Category: IFTTT

Bidding Ends at 5pm Tonight for the Cranky Dor…

Bidding Ends at 5pm Tonight for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Dinner:

If you’ve been holding out until the end to start bidding on the Cranky Dorkfest LAX progressive dinner, then the time has come. And the event is getting better. Alaska will now be hosting us in the T6 lounge for food and drink!

Bidding ends at 5pm PT tonight. Get your bids in here (or click here if you can’t see the form):

As a reminder, here’s the current plan which is subject to change if required:

  • Terminal 7 – Arrive by 4:15pm for a visit to United’s LAX operations center followed by a drink in the United Polaris Lounge (courtesy of United)
  • NEW! Terminal 6 – A sampling of food and drinks in the Alaska lounge
  • Terminal 5 – Main course and one drink at a restaurant to be determined
  • Terminal 4 – Tour of American’s Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge, and Flagship Dining Room followed by dessert in the American Flagship Lounge conference room overlooking the ramp (courtesy of American)
  • Bradley Terminal (TBIT) – After-dinner drink at a bar to be determined

We’ll spend 1 to 1.5 hours at each stop, so it will wrap up between 10 and 11. We will all walk together to make sure we keep everything running on time. Everything mentioned above is included in your bid. What’s not included? If you want more drinks or more food, that’s on you. If you drive, parking is extra at the regular LAX rates.

I’m running this as an auction with half of the net proceeds going to the Flight Path Museum at LAX.

The 10 highest bids will be chosen, and at that point, a link will be sent to each winner to request payment. Payment has to be received by Monday, August 26 or the spot will be given to the next person on the list.

If you’d like to follow along and see how things stand, you can do it here. Or the current top ten is embedded below. Keep refreshing the page to see the updated list.

If you bid and see that you’ve been bumped off, you can either go back to your existing bid and revise it or you can just submit a new bid with the same email address. You can bid as many times as you’d like, but each bidder can only win one spot. No guests are allowed, so if you’re a couple, bid separately.

Bid now!

August 21, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

The Great Maui Sugar and Potato Chip Adventure…

The Great Maui Sugar and Potato Chip Adventure (Trip Report):

Bidding continues through Wednesday for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Dinner. You can get full information and place your bids here. Here are the current top bids:

During my month-long stay in Hawai’i, I told my kids they could each have a special “dad adventure.” My daughter unsurprisingly chose to go and swim with dolphins since she is an animal lover. But my son wanted to go fly to another island. He didn’t really care where, but he just figured it would be fun to go somewhere.

In true airline dork fashion, I lined up photos of all the different planes he could take, and then I figured we would narrow down destinations by the airplanes he wanted to fly. Southwest was quickly out since he’s flown them plenty. In the end, he really liked the idea of flying a Mokulele Grand Caravan and a Hawaiian 717. That made our option clear – Kahului or bust.

The question was… what should we do there? I found a few options that were relatively close to the airport, so we could easily take a rideshare and not have to deal with rental cars. His choice? The Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. I had driven by it many times on my way from the airport down to south Maui, but I had never been in. Even though sugar cane cultivation ended on the island in 2016 after nearly 150 years, the museum still stands across from the imposing, vacant mill.

That sounded like a great plan, but there was one more thing I had to do. My favorite potato chip in the world is Kitch’n Cook’d from the Maui Potato Chip Factory. The problem is, it’s really hard to find and is only sold in a few stores on Maui and at the factory near the airport. Since we were going to be there… oh we’d definitely have to stop and pick up some bags. It was time to book flights.

I’m not sure how long Mokulele has competed against Hawaiian in that market, but I was happy to see a 10am flight out that would get us in at 11. Booking was challenging since there was only one seat left at the lowest fare. I couldn’t do that online since my son would show up as an unaccompanied minor, and you can’t book those on the website. So I called and spoke to a friendly agent who was able to book us both on the same reservation at different fares. It was an average of $69 each.

After doing a little math, I figured the 1:43pm return on Hawaiian would be about right. Once again, there was only one seat available at the lowest fare, so I had to jump through hoops. Booking on separate reservations was easy, but they wouldn’t assign a seat for my son until I called them and linked the reservations. This cost us an average of $79 each. I was going to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but it was far more expensive using their system.

I was worried that former Hurricane Erick was going to snarl plans. He dumped rain on Maui the day before, but things looked good for our travels. I grabbed my carry on bag and brought it with me… completely empty. Then my wife gave us a ride down to the airport.

Terminal 3, as they call it, has been Mokulele’s home since they knocked down the old commuter terminal last year to pave the way for new gates for Hawaiian. Once I arrived, I couldn’t help but laugh. The “terminal” is basically a double-wide trailer missing a couple walls.

Inside there is a small check-in desk and a couple bathrooms. There is some seating on the inside under cover, but there’s also seating outside. We walked outside and watched the planes go by.

Our aircraft arrived from Moloka’i about half an hour before our flight. Fifteen minutes before departure, they called all 9 of us to the fence for boarding. There we were given our row assignments (we had row 3) and we were escorted on to the airfield to board.

August 3, 2019
Mokulele 710 Lv Honolulu 10a Arr Kahului 11a
Honolulu (HNL): Gate Yeah, there was literally a metal gate, Runway 4L, Depart 10m Early
Kahului (OGG): Gate Uh huh, another metal gate, Runway 5, Arrive 10m Early
N835MA, Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, Standard Mokulele colors, 9/9 Full
Seat 3B, Coach
Flight Time 45m

The airplane was hot, and there was a significant amount of glitter on our seats, something I would only expect to see on a Thursday night Burbank to Vegas flight. We sat down, got the short safety briefing, and then they fired up the engines giving us much-needed air conditioning. We moved out 10 minutes early.

For the couple days prior, the flight had taken a route between Moloka’i and Lana’i, so I told my son to sit on the left side for a better view. Little did I know we were in for a treat.

We taxied out to the short runway 4L and took off, bouncing toward altitude as we cruised over the water with a view of Waikiki and Diamond Head on the left. The windows are so big that you can get a good view looking either way.

We made our way to 7,000 feet — the required altitude for the crossing of the channel — before we settled in and cruised over toward Moloka’i. This time, we were routed to the north of the island, so I had the good views on my side. We first passed by Papohaku Beach and the mostly-abandoned old resort on the west end.

We were able to descend down to 2,500 feet once we had crossed the channel, and that gave us fantastic views up close. The cliffs started to gradually increase in size as we headed east.

We soon found ourselves over Kalaupapa, the old colony for people with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) which I wrote about two years ago.

Lastly we passed rugged and remote eastern Moloka’i with its waterfalls.

After a quick pass over the water to Maui, we came in from the north and landed a few minutes early.

We hopped into a Lyft and made our way to the museum. It’s a great little spot to get a sense of both the process and what life was like working in the fields. I’d recommend it to anyone with an hour to kill.

Once we finished, we took another Lyft and went straight to the potato chip factory. The couple that runs it were just sitting there chatting as I came in with my empty bag. After stuffing the thing full, I also grabbed a tiny bag for our driver, and then we went back to the airport.

At the airport, the Precheck line was non-existent, but the regular line snaked around the airport. I highly recommend getting Precheck if you fly out of Kahului.

Upstairs, we stopped at Burger King for some lunch and then wandered the halls trying to kill some time. We succeeded.

Our aircraft arrived a little late. The boarding area was packed. Departure time came and they were still only pre-boarding. When they called group 3, the scrum slowly started to move.

August 3, 2019
Hawaiian 275 Lv Kahului 143p Arr Honolulu 224p
Kahului (OGG): Gate 11, Runway 2, Depart 8m Late
Honolulu (HNL): Gate A15, Runway 4R, Arrive 12m Late
N492HA, Boeing 717-2BL, Maile lei colors, ~99% Full
Seat 21B, Coach
Flight Time 28m

They ended up boarding people pretty quickly. Despite the late start, we pushed back only 8 minutes late which was a surprise. Then it was a short taxi to the end of the runway, and we were soon airborne.

It’s always gusty coming out of Kahului, but there were a couple on our climb that seemed to push us straight sideways by a few feet at a time. The airplane took it in stride as we soared upward and circled around West Maui.

Once above 10,000 feet, it smoothed out and we topped out at 14,000 feet. They came through with water or POG juice, so I was able to introduce my son to his first onboard POG experience. It always reminds me of traveling between the islands as a kid, so it was fun to pass that on.

There wasn’t much sight-seeing to be done at that altitude considering the clouds below, but it wasn’t long before we were descending anyway. They were landing on 4R so we headed out well over the water before lining up to come back in. Just like on the return from Lana’i, we descended really low — this time down to 2,000 feet — and stayed there for a couple minutes. Then we came in for a landing and taxied back.

My wife picked us up and we were heading back home just a few hours after we started.

August 20, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Southwest Finally Gets (More) Serious About Bu…

Southwest Finally Gets (More) Serious About Business Travel:

Bidding continues through Wednesday for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Dinner. You can get full information and place your bids here. Here are the current top bids:

It is odd to think of Southwest as not being serious about business travel. After all, contrary to popular belief, it’s business travel that has always been Southwest’s bread and butter. Those frequent first flights in the Texas Triangle (Dallas-Houston-San Antonio) weren’t going to succeed on the then-anemic leisure travel demand. It was the business traveler looking for a deal (and free liquor) that brought success.

That original model has held for decades. That may sound good, but the problem is that Southwest has often stuck to its guns and refused to adapt quickly enough over time, if at all, to new realities. That has kept Southwest in a proverbial box that I and others would argue it could have busted out of with different priorities.

Though selling to business travelers has always been at the core of the business, selling to managed travel accounts has not. “Managed travel” in a nutshell is when a company uses a travel agency to handle its corporate travel policies, bookings, and reporting. These agencies have long preferred to handle bookings through the Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) which make it easy to compile everything in one system. That makes reporting and compliance much easier to manage.

Southwest, as most people know, has long held firm to its desire to sell everything direct. That’s fine for unmanaged travel, but it’s a real pain for people who manage travel. Tools have been built to overcome this issue, but it’s still not enough.

Southwest has timidly dipped its toes into the GDS waters, but the effort has been generally useless for those companies where price matters. For example, if I look up a flight from Los Angeles to Nashville in a couple days, I get this on

But when I look in Sabre, that Wanna Get Away fare is non-existent. The lowest fare is the Anytime $592 fare. It’s not that all Wanna Get Away fares are excluded, but it’s hard to know when a lower fare will pop up. In other words, it’s impossible to rely upon the GDS today, so that defeats the purpose of participating in the GDS.

Even when booking in the GDS, Southwest doesn’t have full participation. Agents can’t see flight availability, and ticketing is handled in a roundabout way that’s different than with nearly every other airline. Southwest segments also can’t be put into the same reservation as other airline segments.

For its best customers, Southwest has created “direct connect” options which feed more fare content into large agent systems. But for smaller customers, agents have to rely on SWABIZ, the old booking system for corporates that recently got a refresh but still lacks basic functionality like the ability to book multi-city flights.

Southwest has long believed that it just didn’t need to play ball. It had become big, and it dominated in many mid-size markets. It could sell direct and still do just as well as if it sold through third parties. Selling through third parties costs money, so why bother? Well, to the surprise of very few outside Southwest, there are very good reasons.

Participating in the GDS makes the airline instantly more visible to corporates. That’s particularly helpful considering the airline has spread into more big markets where it doesn’t have a large share. (Remember Newark?) In those markets, agencies are less likely to go to (let alone SWABIZ).

But even in markets where it dominates, Southwest could still likely benefit from participating in the GDSs more fully. Costs to do so have come down, and the revenue benefits have proven to be large for legacy carriers. Southwest may not have an identical model as those airlines, but it’s long been clear there was benefit to be had.

So it was with great relief when I saw Southwest announce it was finally going to play the game properly. Along with a re-branding from Southwest Corporate Travel to Southwest Business, the airline will now fully participate in Galileo and Amadeus GDSs. Now, this doesn’t help me since I use Sabre, but I have to imagine that will follow eventually. This doesn’t sound like a strategic issue but rather an economic one.

This means agencies can search for and book Southwest in their GDSs just as they do other airlines… when this goes live in the back half of 2020. It will make multi-city bookings possible along with changes and cancellations. It makes Southwest far more attractive to those people actually responsible for booking a ton of travel.

What’s not clear is whether this will actually be full participation or not. On the website, Southwest says it will offer “Access to our everyday low Southwest fares through your channel of choice.” That mention of “everyday” makes me a little nervous. Not all sale fares will be included? It’s hard to know for sure. If it’s not all fares, then that’s frustrating. For consumers, I should also note that this doesn’t mean Southwest will participate in online travel agents like Priceline or Expedia. That isn’t part of the plan. The scope is narrow, but the benefits will add up.

Southwest says that for the back half of 2020 when this launches, it should contribute $10 to $20 million directly to the bottom line. That’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s also probably underestimating the true impact. I’m guessing that this math is what convinced Southwest it didn’t need to pursue this sooner.

It’s a relief to see Southwest finally come around to the reality that GDS participation is a good thing. Agents will be happy, and it should also make it easier for Southwest to expand into markets where it doesn’t have a dominant presence. Finally.

August 19, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Pr…

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Terminal Dinner:

I mentioned before that I was trying to put together a small event in the evening right after Cranky Dorkfest on September 7. I’m pleased to report that it has come together quite nicely.

Ten of you will join me behind security on a progressive dinner through LAX starting in Terminal 7 and ending in the Bradley Terminal. United and American have planned some special surprises along the way. To make it even better, half of all net proceeds will be donated to the Flight Path Museum at LAX.

If you’ve read all the details below and are ready to bid, you can do it below or click here. Otherwise, read on below the form for details…

Here’s the current plan which is subject to change if required:

  • Terminal 7 – Arrive by 4:15pm for a visit to United’s LAX operations center followed by a drink in the United Polaris Lounge (courtesy of United)
  • Terminal 6 – An appetizer at a restaurant or lounge to be determined
  • Terminal 5 – Main course and one drink at a restaurant to be determined
  • Terminal 4 – Tour of American’s Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge, and Flagship Dining Room followed by dessert in the American Flagship Lounge conference room overlooking the ramp (courtesy of American)
  • Bradley Terminal (TBIT) – After-dinner drink at a bar to be determined

We’ll spent 1 to 1.5 hours at each stop, so it will wrap up between 10 and 11.
We will all walk together to make sure we keep everything running on time. Oh, and everything mentioned above is included in your bid. What’s not included? If you want more drinks or more food, that’s on you. If you drive, parking is extra at the regular LAX rates.

Since there are so few spots, I’m running this as an auction with half of the net proceeds going to the Flight Path Museum at LAX. Bids are open now and they start at $150, though I’m hopeful it will go up quickly from there so I can write the Flight Path a nice check.

Bidding will remain open until Wednesday, August 21 at 5pm PT. The 10 highest bids will be chosen, and at that point, a link will be sent to each winner to request payment. Payment has to be received by Monday, August 26 or the spot will be given to the next person on the list.

If you’d like to follow along and see how things stand, you can do it here. Or the current top ten is embedded below. Keep refreshing the page to see the updated list.

If you bid and see that you’ve been bumped off, you can either go back to your existing bid and revise it or you can just submit a new bid with the same email address. You can bid as many times as you’d like, but each bidder can only win one spot. No guests are allowed, so if you’re a couple, bid separately.

This is going to be one fun event. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be joining me and to seeing how much we can raise for the Flight Path. Get your bids in before 5pm PT on August 21 for your chance to join the party.

Bid now!

August 16, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Is the SFO Water Bottle Ban the Right Move?

Is the SFO Water Bottle Ban the Right Move?:

A SFO-branded reusable water bottle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terminal 3 food court - Photo: SFO

Terminal 3 food court – Photo: SFO

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

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

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

SFO offers plenty of hydration stations - Image: SFO

SFO offers plenty of hydration stations – Image: SFO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 15, 2019 at 08:56PM Source:

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 2):

If you missed it, yesterday The Cardinal returned to guest post about San Bernardino International Airport and the scandal that led to its commercial terminal being built… and completely unused. Today, he looks into why that is.

At best it seems the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) commercial terminal was built by people driven by willful wishful thinking. But still, it’s there, it’s ready to go, and any airline will get a heck of a deal. Terminal and landing fees are rock bottom relative to most big airports. A lot of people live near SBD. Put a 25 mile radius circle around the airport, there are 2.7mm people. Put a 50 mile radius circle around it, there are 9mm people. So why hasn’t SBD attracted an airline?

There are problems. While the Inland Empire is booming, the
city of San Bernardino is troubled. 40-50 years ago, it was prosperous – dubbed
an All-American city, it was the place where such American icons as McDonalds
and Taco Bell got their start and the first city you came to on Route 66 after
descending the Cajon Pass into the LA Basin. Today, it’s one of the poorest
cities in Southern California and the San Bernardino brand name isn’t so great
for potential passengers in the LA Basin. Ironically, part of the problem was
the 1994 shutdown of Norton AFB (today’s SBD), which at one time supported a
population (including dependents) of as
many as 22,000 people
. The poverty in the city also means that many of
those who live closest have the least wherewithal to afford air travel.

But the bigger issue is that eccentric development had serious consequences, because the terminal is about as badly located as it could be.

A quick look at a map shows the problem – the commercial terminal is in the center of the rectangle formed by the freeways around SBD – I-215 to the west, I-10 along the south, and CA-210 on the north and east. The SBD terminal is essentially as far as it is possible to be from the freeways, the Southern California circulatory system. Yeah, that’s really dumb, because air travel is in significant part about convenience, and end-to-end travel time matters greatly. Before they fly, passengers need to get to the airport, and after they land, they need to get from airport to home. The shorter that journey, the better.

I-10 is the main east-west freeway through the LA basin, and from I-10 to SBD, the relevant road is Tippecanoe. From the I-10 eastbound exit onto Tippecanoe to the SBD terminal, there are 14 traffic lights and a railroad crossing totaling 15 opportunities to stop on the way to the airport after you exit the freeway. Tippecanoe is surrounded by warehouses, including a gigantic complex for the Stater Bros supermarket chain. So there are trucks everywhere and next to the freeway there’s also a Costco, motels and other traffic generators. Tippecanoe is hardly an empty free-wheeling boulevard down which to dash.

It’s little better from the other freeways. Coming eastbound
along CA-210 to the north, it’s 12 traffic lights before the terminal. Coming
northbound along CA-210 to the east, it’s 11 traffic lights. Coming southbound
along I-215 to the west, it’s 16 traffic lights and a railroad crossing. However
you try to get to SBD from a freeway, Google Maps says it’s 3-4 miles and about
a 9 or 10 min drive from the freeway – and that’s at times of the day without
congestion. That is a lot of street driving through a city with an iffy

By comparison, going westbound along I-10 to ONT, it’s only
four traffic lights from the ONT exit to the ONT terminals – only three minutes
and less than a mile according to Google. Once you get to the ONT I-10 exit,
you’re more-or-less there because ONT is immediately to the south. ONT may be
underserved, but it’s not for lack of access.

Whiffing on the one
good terminal location

To be fair, access to SBD was always going to be challenging
because the Santa Ana River runs along the south edge of the airport, and
there’s a decent distance between the Santa Ana and I-10. The Santa Ana is dry
most of the year, but the river and its “washes” (low lying areas into which it
occasionally floods) are environmentally sensitive. So development to the south
of the airport is tough, even though that’s where you’d want a terminal to be
if you want access to I-10. Indeed, the primacy of access to I-10 was once well
understood – in 1980, while Norton AFB was still in operation, a developer
wanted to build a commercial
terminal at Tippecanoe and I-10
. The Air Force pushed back on this idea to
protect the base – only to have it selected for shutdown in 1988.

There is one exception, however. At the western side of the southern edge of the airport is a warehouse complex immediately adjacent to the runway, most of it occupied by two Amazon buildings. This was constructed starting in 2008-2009. Prior to that, the land was vacant. Actually, back in the Air Force days, it was the base’s 18-hole golf course. Apparently it was important to have a place to relax after a busy day shipping draftees to Vietnam.

This location was, by far, the best possible site for an SBD commercial terminal. The location is a four-minute drive from I-10 along Tippecanoe and involves six traffic lights (and the railroad crossing). It’s even faster from I-10 via the Mountain View exit, but access to the Amazon site from I-10 via Mountain View was actually built as part of the Amazon warehouse project; it didn’t exist in 2008. Nonetheless, that site was still by far the best place for a passenger terminal at SBD in terms of access, and when SBIAA/IVDA started thinking about a commercial service in the early-to-mid 2000s, that land was still vacant.

No doubt Amazon also appreciates being close to I-10, but
boxes don’t mind traffic lights and trucks and warehouses and a few extra miles
nearly as much as does human cargo. The site SBD actually used for a terminal
is surrounded by warehouses, so clearly it was at least within the realm of the
possible to have used today’s commercial terminal location for warehouses and
use the Amazon site for a terminal. Indeed, an air cargo base is being
developed for the north side of SBD for what
everyone assumes is Amazon
. Woulda shoulda coulda. Oh well.

Though it still leaves the question as to whether SBD would ever attract commercial service even if it had good access. But to the extent it does, being close to a freeway is a big factor. “Build it and they will come” is a dangerous proposition, but if you build it where access is easy, you’re certainly better off than building it where access is hard. If they can’t find it, they certainly won’t come.

I tend to believe that as LAX and Orange County (SNA) run out of capacity and/or become more expensive, and as Southern California freeways become ever more congested, alternative airports like ONT and SBD will have their day. But for sure that day will come faster if passenger terminals at such airports are easy to access. ONT is in good shape, but stashing the SBD terminal as far from the freeways as possible was the worst thing the SBIAA could have done in that regard. Eight years of vacant terminal baking in the sun is proof, and there’s every chance it will continue to bake, vacant, for years to come, notwithstanding the bargain rates an airline would get at SBD.

Can anything be done?

It would take major investment to improve access to the
current SBD terminal – to eliminate traffic lights (perhaps some kind of
one-way system?), to increase speed limits, etc. It’s not hard to imagine that
in the end it might cost more than re-locating the terminal elsewhere and turning
over the existing space for more warehouses. It seems pretty unlikely that a
limited-access road (i.e. mini freeway) could be built to the existing terminal
from I-10, and that’s really what is needed to properly address the issue.

But the aforementioned problems with the Santa Ana River
likely make another location a heavy lift. Assuming you could wave a magic wand
and eliminate possible environmental issues, perhaps a site south of the runway at the
east end
, near/next to CA-210 might result in the best access, since in
theory it could be immediately adjacent to a freeway, even if is further away
from the vast bulk of the LA Basin (and Inland Empire) population to the west.
Trading off a few more miles for direct freeway access might be worth it.

And if that’s not possible, then the next best place may be to the north and east of
the runway
, again as close to I-210 as possible, along 3rd St.
But these are at best second-and-third best solutions relative to the one that
the airport foreclosed when they whiffed on the location now occupied by
Amazon, and built, instead, on what is almost certainly the worst location.

It turns out that when you empower people who have no idea what they’re doing, bad outcomes can ensue, even if that’s not their intent. What happened at San Bernardino might not have been criminal, but it was surely a mistake. Eight years of vacant terminal has already shown that.

If you missed the first part of this story, you can find it here.

August 15, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 1):

Long time readers of the blog may remember reading guests posts written by The Cardinal. He has a long history in the airline industry and has always remained anonymous here, but his guest posts stopped back in 2011. I’m happy to report that The Cardinal is back, and I have a two-parter for you. Today he looks at the bizarre history of San Bernardino International Airport. Tomorrow he identifies the current problems and ponders what can be done to fix them.

and San Bernardino Counties
comprise California’s Inland Empire, two giant inland counties behind Los
Angeles and Orange County on the coast. San Bernardino County is physically
enormous, twice the area of the next largest US county, larger than nine US
states and many countries (e.g. Switzerland or the Netherlands). Riverside is
smaller, but still the sixth largest by area in the US. If you’ve ever driven
from LA to Vegas, almost 200
miles of the trip is in San Bernardino County
, from the time you leave LA
County near Pomona, up the Cajon Pass, through desert cities like Victorville,
Barstow and Baker, and until you come down the hill to Primm, Nevada.

Both counties extend over vast stretches of desert to the Arizona border, but near Los Angeles they are densely populated with 2.5 mm people in Riverside and 2.2mm in San Bernardino. That makes them the 10th and 14th largest counties in the US by population. Each county lies in the LA Combined Statistical Area (CSA) — the broadest view of metro area by the US Census Bureau which also incorporates Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties — comprising almost 19mm people, the second largest in the US after the New York CSA. Despite their heft, the Inland Empire counties are relatively poor compared to their coastal counterparts in the LA CSA.

Despite its over 4.6mm people, the Inland Empire has only two airports with commercial service – Ontario (ONT) and Palm Springs (PSP). PSP is in the Coachella Valley which has as many as 0.5mm people located outside the LA Basin. So over 4mm people in the Inland Empire use ONT for air service – or drive, as many do, an hour or two or more (depending on traffic) to coastal LA-area airports like LA Intl (LAX) or Orange County (SNA). It’s not hard to make the case that the Inland Empire is starved for air service. ONT passengers in 2018 were down substantially relative to 1998, despite 30%+ Inland Empire population growth over the same period.

A complete Inland Empire passenger terminal, unwanted, unused – why?

Against this backdrop, consider San Bernardino International Airport (SBD), located in the city of San Bernardino towards the back of the LA Basin. SBD is the former Norton AFB (many US soldiers departed to Vietnam from Norton) and holds certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to operate as a commercial passenger airport.

If you zoom Google
satellite view to the northeast corner of SBD, you will find, baking
in the sun, a passenger terminal complex, with check-in desks, baggage systems
and jetway gates on a second floor, up escalators. There are 2,500 parking
spaces. There are elaborate driveways in-and-out of the terminal, ample space
to pick up and let-down passengers from cars and buses. It’s all empty and has
been since it was completed in 2011. Don’t forget the separate one-gate
international terminal. Over $100mm was spent on this vacant complex. Why is it
there and why is no airline interested?

A bizarre development

As a former military base, SBD had Federal money to convert
it to civilian purposes. In the mid 2000s, the agencies in charge, the SBIAA
(San Bernardino Intl Airport Authority) and the IVDA (Inland Valley Development
Agency), got into bed with a man named Scot Spencer. Scot Spencer is a
convicted felon, who spent years in Federal prison for bankruptcy fraud
connected to the third incarnation of Braniff. The
Federal trial judge not only found him criminal but also incompetent. There’s
more. After serving his time he tried selling charter flights and was lifetime banned
from operating an airline after the US Dept of Transportation determined he was
offering such services without proper authority. For good measure they fined
him $1mm. Articles
paint Spencer as inept and unqualified, but with a serious attraction to aviation.
It’s like an airline nerd went to extreme, even criminal, lengths to get and
stay in aviation rather than cope with their addiction by participating in the civil aviation forum.

Spencer was the man entrusted by SBIAA/IVDA with developing
a commercial terminal and other facilities at SBD. Why Spencer? Well, the airport
noted that while the DOT banned him from operating an airline, he was not
banned from operating or developing an airport. And Scot promised what others
would not – that such a terminal would land commercial service. And he offered
to do the job cheap. The estimate was $104mm. He offered to do it for $38mm. Of
course, by the time he was done, it actually cost over $100mm, but that was to

Reading reports about the debacle, you get the sense SBD and
Spencer were made for each other. Scot painted a rosy vision of SBD success (almost
a million enplanements by 2009
!) and the SBIAA really wanted to believe. In
return, SBIAA gave Scot what he wanted – a chance to be a commercial aviation
player. Despite no relevant experience, he got to develop a commercial terminal,
with all the trimmings. Over time, the SBIAA gave Spencer the keys to the
kingdom through a series of no-bid contracts to develop an FBO (and sell the
jet fuel at the airport) and even, ultimately, to run the airport. Oversight
was minimal, and serial cost increases covered without pushback.

Ultimately, it all came crashing down. The incongruity of Spencer’s increasing power on top of overspending resulted in a grand jury investigation, out of which came a damning 2011 audit report flaying Spencer and IVDA/SBIAA. Later that year, the FBI raided the airport and Spencer’s home. SBIAA management was changed out, and Spencer was ejected from his roles. In 2013, Scot Spencer was indicted by the Feds for activities at SBD.

The wheels of justice turn slowly but in this case without result. In 2018, Spencer’s charges were almost completely dropped. No one went to jail or was fined or otherwise faced criminal sanction, other than having to endure a long legal process. There’s little question the SBIAA/IVDA was grossly negligent to entrust SBD fortunes to Scot Spencer. But the Feds were unable to prove malice on Spencer’s part, or anyone else. And while the audits showed rampant failure to adhere to best practices on the part of Spencer or the SBIAA/IVDA, turns out that however cavalier they were with public money, it didn’t rise to the level of criminality, at least not within the ability of the Feds to prove. It’s not against the law to be stupid the way they were, though maybe it should be.

Scot Spencer is no longer involved with the airport, but the terminal is still sitting there completely unused. But why? The Cardinal will tackle that tomorrow.

August 13, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Sched…

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Schedule Announcement:

American has gotten into a new routine of lumping summer schedule changes into one big release to try to garner buzz. This year, it tried to add mystery to the process with this… interesting… tweet.

That is Vasu Raja, American’s Vice President of Planning, and I spoke with him right before the 2020 Transatlantic package was rolled out to get some more color. Overall, the moves highlight how American views its hubs, particularly Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Philadelphia.

Chicago is a Transatlantic Hub, Not a Transpacific One

When American canceled its China flights from Chicago, leaving only a thrice weekly Tokyo flight as its sole Transpacific presence, people wrongly suggested that American was giving up on Chicago. The thing is, American just can’t get Asia to work from there. Those China flights were horrendously unprofitable, and the Tokyo flight probably only remains thanks to the joint venture with Japan Airlines. But while American has given up on Asia, it has not given up on Chicago at all.

Going over the other ocean from Chicago has done quite well for the airline with a very hefty schedule slated for next summer. American is adding all of these with 787-8 aircraft.

  • Chicago to Budapest 4x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Krakow 5x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Prague 5x weekly from May 8 to October 24

This really reflects two different things going on. The Budapest and Prague routes are going to be pure leisure. It’s for Americans going over to those hot spots in the summer. American experimented with those last year from Philly, and it worked. Those will remain, so Chicago is just new service.

Isn’t overflying the Philly hub bad? Not in this case. American has found that pairing Chicago and Philly to a destination actually strengthens the route. Consider Prague.

The Philly flight leaves at 6:50pm and gets to Prague at 9:15am. The return is at 11:20am getting back at 3:05pm. Chicago will leave at 6:50pm and get to Prague at 10:50am with a return at 1:05pm back at 4:05pm. This gives travelers around the US more options to work with. If you live in the Midwest, you can leave later and go via Chicago. Or if you’re returning, you can stay in Prague later before coming back home. It also opens up more single-stop opportunities.

Further, Chicago is only 5 days a week, but having Philly operate daily means travelers can mix and match and still get home easily every day of the week. This is what American has seen with other routes, so the pattern continues.

Second, we have Krakow. This is all about visiting friends and relatives. There is a huge ethnic Polish population Chicago. It’s big enough that LOT Polish already flies this route less than daily. American figures it can get a chunk of this traffic for itself.

This isn’t the only growth. American is lengthening the summer season for existing routes as well. Eventually some of those could go year-round. Chicago may not work for the airline over the Pacific, but over the Atlantic, it’s growing and working well.

Philly is for Transatlantic Experiments, But They Don’t All Work

Philadelphia remains a great testing ground for experimental routes. Last year Dubrovnik was a huge success story, and it will go daily next year. Berlin also gets bumped up to daily service. Bologna, on the other hand, was bad. That one isn’t coming back. Of course, if you don’t try a new route like this, you can’t really know if it’ll work regardless of how sophisticated the models are. Philly’s close proximity to a huge population as well as to Europe makes it an easy place to try new things.

Next summer, the big news is that American will start Africa flying with thrice weekly flights to Casablanca from Philly. The flight will operate from June 4 through September 8, so it’s a very short season. Oh, and it’s on a 757. Yep, Casablanca is that close — even closer than Paris.

This route has been rumored for some time, and it’s a great experiment. Royal Air Maroc will be joining oneworld, and while it doesn’t have much in the way of connecting banks into Africa yet, it will. And with a 757, American can pioneer the route with a good chance of finding local traffic going to that hot spot as well as testing the waters with connecting opportunities. This route is a pathfinder, and it’s a low risk one at that.

Similarly, American will move its Keflavik (Iceland) flight from DFW up to Philly. Consider that another experiment.

Almost Anything Works from Dallas/Fort Worth

As American marched toward 900 daily flights at DFW this summer, the mantra was that pretty much anything can work there. They throw in some routes that seem thin, and then they magically do well anyway. It’s the hub that keeps on giving.

There is a limit to this, however, as we’ve seen with American’s decision to move the DFW-Keflavik flight up to Philly. Granted, there were three airlines (American + WOW + Icelandair) in the past and all of them will be gone. DFW might have worked better this year. But what American realized is that much of the demand was in the east, and DFW was a lousy stopping point for that. This year, it expects to do better from Philly gathering all that traffic.

While that route goes away, DFW will be getting an important new flight to Tel Aviv. This marks the airline’s return to Tel Aviv after pulling out from Philly around the time of the US Airways merger. Whatever TWA debts were out there (as the rumor goes) have been settled, and service is ready to start 3 times a week on a 787-9 from next September 9. It’ll be a year-round route.

This seems like a stretch, but for the same reason American moved its Keflavik flight to Philly, it’s starting Tel Aviv from DFW. See, DFW is very well positioned for connecting traffic flows on this route. If you’re thinking about all the possibilities for connections from the western US, that is certainly a part of it since West Coast – Israel flights are few and far between. But don’t forget Latin America. This will be a really easy way for Latin Americans to get to Tel Aviv in a world where not many great options exist.

On top of that, there is a lot of local traffic in the market. I’m told this is the largest route that American hadn’t flown from DFW. If you’re thinking about Jewish traffic, that’s some of it. But it’s really more about Christian travelers. The Metroplex has a whole lot of Christians looking to go to the holy land.

Overall, this paints a picture of a planning team that is following its successes up with new routes that fit the right pattern. But there is also an element of risk in some of these routes that may or may not pay off. That sounds like the kind of place you want to be as an airline. Take a chance and see what works, then keep duplicating as much as you can based upon what rises to the top.

August 12, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacati…

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacation in Lana’i (Trip Report):

Only a few days after arriving in Honolulu, it was time for — as I called it on Twitter — vacation inception. My wife and I left the kids with our friends on O’ahu and we went for a vacation within a vacation: 2 nights on Lana’i. I will be writing up my experience on Lana’i separately, but for now, let’s talk about flights.

Since Lana’i was the only one of the six main Hawaiian islands that I hadn’t visited, it was at the top of my list. (My quick turn to try out ‘Ohana by Hawaiian back in 2014 didn’t count.)

We picked up tickets on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian for $168.16 each roundtrip (or actually, the equivalent in Chase Ultimate Rewards). Then, I was fortunate enough to be offered a deeply-discounted travel agent rate for the Four Seasons Lana’i thanks to Cranky Concierge being a Four Seasons Preferred Partner. We paid an average of only about $200 a night for the room, about $1,000 less than the going rate.

It didn’t take long for us to learn that North Shore traffic (where we are staying on O’ahu) is bad on weekends and weekday afternoons… and kind of all the time. It’s so bad that I kept a close eye on traffic before our morning flight just to make sure it wouldn’t cause us to miss the flight. Fortunately, things were moving fine, and it took us just under an hour to get to the airport. We arrived about an hour before our flight, but then things took a turn for the worse.

Legend has it that there is an economy parking lot that’s $12 a day, but the legend is just a myth. Apparently, there used to be such a lot near the commuter terminal, but that was razed. It wasn’t clear to me, however, so we kept trying to find it. The tangle of congested and poorly-signed roads at the airport can make for a harrowing experience. We went around the airport twice and never found the lot. Instead, running tight on time, we gave up and parked in the Terminal 1 garage. It’s strange, but there is no longer any long-term parking at the airport, and there don’t really appear to be many private options either.

The terminal 1 garage is really just a byzantine set of ramps with parking spaces that are regularly full. It took a long time for us to get up to the top level where we finally scored a spot near the airport conference center. Side note: I learned there’s an airport conference center on top of the parking garage.

By the time we parked, it was only half an hour before our flight, and I was getting a little anxious, not knowing what security would look like. We walked in on the mauka (toward the mountain, north in this case) side of Terminal 1 and there was a tiny Precheck checkpoint that didn’t have a long line. We headed in there, and when the woman with a large family in front of us overheard me say to my wife that we were cutting it close, she kindly asked if we wanted to go ahead of them. We made it through and walked all the way over to the ‘Ohana gate on the other side… only to find that our airplane wasn’t even there.

The monitors said the inbound would arrive late at 10:30am, but it didn’t. It got there maybe about 10 minutes later, and they were slow to unload. A delay never posted for our flight, but we didn’t even start boarding until after the original departure time.

I asked the gate agent if the flight was full, and she shook her head saying it wasn’t. We headed down to the ramp to board the airplane from the outside.

July 22, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 634 Lv Honolulu 1051a Arr Lana’i 1125a
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8R, Depart 16m Late
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 3, Arrive 15m Late
N801HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~85% Full
Seat 1D, Coach
Flight Time 20m

As soon as we boarded the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, I asked the flight attendant, Darren, if there was still an ‘ukulele onboard. It was on my first ‘Ohana flight years ago that I learned of this unique feature, and it is what started me off playing the instrument myself. Here’s the photo I took on that flight when I had no idea how to play it at all.

As I explained briefly to Darren, I’d love to get it and tune it up… give it some love and play a few songs. But he curtly said it was sealed up and I couldn’t have it. Well, ok then.

We took our seats in the next to last row on the left side, row 12, as they got us ready for departure. The gate agent must have a very strange definition of a “not full” flight, because this one only had a handful of seats open. It was filled with laborers and tourists, all going to the same place for very different reasons.

After the safety demonstration, the flight attendant came back and asked those of us in the last two rows if two of us would move forward for weight and balance. The others back there were workers who wanted to stay as close to the exit as possible so they could get off and go to work. My wife and I didn’t care, so we volunteered. At the front, the little lounge area was empty, so we sat on the window facing each other. I took this photo in the same seat I had taken years ago as I strummed the ‘ukulele. This time, my hands were empty.

We took off to the east as usual, and climbed up through the lowest scattered layer of clouds. It was a cloudy day with poor visibility, so we couldn’t see much at all on the way over. We settled just under the overcast cloud deck in smooth skies for our brief cruise. The flight attendant came through with a choice of water or POG juice, and we took the opportunity to toast our mini-vacation.

Moments later, we were descending. It was so hazy and cloudy that we couldn’t even see Maui on our way in.

We landed and, since we were up front, we were the last ones to get off the airplane. The Four Seasons had a van waiting to take us away for our adventure. As I mentioned before, I’ll have much more on the experience on Lana’i in a separate post.

After two glorious nights away, it was time to come back to O’ahu. As we boarded the van at the hotel, one of the staff members was playing Aloha ‘Oe, Queen Lili’uokalani’s famous song which in English means, Farewell to Thee.

We arrived at the airport an hour before our flight, and that seemed entirely excessive. (You may think my lei and hat are entirely excessive as well, but I wore them with pride and appreciated the hard work that went into making them.)

There is nothing beyond security, so we just sat outside on a bench and enjoyed the afternoon. I checked the local timetable on the wall which was surprisingly kept up to date.

Then I pulled up Flightradar24 to find that our airplane hadn’t yet left Honolulu, so I kept tabs to see when it would get in the air. Only when our inbound plane landed did we opt to head through security.

Lana’i does Precheck light where you still need to pull all your stuff out of your bags. They scrutinized everything VERY carefully, far more carefully than you’d think Lana’i departures would require.

By the time we got through, boarding had just begun.

July 24, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 655 Lv Lana’i 218p Arr Honolulu 250p
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 21, Depart On Time
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8L, Arrive 5m Late
N805HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~50% Full
Seat 11D, Coach
Flight Time 27m

This time we had seats 11C and D, hoping to have a good view of Moloka’i on our way back.

Our flight attendant was again Darren, just as it was on the way out, so I didn’t bother to ask for the ‘ukulele. I already knew his answer.

We started up right on time and headed to the runway, launching to the south over the water. We climbed to the towering height of 8,000 feet and turned toward O’ahu. But then we made an odd left turn out over the water. The pilots came on and apologized, saying that we would have to vector a bit because another plane coming from West Maui had to land before us. I’m not sure why that was the case, but it meant we zigged and zagged a couple times before resuming our course.

We descended fairly early and leveled off at 1,500 feet before we could even see O’ahu. Just after leveling, air traffic control must have told them to speed up, because the props got loud and we picked up speed. It was loud and downright bouncy at 1,500 feet, and it was only slightly unnerving to see the whitecaps dotting the windswept sea not far below us.

Soon, O’ahu came into view. We came nearly straight in, perpendicular to the reef runway, before hanging a right and planting ourselves down on the ground.

Taxi-in was quick, and we almost would have made it on time had we not had to wait for the West Maui flight to unload at the same gate as us.

August 08, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

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

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

Delta Airbus A330neo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My cool Delta day pass for SEA.

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


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

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

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

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

Hello A330neo!

Hello A330neo!


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

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

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

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

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

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

DELTA MAIN CABIN (aka economy)

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

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

DELTA COMFORT+ (aka “premium” economy)

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

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

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

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

Delta Premium Select Seat

Delta Premium Select Seat

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

Delta Premium Select (aka domestic first)

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

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

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

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

Delta One (aka business class)

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

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

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

Best seat in the house... err plane!

Best seat in the house… err plane!

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

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

Final Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-900neo Thoughts

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

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

August 07, 2019 at 07:47PM Source: