My 2016 Travel Map

In 2016, I traveled more than 108,000 kilometers and spent more than 148 hours in the skies! Here are some of the best trips I had over the past 12 months. The ranking is not in order of best flight experience but is rather based on chronology.

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My 2016 Travel Map

1. Flying All Over America in One Day
In February, I flew for fun with my friend touching the East Coast, the West Coast and the North of the United States in less than one day. We flew from Orlando to Orlando via Atlanta, San Francisco and Minneapolis.

My ride from Atlanta to Los Angeles.

Flew this type of bird (Boeing 767) between Atlanta and San Francisco and between Minneapolis and Orlando.

2. First Business Trip
In May, I flew on my first business trip just a few days after my first day as an Aircraft Programs Intern at Air Canada. I travelled from Montreal to Seattle for a week.

I got upgraded in Business Class from Toronto-Pearson to Seattle-Tacoma.

I got upgraded in Business Class from Toronto-Pearson to Seattle-Tacoma.

3. Customer Delivery Test Flight
While I was at the Boeing Everett Factory with Air Canada, I had the opportunity to fly on their brand new Boeing 777-300ER (C-FKAU) that was going to be delivered a few days later. We were only between 10 and 15 people on the plane for the flight that lasted a bit more than 2 hours.

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View from the jump seat while climbing out of Paine Field.

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The Boeing 777-300ER has a wingspan of more than 212 feet.

4. Flying on the Bombardier CSeries Before Commercial Entry Into Service
At the end of June in Montreal, I had the chance to fly on a Bombardier CS100 aircraft during a 45 minute flight for the media. The state-of the-art aircraft is very silent and offers a wide body feeling in the cabin.

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FTV5 (Flight Test Vehicle Number 5) with the SWISS livery.

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View of the CSeries wing after touchdown.

5. Flying Across the Atlantic to Ireland
After my internship was done, my family and I flew to Ireland for a week vacation.

Starter: smoked trout Niçoise said with roasted garlic aïoli.

Appetizer on the flight to Europe.

6. Weekend in California
During Labor Day weekend, I traveled to Los Angeles for a few days.

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The famous Hollywood sign.

Plane spotters love to take pictures at Los Angeles International Airport.

Plane spotters love to take pictures at Los Angeles International Airport.

7. First Time in South America
I flew to Argentina for my first time during Thanksgiving break. This trip from Florida to the Southern tip of the world required many flights.

Boeing 737-800 of Aerolineas Argentinas at Ushuaia airport, the world's southernmost airport.

Boeing 737-800 of Aerolineas Argentinas at Ushuaia airport, the world’s southernmost airport.

What were your best flying memories of 2016? Share them with us below!

Happy Flying!

Nicolas

It’s Almost Summer!

Last Thursday was the final day of classes of the Spring 2016 semester. Friday is a study day before the first day of exams starts. The Hunt Library is providing donuts and other snacks to students in the evening in an event called “Cram With Cookies.” I have no idea why “cookies” is mentioned because they mainly serve donuts…strange.

Finals will begin on Saturday and continue from Monday to Wednesday evening. I was lucky this semester to be exempted from a few final exams. In my Airport Management class (BA 310), we did not have any quizzes nor exams throughout the semester which was fun. Instead, the professor gave us four assignments related to the airport industry, such as airport security. At the end of the semester we were assigned a large group project and a take home final exam consisting of four short essays which were quite similar to the assignments.

In my Airline-Operations class, we had a total of two exams during the semester, excluding the final. The professor would drop the lowest grade of the three exams so you didn’t have to take the final if you were satisfied with your current grade in the course.

This semester I have to take three finals: International Aviation Management (BA 426), Corporate Finance I (BA 332), and Managerial Accounting (BA 312). Like my colleague Jack mentioned in his latest story, most of the finals in the College of Business are just a regular test and are not cumulative. My only cumulative exam is in my Finance class where I will have to refresh my mind with the material we studied back in January.

