Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cranky Flier Guest Post

While I was on my “blogging sabbatical” from the Hat Trick, I have been active writing in other areas and on different topics.  One exciting opportunity that came up was  the chance to publish a guest post on the Cranky Flier site.  Published by Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier is a great resource for the aviation junkie with coverage of a lot of issues in the commercial aviation community.  Brett is a former airline employee so he can offer a lot of insight into airline trends and he gets a lot of discussion going in his comment section.  If you like commercial aviation, this site is a good one to visit.

My guest post was of the lighter variety and it covered the topic of “Great Places to Watch Planes.”  I had a lot of fun writing it, was pleased that it received 42 comments, and enjoyed reminiscing about some of the places I have watched commercial aircraft over the years.  The post can be accessed via this link and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Frontier and Trenton/Mercer County Airport

Since my last posts back in the snowy, cold Winter of 2014 I've had the opportunity to "feed the aviation junkie" and fly into some new airports, try some new airlines and add some new aircraft to my list. Needless to say it was pretty exciting!  I'm planning to write up some posts on my experiences and will start with one of the trips that involved both a new airport and a new airline.

Over Memorial Day 2015 I had the opportunity to try out Frontier Airlines between Trenton/Mercer County Airport (TTN) in New Jersey to Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW).  This service is a fairly new one for Frontier and they have experimented with flights to cities in the Midwest such as Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus and Chicago from Trenton with varying degrees of success.  The Trenton/Mercer County airport has had an interesting history as well with service from commercial carriers over the years.  The last time the airport had jet service was with the short-lived Eastwind Airlines in the late 1990s.  Trenton is a small airport and the Frontier Airbus A-319 really rocketed off the runway and flung itself across the Delaware River into Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  The flight was nothing special as Frontier has gone with a Ultra Low Cost Carrier (LLC) business model which means you pay a base fare for transportation and then everything else is an "add-on" including seat assignment, checking luggage, bringing luggage onto the plane (with the exception of a small personal item), seating with more legroom and snacks and beverages with the exception of water.  At this juncture you can still use the airplane lavatory without a fee!

Tail shot of my Frontier A-319 at DTW
The flight was a quick hour and I had opted for Frontier's "The Works" ticket which meant I could check bags without a fee and sit in the bulkhead row of the aircraft, up front, which allowed for quick deplaning in Detroit.  One unique feature of boarding in Trenton is the lack of jetways.  Instead passengers walk up a long ramp, similar to the boarding features of a smaller, regional jet.  In Detroit Frontier uses a traditional jetway.  Flights left and arrived on-time and both experienced a 95% load factor.  All in all it was a fine trip although the uninitiated traveler out of Trenton should keep in mind the lack of amenities past security at the airport and when the one kiosk runs out of sandwiches, that is it.  In addition, if Frontier is boarding two flights at the same time it can get crowded in the holding area. In DTW Frontier uses the fairly new North Terminal.

Some travelers feel Frontier "nickels and dimes" its customers.  I tend to disagree with that as the company is very explicit on its web page what costs are included in the ticket and what is not included.  In this particular trip I had a choice between flying out of Trenton or flying out of Newark Liberty International (EWR) on United Airlines or Delta, all on nonstop flights.  The difference in ticket price was well over $250 to fly United or Delta out of EWR with the sector on United flown on a small, cramped regional jet.  Instead I got a fairly spacious A-319!

The other area where Frontier does not work for some travelers is that the company usually has only one flight a day in a particular market.  This type of schedule generally doesn't work for business travelers who need more travel options.  However, for this trip Frontier worked fine for me and I would definitely fly them again if their flight options and fares worked for my needs.  Getting to try out a new airport was just icing on the aviation cake!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's Been a While...Part II

Sadly this blog has not seen much action and I'm embarrassed to see that it has been almost two years since my last post!  Time to get some new material up...stay tuned!