- Have you seen the April issue of Airline Passenger Experience magazine? Editor Mary Kirby has been hitting it out of the park with great content, with stories on the science of aircraft boarding, the fun of onboard retail therapy and the ongoing debate on paid versus free WiFi. Full disclosure — I have a ball writing a regular column for the magazine (this month, I review the food offerings in JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK Airport).
- Former FlightGlobal reporter Jon Ostrower hit the ground running in his new gig as the aerospace beat reporter for the Wall Street Journal a day early, writing about how tornadoes in Wichita affected aircraft and aerospace manufacturers.
- My flight instructor, Alyssa Miller, has a great job. She spent this week writing for the AOPA Pilot Blog about a major photo shoot of the timed departure of 20 B-25 World War II bombers.
- Was everyone else geeking out over the last “flight” of the space orbiter Discovery as it made its way to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum yesterday? I saw a lot of great photos, but the one shot by Steve Trimble of FlightGlobal (from his office in Old Town Alexandria, Va.) was by far the best I saw.
- I know we all have to get paid, but one has to question the timing of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines. Weeks before the carrier filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection on April 2, its board gave two top executives healthy pay raises even as it was asking for employee paycuts, reports USA Today. Maybe the raises were justified, but the timing was not good.
- I had to take a flight out of my hometown BWI Airport on Saturday at the crack of dawn. I was surprised at how crowded both security checkpoints were in Concourse A. But I saw a small sign posting about a new security line on the baggage claim level. I scooted down, and the line was practically empty. I had a good laugh with four other folks who saw me leave and followed me downstairs. So check and see if your airport has lower level security lines!
I’ll end this rant with the video clip, below. Mary “Runway Girl” Kirby left FlightGlobal in December and Jon “Flightblogger” Ostrower left last week. But I always enjoyed their videos from the major air shows. So enjoy their last one, from the Paris Air Show in 2011.
Now up – some interesting stories from last week’s aviation news, for your reading pleasure. And this is my 200th post! W00T!! Enjoy!
- Did you guys see Jon Ostrower’s coverage of last week’s ANA launch of Boeing 787 service? If you didn’t, check it out here, on his Flightblogger page. He covered this event so closely I was surprised he didn’t actually pilot that Tokyo-Hong Kong flight!
- I’m breaking a little rule with this story, which came from Germany’s Der Spiegel on Oct. 20, entitled “Lufthansa ‘Can No Longer Be Top Dog Everywhere’.” In a long-ranging interview, Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz, whose airline has been on a buying spree in the past 10 years, says that factors are forcing the carrier to focus more on European operations.
- My friend Geoff Fischer has done a fantastic guest post over at Brett Snyder’s Cranky Flier blog entitled “Best. Flight. Ever. First Class on the Cathay Pacific 777-300.” After reading it (and seeing the pictures), I’m ready to book my flight — NOW!
- Jay Evensen, a writer for the editorial board Deseret News, writes about how the Transportation Security Administration’s efforts to scan for guns is lacking in a nation that carries them regularly — even occasionally getting them past airport security checkpoints.
- The AirportIMC blog posts about the social media and branding efforts of Akron-Canton Airport to see if the promise — “a better way to go” — matched the actual experience. Read the post, but writer Sean Broderick says YES!
I’m catching up again with my Airplane Geeks episodes, but I really enjoyed Max Flight’s Episode 169.5, a series of short snippets from the recent 2011 AOPA Aviation Summit. Take the hour to listen — the time really flies by!
We’re closing the book on another week in the wild world of aviation, so let’s go right to my top stories.
- Not to toot my own horn, but I do a post over at AvWeek’s Business Aviation Now blog on what is happening with the Bell-Agusta 609 Tiltrotor aircraft. Back in the 1990s, this aircraft — the civil version of the V22 Osprey — was being touted by partners Bell-Boeing as a potential game changer for commercial aviation. But it hasn’t quite worked that way.
- Flight Global’s Jon Ostrower has a great story on the 10-year anniversary of the never-built Boeing Sonic Cruiser. He writes the plane got caught between the need for “higher, faster, farther” aircraft to those that delivered “faster, better cheaper” results.
- The Wall Street Journal’s Deal Journal blog links to former NetJets Chairman David Sokol’s interview on CNBC the day after he resigned from parent company Berkshire Hathaway. The blog also did a cool recap of Sokol’s CNBC interview as it was happening.
- The Seattle Times writes about how Alaska Airlines apologized and announced plans to compensate passengers whose flights were canceled after a computer outage. And kudos to Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden and Horizon Air President Glenn Johnson for posting an apology video on the carrier’s YouTube channel.
- Farecompare.com’s Rick Seaney uses his ABC News column to offer travelers 10 ways they can win the airline fee wars.
The week would not be complete without “Strange But True Aviation News” from Aviation Week’s Things With Wings blog. And we’ll end with a Pan Am commercial from the 1980s touting its first and Clipper Class cabins. Enjoy!
It was a busy aviation week, with Heli-Expo show in Orlando and Asian Aerospace in Hong Kong, but all of that was dwarfed by the earthquake that struck Japan. So of course, my lead pick for the week will cover that, and there’s more news below.
- The Discovery Channel has some amazing footage and photos of Japan’s Sendai Airport being hit by a tsunami caused by the earthquake. And Aviation Week’s London team handled coverage of this event from the airline side.
- Fred George of Business and Commercial Aviation magazine did a post on the Business Aviation Now blog on how building general aviation airports can spur economic development.
- One of my favorite guest columnists over at the Cranky Flier blog, “The Cardinal,” posts on how San Juan, Puerto Rico, is ripe for a new carrier to serve it and Spirit Airlines would be a good fit.
- The Wall Street Journal’s Middle Seat blog posts about airports chapels, seen as islands of tranquility in a busy facility. My favorite airport churches are: Phoenix Sky Harbor on level 3 of Terminal 4; the chapel at JFK’s Terminal 4; and Our Lady of the Airways Chapel at Boston Logan’s Terminal C.
- It’s a bit late, but Flightblogger did a great Movie Monday post March 7 on a PBS series covering the mystery of Air France Flight 447.
Like the swallows to Capistrano in the spring, Friday is “Strange But True Aviation News” day from AvWeek’s Things With Wings blog. We have a Virgin Blue flight attendant who mistook a toddler for a carry-on bag, a passenger trying out his karate moves on an air marshal and Cindy Lauper’s ability to calm passengers with song. Enjoy, and remember, kids-I can’t make this stuff up!!
Of course, we lead with Strange But True Aviation News over at the Things With Wings blog. Kids, we have TSA body scanner “issues,” an airport worker going for the fences, a major food malfunction on an easyJet flight and the never-ending debate of flight attendants versus passengers. And remember – I can’t make this stuff up!
In other news, my Aviation Week colleague Mike Mecham reports on Boeing’s efforts to find a successor for the 737. AvWeek’s Rupa Haria has some cool video of Korean Air’s Airbus A380 jumbo jet on the Things With Wings blog. And airlines are bringing up the “H” word — hedging — as strife in the Middle East causes oil prices to rise, reports AvWeek’s Darren Shannon.
Queen Elizabeth II needs help cutting the royal travel budget, reports website Monsters and Critics. Her Royal Highness is willing to pay someone up to $120,000 to become Head of Royal Travel’ at Buckingham Palace. Nice work if you can get it — but would YOU want to have to handle travel for the upcoming royal wedding??
The Cranky Flier offers us a cool look at the specs of aircraft painting. The Airplane Geeks continues recommendations for its avgeeks reading list, including four suggestions from me, your Aviation Queen. And Flightblogger posts about how Boeing came up with the unique color scheme for my beloved 747-8i.