Monthly Archives: September 2013

Delta Sky Deck – an observation

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Observation decks are reminiscent of the glory days of flying. There was a time when people would go out to airports for the sake of watching planes from these excellent vantage points. A few airports in the world still have them. They’re definitely a thing of a bygone era.  When we heard Delta was opening “observation decks” at two locations (JFK and ATL) we were over-the-moon with excitement.

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Dramatic red tarpaulins dissecting the blue skies

On June 10, 2013 Delta opened an all-new 1,710 sq ft Sky Deck at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The Sky Deck is an extension of the Sky Club, Delta’s lounge for frequent fliers and is located on F Concourse at the Maynard JacksonTerminal.
We were given the opportunity to visit the Delta Sky Deck and here is our account.
When entering the Delta Sky Club on F Concourse our first impression was modern and clean. Once inside the Club we were greeted by an immense, 2-story glass wall which gave us a bird’s eye view of the taxiways, runways, and the airport control tower. Talk about avgeek heaven! The Club is standard in its look and feel across the Delta domestic system. There is ample seating arranged individually and group seating configurations, business center, work stations, quiet area, high top tables, bar area, espresso/coffee machine, and a variety of snacks (from sweet to savory, from healthy to indulgent). Other amenities included power ports to charge your electronic devices and free wifi. We did notice that the wifi was very slow. We surmised it may have been slow due to the number of passengers in the lounge at this time.
What makes this Sky Club unique, like its counterpart at JFK, is the Sky Deck; a partially enclosed outside seating and gathering place for Sky Club members. Cozy sofas, chairs, ornamental shrubs, and high top tables adorn this oasis. The blue sky was dissected by large red decorative tarpaulins. Members have an unfettered view of all the airport activity going on below. During our visit there was a Delta 747 destined for Tokyo, a 737 parked just below, and we even saw the Delta 767-400 BCRF plane (pink plane) taxiing by. Being on the Sky Deck harkened back to an era that no longer exists at many of the world’s airports. We both agreed that more Delta Sky Clubs should have Sky Decks.

At both ATL and JFK, Delta collaborated and partnered with Architectural Digest and designer Thom Filicia to develop the Sky Deck terraces. Many may remember Thom Filicia as the interior design expert in the highly enjoyable, amazingly energetic, Emmy-Award winning hit show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

For those who are not a member of the Sky Club, and want to have this unique experience, there are various ways to gain access. These include, but aren’t limited to: paid membership, using miles for membership, purchasing a 30-day or 1-day pass, and various options through the SkyMiles American Express Card. Please click to see what options are best for you, locations, and amenities offered at Delta Sky Clubs.
We enjoyed our time at the Sky Deck at the Sky Club on F Concourse at ATL. When your future plans take you via Atlanta and you have time, you should definitely check it out.
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Sylvester & Darin

Planes, Trains, AND Automobiles — we’ve got it covered!

As followers of the airlineguys, you have come to know that aviation is our passion. However, we do love other modes of transportation as well. Sylvester has a great appreciation for trains. I, on the other hand, have a love for cars. I love my current car “Ariel”, a Hyundai Veloster. She has become one of those cars that fits me well. If she had more power and maybe a stick shift…well, maybe it’s best it doesn’t have that much power. Looking to the future when time is up with her, I am thinking I would like my personal carbon footprint to have a better impact on the environment. So, my next car will be more environmentally friendly and at the same time will bring me enjoyment when  driving it.

Soooo, recently I had the opportunity to drive the 2013 Lincoln MKZ for two days. Lincoln calls it “Date Night with the MKZ” and it happens to hybrid version. What a great marketing plan! You’re reading about it now. I first saw this car at the Atlanta Auto Show in February. It was the car that really caught my eye.  I love the sleekness, the narrow focused headlights, and of course the sunroof; it slides all the way back to reveal the the sky…beautiful! Something about this car reminds me of a spaceship or a sleek new design of an airplane. The MKZ is graceful and powerful, strong and fluid. It has elements of the initial 7E7 design, which later became the 787. This design feature I find very attractive in this car.  Then there is this: when sitting behind the wheel, it feels like a modern cockpit, with touch screens and touch cabin controls and adjustable mood lighting.  This is truly advanced technology and makes driving this car completely fun.

I truly enjoyed the experience and I would recommend that you take a closer look at this car.  I think Lincoln really did it right with this car and for an aviation and automobile enthusiast to see the two come together so beautifully, will  always be a winner in my book.

Darin

AJC article — “Absolutely beautiful, the sheer monster size of it” — Korean Air A380 lands in Atlanta

We had the pleasure to speak with AJC aviation reporter Kelly Yamanouchi recently to discuss aviation and the arrival of the Korean Air A380…the world’s largest passenger plane. Here is the article. Thank you Kelly for helping us to spread the word on how truly wonderful aviation is.

Sylvester Pittman and Darin Topham, airlineguys

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Korean Air A380 taxis to gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Picture provided by airlineguys

 

BY KELLY YAMANOUCHI – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Airport workers stopped their tugs to watch. Catering employees came out to take a look. A child atop the Terminal South parking garage stood on a cooler for a better view. Dozens of adults pulled out their cameras and smartphones to capture a piece of history.

And, yes, time stood still.

At least, that’s how it felt to Sylvester Pittman.

“It was almost as if traffic sort of stopped for a moment as that plane came in,” Pittman recalled, savoring a moment that, for him and Atlanta’s legions of av geeks, had been a very, very long time coming.

