Category: AirlineReporter David Parker Brown

How to Apply, Interview, and Land An Airline J…

How to Apply, Interview, and Land An Airline Job!:

Taken in Hamburg at Lufthansa Technik. It sort of has that generic “get a job” vibe to it. That’s my balding head chilling on the couch.

I am often asked “How do I get an airline job?”

Luckily, I have some background in this area. I worked as a career counselor at the University of Washington for about five years (go Dawgs), I currently recruit for a $3 billion company in the greater Seattle area, and I have talked to hundreds of airline insiders over the last decade. Through my experiences I have learned a few things (at least I’d like to think so) about getting airline jobs. I also get to see the same mistakes over and over and “omg are you kidding me” over again. I decided to combine my worlds a bit here and give some advice on how to get an airline job (in reality, this advice works for most other jobs as well).

To be clear, these are my personal opinions and thoughts on jobs. Not those of any airline, nor my current or previous employers. These are overarching and for sure will not work for all companies, positions, and people. I like to think I am more right than wrong, but look forward to seeing your ideas and opinions in the comments. I love giving job advice and talking about airlines, so this story could easily go over 10,000 words. Do not worry, I kept it under 2,500 (Editor’s note – it’s 2,566) and I was able to hit all the major pieces.

When looking for a job, always assume that competition will be fierce. Let’s say there are 200 applicants that applied and the hiring manager only wants to phone interview eight. That is not always easy, since there are likely going to be more than eight qualified applicants and 192 people that need to be rejected. This is where small details matter. If a hiring manager has a hard time finding information on your application or you make a few minor errors — you can quickly end up with the 192. Do not be one of them! This is really about quality vs quantity and my advice might be some tough love, but I want you to get that airline job!

Searching for a job is like searching for a matching tug to your plane (I know, that was lame)

Searching for a job is like searching for a matching tug to your plane (I know, that was lame)


There is no magical website to find jobs. And the websites you look at will depend on the type of jobs you are searching. You can use your sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, GlassDoor, etc, for some research, but it is best to create a list and keep track of different airlines’ job webpages. Click through them every few days to see if any new jobs have posted. Many jobs pages will have a way to set up alerts, so when new jobs post, you will be notified — use those.

Be prepared to hear from an employer. I cannot tell you how many people do not have their voicemail set up (you get the “this person’s voicemail box has not been set up”) or don’t listen to their voicemails. If there are other viable applicants, companies aren’t going to spend a lot of time getting a hold of you before moving on to the next person. I probably hate voicemail more than most people I am calling, but if you want the job, you need to be prepared to accept a message from an employer.

Print off (or save to PDF) every job description that you apply to. By the time you get invited for an interview, the chances are the job description has been taken down and you likely won’t remember what the job was and that makes the “why would you make a good fit” question hard to answer.


I am often asked “what’s the best way to improve my chances?” The answer is almost always networking. If you know someone who works at the company (no matter if in a totally different department) reach out to them. See if they know anything about the position, team, or the hiring manager. The hope is they can put in a good word for you. Having a current employee put in a good word is huge for most companies and will increase the chances of getting an interview. If you do not know anyone, then you can use tools, like LinkedIn or Twitter, to find someone. You can even start networking before there is a job for you to apply to; start building that relationship early. The big thing with this is do NOT cross the annoying line. As in pushing too hard, emailing too much. Once you cross that line you go from helping your chances to greatly hurting them.

I have always loved this photo and never really been able to use it, so here it is!


If you have not done this yet, Google your name in quotes (“First Name Last Name”). Most employers, at some point, are going to do the same. Look to see how the public can view your social media presence. Some people don’t take chances and lock down all their social media. That can be smart, however, seeing that you love airlines is a good thing. There is a balance.


Your resume is the key to your success! So so so so many bad resumes. I get they aren’t the easiest thing to do, but there are many free online resources to help. The biggest piece of advice I can give is work backwards from the job advertisement. The airline is telling you what they want. They will typically have job duties, minimum requirements, and desired requirements. A recruiter is going to spend only a matter of seconds (literally seconds) taking a first look at your details. If they don’t find key words on the top half of the resume — off the “no” pile you might go.

For most jobs, keep it simple. Black and white, bullets, third person, prove to me you can do my job and do it well. Using fancy formats, adding color, doing crazy designs, or trying to go creative can end up annoying the recruiter. You want to avoid annoying the recruiter. Unless you are applying to a marketing position, keep it simple.


The resume shows that you have the skillsets to do the job. The cover letter lets you share your passion for wanting to do the job and work for the airline. Make sure it is answering “What are your best skillsets and why do you want to work for my airline and in aviation?” Often times this is your first impression, make it count!

Take the time to make a custom cover letter each time. I know, it is time consuming and annoying (hey, I hate taking my own advice), but recruiters can tell when you are taking the same cover letter, for every job, at different places and just changing the job title and company name. And let me tell you that when you accidentally forget to change the company name, you aren’t starting off on the right foot!

Know your audience. The tone of your cover letter (and really interview, too) should be geared towards the company’s culture. A cover letter to a fun-loving airline like Southwest should be different than one to the more conservative and more luxury-focused Singapore Airlines. I would love to see how swapping those two would work out (don’t try it please).

Spell check! I am shocked… SHOCKED how much bad grammar I see. I am not even talking advanced stuff here. Not capitalizing an “i” or writing to me like you are Snapchatting isn’t going to make you friends. This isn’t just your resumes and cover letters, but emails to the company as well. Have others read your resume and cover letter before you submit them. Not only can they edit the grammar, but maybe they will think of other things you can add.

Be mindful that the interview rooms might have a distracting view.

Be mindful that the interview rooms might have a distracting view


All your hard work paid off and now you have an interview. This is where you really need to start prepping hard. If you have an interview, they are saying they feel you can do this job; now you need to show you are a good fit, and reaffirm your abilities.

You are going to be nervous. If you aren’t nervous, then you are making me nervous. I love job interviews. I enjoy being on the spot, thinking through the answers, reading the room, and trying to make some short-term connections. I know I am not what you would call “normal” (probably why I am a recruiter), but even I am nervous each time I go into one. That is a normal feeling and don’t let it discourage you too much. I have seen too many people sort of give up thinking they were giving poor answers, where in reality they were doing great. And most hiring managers are going to understand you are going to be nervous. One way to help is practice. OMG practice.

I don’t care how prepared you think you are or how well you have done in previous interviews, you need to practice pretty much non-stop until go time. Head to and look up the company. There is an interview section that people will share what the interviews look like and the questions you might be asked. Google interview questions — it is likely most of the questions you will be asked are behavioral-based (“tell us a time when…”). You know they are going to ask why you want this job and/or to work for the company. This seems easy, but so many people mess this one up.

Look at the job description (that you hopefully printed and saved) and practice talking about how your skills match what they are looking for. Have family/friends ask you questions and give feedback. Video record and watch yourself (I know, I know, but you want this job right?).

A big plane, carrying big career opportunities

A big plane, carrying big career opportunities

Okay, now that I just worked you all up, take a deep breath and make sure you do not overdo it. I don’t want you sounding like a robot just repeating memorized answers. I like to memorize bullet points of situations that can be used to answer different questions.

Suit it up. I don’t care what the dress code is at the company. Unless they specifically tell you not to wear a suit, wear a suit. (Okay maybe with Southwest you could get away with shorts and a suit top — man I would love to see someone try that). If you do not have a suit, it is well worth the investment. Many stores offer pretty cheap suits, and totally it’s okay heading to the local thrift shop. In the end, if your budget is too tight, then dress as nice as you can, ironing your clothes, and shining those shoes.

The day of your interview, leave early enough that your car can break down, you can catch a cab, and still make it on time. I like to leave so I will be to the parking lot about an hour early. But do not go in to the lobby until you hit 15 min early. It is really hard recovering being late to an interview.  Start smiling from the second you leave your house. Someone cuts you off, smile and do nothing. When you arrive, hold open doors and elevators for everyone (hopefully you are doing this anyway). Treat everyone at the company with the respect that they deserve. Anyone could be interviewing you or give feedback.

Leave your phone in the car. Leave your phone in the car. Leave your phone in the car. Oh, did I mention, leave your phone in the car?

At the end, they are likely going to ask if you have any questions. Yes. Always have questions. The best questions are ones that will show you have done your research “With your recent merger with Westcoast Airlines, how is their reservation system going to integrate into yours?” Obviously make it job specific. Also good to ask what their expected timeline is for hiring, make sure to mark that down. Please don’t ask “what is the typical day?” It is asked way too much, there is no typical day, and you should have a pretty good idea, since you applied to the job.

Welcome on board to a new career!


Sometimes your interview will be with one person, other times a group. If it makes sense, ask for business cards or at least have the contact for the main person. After the interview is over, send a thank you note via email. Totally great if you can work in something from the interview into your note. Now, if you want to go pro, bring a few paper thank you cards with you. Fill them out in the lobby (or away where they can’t see you), then you can give them to the front desk staff. “But David, no one does paper thank you cards anymore.” You are right. So if you do them, you stand out.

Earlier you asked when they hope to make offers. I would suggest if you have not heard anything in a day or two after that date, then do a quick follow up. In the end, if you get rejected, it is okay to ask for feedback. Most companies have policies to give limited (or no) feedback, but you might get a nice nugget of information to use next time.

Now, if you get the job: party time — you have earned it!!!


Applying over and over and getting rejected over and over sucks. But you have to keep trying to smile and keep going. Often when people get frustrated they go into the numbers game. Which is just applying to as many jobs as they can and hoping for the best. That might work, but you will likely end up with a job you aren’t happy with and even more frustrated than if you still didn’t have a job. Instead, try doubling down on the networking and spending more time on the application.

