Category: AirlineReporter David Parker Brown

Is the SFO Water Bottle Ban the Right Move?

Is the SFO Water Bottle Ban the Right Move?:

A SFO-branded reusable water bottle.

A SFO-branded reusable water bottle. This is probably a good enough reason to never use a plastic water bottle again. – Photo: AirlineReporter

First off, let’s be clear, I like the environment and want to not only do my part to make sure we have a nice little planet to live on, but also to motivate others. However, the plastic water bottle sales ban at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), taking effect on August 20th, got me thinking. Do these sorts of changes work as well in a “trapped” world, like an airport? I say that since people in an airport do not have as much choice… they mostly can only pick among the options given to them on the airside (after security).

Over the years, airports have grown the choices airside by leaps and bounds. Heck, many airports are more like shopping malls than an airports. But in the end, you are limited. If your local grocery store decides to no longer sell a product and it is super important to you… cool, just go down the street to the next one. At the airport, that is going to be a bit more of an ordeal.

My paper straw that I got to try while flying through SFO last - Photo: David Parker Brown

My paper straw that I got to try while flying through SFO last time – Photo: David Parker Brown

I will say that I was shocked by some of the numbers. On average, SFO sells about 10,000 plastic water bottles per day, and that equals 3,650,000 per year. No question that is A LOT of plastic and even if they are all recycled (saying they are being recycled), it is not a good thing for the environment. It actually makes me pretty sad so many people do not bring their own reusable bottles (my fiancé brings one for both of us and is always reminding me to hydrate). Conversely, that high number of bottles also shows there is A LOT of demand from people to drink water in plastic bottles. Is it fair to require passengers to use other options?

Sure, sure, getting a reusable plastic bottle is not that much to ask, and the airport is providing some other good options, including water in other packaging (like aluminum and glass). But how expensive will those be and how will that impact a family of four on a fixed budget? Will passengers accept the change? Should there be some line of convenience vs doing what’s right, and is this new policy crossing it? Honestly, I don’t know the answers. But let me share with you some of my thoughts and I hope that we have a good conversation in the comments…

Terminal 3 food court - Photo: SFO

Terminal 3 food court – Photo: SFO

First, here is the official write up from the airport:

Airport tenants, vendors, and permittees may not provide or sell bottled water in containers that contain plastic or aseptic paper packaging, including in vending machines. Reusable water bottles, recyclable aluminum, glass and certified compostable water bottles can instead be provided or sold.

Bottled water is defined as drinking water in a sealed box, bag, can, bottle, or other container intended primarily for single-service use and having a capacity of one liter or less.  Drinking water includes purified water, mineral water, carbonated or sparkling water, and electrolyte-enhanced water.

SFO offers plenty of hydration stations - Image: SFO

SFO offers plenty of hydration stations – Image: SFO

SFO has been making positive strides forward with going green this year, and a big cheers to them. Back in March, they started encouraging vendors to use reusable food service ware, and can only give customers one-use items if they are certified compostable (i.e. made with paper, wood, or bamboo). During my recent flight through SFO, I was able to try out some of these and I will say I am not a huge fan of using a paper straw. I actually rather use no straw vs paper, and I guess that is probably the point! I do not think it is that much of a sacrifice for the greater good and I am guessing that most passengers will not even notice or care.

Approved water options that vendors can use after the ban goes into effect - Image: SFO

Approved water options that vendors can use after the ban goes into effect – Image: SFO

I will say when I was first looking into this, I wasn’t the biggest fan. People are going to notice the change and might care about 10,000 times per day. However, after seeing that SFO is not planning to leave passengers high and dry (man, I love puns), this might not be that bad of a transition and maybe they can pull it off without frustrating too many people. The list above are all the approved water products that vendors can offer — and there are a lot. You will see that they are either made of aluminum or glass. The airport also offers plenty of hydration stations (ie places where you can fill up your own bottle quickly), but hopefully there will be enough with the increased demand. 

Maybe part of my hesitation is just being a grumpy old man saying “get off my lawn” (at the age of 38) and having a hard time with change. I am not trying to be that person. I really hope that this ends up working and makes a positive impact with the reduction of plastic. I just know that flying is a pretty stressful experience for most people (even AvGeeks) and trying to get water shouldn’t add to the stress. At the same time, the vendors will also need to make sure the new options remain cost effective. I was told that if the water bottle change is successful, the airport will be looking to also replace other drinks in plastic bottles like soda, teas, and juices (saying options for those products in different containers improve). I truly hope this transition is a success and can spread to other airports. Until then, I will optimistically watch from the sidelines.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this will make too much of a negative impact for travelers or is this all worth the sacrifice for Mother Earth? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

The post Is the SFO Water Bottle Ban the Right Move? appeared first on AirlineReporter.

