Saturday, December 29, 2012

When You Fly Too Much

This was my original flight plan, some of the times changed, but the route stayed the same
View more of my Instagram photos here:
Two weeks ago I looked at my United MileagePlus account to see I was sitting at 80 segments -- ten shy of hitting Premier Platinum.  So I did what every other self-respecting human being would do.  I booked a ten-segment trip... between Christmas and New Years... like an idiot.

Ironically, as I'm writing this, I'm still not home.  I'm sitting in the United Club East at DEN.  (as a side note, this is my first time in a United Club... why have I never done this before?)  I'm about to head out on my final flight home -- the tenth segment of my ridiculous mileage run.

The time card on the picture has changed, for the sake of the rest of the story, here is the updated time card:

to from date depart arrive type seat notes
OKC IAH 12/26 13:24 14:51 EMB145 2A I was sick on the 25th, so moved OKC-IAH-AUS to the 26th
IAH AUS 12/26 15:28 16:25 737-600 4F --
IAH LAX 12/26 21:19 23:05 757-200 6F --
LAX DEN 12/27 06:00 09:19 757-200 4F Switched to 3D
DEN PHL 12/27 20:24 01:58 +1 737 2F --
PHL EWR 12/28 05:57 07:00 Q200 dash 8 4A --
EWR OMA 12/28 07:51 10:15 EMB145 2A Delayed 2 hours due to pilot not being there.
OMA DEN 12/28 18:35 19:15 CRJ700 5D --
DEN OKC 12/29 08:10 10:41 EMB145 12A Flight on 12/28 was cancelled due to lack of crew.
So, it was crazy week.  One thing you'll notice is the lack of sleep time not on planes.  I'm a firm believer of working during the day traveling at night.

Sleeping in LAX
I had a room booked at the LAX Marriott.  By the time I arrived at the airport I was exhausted.  So the entire experience of getting to the airport was made farcical.  It felt like I had arrived at a 3rd world country.  Any who, I ended up with three hours of sleep, and back to it.

Sleeping in PHL
I had not planned on getting a hotel in PHL.  But, I was only able to sleep about two hours on the flight from DEN, and reality was starting to slip from my grasp.  I noticed there was an onsite Marriott, and I went to there.  I paid $209 for an hour's nap and a hot shower.  And it was just enough of a boost to get me going.

By the time I got back through security I had received notice that my DEN -> OKC flight was Cancelled.  So I started getting a hotel ready in DEN.

Needless to say, it was nice to get a "full night's sleep" in Denver.  Okay, so what's the point.

I feel like I have no connection to reality.  I wonder how flight crews survive the constant change of location, time, and environment.

TSA Pre✓
I want to take a moment and give praise to the TSA (sorry Fish), but I love TSA Pre✓.  I have used it in every airport.   In LAX I had moved from the bus to the gate in three minutes, without taking off my shoes.  I'm glad the TSA is taking initiatives like Pre✓.  They really are making a world of difference.

Final Thoughts
This blog had no point.  I'm bragging about my trip, and gave no constructive anything.  It could be because I'm tired and ready to be home... yep, that's probably it.  I was just notified that my DEN -OKC flight was just delayed another two hours.

So, yeah, I took this just now:

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012: A Look Back

Every year I set goals for myself.  Last year I posted those goals in these tweets:

Of the five goals I set, none of them happened.  I missed out on coffee with Jeff, Sitting in a 747 at all, I don't even have my single VFR yet, I never graced a Taco Bueno commercial, and Tom Delonge never responded to any of my tweets.  

But, I don't just set goals to achieve them.

I know, that doesn't make a lot of sense.  But here's what I'd like to propose: Without a dream, one lacks motivation.  I took steps in everyone of the goals above... and they haven't happened... yet.  Setting goals doesn't mean that if they don't happen I have failed.  Instead, setting goals helps keep me motivated.  