I worked with a student years ago who came in depressed. She said she applied to almost 200 jobs and had one interview that didn’t go well (I thought she was exaggerating, but turned out it was like 185 jobs). She was using the same cover letter (just updating the company) and resume, not following up, and not networking. After a few weeks of working with her, she was getting multiple interviews and it only took about three months to get a job she was super excited about. I have seen this sort of result happen over and over again for more than a decade. Like most things, the harder you work at it, the better results you will see. Oh yes, there can be lots of luck involved in job hunting (like who your competition might be), but why not increase your odds? In the end, all you need is one interview and one job offer.

I know these are just my ideas and I would love to hear what you think in the comments. What has (or has not) worked for you?

The post How to Apply, Interview, and Land An Airline Job! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

April 27, 2018 at 05:22PM Source:

Last Day to Win Two Free Airline Tickets

Last Day to Win Two Free Airline Tickets:

Fly time on Allegiant Air!

As I post this, no one has guessed the exact answer that could win you two free tickets (aka $400 in vouchers) on Allegiant Air. If you haven’t put your guess in yet, head on over to the original story and guess! I think it’s a pretty good AvGeek question that requires a bit of research. People are guessing close, but no one has it yet. The best part is that the closest answer will win. I was sort of fearing that someone would guess it on day one, but I am very happy to see that the answer is not readily out there.

We will be closing the contest at 5:00pm PDT today (Monday, March 12th), so do not delay! Good luck. (I am closing the comments on this story, so there is no confusion on where to put your answer)

The post Last Day to Win Two Free Airline Tickets appeared first on AirlineReporter.

March 12, 2018 at 04:19PM Source:

Win Allegiant Air Tickets & Fly to Somewhere W…

Win Allegiant Air Tickets & Fly to Somewhere Warm!:

An Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 - Photo: Tomas Del Coro | FlickrCC

An Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83 – Photo: Tomas Del Coro | FlickrCC

I have always loved Allegiant. How can you dislike an airline that has no qualms with being an ultra-low-cost carrier? They can get you from point A to point B for cheap. Often point B is a pretty sunny place that you want to go to and relax, so it makes it all that much better. They also serve many small airports that have no other service. Not to mention they are still rocking the maddog MD-80 (although fly on them soon — they are expecting to be rid of them by the end of this year).

I’m chatting about them today, as we have two tickets on hand that we want to give away to our readers (that’s you). There aren’t too many restrictions for the tickets and it isn’t hard to get signed up. Keep reading to find out how to get a good summer trip planned.


Here is what you need to answer: How many departures did Allegiant have out of Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) in 2017? Put your guess in the comments and the person with the closest answer wins. No Price is Right rules here, so going over is okay. If we end up with more than one person with the right answer, the first who guessed will win.

Not required, but it would be cool if you are also following us on Twitter and our Instagram accounts. While you are at it, be sure to follow @Allegiant. Without them, this would be a contest for a blank piece of paper. A huge thank you to Allegiant!

When filling out your comment, make sure to use a valid email address. I will not be doing anything with that address other than emailing the winner (and you will get comment notifications unless you unchecked the box). Only one comment per person. If you cheat (I have my ways), then you are banned from the contest and I might publicly shame you (Editor’s note – we endorse this). The contest will be closed at 8pm Pacific time on Monday, March 12th. I will lock down the comments, update the story with the answer, and let the celebration begin (well, at least for one person and their guest). Please only guess if you are pretty darn certain you can use these tickets — I don’t want them to go to waste.

Allegiant's route map out of Orlando (SFB)

Allegiant’s route map out of Orlando (SFB)


I have two $200 vouchers (so $400 total) that you can use to have a good time flying on Allegiant. You win, I will email those to you and you need to book and travel by October 2, 2018. Since Allegiant worked so hard creating the small print on the bottom of their vouchers, I am going to just copy and paste:

This roundtrip ticket is in the form of a $200 voucher and must be used towards airfare or air + hotel packages booked by Allegiant and may be applied to convenience fees, baggage fees and taxes. Vouchers only valid when redeemed online at or through the Reservation Center, at 702-505-8888. Voucher is not redeemable for cash and is valid toward one transaction; no change or credit will be issued and not valid towards any onboard purchases. Allegiant reserves the right to cancel, alter routes/times or suspend air service without notice. Not all air service is year round, so some destinations may not be available at time of booking. Voucher must be redeemed by October 2, 2018, and travel must be completed by October 2, 2018. Lost or stolen vouchers will not be replaced, and expiration date cannot be extended.

If you win, it would be cool to send over some pictures of whatever adventure you end up on. Good luck!

The post Win Allegiant Air Tickets & Fly to Somewhere Warm! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

March 05, 2018 at 05:22PM Source:

Unveiling the Boeing 737 MAX 7: The Runt of th…

Unveiling the Boeing 737 MAX 7: The Runt of the Family:

Mini-max 7!

Mini-max 7!

“Who cares?”

I knew I would hear that from observers when covering the unveiling of the first Boeing 737 MAX 7 in Renton, WA this week. I get it. Sure, the MAX 7 is the runt of the MAX family, but often runts can grow up and do amazing things, like going fast.

This is going to be one fast plane to fly. The entire MAX family, from 10 down to 7 will have the same CFM LEAP 1-B engines. With the 7 being the smallest and lightest, I am sure it will become a favorite to fly for pilots. Of course being fun to fly isn’t really a great business case for airlines, and so far they haven’t bought many.

