Korean News Stations Takes Revenge

July 29, 2013 on 11:37 am | In Trivia | No Comments

A Korean News Station decided to create some fake pilot names for the pilots and crew who flew the Southwest Airlines aircraft that landed with a collapsed front nose gear.

The pilots they named were:

  • Captain Kent Parker Wright
  • Co-Captain Wyatt Wooden Workman

And they tossed funny stuff for interviews:

  • Flight instructor Heywood U. Flye-Moore
  • Skeptical passenger Macy Lawyers

To see more, Click Here.

 

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Fly Braniff Free: Part 2

July 18, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Airline History, Trivia | No Comments

Fly Braniff Free:  The Braniff Travel Bonus Bonanza Program (Part 2)

 

The Flying Colors of South America

Gemini Jets 1:400 Scale DC-8-62 Model: The Flying Colors of South America

 

After Harding Lawrence’s departure from Braniff International in December of 1980, John Casey, brother of Albert Casey (Chairman and CEO of American Airlines) was elevated to the positions of President & CEO at Braniff and Neal Robinson became Executive Vice President – Marketing.  When strategizing with Vice President of Sales, Jeff Krida, Robinson told Krida about the Braniff Fast Buck program that lasted about 6 months a decade earlier.

The Fast Buck program awarded passengers a plastic token good for their next trip on Braniff if their flight was late.  This encouraged good will among passengers and tied them to Braniff for their next flight at the same time.  Robinson wanted a program that tied people’s travel decisions to Braniff.  That was when the subject of S&H Green Stamps came up in the Robinson – Krida strategizing as Robinson remembered having to lick and past stamps into books when he was child.

On a more personal note, I can remember that there was a small store near our home at that time that was one of the last stores around in the area to aggressively market the fact that they issued S&H Green Stamps and I remember people demanding Green Stamps when they filled their car fuel tanks with gasoline during the gas crisis of 1979.  Those stamps tied loyalty to that store very tightly during that energy crisis.

Robinson, who had spent a great deal of his career tied to the reservations and financial systems of the airline, hoped that they could tie the program into the Braniff “Cowboy” reservations system so that they could identify the passengers travel with the passenger and offer a benefit to the passenger rather than the company paying for the ticket or the travel agency procuring the ticket.  The passenger would reap a reward that came at no cost to him and the program worked very well.

Flying Colors of The United States

Gemini Jets 1:400 Boeing 727-200 Calder Flying Colors of The United States

 

There are plenty out there who would tell a different story.  Some would tell the AAdvantage story and some would tell the Western Airlines story.  The truth is that like quite a few developments in marketing, there were a number of people who were exploring the idea of a loyalty program.  Men like my father, Robert Crandall, Tom Plaskett, Jeff Krida and others were all of a similar generation who were doing similar things.  They had the benefit of being of the same generation and the same experiences that came with that generation.

From a personal viewpoint, I still remember very strongly the day that American Airlines announced its own program.  My brother and I both reacted strongly and exclaimed “Hey, they stole that from Braniff!”  We were proud and defensive of our father.

It’s also notable that the Braniff campaign was to be good through May 31st  1982.  The airline filed for bankruptcy just 2 weeks before that date and my father had been gone from the airline for many months by that point.  That final element in what needed to happen to support Braniff’s survival was never done by the remaining executive leadership.

Delta Airlines accepted the points earned by former Braniff customers starting about one month after Braniff’s bankruptcy filing.   Delta had just begun their own program and wanted to earn their way into Dallas / Fort Worth in particular.

He who wins, gets to write history and American Airlines won.  The AAdvantage Program won and it is entitled to write some history.  The truth is that I do not believe that American Airlines “stole” the idea.  I strongly suspect they were working hard to figure out solutions to problems just as most airlines were and decided to try something that had worked in other forms and in other decades.

Airline loyalty eroded heavily after deregulation.  Prior to deregulation, you did not choose your airline on price.  The fare was determined by the government.  You chose your airline based on the schedule available and the service style you wanted.  Airlines drove their loyalty with that service.

Post deregulation, fares drove those decisions and particularly so among the public.  Fares were the democracy that the airline industry had never before seen and it was shocking to many just how quickly even the most loyal customers could leave based on fare that was a few dollars cheaper than the next guy.

Airlines knew how to work with loyalty and they craved a way to re-establish it.  So it makes sense that many at many airlines would be working on loyalty programs.

That brings me to an irony in closing this article:  My father was at least a father of airline frequent flier programs if not the father of such and it was a program that worked well for Braniff.  As an airline industry commentator and someone who has been observing the industry for about 20 years now, I loathe frequent flier programs.  I believe they skew the industry in ways that cause service to suffer madly and which allow bad airlines to survive years past what they should be able to do.

And when you think about it, that is a great definition for the success of such a program.

 

View a low resolution copy (courtesy of Braniff Flying Colors Collection, Dallas, Texas) of the original brochure:  Braniff Travel Bonus Bonanza Brochure

For additional images and perspectives, visit the Braniff Flying Colors Facebook Page

 

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Fly Braniff Free: Part 1

July 17, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Airline History, Trivia | No Comments

Fly Braniff Free:  The Braniff Travel Bonus Bonanza Program

Photograph of Braniff International aircraft

The Braniff Fleet owned by the author

For the very few that remember this program, it could be argued that this really was the first modern, points based airline loyalty program to be instituted.  And some would argue that it was American Airlines who did this.  Before I go further, I should mention  that I am not entirely an unbiased observer in this story because it was my father, Neal J. Robinson, who I would argue is one of the originators of these programs.

The story about what drove Braniff to adopt such a program has its start in the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act just like so many other modern airline stories.  It was the opinion of many in the airline industry at that time that airlines would have to grab all the routes that they could when deregulation began so that they could hold these routes when the airline industry was re-regulated, as so many thought.  Harding Lawrence, Chairman and CEO of Braniff International certainly thought so at the time.

There was a belief among many airline executives that deregulation would last only a few months because no one believed the government and the public would have much tolerance of the chaos they believed would ensue.  In hindsight, this seems silly but in the context of the 1970’s and the history of the airline industry, it wasn’t entirely impossible either.

Deregulation only liberated the revenue and service side of the airline industry while the cost side, especially labor, remained regulated in the form of unions, union contracts and the Railway Labor Act. Many of those involved in the accounting and finance domains of airlines became acutely aware of the risk that their airlines were about to endure as prices dropped and costs remained the same.  My father was one of those men as he sat as Vice President – Finance & Control for Braniff.

By late 1979, Braniff was under significant financial pressure by having taken on too many new routes and by having ordered too many airframes and engines to serve those routes.  The company was under increasing pressure from its lenders and that fact became a matter of speculation within the travel industry and, to a lesser extent, among the general public.

The impact on Braniff as a result of that financial pressure and the attendant speculation was estimated to be that the airline was possibly losing from 5 to 10 percent in load factor on a daily basis as a result.  The airline was suffering for passengers badly just when it needed them the most.  In the pre-deregulation era, it was commonly accepted that airlines would aim for load factors of approximately 60 to 65 percent which contrasts greatly with the 80 to 90 percent load factors airlines want today.

With air fares suddenly dropping like rocks, airlines could not afford to suffer any drop in load factor whatsoever and certainly not a massive drop such as 5 percent or more.

According to Neal Robinson, his calculation (an educated guess really) was that in 1979, travel agents who were selling to the general public and to the corporate travel departments constituted approximately 65% of all Braniff ticket sales and he was certain that this percentage was dropping quickly.  The decline also roughly correlated with the level of news and speculation about Braniff within the industry.  In short, the speculation was fueling a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mr. Robinson describes the problem here:

 I concluded the reason for that decline was the basic math of travel agent ticket sales.  Travel agents typically received a commission equal to 10% of the ticket price, e.g., for a $500 ticket, $50.  In the event of an airline failure where the ticket became essentially worthless except to the extent another carrier might honor it, sometimes on standby, the entire ticket purchase price would be lost, e.g., $500.  In that event, the travel agent would be under great pressure to refund the entire ticket price.  Thus, where the travel agent had the potential to benefit in the amount of $50 for selling the ticket, it had a corresponding opportunity to lose $500—or ten times the amount the agent had to gain if the carrier ceased operations.  I believe that made travel agents and corporate travel departments shy away from using Braniff—that in addition to the inconvenience that would result to the passengers, their “customers,” in the event the airline failed. 

 Travel agents were doing what smart business owners do:  limiting their exposure to risk.

When Neal Robinson was elevated to the post of Executive Vice President – Marketing, he concluded that three things had to happen fairly quickly.  First, Braniff needed to create the image that they were fighting their way back.  This was initiated with the Glen Geddis (designer of the Braniff Two Tone Livery in the early 1970’s) developed campaign titled Braniff Strikes Back which was thematically inspired by the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back.

Glen Geddis Two Tone Red Flying Colors Aircraft

Jet-X 1:400 Boeing 727-127 Glen Geddis Two Tone Red

The second thing needed was a way to take the airline choice decision out of the hands of travel agents and corporate travel departments and get it into the hands of the passengers.  Mr. Robinson and his team believed that travelers liked the Braniff experience and even preferred it despite the fact that the airline’s relationship with passengers had recently been strained by operational problems incurred with the rapid route expansion.

The final action was to put together a business plan that made sense to banks and insurance companies who were largely Braniff’s creditors at the time and who the airline needed to reduce the constant pressure and industry speculation that drove falling load factors.

In the next post, I will talk about the program used to drive that passenger loyalty:  The Braniff Travel Bonus Bonanza

For additional images and perspectives, visit the Braniff Flying Colors Facebook Page

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Question: Why are airliners all looking alike now?

July 1, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | 1 Comment

I received a back channel question asking why all airliners are looking so alike now.

What the person was referring to was the fact that an A320 and B737 look, to the layman, almost exactly alike as do the medium and large widebody aircraft.  It’s true, the Airbus A330 is hard to distinguish from the Boeing 777/767 series aircraft too.

The only semi-distinguishable aircraft out there are the Airbus A340 (production has stopped), the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.

But the question is why.

The answer is aerodynamics.  As manufacturers strive to gain more and more efficiency out of their aircraft, their aircraft start to look more and more alike.

Simply put, it’s about function over form.  When you design one of these aircraft, you don’t “style” it with something that goes against the aerodynamics of the airframe because such a thing could literally cost the user millions in fuel costs over the life of the airplane.

So, today, we have the Embraer E170/190 which looks a lot like how the Bombardier CS100/CS300 will look  which looks a lot like the Airbus A320 series which in turn looks a lot like the Boeing 737 series.  Because that shape works, we have the Airbus A300 which looks a lot like the Boeing 757/767 which looks a lot like the Airbus A330/A340 which looks a lot like the Boeing 777 which looks a lot like the upcoming A350 which also looks like the Boeing 787.

They all basically look alike with some slight differences and that is completely driven by aerodynamic efficiency.

It’s notable that the “odd ball” aircraft do not really survive past a single generation and don’t show up anymore.  The 727 was out of the ordinary with Boeing and its T-tail configuration was only ever used once by them.  The DC-10/MD-11 3-engine weirdness didn’t really last that long either.  The DC-10 did but the MD-11 died a quick death.  In fact, it’s notable that the MD-11 mostly died in popularity because it didn’t meet efficiency promises.

Oddballs don’t survive very long and those that do survive are driven in their function by physics.

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SolarImpulse lands in Dallas

May 23, 2013 on 12:38 pm | In Trivia | No Comments

The SolarImpulse solar powered airplane has landed in Dallas and the Dallas Morning News’ Robert Wilonsky has captured the event.  It may be the slowest plane ever to land there and the video is. . . excruciating.

 

 

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Milwaukee kinda gets dissed by Delta

May 8, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

Delta Airlines assumed the naming rights for the Milwaukee Wisconsin the “Wisconsin Center” currently known as Delta Center about a year ago in 2012.  Delta only just got its name on the Delta Center 2 months ago.

But that sign will be coming down on or after June 30th because Delta, who has 25% of the market in Milwaukee, wants to use its advertising dollars in cities where, you know, people will fly its airline.

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I didn’t even know who Rainn Wilson was

May 7, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | 2 Comments

It would appear that Rainn Wilson and several cast members of the TV show The Office (which I did know existed) got huffy when they arrived *late* to their flight from Philadelphia to Scranton.   Rainn Wilson decided to pitch a fit via Twitter, as actors are prone to do, and here is what he said:

  • ‘So @USAirways just screwed me & half the cast of The Office. Conctng flight left BEFORE departure time. Sorry Scranton won’t see u til tom,’ 
  • ‘The plane was a 20 seater, missing 7 people who had obviously just landed & it leaves 10 minutes EARLY!’
  • ‘REALLY going to enjoy trying to cnvice’ his 3.5million followers ‘not to fly USAirWays to fly @USAirways b/c of their s****y service.’
  • ‘Does the CEO of @USAirways want to join us? I will fondle him angrily,’
  • ‘I’m going to take a dump on a @USAirways plane’s windshield. In the shape of the @Delta logo’

So, I am so relieved that Mr. Wilson was re-booked on another flight on US Airways because that massive delay and inconvenience due to he and his crew missing a flight scheduled for them by some nameless person who ought to have known better than to schedule a 40 minute connection in Philadelphia on a Friday night.

But, hey, how many times does Doug Parker get an offer to be fondled angrily?

 

  • ‘Get out while you can. Go work at American,’
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Braniff Sees The Future

April 7, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

This is just a fun commercial that was a vision of how Braniff saw the future in 1968.

 

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y2Hn1HuXc4&hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0]

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Randy Babbitt

April 4, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

Ever wonder where Randy Babbitt went after his time at the FAA and his departure due to drunk driving charges in Virginia?

I didn’t either.  I assumed he retired quietly and given his background, he was well positioned for retirement.

Today I learned that Mr. Babbitt is working for Southwest Airlines as Senior Vice President -Labor Relations.  This isn’t a bad thing as Mr. Babbitt and his family actually have a long history in labor relations within the airline industry.  His father was a founding father of ALPA and Randy Babbitt is a 25 year veteran Eastern Airlines pilot who also served in leadership positions wtihin ALPA including serving as president of ALPA for 8 years.

 

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The British Airways Flash Mob . . . in Moscow

April 2, 2013 on 9:48 am | In Trivia | No Comments

British Airways, in partnership with VisitBritain, did this flash mob promotion in a mall in the center of Moscow.  Some think it is a bit weak, I think it was actually quite well laid out considering the audience.

 

 

 

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Braniff International Comes Back!

April 1, 2013 on 8:58 am | In Trivia | 9 Comments

It’s been announced this morning that the Braniff International name will be coming back on a new airline this year.  The last time the Braniff name was used was more than 20 years ago in 1991.  Investors will be establishing a new airline targeting travelers who are enjoying the JetBlue and Virgin America flying experience in the United States.

The new airline will be based in Dallas, as before.  Investors spokesperson, April Fulya, says:  “Dallas is ripe for a new airiline and has a rich industry base in the DFW area.  We expect to draw upon employees working for both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.”

The City of Dallas is expected to work closely with the airline to provide gate space at Love Field Airport as well as DFW International Airport.

The airline is working to acquire renovated space in the old Dalfort Aviation (Braniff Inc) Operations and Maintenance building at Love Field Airport.  That building is currently targeted for removal by the City of Dallas but it has recently been given a reprieve in gaining historical status.

The new Braniff International says that it will incorporate a new livery and new logo for the new operation.  The livery will be based on using a white fuselate and billboard titles across the side of the fuselate.  However, the new logo will use the old Girard typeface that Braniff had created in the 1960′s.

Braniff International will be using the 737-8Max airliner from Boeing as its single aircraft type for its United States operations.  However, in an aggressive move, the airline is also placing orders for the Airbus A330 to use on its international routes.  “We expect this to be the ideal aircraft for routes between Dallas and Europe as well as between Dallas and Chicago.”  said April Fulya.

To mark its return to the skies, the airline also plans to have one of the new Airbus A330 aircraft painted in the original Alexander Calder colors (See Here) for the airline’s launch.

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Coolest Helicopter Video Ever

March 4, 2013 on 1:00 pm | In Trivia | No Comments

And I don’t say that lightly.

View it here!

 

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What do you mean I’m not upgraded?

February 27, 2013 on 1:00 pm | In Trivia | No Comments

A Chinese Communist Party and mining manager missed his flight in China not once but twice.  The second time was because he and his family were eating breakfast in the airport and missed the calls for departure.  What did he do?  He went nuts and violently dismantled the check in area.

 

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uZQ1CTASUA&hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0]

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Pan Am in a warehouse

February 25, 2013 on 9:01 am | In Trivia | No Comments

Anthony Toth has built a replica of a Pan Am 747 cabin and equipped it so that it is absolutely perfection.

Here is the story.

Here is the video.

 

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It’s our way or the highway

February 24, 2013 on 1:44 pm | In Trivia | No Comments

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has produced this parody of the new American Airlines commercials that have been airing.

 

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Toy Glider

February 18, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

This has absolutely nothing to do with the airline industry.  It does, however, have everything to do with aviation.  James May Toy Stories builds a large glider and sets a record and does it while having great fun.  Enjoy it, I did.

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k41z_ujop4&version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0]

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World’s Largest Inconvenience

February 14, 2013 on 7:01 pm | In Trivia | No Comments

A reader posted a link to this story on The Onion earlier today but I thought it deserved a better window to others.

It’s funny and remember to keep your sense of humour when you read it.

American Airlines, US Airways Merge To Form World’s Largest Inconvenience

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Virgin Atlantic – Born Different

February 9, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | 1 Comment

Virgin Atlantic has a great commercial that just makes a person smile and want to fly them.

 

 

Found on Design Air.

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Delta Inflight Safety Videos

February 3, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

Delta has a couple of new(ish) inflight safety videos and they each feature a cameo by Deltalina (see the last video).  They’re clever and different enough to be worth watching both versions.

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Concorde

January 27, 2013 on 1:00 am | In Trivia | No Comments

I found this video on Facebook (Braniff Flying Colors).  I never knew it existed and it’s got some rare treats for airline enthusiasts.  Some of the most unique views of Concorde in flight, for instance.  And you’ve heard about Harding Lawrence but in this film you get to *hear* Harding Lawrence.  I had forgotten what he sounded like.

The owner doesn’t support embedding the video so here it is:

Braniff Concorde

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