Tag: airlines

First Air and Canadian North Merger Approved

The long awaited ruling is in and the merger between Canadian airlines First Air and Canadian North is now officially approved per the Canadian government website (link here).

It appears from the article that the new airline will maintain the Canadian North name, even though it appears First Air is the entity taking over.

First Air Quick Facts:

  • Fleet: 17 (Boeing 737 and ATR-42)
  • Destinations: 35
  • Founded: 1946
  • IATA Code: 7F
  • Hubs: Yellowknife Airport, Iqaluit Airport, Rankin Inlet Airport

Canadian North Quick Facts:

  • Fleet: 15 (Boeing 737-200/300 and Dash-8)
  • Destinations: 18
  • Founded: 1998
  • IATA Code: 5T
  • Hubs: Yellowknife Airport, Iqaluit Airport, Edmonton Airport

Even though the merger is approved, the Canadian government said that the merger is subject to a number of terms and conditions, including no price increases to passengers and cargo, no reductions in schedules to destinations, and that the airline is subject to several transparency and accountability measures financially.

About the Author: Clayton Stevens

Clayton is a freelance airline and travel writer. His travels have taken him around the world to 6 continents and 39 countries. In his free time he enjoys bike riding, blogging, and spending time with family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to read our articles today on UltraFlyer.com.

AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines Ending Flights From JFK to Baku

AZAL Azerbaijan Airlines operates flights twice per week from New York’s JFK airport nonstop to Baku Airport in Azerbaijan. The flights are operated on the Boeing 787 aircraft in a two class configuration. The last scheduled flight from JFK will depart on September 30th with service ceasing after that.

No official statement has been given by AZAL, but this information was confirmed by airline insiders as official. This news is unfortunate, as I had the opportunity to fly on AZAL from New York JFK to Baku to Moscow about 2 years ago, and the flight was phenomenal! The seating was comfortable, the entertainment was good, and the quantity and quality of the food was impressive, not to mention the cheap ticket price!

AZAL will surely be missed by some, as I know it was a preferred choice of mine for flights to and around Central Asia.

This post will be updated more once additional details are known.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Yakutia Airlines Introduces Lie-Flat Seats For Domestic Flights In Russia

The Russian Airline “Yakutia Airlines” has introduced a new product that has never been offered before on domestic flights within the Russian Federation. To improve the experience of their passengers, Yakutia Airlines recently installed lie-flat seats for domestic flights within Russia.

Yakutia Airlines is controlled by the government of the Yakutia Republic, which is a diamond mining area in Northern Russia, of which roughly 40% lies above the Arctic Circle.

Quick Facts:

  • Fleet: 20 aircraft. Antonov An-24, Boeing 737-700, Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737 Max-7, Bombardier Dash 8 Q300, Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, Sukhoi Superjet 100-95.
  • Hub: Yakutsk Airport
  • Destinations: 40
  • Website: http://www.yakutia.aero/en/

These new seats were created by an Italian company named “Zeus”, and unfold into lie-flat beds with an additional massage function to provide passengers with a chance to relax and unwind during their long flight.

The general director of Yakutia Airlines stated their decision to install lie-flat seats onboard their aircraft is due to the length and duration of their flights. He feels that flying 6.5 hours (Moscow Vnukovo to Yakutsk) in a standard business class seat on their Boeing 737 fleet is uncomfortable and stressful. By offering this option to completely lay flat, passengers can rest and arrive at their destination relaxed.

In addition to these new seats, Yakutia airlines is also updating its on board menu, resuming in-flight alcoholic beverages, and released a new red uniform for their cabin crew.

About the Author: Clayton Stevens

Clayton is a freelance airline and travel writer. His travels have taken him around the world to 6 continents and 39 countries. In his free time he enjoys bike riding, blogging, and spending time with family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to read our articles today on UltraFlyer.com.

When Horses Fly… Wait. They Do Fly.

Horses are a beautiful and majestic animal, and they are also a good friend to airlines and the revenue they bring in for transport. The average cost of transporting a horse via airplane is between $25,000 to $40,000 depending on the length of the flight. However, these horses aren’t sitting in First Class and drinking Champagne. Instead, there is a whole process setup for these horses to travel safely and humanely.

The horses who typically travel by air are the top 1% of all horses in the world. These can include race horses, show horses, jumping, and breeding. Chances are, you won’t see the 99:1 long shot horse from your local track hoping on a flight across the world.

When a horse is preparing to travel, there is actually an entire team of people that travel with the horses in these specially outfitted cargo/transport aircraft. Some of the people that typically travel with the horses are grooms, masseurs, chiropractors, doctors, and sometimes even horse-psychologists.

The horses are transported inside stall like containers, however, the horse is not placed in the container and loaded onto the flight like cargo. Instead, the horse would walk on board the aircraft and on to the base of a special collapsible cargo container. The horse will spin around on the pallet, and the container itself would be erected around them. This process is much less stressful to the horse and carries less risk of injuries occurring.

With many horses traveling on older aircraft (for example, Boeing 727), the value of the horses far exceed the value of the aircraft they are flying in. These horses are typically insured for hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Their worth is not just in the ability to race or jump, but also the studding fees once their career is over.

The world of Equine Flights is rather interesting and we encourage those with more details to share their stories below!

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Flight Review: Allegiant Air – Pittsburgh to Punta Gorda (PIT-PGD)

This flight review took place on Sunday, May 12th, 2019, on Allegiant Air from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) on board an Airbus A-320.

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Airline:  Allegiant Air (G4 #1695)

Date:  Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Departure City:  Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT)

Departure Time: 9:17 AM

Arrival City: Punta Gorda Airport (PGD)

Arrival Time:  11:44 AM

Aircraft:  Airbus A-320

My wife and I were planning a trip to Florida, and exploring our options to get to Siesta Key. We had traveled on Allegiant Air in the past on trips to Savannah, Georgia and Cancun, Mexico, and we had no hesitations about using them for the short hop down to Florida.

Booking on the Allegiant website is quick and easy. We secured two roundtrip tickets, with 1 checked bag, and pre-selecting our seats in both directions for a total of $462. Without a checked bag or seat selection, the total would have only been $326.

The morning of the flight, we arrived at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT) about 90 minutes before departure, and found the Allegiant Air check-in area completely empty! We walked up, dropped off our checked bag, and were on our way to security within 60 seconds.

Boarding commenced on-time and our aircraft pushed back at 9:17am. Our estimated flight time was 2 hours and 27 minutes.

The thing I enjoy about the Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines employees at Pittsburgh is that they all seem to enjoy their jobs and put the passengers into a good positive mindset as they are boarding. It’s a night and day difference between these folks and some of the “legacy airline” employees you meet at big hubs like O’Hare, Newark, JFK, etc. A big round of applause for the awesome gate agents of Allegiant and Spirit in Pittsburgh.

The Allegiant Air flight today (G4 #1695) is being flown by an Airbus A-320. The aircraft interior is simple and clean. The seats are basic with minimal padding and no reclining option. I love this, as I am usually stuck with someone directly in front of me who throws their seat into full recline the moment we take off.

Once we reached cruising altitude the snack purchasing service began. The offerings are basic, but reasonably priced. Only credit cards are accepted.

Nothing is free on Allegiant Air. A bottle of water will set you back $2, unless you are an Allegiant Air credit card holder. If you have an Allegiant Air card, you are comped (1) free drink of your choice for the flight.

The Airbus A-320 has no in-flight entertainment, so be prepared with your own (whether games on your phone, an iPad with movies, or a good book).

After 2+ hours in the air, we began our descent into Punta Gorda. The warm Florida landscape below us looked so inviting, and we were counting down the minutes until we would be relaxing on the warm sand of Siesta Key beach.

The flight made a hard landing at 11:35am and within 4 minutes we were parked at our stand in Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). Punta Gorda is a small airport with no jet bridges and all remote parking with ramps/stairs.

It was a big change going from the chilly weather of Pittsburgh to the 90F sunny temperature of South Florida! Upon disembarking the aircraft, we walked into the terminal and proceeded to the baggage claim area. The total time walking from the aircraft door to baggage claim was roughly 2 minutes.

The baggage claim is small with only 2 belts, and the bags took roughly 15 minutes to appear, and ours arriving about 20 minutes after we arrived at the baggage claim.

Overall, our experience on this Allegiant Air flight was very good. When traveling on an Ultra Low Cost airline like Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, etc, you need to set your expectations based on your price. They provide everything as expected. Safe, clean, non-stop, and reliable transportation from Point A to Point B for a very low price.

Despite all the former negative posts in the media about Allegiant, I have never had a bad experience with them in the 6 flights I have taken. While Allegiant used to have a large fleet of old MD-80 aircraft, they have since phased them all out and now only operate new/modern Airbus A-319 and A-320 aircraft.

Thank you to Allegiant Air for a safe and cheap way to travel to Florida!

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Flight Review: United Airlines – Frankfurt, Germany to Washington Dulles (FRA-IAD)

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to fly on United Airlines from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Washington Dulles (IAD).  This was my first long haul experience with United, as well as my first trip on a Boeing 777.

As I approached the gate in Frankfurt, I realized I had roughly 30 minutes prior to departure and sat in the boarding area.  It was slightly eerie, as there was nobody else sitting around me.  I approached the gate agent to confirm that I was in the right area for my flight back home.  She told me that the flight was very light, and I could actually board early if I would like.  I took advantage of this opportunity to settle in early, and boarded the aircraft.

While I boarded the aircraft, I was expecting similar service like I had received on Lufthansa.  By this I mean cheerful flight attendants that greet you and point out where your seat is located.  Sadly, I did not encounter this type of service.  I cheerfully smiled and said ”Hello” to each of the three flight attendants while I made my way to the seat.  None of them cracked a smiled, and only responded with a forced sigh and “Hello” back to me.

My seat for this flight was located in the very last row of the aircraft.  I looked around, and there was not a soul nearby, except for the young gentleman one row up and across the aisle. Not long after boarding, they closed the cabin doors, and our flight back to the United States was under way.  The flight attendant made her welcome announcement, and was probably one of the most unenthusiastic and uninviting announcements that I have ever heard.  At this point, I could only imagine what the inflight service would be like as well, because I now felt that I had been spoiled with the high level of service that I received from Lufthansa on my way over to Europe.

The in-flight entertainment was just as bad as the service that I would receive on this flight as well.  There were (3) seats in my row, and two of them had broken headphone sets.  I politely asked the flight attendant for a working set, and her only response was “I don’t know.  I’ll see what I can do”.  45 minutes later, the flight attendant reappeared and said “here”, while throwing the headphones at me.  I was shocked and appalled!  Out of the 3 in flight entertainment units, only 1 was working.  It also had a tendency to freeze up with errors and reboot every 15-20 minutes.  This was going to be a LONG flight home…

I was pretty hungry and we were served a soft drink and snack.  I had asked for Coffee and Water, and an extra bag of pretzels.  The flight attendant rolled her eyes, and granted my request.  I was getting pretty upset with their service and wanted to complain so bad!  The meal we were served was pretty awful, but I ate it anyway.  Not everyone can have the same quality of food as Lufthansa I guess.

Finally, after many many hours of flying, we landed in Washington Dulles Airport.  I was so happy to get off my flight and be one step closer to home.  Honestly, this experience on United Airlines was pathetic and terrible.  I will never fly United Airlines on a long haul flight again.  Take my advice, and spend the extra money to fly on a European airline, as they tend to value service and the customer more than US airlines.

About the Author: Clayton Stevens

Clayton is a freelance airline and travel writer. His travels have taken him around the world to 6 continents and 39 countries. In his free time he enjoys bike riding, blogging, and spending time with family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to read our articles today on UltraFlyer.com.

Flight Review: United Airlines – Washington Dulles (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)

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Airline:  United Airlines (Flight 932)

Departure City:  Washington, Dulles (IAD), United States of America

Departure Time: 10:05 PM

Arrival City:  Frankfurt Main Int’l Airport (FRA), Germany

Arrival Time:  11:53 AM

Aircraft:  Boeing 777-200

I am a Premier Silver Member on United Airlines, and do a majority of my traveling on United or one of their Star Alliance partners (Lufthansa, Swiss, etc).  This flight was part of my journey with some friends from (Pittsburgh – Washington Dulles – Frankfurt – Zurich – Kos).

Boarding in Washington Dulles (IAD) began promptly at 9:15pm.  Since I am a United Cardholder, I was given preferred boarding in Zone 2, which is a nice little perk on long flights like this.  Our total flight time for today was slated at just over 7 hours.

Upon boarding the aircraft, I located and sat down in my seat (aisle 44C).  This seat was located at the very rear of the aircraft.  I was traveling with two other friends who didn’t board for quite a while since they were in Zone 5.  This is why I love having the United Credit Card.  It’s the little things that matter.

Our United Airlines flight pushed back on time, and once airborne, the flight attendants came around with the complimentary crackers and cheese, along with coffee / beer / alcohol.  United Airlines recently changed their policy on alcohol and no longer charge for it on international flights.  I rarely drink on a plane, so this isn’t a big deal to me.  However, my friends rather enjoyed the complimentary alcohol.

Our flight was about 70% full this evening, so there were a number of seats open.  The flight attendant who served us on this flight was absolutely amazing.  She was kind, funny, and willing to help however she could.  This is in contrast to the typical flight attendant that I experience on United, which is cranky, crabby, and just all around hates every passenger on the plane.

Meal service was provided, and I opted for the chicken.  After dinner, we were served ice cream, and our flight attendant gave my friend Matt a small bottle of liquor to add to his ice cream.  She was awesome.

We played a few games on the in-flight entertainment system, and then tried to get some sleep.  It was hard to sleep knowing that in just a few hours, your friends were going to experience Europe for the first time ever.  I am a veteran on traveling abroad (as I make about 2-3 trips to Europe each year), but this was their first.

Our flight touched down smoothly a little before 12pm local time.  We taxied for quite a while, and parked in a remote position on the stand.  Our Boeing 777 deplaned using the front and aft cabin loading stairs.  I had never deplaned on stairs from an aircraft this large before, so it was quite the cool experience.

After this, we were bused to the main terminal, and then began an all out sprint to the opposite end of the airport to catch our next flight.  Lufthansa Flight 1190 from Frankfurt (FRA) to Zurich (ZRH).

In conclusion, I would rate this experience on United Airlines Flight 932 (4 out of 5 stars).

Pros: 

  • Very friendly and courteous flight crew
  • On time departure / arrival
  • Meal service was enjoyable
  • In-flight entertainment was very good

Cons:

  • Cramped coach seats (Not located in Economy Plus)
  • Lack of music options on IFE.  The old system allowed you to choose songs.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Flight Review: Ukraine International New York (JFK) to Kiev, Ukraine (KBP)

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Flight Review: Ukraine International Airlines Flight 232

I recently traveled from JFK-KBP-DME on Ukraine International Airlines.  I am going to share my thoughts and experiences on the New York (JFK) to Kiev (KBP) segment in this trip report.

This was my first time flying out of New York – JFK, as my usual airport for flights to Europe is Newark – EWR.

This was also my first time flying on Ukraine International Airlines, and with limited reviews and experiences being shared on the internet, I really had no idea what to expect from this unique journey that I was about to embark upon.

Here are some basic facts:

Departure City:  New York City (JFK)

Arrival City:  Kiev, Ukraine (KBP)

Aircraft Type:  Boeing 767-300ER

Seat Number:  13D (Coach)

Departure Date:  December 2014

I arrived at JFK Airport (Terminal 7) around 9pm in preparation for my 1:30am departure.  This was my first experience at JFK, and I really dislike the terminals all being separated so far apart.  As I entered the building for Terminal 7, I walked around and could not find the check in desks for Ukraine International Airlines.  After a few minutes, I kindly asked an employee, who pointed me to this area in the back far off corner of the building.  It was here that I found the check in desks.

There was no wait to check in for the flight, and I walked right up to the counter.  I considered asking for a seat change, but based on my assumption that 13D was an aisle seat, I decided to just leave it be and enjoy the leg room.  Boy was I ever wrong!

After checking in for the flight, I now realized that I had many hours to kill, and all of the shops/food were closed (except for duty free and McDonalds).  This waiting so late at night was painful.  I still don’t understand why the flight needed to depart at so late in the evening!

Around 12:30am, I started to make my way to the gate hoping for early boarding so I could relax and get some sleep on the flight.  I normally cannot sleep on planes, but since this flight time was so late in the evening, I was hoping it would be the first time for extended sleep.

Around 12:45am-1:00am, we began the boarding process.  It was pure chaos.  There was no call for first class passengers, or preferred frequent flyer members.  Instead, it was one big general boarding announcement.  Everyone ran to the roped off area to board the aircraft, where lots of pushing and shoving took place.

Upon boarding the aircraft, I was greeted by two blonde Ukrainian flight attendants both named Olga.  As I walked through the First Class cabin, I thought it was odd that there was no one seated in this section, and proceeded to the next cabin (Premium Economy).  The Premium Economy Class section appeared nice and I was impressed with the ample seating, leg room, and overall comfort.

Ukraine International Airlines has a special deal where you can upgrade from a regular Economy Class seat to Premium for only $250 each way from JFK-KBP.  I had considered this since it was such a long 8-9 hour flight, but decided that money was best spent on my trip with my soon to be fiancé.

There was a long line of passengers in the aisles while fellow passengers put bags in the overhead bins, stowed heavy winter coats, and got situated into their seats for this long journey.

Up to this point, I thought much of Ukraine International Airlines and the great value that I had received.  Keep in mind, I booked my ticket less than one month before departure, and received total price of $499.70 round trip with taxes from JFK-KBP-DME and return.  I can’t even get to the West Coast for that cheap, let alone half way around the world!

So, honestly, my expectations were fairly low…
Upon entering the normal Economy Class section, reality began to set in as to why this ticket was so cheap.

The entire Economy Section was completely booked, with no chance of moving seats.  The aircraft was setup in a very cramped 2-4-2 configuration, with my seat being in the middle, not the aisle as I had hoped for.

The aircraft also lacked personal in flight entertainment, with the only movie options being viewed on the main big screen, and a few small monitors every few rows.

As I got situated in my seat, I realized that the next 8-9 hours of my life would be the longest ever.

The aircraft had quite a few crying babies, and arguments over items not fitting into the already overflowing overhead bins.

The Boeing 767 is one of my favorite aircraft, but this trip reminded me as to why I usually opt for Lufthansa or United Airlines when flying overseas to Europe.
Once I sat down, I was amazed at how cramped the seating was.  I am a tall and skinny guy, but these seats were slim even for myself.

I made a comment to the older Russian man sitting next to me about the seat size, and he gave me this slight smile, raised his hands a bit, and in broken English said “Is Ukrainian Airlines, what do you expect”.  I smiled and chuckled on the inside.

The one nice thing about Ukraine International Airlines was that each seat came with a pillow, blanket, socks, eye mask, earplugs, and a headset.  Nice touch since most airlines have done away with these.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30am, but we did not push back and depart until 2:01am.

After takeoff, I waited in line to use the lavatory, and was shocked that there was no one seated in the First Class or Premium Economy cabins.  Both cabins were completely dark, which meant that this entire flight was being operated with only regular Economy Class fares as their income.

I guess that is what happens when you have a state owned airline.
Around 3am (one hour after takeoff) the drink service began, followed by our first meal.

The meal was pretty decent, however, I was very hungry so anything looked good at that point.  We were served some vegetables, slices of turkey, rice, a roll, and dessert.

After meal service was completed, they started the showing of a movie, but I instantly fell asleep along with the rest of the dark cabin.

Hours later I awoke to us having just crossed into European airspace.

Drinks were served, and another meal service began.  It was lasagna, a tiny salad, roll, and dessert.

Another move began and this one was Invictus staring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman.

Our flight was scheduled to arrive into Ukraine at 3:48pm local time, but due to the delay leaving JFK, we arrived into Kiev at 4:10pm local time.

Once the aircraft parked at the gate, we exited and were greeted by a line of armed military personnel on the jetway, along with a few dogs.  Remember, Ukraine is in a state of war at the moment.
Upon entering the airport, it was a pretty seamless transition to the transit area for my next flight to Moscow, Russia (Domodedovo – DME).

After walking through the bottom of the airport, it splits into two areas.  Immigration for those terminating their trip in Kiev, and security for those who are transiting.  There was no wait for the security line, and I breezed right through the 1 of 2 lanes that exist.

Kiev Borispol International Airport does not have much to offer passengers awaiting their next flight.

There are 3-4 smoking lounges, a few cafes, and duty free stores.

I visited the one store to buy a magnet for myself, and collectors spoon for my mother.  However, I neglected to tell my credit card about stopping in the Ukraine, so my card was declined.  Luckily, the girl working the store realized I was American, and asked “American Dollar?”.  I said “Yes”, and she glady accepted that as payment, but the only change she had was a very very old $5 US bill.  I smiled and took the change, even though it was far less than I was owed.  Call it a cost of doing business I guess.

Overall, I had a positive experience with Ukraine International Airlines for the value.  Remember, I did this whole trip for only $499.70 with taxes/fees.  Yes, the seating is cramped.  Yes, the in-flight entertainment is awful, but we arrived safely, were well fed and hydrated, and the price was 1/3 that of any other airline from New York City.

I would fly on Ukraine International Airlines again if I really needed to depending on my budget.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Why I Loved Working For Airlines

I have held many different jobs in different industries over the course of my life, but nothing compares to the joy and satisfaction of working for an airline.

Just to give you a little history, I have been an airline enthusiast since I was a young child. I caught the airline bug while traveling from the U.S. to Poland in the early 90’s. Over the course of my youth into adulthood, many new interests came and went, but that love of commercial aviation always remained.

I had always dreamed of working at the airport, and even volunteered for a few years with the airport volunteer program by helping and assisting passengers arriving from international flights. It was a great feeling helping others, yet I didn’t feel fully satisfied, as my security clearance didn’t allow me to do much, and I wasn’t getting paid. Once I began college, I stopped volunteering and put my airport dreams on hold.

During my final year of college, I lucked out and landed a job with a charter airline at the airport. I was thrilled! I was officially a gate agent and couldn’t wait to start working. The airline I worked for was a small charter operation using the Airbus A-320 aircraft. I was told to report to work at 4am the first day, as the first flight left around 7am or 8am. Upon my arrival, I was given a basic run down of what I would be doing that day, which consisted of watching everyone else and helping put bags on the conveyor belt. It was mindless work, but I didn’t care. I got to work around airplanes and get paid!

As the days went on, I learned more and more about how their airline operated. There were only two flights a day. One outbound in the morning, and one inbound later at night. Since there are no connecting flights, the task of checking passengers in was rather easy. Simply compare their passports to the printout, check off their name, and then check off the seats on the airplane map.

Once all passengers had checked in, we would proceed to the gate area, and begin the boarding announcements. Once all passengers were on the plane, and the door closed, our job was now done for the next 10 hours or so… That’s right. 10 hours of getting paid to sit around and do NOTHING. While that seems ideal in today’s age of YouTube videos, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, we didn’t have such luxuries back in the mid 2000’s. Those hours were spent talking, sleeping, walking around the airport, and texting people on an keyboard phone that required you to hit the number “2” three times for the letter “C”.

While I enjoyed this job very much and was excited at the potential to travel for free soon, my hopes were dashed as the airline lost the charter contract, and we were all let go. This was a devastating blow to my airline pursuits, but it was only a matter of time until I was back again.

Upon graduating college with a degree in business, I felt as if the whole world was mine for the taking. I was a young, enthusiastic, wide eyed graduate that was ready to take on the business world. Unfortunately, the local and national economy was not ready for me, or anyone else I went to college with. As the days turned into weeks, then into months, and years, most of my fellow graduates caved in and took the first average salary job that was offered to them. In a bad economy, beggars can’t be choosers. I had attempted a startup internet company, as well as many different types of odds and ends jobs to make ends meet until I landed that “good corporate job”.

One day, luck was on my side, as I received a call back for a job with Continental Airlines as both a ramp agent and gate agent. I was so excited! This wasn’t some small fly by night charter operator, but one of the largest airlines in the country! The next part of their news was even better. I had to fly down to Houston to do paperwork and give a urine sample, then fly back home that night. I was pumped! I hadn’t flown in 2-3 years at this point, and having the opportunity to fly somewhere and back the same day for free was a dream come true!

ExpressJet Training Center in Houston, Texas

After my background checks and everything came back clear, I began my work on the ramp. It was an awesome job. We worked on Boeing 737-500’s, ATR’s, Embraer 145’s, and Dash-8’s. We also had the occasional charter flight, which was an old smoky Allegiant Air MD-80. Working the ramp with Continental was a dream come true.

A short while later, I was asked to go down to Houston for a month to learn the gate agent functions. I was so excited for this new adventure. Free hotel, free flights to/from Houston each week, free food, and get paid! Wow.

Welcome to Houston, Texas!

My training class at Continental was amazing. The instructor was a well respected Continental veteran, and someone we grew very close with. Our class grew close together, and it was fun building friendships with co-workers from as far away as India!

Heading back home for the weekend on our ExpressJet Embraer 145

By the time Friday rolled around, I was looking forward to flying back home to see my family. Since we worked for the airline, we could change our ticket or do whatever we wanted for free. Some of the guys in our class would opt to go other places for the weekend instead of home (Florida, Vegas, California). Usually I would arrive home between 9 and 11pm on Friday night, spend Saturday with friends/family, and head back down to Houston on Sunday. The hotel restaurant was good, but after the 3rd week or so, it was getting a little boring. However, I won’t complain about free meals!

Holiday Inn in Houston, Texas

As the training wrapped up, I learned more than I could ever imagine about how the airline industry works. My favorite part of training was acing my test of Airport Codes (which I had learned from a young age) and printing fake dummy tickets on Continental ticket stock, which I still have to this day.

On our final day of training, our group arrived back in the classroom from lunch, and the instructor had asked me and another girl in the class from my city to meet in the hallway. His usual smile and laughter had disappeared, and we were met with a look of worry and concern. Once in the hall way, he informed us that the airline lost a large contract at the airport, and they were reducing staff by 50%. We were effectively terminated from Continental Airlines and needed to fly home immediately.

My local friend and I headed back to the hotel, and when the rest of the class returned and heard our upsetting news, they took us out for a night of fun on the town.

Houston Int’l Airport (IAH)

The next day we sat together on the flight home, mostly in complete silence the entire way. I just couldn’t believe my awful luck. Twice I had a nice job with an airline, only to have it taken away. However, luck was on our side. As we walked down the jet bridge to enter the airport from the plane, our old manager was standing there with a sad look on his face. He shook our hands and apologized about the staffing cut. Then he told us the good news. “If you guys still want to work for an airline, I will take you down the hall to American Airlines and they will hire you.” And that is exactly what he did. We walked into the supervisors office, he introduced us to our new manager at American Airlines, and after a brief conversation, we were both hired!

We both learned quickly that jobs within an airline aren’t gained by what you know, but WHO you know.

Continue Reading Part 2 for more stories and adventures from my time as a ramp agent with American Airlines.

About the Author: The Travel Wolf

The Travel Wolf (a.k.a. John) is a freelance aviation/airline writer, frequent traveler and avid airline enthusiast. I feel most at home when I am 30,000 feet in the air and watching the clouds from above. I love the smell of jet exhaust in the morning!

Wow Air Ceases Flying and Strands Passengers

The Icelandic airline “WOW Air” took to the skies in 2011 with the promise of providing travelers a safe and cheap way to fly from Iceland to points in Europe and North America. The idea literally “took off” and the airline began expanding and adding routes to major cities like New York and London, as well as smaller cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Unfortunately, on March 28th, 2019, WOW Air ceased flying and left thousands of stranded passengers in Iceland, as well as various other cities around the world.

Passengers were notified by WOW Air that other airlines would provide “rescue fares” to help get the stranded passengers back home. The “rescue fares” are not cheap since they are last minute tickets, however, the discount code for these tickets should help to offset some of the costs of the higher fares.

A quick search on Twitter reveals some rather upset and irate passengers:

While most passengers of WOW Air will receive a refund, we are being told that this process could take up to 4 months until they are made whole again for their unused tickets.

WOW Air operated a fleet of mostly newer Airbus aircraft.

Airbus A-320 NEO -> 178 seats

Airbus A-321 -> 200-210 seats

Airbus A-321 NEO -> 200 seats

WOW Air was notably famous for the ultra cheap flights as low as $99 to fly from North America to Iceland, and flights as cheap as $150 to fly to destinations such as Paris, London, and more.

The public consensus among industry professionals is both that WOW Air expanded too fast, and added too many cities that are close together.

When WOW Air expanded in the United States to smaller mid sized cities, they launched a flight to Pittsburgh Int’l Airport. The flight to Pittsburgh was a huge success, as it attracted many types of people. Budget conscious business travelers looking for a cheap way to Europe, college students flying abroad, and just anyone looking to visit Europe or Iceland for a very cheap price.

Pittsburgh was a great market for WOW Air, as they drew passengers from not only the Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania region, but also from as far away as Columbus, Cleveland, and Detroit. Passengers from these areas were quoted as stating they chose the WOW Air flight due to the incredibly cheap fares.

After more than a year of success in the Pittsburgh market, WOW Air added additional flights to cities within this same catchment area (Cleveland and Detroit). Aside from adding a flight to Cleveland (less than 2 hours from Pittsburgh), WOW Air had additional competition, as Icelandair (the main competitor for WOW Air), announced service to Cleveland as well.

Passenger numbers from Pittsburgh to Iceland dropped, but the impact wasn’t as drastic as one would expect. After only a few short months, WOW Air dropped Cleveland as a destination, and just recently Icelandair announced they are stopping service to Cleveland as well.

It’s unfortunate that WOW Air expanded as rapidly as they did. I think that focusing on mid-sized cities with a large catchment area could have proved a massive success for WOW Air in the long run. However, just as other airlines have experienced, when you expand too fast, you get burned. Markets need some time to mature and grow, and usually don’t produce immediate results overnight.

It will be sad to see the colorful WOW aircraft disappear, but it is even more sad to think about all of the families impacted by the shuttering of this creative discount carrier.

Take care WOW employees! We hope you can take off with a new employer.

About the Author: Clayton Stevens

Clayton is a freelance airline and travel writer. His travels have taken him around the world to 6 continents and 39 countries. In his free time he enjoys bike riding, blogging, and spending time with family and friends. Thank you for taking the time to read our articles today on UltraFlyer.com.