Where the entire MAX family has accumulated over 4,300 orders, from 93 customers from around the world, the MAX 7 has only 63 of those orders from four customers in the U.S. and Canada (Southwest has dibs on 30, WestJet has 23, Canada Jetlines has five and ILFC has the final five). Is there a bright future for this airplane? Personally, I hope so.

The aircraft almost blends into the gray Seattle skies.

The aircraft almost blends into the gray Seattle skies

Let’s dive a bit more into Southwest’s relationship with the plane. As they currently operate about 500 737-700s, I would think they are an obvious 7 customer. Sure, Southwest is moving more towards the MAX 8, but those orders won’t cover the 737-700s that will need replacing in the upcoming years.

Even for the 30 7s that they have on order, they won’t be taking delivery for a while. They plan to take their first one in 2019, then six more soon after, but the other 23 have already been deferred to 2023.  Talk about an un-luved runt. I wanted to learn a bit more how the 7 will fit into their future plans and they replied with the following:

“We remain excited to take delivery of our first Boeing MAX 7 in 2019 as planned. We did recently align the MAX 8s and the MAX 7s delivery schedules to match our expected growth while also better aligning the delivery of the MAX 7 for the time period when we expect to have more 737-700 retirements. Configured with 150 seats and all the Customer comforts and operational efficiencies of the 737 MAX family, we expect the MAX 7 will be a good fit for our fleet and network strategy. We’ll be incorporating the first seven MAX 7s into our fleet in 2019 to begin experiencing the expected operating benefits.”

The nose of the first 737 MAX 7 at the Renton Boeing factory

The nose of the first 737 MAX 7 at the Renton Boeing factory

So why is Boeing moving forward with the 7 MAX, without much love? Well, they are hoping that once it gets into service and airlines can see the benefits that the aircraft offers, customers will come flocking.

Maybe, but I think I remember similar sentiments with the 747-8I and we know how that turned out (if you don’t know, sadly not well). Also, there will be some tight competition for customers. Of course you have the recently famous BombardiAirbus CSeries, which doesn’t directly compete, but obviously close enough that it has caused Boeing to worry.

The more direct competitor is the Airbus A319neo, and according to Boeing, the MAX 7 will “fly 400 nautical miles farther than the A319neo, on 7 percent lower operating costs per seat.” I always take these statements with a huge grain of salt, since the MAX 7 hasn’t flown yet and the A319neo hasn’t yet been delivered to a customer.

So there might not be much business love for the 7 right now, but there was sure a lot of love by the employees who help to build the aircraft. The media was able to arrive early to get photos, before Boeing had some employees come out to see their plane. They were excited. Really excited. I mean, these were the people who see these planes day in and day out. Yet, here they were taking selfies and photos of themselves in front of their creation — it was very cool. Number of orders didn’t mean squat — they were proud of their mini-MAX.

I got to ride a scissor lift to take this photo. That was pretty rad (and a little scary)

I got to ride a scissor lift to take this photo. That was pretty rad (and a little scary).

Do not get me wrong. I have a love for this plane. Just the fact that it is a runt with not many orders makes me want to love it more. Not to mention that you will see all the excited AvGeeks getting the chance to ride on one of just a few 737 MAX 7s flying around North America.

The bad news is it will be a while before we can fly on one. The first MAX 7 will start test flights here soon and then will be delivered sometime in 2019. The good news is that leaves additional time for some airlines to pick one of these up.

You can also see some additional photos on our Flickr page

The post Unveiling the Boeing 737 MAX 7: The Runt of the Family appeared first on AirlineReporter.

February 06, 2018 at 07:03PM Source:

Emotionally Statistic: Looking Back at 2017 & …

Emotionally Statistic: Looking Back at 2017 & the Last Decade:

A cargo pallet is lowered away from the opened nose of an SIA Cargo 744F.

A cargo pallet is lowered away from the opened nose of an SIA Cargo 744F.

I know, I know… everyone and their mom does “year-end review” stories. I am adding one more. Really, this is more for me and our team to look back to see what and how we did for the year. While I am at it, I might as well share, right?

This was the first full year where I sort of half-assed it. Probably not the right word to use, but I am going with it. July 2018 will mark the 10th year I have been running this site. A decade. For many of those years we published one story per weekday, week after week. That takes quite a bit of time. Even just editing and formatting another person’s story can take hours. And all those emails — they never stop.

I was driven by passion and love of airplanes. I also was hoping to make this a full-time business. In 2016, I was given the opportunity to try to make that happen and I hated it. I started to lose the love for the site and that wasn’t cool. So, I decided to get a job that I love and turn AR back into a hobby. This was the right call — I am happier now than I have been in a long time.

We flew over 317,000 miles for 2017! Image:

Of course there have been consequences. We have moved from a very consistent five stories per week to one, two, maybe three. I think there was one or two weeks with zero.  I wish we could have daily content — I love reading our stories myself. However, the time commitment wasn’t sustainable, and that’s okay.