This weekend, I plan to study for finals obviously and enjoy my last days in the beautiful sunny and warm weather of Florida before heading back home for the summer. On Monday, I am taking a study break as I will be flying to Atlanta to be onboard’s Delta’s inaugural passenger flight of the Airbus A321 that was just delivered over a month ago. The airline has ordered a total of 82 airframes. The first flight is scheduled to depart Atlanta (ATL) at 8:55AM and arrive at 10:19AM in Orlando (MCO). Stay tuned for a summary of the flight and some pictures!

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Photo Credits: Delta

In the meantime, I wish all of the students from our Daytona Beach, Prescott, and Worldwide campus good luck on their finals. Go Eagles!

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Does your home airport use a common or exclusive use gate system?

Last Thursday in my Airline-Airport Operations class, we had an interesting debate in whether or not we should favor common-use gates over exclusive leased space gates. There are many advantages and drawbacks in both cases that I will explain briefly below.

Exclusive Leased Space

In an exclusive leased space agreement, an airline will have the right to use the gate and ticket counters space in exchange it has agreed to pay a rent on the area used. For an airline that has only one scheduled flight to that airport, it might not be a plus because it will have to pay for the gate while it only uses it maybe an hour per day.

Large airlines in the United States such has Delta Air Lines might prefer the exclusive leased space even though it is more expensive. They can operate their own gates and not bother about another competitor using their gate. Airlines can also show their brand at the ticket counters, gate area, and inside the jet bridge since they basically “own” the space.

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Common Use Space

At a common-use airport, airlines do not have to pay rent on the space. The airport’s gate schedule coordinator will assign each gate to the airlines. It will collect a per-use fee from the air carriers using the space. Common use airports usually have TV monitors at check-in counters and at the boarding area instead of painted walls with the airline’s brand. They can change the image of an airline in a matter of a second.

Common-use airports can generate more revenue by negotiating contracts with companies who want to show their branding around the airport. The HSBC bank branding is present in various airports worldwide.

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Picture taken at around 5:30AM.

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Picture taken at about 6:45AM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture above on the left was taken in the morning one day last summer when I worked as an intern at the Montreal Airport in Canada. The picture on the right was taken at the same place about an hour after the first one was taken. We can see that the airport operates with common-use space.

There were four United Express’ regional jets at the gates getting ready for their morning flights back to the airline’s hub. About an hour later on that same day, we can see that those planes are gone and replaced with new Air Canada jets.

For airline ground operations, airlines usually have to move their ground vehicles around the airport to the new assigned gate for the next flight. Airports often try assign the gates to the airlines next to each other so it makes it easier for airline operations.

That’s it for this week! In my next story, I will close the 2015-16 school year and share my summer plans.

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Let the Final Stretch Begin

In less than three weeks all of my finals will be over, and I’ll have another semester under my belt. I am very excited for the summer to begin to take some time off and for my internship.

This summer, I will be working as an intern in Network Planning at Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Georgia! I am very excited for this opportunity, and it has been a long time coming as I have been interviewing since the 2014 Industry/Career Expo.

In the meantime, school has been keeping me busy with lots of projects and papers, and things are starting to slow down. I just have to finish my technical report, study for one last test for the semester, and begin studying for final exams. Thankfully, I just have three this semester!

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Student Employee of the Year Nominee Dinner as the Career Services Department nominated me. It was very cool attending it and learning about what all of the other 22 student Assistants who attended the dinner did for their departments. Plus, it was crazy to learn that there are more than 1,000 student assistants who work on the Daytona Beach Campus!

SEOTY Nominees gather for a dinner to announce Embry-Riddle's Student Employee of the year

SEOTY Nominees gather for a dinner to announce Embry-Riddle’s Student Employee of the year

Flying All Over America – Part 2

I hope you guys enjoyed Part 1 of my long trip across the United States. In the second part, I will cover the rest of the trip from San Francisco to Orlando with a connecting stop in Minneapolis.

Due to our long delay back in Atlanta, we had less time to spend at San Francisco International Airport than expected. We used our time wisely to walk around the terminal/concourse. Below is a gallery of the pictures of some of the planes we saw:

After our quick tour, we boarded the plane for Minneapolis. Shortly after takeoff, we were served complimentary beverages and snacks, and I ordered the new Luvo chicken wrap the airline made available at 30,00 feet in the past few weeks. It was very good! For the remaining duration of the flight, I worked on homework while listening to music. I also took pictures of the outside sceneries over Utah and Wyoming.

Ski station over the state of Wyoming

A ski station over the state of Wyoming.

Somewhere over Wyoming!

Somewhere over Wyoming!

Arrived in MSP, I thought it felt like when I arrive in Montreal! It is cold and there is snow. Ironically, it was colder in Atlanta than in Minneapolis. Jack showed me a cool place in Concourse D. We went up in an observatory over the terminal where we can see the airline’s ramp operations. Our plane from California landed about half an hour earlier so we were fortunate to have more time to explore the airport of Minneapolis. It was my first time at MSP so my friend showed me around (close to the whole airport). It was night by the time we landed so I couldn’t take any photos due to the reflection in the windows.

Last leg of the day: MSP to MCO.

Last leg of the day: MSP to MCO.

For the last leg of the trip to the Sunshine State, we both got upgraded to First Class. The plane was quite empty where there were even 2 front seats that were unoccupied and all most of the Comfort+ seats empty. It is the first time of the day that I started to get tired after a long day. I was happy to have made through the whole day. I actually thought I would be tired after the long transcontinental flight from ATL to SFO, but I wasn’t.

Upgraded to First Class on our flight between MSP and MCO. For dinner was a tomato basil soup, followed by a salmon with basmati rice, and a toffee almond cookie for dessert.

Upgraded to First Class on our flight between MSP and MCO. For dinner was a tomato basil soup, followed by salmon with basmati rice, and a toffee almond cookie for dessert.

Since 6:00AM of that morning flight, I have kept most of the complimentary snacks the flight attendants passed around. I had quite a large collection by the last flight!

I accumulated many snacks over the day!

I accumulated many snacks over the day!

Overall, we had flown 5,500 miles while sitting around 17 hours on an aircraft during a timespan of 18 hours. That is a lot of flying! We calculated that we paid less than 30 cents per minute (~$17 per hour) to fly around the country in one day! It was definitely worth it! I hope I will fly again this year on a crazier trip than this one if possible!

On our way back to Florida after a long day of flying!

On our way back to Florida after a long day of flying!

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Flying All Over America – Part 1

Hello!

This past Saturday, I flew over 21 states over the United States in less than 24 hours. I did this long trip with my friend Jack, who is also a student journal writer for Embry-Riddle. What was the purpose of this trip? We wanted to fly together just for fun. We would also accumulate more than 5,000 miles on this long journey.

Here was our planned itinerary: Orlando (MCO) – Atlanta (ATL) – San Francisco (SFO) – Minneapolis (MSP) – Orlando (MCO). In Part 1 of this exciting story, I will cover the flight segments until SFO. The remaining two flights until we land in MCO will be covered in Part 2.

Long flight ahead: ATL to SFO.

Long flight ahead: ATL to SFO.

Our day started very early has we had to drive to catch a 6:00AM flight in Orlando. The first flight to Atlanta was just over an hour from wheels up to touchdown. The thing I like about early morning flights is that you can see the sunrise from above.

When we arrived at the busiest airport of the world, we did not have much time to connect to for our next flight. Fortunately, our arriving flight and our departing flight were in the same concourse, so we did not have to take the Plane Train.

For the transcontinental flight to San Francisco, we were onboard a Boeing 767-300ER with one of Delta’s international configuration featuring lie-flat beds. I wished we got upgraded to the front cabin! We were seated in the first row of Comfort+ at an exit row, so we had plenty of legroom and space to walk around during the duration of the flight.

Delta has a crew base in SFO and uses this aircraft (B767-300ER) for transcontinental flights to New York-JFK and Atlanta.

Delta has a crew base in SFO and uses this aircraft (B767-300ER) for transcontinental flights to New York-JFK and Atlanta.

All the passengers were settled in their seat for an on-time departure when the captain announced a delay due to a problem with the main door. The door could not close and maintenance had to replace a part. The missing part of the door took a long time to arrive at the aircraft and it lead to a delay of about an hour before we got cleared for pushback.

My friend Jack and I are discussing with the flight crew while we were waiting for maintenance to repair a part on the main door.

My friend Jack and I are discussing with the flight crew while we were waiting for maintenance to repair a part on the main door.

In the mean time, we were granted permission by one of the flight attendants to go check out the flight deck. We spent about 45 minute talking with the first officer about aviation. The time went by fast and we returned to our seats because the airplane was ready to leave the gate.

The first officer's notes before the flight.

The first officer’s notes before the flight.

During the flight, we worked on a project for our Airline-Airport Operations class. We had to select an airport or airline and write a report on it. We were actually productive on that flight and did homework! As we approached the state of California, the flight attendants made a trivia to the passengers asking four questions related to the Super Bowl. The folks who got the most right answers would win a bottle of wine (I wished the question would be related on Delta!).

The attendants on our flight to SFO made a trivia with questions related to the Super Bowl. The passengers who got the correct answers got a bottle of wine!

The flight attendants on our flight to SFO made a trivia with questions related to the Super Bowl.

When we booked the trip at the beginning of the semester, we did not know it was during the Super Bowl weekend. At first, we thought the airport in San Francisco would be crowded, but it was not! At least for the time we were there.

Story to follow in Part 2!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

2015 Stories: Delta SkyMiles Medallion Benefits

Over the past year, I flew a lot on Delta Air Lines. I boarded 35 flights with the air carrier and half of those flights were to Atlanta. “How come have you been to Atlanta so many times this year?” my friends ask me. I actually never visited Atlanta in my whole life. I have only been through the airport to connect to my next flight.

I started to accumulate all my blading passes!

I started to accumulate all my boarding passes!

For those who did not know, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is home of Delta and is the busiest airport in the world. It will welcome its 100th million passenger of the of the year, by the end of December.

Since the beginning of 2015, I have accumulated numerous flights and miles with Delta, and over Thanksgiving break, I got my first frequent flyer status! I became Silver Medallion with Delta and at the same time, SkyTeam® Elite, since the airline is in the SkyTeam® alliance.

There are many great benefits that come along with the status, but first, lets discuss how to reach the status. To become Silver (lowest status), a customer needs 25,000 Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Qualification Segments (MQSs). Customers also need to spend more than $3,000 every year with Delta. Those numbers increase by a lot for the other upper level statuses.

There are many advantages of being Silver Medallion® with Delta. Here are some of them.

The first perk is to be able to be added for free to the upgrade list for a First Class seat. Who doesn’t like to fly upfront with wider seats and greater legroom?

It is often rare to get upgraded as a Silver. One time, I was 39/41 on the upgrade list and there were only four seats available. There is another option if you want to have extra legroom and sip beer, wine, or spirits and snack on premium snacks. At time of check-in, you can select a Comfort+™ seat if there is availability. These seats are located between First Class and Main Cabin. A passenger upgrading its seat to Comfort+™ will spend up to $55 on a one-way flight between Daytona Beach and Atlanta.

Passengers also benefit from 2 extra miles per dollar spent. For example, if my roundtrip ticket from Daytona Beach to Atlanta was $800, I would get 1,600 bonus miles added to the amount of base miles for the trip.

One of my favorite (favourite for my Canadian readers) perk is the waived baggage fees. You can get a checked-baggage free of charge. This saves $50 round-trip per person.

At the airport, passengers can enjoy expedited check-in using the Sky Priority lane. Customers can also benefit from priority boarding and the order depends on the seat selected:

  • PREM: First Class customers
  • SKY: Delta Comfort+™
  • Zone 1: Silver Medallion®
  • Zone 2: Main Cabin

Now you know the main benefits of having a Silver status with Delta Air Lines. If you travel a lot, flying with the same airline might lead you to a frequent flyer status!

Until next time!

Nicolas

 

Autumn Break – Part 1

The Embry-Riddle autumn break marks the median of the fall semester. Some students use this time to go back home with their family that they haven’t seen since the end of August. Students sometimes spend the long weekend and try to catch up with the workload or even to get a little bit ahead. I always tell myself that I will catch up on everything during Fall Break and Thanksgiving but it never happens. I do get some work done, but not as much as I want!

Famous "Fly Delta Jets" sign at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int. Airport.

Famous “Fly Delta Jets” sign at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int. Airport.

My break started on the afternoon of the last day of classes. My journey started at  Daytona Beach International (Regional) Airport and was scheduled to end when I land in Montreal, my final destination. It was my first time using the TSA PreCheck lane at the Daytona airport (it was inaugurated at the end of September). It allows trusted travelers flying in the U.S. with expedited security screening. Passengers enrolled in the program do not need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belt, and light jackets. Something I like in small airports such as Daytona is that it only takes a few minutes to get seated at the gate from the time passengers enter the terminal.

My first leg to Atlanta was uneventful with the exception of a few bumps while approaching ATL. I think it was my first time connecting in Atlanta without having to take the Plane Train to get to my next flight in a different concourse. This time, my next flight was only five gates away! My next stop was New York LaGuardia, an outdated airport where the average taxi time before takeoff is about 45 minute. Thanks to the $4 billion plan, announced in July, to replace the airport completely. Although the airport has many negative aspects, I like the variety of restaurants they have for a domestic airport. They also have a small supermarket and a food court in concourse D offering many dining options for connecting passengers. The flight from LaGuardia to Montreal was only a short 52 minutes from wheels up to touchdown. As we approached the end of the flight, the captain made an announcement to the cabin: “Good evening from the flight deck ladies and gentlemen, we have started our initial descent in the Montreal area. The visibility in Montreal is great with gusty winds and a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit).” I was only wearing jeans and a t-shirt and did not have a coat. I felt the cold right when I got out of the aircraft!

Flying over Brooklyn a few moments before touching down on runway 31 at LGA.

Flying over Brooklyn a few moments before touching down on runway 31 at LaGuardia.

The reason I flew three legs instead of two is that I want to get more segments and miles to get Silver Medallion® status on Delta Air Lines. In Part 2, I will tell you a little bit about the exciting things I did back home.

Nicolas

The End of Summer

Once I completed my internship at Aéroports de Montréal at the end of July, I had about two weeks of vacation left before heading to Daytona Beach. My brother and I welcomed some of our friends from Texas that came to visit us for the weekend.

During their visit, we went to the Osheaga Art and Music Festival in Montreal. The festival takes place over a period of three days where more than 100 artists performed. We were there on the last day of the show and saw The Black Keys, ALT-J, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Charli XCX, and Tove Lo. It is not possible to see all of the artists because they perform on six different scenes simultaneously. It is fun because you don’t have to stay at one scene and watch the whole show; you can walk around and see different things.

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Group picture in front of the Osheaga splatter paint wall!

After a great weekend filled with music, we all headed to the airport at 4:30AM  to catch early morning flights. Some of the friends were heading back home in the Lone Star State while another was flying back to school in Boston. My family and I were flying to Jacksonville (JAX) with a connection in Atlanta (I don’t think I can count how many times I have been through ATL!).

When we landed in JAX, I almost felt like it was home since Daytona was only 100 miles south. We drove for about an hour north following the East Coast of Florida and Georgia. Our final destination was Sea Island, GA. We decided to make this trip because the area was reputed for its golf courses. There are also many other activities to do there since the ocean is a few steps away. Other than playing a few rounds of golf, we went paddle boarding, and skeet shooting.

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Sea Island, GA

The few days spent in Sea Island went by so fast, as we were already seated in the plane on our way back to Canada. My brother and I spent the last the week home so we could prepare and pack all the baggage we had to bring for our upcoming Sophomore year of college.

View from the Delta SkyClub Sky Deck in Concourse F. Hartsfield-Jackson has the largest control tower in North America, and 4th in the world.

View from the Delta SkyClub Sky Deck in Concourse F. Hartsfield-Jackson has the largest control tower in North America, and 4th in the world.

Next week, I will go over my arrival in the Daytona Beach area before classes started! Enjoy the extra pictures of Osheaga below.

Nicolas

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