Category: AirlineReporter Francis Zera

Learning to Fly: I Keep Plugging Away

Learning to Fly: I Keep Plugging Away:

Always lots going on at BFI - that's an Air Canada B737 MAX 8 fresh from the Renton plant, landing next to one of Galvin's C172s

Always lots going on at BFI – that’s an Air Canada B737 MAX 8 fresh from the Renton plant, landing next to one of Galvin’s C172s

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

A few weeks ago, I completed the written pre-solo exam and Cessna 172S checkout paperwork. Both tests are specific to Galvin’s flight school/rental program. The former test covered lots of flight-safety topics, while the checkout test covered aircraft-specific things like performing weight and balance calculations, flight planning, fuel consumption, takeoff and landing distances based on hypothetical weight and balance figures, and so on.

Taking a spin around the west side of TIW

Taking a spin around the west side of TIW (Tacoma)

I’ve had to back off the frequency of flight training a bit; this is definitely an expensive exercise. I’ve gone from flying two or three times a week to three times every two weeks to stretch the budget a bit. This is, based on conversations with fellow students, also nothing out of the ordinary.

That pacing, though, has made me feel like my skills have been stagnating a bit. I had a frustrating flight a week or so ago, where nothing seemed to go smoothly and my memory of the required procedures needed refreshing by the instructor, rather than my just doing them without prompting; it was disheartening.

There have been a couple of flights like that.

On approach to BFI, we were following a business jet headed for the parallel runway (Carl Sanman photo)

On approach to BFI, we were following a business jet headed for the parallel runway- Photo: Carl Sanman

My most recent flight, however, was a great morale booster. It was a glorious Seattle afternoon – crystal-clear skies, mostly smooth air, and the wind was blowing straight down the runway. We flew to the Tacoma Narrows Airport (TIW), a lovely tower-controlled field on a bluff near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and phenomenal views of Puget Sound and the mountains.

And it was there that I became convinced that I finally have a handle on landings. I made five of them in the pattern, and all five were good – a couple were actually really good. Carl, my instructor, said he didn’t touch the controls once during any of them. It was a great feeling. The landing back at BFI was also pretty good.

Tacoma Narrows Airport is in the foreground, Tacoma Narrows Bridge is in the middle, and Mount Rainier is in the distance. This is why I love to fly in the Pacific Northwest

Tacoma Narrows Airport is in the foreground, Tacoma Narrows Bridge is in the middle, and Mount Rainier is in the distance. This is why I love to fly in the Pacific Northwest.

Handling the radios for the different towers, maintaining clearance from Sea-Tac’s overlying class B airspace, recognizing landmarks for checking in with the control towers, correctly reading back their instructions, and then following them while performing the required pre-landing checklist items, and then following pattern protocols and landing procedures (i.e., flying the plane), all went pleasingly well.

Now if I can only consistently repeat all of that, plus all the required stage check maneuvers, I’ll be well on my way toward being qualified for solo flight.

Until then, it’s practice, practice, practice.

The post Learning to Fly: I Keep Plugging Away appeared first on AirlineReporter.

July 31, 2019 at 07:14PM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

Alaska Airlines Kicks it up Several Notches wi…

Alaska Airlines Kicks it up Several Notches with New Flagship Lounge at Sea-Tac Airport:

Alaska's new flagship lounge is huge, comfortable, and offers great views of the runways at SEA

Alaska’s new flagship lounge is huge, comfortable, and offers great views of the runways at SEA

Alaska Airlines has upped their game by opening a huge new flagship lounge at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on July 12. We got to tour the new lounge during a media preview the day before it officially opened.

Plenty of room to sip that coffee

Plenty of room to sip that coffee

The new lounge is part of a $658.3 million update that the airport is currently building at the North Satellite facility; with the completion of this phase, the work is approximately 1/3 complete, according to Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director Lance Lyttle. Construction got underway back in February, 2017.

The project adds eight gates, 255,000 square feet of space, and several new restaurants and shops to the airport.



The lounge is huge – 15,800 square feet. Window walls provide views to the west and north, encompassing the runways, the Olympic Mountains beyond, and the tops of the downtown Seattle skyscrapers, all weather permitting, of course – Seattle is famous for its persistent cloud cover.

The new Alaska lounge is on the upper floor of the atrium-style entry to the new gate area

The new Alaska lounge is on the upper floor of the atrium-style entry to the new gate area

So, what’s it like? It’s shiny new, and, while not in the same league as, say, Singapore’s epic Changi airport, it’s perfectly Pacific Northwest in scale and vibe.

Even stuffed full of dignitaries and media folks, there's still plenty of room

Even stuffed full of dignitaries and media folks, there’s still plenty of room

Once Alaska opens its newest lounge at San Francisco International Airport, it will have a total of eight lounges systemwide, and will have invested $50 million on a combination of new construction and renovations in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York JFK.

This has got to be the best latte art ever

This has got to be the best latte art ever

There’s a large fireplace-centric seating area for relaxing, and plenty of smaller spaces for work or for trying to get a bit of quiet time between flights. The bar offers something close to a dozen microbrews, the coffee bar slings lattes all day long, along with scones and tea for those with a more British bent.

A pancake machine? You betcha

A pancake machine? You betcha

There are plenty of power outlets, WiFi, and flat areas for working or just for setting down your snacks and drinks.

The aforementioned bar area

The aforementioned bar area

Even on a typically grey Seattle morning, there was plenty of natural light in the space.

A two-story atrium features several large art pieces

Several years ago, Delta raised the bar at Sea-Tac with a large, two-story glass-fronted lounge; this totally evens the score, offering far better views.

Best part, IMHO, are the airfield views

Best part, IMHO, are the airfield views

With the huge increases in passengers volumes at Sea-Tac Airport — it’s grown from handling 30 million passengers in 2010 to 50 million in 2018 — the additional, comfortable space has arrived none too soon.

The post Alaska Airlines Kicks it up Several Notches with New Flagship Lounge at Sea-Tac Airport appeared first on AirlineReporter.

July 17, 2019 at 02:54AM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

Flight review: JetSuiteX Offers Semiprivate Tr…

Flight review: JetSuiteX Offers Semiprivate Travel to the Masses:

A JetSuiteX ERJ135 getting a water cannon salute at Boeing Field - Mount Rainier provided a dramatic backdrop

A JetSuiteX ERJ135 getting a water cannon salute at Boeing Field – Mount Rainier provided a dramatic backdrop

Simple, fast, efficient, comfortable, and reasonably-priced air travel. What’s not to like?

JetSuiteX kicked off scheduled service between Seattle and Oakland, Calif., on July 1, with three flights per day between the two cities.

This means that the metro Seattle area now has three airports offering scheduled passenger service: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA); Paine Field (PAE) in Everett; and Boeing Field (officially King County International Airport, BFI).

The airline euphemistically referred to the route as the “nerd bird” in a press release, no doubt calling out their hoped-for clientele: business travelers between the two tech hubs.

No fuss here - you just walk out of the terminal building and onto your plane

No fuss here – you just walk out of the terminal building and onto your plane (for the curious, that’s a GOL B-737 MAX 8 on a test flight in the background)

We’ll soon have a separate story offering background on the airline and more on their plans for routes, so I’m going to focus primarily on the flying experience here. And what an experience it was.

Arguably, one of the best parts of flying with JetSuiteX isn’t the flight itself so much as the removal of pre- and post-flight hassles. Lines? Not really. There are only a maximum of 30 people on your flight, and you’re either flying out of a relatively quiet secondary airport or an executive-style FBO (fixed base operator) at a major airport.

Boarding is a simple and quick process

Boarding is a simple and quick process

TSA? Nope. They’re below required passenger minimums for that, operating under Part 135 charter operator certificate, on aircraft with 30 or fewer seats, exempts them from many TSA requirements. I asked the airline about their safety protocols; below is their reply, verbatim:

At JetSuiteX, the safety and security of our customers and crewmembers is always our number one concern. Any customer over the age of 18 will be required to show valid government issued photo ID or two alternate forms of identification with at least one issued by government authority. JetSuiteX has also implemented several additional controls that far exceed the TSA requirements and norms of the industry, to include ETD screening and the same TSA background check system used by the major airlines. JetSuiteX is proud to be the leader within semi-private travel in using these measures. Regulators at the TSA, FAA, and DOT have approved all JetSuiteX security measures, and we have deep cooperative relationships with local law enforcement. We also have various other, unseen mitigations constantly at-work behind the scenes.

So, simply because passengers don’t have to deal with the formal TSA processes does not mean there isn’t any security; it’s just that the security is done in a different way because of the small number of passengers on a given flight.

In that vein, the airline suggests checking in a mere 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time, which harkens back to the glory days of air travel. I was even able to park all day for free right in front of the terminal (word is that Boeing Field will start charging for parking at some point, so that perk likely won’t last long).

In Seattle, Boeing Field is just five miles south of downtown, adding to the convenience factor for business travelers working in the city.

Alex Wilcox, JetSuiteX co-founder and CEO (he was also one of the founders of JetBlue), said that these things alone can shave three or four hours from a standard round trip flight.

“As an industry, we’ve managed to screw up short haul travel,” Wilcox said, explaining that people don’t mind getting to the airport a two or three hours early for a 10+ hour flight, but not for a 90-minute flight. So, he said, those travelers either look for other options, such as driving, or just skip the trip altogether.

JetSuiteX uses a fleet of Embraer ERJ135s. Candidly, the only time I’d flown on one before was on a feeder airline in the upper Midwest. It had about 37 seats and felt like being in a sardine can, so I was curious as to how comfortable the trip would actually be.

Turns out, my concerns were unfounded. Business-class seats, and only 30 of them, made for plenty of personal space in the relatively small cabin. I could even stand up straight in the lavatory (the planes have one lavatory, all the way aft), something that’s not even possible on some larger jetliners.

2-1 seating - everyone gets a window or an aisle

2-1 seating – everyone gets a window or an aisle

For the flight from BFI-OAK, we left within 10 minutes of scheduled departure, with the tardiness mostly due to the inaugural celebration.

That delay was inconsequential, and was only worth mentioning because everything else went off like a Swiss watch.



At the BFI terminal, a newly-redecorated lounge welcomed us with big windows overlooking the ramp, and free coffee and snacks were available. I didn’t spend any time in there, though, because what AvGeek would pass up an opportunity for some ramp time to sit in a lounge, even a comfy one?

The flight took about 90 minutes to cover the 675 miles between Seattle and Oakland. Did I mention that the fare was only $99 each way? Sure, you can find cheaper sale fares with the major carriers, but then we’re back to the original conundrum of having to get to the airport at least 90 minutes early for your flight, etc., which effectively doubles the transit time for a round-trip flight.



And those cheap mainline fares get you the cheap mainline seats; JetSuiteX’s service is comparable to any domestic premium-economy product I’ve experienced, and is every bit as good as some domestic first class offerings, especially when comparing apples-to-apples on short-haul routes. BFI-OAK is currently JetSuiteX’s longest route. You can even earn JetBlue air miles on these flights.

There are no overhead bins in the small cabin, but the business-class sized seats have tons of room underneath for computer bags and the like. Everything else gets checked – you get a baggage allowance of two bags with a combined total of up to 50 lb. For this quick out-and-back trip I brought only the camera backpack I normally use for international travel, and had no problems fitting it under the seat – there’s more room than most domestic economy seats.

Is there onboard WiFi? Sort of, and it’s scheduled to improve. The onboard network is currently named something along the lines of GoGoTextOnly, and that network name pretty much explains the deal.

The WiFi is fast enough for texting, mostly. Even texting was slow, and forget about texting anyone a photo while in flight — the in-flight photo I texted to a friend as a test didn’t get sent until after we landed and my phone connected to a cellular network.

That said, things are slated to improve later this year. According to a JetSuiteX spokesperson, the company is working with SmartSky Networks to implement next-gen, ground-speed onboard WiFi. Originally planned to be launched in late summer, it’s been delayed until Q4 2019.

There was plenty of space onboard

There was plenty of space onboard

Once in California at Signature’s Oakland terminal, the vibe was more upscale bus station than airport; it was loud, there weren’t enough seats, and lots of people seemed determined to make messes faster than the very busy staff could get things cleaned up.

Free coffee, soft drinks, and light snacks were available, but, unlike BFI’s surprisingly good cafeteria in the main building, there are no easily-accessible food options at either the FBO or on that side of the Oakland airport. Granted, this isn’t meant to be a hang-out place, it’s meant for quick transfers, but soda and pretzels only go so far.

Uber Eats solved nicely solved the problem — I had Indian food delivered within 30 minutes during my two-hour layover.

On the outbound leg I was in the middle of the plane in seat 5C, a window. For the return, I was in 10B, an aisle seat in the very last row. The aft-mounted engines made for an unsurprisingly louder ride in the back, but despite that I was still able to carry on a pleasant conversation with the person seated next to me for much of the trip.

Talk about curbside service - this is where we parked in OAK - right in front of the Signature FBO terminal

Talk about curbside service – this is where we parked in OAK – right in front of the Signature FBO terminal

There is one flight attendant on the plane and an appropriately small galley, so the in-flight service consisted of beverages and packaged snacks, perfectly appropriate for such a short flight.

A peek at the ERJ135 flight deck

A peek at the ERJ135 flight deck

I’m definitely a fan of this type of flying. There’s lots to like: prices that are competitive with the major airlines, no long TSA lines, quick and easy check in, comfortable lounges, and solid in-flight service.

The only drag is they only currently have one route out of Seattle.

Disclosure: JetSuiteX invited AirlineReporter on board at its expense for the round-trip flight; our opinions remain our own.

The post Flight review: JetSuiteX Offers Semiprivate Travel to the Masses appeared first on AirlineReporter.

July 10, 2019 at 12:32AM Source: https://ift.tt/2Ex2ezu

FAA written exam passed; next step is preparin…

FAA written exam passed; next step is preparing for stage 1 checkride:

I told you Boeing Field's airspace was busy. That's a USAF KC-46 Pegasus tanker returning from a test flight and a bizjet taxiing to the right; Galvin's ramp is in the foreground.

I told you Boeing Field’s airspace was busy. That’s a USAF KC-46 Pegasus tanker returning from a test flight and a biz jet taxiing to the right; Galvin’s ramp is in the foreground.

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

I passed the FAA written exam two weeks ago. I’ve never been so excited about what amounts to a B+ on a test. But it was a solid pass, as a 70 (or the equivalent of either a C or C-, depending on where you’re from) is the minimum required.

Those free online practice tests are really helpful for exam prep, but I credit the combination of dedicating tons of spare time to studying, along with all of the knowledge and tips shared by Robin, our most excellent ground instructor.

You can’t just toss the books after the exam, though – keeping on top of this stuff seems to be a never-ending task, as several more exams of differing complexity await, as well as a series of so-called stage checks. These are flight-skill milestones, the first of which is probably the most daunting — stage 1, which, if successful, sets you up to do your first solo flight, and the checkride done with a different CFI for both safety and evaluative reasons.

This is a view I'm getting very familiar with - the approach to 14L at BFI (the smaller runway on the left). We're not yet lined up because we were dealing with a crosswind. I was a passenger in a friend's plane for this photo, BTW

This is a view I’m getting very familiar with – the approach to 14L at BFI (the smaller runway on the left). We’re not yet lined up because we were dealing with a crosswind. I was a passenger in a friend’s plane for this photo, BTW

For the longest time, I’ve been struggling with overcontrolling the plane at the last few seconds of the landing process. The idea is to do the approach lined up on centerline and staying on the glideslope, which I at least feel like I’ve got a decent handle on.

As the plane gets to the last few feet above the runway, you’re supposed to catch the descent and settle into ground effect, which is, basically, a situation in which the plane is sort of floating on a cushion of air something less than one wingspan above the ground. From there, you set the plane down smoothly on the main wheels, and fly the plane down the runway to a point where the wings are no longer generating enough lift to fly and the plane settles to the runway.

We overflew Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) on a recent flight back from the Olympic Peninsula. The route is called the Mariner Transition, and it requires both advance permission and active coordination from air-traffic controllers at SEA.

We overflew Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) on a recent flight back from the Olympic Peninsula. The route is called the Mariner Transition, and it requires both advance permission and active coordination from air-traffic controllers at SEA.

Practice makes perfect, though, and over the past few flights it finally feels like I’m starting to get the hang of things, at least now recognizing the point at which the plane enters ground effect and understanding a bit better about how gently (or, frustratingly, how not gently) to handle the controls.

That, and steering the plane to centerline with the rudder and not the control yoke. The instinct to steer the plane with the yoke is hard to overcome for someone used to driving a car – “steering” with the yoke activates the ailerons, dipping one wing and causing the plane to actually veer farther off course. Frustrating, and a bit confusing when all sorts of stuff is going on during the last bit of the approach.

Speaking of frustrating, then there’s the radio. Talking with ATC while still getting the hang of the whole flying thing, and having to both accurately understand and read back their instructions, still causes a bit of fluster for me. Apparently it’s also not an uncommon issue – Carl often just smiles and shrugs after he has to jump in and correct my botched radio calls.

We’ve also visited a few new airports – Tacoma Narrows (TIW), Bremerton (PWT), and Paine Field (PAE). I’m also in possession of the initial paperwork (read: more written tests) to begin the solo process, something that I’m oddly simultaneously excited and terrified about.

But that’s all part of the fun, I suppose.

The post FAA written exam passed; next step is preparing for stage 1 checkride appeared first on AirlineReporter.

June 25, 2019 at 11:31PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Big Fun During a Behind-the-Scenes Ops Tour at…

Big Fun During a Behind-the-Scenes Ops Tour at Paris Orly Airport:

The ORY airport fire department during a training exercise

The ORY airport fire department during a training exercise

Behind-the-scenes airport operations tours are almost always amazing experiences, but Paris Orly Airport (ORY) seems to have set the bar for me with this one. Orly is the second-busiest airport in Paris (after Charles de Gaulle Airport), the 11th-busiest in Europe, and is located about eight miles south of Paris.

An Air France Hop commuter flight departing ORY

An Air France Hop commuter flight departing ORY

It’s a proper international airport and the busiest domestic airport in France. It serves 143 cities, saw a total of 33,120,685 passengers in 2018, and its three runways had 229,654 aircraft movements in 2013, which is the most recent year for which records are available.

A French Bee A350 at the gate

A French Bee A350 at the gate

Orly serves as a hub for Aigle Azur, Air France, French Bee, HOP!, Transavia France, and Corsair International. It’s also a focus airport for Air Caraibes, Chalair Aviation, easyJet, Royal Air Maroc, and Vueling.

La Compagnie also runs its all-business-class 757 service out of ORY to Newark (EWR)

La Compagnie also runs its all-business-class 757 service out of ORY

The airport’s terminals are undergoing major renovations, and Orly South and Orly West have already been renamed to Orly 1, 2, 3, and 4. The planned result through the renovations is a much-improved passenger experience.

A Rossiya B-737 taxiing for departure as seen from ORY's excellent observation deck

A Rossiya B737 taxiing for departure as seen from ORY’s excellent observation deck

As mentioned in my recent French Bee flight review, ORY has a great glassed-in observation deck that’s open to the public and accessible before security. But, I came to see what’s airside, and, with the help of both French Bee’s marketing team and the operations and fire department staff at ORY, I got the royal treatment. I had hoped to see some cargo operations, but that didn’t pan out this trip. What did happen, though, was something beyond what I’d expected – a full-on fire drill.



Orly’s airport fire department has an old Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle for training – it’s secured to big concrete posts behind the fire station. It once held registration number F-BVPZ with Corse Air International, which is now known as Corsair International.

Cooling down the Caravelle

Cooling down the Caravelle

We spent more than an hour with them, watching the drill, touring the aircraft, and the station. The trucks roared out of the station, sped to the plane, and doused it with water. Then firefighters dragged out hoses to spray down the engines, cool the wings, and soak the wheels.



We even got a ride in one of the airport fire trucks after the drill. My inner 10-year-old was delighted.

Communicating with ground control before driving on a taxiway

Communicating with ground control before driving on a taxiway

Heck, my current 53-year-old self was delighted, too.

The Orly Airport Fire Department has its own tower

The Orly Airport Fire Department has its own tower

The fire department is very well integrated into the airport’s operation system – the fire station even has its own ground tower to better keep an eye on things.



Fun little things of note: at ORY, each vehicle that accesses the taxiways and ramp areas only needs clearance from ground control once each shift; this is different from what I’ve experienced at Stateside airports, where tower clearance is required to transit outside of marked airside vehicle lanes.

Corsair International, the same airline that once owned the fire department's Caravelle

Corsair International, the same airline that once owned the fire department’s Caravelle Corsair

The airport fire trucks have ADS-B transceivers with moving maps on large display screens, allowing them to monitor both aircraft and other similarly-equipped vehicles.

French Bee really does have a fantastic livery

French Bee really does have a fantastic livery

Seeing the highly-trained fire department in action was an amazing experience. I’m definitely hoping for a return visit once the airport’s renovations are complete to see all the improvements.

The post Big Fun During a Behind-the-Scenes Ops Tour at Paris Orly Airport appeared first on AirlineReporter.

June 06, 2019 at 05:10PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Ground School Complete; Getting Beat up in the…

Ground School Complete; Getting Beat up in the Pattern, Slowly Getting Better:

In the traffic pattern at Boeing Field. The view doesn't suck - that's Mount Rainier on the horizon, and the airfield is on the lower-right side of the image

In the traffic pattern at Boeing Field. The view doesn’t suck – that’s Mount Rainier on the horizon, and the airfield is on the lower-right side of the image.

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

After six weeks, which went past in a seeming eyeblink, I’ve completed ground school. Drinking from a fire hose is an appropriate analogy. Still, I passed all three written stage tests, and just passed the written comprehensive finals, which consisted of two separate tests over two class sessions. Next up will be scheduling and taking the proper FAA written exam before all this hard-earned info leaks out of my brain.

I’ve also been flying quite a lot with my CFI (aka my instructor) – two or three hours a week on average. I’m learning new skills like crazy, but am also burning through money like a Silicon Valley startup. In contrast with most of my stories, I don’t have very many photos to share for this series, not at least so far. Learning how to fly is hard, and if I’m on the controls the whole flight, there’s no time for taking photos. I’m considering finding a way to mount a GoPro either inside or outside the plane so there’s at least some video to share.

Anyway, we started doing pattern work a week or so ago; that means pretty much flying in the airport’s prescribed traffic pattern, doing a touch-and-go, then re-entering the pattern. Lather, rinse, repeat. At Boeing Field (BFI), you can get about six laps around the pattern into a one-hour lesson.

The first time we did this, it was utterly demoralizing. I’m flying a plane, which is amazing and fun, but landing is *hard*. Especially when dealing with BFI’s notoriously squirrelly crosswinds.

Preflight briefings include departure and approach procedures. This one is for the Lincoln departure from BFI

Preflight briefings include departure and approach procedures. This one is for the Lincoln departure from BFI.

Well, that, and being totally new to this thing, having to learn to think and control a vehicle that moves in multiple attitudes at once, all the while developing the correspondingly new muscle-memory skills. Then combine all of that with flying in a conga line of aircraft piloted by fellow students, who are all doing similar maneuvers. Oh – and there are business jets, 737s, and a sprinkling of UPS heavy freighters tossed in for good measure. I guess I did say I wanted to learn at a busy airport; I’m definitely getting what I asked for.

I was ridiculously bad at landing the first few times (OK, all of the times). Fortunately, my attempts weren’t legendarily bad, but they were apparently bad enough to at least slightly stress out my CFI, who has to be one of the most unflappable people I’ve ever met. His normally calm, encouraging, and measured voice actually went up a couple octaves on at least one occasion when I goofed up very close to the ground, but I guess I’m holding up my end of the training bargain by providing Carl with a few challenges to repay all of that patience.

There are plenty of things to occupy your attention in the cockpit; every one of those instruments is important, some are just more important than others

There are plenty of things to occupy your attention in the cockpit; every one of those instruments is important, some are just more important than others.

We’ve also done more ground-reference maneuvers, which consist of turns around a point (in this case, a tall water tower) and S-turns along a road, all designed to sharpen control skills. The first time we did this, the air was quite turbulent, at least by my newbie standards. The turbulence made it tricky for me to keep the nose level while in the turns, etc., but it was still fun.

The second time we did these maneuvers, there were gusty 20-knot winds to contend with, making it that much trickier to fly in a circle around the point – I kept flying ovals instead of circles, and kept gaining altitude in the turns instead of maintaining level flight. The S-turns were every bit as tricky. It was so gusty that, once back at BFI, Carl wouldn’t let me do the landing, and even he wound up doing a go-around on our first landing attempt.

This is a process best practiced by those with a lot of patience, persistence, and no small amount of humility; overconfidence and machismo are rewarded with prompt smackdowns from some combination of the four forces of flight.

4,000 feet above the Olympic Peninsula is apparently a good spot to practice stalls

4,000 feet above the Olympic Peninsula is apparently a good spot to practice stalls

Did I mention stall training? We did that on a calm day (well, the first time, anyway), flying the plane in slow flight then pitching up until we lost lift. It was actually quite difficult to do that – the Cessna wants to fly straight and level; guess that’s why it’s such a successful training aircraft.

We also did power-on stalls; those are to simulate a stall during takeoff, which is something to be avoided (all stalls are to be avoided; practicing them in safe conditions is essential for knowing how to handle one if things go a bit wrong). Knowing how stalls feel, and the resulting knowledge of how to avoid and recover from them are great for confidence.

Illustration of a power-on stall, from the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook

Illustration of a power-on stall, from the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook

We’ve also gone through simulated engine failures, beginning in the simulator, then practicing them in the aircraft. In the sim, Carl said he’d discovered a new failure mode in the software and was eager to try it on me. He actually giggled while I was doing the takeoff and climbing to the assigned altitude.

Once I was established in level flight, he asked if I was ready. A couple seconds later, the sim went silent and the nose pitched up, quite dramatically. He asked how the plane felt; I was guessing, but asked if he’d programmed parachuters who’d just jumped out. He laughed. “Your engine just fell out of the bottom of the plane.”

That explained the nose-up pitching moment I was dealing with. I did manage to run through the memory items and set the plane down on a runway at an adjacent airport, albeit very hard, but I was generally pleased with how it went, at least this time.

Flight training, Boeing Field, Seattle (BFI) from Francis Zera on Vimeo.

The post Ground School Complete; Getting Beat up in the Pattern, Slowly Getting Better appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 31, 2019 at 10:20PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests C…

Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests Complete, Flight Training Underway:

That's us, coming in to land at BFI following my first training flight with Galvin Flying. Photo credit: Huy Do

That’s us, coming in to land at BFI following my first training flight with Galvin Flying – Photo: Huy Do

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the introduction here.

As of now, I’ve completed the stage one and two ground-school exams. These exams are administered by the ground-school instructor at Galvin Flying and serve as checkpoints; they don’t count toward the FAA exam.

I’ve passed them both, which is encouraging (a passing grade is 70% – I did quite a bit better than that).

We’ve already covered basic aerodynamics, powerplants, flight instruments, airspace, airports, communications, and flight safety. We just wrapped up the comprehensive weather and FAA regulation sections; now it’s on to flight planning, which is where the math starts. We’ll learn to compute things like fuel consumption rates, time/speed/distance, endurance, airspeed, density altitude, and wind correction angles.

Believe it or not, this weather stuff is starting to make sense

Believe it or not, this weather stuff is starting to make sense

Ground school wraps up on May 25th with a comprehensive knowledge test, which is basically a full-on practice version of the proper FAA exam.

Theoretically, if we’ve successfully completed the course, we’ll then be prepared to plunk down the roughly $165 to take the FAA written test; a grade of at least 70% is required to pass.

I’ve also started flight training. I didn’t mention before, but basically my butt is a bit too heavy for the Cessna 152, which is the aircraft I’d originally planned to train in, primarily for the $60/hour cost savings over the larger C172. Putting two 200 lb. adult males (my CFI isn’t a small guy, either) in a C152 means no cross-country flights, as the aircraft’s maximum payload limit leaves room for no more than ½ tank of fuel. I won’t lie, though, I do like the larger plane.

Aviation charts also have a bit of a learning curve

Aviation charts also have a bit of a learning curve

My first lesson with Carl, my CFI, was in a static (meaning not moving, although it does have a hydraulic system that simulates control resistance) FAA-approved, OneG G650 C172 flight simulator. As such, it even has a registered tail number for logbook and maintenance tracking. Galvin also has a full-motion simulator, but I’ve not used it yet.

So, for the first lesson, I basically did a simulated takeoff, a flight to the local practice area, and a return. I managed to crash the sim when landing. It was a humbling experience that felt uncomfortably real.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a gamer and am unused to such experiences, or maybe it’s because I thought I’d just waltz in and nail it, but I went home a bit more shaken than I expected I could be following a simulator flight. Maybe that’s why Carl likes to start people in the sim — it’s a good way to rid folks of any pretenses that this is an easy thing.

My pre-flight briefing for ground-reference maneuvers

My pre-flight briefing for ground-reference maneuvers

My second flight lesson was a real flight in a C172 on a gloriously clear Sunday morning. We started the session by spending 45 minutes on a very thorough training preflight of the airplane, going slowly through all of the checklists, with Carl explaining the details behind each item.

Taxiing is, well, kind of a trip. You don’t steer these planes with the yoke; that’s connected to wing control surfaces that need a lot of wind flowing over them to do their jobs. You steer with your feet, using either the brakes (the top each rudder pedal also serves as the brake for either the left or the right wheel), or the nose-wheel steering, accessed via the bottom of each pedal. It takes some serious practice to keep the plane tracking even close to straight.

Speaking of taxiing, at a Class D airport like Boeing Field you’re in frequent communication over the radio. You need tower clearance to taxi, then takeoff clearance before leaving, along with having to keep in touch with the tower while in the Class D airspace, and then tower acknowledgement to re-enter the airspace, then clearance to land, then clearance to taxi back to the ramp, and so on. Yet another whole set of procedures to learn.

Getting ready to run the checklists

Getting ready to run the checklists

Anyway, once we stopped at the run-up area to do the pre-takeoff engine and electrical checklists, Carl performed the takeoff, handing me the controls at about 200 feet AGL (above ground level; aviation loves its acronyms). I flew for the rest of the hour, traveling to a nearby bit of airspace called, creatively enough, the northeast practice area, which is located about a dozen miles northeast of Boeing Field.

It was somewhat turbulent (Carl later described the conditions as being “a bit zesty”), so it was tricky to keep the turns smooth when we kept getting knocked around. But it made for very good practice – Carl talked me through making level turns, climbing turns, and descending turns while bouncing around a bit. The one-hour flight was over in a seeming eye blink.

Living the dream. Photo: Carl Sanman

Living the dream – Photo: Carl Sanman

The overall nice weather also meant very crowded skies (they don’t call Seattle the Jet City for nothing).

I flew back to BFI, then Carl took over for the downwind leg and landing, because a business jet was on short final to the big runway at the same time as we were lining up behind another Cessna on the smaller, parallel runway.

The jet landed beneath and behind us, and, at the same time, the Cessna ahead of us decided to do a go-around, and then we landed. Everyone was in contact with, and directed by, the control tower. Despite how hectic that sounded, everything went very smoothly.

This learning process has basically turned into a full-time job.

And do I ever have a lot of work to do.

The post Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests Complete, Flight Training Underway appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 15, 2019 at 10:18PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

An economically elegant flight to Paris with F…

An economically elegant flight to Paris with French Bee:

A French Bee A359 on the taxiway at Orly Airport in Paris. It's a very lovely livery, IMHO

A French Bee A359 on the taxiway at Orly Airport in Paris. It’s a very lovely livery, IMHO.

Can you have low-cost airfare and elegant service? French Bee definitely wants you to think so.

French Bee is a relatively new low-cost carrier, having begun operations in September of 2016. They’re based at Paris Orly Airport (ORY).

With a current fleet of three Airbus aircraft (one A330-300 and two A350-900s) flying to five destinations, they’re a relatively small player, and they’re France’s first LCC. They also have one A350-1000 on order, currently slated for delivery later this year.

From their ORY hub, they fly to San Francisco, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Papeete, Tahiti, and Saint Denis, Reunion, all of which are vacation destinations for French travelers.

French Bee's A350-900 seat map

French Bee’s A350-900 seat map

French Bee is part of the Dubreuil group, which also owns Air Caraïbes, a somewhat larger airline which primarily serves Caribbean holiday destinations from the same ORY base.

Interestingly, French Bee started out being named French Blue. When the airline applied for a U.S. air carrier permit in November 2017, JetBlue objected to the idea of allowing another airline to operate in the United States that had the word “blue” in its name. That eventually led to a rebrand as French Bee in January 2018.

With a target audience of budget-minded holidaymakers, the airline’s pricing is very competitive; fares typically run less than $700 return between SFO and ORY. An additional $250-ish buys you a premium-class seat (more on that later).

There are 411 seats on a French Bee A359: 35 Premium, 50 Cosy, and 326 in Eco Blue.

I flew with French Bee on their SFO-ORY-SFO route the first week of April, traveling in 10-abreast Smart Economy/Eco Blue on the outbound leg and in their Premium cabin on the return flight.

That's a lot of seats - the 10-abreast A359 economy cabin. Photo courtesy French Bee

That’s a lot of seats… the 10-abreast A359 economy cabin – Photo: French Bee

The airline has three fare classes. First is a basic economy product that includes no checked bags, but allows one 12kg (26 lb.) carry-on bag and one personal item. The Eco Blue Smart Economy product adds a single 50 lb./23kg checked bag and an in-flight meal (which costs an extra $25 if you’re in basic economy).

The Premium fare gets you the Smart Economy service plus a second checked bag, the ability to select your seat at booking, priority check-in, priority boarding, and priority baggage delivery, along with a menu of other options outlined at the above link. It’s a pretty good deal for the price.

SFO's heartbreaking thermal window film makes for some sad photos

SFO’s heartbreaking thermal window film makes for some sad photos

In keeping with the LCC a la carte pricing scheme, if you want to be assured of sitting next to a traveling companion, it’ll cost you another $50 for that privilege, regardless of which service level you’ve selected.

SFO-ORY, Seat 12K, Smart Economy, Cosy section, Tail F-HREV

Our flight from SFO to ORY originated in Papeete, so SFO essentially serves as a fuel and crew rest stop along the way, as the route is far too long to cover in one leg.

The airline’s shared check-in counter is located at counter 12, at the far end of SFO’s huge international terminal. I had arrived at SFO quite early via a connection from Seattle, so I figured I’d just check in early when the ticketing counter opened so I could visit the airport’s new observation deck.

When I arrived at the counter, there was already a 10-deep line of apparently like-minded travelers. We were told by an airport official that the check-in counter was scheduled to open at 4:30 p.m. for the 8:35 p.m. flight. Five French Bee gate agents arrived at 5:15 p.m. Once they got to work, check-in proceeded efficiently and I was soon on my way to security.

French Bee doesn’t currently participate in TSA PreCheck, but the regular SFO security line wasn’t long in the mid-afternoon and things moved along pretty efficiently.



Curiously, nearly all of the gate announcements were made only in French, which made things tough for those of us with terrible French language skills. On the plus side, it got my brain working to dust the cobwebs off the memory of long-ago college French classes, and forced me to chat with a couple of other travelers in hopes that their French listening skills were better than mine. As things like this tend to do, it all worked out just fine in the end.

The inbound flight was a bit late, which also pushed back our boarding. But, as was explained very nicely in this recent BBC News story, pretty much all airlines pad their published flight times to allow for such issues. Once we got going, despite leaving 30+ minutes later than our scheduled 8:35 p.m. PDT departure, we eventually landed 20 minutes ahead of the published 4:20 p.m. CET arrival time.

This flight also marked this AvGeek’s first A350 flight, so I was pretty excited to get on board the aircraft. I was pleased to note the large windows, cavernous overhead bins, and the quiet interior even at takeoff, and didn’t have to hunch over to stand in the lavatory, either.

My seat was 12K in the Cosy section (aka up front away from the engines where it’s quieter) Smart Economy class. I had a large window from which to watch the world go by, plus I got lucky and there was an empty middle seat in our row.

Now that's a window

Now that’s a window

The economy seats are slimline, similar to the type often seen on U.S. domestic airlines. There were no pretenses that 10-abreast (3-4-3) seating wouldn’t be tight. As a non-standard sized traveler (I’m tall, but unlike most people, my height is in my torso rather than my legs), the 32″ seat pitch was fine until the person in front of me reclined their seat, then I was looking at the top of their head. The 16″ seat width would have been more noticeable had I not lucked out and had an empty seat next to me.



The in-flight entertainment system features large seat-back screens, USB power outlets with enough amperage to charge my iPad (which was a pleasant surprise; even some mainline carriers’ first class seats don’t meet that standard), and a large selection of videos and music. The planes are also equipped with external cameras accessible via the IFE system, but it seemed that economy passengers couldn’t access them even though I could see people in the premium section viewing them.

One fun perk on this trip was that their excellent satellite WiFi is free to all flyers until June 10, thanks to a promotional offer celebrating the new ORY-SFO-PPT route. So, I was able to annoy my wife via text and surf the web as much as I wanted.

Bonne chance - free WiFi until June 10!

Bonne chance – free WiFi until June 10!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the WiFi worked well every time I used it, regardless of our location along the route. Once that promo deal expires, though, the regular prices are quite spendy, ranging from US$9 for 10 minutes to US$49 for four hours of connectivity.



The flight attendants were consistently friendly, courteous, polished, and helpful, which set a very pleasant tone for the whole flight.

The meal was as expected for an economy flight – a straightforward affair of chicken teriyaki, white rice, and couscous, along with a roll, brownie, and glass of water. Nothing that’ll change your life, but it’s not designed to.

Once we got settled in to the flight, I was tired enough that I managed to sleep for about four hours; the quiet A350 cabin didn’t hurt.

Breakfast was a la carte, with choices made from a menu. I wasn’t very hungry, so I opted for a cup of Nescafé with powdered creamer, which set me back US$2.50.

Once we landed at Orly and cleared customs, I found my way to Orly’s bag claim area, which had signs showing an estimated bag delivery time of 4:30 p.m. The belt started promptly at 4:31 p.m., but no bags appeared until 4:45 p.m. Six bags popped out, then there was nothing else until 5 p.m. Mine eventually came out after an hour.

I’ve since learned that the glacially-slow bag service is, in fact, a feature of Orly. Fortunately, the airport is currently undergoing an extensive renovation project, which I’m told will include improvements to the baggage handling systems.

While in Paris, I was treated to an in-depth operations tour of Orly Airport with both French Bee and ORY staff, along with some great interview time with two of the airline’s C-suite folks; watch for separate upcoming stories on those topics.

While not a typical flight-review photo, I was grateful for the opportunity to see Notre Dame on the trip

While not a typical flight-review photo, I was grateful for the opportunity to see Notre Dame on the trip

As an aside, I also spent an afternoon in Paris, which included a walk through Notre Dame Cathedral; I feel fortunate to have been able to go inside before the tragic fire on April 15.

Orly Airport Observation Deck

A cool discovery was that ORY has an observation deck. It’s free, and you don’t need to be a ticketed passenger to visit. It’s on the fourth floor, easily accessible from the check-in area via stairs or elevator located not far from the French Blue help desk.

Although it's well-secured, ORY's observation deck is bright, airy, and offers great views

Although it’s well-secured, ORY’s observation deck is bright, airy, and offers great views

There isn’t much signage pointing to the glassed-in deck, but it’s definitely worth seeking out as it provides great views of the airfield.

Views from the ORY observation deck encompass a couple of taxiways, an entrance road, a runway, and, currently, a construction site. Air Caraïbes is the sister airline to French Bee

Views from the ORY observation deck encompass a couple of taxiways, an entrance road, a runway, and, currently, a construction site. Air Caraïbes is the sister airline to French Bee

ORY-SFO, Seat 5K, Premium Class, Tail F-HREU

The Orly Airport terminal features a futuristic-looking pedestrian walkway

The Orly Airport terminal features a futuristic-looking pedestrian walkway

Soon, it was time to make my way back home. Priority check-in is included with a Premium Class ticket. It was great. It’s somewhat similar to TSA Precheck. You can leave your shoes on, but electronics and 3-1-1 liquids still need to come out of your bags at security. The whole security and customs process took just a few minutes via dedicated lines.

At ORY, French Bee has automated much of its check-in process, even beyond the standard kiosk-based procedures we’re used to in the States. For example, you can weigh and drop your own bags at the counter once you’ve tagged them, ostensibly saving more time.

Queueing up for checkin
A shared automated check-in kiosk at ORY
One of French Bee's automated bag-drop counters

iCare Lounge access is included – it’s a shared facility, but it was comfortable enough, with plenty of seating and the expected food options, such as cheese and baguettes, plenty of wine and booze options, and a pleasing variety of nonalcoholic beverages.



On the down side, there was a distinct lack of power outlets in the lounge (as in, I couldn’t find any without having to unplug light fixtures), and the windows featured an excellent view of the terminal’s rooftop HVAC equipment.

Once at the gate, it was deja-vu all over again: we would depart late because the inbound flight was late. Flight time was announced to be 10 hours, 25 minutes.

The big windows offered a good view of the ramps during boarding

The big windows offered a good view of the ramps during boarding

This time I was in Premium class (a 2-3-2 layout), in seat 5K – the first row – so it was a bulkhead seat with tons of legroom; it was quite a contrast with the first flight. Even better, there was no one seated next to me, so I had my own row.



With such tight seating in the back, the change to large business class seats was nothing short of astonishing. French Bee’s Premium cabin is a comfortable and relaxing environment. It’s not a full-on first class experience, but budget-conscious business travelers should be pleased, especially considering the relatively modest fare differences.

The tail camera was amazing to watch, especially when we started throwing contrails.

The tail camera was amazing to watch, especially when we started throwing contrails.

Once we’d gotten established at cruising altitude, dinner appeared. It consisted of a coconut chicken curry, smoked salmon paté, bread, brie, and a few seeded grapes, with chocolate mousse and the world’s tiniest stroopwaffel for dessert. The presentation is pure cafeteria, but the meal was quite good.

Dinner was, unsurprisingly, better up front. 

Dinner was, unsurprisingly, better up front

The flight crew was every bit as awesome as on the first flight — consistently friendly, cheerful, and professional.

We were given amenity kits, which I wasn’t expecting on an LCC. They’re basic, but appropriate to the flight – socks, an eye mask, and a dental kit in a blue fabric pouch. On the outbound leg in Smart Economy, we were provided with socks and an eye mask in a clear plastic bag; that was also a service perk I wasn’t expecting.

The westbound flight to SFO was mostly in daylight, so it was trickier to sleep, even with the window shades drawn. I opted to mostly watch the tail camera feed and read; it made for a comfortable and pleasant journey.

Breakfast was included in Premium, and included coffee, which for me is all that really matters anyway

Breakfast was included in Premium, and included coffee, which for me is all that really matters anyway

Once at SFO, I was the second person off the plane, and there was no line at the Global Entry kiosks, likely because we landed a bit late and missed a big wave of international arrivals.

This part was a new record for me: it took a mere five minutes to get from the plane, through customs, and to the bag claim area.

Then reality arrived. I got to cool my heels for 45 minutes waiting for my bag. It seems that, for some unknown reason, nearly all of the bags with priority tags were brought to the oversized area at the other end of the bag-claim area.

I had asked a gate agent for help, because by then the carousel had stopped and my bag was nowhere to be seen. We literally chanced across the bags while walking past the oversize-bag area on our way to the help desk. This was also an airport-side issue, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating.

Despite the airport bag-delivery issues, the overall experience was very good. It’s an LCC, and you get what you pay for (or opt not to pay for), but with very polished service regardless of cabin class.

Would I fly them again? Absolutely. Especially as the upgrade to premium is relatively affordable and worth the additional money on such a long flight. Even if you’re sticking with economy to save money for those amazing Parisian patisseries, the onboard service and new aircraft combine to warrant a solid recommendation.

Disclosure: French Bee invited AirlineReporter on board at its expense for the round-trip flights and Paris accommodations; our opinions remain our own.

