Flight training at Alaska Airlines – not for sissies

Last night was Aviation Geek Night at the Alaska Airlines training center in Seattle.  A dozen folks who follow Alaska Airlines on Twitter ( were invited to experience what it’s like to pilot a $30 million dollar aircraft and get some Flight Attendant safety training.

We didn’t get any face time with these guys:

Alaska Airlines bad guys

But flight attendant instructors Megan, Claudia, and Clinton assured us that real flight attendants were well trained in how to defend themselves – and passengers – against bad guys.

We did get to practice putting out an on-board fire and learned how to open and set aside the 40 pound window exit.

Alaska Air exit door

Then we each had a chance to slide down the emergency chute.

Alaska Air emergency chute

All skills I’m glad I’ve practiced and, of course, hope I’ll never get to use.

At the end of the night, I did get a chance to sit in the captain’s seat of the flight simulator.  Capt. Bill Morgan calmly and gently guided me and co-pilot Kenji_Onozawa through a landing at Reagan National Airport and Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport.  Good thing Kenji was cool and capable.  Because it turns out, I was too short to reach the brakes on the airplane and, once on the ground, I got nauseous guiding the plane to the gate.

Still, they let me graduate with a newly minted Certificate of Geekiness, which I will be carrying with me next time I fly.

Alaska Airlines certificate of geekiness

Tidbits for travelers: BWI Twitters, Southwest pampers,

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) used its Twitter account during the recent east coast snowstorm to share information about weather conditions and flight delays and hopes you’ll sign up to get their tweets- including updates on parking – next time you’re headed that way.


And Southwest Airlines rolled out yet another priority security lane for its Business Select and Rapid Reward A-List Customers. There are now “Fly By” lanes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Baltimore/Washington International, Dallas Love Field, Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Orange County John Wayne, Denver International, San Francisco International, and Los Angeles International.

Ok, I’m in. Stuck at the Airport tweets arriving soon

As one of my social media (and life) idols, Benet Wilson, explains in this blog entry, “If you weren’t using some form of social media … when US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River, you were late getting news of the event.”


(JKrums’ already iconic image)

Wilson heard about the crash just moments after it happened via her Twitter account – and was able to stay ahead of the traditional media outlets by monitoring the incredible unfolding of events via “tweets” from folks looking out their windows.

So I’m in. Putting aside everything (lunch, articles due, the laundry) to get my Twitter account ship-shape so that next time anyone here is stuck at the airport – or if I am – we’ll know what’s up.