August 15, 2019 at 08:56PM Source:

What’s So Special About the Airbus A330-900neo…

What’s So Special About the Airbus A330-900neo? Touring One of Delta’s to Find Out!:

Delta Airbus A330neo

I am pretty sure that there is more to the A330neo than just those raccoon eyes!

Timing can be a magical thing. I was just talking to my pal Jason Rabinowitz about airplanes (we do this often) and I was asking why the Airbus A330neo was such a big deal. I actually tracked down our high-end chat:

Me: “Why do we care so much about the A330neo? Just b/c that is all we have right now to celebrate?”
Jason: “It new. And it all we got.”

Some eye candy to get you to keep reading and/or looking at the pics.

Some eye candy to get you to keep reading and/or looking at the pics

Don’t get me wrong. I have still been excited watching the new A330 go into service, but it doesn’t match the excitement of the 787 Dreamliner, 747 Intercontinental, or A350 XWB.

The day after my award-winning chat with Jason, I received an invite from Delta Air Lines to come check out one of their new Airbus A330-900neos at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Perfect.

Here is a Delta Airbus A330-300 that my pal Jason Rabinowitz took.

Here is a Delta Airbus A330-300 that my pal Jason Rabinowitz took. I didn’t ask him if I could use it, but he doesn’t read AirlineReporter anyhow, so it is cool.

The A330 has been a great international workhorse for airlines, but I have never gone out of my way to fly on one (okay, maybe domestically on Hawaiian once). “What’s the aircraft flying my route? An A330? OMG YES I LOVE THAT PLANE,” said no one ever.

Of course most passengers aren’t as concerned with the type of plane they are flying (yes, I know it is shocking to think there are people like that out there), but they are more concerned with the product. Although Delta has been upgrading the interiors of their 777s to the newest product, the A330neo is the first type that has the newest product coming from the factory. I hadn’t seen the updated interior yet, and even though this was going to be a short visit with the plane on the ground, I still excited to have an opportunity to get onto a plane!

My cool Delta day pass for SEA.

My cool Delta day pass for SEA. I shared this on Twitter and I am pretty sure no one could mess up my access, but just in case, I marked out the Record Location number.


I always love an airline event that doesn’t require me to get up at 3:00am. With this one, I just needed to be at the Delta counter at 10:30am and get my day pass, which of course is going into my AvGeek collection. You still get to go through security and it prompts fun questions from the TSA agents. “Uh, I am going to look at an airplane, but not fly anywhere, don’t worry, it is totally legit” (pretty close to my actual convo).

Needless to say, I made it through (otherwise this would be a very different story), and we headed to the buses to ride out to our A330-900neo, which was located next to Delta’s maintenance facility at the south side of the airport.

Bonus: Delta Boeing 717
Others thought this was the VIP plane

After de-busing (that is a thing), we walked through a hangar and saw a Delta Boeing 717. A few of us geeked out a bit. The funny part is one of the cameramen (not an AvGeek) started setting up his camera and a Delta employee was asking if they were going to push in the stairs for us to go in. Since a few of us AvGeek media types got so worked up over the plane, they thought this must have been the plane we were all there for. Nope. It just takes a long time to get AvGeeks to move through any airport facility. #sorrynotsorry

Hello A330neo!

Hello A330neo!


As we walked up to the back of the A330neo, I was super excited to hear the APU going. Why? Because it was a really odd weather combo in Seattle: rain, sun, heatt, and humidity! It felt more like Atlanta than Seattle.

Most times when I am touring an aircraft like this, I first head to the back, and then make my way forward. This was no different! Here we go…

First stop was the galley in the rear of the aircraft. It was quite large. The plane we were on was being prepped to fly a scheduled passenger flight, so soon there was going to be plenty of food and drink.

I will mention again that we didn’t have a heck of a lot of time to tour the plane. Part of it was we spent a lot of time outside the plane (taking photos of the A330neo and of course that 717), and this plane needed to be prepped for people who mattered – customers. I really didn’t get to try out much of the product; I just sat, played a bit, asked a few questions, took a few photos, and kept on moving forward (I didn’t want to miss out on seeing the flight deck).

For cost comparisons that you will see below, I looked at some one-way fares from Seattle to Shanghai on the Delta Airbus A330-900neo between now and the end of the year. With the product really impressing me, I wanted to see how much it would actually cost to fly, so I figured I would share the numbers. I averaged those costs to give a basic comparison, but obviously check yourself before packing your bags!

The lighting felt very "Boeing Sky Interior"
From the back of the Airbus
Won't be as pretty when it fills with passengers.
Stuff like this makes me so giddy.
As comfy as economy gets today.

DELTA MAIN CABIN (aka economy)

Next was the economy section, or as Delta calls it “Main Cabin.” This is the place where the majority of passengers will fly… and honestly that is not a bad thing. The inflight entertainment (IFE) screens were large, and reacted quickly to my input. The seats were comfy for my quick sit, but probably not as comfy after a 10-hour flight. Of course with the A330, best to try and get one of the two seats on the edge because sitting in the middle, of the middle, with strangers will make your flight feel even longer. Not wanting to spend too much time in Delta Main Cabin, I kept moving forward.

Average Delta Main Cabin A330-900neo cost flight: $435

DELTA COMFORT+ (aka “premium” economy)

The next product forward is Delta Comfort+. This is really your standard economy seat, with some additional legroom. You also get a fun little extra pocket on the seat back, and a red swath on your seat. I will admit that the addition of red in the cabin actually adds a bit of class.

Also, it’s a good time to mention that the aircraft has air vents!!! I love this. Too few international aircraft have them and as a guy who normally runs hotter, I like having some control of my temperature.

Average Delta Comfort+ A330-900neo cost flight: $485
compare that to $435 in Main Cabin

Hmm. Okay. So only $100 more for a round-trip ticket in Comfort+, I might actually be interested in that.

Delta Premium Select Seat

Delta Premium Select Seat

Nice coloring with the Delta Premium Select product
Check out that sweet wide armrest.
Ample width and leg room
Premium Select IFE & seat controls

Delta Premium Select (aka domestic first)

Now we are talking! The Delta Premium Select seat is where I started perking up. I rarely pay extra for more legroom. It just doesn’t seem like a good purchase, even at 6’1″. What I do find helpful is width, especially at 250lbs. The Delta Premium Select product is the seat that took most of my time (even more than Delta One)… and that is a good thing.

The seat really felt like an updated and upgraded domestic first class seat. You have a better IFE screen, seat controls, and the ability to recline. With a 2-3-2 layout vs the 2-4-2 layout in the back of the (air)bus, that extra width really makes a difference.

Average Delta Premium Select A330-900neo flight cost: $600
compare that to $435 in Main Cabin and $485 in Comfort+

Dang. Now, I don’t have lot of extra money to spend on airfare, but $330 more for a round trip ticket in Premium Select vs Main Cabin might be worth it. Or at least paying $165 coming back home (so I can sleep before going back to work).

Delta One (aka business class)

You have arrived. Delta One is the best of the best from Delta and that is saying something. I appreciate that every “window” seat actually gets easy access to the window – not always the case with today’s business “suites” – and those in the middle of the cabin can easily put down a wall to chat with their seat mate, or put it up and stay private. You have the most room, best controls, lie-flat seat, and even a little slider door to up your privacy level.

Average Delta One A330-900neo flight cost: $3350
compare that to $435 in Main Cabin, $485 in Comfort+, and $600 in Premium Select

Hot damn that is a lot of money (but actually not a bad deal compared to other business class products)! But often it makes sense for passengers (or businesses) to shell out the money or miles to fly in Delta’s best product. Based on the extra cost, I think it makes Delta Premium Select even a better deal!

Best seat in the house... err plane!

Best seat in the house… err plane!

Airbus A330-900neo Flightdeck (aw yea!!!)

Had to make it to the very front of the plane, and I did! I was only able to chat with a Delta pilot for a small amount of time before I was given the bad news that our time on the plane was coming to an end.

Final Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-900neo Thoughts

After getting back to the terminal, we headed on over to the Delta lounge at the airport. I had never been and it was a nice place to sit down, talk airplanes, and think a bit about the A330neo. I was impressed. I think the first time that I fly on a Delta A330-900neo will be the first time I am legitimately excited to fly on an Airbus A330, and maybe (just maybe) I can say that the airline/aircraft combos has become one of my favorites. Maybe.

The post What’s So Special About the Airbus A330-900neo? Touring One of Delta’s to Find Out! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

August 07, 2019 at 07:47PM Source:

Seattle Folks: Come Party With TPG and AvGeeks…

Seattle Folks: Come Party With TPG and AvGeeks on July 30th!:

Come to look at the planes, stay to have a good time! Photo: Sean O'Neill | FlickrCC

Come to look at the planes, stay to have a good time at the Museum of Flight! Photo: Sean O’Neill | FlickrCC

If you live in the Seattle area, you like airplanes, and you enjoy getting together with other like-minded people, please keep on reading. On July 30th, our friends at The Points Guy will be at the Museum of Flight to host a special aviation-themed event — and you should join!

What will happen at the event? Fun games, aviation-related presentations, travel discussions, a little Q&A, and the best part is talking to other AvGeeks! (there will also be some food and drinks).

You will need a ticket, but we might be able to help with that. We were kindly given a few free tickets to give away to our readers.

The details & how to get your ticket:

What: Exclusive TPG Aviation Event
When: July 30th from 7pm to 9pm
Where: Museum of Flight in Seattle
Why: Because
How to get ticket: First make sure you can attend — wouldn’t want the ticket to go to waste. Then email me at with “TPG” in the subject line. You can request two tickets, so you can bring a friend!

Hope to see you there (I will be there, along with a few other AirlineReporter writers)!

The post Seattle Folks: Come Party With TPG and AvGeeks on July 30th! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

July 23, 2019 at 05:43AM Source:

Here We Go Again! It’s Server Time.

Here We Go Again! It’s Server Time.:

I am now emotionally ready to try this again — we are going to be moving AirlineReporter to new servers. Last time, things didn’t go so well (I think I used “dumpster fire” to describe it), and hoping that things go better this time.

This means the site might be down here and there and I am not going to be posting any new content until we are all good to go!

Fingers crossed…

The post Here We Go Again! It’s Server Time. appeared first on AirlineReporter.

June 11, 2019 at 01:28AM Source:

Flying Fish Are Still Cool, Blaine!

Flying Fish Are Still Cool, Blaine!:

Alaska Air captain raises the lucky (or unlucky) Copper River Salmon

“This story again? It feels like Groundhog Day,” Blaine Nickeson, AirlineReporter’s Associate Editor (and my good friend) said to me via email when I forwarded the fact that I was going to cover the arrival of the first Copper River Salmon for the eighth year in a row. He just doesn’t get it. Maybe you don’t either, but I am going to try to explain why I look forward to getting up at 3:30am to welcome some fish to Seattle.

Sure, sure, over the eight years the event has been pretty much the same (although this year was the most different). Historically, a bunch of folks show up at Alaska Cargo at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, wait for the first Copper River salmon catch of the year to arrive from Alaska, and then have a cook off in the parking lot between three legit Seattle chefs. This year was different because there was no cook off. I will say that I did miss being able to try the salmon, but really the cook off part of the event was just filler and the real excitement was waiting for the plane to arrive.

Beacon on! The Salmon-30-Salmon.

No question the best year was when I was able to fly up to Cordova, Alaska (on a milk run, in a 737 Combi), watch the fishing boats go out, see the “winning” fish be chosen, fly to Seattle with the said fish to the welcome crowd, and then eat the fish after it was cooked up by three fancy chefs. I think that experience really helps me better appreciate what it takes to get from ocean to tummy (like farm to table, but better).

Even with this year having no flight north and no fancy chefs, it was still awesome and I love going. When I reached out to Francis (who writes for us and is an amazing photographer) to see if he wanted to go with me, he was more than excited to come. Upon seeing Blaine’s anti-fish comments, Francis replied “for some reason I can’t stay away, either.” Blaine was hoping for a different angle for this year’s story… I think I found one my friend, but not sure how you are going to feel about it!

The tower and media waiting for the plane… in the rain

First off, this is not really just about the fish. Don’t get me wrong, Copper River salmon is delicious. I know some of you will comment each year that it is just marketing hype and nothing special, but I am not so sure about that.

For me, it is almost magical to think that family fishermen went out just hours before to the sea to catch fish, they are processed, put into the belly of an airplane, and then in your belly. I think the fact that the delicious cargo comes from a small town in Alaska (Cordova), which relies on air cargo for its economy, makes it all that much more special. If the plane was just flying in widgets from Omaha, that for sure wouldn’t be worth getting up at 3:30am.

Another reason why I love this event are the people. Each year I see some of the same folks from Alaska and other media outlets. Heck, it was even a nice excuse to hang out with Francis. I email and edit the stories of our writers, but I don’t get to see them too often in person.

Of course I also look for any excuse to put on one of those orange vests. Not just because I look so darn good in neon orange (doesn’t everyone?), but also it means we get to go somewhere cool!

The best part of the yearly event is being escorted out to the Alaska Air Cargo ramp and wait for the plane to arrive. Some years it has been a combi, others a cargo plane, but this year, it was something very special — the Salmon-30-Salmon. How meta to be delivering a salmon in a salmon.

It doesn’t matter how many times you see a person roll out a red carpet for a fish, it never gets old. Then the pilot raises the first fish of the season over their head. It is just the first of many. Heck, that day alone, 18,000 lbs of Copper River salmon was flown to Seattle (some staying, many continuing on to other destinations) and last year, Alaska flew  a whopping 14million lbs of seafood altogether. To be honest, I am not even that much of a seafood fan, but I just love being a part of something so huge.

And if all of that is not good enough for you, Blaine, how about the fact that this gave me the PERFECT opportunity to wear my fish socks. My mom got them for me for Christmas (don’t judge me or my mom please and thanks) and I really haven’t had the right occasion to wear them. I think they might be trout and not salmon, but who really cares?

In the end Blaine, I think you are right to compare this event to Groundhog Day. Maybe you didn’t notice, but that movie has an 8.0 rating on IMDB, it is ranked #34 by the American Film Institute of the top 100 funniest American comedies, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave it the award in 1994 for Best Original Screenplay. They just don’t give those awards out to anyone! Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Phil the groundhog stole our hearts, just like this event seems to steal mine every year (okay, I might be going a bit too far here).

To tell you the truth, I think Blaine is just jealous. That is okay, who doesn’t get a little fish envy every once in a while? Do not worry, my friend, maybe we can try to work it for you to attend next year and you can see first-hand why this event means to much! Then afterwards, we can go out to a nice restaurant and have some Copper River salmon. My treat. Wait, how much does it cost per pound? Hmm, maybe we can split a plate. But it is totally worth it!

I found this photo of Blaine enjoying a Copper River Salmon a few years back. Just proves my jealousy theory.

Editor’s Note (a.k.a. Blaine): I’ve edited the same fishy story for years and years. Maybe it is because of jealousy from the delicious pink fish, or maybe resent of yet another of David’s hard-to-edit stories, but I wasn’t up for it this year. Honestly, I’ve liked each of the prior years’ stories because of the chef cook-offs. Without that this year, I sort of snapped. Either Alaska flies a beautiful salmon here to me in Denver, or I’m going to pass on this legacy series! Also, I don’t have to tell you, but that last picture is fake, despite the excellent sweater. 

The post Flying Fish Are Still Cool, Blaine! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 23, 2019 at 06:42PM Source:

Own a Part of Airline and Aviation History

Own a Part of Airline and Aviation History:

Make sure you have a few hours free before continuing with this story. You might also want to make sure you have a few extra dollars to spend on some airline goodies! Noted AvGeek, photographer, and good friend Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren has recently decided a big chunk of his airline collection needs to go. And guys, its a huge haul.

There’s something for every AvGeek here: post cards, menus, paper ads, posters, bag tags, matchbooks, route maps, timetables, and even a small number of vintage hand bags…including a few Pan Am. And that’s only part of it – all in all there’s over 2,000 items for sale.

Easier than eBay, don’t have to travel to the big shows, and I know where he lives if something goes bad on you. There’s lots of photos here but that’s only about 75% of the collection: the full list is located here on a detailed spreadsheet.

If you see something you like, shoot him an email (it is on the document list) and let a bit of airline history into your home! For me… I am not quite ready to give up anything in my personal collection, although mine is not as amazing as Jeremy’s!

The post Own a Part of Airline and Aviation History appeared first on AirlineReporter.

April 27, 2019 at 04:43AM Source:

Pay the Anxiety Away – Flying United’s First C…

Pay the Anxiety Away – Flying United’s First Class:

We didn't actually get to fly a United 757, but we did get to see one, so that was cool.

We didn’t actually get to fly a United 757, but we did get to see one, so that was cool

I hear from family and friends (even strangers) all the time how they no longer like flying. It is much more stressful, the respect is gone, and the golden age has long expired. For sure, air travel has changed. It has become cheaper, much safer, and yes, more annoying. It can be a challenge for even a pro to get through an economy experience with a big smile. However, if you are one who flies with some (or a lot of) anxiety, the current flying experience can be terrifying. I don’t mean the flying at 35,000 feet in the air, but the smaller worries that can add up to one big worrisome mess.

Most people who meet me typically sees someone with an outgoing type A personality with little anxiety with flying. Sure, I have had quite a bit of experience, but when I was younger, it was very difficult for me — and sometimes, it still is. I would sweat, I would dry-heave, and I would fear the process of travel, but still loved flying.

I have improved my process for dealing with my anxiety, and flying has become much easier for me. I have been wanting to write a story about flying with anxiety for a while, but it seemed challenging for me to be effective with it, so it has been sitting in the “David Story Idea Bin” (man, some of the scraps in there…) Recently, my fiancé Brittany (we recently got engaged, yay us!) and I were set to fly from Seattle (SEA) to Maui (OGG) via San Fran (SFO) on United Airlines. We have been together for a while and done quite a few flying adventures. I know she has that sort of travel anxiety that I used to have, but loves to actually fly (I know, great catch right?).

I thought this trip might be a good opportunity to look at how flying with anxiety can be challenging and how one can make it better. Over and over again, I kept going back to how being able to pay your way out of anxiety can be a great option for some people! What better way to do that than to fly first class? Would the extra extra cost be worth the reduction of anxiety? If so, where is that tipping point? Keep reading to see what we both found.

Christmas trees (or non-denominational decorated trees) at SEA

Christmas trees (or non-denominational decorated trees) at SEA — we flew in December, so this makes sense. 

A while back, Brittany had one, very quick upgrade experience with domestic first (which in reality I don’t really call a full experience), so I was excited to see how much less stress and anxiety she would experience with this travel process versus the many other flights we have taken previously. She has tasted parts and pieces of the domestic first class experience, but this was her first time with the whole meal deal! Let’s break it down…

No lounge access with a United domestic first class ticket, but we found a nice spot at SFO to hang.

No lounge access with a United domestic first class ticket, but we found a nice spot at SFO to hang


What can first class do for you before your flight? This… :). No joke, there is something to be said about feeling a bit more excited about your flight and knowing you will be flying in a premium product. Makes it feel like your trip starts more on the airplane versus when you land.


On the day of our flight, we were dropped off by a friend (thanks Ray!) and we were at our gate just over eight minutes later. Oh, and we had to check both of our bags too! That was impressive. We were able to quickly find United’s premium check-in line, get our bags tagged, and we’re good to go. One of the benefits of flying on a premium ticket is having a greater employee-to-passenger ratio throughout your whole travel experience. Where there was one employee for the two premium kiosks, there were two for the ten economy kiosks next to us. For someone flying with anxiety, this is huge to have someone close by willing to show you how things work. Also, based on my experience, you are more likely to find the employees who smile more working the premium areas.

FLYING WITH ANXIETY TIP: Hanging out at the gate can be chaotic. Be sure to check with your airline if your domestic first class ticket will get you lounge access (most will not). If you want to spend the money, many airlines offer day passes for about $50 for the lounge. With food and drinks, that alone can be a good deal, but having better seating and less chaos (hopefully) can be amazing. 

Although we both have PreCheck (and ended up going through that line, since it was closest), we would also have had access to use the premium TSA line for having first class tickets. First off, if you do not have PreCheck, get it — worth every dollar if you travel with anxiety or not. But if you do not have PreCheck, not having to wait in those super long lines and having TSA agents yelling at you for an hour can be worth the extra cost of the ticket alone.

The view of our A320 from Seattle. Look close, you can see the tip of the tail!

The view of our A320 from Seattle. Look close, you can see the tip of the tail!


Although it seems that United changes their boarding process every time I fly them, when you have first class, you know you will be one of the first to board. With United, you can check two bags for free with a first class ticket, so really no need to fear if there might be space. However, if you don’t want to part with your things, since you will be boarding first, there will be plenty of space to put your bags.

FLYING WITH ANXIETY TIP: Use a paper ticket versus your phone. The screen might lock, your battery might die, but paper will always be there for you. Less to worry about and use your phone as the back up.

Once boarded on our flight to Maui, one of the flight attendants addressed us by our last names and asked if we would like a drink before take off. Always nice to be reassured we are in the right place! We didn’t get anything fancy, but they were quickly served. Of course if your choice is some wine or a mixed drink, they will be happy to serve you, and for many this too is a fun way to help with anxiety. Just don’t end up drinking too much — you could end up more anxious!

The United First Class seat gives you more room and with a 2:2 layout, less worry about who sits next to you!

The United first class seat gives you more room and with a 2:2 layout, less worry about who sits next to you!


“Who is going to sit next to me?” That is a question I often ask myself when I am sitting at my window seat waiting to see who comes into my row. Speaking with Brittany, this question is more vital to her when she is flying alone. You still might not know who will be sitting next to you in first class, but with a 2-2 layout in both the A320 and B737 we flew on, you have more space between you and your neighbor. Just having space is calming. I very rarely feel claustrophobic, but if I am crammed into a seat next to someone who is not respectful, I start sweating, and the flight seems 10x longer


Shortly after take off, the cabin crew came around to hand out the warm towels. Brittany took the towel and sort of looked at me, and without saying a word I knew she was asking “what do I do with this, I don’t want to do it wrong.” Ah, then it sort of hit me. There are some things in first class that I don’t even think about. What do you use this towel for? Your hands? Your face? Your seat? Yes. I guess after traveling the world in all sort of products, I just got to the point where I do what I want with it and don’t care what people think. She opted to wipe her hands on it, which was probably a good call. Of course, if you ever do hit a situation where you are not sure what to do with something, you can either say “no thanks,” ask the flight attendant, or my favorite is just act cool and watch what others do (I do this all the time at fancy dinners with 18 pieces of silverware).

After our wonderful smelling towels were picked up (nicely done with that scent, United), Brittany started to look in the back of the magazine. I asked if she was looking for the food options and she said “yes.” Another one of those moments for me. I let her know that they should come by and probably give us two choices that will sound super fancy, but boil down to chicken and non-chicken. I was right — we both had the chicken (I think the non-chicken was some veggie curry thing).

FLYING WITH ANXIETY TIP: I used to be pretty anxious about buying food on the plane. What if they run out, what if my card doesn’t work, etc. In those days, I would just make sure that I had food with me in my carry-on as a backup. 

After we were done with our meal, I was telling Brittany that my favorite food when flying is ice cream, since it still seems so magical to have ice cream at 35,000 feet. I was just about ready to say that I very much doubt United will serve it on a domestic flight, but just then it was offered. I think we both had the look of kids in a candy… err ice cream… store at that moment. Ice cream pretty much helps with all issues.

I tried to find channel 9, but no luck. Although listening to it might make people anxious.

I tried to find channel 9, but no luck. Although listening to it might make people anxious.


I love flying. I love being on a plane. I HATE that moment when the front door opens at the gate and then you have to wait for another 20 minutes to get off. Even today, this will cause me anxiety every time. Doesn’t matter if we are three hours early and just have to sit an extra five minutes; it gets to me. When you are up front, not only can you see what is going on, but you get to be one of the first off. And with less people in your cabin, there is enough room for everyone to stand at the same time.

FLYING WITH ANXIETY TIP: When I have that feeling “I NEED TO GET OUT NOW” I just stay seated and either read the in-flight magazine or catch up on my phone just pretending we are still flying. Let it be more of a nice surprise when it is your turn.

YAY! We had a great experience flying on United's First Class!

YAY! We had a great experience flying on United’s First Class!


It all comes down to value. If it is really difficult for you to fly because of stress and/or anxiety, then it might be worth flying less and spending more for some premium aspects of the trip. Sometimes the cost of upgrading to first class isn’t that much, or maybe the airline offers a premium economy product. That option can give you many of the pluses to reduce your anxiety. Even with United’s lowest fares (a.k.a. get your butt from A-to-B), you can pay extra to check your bag, board sooner, etc. Figure out what gives you the most anxiety and see what might be worth the best value.

I used to hate paying the airline’s fees, because I felt they were winning by “stealing” my money. I would take red eyes, never check a bag, and starve because I wouldn’t buy food on board (even when I forgot to bring my own). All it did was create more anxiety and made my overall trip less enjoyable. Paying a little more to take care of yourself is okay!

So, is it worth spending the extra money? It depends. When spending my own money, I want to make sure I am still getting a deal and it makes sense. For me, I have flown United domestically in economy plenty, but never in first. No question it provided a much better and smoother experience for both of us. Brittany, especially, arrived to Maui ready to rock and roll instead of needing to calm down from the anxious flying experience. Keeping the one I love happy through the flying experience can be well worth the money! On the way home (we flew Hawaiian), we had an extra day to recover before going back to work, so it really wasn’t worth the upgrades.

It is all about priorities. Your mental health is important and possibly pushing yourself to save a few bucks might not be the best move. I totally get that most people can’t just upgrade to first all the time (us included), but find out what gives you the most anxiety and maybe there is a fee to pay to make that part of your travel experience a bit better.

Nothing to do with the story, but we flew an A320 from SEA-SFO and although the interior looked brand new, the front lav still had this wallpaper. Classic!

Nothing to do with the story, but we flew an A320 from SEA-SFO and although the interior looked brand new, the front lav still had this wallpaper. Classic!

What are your thoughts on someone flying with anxiety? Have any other ideas on things you can pay to feel less anxiety? Please feel free to share those in the comments.

Note: We were flying in economy already and United upgraded us to do this story. Opinions are all mine. Well, some are Brittany’s. But only our opinions!

The post Pay the Anxiety Away – Flying United’s First Class appeared first on AirlineReporter.

April 03, 2019 at 05:25PM Source:

The Rise of the “Reporter Empire”. A Look at o…

The Rise of the “Reporter Empire”. A Look at our Future Growth and Changes.:

Building an empire includes top hats and private 737s.

Building an empire includes top hats and private 737s

You might have noticed that after some down period (around two years), things have been picking back up again at AirlineReporter in 2019 (well, other than the last week or so with our servers). We are publishing more stories and being more active on social media. We have a renewed motivation and vision that goes beyond what you have seen on our pages for the last decade or so.

I am proud to announce that on top of still bringing you the awesome airline content you have come to expect, our brand will be expanding into some new frontiers. Over the years I have found that those who have an interest in airplanes also share similar passions with other transport related things. Our research has also found a number of other categories that you, our readers, want covered. Instead of putting everything on AirlineReporter, we have decided to create what I am calling the “Reporter Empire” where we have different sites that will cover the different niche topics. I want to take a sneak peak of what you can expect in coming in the next year or so. Of course I would love to get your feedback!

Airline Reporter

Do not worry, the bread and butter of what will do is not going anywhere. We will continue to provide the same great stories (some not so great ones too) that you have come to expect about airlines and aviation.

About ready to head north on the Amtrak Cascades. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren /

A choo choo for you – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Train Reporter

All aboard! We are planning for the site to go live by the end of April 2019. As you might know there are just about as many fans of trains as there are of airlines. People will go spotting for the special train with a unique or retro livery. We will cover any of the new looks, new routes and the possible huge expansion of the railroad with the Green New Deal.

Ship Reporter

This brand will really capture whatever floats your boat — literally. There are a million different cruise ship blogs out there and that is not what this is about. This is about real ships — cargo ships, tugs, ferries, submarines, etc. None of that frilly stuff here!

Old bus, new bus, big bus, small bus, we do them all! Photo: John K Thorn | FlickrCC

Old bus, new bus, big bus, small bus, we do them all! Photo: John K Thorn | FlickrCC

Bus Reporter

Not to get confused with our Airbus Reporter concept we are still working on (and might publish in the future). Here we are solely talking about your Greyhounds, your city buses, school buses (short and regular), and even some of those buses that have been turned into cool (or creepy) RVs.

I call him #A380cat (he is big boned)

I call him #A380cat (he is big boned)

Cat Reporter

We have found that 93% of our readers also love looking at cat videos and memes online. We found that another 7% lie about not liking cat videos and memes. It is okay, we won’t judge. This site will allow us to test out a new format. More photos, more videos, and way less words.

We are able to announce that the Editor-in-Chief of CatReporter will be Jason Rabinowitz, who has written for us, and is well known for Tweeting kitty cats (and sometimes planes).

The site's mascot: SockM - Photo: Jodimichelle | FlickrCC

The site’s mascot: SockM – Photo: Jodimichelle | FlickrCC

Sock Reporter

I don’t know about you, but it is just so hard to find a good pair of socks. Back in the day you have three choices: white, black, and tan. Today, there are so many shapes (well still mostly foot-shaped, but more length), colors, and styles it can drive a person mad. This might seem like a silly idea, but again our research shows us this is a topic that people want and there just aren’t many sites that cover it well.

We will do the hard work for you and put our best foot forward to review as many socks (men’s, women’s, and unisex) to let you know which are the best. You have probably loved our airline model and free airline ticket giveaways over the years and we will do the same on SockReporter. Free socks, foot powder, and if we play our cards right, hopefully a shoe horn to get your fancy new socks into your shoes, so you can show them off to the world!

Blaine Nickeson in the flight deck of a LAN Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

I am watching you Blaine! (our Managing Editor)

Reporter Reporter

“Fake news” is one of the most popular phases said today. With this site, we will report on reporters. There are way too many people that cover way too many topics out there, but we will concentrate on others that report on airlines, trains, buses, cats, and socks (luckily not too many of those). We will call out when they give the wrong information and use a photo of a Aframax tanker, when obviously the ship involved was a Suezmax (I know, people actually make that mistake). And we are not safe. If any of our writers mess up, we will call them out!

The world is our oyster - Photo: Tatiana T | FlickrCC

The world is our oyster – Photo: Tatiana T | FlickrCC

Reporter Empire Future

Not only will these different brands allow us to bring you customized content, it will also allow us to do some cool cross-promotional stories. Who doesn’t want to read a story about a cat, dressed as an airplane, that is playing with a toy train, while riding a boat? With just having the one AirlineReporter brand, there is no way we could make that story happen (trust me, I have tried). But now with the power of the ReporterEmpire the possibilities are almost endless. This is really just the beginning. If you have more ideas on Reporter blogs we can start, leave them in the comments and maybe you can become famous!

The post The Rise of the “Reporter Empire”. A Look at our Future Growth and Changes. appeared first on AirlineReporter.

April 01, 2019 at 09:58PM Source:

Never Moving Servers Again

Never Moving Servers Again:

After about two weeks and many tears, I think we are finally on our new server. I will delete this test story later, but for now I will bask in the glory of finally getting this to work. How has your week been going? If you leave a comment before I delete this, I will send you some free AirlineReporter stickers (saying you want them).

Well, just found out I can’t upload new photos, so that is fun! I have my evening planned. Cheers!


  • Oh silly WordPress. You have to go back in and set the new default where you want photos stored. That not only allowed me to upload this sweet pic of my dad and me, but also all the thumbnails for our most commented stories weren’t there, and now they are!
  • So our email doesn’t work with the new server. Sigh. Have I just become an old man and don’t know how to do this stuff or has it gotten more difficult? I used to manage setting up IMAP and SMTP like a boss, but now there are 18 different things I have to set up first. For now I have all writer’s email forwarding to their personal, so we won’t miss any of your love letters!

The post Never Moving Servers Again appeared first on AirlineReporter.

March 27, 2019 at 01:36AM Source:

New Server For Us!

New Server For Us!:

After a decade being with the same host provider, we are moving the site to greener pastures. We have been working hard behind the scenes for the last week+ to get everything ready (hence why content slowed down). We are about to pull the trigger on this and over the next 24hrs hopefully things will go smoothly. Thanks for your patience!

The post New Server For Us! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

March 25, 2019 at 11:11PM Source: