Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jay Selman’s An Inside Look

An Inside Look – “Quite a career!”?

by Guest Editor Jay Selman.

Guest Editor Jay Selman

Guest Editor Jay Selman

It was exactly 33 years ago that I began my airline career with Piedmont Airlines. June 25, 1981 was a beautiful sunny day when I first stepped onto the ramp at Washington National Airport as an airline employee. I remember the ramp smelling of coffee, and I quickly discovered that there was an art to hoisting myself into the belly bin of a YS-11 without hitting my head on the bin ceiling. Every time a plane took off on what was then runway 36, I simply had to stop and take a look, I felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world!”

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. NAMC YS-11A-205 N219P (msn 2109) of Piedmont Airlines taxies to the runway at Fayetteville, NC.

Those were halcyon days for me, and to be honest, I didn’t realize how good I had it then. The captains usually found a way to take care of airline employees traveling on pass…often in the cockpit. Man, I loved that! Heck, one time, I was one of seven people in the cockpit of a 727! The captain gave me his “brain bag” and said, “Son, this is your seat for the next two hours, so hang on!”, and I replied, “Thank you, sir!”

When I worked in Newark, we had three flights a day that went up to Boston and came right back. The pay wasn’t that great in those days, so I thought nothing of flying up to Boston on the morning flight, enjoying a breakfast on board, and then flying back, having lunch along the way. For dinner, we could usually count on one flight canceling, and catering would unload the meals in the ops office, where I was working at the time. We could usually get free passes on other airlines, and I sure made the most of them. To date, I have set foot in over 40 countries on all six inhabited continents. (Some day, I will figure out a way to add Antarctica to that list!).

One day, I was flying from Heathrow to Kennedy on a Pan Am Boeing 747, and the check-in agent looked at my PI employee number on the pass and said, “Oh, you are P1 (one)…we can upgrade you to first class! I played dumb, and for the first time, experienced the luxury of a true intercontinental first class service, complete with caviar, plenty of vodka to wash it down, and a couple of glasses of Dom Perignon. I truly enjoyed that trip…at least, the part I remember!

I started out working part time at Washington National Airport with no benefits other than travel. It didn’t matter…there was never a shortage of people willing to work for $6 something an hour in exchange for being able to travel for free. After passing all my tests that were requirements for upgrading to full time, I transferred to Newark in 1983 as a full timer. Those were the days when PEOPLExpress (1st) was growing by leaps and bounds…and Piedmont was vigorously defending its territory in the southeast. Newark grew to become the largest non-hub station on the Piedmont system, and working there was a great learning experience for me. 3 ½ years later, in April 1986, I transferred to Raleigh-Durham, where I spent the next 13 years. In 1999, I transferred again to Miami, which was like being reassigned to heaven. As an airplane enthusiast, I can’t think of a better airport to have ramp access at. Being in Miami also allowed me to connect with some old friends, and opened the door to my becoming the editor of Airliners magazine for a couple of years..

Things changed, and I transferred to Charlotte in 2006, and, like Moses wandering in the desert for 40 years, I feel like I have finally reached the Promised Land. (The difference is, of course, that Moses never got to enter the Promised Land!). I am very happy in Charlotte, and plan to finish out my career here.
Three mergers and two corporate bankruptcies after I started with Piedmont, I still have a job, unlike many of my colleagues at Pan Am, TWA, Eastern, and Braniff, to name a few. The merger between Piedmont and USAir represented the biggest change for us…Piedmont was a way of life, and USAir was a job, although still a good one. I’ve lost track of how many different computer systems I have used over the years, as I get ready for yet another change of computer system, uniform, and name. The industry today is barely recognizable from the industry I began working for.

When I started, the Boeing 737-200 was the backbone of Piedmont’s fleet. Today, the last of the US Airways 737-400s are a few weeks away from leaving the fleet. Gone are meals on most domestic flights, and even on intercontinental flights, I’m not likely to get caviar and Dom. I can’t say I’m happy about the changes that have occurred in my industry, in general, and my company, specifically, but I still feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world.

Some days, you’re the big dog and some days, you’re the fire hydrant. I come to work with the attitude that I am going to have a good day, and I really do have more big dog days than fire hydrant days. I can wake up in the morning and decide to have dinner in New York, San Francisco, or London…as long as there is an empty seat on the plane, I’m all set.

Through my job, I met a wonderful kind-hearted woman who agreed to be my wife. I work in an airport environment, which to me is the equivalent of a young kid working in a candy store.

When I started 33 years ago, I could not begin to imagine where the journey was going to take me, but I have to admit it’s been a very good ride. There have been plenty of unforeseen twists and turns along the way, but all in all, I still consider myself blessed to be working in the industry that has been my lifelong passion.

Note: You can leave a note here for Jay.

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JAL to introduce domestic Wi-Fi service on July 23

JAL-Japan Airlines (Tokyo) will be the first Japanese airline to introduce the in-flight Internet service, called “JAL SKY Wi-Fi” on domestic routes. This new service will be on board its revamped “JAL SKY NEXT” aircraft, operated between Tokyo (Haneda) and Osaka (Itami), Fukuoka as well as Hakodate from July 23, 2014.

Under the theme of “A standard that’s a step ahead”, in addition to the introduction of new cabin interiors, the new in-flight Internet service will support onboard passengers to have seamless connectivity with the ground. JAL SKY Wi-Fi will be progressively expanded to 77 domestic aircraft including JAL’s Boeing 777s, 767s and 737s through FY2016.

Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-346 ER JA613J (msn 33849) arrives at the Tokyo (Narita) hub.

JAL-Japan Airlines: AG Slide Show

Doha becomes the most served destination for Emirates

Emirates (Dubai) has selected Doha, the home of Qatar Airways, to become Emirates’ most served destination with seven daily flights going to the Qatari capital from December 1.

Doha will take the top spot when it goes from six to seven daily flights, overtaking Bangkok’s six daily services.

The extra flights into Doha are part of a 28 flight boost to the airline’s Middle East services.

Muscat will go from two to three flights a day, Bahrain from three to four daily services and Kuwait will increase from five to six flights daily.

With the changes in place as of December 1, Emirates will offer 276 weekly flights to destinations across the Middle East out of its industry-leading hub at Dubai International.

Copyright Photo: Paul Denton/AirlinersGallery.com. Emirates uses Boeing 777s on the relatively short route. Boeing 777-31H ER A6-EBD (msn 33501) arrives back at Dubai International Airport (DXB) hub.

Emirates: AG Slide Show

 

PIA retires it last two Boeing 737-300s

PIA-Pakistan International Airlines (Karachi) retired its last two Boeing 737-300s (AP-BCD and AP-BCF) on June 17 according to The History of PIA.

PIA was the first Asian operator of Boeing 737-300. Initially a total of six Boeing 737-300s were delivered to PIA between May, 1985 and 1986. These Boeing 737s replaced its older Boeing 720Bs on PIA’s domestic and regional flights.

Copyright Photo: Ole Simon/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-340 AP-BCD (msn 23297) prepares to land in Dubai.

PIA-Pakistan International Airlines: AG Slide Show

 

British Airways tests a “happiness blanket” for its premium passengers

British Airways Happiness Blanket (British)(LR)

British Airways (London) is testing a “happiness blanket” for its premium passengers. The airline issued this short statement and video:

“What if you could measure how you’re feeling when you fly with us? Well now you can, thanks to the Happiness Blanket.

This revolutionary device monitors your happiness then changes colour to reflect your mood.

We tested our Happiness Blanket on a real fight between London and New York.”

Copyright Photo: British Airways.

British Airways: AG Slide Show

Video:

United Airlines flight 1463 is forced to make an emergency landing at Wichita after the emergency chute accidentally inflates inflight

United flight 1463 ORD-SNA emergency chute (Taylor Martinez)(LR)

United Airlines (Chicago) flight UA 1463 was forced to make an emergency landing at Wichita, Kansas after the aft emergency chute accidentally inflated while the Boeing 737-700 was at cruising altitude. According to Flight Aware the 737-700 with 96 passengers and crew members on board was forced to make a rapid descent before the safe landing. Flight 1463 was en route from the Chicago (O’Hare) hub to Orange County (Santa Ana).

Read the full report from Eyewitness News 12: CLICK HERE

Twitter Photo: Taylor Martinez.

Video:

US Airways to add a second daily Charlotte-London Heathrow flight

US Airways (American Airlines Group) (Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth) is adding a second daily flight from its Charlotte hub to London (Heathrow) starting on September 13. The second flight will be operated with Airbus A330-200 equipment according to The Charlotte Observer. The second flight was made possible by the acquisition of the arrival and departure slots purchased from Cyprus Airways (Larnaca).

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: David Neal/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-243 N283AY (msn 1076) departs from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) hub.

US Airways: AG Slide Show