Archive for Aviation

5 Busiest Airports for July 4th Travel

It is here once again, the great day of July 4th. The celebration of Americas gained freedom from the grip of the British. It is my favorite holiday by far. For those of you outside the US and unfamiliar with the 4th of July it mostly involves enjoying the outdoors whether it be at a beach or lake, lots of barbecuing capped off by fireworks. You will usually be surrounded by family, friends and plenty of adult beverages. This year I will be splitting my time between the beach and a lake with driving in between, but for many their plans involve flying. The 4th traditionally begins the summer travel season where airports are packed to the gills. Today I wanted to list out the 5 busiest airports in the US for the July 4th travel day as according to Hopper.com.

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Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Review

Cleveland has a reputation for being a bit of rough and tumble city. It is sometimes referred to as the “Mistake on the Lake” referring to when Lake Eire was set ablaze. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of hope for their airport. This was before I spent the weekend there. I found the downtown to be modern, the Rock n Roll hall of fame engaging, the food great and the people friendly. Sure there is plenty of run down and poor areas but you will find that in any city. In my opinion, Cleveland gets a raw deal, but enough about that let’s get to the airport.

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The Facts

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is a city owned airport located nine miles southwest of the central business district of Cleveland. The airport lies just within the city limits of Cleveland. It is the largest airport in the state of Ohio and a focus city for Frontier Airlines. About 7.5 million passengers pass through the airport each year and the most popular route is to O’Hare. You can access the airport by Cleveland Rapid Transit Systems red line for $2.25 one way. It is a three runway airport with 4 concourse A, B, C, and D. It is served by 13 airlines but has slowly been losing air service since 1999. Concourse D was built in 1999 for the price of $80 million but now sits vacant as United reduced its service and migrated their gates to C concourse. There is potential for much more service and there are talks of British Airways beginning service via on a 787 to London Heathrow.

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The Terminalcle kiosk

Driving up to the main terminal was a breeze but midday on Sunday the drop off area was crowded. We jumped out while the car was still rolling and made our way into the departures terminal. The first thing I noticed was all the construction. Frankly it looked terrible, scaffolding, white wooden boards coved the support beams, it looked more like a construction site rather than an airport. We made our way to the Spirit kiosks which were down the end of the terminal. You know Spirit isn’t going to pay for placement. We got our boarding passes and headed to security. The security line was short and I was hoping to fly through. Not today my friends, not today. This was the shortest and slowest security line of all time. When I got past the TSA ID agent there was maybe 7 people ahead of me. It took 15 minutes to get through. That might not seem like much, but it’s a lifetime when the people in front of you have no idea what they are doing. Either way not a good start.

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The Arrival Area

We were taking off from Concourse A and I was hoping it would be better that than the arrival area. My first impressions were not great. The gates were close together and there wasn’t a ton of options for food and drink. I heard there are better options in B and C concourse. There were winners Sports Bar and Grill which I got a hot dog at and it ok. There also was a Sammy Haggar Bar which was packed, which I appreciated there also was your standard Hudson News and Starbucks for your caffeine drip. One cool feature about Cleveland Hopkins is the guitars all over the airport, paying homage to the rock roots of Cleveland. The guitars all have different designs and are spread out through each concourse. Our gate was A7 and was fairly tight if you walked to the end of the terminal there were more gates mostly occupied by Frontier. I have noticed over the last few years Frontier passengers are always complaining, probably cause Frontier cancels lots of flights now. They have to jump on the Spirit train and know what to expect for their low ticket prices.

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Final Thoughts

My experience at Cleveland Hopkins was so-so. My feeling is without the construction and a better security experience I would have felt more positive about the airport. Hopefully next time I will get to experience concourse B and C and maybe D if it ever opens back up. This time I am going to have to give it a B-. Hopefully the construction improves the overall feel. As always use the tripchi app when traveling to CLE. Travel On!

 

Airport Review: RDU

Like I mentioned last week I speak some time down south in Raleigh, North Carolina for a wedding on Lake George if anyone out there has heard of it. First I focused on the on the flying and airline aspect, for this week I will apply the tripchi magnifying glass to the airport. This was my second time to RDU and let’s just say the first time wasn’t the best, but it was no fault of RDU. I was flying RDU-BWI on Southwest out of Terminal 1 and was about to board the plane when the PA cracked and the terminal was informed BWI ATC tower had ben struck by lightning and all flights we being diverted. Our flight was delayed 4hrs. So I was hopeful this time would be different.

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Trip Report: Regional Flying to RDU

Flying regionally in the US can be a grind. Many 50 seater regional jets have gone the way of the dodo because they are tough to turn a profit on. Bombardier CRJ’s and Embraer E145’s are some of the smallest regional aircraft in the US market today. My latest trip to RDU allowed me to experience both. My first leg was on an Embraer E190 and E145 respectively. Let’s take a look at how it all went.

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Qatar Airways Comes to Boston

I have written numerous times about Boston Logan International Airport and their many international route additions within the last three years. Logan is my hometown airport, so I am slightly biases and very pleased they are expanding. They really do deserve credit for bringing in airlines from all over the world. With the economic boom occurring in the Gulf State region of world, it’s no wonder Logan has gone after airlines located in the area. First came Emirates which I have written about previously and now Qatar Airways. The management of Logan should be commended enticing two major Gulf States airlines to fly to Boston. Granted all three airlines Emirates, Qatar and Etihad are expanding like crazy but you know Logan had to make some concession to bring in Qatar.

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Top 5 Annoying Airline Seatmates

Flying today can be a stressful endeavor and a good seatmate when you are flying solo is a crucial and horribly random. We have all been on a flight where our seatmate has severely put a damper on our experience. In the age of less seat pitch and decrease seat width, having an unruly seatmate can spell disaster for a long flight. Some common unwanted seatmates are the “Stinker” a less than glamorous smelling human or the “boozer” who drinks four mixed drinks in an hour and half tells you all of his family issues and uses you as a crutch to help him off the aircraft. As more airlines cram more passengers into smaller spaces with fewer amenities, more passengers have to grit their teeth to be polite. Read more

Eastern Air Lines Revitalized

Everybody, especially Americans love a comeback story. Sometimes though the comeback is short sighted and doesn’t pan our how your planned, just look at Lance Armstrong. In the airline business there has been no shortage of re-cooked airlines. The latest attempt was from People Express. That lasted a few short months due to poor planning and an unfortunate accident involving one of their aircraft, which they couldn’t replace causing cancelled flights. They were never able to recover after that. Now Eastern Air Lines is throwing their hat back into the ring and plans to launch charter flights from Miami to Washington DC. The airlines plans to begin offering charter flights between Miami and destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America beginning in spring 2015, with scheduled operations beginning in 2016.

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Trip Report: Spirit Airlines BOS-FLL

Due to the terrible winter we have had in the northeast USA, I decided it was high time to get myself to a warmer climate. My girlfriend was already down in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for work so the destination was an easy choice. This also gave me the opportunity to fly Spirit Airlines direct from BOSFLL. I had flown Spirit before but it was a short flight from BOS-ACY so it was tolerable. I was interested to see how it would be on a 3+hour flight.

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Funny Airport Codes

iata icaoWith the unfortunate news of the GermanWings crash, I wanted to keep it light and fun this week. Airport codes can be a funny thing and sometimes leave you wondering how they are created. There are two types of Airport Codes: IATA and ICAO.

IATA stand for the International Air Transport Association which is a trade association of the world’s airlines. These 250 airlines, primarily major carriers, carry approximately 84% of total Available Seat Kilometers air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada with Executive Offices in Geneva, Switzerland.

ICAO stands for International Civil Aviation Organization it is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It codifies the principles and techniques of international air navigation and fosters the planning and development of international air transport to ensure safe and orderly growth. Its headquarters are located in the Quartier International of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Read more

Plane Ticket Buying Process

How we buy plane tickets has certainly changed over the years. In the early days of flying just finding a carriers schedule required a significant amount of effort. Say you wanted to fly from Boston to Chicago, you would have to call up the airlines that fly out those airports, line up the days you need to go and hopefully buy the ticket. You could also consult a travel agent who would have an OAG schedule guide to figure out which flight they can get you on and then call up the airline and buy the ticket on your behalf. Now the process is much simpler and can be done completely online.  Today I wanted to share the ways I buy plane tickets, my methods and process. I would also like know how our users go about buying tickets and what works best for them. Suggestions are always welcomed.

Photo Credit @NY Times

Photo Credit @NY Times

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