Another year has come and gone as quickly as the one that preceded it, and here we are preparing for 2015 to commence in just a few days.
2014 brought many expected and unexpected changes to the airline industry as we knew it 365 days ago. This week alone, we are commemorating endings and new beginnings, such as the final farewell flight of AirTran Airways yesterday and the inaugural flight on Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380 featuring The Residence, one of the most luxurious premium products to ever hit the skies.
Here in the U.S., it’s almost unthinkable that gas prices are as low as they are today. A decade ago, virtually all of the major U.S. carriers were either restructuring in bankruptcy (or close to it) and suffering losses quarter after quarter. Today, they are producing record profits.
Aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing also enjoyed some major milestones this year. Over in Toulouse, France, Airbus and Qatar Airways threw a lavish party celebrating the launch of the A350 aircraft, with 150 media people attending from all over the world. Boeing delivered its first 787-900 series aircraft to customers around the globe.
On a more somber note, 2014 also reminded us that we’re not impervious to air tragedies which can claim lives instantaneously. The unfortunate events that have impacted Malaysia Airlines twice over in the past 9 months with the disappearance of MH370 and downing of MH17 by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, and most recently, the disappearance of AirAsia Indonesia QZ8501 have thrown aviation security into the limelight after a relatively calm era of few disasters. In spite of modernized aircraft, advanced technology utilized in flight radar tracking, our approach to aviation oversight is still being challenged by political and environmental threats. To add insult to injury, we’ve learned that the media is becoming increasingly unreliable in terms of providing the public with accurate real-time information and updates in midst of tragedy.
That being said, it’s important to always remember that life is precious and extremely short, and every day is a gift.
My travels in 2014, and leading into 2015
Compared to prior years, 2014 was a slower year with fewer business and international trips. I flew 40,098 miles this year on a total of 57 flights, of which only 2 were international (Orlando – Nassau and Nassau – Washington Reagan). My longest flight was 2,076 miles from Chicago O’Hare to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I flew only once on a widebody jet from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Los Angeles on an American Boeing 767. I flew out of Minneapolis/Saint Paul airport a grand total of 38 times, followed next by 22 visits to the two Chicago airports, 16 to Dallas/Ft. Worth or Love Field, 10 to Phoenix and 4 to Charlotte. As one can probably guess, this was largely due to switching my alliance loyalty from Star to OneWorld earlier this year, which naturally put me through American or US Airways hubs.
All in all, it was a quiet year for travel, but nevertheless an enjoyable one. A year ago today, I flew on my final United Airlines flight as I discontinued my allegiance to Star Alliance and switched to American and OneWorld. I enjoyed my Platinum status on American and am reasonably satisfied with its loyalty program. As I mentioned previously, I do miss certain attributes about United’s program, the number one being Same Day Confirmed changes for flexible travel, but I also appreciate American’s free 24-hour hold and US Airways’ complimentary upgrades for AA Platinum fliers. I also have had pleasant experiences with employees from both carriers, as well as found on-time performance and on-board services up to good standards.
Related post: Things change in a year
The 2015 year will start off on a bit more of an exciting note with my up-coming round-the-world trip using my Star Alliance miles at pre-devaluation rates. On New Years Day 2015, I will be leaving the country flying Asiana’s First Class Suites from New York JFK to Seoul, South Korea. It will be my first time flying Asiana, visiting South Korea and will most likely serve as my longest flight by duration, if we encounter headwinds.
From there, I will fly in Thai Airways Business Class from Seoul to Bangkok (via Hong Kong) and after a layover in BKK, I will fly my first Airbus A380, in Business, to Paris. This will also be exciting for me as I have yet to fly the whalejet, and I am also excited to try out Thai’s J-Class product.
Finally, my trip home will be in US Airways’ Envoy class from Paris to Minneapolis, via Philadelphia. I have heard great reviews about US’ Envoy product, and am excited as this will be my first time flying in a lie-flat premium class product on a US carrier long-haul.
As always, I encourage you to follow me on twitter and instagram as I will be posting pictures and updates of my journey along the way, as well as my experiences in Seoul and Paris.
Finally, a thank you to readers
Writing and maintaining a blog, in addition to a full-time job, is not easy work. Moreover, as someone who does not travel as often for work or on exotic trips as the others means that my content is varied and revolves much more around my take on the airline industry as it evolves. I enjoy writing as a hobby, but I also strive to analyze data, trends and developments as accurately and concretely as possible. You, as readers, play an instrumental role in this process by challenging me with your rebuttals, constructive feedback and requests for additional insight. Without this support, writing for upgrd would not be nearly as enjoyable.
I wish all of you good health, happiness and curiousity in the upcoming new year. I am fortunate to be part of this incredible team of bloggers, and to have new and fresh talent joining us this year. A special shout-out to James and Sriram, both who joined our team this year and are contributing massively to the richness of this site. Additionally, I cannot thank Matt, Brad, and Rocky enough for assisting me with travel and writing tips, and most of all, to Mike, our fearless leader, for allowing this blog to exist in the first place.
By the numbers:
- Two new airports: Louisville, KY and Nassau, Bahamas
- New airlines: none
- First transfer through my hometown airport: MSP to IAH (via DFW)
- One new aircraft: 757-300 (Delta, Minneapolis to Orlando)
- One cancelled flight: American, MSP-DFW, 10/3/2014
- One rebooked flight: United, ORD-MSP on 1/2/14, to American
Most popular blog posts of 2014:
- Qantas beats Emirates to the punch as 1st A380 operator to DFW airport
- Delta to operate Chicago – London winter flights starting October 2014
April Fools bonus: Alaska and Delta announce merger plans