), Nashville (Sep. 5), Indianapolis (Sep. 26), Raleigh-Durham (Oct. 29), Baltimore-Washington (Oct. 16), and Kona, Hawaii (Dec. 14). The airline will also use brand new E175s on routes from SFO to Albuquerque and Kansas City, both starting on September 18. From San Jose, the airline will sart routes to Austin, Tucson, and LosAngeles, all operated by the E175 aircraft.DSC03260

Although the new routes in the Bay Area will not instantly drop fares at the airport, it may cause a slight shift in loyalty, especially from the younger side of the population. While United has a dedicated following due to their hub at SFO, both Virgin and Alaska are known for their futuristic and forward thinking and service on board flights and this draw may lead to a switch in airline preference. Alaska says the biggest reason behind the flights is to provide “convenient, nonstop flights to the places guests fly to most.”

A: It is plane and simple…

See ya next week!

The Art of Plane Spotting (3/10)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Art comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. For aviation geeks, art comes in the form of plane spotting. For those who do not know what plane spotting is, it is simply taking photographs of airplanes, either in the air or on the ground.

DSC01370

A photo from a plane spotting trip at LAX

While some people don’t consider this to be art, most aviation fans consider it to be. There are numerous websites that are dedicated for aviation fans to post and view photos of various aircraft, with photos sometimes receiving tens of thousands of views in under 24 hours.

Not only is it common to see plane spotters at their local airport, it is also common for groups of plane spotters to travel to different airports that are better for plane spotting or offer different perspectives. Some popular travel spots for plane spotters are Dallas-Fort Worth International  Airport (DFW), New York City-John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

Along with just taking photos of the planes, some enthusiasts record all details about each plane that they have photos of. The most important factor for this is the aircraft’s registration. This is basically like the license plate for the airplane can be used to identify almost all information about the airplane. History for the airplane can be found online and some spotters create spreadsheets to keep track of information and keep it very well organized.

Two wrongs do not make a right, but two Wrights make an airplane…

See ya next week!

Quick Hop on Delta (3/3)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

Q: What kind of chocolate do they sell at the airport?

This will be a quick review of a flight that I recently took on Delta Air Lines.

IMG_7743

Photo of the leg room on the flight.

I was flying from Boise International Airport (BOI) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). The ticket was booked on Delta Airlines, and operated by their regional carrier Delta Connection, operated by SkyWest Airlines. The aircraft that operated the flight was an Embraer E175 regional jet, registered N240SY.

Due to a late booking, I was not assigned seat until I arrived in Boise. Upon arrival, I was greeted with my seat assignment, 5D. This seat is considered a Delta Comfort Plus seat, which allows customers to have
extra leg room, which is very much appreciated. However, upon boarding, I was greeted with an even better sight, the first row of Delta Comfort Plus which gives, even more, leg room on top of the extra room.

The flight was originally scheduled to depart at 7:04 pm Mountain Time with a scheduled arrival time in Seattle at 7:44 pm Pacific Time. However, this changed due to weather in Boise. There was blizzard like conditions around the airport which caused all flights to have to be deiced before departing. This slight delay created a slight delay and led to departure to actually be at 7:30 pm Mountain Time. However, the flight still arrived on time in Seattle, landing just a single minute after the scheduled arrival.

The flight itself was very enjoyable and the service was decent as expected on such a short flight. The extra leg room was utilized to its full extent as my legs were very tired after a long ski trip. The orange juice was just like any other juice served on an airplane and was nothing special nor was it bad.

I would fly Delta again on short flights, such as this, especially if I receive extra leg space in the future. The only issue with Delta is the lack of flights offered to some locations compared to their competitors in certain areas.

A: Plane chocolate…

See you next week!

(Ultra) Low Cost Carriers (2/17)

Hi all! Iranoutofpuns here…

When wearing a watch on an airplane, time flies…

As time on has gone, people have looked for cheaper and cheaper ways to travel. This has led to the creation of so called Low Cost Carriers (LCC) and Ultra Low Cost Carriers (ULCC).

This cheap travel revolution started and was help driven by the creation of the world’s largest LCC, Southwest Airlines. The Houston based airline started in 1971, but really started the change the aviation game in the 1990s and 2000s. They started the so called “Southwest Effect” which inspired many Low Cost Carriers to get their start. This occurred not only in the United States but around the world, especially in Europe.

The European Low Cost Carrier model, completely changed aviation travel in what is a competitive market, due to the use of high speed rail. This competition created what are now known as ULCCs. There are three major ULCCs and LCCs in Europe, most notably Ryanair, easyJet, and WizzAir. These airlines started charging for every aspect of the trip, but kept ticket prices extremely low. This idea and business model started working so well in Europe that it made its way back to the United States.

Once the ULCC model reached America, things really took off (pardon the pun). Airlines such as Spirit really started to gain ground and LCCs such as Frontier devolved into a ULCC. This model hasn’t caught on as quickly in parts of the United States due to a different economic climate. In certain areas of the country, the LCCs and ULCCs are very popular and used a lot, but that is not so true for areas like Seattle, which are a little more economically well off.

See ya next week!