And yes, that’s av geeks — short for aviation geeks, the tribe of airplane connoisseurs for whom last week’s arrival of the first Airbus A380 to fly into Hartsfield-Jackson was almost a religious event.

You see, for av geeks, an airplane is more than just a mode of transportation. It’s a fabulous machine. A technological wonder. A thing of beauty.

The super-jumbo Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, has been flying around the world since 2007. But the world’s busiest airport was not on its itinerary, much to the frustration of Atlanta’s av geeks.

“It seemed like it was never going to become a reality,” Pittman said.

The day finally arrived exactly one week ago when a Korean Air flight from Seoul touched down.

“Amazing,” rhapsodized Pittman.

“Absolutely beautiful,” breathed av geek Jeanene Wilson, “the sheer monster size of it.”

(How big is the A380? Big enough to carry 853 passengers, though current versions are configured to carry far fewer. Powerful enough to lift off weighing more than 1.2 million pounds.)

As you might expect, Atlanta’s enormous aviation industry supports a strong, close-knit community of passionate av geeks.

Pittman and his friend Darin Topham, both former Delta employees, run a website called airlineguys.com targeted at that community.

These are folks who track flights online and on apps, following them around the world as if the planes were celebrities. They travel to other cities just to hang out at the airport and watch planes take off and land.

Sometimes they’re stalking a specific plane, like the A380 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Sometimes they’re content to watch any plane, every plane, all the planes they can.

Av geek Chris Byington grew up in Washington, D.C. watching the Concorde come and go. On Wednesday he watched the A380’s second landing in Atlanta, marveling at how he could smell the jet fuel and see the grass ripple from the engine blast.

A 27-year-old MBA student at Georgia State, he visits Hartsfield-Jackson about once a month, just to plane-watch. “It’s just cool,” he said. “I guess I’m still a little kid.”

Pittman has flown to Los Angeles and Washington to indulge in plane spotting. Wilson likes to travel to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten to watch planes fly directly over her head on a beach near the airport.

Craig Campbell, an ExpressJet dispatcher who took photos of Wednesday’s A380 touchdown, flew to Boston this weekend to embark on a plane-spotting cruise.

It doesn’t take an av geek to understand the fascination of a behemoth like the A380. But listening to them talk planes is like listening to wine snobs wax poetic over rare vintages.

The 777? “Always a delight to see,” Pittman said.

The 747? “Never ever gets old. Just never gets old.”

The 787? “It’s a very, very beautiful plane. The technology alone makes it very special. The profile makes it top notch.”

Huh?

“The nose makes it beautiful, and how the engines sit on the wings,” he strove to explain. “The vertical stabilizer also kind of makes the profile complete.”

OK. Maybe non-geeks will see what he means once the 787 arrives in Atlanta, an event for which no date is yet set.

“We can only hope,” Pittman said. “And the day that happens, we will definitely be out there.”

Pittman’s affection for planes was kindled when he took his first airline flight in the summer of 1981 at the age of 16.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday,” a flight back from a summer program in Atlanta to his home in Florida, he said. “And after that trip, I knew, this was it. I was hooked.”

That summer, he also toured the Atlanta airport’s new terminal complex, which had opened the previous fall.

“We went out to the airport and rode the train from concourse to concourse,” Pittman said. The people-mover train “was very futuristic at the time.”

He knows that when most people think about air travel, they think of the delays, the security hassles and the baggage fees.

But in the community of av geeks, “We also still embrace the wonderment about what aviation is all about,” Pittman said.

“It all culminates to going down the runway and lifting off, and being free from the earth and being able to fly.”

AJC article | “Absolutely beautiful, the sheer monster size of it”

Thanks for the shout out! It was a great day!

the travelpreneur

Today the Atlanta Journal/Constitution is featuring an article on the A380’s arrival at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.  You might ask why this is important?  Last Sunday, September 1st, was the first landing of Korean Airlines flight 35 from Seoul, Korea to Atlanta.  For av geeks (aviation geeks) like myself, this is big news.   I was there to witness the special moment in Atlanta’s aviation history and took lots of pictures, which I shared here and on Twitter and Instagram.

To read the article, click “Absolutely beautiful, the sheer monster size of it”.  The piece focuses on av geeks.  My friends’ the Airline Guys are prominently featured and there is a quote from yours truly.   Travel blogging started for me in 2012, and I can honestly say that when the travel bug bit me at age 14, I never anticipated that one day I would have the…

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Korean Air inaugurates A380 service to Atlanta

It had been a long time coming. The arrival of the Airbus A380 to ATL, that is. While other airports welcomed the A380 with opened runways and taxiways, ATL wasn’t ready or prepared for the arrival of the world’s largest passenger airplane.

The title of a 2005 article in AccessNorthGa summed it up: “Airbus A380 won’t be landing in Atlanta anytime soon”. During this time airport general manager, Ben DeCosta stated ATL is not approved to land the A380 and didn’t think the market could support the double-decker superjumbo. Furthermore, it would also cost millions of dollars to widen taxiways and install additional jetways to help offload passengers on this plane which can accommodate between 500-800. Back then airport spokeswoman Felicia Browder said, “It’s just not the time or place. That’s just the mind of the (airport’s) leadership right now.”

Fast forward to September 1, 2013. After a few cancelled announcements of the commencement of A380 service to Atlanta, Korean Air finally touched down at Atlanta to much fanfare.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are a few pictures celebrating the arrival of KE 35 to Atlanta.

To see the FULL celebration visit our Flickr page by clicking here. Enjoy!