Stuff You See While Flying

We’re back in the OC tonight. Why is flying so exhausting? We are all bushed.

The drive back from LAX was amazing! No traffic. How very un-SoCal.



On the way to Milwaukee our little 737-300 taxied by an Emirates Airbus 380-800. What a behemoth. My seat was lower than its wing! The A380-800 is bigger than nearly all 747s.

It’s got 399 seats in Economy, plus 75 in Business. There are also 14 “closed suites” in First Class for the 16 hour flight to the Persian Gulf.


Winner of the “Best Paint Job” award goes to Air New Zealand for this black, silver and gray 777.



Nearly every flight from LAX exits over the ocean. On the way out we flew over the Port of Los Angeles. It might as well be considered a wormhole in the space-time continuum connecting China and America.

Look closely at the cranes. Ships used to unload in port. Now everything stays in its container and moves on.


We also flew by Rancho Palos Verde. When I took this shot I didn’t realize the Trump National Golf Course Los Angeles is cut off on the right. If I would have known I would have aimed farther left.

You Must Be On Vacation

Two small children just walked into the gate area with their parents. The kids are wearing t-shirts with what I assume are individual pictures of their parents 30 years ago. It shouldn’t be creepy, but it is.

“You must be on vacation. No computer!” The words came from Helaine. They were dripping with sarcasm.

We are at Bradley’s Gate 2 and I am plugged in… more accurately plugged in twice. The iPhone, which still had 90% battery remaining is getting topped off for the trip cross country. It has replaced the laptop as my flying companion. At the moment it holds five or six hours of video along with a few hundred songs. More importantly, in the airplane mode it has enough power for BDL-DEN then DEN-LAX.

Two small children just walked into the gate area with their parents. The kids are wearing t-shirts with what I assume are individual pictures of their parents 30 years ago. It shouldn’t be creepy, but it is.

We’re 1,670 miles from Denver. It should be farther, shouldn’t it? It should be almost all the way to the West Coast. We’ll still be 860 miles from the Pacific.

Helaine and I were talking about trips-gone-by on our way up here. I remembered sitting on a delayed TWA L-1011 at Philadelphia. The doors were open. People freely walked back-and-forth between the plane and terminal. Those days will never return.

When I blog about flying I often get comments from people who don’t, won’t or have never flown. Don’t worry about missing the glamor. It’s been a long time since flights were glamorous–since people get dressed-up to fly. What you’re missing is this whole beautiful country.

America is much more diverse than what you’d expect if you’ve only traveled as far as you can drive.

Tonight we’ll be in Santa Barbara. It’s on the ocean but it couldn’t be more different than any East Coast ocean town. The Pacific Coast itself is different than the Atlantic. Anyone who’s been to both can differentiate them in a lineup.

This will be a long day of traveling. The scheduled terminal-to-terminal-to-terminal time is eight hours.

If time permits I’ll check in from Denver.

A380 Hype

The Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, took to the skies on its maiden flight Wednesday. It is an immense plane flying through a sea of hype.

Each time I’ve seen a TV package or read an article about this plane there was always the mention of its ability to fly with a gym or casino or shops or something other than 800 of your closest friends, all with their knees pressed firmly up against their chests.

It’s true. This plane can bring these incredible amenities to the sky. It won’t happen, but it’s true.

I remember American Airlines first transcontinental flight of a Boeing 747 in 1970. There, in the piano bar, was Frank Sinatra, Jr. entertaining. Hey, you can have a lounge in a 747!

MGM Grand Air flew jets with private compartments and movie star treatment between LAX and JFK. Here’s a page showing what they offered. It’s similar to the Airbus claims. Of course MGM Grand Air went out of business years ago..

When was the last time you hopped aboard a plane and found a lounge act or a private sitting room? Hell, when was the last time you hopped aboard and found food?

Any plane can be outfitted any way. There are 737s equipped for private transportation. The one pictured on the left looks pretty comfy. Wave some cash at Boeing or Airbus or any airplane manufacturer and the world is your oyster.

Unfortunately in the real world, air travel is a commodity. People shop by price and the price of flying in an airplane filled with anything other than seats is out of the question for most of us.

Last weekend at the wedding in Atlanta, I met people who traveled from Connecticut to Atlanta via Detroit! Delta has non-stops, but Northwest via DTW was a lot cheaper&#185. Price wins.

I’m not sure why Airbus has gone to such great lengths to tout a level of service few, if any, of us will ever see. Maybe it’s because they don’t want us talking about how long it will take to get on and off the A380 with 800 of your closest friends? Who wants to think about how much time it will take before 800 sets of baggage hit the carousel?

Air service is not returning to the suit and tie days of the 50s, 60s and 70s. This is going to end up a huge cattle car in the sky. Just pray it’s efficient enough to allow fares to stay as low as they are.

&#185 – I find it curious that Northwest can undercut Delta’s non-stop price considering the costs involved in flying extra miles, additional crew and aircraft time plus the expense of transferring passengers and their baggage.