Written by Krystal Jones, Katherine Rolon and Meagan Chappell
Our AIM Orlando pending graduates and alumni attended Banyan Air’s Career Fair in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The invitation was also extended to the Master of Achievement, Leadership & Excellence (M.A.L.E) group of Tampa Bay, who previously attended AIM Orlando’s Summer Jet Camp.
Campus Executive Director, Jerry Moore, scheduled the tour of the facility with the Director of MRO Services, Charlie Amento. Charlie has been a part of the Banyan team for fifteen years, where he started as a mechanic apprentice and worked his way up to director of MRO services.
The tour began at Banyan Air’s pilot shop, continued through general maintenance and concluded with a Career Fair in the avionics hangar. During the tour we learned that there are a total of three hangars on site and five maintenance crews. The director explained that if an aircraft is in the shop for maintenance, their client has the option to schedule avionics upgrades or modifications. During the tour, career services had an opportunity to meet with Banyan’s Director of People Relations, Arlisa Jernigan. She talked about the the culture, standards, and job opportunities available at Banyan Air. Shortly after the tour concluded, Arlisa was pleased to take resumes from our graduates.
Banyan Air’s mission is to provide exceptional aviation services through dedication to quality, safety, and efficiency while maintaining a commitment to the growth and development of their team. Banyan Air Service earned #1 FBO Southeast U.S. for 10 consecutive years in FltPlan.com’s Pilots’ Choice Awards
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance:
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando and Norfolk. Visit AviationMaintenance.edu or call (888) FIX-JETS for more information.
Global Entry kiosks seen at HOU’s international terminal unveiling in 2014
The State of New York has recently reminded all of us that it is time to either get or renew your Global Entry… and a bit at their expense. No, this isn’t a call to be opportunistic. Well, maybe a little. Hear me out…
Recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that New York residents are being cut off from Global Entry (both applications and renewals). “New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in CBP Trusted Traveler Programs and CBP will cancel all pending Trusted Traveler Program applications submitted by residents of New York,”according to a February 6th CBP press release. “New York residents who are currently enrolled in Trusted Travel Programs will retain their benefits until their memberships expire.”
The CBP will not comment on the volume of enrollments by state, but it is safe to assume that the most populated city in the U.S., which also happens to be the world’s financial center, makes up a sizable chunk. With New York enrollment activity being placed on pause, due to political nonsense, now is the time to take advantage of short lines. Yes, this is an advantage to the rest of us. But by shifting our applications forward, we can clear the way for when New York is again approved. Short lines for us now, and a slightly better experience for our New York friends, when their pent-up demand rolls in. Win-win for everyone! Sort of… given the situation anyhow.
As a known-traveler you won’t need to use the recombobulation area just past the TSA checkpoint at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport. – Photo: Lynn Friedman (Creative Commons)
without applying!” This is a totally valid argument: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? In 2014, I wrote about why applying for Pre✓
is a waste of time and money. And I stand by that to this day. Pre✓
is $85 for a five-year membership. GE is an extra $15 (just $3 more per year) and you get Pre✓
plus expedited passage through U.S. customs. This expedited entry works not just at airports, but also border crossings, and sea ports of entry… if boats are your sort of thing (#BoatReporter).
Even if you don’t have plans to travel abroad, wouldn’t it be nice to have Global Entry setup in the event an opportunity presented itself? I mentioned above that Global Entry works for border crossings as well. I was surprised how often I ended up using my membership to re-enter the U.S. from quick trips to Canada and Mexico. For me, I’d pay $15 to skip the line with just one crossing, so the extra cost has more than paid for itself in my first four years of membership.
Real ID Poster for Washington D.C. – Image: TSA
It’s REAL ID-compliant:
Global Entry comes with a government-issued REAL ID card, something Pre✓
doesn’t offer. Don’t know what a REAL ID is? Take a moment to find your driver’s license or state-issued ID. Is there a star near the upper right-hand corner? If yes, you’re good. Washington state folks, you guys are special [gosh darn right we are –David]. If your license reads “Enhanced” you’ve made the cut. If neither applies, you’re going to need to use an alternate ID or obtain a REAL ID.
The TSA claims that travelers without a REAL ID will not be approved through screening starting October 1, 2020. The federal law requiring that states issue REAL IDs to “preserve national security” was passed in 2005. Amazingly, some states and territories have taken over fifteen years to comply.
And while most states are compliant today, that doesn’t mean already-issued licenses will work. My home state of Missouri, for example, only recently implemented a voluntary REAL ID license option. Here in the “Show-Me State,” anyone who received their license prior to March 25, 2019 has a non-compliant ID. And if they want to fly on a plane and don’t have an alternative, they will need to visit the DMV less than two years after renewing their six-year license to specifically request a REAL ID-compliant version.
SPOILER ALERT: Missourians (and others) are going to cause major headaches at airport screening points across the nation this October if TSA stands by their highly-delayed deadline.
Global Entry – Image: Josh Denmark | US Customs & Boarder Patrol
Applying for Global Entry
So, have I convinced you? Great! Here’s the deal: Applicants fill out an online form, confirm a bunch of personal data, pay $100, consent to a rigorous multi-agency background check, willingly hand over their biometric data, and are subject to an in-person interview with a CBP agent. When reading it all together like that, it might seem a bit overwhelming, but trust me — it is not a difficult process. Once that’s done (and assuming you pass – most do) you’ll get a shiny new ID along with the coveted KTN or known traveler number.
Renewing Global Entry
Current Global Entry members can apply for renewal up to one year before their expiration date, and there is no penalty for applying early. If approved, five additional years are bolted onto your current expiration date. Remember your GOES login detail (or even what that is)? No? Good! That system is dead and you have to start from scratch. Click here, then click login and agree to the government’s crazy terms by clicking consent and continue. Here you’ll be informed that GOES is out, and Login.Gov is in. Create a new login and the process is familiar and intuitive from there out.
Get through security faster = you have more time to look at your airplane at the gate. United doesn’t fly the 747 anyhow, but bet you wished you spent more time just staring at them!
I applied for renewal and received my new card 8 days later
Apparently not all renewals require an in-person interview. How did I find out? I applied for renewal on a Friday night, received an approval e-mail Monday, and my new card was in my mailbox that Saturday. Cool!
If you travel even semi-regularly, Global Entry is the way to go, even if only to receive the Pre✓
benefit. And the convenience of Global Entry when arriving back to The States even just once over five years is easily worth the extra $15. And with what happened in New York, who knows if it might happen elsewhere. Take advantage of the short lines now!
NOTE: This is not a promoted post, I just really believe this is such a great product. Additionally, some “premium” credit cards, the ones with crazy high annual fees, and names involving precious metals and gems often cover Global Entry fees. We don’t get any kickbacks from the cards either, just trying to save you a few bucks.
United has eight different airlines flying under the United Express banner owned by seven different companies. Does it really need all of those? Probably not; so it’s good to see that United will simplify a couple operations and remove one entirely. Trans States will go away toward the end of …
Long before the coronavirus decimated travel to China, HNA Group was in trouble. It had overspent not just on airlines, but on a variety of companies all over the world. The coronavirus just made things worse for the teetering conglomerate, and now it appears that the end may be near. …
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!
Series Post #1: WHERE IS THE SAFEST PLACE TO SIT ON THE PLANE?
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!
THE SCARY DATA TO MAKE YOU CHOOSE THE SAFEST SEAT!
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.
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.
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!
THE REALITY & REAL TIPS ON INCREASING YOUR SAFETY
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):
If something goes down, stay calm and listen to the flight attendants.
Actually pay attention to the safety briefing, look for the nearest exits, and take a look at that safety card.
For the love of god, leave your luggage on the plane, if you have to evacuate.
Maybe just stay home and watch airplane videos instead (or Star Trek).
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!
TIME TO WRAP IT UP, DAVID
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!
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!
After our stay at the TWA Hotel at JFK, it was time to go home. Fortunately — unlike on the way out when we flew into Newark — this time we were flying home from JFK so we didn’t have far to go. We opted to take a mid-day flight …
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 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.
Transcons are like LAX to NYC, vs Diagcon being SEA to MIA – Image: GCMap.com
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
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:
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
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 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
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. 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!
When the TWA Hotel opened in the old Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Flight Center at New York’s JFK airport last year, I knew that I wanted to go just like every other airline dork in the world. It took me long enough, but on my recent trip to New York, I …