The post An economically elegant flight to Paris with French Bee appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 10, 2019 at 12:37AM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Learning to fly… for real this time

Learning to fly… for real this time:

The business end of a Cessna 172, the type of plane I'll be training in.

The business end of a Cessna 172, the type of plane I’ll be training in

Yep. I’m finally doing it.

After close to a decade of talking about taking flying lessons, and after a couple of false starts, I’ve plunked down my money and started ground school last month with Galvin Flying at King County International Airport, aka Boeing Field, aka BFI, in Seattle.

Not dissimilar from our own JL’s experience, I’ve also had a couple of false starts – flying is both a spendy and time-intensive process. I’ve been talking about doing this for about a decade, have taken a number of introductory flight lessons, and I actually started flight training with a private instructor and self-guided ground school (that’s the experience that made me realize a formal program would be better for me). I’ve also ridden along with several friends and their instructors on their own training flights.

Of course I needed a model C172 to help with training

Of course I needed a model C172 to help with training

Anyway, here I am, about halfway through ground school. Now, as JL has already told you, formal ground school is optional, as there are many legit self-study options available that will prepare you for the FAA written exam. Key to any learning endeavor – especially one for folks for whom school of any kind is a couple of decades in the past – is knowing your learning style preferences.

From experience, I know that my most effective learning style is a combination of books and a human instructor, hence my choice of classroom-style ground school. Other folks might prefer videos, still others might choose a self-paced pre-packaged program; all those options are available.

Student pilot requirements get their own chapter in the FAR/AIM, which is the combined set of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). It’s the bible for flying in the U.S. I’m here to tell you that it definitely contains lots more rules and regulations than the real Bible.

Feels like I spend a lot more time with books than with airplanes at this point in the training

Feels like I spend a lot more time with books than with airplanes at this point in the training

A friend who’s also a flight instructor once told me that reading the FAR/AIM is like reading the history of aviation, written in rules that are based on mishaps or near misses. Many of the rules or bits of information in there are based on a hard-learned lesson. The legal sections also function as an effective sleep aid.

I've been told by pretty much everyone that learning in a plane with round dials instead of a digital display (aka glass cockpit) makes you a better pilot in the end. So, that's my plan.

I’ve been told by pretty much everyone that learning in a plane with round dials instead of a digital display (aka glass cockpit) makes you a better pilot in the end. So, that’s my plan.

I sought out Galvin’s program because learning to fly at Boeing Field is akin to learning to drive in lower Manhattan – it’s a super busy airport, hosting both general aviation and lots of Boeing test/delivery fights. It has controlled airspace, it’s sandwiched between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Renton Municipal (which is where every 737 is assembled and takes its first flight), and is just a bit south of Paine Field, where Boeing builds its twin-aisle jets. The airspace around here is complicated.

It’s also bit more expensive here in the Pacific Northwest than in many other parts of the country; a Cessna 172 goes for close to $180/hour, and instructor time is about $80/hour. Ground school, taught by a certificated (welcome to the crazy world of FAA English) ground school instructor, is about $500.

I’ve met and selected my CFI (Certificated Flight Instructor), and we’re hoping to start flight training this coming week – Seattle’s fickle spring weather permitting, of course.

Galvin does have several FAA-approved flight simulators, which will probably come in handy when the weather is below approved VFR (Visual Flight Rules, aka those covering private/sport pilots) minimums. There’s a metric sh*t ton of information to learn, memorize, and apply before the actual flying part begins.

A two-seat Cessna 152 (foreground) and a four-seat Cessna 172 (background) on the Galvin ramp at BFI.

A two-seat Cessna 152 (foreground) and a four-seat Cessna 172 (background) on the Galvin ramp at BFI

As Capt. A. G. Lamplugh said in 1931, “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.” Thus, the rules and regulations are principally designed to keep you, me, and everyone else out there, safe.

So, yes, this is going to be a ton of work. But it’s already a ton of fun – I’m learning new stuff daily. I’ve already made some new friends at ground school, and summer is on the way, so we’ll soon be experiencing some of the best flying weather of the year.

This will be a regular column, hopefully culminating in my obtaining a private pilot certificate. I’m hoping to inspire folks to pursue their passion by sharing what it’s like to do this, sharing the ups and downs, so to speak, of learning to fly.

I’m also hoping that you’ll ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments.

Disclaimer: Galvin Flying is partially sponsoring this content; our opinions remain our own.

The post Learning to fly… for real this time appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 03, 2019 at 12:48AM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Cathay Pacific begins service from Seattle to …

Cathay Pacific begins service from Seattle to Hong Kong:

Cathay Pacific's inaugural departure from Sea-Tac Airport

Cathay Pacific’s inaugural departure from Sea-Tac Airport

Cathay Pacific’s new non-stop service from Seattle to Hong Kong launched on April 1 with four flights per week; the service will go daily starting July 1.

The new offering is the only current flight between the two Pacific Rim cities; that should make it a popular option for travelers.

Cathay Pacific went all-out with a launch party at the gate

Cathay Pacific went all-out with a launch party at the gate

Cathay Pacific is using its excellent Airbus A350-900 on the route, which is now the airline’s eighth to the United States and follows existing services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), New York (Newark), San Francisco, and Washington DC.



Cathay Pacific is renowned for its high-quality service, and that was in evidence at the catered launch event. There was plenty of food, including a whole roast pig, which is a traditional good-luck meal.

Preparing for the inaugural flight

Preparing for the inaugural flight

The late-night departure made for a really fun photo opportunity out on the ramps and taxiways.

Loading up for the long flight to Hong Kong

Loading up for the long flight to Hong Kong

The flight is the very definition of a red-eye, departing from Seattle at 1:00 a.m., and arriving at Hong Kong International Airport at 5:10 a.m. the following day. The return flight departs HKG at 11:55 p.m. and arrives at SEA at 9:00 p.m.



Cathay Pacific’s A350-900s on this route are configured for a total of 280 passengers in three classes: economy (214 seats in a 3-3-3 layout), premium economy (28 seats, 2-4-2), and business (38 lie-flat seats, 1-2-1).

Cathay Pacific's 2019 Seattle flight schedule

Cathay Pacific’s 2019 Seattle flight schedule

Interestingly, on the previous day, Japan Airlines started non-stop service between Seattle and Tokyo using 787-8s, and Delta started non-stop service from Seattle to Osaka with 767-300ERs the day after. Sea-Tac is definitely experiencing strong international growth.

The post Cathay Pacific begins service from Seattle to Hong Kong appeared first on AirlineReporter.

April 16, 2019 at 04:28PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu