It’s 2019, and modern airplanes can go further, carrying more people than ever before.  We’ve gotten used to that in the United States, where for-profit airlines are trying to make as much money off the flying public as possible.  Sure, there are holdouts, like Southwest, who still lets you check up to two bags included in the cost of your ticket.  And that’s awesome.

But now we’re getting into something more.  Back in the 1980s when I went to Hawaii from the West Coast, I remember flying an American Airlines Boeing 747 from LAX to HNL.  A big plane, that could carry a metaphorical buttload of people.  Even though it was a 5-hour flight from the West Coast, that was done in style, and you got to share the excitement of your upcoming journey with hundreds of people.  And on the way back, you got to lament with your fellow passengers that your vacation was over.

That was then.  Back when airlines had cheaper fuel and the desire to travel was less than it is now.  The lineup for airlines back then was the 747, the 767, and maybe for some, the 757.  I’m sure that there was A300 service back then, too, though I don’t follow Airbus as Boeing.

Alaska Airlines entered the Hawaiian market from the West Coast back in the mid 2010s, serving the islands with Boeing 737s.  Southwest just entered the lucrative Hawaiian market.  And like Alaska Airlines mainline (not counting acquired Virgin America), Southwest will service with their fleet of Boeing 737s.

And now JetBlue is going to enter the East Coast to London market, and those flights will be on the Airbus A321.

What do all of these have in common?  Single-aisle airplanes.  Planes that when you get claustrophobic and tired of being in the air for 5 hours, you really don’t have all that much place to go.  I mean sure, once you’re on an airplane there’s not really much place to move around.  But there’s a huge difference between flying on a 150 seater Boeing 737, and a 600 seater Airbus A380.

If I want to go on a long trip somewhere, I want to be on a plane that has more space to move around than your grandmother’s powder room.  So honestly, that’s why I would never fly a small plane for more than a three or four-hour journey.  I mean, I have – once.  Didn’t have much choice when we were supposed to go to Thailand on the Airbus A380, they had a military coup, and we ended up on a Boeing 737 for almost six hours each way because that’s really all I could get on short notice with points.

I know having a one-model type fleet saves airlines money.  But it doesn’t do the people any good when they’re stuck on that tiny plane for hours on end.  So if I’m going to plan a journey that takes more than a few hours in the air, I’m going to look for the biggest plane possible to get me there, even if that means bypassing my favorite airline to do it.

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I’ve been in a job where I’ve traveled basically weekly – at least 45 weeks a year – for work.  Rarely get work from home weeks so when I get them, they’re a blessing.  I get my alone time during the travel week and then spend time with my Boo when I am at home.  Well ever since I hit my Million Miler on Alaska Airlines, things have…changed.

My client ran out of money, but not out of project.  So they decided to keep me on, but in order to save money, decided that I needed to work from home 100% of the time.

Yeah, excited, I wasn’t.

So I’ve been home since the week of Christmas, working in my jammies, going to the kitchen whenever I wanted to and not needed to, and trying not to get on my husband’s nerves.  Luckily he travels from time to time, too.  And the thing is, I kinda like it.  Not that I want to stop traveling.  Hells no.  Hopefully, once the client re-funds the project I’m on, travel will start up again.  But for now, I’m enjoying the time at home.

Which brings me to my issue.  See, we’ve gone on vacation for the last three decades using either mine or my husband’s points – never having to pay for airfare or hotel.  Just drinks and food, thank you.  We were scheduled to go back to Puerto Rico for vacation this August, because we’ve been away too long, and Puerto Rico deserves the tourism.  It’s such a wonderful, warm, beautiful spot.  Only thing is, in order to get the tickets in first class (the ONLY way to fly), I had to book several one-way flights.  So PDX-DFW-PDX was fine.  But between DFW, MIA, and SJU, those were all one-way flights.  And on Saturday, American decided to change their schedule and screwed EVERYTHING up.  None of the flights would work anymore.

So hotel and flights get canceled, and we decided since the husband is changing jobs soon ::knock wood:: that we’d just use some pre-paid points at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.  Yes, it was kind of a timeshare.  Shut up.  The guy who sold it to us looked like a Latino George Clooney.  So sue me.  Anyway, our vacation changed on a dime, because of one little schedule change.

Airlines are making it SO much harder to use their points these days.  The whole reason for the one-way tickets was to fly first class.  It works most of the time.  But that is until the airline drops a deuce in the middle of your best-laid plans.

So keep being creative out there with your points and get out and see the world.  Just be mindful, and have a backup plan if the need arises!

SANspotter says:
Bummer to hear that you’ve been grounded for so long! That’s gotta... more

So it’s well documented that the Boeing 737 is the best selling airplane model of all time.  All of the largest commercial airlines in North America, you have to go all the way down to #7 to find a carrier that doesn’t use the aircraft.

Boeing has fixed the software issue that caused the problems.  Yes, it’s a software problem.  And somehow, the creepiest air crashes to me, personally, have been software related.  The Boeing 737-MAX crashes.  The inaugural Airbus A320 crash that was flying as a demonstration; the Captain said it was a software problem, though investigators blamed it on the Captain.  Air France flight #447.  Software problems somehow make me more uneasy about an aircraft than the actual aircraft build itself.

Herein lies the problem.  The crashes themselves are horrific.  And because they were software related and not hardware related, it seems as if the flight crew could override the software, they would have been fine.  And while the existing and new airplanes out there are going to be updated, the problem goes away.

But so does the public.

What, if anything, can be done to help educate the public and bring back confidence?  Is that even possible?  Or is Boeing going to have to outlast the public’s criticism for the next decade?

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Apparently this occurred this weekend at an airport in Turky.

And this is why you should leave your seatbelt on at all times. At least until the Captain turns that little seatbelt sign off. Because this isn’t all that uncommon. Remember when the ginormous Air France A380 clipped the tail of a tiny CRJ 700, flipping it 90 degrees?

Stay safe out there, friends!

h/t Today in the Sky

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