The number of stories might be down, but I don’t think we have half-assed the quality of our content. I am really proud of our stories and what we have been able to accomplish this year. I feel so grateful to have so many amazingly talented and passionate folks that have been able to share their experiences on AR.

Of course it is nicer when we write stories and people are there to read them. As expected, our traffic is down compared to previous years, but not as much as I thought. We still had over 3 million visitors to the site in 2017 and we’ve grown to over 100,000 Twitter followers. A huge thank you for sticking around with us, and hello to our new friends!

Alright, let’s move a bit away from the emotional stuff and let’s get into some stats (hey, we have something for everyone here).

I always enjoy seeing where our readers are located. We are still strong in the US, but the percentage of our readers from different countries is growing, which is pretty cool. Here are the top ten countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, Singapore, France, Netherlands, and Japan.

Breaking it down to cities, the top 10 are: New York, Boston, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Sydney, Washington DC, and Houston. Looking at the top 50 list, you will also find Seattle area cities like Everett and Renton. I am sure it helps that a few of us are based in Seattle and we cover Boeing and Alaska Airlines quite a bit. Sadly Toulouse is #162, Mobile is #536, yet Hamburg is #50. Looks like we need to get some more Airbus readers — we love you guys too! .

An ATA American Trans L1011 Tristar 50 - Photo: Ken Fielding
The classic black nose cap on the retro livery - Photo: Lufthansa


Here are the most read stories in 2017, that were also written in 2017:

  1. Rare Lockheed L-1011 returns to the skies once more (JL Johnson) – never underestimate the power of the tri-holer. Especially one that is flying!
  2. Living Dream – Flying in seat 1A on a Boeing 747 (Manu Venkat) – if you don’t want to go re-read the story, at least scroll down on this story and watch the video
  3. Lucky! Flying Aer Lingus Business Class on an A330 (Jason Rabinowitz)
  4. Flying in business class, on the upper deck of a Korean Air A380 (Kevin Horn)
  5. Queen of the Skies review: Flying upstairs on the Lufthansa 747-8I (JL Johnson)
  6. Taking a VIP Polaris flight on United’s first 777-300ER (me)
  7. Drama with a Qatar Airways Boeing 747-8F delivery (me)
  8. Exploring Kansas City International’s Shuttered Terminal A (JL Johnson) – I am so happy to see this story make it on this list. Such a fun and unique angle on an airport that normally wouldn’t get the love that it deserves.
  9. Flying business class on a Singapore Airline 777-300ER (Ken Hoke)
  10. Flying salmon marks the retirement of the Alaska Airlines 737 Combi (me) – so sad that there are no more Alaska Airlines 737 Combis flying anymore

Air France's Premium Economy seats on the Airbus A380. Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Okay. The livery doesn't look half bad in the sunset - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren |

Mockup of how the Meridians will appear on the MAX 8 aircraft. Photo: Southwest Airlines


These stories were read the most in 2017, yet they were written before 2017. I think that makes sense…

  1. How to get a good seat on Southwest (2011) – SHOCKER. Every year, this is our most popular story.
  2. Flight review of Air France A380 in premium economy (2015)
  3. Inside different crew rest areas (2014) – So many different news outlets asked if they could use our photos for their own stories on this one.
  4. Flying China Eastern’s new 777-300ER (2016)
  5. Why do some airlines have row 13 and some do not (2009) – Wow, this is an old one and haven’t seen it in a really long time. This was the first time I felt like a big boy blogger because I reached out to many different airlines to know if they have a 13th row.

A Qatar Airways Boeing 777 in Doha
Etihad unveils their new livery on a Boeing 787-9
Allegiant retired their last 757 this year :(
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A-321 wearing the Bare Fare livery at TPA. Photo- JL Johnson | AirlineReporter


Never done this before and not quite sure why (maybe I have and I cannot remember). My first “story” posted on July 23, 2008 and these are the most read since then. There are some familiar ones seen on the list above:

  1. How to get a good seat on Southwest (2011) – I wasn’t lying, this is always a top read story. It has 20% more views than the #2 story. Sure hope there are lots of people out there getting great seats on Southwest and if so, you are welcome!
  2. Covering the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (2014) – Never a good feeling getting traffic because of a crash.
  3. Following the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 (2014)
  4. Etihad economy class review (2014)
  5. How different airlines boarded (2013) – Whoa. Kinda disturbing this is so much read, it is almost five years old and horribly outdated. We should probably do a new version, huh?
  6. Inside crew rest areas (2014)
  7. Flying Allegiant for the first time (2010) – There are 163 comments on this story. Many sharing their own (not all positive) experiences.
  8. Detailing the hijacking of Ethiopian flight 702 (2014)
  9. Flying the Spirit Bare Fare for science (2016) – I love this story and it nails who we are so well. Also the most recently written story on this list. FOR SCIENCE!
  10. Comparing the Qatar Airways 777 and 787 (2013)

Elephants walk around inside the factory - Photo: The Boeing Company
Palletized freight is loaded aboard an Icelandair Cargo 757-200F at Keflavik International Airport.
Precision is the name of the game.


We don’t go writing stories trying to get traffic. We write what interests us, and luckily, most times those are the same things that interest you. Other times our stories might be too specialized or outside the airline realm too much and won’t make it on any top traffic lists. Here are some stories that I really enjoyed this year that didn’t make any top lists:

  • Crop dusting by Francis Zera: This is my favorite story on AR for 2017. That says a lot. The photos, the planes, and the people. It not only captures a passion for flying but I also learned a lot about the crop dusting business. (also, before publishing, I realized how the title of this bullet could be read in a childish manner. Heh, I am not changing it. Sorry Francis)
  • Elephants in the Boeing factory by me: I know this story is recent, but the traffic on it stinks like elephant dung. Whatever… I still think it is a cool story. Maybe the traffic will come in 2018 or maybe it will never be loved. Either way, I enjoyed writing it and learning about that darn circus!
  • Flying on a C-130 by David Lynn: I have been wanting a story like this for so long. Comparing flying military vs commercial and this story nailed it.
  • Cargo in Iceland by Francis Zera: Words? Who cares… look at those photos! Francis is amazing with the camera and did a great job covering cargo operations at Iceland’s Keflavik’s airport.
  • How low cost carriers saved my relationship by Kevin Horn: Where also are you going to see that story title like that? We love ultra low cost carriers for a number of reasons (even when they might suck), but this is such a real world example in how they can change a person’s life.

Flying off into the sunset. Or sitting at a gate during sunset.


I would love to make grand promises of our growth and more stories for 2018, but I can’t. It is what it is. I can tell you that we are going to continue to have a good time. Share when we have a good story and hold back when we don’t. We might try a few new things and I might become a bit more snarky in my old age. I think that is a good thing :).

Really, I want people to feel that they can share their passion for aviation on AirlineReporter. That can mean a number of different things. For many, it is just knowing there are others out there, like you, who love planes. Many of you will leave comments talking about your own stories or interact with our story. We really do love your comments and we look forward to them (even yours Cook).

Even some of you reach out asking if you can share your story on the site. I would love that. We just need people who can write well (I don’t have much time for editing), have some good photos, and brownie points if you know how to use WordPress. If interested, shoot me an email at with some ideas. Almost every single writer has started with an email and now we have flown over 2.1 million miles. Not going to lie, that is pretty impressive!

Cheers to all of you and hope that 2018 is going to be a great one for the airline business, AirlineReporter, and for your travels!

The post Emotionally Statistic: Looking Back at 2017 & the Last Decade appeared first on AirlineReporter.

January 02, 2018 at 04:33PM Source:

When Circus Elephants Roamed the Boeing Factor…

When Circus Elephants Roamed the Boeing Factory Floor!:

Elephants walk around inside the factory - Photo: The Boeing Company

Elephants walk around inside the factory – Photo: The Boeing Company

During the Boeing 737 Renton Factory tour at Aviation Geek Fest this year, I thought I heard the tour guide say something about elephants walking the factory floor. Wait… what? I wasn’t sure if I heard it right, or if maybe he was having some fun with the guests. I mean, I have been in the factory many times, done a few stories, but elephants had never come up. I also know that the Boeing tour guides are super knowledgeable and he mostly likely wasn’t lying. So I decided to reach out to Boeing Historian Michael Lombardi and, sure enough, the circus did come to town! Kind of — way back in the 1940s.

The factory while being used as a storage facility for US Navy seaplanes, mostly Consolidated PBYs and Martin PBMs - Photo: The Boeing Company

The factory while being used as a storage facility for US Navy seaplanes, mostly Consolidated PBYs and Martin PBMs – Photo: The Boeing Company

It was 1947 and World War II had ended two years earlier. During the war, the factory produced 1,119 B-29 Superfortresses, but production stopped in May of 1946. The facility was owned by the U.S. government and at that point was mostly just a huge storage unit that sat unused. That is until the circus needed a winter home.

Boeing KC-97s under production in the late 1940s at Renton. The 377 Stratocruiser airliners were built at Boeing’s Plant 2 near Boeing Field. Image Courtesy: Boeing
At the height of production, B-29s for the Air Force were assembled on 4 lines at Renton. Image courtesy: Boeing

After the 1947 tour of The Sparks Circus, they had planned to transport everything back down to Florida for the winter, but ran into some financial issues. This was a legit operation and not easy to transport. They had 10 railcars worth of equipment (including one for “two dens of 13 cats for Damoo Dohtre’s act” and another for “bibles and planks”), and plenty of animals (including two elephants, horses, dogs, monkeys, bulls, and likely more). Not to mention all the fun oddities that might blur the lines of man and animal that were seen at shows like these at the time (aka the freaks). They needed a home to store everything and prep/train for the next season.  What better place than a large, unused hangar?

Mr. Lombardi shared a Boeing news release that was sent out at the time with some of the photos included in this story:

“Two circus elephants take a morning stroll down the walk in front of their new ‘big top,’ the former Boeing Aircraft Company B-29 assembly plant at Renton, Wash. Bigger than any three-ringer in history, the war plant produced 1,119 of the 2,766 Boeing-built Superforts, but is now used only as a warehouse. Sparks Circus, renting the space from the War Assets Administration, will use it as winter quarters, their ten flatcars of equipment stacked among surplus Army material, old B-29 tools and fixtures, and Navy planes in storage. Circus animals will be shipped to Florida.”

The circus comes to town during the winter of 1947 - Photo: The Boeing Company

The circus comes to town during the winter of 1947 – Photo: The Boeing Company

1947 was not a great year for the Sparks Circus. It was the first year that they used rail cars to take their show to new destinations farther north and west. It didn’t pay off and they lost a lot of money. Over the winter, it became clear that there wouldn’t be a “next season” and The Sparks Circus was no more. Much of the equipment and animals were leased, so they were re-possessed, sold, or returned. Soon, all that was left out front was one single circus wagon, waiting to be picked up (and my guess some hay scattered around).

Side note: Man, there is so much great stuff about historical circuses out there and I almost got lost in my readings. We AvGeeks think we might be cool tracking airplanes, but there is a website that tracks historical circus wagons! Sparks wagon #132 was the one left behind waiting for a new home (which it got). 

The predecessor to the Boeing 707, the famous 367-80, rolled out at Renton on May 15, 1954. It was the only one built; and is narrower then a 707. This is the very aircraft that famed Boeing test pilot Alvin “Tex” Johnston barrel rolled in front of a demo to Boeing customers over Lake Washington in 1955. On May 26, 1972 Boeing donated the Dash 80 to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which had designated it one of the 12 most significant aircraft of all time. For the next 18 years the aircraft was stored at a “desert boneyard” in Arizona before being retrieved by Boeing in 1990 for restoration, though it was used for some flight testing sporadically during that time. The Dash 80′s final flight was to Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. on August 27, 2003. it is now on display in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Image courtesy: Boeing
From 1970, this is the first 737 to be produced at Renton. After 271 Boeing 737s were produced at the Boeing Field factory, production of Boeing’s small twin switched over to Renton, joining 727s and 707s at the site. Image courtesy: Boeing
727 Renton Flightline in 1966 - Photo: Boeing

Shortly after the circus left town, Boeing came back in 1948 to start building the C-97 Stratofreighter in Renton. This was just the first of other historical aircraft including every Boeing 707, 727, 737, and 757 that was built at the Renton factory. It actually wasn’t until 1962 that the facility became Boeing’s. Before then it was still owned by the government and called Air Force Plant 20 (that is almost as creative as the Advance Technology Winglet’s name).

Sure, the Sparks Circus had a huge tent, over 20 displays, and was widely popular (in 1946 anyhow). However, I would have been more than willing to spend my money just to see an elephant walking around with airplanes and their spare parts. Now, that would be a 737 experience to the MAX!

The post When Circus Elephants Roamed the Boeing Factory Floor! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

December 19, 2017 at 11:24PM Source:

Mixed Emotions Flying on the Final United 747 …

Mixed Emotions Flying on the Final United 747 Flight:

The last United Boeing 747 sitting at SFO

The last United Boeing 747 sitting at SFO – registration N118UA

It is okay to get emotional over an airplane. That is what I kept telling myself anyhow as I experienced United’s final 747 flight recently. I was sad that this was going to be a huge milestone for the retirement of Boeing 747 passenger service. I was also happy and excited to be a part of this historic event. Turns out I was going to be able to experience a few firsts and quite a few lasts on my journey. This was to be my first time flying on a United 747 and this was also going to be my first time flying backwards.

At one point I was asked something along the lines of, “There is one other U.S. airline (Delta) that is still flying the aircraft, not to mention British Airways and others. Why is this such a big deal?” At first, I almost felt insulted, but then I realized that from a non-AvGeek perspective, why make a big deal about this plane, with this airline?

First off, I think it is like visiting a really good friend or family member you don’t get to see very often and it is hard to say goodbye. You start out saying “well, I guess I better get going,” and three hours later you aren’t quite out the door yet and still sharing stories of good times before finally parting ways. This was the first goodbye stage between me and the 747.

My Boeing 757-300 at Seattle - Photo: David Parker Brown

My super long Boeing 757-300 at Seattle – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

My trip started very early in order to catch my 5:00am flight from Seattle to San Francisco. I had a Boeing 757-300 at the gate and I love that aircraft. Not only because it is a bit of cool and awkward (being so long), but with that much capacity, it was just 50% full, so I ended up with my own row. This turned out to be my only United flight over the next two days that would depart with no issues, and on time.

I arrived to SFO about an hour before the gate party started. I went to get some food and walked around before heading back to the gate to see some familiar faces. I feel like a broken record saying this in so many of my stories, but these sorts of events are so great because of the people. After doing this gig for almost a decade, I start to see the same faces at these events and it is great to catch up. Then I get to meet new people (including some of you readers), and talk about airplanes. What’s not to love?

There were a variety of visuals at the gate to take pictures with and even eat. So I was glad that I got there early, as the gate area filled up quickly. Passengers ranged from media to those who used miles, won an auction, or bought legit tickets during the very short time tickets for this flight were actually for sale.

It was a good group and many were dressed up in either Hawaiian or 70s-themed dress. Normally I am down, but with my SEA-SFO-HNL-SFO-SEA trip over a 27-hour period, I just sort of wanted to be in normal clothes. However, at this point I wish I would have gone more with “you only live once.”

Soon it was time to board our Boeing 747-400. This was the last 747 in United’s fleet and held the registration N118UA. It was built in 1999 and flew only for United during its entire career. It really didn’t feel that old, and the 757 I flew to SFO seemed in worse shape.

The energy was amazing as people got on board, chatted, and started to settle in. I was in seat 6D, which was in the center section, on the aisle, and facing backwards. Sitting in the inside section made looking out the windows difficult, but it did allow me to watch all the people watching outside, which is its own sort of special.

As we were almost lined up for takeoff, we were told we would have a delay. Turns out one of the three air conditioning packs were bad and we needed to be towed to the hangar. I was actually pretty excited. I had never been towed on a plane into a maintenance hangar and I had an eight hour layover in Honolulu, so I had time. The good/bad news was they were able to get it resolved while still on the taxiway and we lifted off just a bit behind schedule.

I wasn’t sure what to expect sitting backwards during takeoff, but it was for sure different. I used my legs to keep me in the seat and more of my abs to keep my back to the seat. A nice little workout. I enjoyed it for the sake of being new, but after that, probably prefer sitting forward.

The crappiest part of being in the middle was when we flew right by the Golden Gate bridge. However, I was on the correct side of the plane and I could watch it via the phone held by the guy at the window. It was still beyond cool being there and I had a better view than the people at the windows on the other side of the plane.

United went all-out on this thing. On top of everything else, all passengers got a special menu made just for this flight. The food choices were pretty tasty on the inside, but the drawing of the 747-400 on the back cover, with the special livery, made me smile.

The food was delicious. It did help that we had United’s executive chef Gerry Gulli onboard. I was also super excited to have ice cream at 35,000 feet and it was going above and beyond to have sundaes (with a cool dry ice visual) being built right in front of me.

The seat was amazing. Not in a sort of “best product” sort of amazing, but more of a “don’t throw away my favorite recliner I have had for the last 25 years” sort of amazing. It was so comfortable and the 2-4-2 layout wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But of course I was up walking around socializing most of the flight and not using the seat.

One of the pilots and me hanging in the flight deck in Honolulu.

One of the pilots and me hanging in the flight deck in Honolulu

The flight was too short and soon we started our descent. We first did a little tour around the islands (which wasn’t so great in the center again) before landing. As people started to de-plane, I asked if I could make my way to the flight deck and they were happy to allow me to do so. The pilot I spoke with after the flight said he would be transitioning to flying the 757. He has a few more years until retirement and wanted to be closer to his family in Denver. Totally makes sense, but still hard leave flying the Jumbo Jet.

Saw this on the upper deck!

As I was heading back down to the main deck, I noticed one of the windows had red in it. At the time, I had no idea what was going on. It wasn’t until I got off the plane, and looked out the window that I realized what it was.

Even the 747 got a lei!

There was a large party at the gate to greet the final 747 flight, but I was sort of partied out and sleepy. I was trying to find some cell signal or wifi in the terminal to share photos, but it was worse than the service at 30,000 feet in the air.

Watching United’s final 747 being towed

I soon made my way to the United lounge and as I started to process my photos, I noticed a few guys heading towards the windows. The 747 was being towed across the airport to an employee party in the hangar — with the lei still on. By the time I arrived home (after taking a 777-200 to SFO and A319 to SEA), I had been awake for 29 of the last 30 hours – and it was totally worth it.

This plane is more than a plane. It brings up emotions and memories for people.

A Northwest Boeing 747-200 – Photo: Dean Morley | FlickrCC

I remember my first flight on a 747 quite well. I was about six years old and this was my first unaccompanied flight. I was leaving from Seattle and heading to visit my uncle in Minneapolis, and the aircraft that was going to take me there was a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-200. My mother was able to walk me on and take me to my seat. I was so excited. But then when she left, the reality sunk in, and I started crying. The flight attendant knew how excited I was, so in an attempt to entertain me, she asked if I wanted to see the first class cabin in the nose. I sure did. The cabin was almost empty and I ended up talking with a nice man, who happened to be blind.

He ended up asking the flight attendant if it would be okay if I could sit next to him during the flight and she said it was no problem (in retrospect, I think he sort of wanted the company, too). That was my first time sitting in the nose of a 747, and I wouldn’t be able to do it again for another 30 years or so.

It is interesting because I don’t really have stories like that for any other aircraft type. None that make me feel the emotion that the 747 does. I would love for you to share your 747 memories in the comments!

Note: United provided the 747 and positing flights for us to cover this story, however all opinions are our own. 

See more photos on our Flickr page!

The post Mixed Emotions Flying on the Final United 747 Flight appeared first on AirlineReporter.

November 22, 2017 at 04:30PM Source:

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