Because of the effort I put forth in the above things, a number of other things happened.
  • My wife and I got pregnant
  • I will have flown 90 flight segments on United by the end of this year
  • I got to meet several new friends across the country
  • I got to introduce many people to Taco Bueno (I may not be in a TV Ad, but I'm a walking Ad!)
  • I've increased my clients, and created new work opportunities for myself
I even made it on a video produced by United:

So, I'm going to keep setting goals, and keep achieving great things!  And I suggest that you set goals as well!

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Quick Look at My love for United.

I made this video for the United #avgeek contest.  Read through more of my blog to learn more about my United Love!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

15 Reasons why United Airlines Doesn't Suck.

From time to time I see blog posts that are just ridiculous.  Today I'd like to talk about this one: 15 Reasons Why Flying United Airlines Sucks.  Nomadic Matt (who claims he knows how to travel better, cheaper, and longer) put together a blog that states his opinion.

I recognize that I have had my bad days with United.  And they know about it.  But my bad days take into account the reality of being the world's largest airline.  I accept that United isn't going to be perfect 100% of the time.

 But I would like to reply with 15 (actual) reasons why flying United doesn't suck.

  1. Matt's first reason to not fly United was that "They lose children".  Read the article.  United was faced with something that shouldn't have ever been their fault.  Parents who, for some unknown reason, pay to have their kid shipped off to a camp that half way across the country.  They also pay a whopping $99 to have someone babysit.  The child was never lost.  She was just told to wait.  Read the article, Matt.  She was scared, which could be because her parents might should have accompanied her on her travels.  Here's the facts: Airlines are put in a bad position of being parents on a regular basis because parents aren't willing to be parents.  United was relying on another company to get the girl from point A to point B, but the other company failed.  Sure, could United have had someone take care of the girl?  Yes.  But don't exaggerate the story to get attention.
  2. Matt's second complaint, "They kick service dogs".  Once again, Matt, please read the story.  In both instances the dog startled a United employee.  I'm not sure about you, but my fight or flight instinct would have caused me to react with a kick as well.  Secondly, (and this goes for point #1), when one or two people mess up at a company, you don't blame the whole company, do you?  (I mean, apparently, you do.)  With some 86,000 employees, you might have one or two bad seeds. But what about all of the employees who go the extra mile every day?  How about Rick, from OKC, who takes the time to make sure all of his guests are properly taken care of?  Do you have anything to say about him, Matt?  
  3. Complaint #3, "They break guitars".  First of all, this was a great video.  I laughed a lot.  Secondly, in the video he said, "I should have flown with someone else, or gone by car."  Another airline wouldn't have helped.  But driving would be better.  The part about this video that makes me laugh so much is this: millions of views leads to money on YouTube.  I'd let United break my Taylor guitar and complain a whole bunch to make too.  
  4. Complaint #4 "United is so bad pilots will still tell you that they are a Continental crew. It’s their not-so-subtle way of telling you they aren’t part of this mess."  First thing, he's right.  Some former Continental crews did say that.  But if your job just changed, and your seniority and your routes and everything just changed.  Wouldn't you be a little taken back?  Not everyone can see the immediate good that will come from a change like this, and they fight back.  People don't like change.  However, the crews are really starting to come together.  Don't believe me?  Read about the Traveling Scarves and Ties on their Facebook Page.  United is really Uniting from the inside out.  
  5. Complaint #5 "United doesn’t respond to customer service requests on Twitter."  Alright, I agree.  United's Social Media team isn't as quick to reply as American or Southwest.  I'm not going to defend them here.  You win this round Matt.  
  6. Complaint #6 is about outsourced calls.  United has gotten better about their calls be routed to America.  I do understand the frustration here.  But, don't blame United, when you're too cheap to pay for Americans to do their jobs.
  7. Complaint #7 "Their planes are old and ugly. They keep talking about upgrades but at least American has a date for the arrival of their new planes. United does not."  Read a book, or a blog, or anything... November 4th.  787.  Plus a huge order of 737 MAXs.  
  8. Complaint #8 "They have the worst on-time status of all the airlines."  This statement is correct (since Matt couldn't take the time to back it with evidence: Find it here - This is a link to the Department of Transportation August 2012 Findings), but it lacks fact.  First of all, the DOT report I  referenced is still using data from June.  Just three months after a large change in systems for United.  This caused delays.  United has vastly improved in their systems and processes since June, and I think this is a completely unfair statement.  This also has to do with Airport locations and limitations based on hubs.  EWR, for example, has a number of problems because of a bad design, forcing United to be delayed when it's not their fault.  
  9. Complaint #9 "They lose the most bags."  Just wrong.  Look at page 31 of the same report.  They're actually in the middle of the bracket percentage wise.  And based on actual complaints, Southwest lost more total bags than United.
  10. Complaint #10 was about food.  Read it if you want.  But the reality is that Airlines are being squeezed into cutting corners due to the increased demand for low fares.  Basically, you get what you pay for.
  11. Complaint #11 was because Matt didn't get an upgrade.  Flights this year (for me): 65, upgrades: 45.  Most of the flights I didn't get upgraded on were because they were EMB145s or CRJ200s.  Also, don't expect to get bumped for no good reason on an international flight.  That's just common sense.
  12. Complaint #12 "Their in-flight service sucks and the flight attendants are pretty sour. (My guess? It’s a manifestation of the crappy corporate culture post-merger.)"  Let me start here: culture takes time.  You don't bake a cake by throwing the ingredients in a box and saying "why isn't my cake done?"  No, you have to mix and cook it.  And, if their flight attendants had to deal with Matt all day, I'd be sour too.  He can't seem to find one good thing in any situation.
  13. Reason #13 "Have I mentioned their planes are old and outdated?"  Okay, Matt, let me help you count.  Using the same argument twice, doesn't count as two problems.  But, let me remind that United is working hard to update their fleet, and that planes aren't exactly cheap.  And since you're still not willing pay for a flight, you might not get a new plane (except the new 787s and 737MAXs they ordered).
  14. Reason #14 "They have no Wi-Fi." Incorrect.  They didn't have wifi on your flight.  United has wifi on their P.S. flights, and they are working on adding it to their fleet.  Again, this takes time and money.  
  15. Reason #15 "Their flights cost more than their competitors…but with crappier service!"  You don't know how to search for flights, Matt.  I can usually get a cheaper flight on United than I can on Southwest.  But this goes back to the fact that you're not willing to pay for quality.  You want the world for the cost of jelly bean.  United has great crews and teams who work hard to get you where you're going.  Sure, even I have days when I'm fan of United.  Like when I wrote the post entitled Why I Hate the Airline I Love.  But, Matt, I understand that United is a business, and they're working through growing pains of a merger.  I am also willing to wait out the bad parts, knowing that something better is coming.  

So, Matt, I encourage you to try United again.  But I don't expect you to, and if you do, I don't expect you to go into it with an open mind.  

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

How United is Uniting.

For months I've been listening to Jeff Smisek tell me about creating the "right culture of the combined companies," and yet, I've been listening to pilots and flight attendants rattle on about being "legacy Continental Crew" or "long time United crew".

The truth is, when you bring two cultures together, they clash.  No matter what a CEO says in a silly video, it's the people who have to become family.  Yesterday I saw The Flying Pento talking about the sisterhood of the traveling scarfs.  I got curious.

After months of bickering about which airline is better, some of the walls are coming down.  Flight attendants are sharing scarfs and ties across subsidiary lines.  The planes have been repainted, the signs have been changed, and now the people of United are becoming one family.

When United first merged, they came out with a series of ads, one of which I feel in love with.  "What's emerging is more exciting than who is merging."  Well, what's emerging is taking time, but I believe that United, if they listen to their customers, will become the unbeatable airline.

Learn more about the traveling scarfs and ties at their facebook page.

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

An Open Letter to America

I don't tend to express political views publically. And, in a way, I'm not going to express them today. I don't expect to change the world with this post, but I hope to get you thinking. I was born and raised in the greatest country in the world. War has seldom been fought on our land. Terror is the exception, and not the rule. America is the place of dreams. This is my home.

I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat. I don't care if you're Christian or Atheist. I don't care if you're straight or gay. It is because you live in America that you don't have to care either. America was founded on Freedom. Sure, maybe the freedoms were to break away from one religious sect to another, but those freedoms became the groundwork for you and I to choose the life we want to live.

Today our freedom is jeopardy. Our Nation is grave debt. Our government is torn, and focusing on the wrong things. Our people are fighting over issues that have nothing to do with protecting our freedom. Our wars have lost their meaning, and have just become about the next big story. Our focus is lost.

America, now is the time to change – and it starts with you.

The government that was created as "We, the People," has become "they, the government." Our futures are left in the hands of people who are trying to further their career, and not by people who care about you and me.

We live in a selfish America. I'm just as guilty. We live in America that is divided by people who all share a common goal, but think that their way is the only way. Listen, America, we have to work as a team. United we stand, divided we fall. The ground is coming fast, and we are not ready for the impact.

CEOs, Business Owners, Investors: This is your time to help others, and not worry about your personal gain. Look at Walmart, a company that claims it was for America, but buys everything made in China. What happened to all of the business owners who had their stores. These people were sharing their wealth, and now Walmart owns it all.

What about United, American, and Delta? Airlines that are merging to trim expenses, pay less, and increase their bottom line. Don't get me wrong, if you're capable of making millions of dollars, do it! I'm not a socialist, but I believe that those who have should empower those who do not have.

If every CEO found twelve people to train and build up. And each of those twelve founded more companies, and created more jobs. And each of them found twelve more people and did the same thing, wouldn't we be helping our Country?

CEOs, is the savings of sending all of your work overseas worth the cost of destroying our country? I love to find ways to cut costs… but I love my freedom even more.

Gays and Christians, what you fighting about? The problem with Gay Marriage has nothing to do with the United States government, but has everything to do with religion. Marriage has always been a religious institution. And from what I remember, there is supposed to be separation of Church and State in America. Gays, if you want to get married, you need a god who approves it.

Christians. Really? You need to line the streets with stupid signs? Do you think that telling "Fags" that they're "going to Hell" is really the way God intended for you to share His love? I don't think so. Read your Bible. Remember that Jesus spent time with sinners. He loved them, and gave them compassion. It was God who brought Damnation on evil. We are sent to warn and to Love. He is there to pass judgment.

Either way, if both the Gays and the Christians spent as much time and energy as they do fighting each other on things that mattered, don't you think we'd get a lot more done? (As a side note, I am Christian, and I believe that homosexuality is a sin. But I don't believe Christians can change people through hate… Jesus said, "I did not come to this world to condemn it, but to save it." We should follow His example, and love those who do not know Him.)

Government: You have failed us. You have sold your soul to the highest bidder. We, the People, have been forgotten.

America: It is time for us to change. We must unite and fight for our freedom. We must pick ourselves up by the bootstraps. We must help those who want it. We must pour into our economy, and not the economies of our enemies. We must tighten our belts, pay off our debt. We must move our foundation off of the sand, and build it on the Rock. We must stop blaming everyone else for our problems, and start looking for solutions.

We must remember, that only when we are United, do we stand.

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look airplanes, so what do I know?

Monday, April 23, 2012

50 Things I Love About Taco Bueno

I was laying in bed last night.  Thinking.  Thinking about what makes a company great.  Things went through my head like "Profits", "Business Strategy", and "Execution".  But the more I thought about it.  I realized that truly makes a company great is what people love about that company.  So, over the next few weeks I'm going to work on what I love about..... And we start with no other than the 50 things I Love About Taco Bueno.

  1. Ground Beef cooked fresh daily.  
  2. Fresh fried taco shells every morning.
  3. Fresh fried pita bread (for Muchacos) as needed.
  4. Fresh fried chips daily.  
  5. Fresh fried mexi-bowls daily.
  6. Fresh fried potato sticks every few hours.
  7. Fresh fried Taco Salad shells every morning.
  8. Ed.
  9. Tamiko.
  10. Nicki.
  11. OKC #5
  12. Norman #1
  13. Norman #2
  14. A Social Media Strategy that involves actually talking to me.  
  15. Elisabeth.
  16. Shredded Cheese that wasn't made out of cardboard.
  17. Original Red made fresh daily.
  18. Portion cups that a big enough to dip a chip in.
  19. Queso. (Made Fresh)
  20. Fresh, hand-made, Guacamole (Every few hours).
  21. Refried beans that slow simmered for a full 12 hours in the store where you eat them. 
  22. Two Handed Tacos (I miss these)
  23. Popcorn Chicken Bacon Burritos (which were around when they introduced Bueno Combos)
  24. Bueno Combos
  25. Muchacos (pita bread should be soft and fluffy)
  26. #buenoheads
  27. Taco Bueno Headquarters
  28. Cheese Cake Chimichangas
  29. Bueno Chillers (solo una bumpa)
  30. Dr. Pepper
  31. Fruit Smoothies
  32. Eight Tomatoes on Every Taco.
  33. Beef B.O.B. (Big 'Ole Burrito)
  34. The classic Taco Bueno Logo (which still lives on in a few stores)
  35. The new store design (which I would love to see everywhere)
  36. Slowly, but smartly, growing into new territories
  37. Fresh Chili Sauce
  38. Fajitas.
  39. Fresh, Flame Grilled, Fajita Meat
  40. A Chief Chef who actually went to culinary school
  41. A Chief Buenohead who cares about the brand, the food, and the integrity of the company.
  42. The integrity of the company.
  43. Beef Nacho Salad
  44. Bueno Chilada Platter
  45. Cheese Enchiladas
  46. Cinnamon Chips
  47. The Buenohead Club
  48. @taco_bueno
  49. Buenohead of the week
  50. Everything is made fresh, when you order it.  The highest standards are met every time I visit.
Okay, so that's 50 things.  There are another 50 (at first I wanted to write 1,000 things I loved) or more!  What is it that you love about Taco Bueno?

If you run your own business, what is it that your customers love about what you do?

But, hey, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Journey.

There are a million reasons why someone could ask to be on the first United 787 flight; I’ll give you one: I have a passion for flight (read the whole story, I promise, it’s worth it).

I will fly it.
The Birth of a Passion.
I don’t remember this, but from a very early age I wanted to fly.  My family is from Oklahoma, but in 1986 we were moved to New Jersey.  The most logical way home? Continental.  (My OnePass account card is so old and dated, but it still counts.)  Oh, and to be fair, we did have a few 24-hour drives in a fantastic old van.

On one of our trips to Oklahoma, I came out of the bathroom and told my mother that I was going to be a pilot.  When she asked why I told her that pilots don’t have any “hair down there”.  That story is a bit disturbing to me these days, and to that Continental pilot, “Sorry for telling this to the world, but thanks for inspiring me to love aviation!” 

If It Ain’t Boeing, I Ain’t Going.
Our time in New Jersey only lasted three years.  We moved backed to Oklahoma and stopped flying.  I was interested in other things, but for some reason I always knew things were happening in the airline industry. 

In 1995 we were forced to move again, this time to St. Louis.  Back in those days if you were going to fly STL to OKC it was going to be on TWA.  And my family flew a lot.  We took our first trip to Hawaii on TWA flight 1 STL – HNL. 

Then, when American bought out TWA, we followed suit.  All of that to get to this; I remember one night when we were traveling through DFW;  I saw my first 777.  I proudly told my dad, “That’s the biggest plane ever.”  Okay, so I didn’t really understand size at that point.  But that memory is clearer in my head than so many others.  To this day I have no idea why or how I knew that, but I’m glad I did. 

A Passion United.
It was the summer of 2005, by this point we were back in Oklahoma.  My parents and I were taking a trip to Hawaii, and then on to Hong Kong.  No one in our family was Premiere, or even close.   But we were excited to be flying United.  This was going to be a very big trip for me, not because we were going to Hawaii, or even stopping in Tokyo on our way to Hong Kong.  This trip was a big deal to me because I would fly my only flight (yes, to this day) on a mighty 747.

We left Honolulu on what I recall to be a 777.  There were movies and beverages.  I imagine we even had a meal.  We chased the sun, but sadly, it was early morning.  We arrived in Tokyo around noon.  Our departure wasn’t until that evening.  It was a long day in NRT.  But I looked out the windows, and paced the halls of the airport. 

Around 6pm we began boarding.  “Morgan, party of three to the podium.”  And just like that, something magical happened.  United gave us the bump to Business Class seating. To this day, I don’t know why.  But I don’t care.  That was the moment that started my love affair with the airline that would take me anywhere I wanted to go.

The American Dream.
When I left home for the first time on my own, I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Since both American and United flew through ORD I always picked the cheapest (sadly to say I didn’t understand loyalty at the time).  I did have more Advantage Miles, so I tried to use them more, but I was more satisfied when I flew United. 

While I lived in Grand Rapids, I was only 4 miles for GRR.  My apartments back door was right under the landing pattern for 08R.  I found myself looking to the skies more.  I would play this game where I would try to figure out the airline before I could see the livery, and I have to admit, I got pretty good at it. 

I had already become a Marriott Purist, and I wanted to become a United fanboy, but a move to Orlando would change that. 

Mickey Made Me Do It.
By this point in my life I had become Platinum with Marriott, but had no hope of ever climbing the ranks of an airline’s loyalty program.  There were two problems; One, I didn’t fly enough.  Two, I didn’t give one airline all of my business.

When I finally found a home I was happy with, I was just south of ORL (Orlando Executive) and 10 miles north of MCO (Orlando International).  The ORL VOR is a key point in a normal arrival from the north to MCO.  Needless to say, my little game I played became a lot more fun. 

To make matters worse, I was dating the daughter of a pilot.  He and I would talk planes.  And I would watch them for hours.  One day, while walking around Lake Underhill, watching aircraft arrive at MCO, I realized, I needed to learn more.  Within 20 minutes I had found  My passion moved up thirty levels (some where around FL 200). 

Why was I in Florida?  I was attending film school.  I always thought I would be a director of photography.  But, as school wore me down, my time was increasingly spent on plane watching. 

One day I needed more escape.  That’s when I found ITVV (they produced flight deck videos before 9/11).  I became obsessed with learning how to fly jumbo jets.  And then I found Concorde.  (Wait, isn’t this supposed to be about Boeing and United?  It is, just keep reading.)

Concorde consumed me.  I read books, watched videos, and within two years, had visited all three Concordes that resided in the states.  (Alpha Delta being my favorite, she will always have a place in my heart). 

The City That Never Sleeps.
I graduated and moved to New York City (I actually lived in Elizabeth, NJ, just five minutes from EWR).  I got myself a membership to the Intrepid museum, and tried to visit Alpha Delta as much as possible.  I let my wife (we had gotten married by this point) drag me to Ikea just so I could sit in the cafĂ© and watch arrivals and departures. 

And then it happened.  I found Twitter.  #avgeek became my life.  I started following all of the greats, and meeting as many other FL400 flight lovers as I could.  And with that, I decided to leave the film industry.  For Aviation? Nope.  But I started a few new businesses and prepared to take on the world. 

On a sunny March day in 2009 I took the train from the Elizabeth Station to EWR.  I wondered down the halls of terminal A, and found my place on the first of many United flights.  That year I would reach Premier.  As I sat down in my seat for the first time, I called my dad and I said, “I remember why we always wanted to fly United.”  I was in Heaven.

Hello Seattle.
From the moment I watched the 787 take off on its first flight, I had one goal: touch it.  It was 2010, and I was living in Oklahoma again.  I had managed to score some work in Seattle, and I planned an extra day to go visit the Boeing Factory in Everett. 

It was an evening flight in from LAX.  I secretly had my earphones in and Owl City was singing “Hello Seattle” in my ears as we approached.   We arrived from the North.  I watched as we passed downtown Seattle, and then I saw my first glimpse of Boeing Field. 

Work flew by, and I was never more excited as my trip north.  Driving around the plant to the Future of Flight was … amazing.  I saw the 787 for the first time.  And the factory tour took my breath away. 

So, I was hooked.  If it wasn’t Boeing, I wasn’t going.  And by this point in life I had told my business partners and family that we were all flying United. 

The Best Sun Burn Ever.
It was the summer of 2011.  I had made up my mind to travel to EAA Airventure in Osh Kosh.  I had one goal in mind: touch the 787.  My trip to Osh Kosh was… filled with excitement.  Although I had seen the 787, I had never touched it.  I remember when she was circling above, waiting for other planes to clear the runway.  She was quiet, peaceful, majestic.  Her landing was flawless.  I can play it back in my head over and over.  This was the plane that outflew all other planes. 

I took as many pictures as I could that day, and I waited in line for three hours to be inside of the 787.  I had forgotten to put on sunscreen, and refused to leave the line for it.  This moment was too perfect to pass. 

And then I touched her.  I connected with her carbon fiber skin, and was never happier.  (With the exception of marrying my beautiful wife).  The ten minutes I was inside the 787 were magical.  I had found true love.

The Merger and the Greatest Moment.
I remember when word got out that United might be merging with U.S. Airways, and I wasn’t happy.  Then, out of nowhere, United and Continental announced their merger.  I stayed loyal to United as the merger progressed.  While others complained about getting rid of the classic Tulip, I saw opportunity with the globe. 

One day I was driving north on I-35W.  I was in the DFW area.  I watched as an American 777 took off from DFW and flew to Fort Worth Alliance Airport.  I tweeted something to the extent of “I wish I was the pilot who flew the 777s from DFW to Fort Worth Allince.”  About four minutes later my phone buzzed; it was a message to call Boeing.  The greatest moment of my life followed.  I was invited to the delivery celebration of the first 787 to ANA.  The rest of the drive back to Oklahoma City was a blur.

The time between that call and my trip didn’t exist.  I couldn’t wait.  And this time, I flew from IAH on a 737, and again, Owl City was welcoming me to the city on a late night flight. 

You can read my blog about the celebration, and the factory tour on the floor.  But here it is in one word: indescribable.  Thank you, Boeing, for letting me be a part of that.

Since then, I have become Premiere Gold on the new United.  And as I type this, I’m on a United 737 with the new Boeing Sky Interior, which I love, flying from IAH to OMA. 

United, I love your airline.  Boeing, I love your planes.  So, here’s the final question; Can I join you both on United’s first flight from Houston to Auckland on the 787?  I want to meet Jeff Smisek (in fact, the first time I get on a United plane every month, I grab Hemispheres to see what Jeff has to say to me!).  He’s one of my heroes.  I want to hang with United crews, because they are the best in the industry.  I want to support Boeing and United in their efforts as businesses to support America.  And I want to take this trip with you, because for me, it’s the journey, not the destination

But, hey, I’m just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?