Posts in the category "Airlines":

In Alaska: goodbye sled dogs; hello airplanes.

Alaska Aviation

Undated winter view of Wien Alaska Airlines airplane with musher and dog team in foreground. Image credit: Wien Collection/Anchorage Museum

 

One hundred years after the first powered flight in Alaska, the Anchorage Museum on Saturday opens a major exhibition celebrating the rich and remarkable stamp aviation has had on the Frontier State.

That history began as a spectacle. In 1913, several Fairbanks merchants got together to ship a biplane from Seattle to Alaska by steamboat. They then sold tickets so onlookers could watch two barnstormers fly the plane 200 feet above the ground at a lazy 45 mph.

Ten years after that first powered flight in Alaska, Anchorage officials declared a holiday so people could come out and help clear land for the city’s first airstrip.

“In the early days, Alaska was a very inaccessible, remote place, with very few roads and some dog sled trails crisscrossing the territory,” aviation historian Ted Spencer told NBC News. “With airplanes, though, mail could be delivered in hours rather than weeks. Remote village and towns could be connected. Life changed incredibly.”

The exhibit, Arctic Flight: A Century of Alaska Aviation, showcases photographs and artifacts — including leather and fur-lined outfits worn by bush pilots and the tires and handmade skis inventive pilots attached to bush planes to allow them to land on glaciers and frozen lakes.

Even empty fuel cans, fabric, crates and other flight-related items intentionally or unintentionally left behind had an impact in remote places. “Those items were used to make furniture, clothing and household objects that are still around,” said Julie Decker, the museum’s chief curator. “In Alaska, people are very practical.”

Bush pilots became heroes in small towns and villages, Decker said. “They were a connection to the outside world and they could deliver things to places where things could never get delivered before,” she said.

BIPLANE

This Stearman C2B biplane was flown by several legendary Alaska bush pilots including Joe Crosson, the first pilot to land on Mount McKinley, and Noel Wien, founder of the state’s first airline. Image credit: Eric Long/Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

 

 

Pilots were also real-life Alaskan characters that had to be skilled in the air and on the ground. “They needed to be able to not only fly the planes, but fix them. And they needed to be able to survive in the cold and in the wilderness,” said Decker. “Imagine how tough and hearty they had to be in the early days of flying when the planes had open cockpits and it was 40 degrees below zero – on the ground.”

Other artifacts on exhibit include a Stearman C2B biplane flown by several legendary bush pilots, ephemera and memorabilia from a variety of former Alaska-based commercial airlines, a 1927 film clip from the first airplane to fly over the North Pole, and bits of airplane crash wreckage, including pieces from the 1935 crash that killed famed aviator Wiley Post and entertainer-humorist Will Rogers near Barrow, Alaska.

And while improvements in technology have made flying much safer than it was when that biplane first came to Alaska, Decker says “weather trumps all” and that flying small or large planes in Alaska can still present a formidable challenge.

“The state is just so huge, with all sorts of water formations, vast and rugged landscapes and extreme, unpredictable weather. Even with modern airplanes, GPS and radio communications, there are still crashes and planes still occasionally disappear,” Spencer said.

“Alaska is still a dangerous place to fly.”

My story: Goodbye sled dogs, hello airplanes. Alaska marks 100 years of aviation history first appeared on NBC News.com Travel.

 

 

New 777-300ER planes for Thai Airways & Air China

This week I had the opportunity to go to the Boeing plant and Paine Field in Everett, WA for Boeing’s delivery of THAI Airways’ new Boeing 777-300ER, which will be used on the Los Angeles (LAX) – Bangkok (BKK) route with a stopover in Seoul. The airplane’s business class seats recline into fully flat beds, and in economy class the seats are a roomy (and pretty) 18.5 inches wide.

I didn’t have the opportunity to join the special guests on this delivery flight to Bangkok, but I did get a look at the plane in the next parking lot slot, which was also being delivered that day. This is Air China’s new 777-300ER, which has a fun ‘Smiling Faces’ livery.

Courtesy Boeing

 

courtesy Boeing

Sleep tight on Qantas: new amenities for business class passengers

Qantas Airways has rolled out a few enhancements to its international Business service aimed at helping customers sleep better and eat better during the flight.

In the business class cabin, mattresses will be added to the Skybeds on international flights and duvets will be handed out instead of blankets. The airline will also be handing out Kate Spade New York and Jack Spade amenity kits that include, among other items, a biodegradable toothbrush.

The airline is also offering business class passengers a meal option called Select on Q – Eat. 72 to 24 hours before they board, passengers may choose their meals and choose when they’d like to eat them. The program was tested on the airline’s Los Angeles route and seemed to be popular, so now the option is being added to other flights beginning in mid -November.

A new after-flight amenity was recently announced as well: beginning in April 2013, business and first class passengers on flights longer than 12 hours will be able to take advantage of door-to-door car service; if the proposed partnership with Emirates gets regulatory approval.

On a hosted trip to Dubai from Seattle on Emirates a while ago, I was able to use this service to get home from the airport. After a very long flight, having a car waiting to whisk me home was not only incredibly convenient, it extended that “I’m flying business-class-and-I’m-being-treated-like-a-special-person” feeling all the way to my front door. A nice perk that I think about every time I have to make my way from the plane to the train and then to the bus in order to get home after a flight.

SFO Museum exhibit profiles China’s Civil Air Transport (CAT)

There’s a intriguing gem of an exhibition at the Louis A. Turpin Aviation Museum and Library in the lobby of the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

With more than 150 objects and images, Civil Air Transport: Asia’s Airline of Distinction looks at early flight in China and Civil Air Transport (CAT), the airline that relocated to Taiwan in 1950 after the fall of the Nationalist Government on the mainland and became a secret operating division of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), operating as Air America over two decades.

You can see the exhibition in SFO’s Aviation Library and Museum through April 2013, or view some of the objects and photographs online here.

Photos courtesy SFO Museum

APEX awards applaud airlines for attention to passenger experience

 

 

I had the honor of being a judge for one of the awards handed out Monday night at the APEX Awards Ceremony to honor airlines for excellence in passenger experience.

 

(APEX is the Airline Passenger Experience Association, an organization of airlines, suppliers and related companies holding its annual APEX EXPO in Long Beach, California this week.)

14 awards were the 2012 Passenger Choice Awards, which are voted on by the traveling public through online surveys  anyone can fill out and are tabulated by the Nielsen Company.

Here are the winners:

Best in Region: Africa – South African Airways

Best in Region: Americas – Virgin America

Best in Region: Asia and Australasia – SriLankan Airlines

Best in Region: Europe – Virgin Atlantic

Best in Region: Middle East – Emirates

Best Inflight Publication – Southwest Airlines

Best IFE User Interface – Virgin America

Best Inflight Connectivity & Communications – Norwegian

Best Inflight Video – Kingfisher Airlines

Best Cabin Ambiance – Virgin America

Best Food & Beverage, in conjunction with IFSA – Singapore Airlines

Best Ground Experience – Kingfisher Airlines

Best Overall Passenger Experience (over 50 IFE EQUPPED IN FLEET)  – Emirates

Best Overall Passenger Experience (Up to 50 IFE EQUIPPED IN FLEET) – Virgin America

(IFE = In-Flight Entertainment)

Two categories judged by people in the industry were the Avion Awards for Best in Passenger Experience and Best Achievement in Technology.

Delta Airlines won the Best Achievement in Technology award for “Demystifying the Checked Bag Experience.”

I was on the panel for the Best in Passenger Experience awards, which were given to one vendor and to one airline.

Lufthansa Systems received the award for its BoardConnect system   and  Brussels Airlines  won the Best in Passenger Experience award for its new long haul cabin, which includes a business-class section with both “King” seats for those want to sit alone and “double” seats for couples of business partners who would like to be able to talk to each other.  What especially caught the panel’s attention was the addition of a pneumatic cushion/mattress to the seats which allows passengers to increase and decrease the softness of the bed in various places.

Today the APEX EXPO’s exhibit hall opens. Ive got comfortable shoes and a notepad at the ready and will spend the day poking around to see what’s new, interesting and, of course, destined to make traveling more fun and enjoyable. We’ll see…

 

 

Recent Tweets

  • Subscribe to Posts Via Email or RSS

    Subscribe Via Email
    Subscribe Via RSS
  • My USAToday Airport Guides


    • See all airport guides »

  • Posts by Category

  • Browse posts on the site by category:

  • See all categories »

  • Advertisers