Category: AirlineReporter David Parker Brown

Where is the Safest Place to Sit in an Airliner? – Unsolicited Travel Advice:

An AirlineReporter ongoing series. Unsolicited travel advice from David.What do you get when you combine writing about airline travel since 2008, with a few decades of being a sarcastic chap? Unsolicited Travel Advice from David (the Editor-in-Chief of this dog and pony show) — that’s what! There are way too many travel-related click-bait stories out there that give you boring and questionable information from “experts”. This series will be different — I will give you entertaining, possibly less questionable information, while not caring about any sort of clicks or bait. Let me set the mood. Imagine that you and I are hanging out, when we have just hit upon an interesting airline/travel topic (safest airline seats) and I am fired up and ready to spew my thoughts and opinions. When I wrap up, I am hoping that you won’t just awkwardly stare at me, but instead continue the conversation in the comments. Let’s do this…

Omg, omg, omg, which seat should I sit in? I want to live damn it!

Omg, omg, omg, which seat should I sit in? I want to live, damn it!


This question always gets me riled up. If you don’t want to read this whole story, let me save you the time: It does not matter what airline seat you choose. It really, really does not matter. But that doesn’t stop so many others from telling you that a wrong choice in seat could cost you your life! (dun dun DUNNN)

The anecdotal thoughts on the topic are my favorite. “First class is safest, since the airline wants to save the rich.” Interesting…I have heard the opposite as well. “Sit over the wings, that’s the strongest part of the plane.” Of course there are huge fuel tanks located there too. “Sit in back, so you’ll be last to hit the ground, and just jump right before impact.” No joke, someone suggested that once to me and my dad, who happens to not only a pilot, but also a physicist. He was super nice about it, but it was fun conversation.

Anyhow, I wanted to find some actual data that people were using for their conclusions, and what better place to look than the internet? I found a few sites that had some good ol’ fashion data (just the way I like it). However, was this going to be good data (like Data) or bad data (like Lore)? [any Trekkies out there? If not, don’t worry, the Data/Lore joke isn’t that great anyhow]

Keep reading, because what I found will shock you to your core!!! (not really, I am just trying some of the “click bait” stuff, but keep reading, I think my best stuff is yet to come)

An old Boeing 757 fuselage mock-up, used for emergency training in Seattle. There is no safe seat here!

An old Boeing 757 fuselage mock-up, used for emergency training in Seattle. There is no safe seat here!


I first reviewed a Popular Mechanics article and it seemed we might be on the same page. The author wrote, “The funny thing about all those expert opinions: They’re not really based on hard data about actual airline accidents.” Talking my language… making fun of “experts” and saying we need some data. Using National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) files, they found data for 20 accidents that had been “languishing for decades …waiting to be analyzed by anyone curious enough to look and willing to do the statistical drudgework.” Yup, they actually said that. Brilliant… what troopers! So, what did they find? In 11 of the 20 crashes, people in the rear did better, five had folks up front faring best, and the last three… they were “tossups.” Whatever that means.

Related Side-Story: My day as a (mock) airline accident victim

Time Magazine got a bit more detailed with their conclusion: “Statistics show that the middle seats in the rear of an aircraft historically have the highest survival rates.” They used a whopping 17 crashes to not only find the safest section of the plane, but also the seat! Color me impressed.

The Aviation Safety Network analyzed about 280 airline incidents, but only 70 had viable data. 39 accidents revealed that the rear was the safest, 25 showed the center, and 32 showed the front. You math whizzes might realize that the numbers don’t add up, if there was an accident and passengers survived pretty well in more than one section, they counted both.

Delta's evacuation trainer, hopefully you never have to use it for real (well the trainer yes, but in a real accident, no). If things get bad, always stay calm and follow instructions. That will more likely safe you than your seat assignment.

If things get bad, always stay calm and follow instructions. That will more likely save you than your seat assignment. And please, PLEASE, leave your bag behind!


I find it impossible to make a claim about the safest place to sit on an airliner. When so little data is used – and people look at the data very differently – there are so many complex variables that go into an airline crash. No airline accident is simple and it typically takes a number of catastrophic failures for people to lose their lives.

If you actually want to be safer on your next flight, these tips can actually save your life (and it doesn’t matter where you’re seated):

  1. If something goes down, stay calm and listen to the flight attendants.
  2. Actually pay attention to the safety briefing, look for the nearest exits, and take a look at that safety card.
  3. For the love of god, leave your luggage on the plane, if you have to evacuate.
  4. Maybe just stay home and watch airplane videos instead (or Star Trek).

Related Side-Story: My inner seven-year-old hangs out with the Paine Field Airport Fire Department

Of course some might argue the left front seat might be the safest seat, since you have the most control. However... not the case when I am in the seat!

Of course some might argue the left front seat might be the safest seat, since you have the most control. However… not the case when I am in the seat!


I am not statistician. I am not an airline crash expert. But I am going to go ahead and say with great confidence that this safest airline seat stuff is a bunch of horse crap! Sit where you want, and have a great flight. No matter what seat you choose, the stats overwhelmingly say that you will be super safe!

Related Side-Story: The only good kind of plane crash is a fake one

Okay, I am done with my semi-rant and ready to hear your thoughts. Do you think that the rear of an airliner is the safest? Does this sort of data sway your seat decisions? Have you heard other fun reasons why you should sit in one seat vs another? Have you watched the new Picard show… is it any good?  Let’s start a conversation in the comments! 

The post Where is the Safest Place to Sit in an Airliner? – Unsolicited Travel Advice appeared first on AirlineReporter.

February 21, 2020 at 05:37PM Source:

A Diagcon Look at the New First Class on an Alaska Airlines A321:

My gate at FLL gave amazing views of my Alaska Airbus A321.... not!

My gate at FLL gave amazing views of my Alaska Airbus A321…. not!

“What the heck is a diagcon look of an Alaska Airlines A321 first class product?” Don’t worry, I will get to that.

I had no expectation that I was going to write this review. I recently flew down to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to hang out with Embraer and they were nice enough to put me in first class. When I was preparing for my flight home (I flew on Delta to FLL), I saw it was on an Alaska Airlines Airbus A321. Sweet. I knew that I would either be flying on one of Virgin America’s old birds with their first class product, or Alaska’s new product — win/win. I did my thing and looked up the registration number, found the delivery date of the aircraft, and determined that I was going to be trying out the new product. Heck yea.

The good news and bad news is I just had a really long day, got very little sleep previously, and had just flown across the country the day before. That is bad since I wasn’t really prepared to do this review, but good since what better time to test out a product when you aren’t feeling 100%?

Pretty cool display with the seat in parts to better inspect it!

Pretty cool display of the new Alaska Airlines first class seat that I viewed during my previous media trip with them

Previously, I had the chance to fly down to SFO to preview Alaska Airlines’ new first class product on their Airbus A321s. I was only able to sit down in a first class seats for a short amount of time, and obviously media flights like that don’t give you a real experience of how the product compares. Know what does? A six-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Seattle (SEA), that’s what! And looky there, I just recently did flew that diagcon flight.

Transcon vs Diagcon - Image:

Transcons are like LAX to NYC, vs Diagcon being SEA to MIA – Image:

Okay… What is a Diagcon Flight?

So let’s talk about this made up word/definition I started using a while back: diagcon. You probably know about transcon flights right? Well, technically a diagcon is a transcon flight, but it’s longer, goes diagonally across the U.S., and I don’t like them much. I mostly use the term to describe my Seattle to Florida flights.

Over a three-year period, I found myself doing too many non-stop diagcons (for AirlineReporter, my dad lives there, other odds and ends, etc.) and I was getting sick and tired of doing them in single-aisle aircraft. Sure, the SEA-MIA flight might only be 30 min longer than a LAX-JFK flight (or SEA-JFK), but that extra 60 min (roundtrip) in the back of a 737 made me find the point where I actually wasn’t looking forward to the next diagcon flight (I wasn’t sure if I had that limit). So, for me, the definition is not just about flying diagonally, but also getting kind of tired of the routing / (lack of) aircraft choices.

So, how is this relevant to the story? Good question, and thank you for getting me back on track. We can conclude that I am not a huge fan of flying diagcons, and I was tired, so this really was the best combo to put this product to the test. Let’s continue…

Sweet lighting for some sweet seats - Photo: Alaska Airlines

Sweet lighting for some sweet seats – Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airbus A321 First Class Review Time!

Being based in Seattle, I fly Alaska quite a bit. It is the airline where I hold my miles, although I have never held status (I know, crazy right?). The vast majority of my Alaska flight experiences is in the back of the plane… in economy. Although it is always nice when I’ve had the chance to fly first class on Alaska, I have to say that the old hard product isn’t super special. You have the wider seat, with the 2-2 layout, and a good meal, but the tight seat pitch always shocked me. Unless I got a super duper upgrade deal (I don’t think that is their official name), then I didn’t see the value in spending the extra money to move up to first class. I was wondering if this new product might change my mind. I broke it down the pros and cons in easy-to-read bullet points:

Comfy footrest...

Comfy footrest…

What I liked about the new Alaska first class

  • The footrest. I have always thought of these as sort of worthless and if anything, they take away my legroom. However, I found myself using it a few times and actually liking it — a lot. That said, I found that when the passenger in front of me reclined their seat (how dare they), then my footrest stopped working. Bummer. I follow up with Alaska after my flight and they confirmed that my footrest must have been faulty and after giving them the plane’s reg number, they were going to fix it.
  • The tray table device holder. It took me a while longer to figure out how to use the device holder in first than it did in economy. However, it was quite slick once I got the hang of it. You can prop up your own device (think phone, iPad, Zune — I don’t judge) both when the tray is half and fully opened (scroll down a bit and there are some pics).

Cruising lighting altitude

  • The mood lighting. Don’t knock it. I used to make fun of airlines/manufactures promoting their mood lighting as marketing fluff. But I am a convert. My photo isn’t so great, but imagine a Virgin America A320 making a lighting baby with an Alaska 737-900 Boeing Sky Interior and you have it.
  • The power box. Up until a few years back I never noticed the power boxes under the seats. Then my pal Jason Rabinowitz would always talk about them when we flew together and now I can’t not notice them. They can take away quite a bit of legroom (like they do in Alaska’s current product). With the new layout, they are tucked way up under the seat and at 6’1″, I couldn’t touch it — even when I tried (and I did). Bravo!

  • Ice cream. I could have just led with this, called it a day, and been comfortable with my review. Ice cream at cruising altitude will never, ever get old and will always put a smile to my face. It might sound silly to some, but I feel that things like ice cream can take a first class experience to the next level — especially on a domestic flight.
  • My overall food experience. If I had a “what I was okay with” section, this would be in it, but I didn’t want to create it just for one bullet. The presentation was great (three course), my squash soup was delish. But the main course of beef was too well done, dry, and didn’t come with enough sauce to save it. It was nice having the full meal service, and then later they came around with a basket of snacks to choose from.

  • The Humor. I kept getting these little goodies and they kept being a little funny. Nothing super crazy, but almost dad-joke level of stuff, which I love. Does this sort of stuff matter? Heck yes it does… it leaves you with that sort of “warm and fuzzies” feeling towards a brand and shows an important attention to detail.
  • BYOD Entertainment. If you have your own device, you know how to connect it to the internet, and you bring your own headphones… you are set. Alaska offers a great selection of free WiFi entertainment, available to all passengers.
My best try at illustrating the lack of bulkhead. Original (pre-edited) Photo: Alaska Airlines

My best try at illustrating the lack of bulkhead. Original (pre-edited) Photo: Alaska Airlines

What I disliked about the new Alaska Airlines first class

  • The bulkhead. I don’t say this to be elitist, but I really do not like the new bulkhead, or the idea it doesn’t exist anymore. The best way I can describe it is a sun visor sticking down that provides no real privacy or separation. Ironically the passengers (in premium economy) directly behind me talked about how much they miss the bulkhead. It was just sort of awkward since their 3-3 layout lined up nicely (or badly, I guess) to the first’s 2-2. It made it easier for me to hear them and for them to look over my shoulder. Yea, yea, I know, these bulkheads allow more seats, so lower prices (stuff I preach about all the time), but it doesn’t mean I have to like them!
The device from the airline looks cool, but I didn't find it easy to use.

The device from the airline looks cool, but I didn’t find it easy to use. The holder on the tray table was nice though!

  • The Windows tablet video player thingy. These are the handheld devices that Alaska hands out to free to first class passengers that have built-in entertainment. At 39, I sometimes find myself getting more frustrated with technology than I think I should. I tried using the main menus, but somehow ended up in a browser, and couldn’t get any movies to play. After clicking around semi-aimlessly, I figured it out — although my reward was a pretty limited selection. I am confused why these still  exist. If they were super simple (push button, watch movie, yay), then sure. But if everyone has devices (i.e. their own phones), and these aren’t easy to use and have limited options…what is the point?
  • No WiFi. The WiFi connecting our flight to the world didn’t work. That sucked. Even sucked more that none of the crew member mentioned that it was going to be down (or apologized). Personally, I am fine when my flight doesn’t have WiFi, but if you are planning to use the 6+ hour flight for work, this is a pretty big let down.


How Does the New First Class Stack Up?

Alaska’s new first class product (hard and soft) is very impressive. In my previous story on the product I questioned how much of Virgin’s influence might be found in the new Alaska and no matter how you feel, I think you will like what you find. I think this is really an “evolution-plus” of the previous product. It is more than just a simple refresh, or updating of textures/colors, but they are providing a leading product.

Of course one would expect a new product to be better than the one it replaces, but how does the new Alaska first class compare to the competition? And really, for those flying out of Seattle, the big question is how does it compete with Delta? After flying Delta’s first class right before the new Alaska first class, I feel pretty confident in my thoughts.

Although I didn't have a window seat, my seatmate was nice enough to let me snap a few window pics.

Although I didn’t have a window seat, my seatmate was nice enough to let me snap a few window pics

If you weren’t concerned about miles or status on either airline and just looked at the soft/hard product, overall I would choose to fly the new Alaska first class over Delta’s — no question (you also get access to Alaska’s lounges, which is a huge plus).

I think the biggest issue is consistency. You know what you will get on almost any Delta domestic first class product. Fly on an MD-80, a CRJ-700, a 737, or a 757, no matter when they were built, they are going give pretty much the same passenger experience (which I think they do a wonderful job). With Alaska, they have about 50 of their 71 Airbus converted and when asked they told me that they are “still discussing plans for the 737-800/900 fleet interiors.” That means, it might be a challenge (even for you AvGeek pros) to ensure you will be flying with the new first class.

Fleet change doesn’t come easy, nor happen quickly (especially when Alaska has over 30 737 Max, that are delayed). Once Alaska is able to update their fleet, and provide a consistent first class flight experience, they will be in a much better competitive position. Not to say that they aren’t too bad now, but if they wait too long for the fleet-wide upgrade, that just gives the competition more time to come up with their own improvements.

Not the plane I was on, but one that looks a lot like it.

Not the plane I was on, but one that looks a lot like it. You AvGeek pros will know the big difference.

Have you had a chance to fly it yet? Or even have some thoughts about the older product and how it compares to the competition? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

The post A Diagcon Look at the New First Class on an Alaska Airlines A321 appeared first on AirlineReporter.

February 18, 2020 at 04:33PM Source:

My Cat Successfully Lands a Plane onto Aircraft Carrier (plus some actual legit stuff):

#A380CAT, after landing an EA-6B on an aircraft carrier - Photos: David Parker Brown

#A380CAT, after landing an EA-6B on an aircraft carrier – Photos: David Parker Brown

My apologies. My subject might be a bit misleading. Or maybe totally misleading. One might even call it a fib. Well mostly a fib. I do have a cat. His name is Harley, but goes by #A380CAT. Although he might tell you otherwise, he has never flown or landed a plane… he mostly just eats and sleeps.

I do have “some actual legit stuff”, which is really a yearly review. Yes, yes, everyone does a yearly review this time of year, and every year I start to get annoyed after seeing about 100 different versions or so.  Then I become a hypocrite and write one for AirlineReporter. I figure since I am going to look at the yearly data anyhow, why not share? But I figured if I added some crazy cat stuff to the story, maybe it would make it more interesting. Keep on reading to see our year end stats and also more of my cute kitty cat! Here we go…

A380cat has an important business meeting, so classed it up with a tie and Delta's Premium Select.

#A380CAT had an important business meeting, so he classed it up with a tie and Delta’s Premium Select. BYOCN – Photos: David Parker Brown


#1 What’s so special about the Delta Airbus A330-900neo?
#2 Wamos Who? Long-haul economy on “Norwegian”
#3 Comparing British Airways World Traveller Plus 787 vs A380
#4 Hawaiian A321neo first class review
#5 Checking out the Virgin America Influence on Alaska Airlines

Hot damn! Even though I run this airline blog dog and pony show, my stories rarely make the top read lists. This year, two of mine made it! We have a nice, friendly competition between the writers on who has the most read stories, but really that number isn’t super important. I care more about who the people are, how they engage with the story, and if it makes an impact in some way. However, it does feel nice to see my stories on this list. Honestly, I am not quite sure why my Delta A330-900neo story is #1. I just thought it was a good excuse to go hang out at the Seattle airport for a bit, chill with Delta, see a few media folks, and go on (but not fly in) a new plane type for me.

Not that the other stories weren’t great as well, but I was really happy to see Blaine’s Wamos story on the list. It is one of those stories that I think is super interesting, but often those types of stories seem to fall between the cracks and aren’t very popular.

The cat thought I was going to Photoshop him into Jason Rabinowitz's plane photo, but instead he ended up in a photo of the real Thomas Cook (that photo is Creative Commons)

The #A380CAT thought I was going to Photoshop him into a plane photo, but instead he ended up in a photo with the real Thomas Cook (via Creative Commons). Boy oh boy, was he surprised.


#1 Who has wider seats? The A320 or 737? (2010)
#2 The Lockheed L1011 Returns to the Skies (2017)
#3 Flying SAS economy plus (2018)
#4 Flight Review of Air France Premium Economy (2015)
#5 Thomas Cook, an airline you have probably never heard of (2016)

I actually got a little sad seeing the Thomas Cook story. It is too bad it went under this year, but I am happy to see people wanted to learn more about the airline. I am also always excited to see when a story talking about the L1011 makes any of the popular lists.

Don't ask. Seriously don't.

Don’t ask. Seriously don’t – Photos: David Parker Brown


Okay. Before continuing, I feel like I should say something about the photo above. I had a vision, spent a lot of time trying to make that vision work, but it ended up looking like some creepy cat Frankenstein airplane photo. I was in too deep and couldn’t just ditch it. Now, if you have the urge to point out that I am using an out of date United image, I am going to point out that I overlaid my cat’s mouth on top of said photo, so let’s just call it even. Moving on…

#1 United States
#2 United Kingdom
#3 Canada
#4 Australia
#5 German
#6 India
#7 France
#8 Singapore
#9 Netherlands
#10 Japan

We have had at least one reader from every county in the world… except one. Can you guess the country with zero readers?

After last photo, playing it a bit safer with this one - Photos: David Parker Brown

After last photo, playing it a bit safer with this one – Photos: David Parker Brown


#1 Chicago
#2 New York
#3 London
#4 Los Angeles
#5 Seattle
#6 San Francisco
#7 Sydney
#8 Washington, DC
#9 Dallas
#10 Toronto

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. Our list of cities has been pretty consistent over the years. Seattle normally takes the lead. I remember one year that Seattle, Everett, and Renton all were on the Top 10 list (where most of the Boeing planes are made). Without any actual evidence, I am just going to assume that we are now a daily read at Boeing’s HQ in Chicago.

For fun, I also looked up where Airbus’ main cities ended up on the list. Toulouse (head office) is #238, Leiden (registered HQ) is #1688, Mobile (US assembly plant) is #619, and Hamburg (my favorite Airbus town) is at #55. I know there are more cities, but I am ready to move on.

Hello kitty! He and his "pal" Squirrely (he is not good at naming) are super interested in what is coming next - Photos: David Parker Brown

Hello kitty! He and his “pal” Squirrely (he is not good at naming) are super interested in what is coming next – Photos: David Parker Brown


  • 47% of you used desktops, 45% used mobile phones, and 8% used tablets.
  • Of the mobile users, 44% of you used iPhones. The rest of you should probably upgrade to iPhones :).
  • 48% of you used Chrome, 33% Safari, 7% IE, and 0.19% used Amazon Silk, which is a new one for me.
  • 282 of you found us by searching on AOL. I am not judging, just stating a fact.
  • 543 people got to our site from Pinterest. My wife has explained this site to me many times and I still don’t get it. I guess thanks for pinning us with interest?
  • Of those of you who started reading this story, 1.3% are still reading, 73% are scrolling down just to see the rest of the cats pics, and 13.78% of you closed your browser after seeing that weird cat mouth over airline photos (let’s pretend somehow that all added up to 100%).
Cat wants to go where Rolly McRollerson goes! Sorry cat... - Photo: David Parker Brown

#A380CAT wants to go where Rolly McRollerson goes! Sorry cat… – Photo: David Parker Brown


I think this is the part where I say things like “2020 is going to be bigger and better than ever!!!” How about I am just very happy with what we have been able to accomplish over the last decade. We have such a great team of writers (who are really more than writers, but friends), who have some wonderful ideas and a strong passion, so I am pretty sure we will continue to create some fun content! When we have some good content, we will post it. When we don’t, we won’t. Or maybe I can just post a photo of #A380CAT as a filler… we will see.

I want to make AirlineReporter a welcoming place for those who have a passion for airlines and aviation. One can share their passion by writing about airplanes, leaving comments, reading the stories, or do what I mostly do and just look at the pretty pictures!

Seriously though, a huge thanks for reading and keeping us motivated… cheers to what’s next!

The post My Cat Successfully Lands a Plane onto Aircraft Carrier (plus some actual legit stuff) appeared first on AirlineReporter.

January 03, 2020 at 07:28PM Source:

Donate Your Airline Amenity Kits & Help Those in Need!:

A Hong Kong Airlines amenity kit that could do some folks more good than sitting in a tub!

Over the years I have collected a lot of different airline amenity kits. Like, a lot, a lot. Even after giving many away to friends and letting house guests use whatever they want, I have more than I need, all living in some tubs, in my closet. I have always felt that they could be living a better life — doing good in the world. Sure, the containers are cool and I love my collection, but what is the end game here? Show them off when friends and family come to visit (a minority few would care)? Keep them around to pass down to future generations (they probably wouldn’t appreciate how cool they are)? Nah, I think I can do better. For a while I have thought about donating them to a good cause, but I wasn’t sure how. Now, I think I do — and I am taking you along with me!

I recently moved out to lovely Kitsap County (west of Seattle — a ferry ride away) and my “real” job gives me the opportunity to connect with non-profits in my community. Recently, I visited the local food banks and I realized that they all had a section that gave out toiletries. Some were well stocked, but many were not. Bingo! I have the supply…they have the demand.

Then my mind kept going. I bet many of you fine folks also have amenity kits that you collect, and maybe you wonder if there is something more you could be doing with them. If so, then I would like to help you find them a good home. Keep reading to find out how.

Decent amenity kit - photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter

Now, I am not asking you to give them all up (there are one or two favorites I am keeping myself). But if you have airline amenity kits, a big drawer of hotel toiletries, or whatever sitting around… send them my way and I will make sure they get to folks in need!


  1. Email me at, tell me what you have, and I will send you a mailing address
  2. Mail me the stuff
  3. Celebrate good times (optional, but highly recommended)

When your stuff is received, it will be processed and hand delivered with a smile. Plus, I will mail you back some sweet AirlineReporter stickers as a thank you.

To start out, I am working with the South Kitsap Food Line. They are a good group of folks, doing great work in the community, and they are very excited about this idea. They do not have much in the way of toiletries right now and are hoping to not only give the items to their daily customers, but also to work with other local non-profits who help homeless youth, who often have a hard time finding products like these.

I honestly do not know what to expect with this experiment. I didn’t make any big promises, but obviously I will be a little sad if I am only delivering my stuff. If things are a bit slow, I might also reach out directly to some airlines and see if they might have some old kits to donate (if you have other ideas, please let me know). Of course if things go well and I get overwhelmed, that is totally okay (seriously, overwhelm me!). There are plenty of other organizations that would so very much appreciate the airline amenity kit love.

Thank you for your consideration and feel free to leave any ideas, ask any questions in the comments, or shoot me an email.

South Kitsap Helpline would love donated airline amenity kits


Q: Can I just drop them off to you in person?
A: Totes. If you live in the Seattle area, email me and I am happy to arrange a time for us to connect and I can get the stuff from you.

Q: How do you recommend that I send them?
A: No preference on my end, however USPS makes it pretty easy now: 1) Get some Priority Flat Rate boxes (no extra cost to have them mailed to you). 2) Create an address label. 3) Schedule a pick up from your home or work. You don’t even need to leave the house!

Q: Can’t I just donate my stuff to a local non-profit?
A: YES! And please do. For me, I wanted to do this for a long time, but didn’t know the “what, who, where, how” stuff and that was holding me back. Now that I figured it out, I want to make it easy for you to join me. But if this helps to motivate you to donate locally… sweet! 

Q: Do they want the socks? Containers/bags? Eye masks? Chap stick? Shoe polish?
A: Yes… all the things! When I met with them to ask, they were super excited about the variety of things that come in the kits and they can give any and all to good people that need them!

The post Donate Your Airline Amenity Kits & Help Those in Need! appeared first on AirlineReporter.

November 13, 2019 at 08:01PM Source:

Help me! I am Crowdsourcing My Honeymoon.:

Santorini, Greece - Photo: Pedro Szekely | FlickrCC

Santorini, Greece – Photo: Pedro Szekely | FlickrCC

I am going to be a bit selfish here, but I think for good reason!

I recently got married (yay) and we wanted to wait a bit to plan our honeymoon; we didn’t want to be planning a wedding AND a trip at the same time. My new bride and I both want to go some place we’ve never been before. While we think we are set on a destination, there are so many fun options to get there and different things to do; I thought I would try to see if any of you had some swell ideas.

I’ve never done something like this before, so I’m not sure if it will work. But it can’t hurt! My idea is to give you all some of my thoughts so far, and see what you think. Maybe I will get 0 comments and be sad, or maybe I will be overwhelmed and no better off, but I am hoping to get a gem or two out of this little experiment! Here we go:

The Big Picture

  • We plan to spend the majority of our time in Santorini, Greece. It’s place she has wanted to visit and neither of us have been.
  • We are not fans of places with a million tourists.
  • Being native Washingtonians, we don’t like hot weather.
  • Shooting for late April to mid May, but would do late September to early October if needed. 
  • Wanting to do about 10 days total, but would expand up to 14, if it made sense.
  • Being this is our honeymoon, we are cool spending a bit more on where we stay, the food, etc, if it has a good ROIOF (return of investment on fun — acronyms are fun!). Obviously we have a reasonable budget, but I don’t want it to hold back any ideas.

There is the Santorini Airport – Photo: Andres Alvarado | FlickrCC

Getting to/from Santorini

  • We will be departing out of Seattle. Unless it is a big enough difference, we don’t really want to go to YVR or PDX. (Editor’s note: what about PAE?)
  • Getting there, I am looking at getting creative. Maybe do something like flying into London, Paris, or Rome and take trains/ferries down to Athens for the final ferry to Santorini? Maybe stop for a night once or twice on the way down? Been reading up on options, but wonder if it would be more of a pain than it is worth. 
  • Coming back, I think we would just want to fly as quick and cheap as possible, but not more than 18 hours for a total trip. Looks like some airlines like Condor and Norwegian have options, but not every day, so need to play with dates. 
  • Even after 10 years of writing this site, I am still a miles noob. As I write this I have 35,000 Alaska miles. After a basic search, that can get me a one-way ticket to LHR or FRA. Not a requirement to use, but that would save a few $. 
  • Since we have our miles with Alaska, it would be nice to earn miles with them on tickets that we pay for. 
  • My awesome wife is game for me doing a story or two out of our adventures, so if there is a unique airline/aircraft type or if I can pitch an airline for a story/experience, that is a bonus. That said, she wouldn’t be game taking 36hrs, flying the wrong way across the globe to try a bunch of different airlines.
Santorini... the beauty, the height, the water - Photo: Wolfgang Manousek | FlickrCC

Santorini… the beauty, the height, the water – Photo: Wolfgang Manousek | FlickrCC

While we are in Santorini

  • I end up spending more time figuring out how to get to/from a place, the flights, the boats, the trains, etc., and sometimes I forget about planning what to do once I arrive. Guessing maybe some of you can relate? I normally like to have some ideas of things to do, but not all the days scheduled.
  • Once there, I’m looking at probably renting a car. Looks like there are taxis and buses, but not the best, plus we always have fun adventures with driving around on our trips.
  • Looking at things like boat or jetski tour, the hot springs, taking the car to explore the island, relaxing.
  • Want to stay on the Caldera side. Guessing a few nights in one of the nice hotels with amazing views, and a few in a more reasonably priced hotel. Just depends.

Okay, so this ended up being longer than I expected, but there are a lot of moving pieces. Please leave your suggestions/questions in the comments and let’s see what happens. Thank you!

The post Help me! I am Crowdsourcing My Honeymoon. appeared first on AirlineReporter.

October 14, 2019 at 03:05PM Source:

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? 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 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.:

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!:

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: