Just how many seats can you cram in?

It seams that all over the world the on-board flying experience is changing. For those lucky enough to be “in front of the curtain” times have never been better. There is a global arms race to snag the most desirable and profitable travelers. Business class seats must magically transform to full beds with duvets and fluffy pillows. The food must be more than simply edible. It must rival fine dining in the best restaurants on the ground. A constant supply of drinks and tidbits to eat are mandatory. Travelers are cosseted into private lounges that are exclusive clubs that keep premium cabin travelers from the unwashed masses in the terminal.

First class is a little more problematic, as a sizable number of seats are inhabited by travelers cashing in many thousands of frequent flyer miles.  Many airlines have dropped first class completely or they only offer it on high-yielding flights between business destinations such as New York to London. Airlines have upped their game in this market as well. Lufthansa at its main hub in Frankfurt has taken the first class experience to an even more extravagant extreme. Lufthansa built a first class terminal that is not directly connected to the rest of the airport. Your limo drops you at the very exclusive front door. You can get a message, smoke a stogie in the cigar bar, have a great meal before you board, all gratis. Security is done behind the scenes. If you decide to have a great bath or shower you get a collectible rubber ducky.  Once you are ready to board your flight, you are whisked across the airfield to your aircraft in your choice of a Porsche or Benz (Germans usually don’t call it a Mercedes) to your flight. Life is good in this exclusive club.

7053054851_a414663049Where does this leave the rest of us slobs that are stuck in steerage? In my last post I kvetched about miserable seats on the Delta MD-90. This is only getting worse. My sources have told me that the seats on Spirit or Ryanair make the MD-90 feel posh. If you are very lucky you can pay for WiFi. In-seat video and most importantly a power outlet are available… Sometimes.  Coach still sucks.

That begs the question of just how many seats can the airline squeeze  into a plane? If airlines could sell hanging subway straps I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. Luckily there is a fixed limit of passengers they can cram in.  As part of the certification process, aircraft manufacturers are required to demonstrate that an aircraft, in maximum density configuration, can be completely evacuated within 90 seconds using only half of the total number of emergency exits. When the manufacturer performs the evacuation tests, they use their own employees and invite the local sports teams to join in. I guess they think granny will be as limber as the local soccer team should the worst happen.

An example is the Airbus A380. For most airlines it is configured for a load of about 450 to 525 travelers in a three-class setup. The maximum allowed is 853. Will we see that many in an A380? Probably. An example would be flying a charter to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

Should you be worried about being stuffed on an aircraft at maximum density? I don’t think so. Many such aircraft have been evacuated in emergency situations. A great example is Air France flight 358 from Paris to Toronto. It missed the runway and burst into flames. All 309 passengers and crew survived, albeit a small portion suffering serious injures.

Mission Uncomfortable



Aircraft are designed for certain missions. The mission criteria are basically how far how many people are to be taken. This determines the size of the aircraft and the types of engines to be used as well as the cabin amenities that are offered the flyer. The aircraft manufacturer determines the design of the aircraft but the airlines configure the cabin as they see fit.

I buy my airline tickets somewhat differently than the average traveler. Price is still king as it is for most travelers but as an aviation geek I have a few more criteria: Have I flown that airline before? Am I flying on an aircraft I’ve never experienced before? If I have to connect is the connection city one I have not yet experienced?

Sometimes these geeky choices can backfire.

My last trip was from O’Hare to San Francisco. I ended up on Delta. Delta offered the best price and my special geek criteria were met as well. I had to connect via Minneapolis, which was not the most direct routing but at least I got to fly on an aircraft I had never flown before, the MD-90.

The MD-90 is the third generation of the fabled Douglas DC-9. I was excited to experience this aircraft. Less than 200 were produced so it was a rare treat.


I was wrong, very wrong.

My travel day started with a short hour-long flight from O’Hare to Minneapolis on an Airbus A320. I had no complaints. The A320 is one of the most common aircraft flying today. It was a totally forgettable flight, which is a good thing.

My MD-90 experience was problematic before I even boarded. The MD-90 is narrower than most other mainline aircraft. The coach cabin is laid out in a 2 by 3 seat arrangement. The advantage of this setup is that the passenger has a one in five chance of being stuck in a middle seat as opposed to one in three chance on any other 3 by 3 narrow body. The downside with the MD-90 is that since the cabin is narrower, the overhead bins are comparatively tiny.

As I was on a cheap ticket on an airline with which I have no status, I was stuck in the last boarding group.  Before I even had the chance to wedge my carry-on in the overhead bin, the gate agent insisted I check my bag before boarding the flight, as she was certain there would be no space left. She was wrong.

The cabin itself was clean and for an aircraft of its age was in good shape. The aircraft had been “upgraded” with the most modern seats in Delta’s fleet. These new “slimline” seats are made to be as thin as possible in order to wedge more rows of seats into the aircraft. That’s nothing unusual today. The problem was that the seats felt more like park benches than something suitable for a four-hour flight to the West Coast.  There was no in-flight entertainment of any kind. By the end of my trek to San Francisco my back hurt and my legs were numb.

Why was this the case? Delta was using an aircraft configured for the wrong mission. The MD-90 was originally envisioned as a short-haul aircraft. The flight would have been tolerable if it was on a short leg such as my first flight to Minneapolis.

Why did Delta use the MD-90? The MD-90 has just enough range for the flight. Delta has very little market presence in San Francisco, which makes flying a larger aircraft unprofitable. The coach cabin was configured for short-haul missions and not the four-hour medium-range flight I was on.

From a passenger viewpoint the aircraft was on the wrong mission. From Delta’s viewpoint the MD-90 was flying the right mission. My back and legs begged to differ.



The AA employees have spoken!

Since my last post the results of the vote regarding the livery have been posted. The new tail won.

The chatter has been loud. Conspiracy theories regarding the vote are in full swing.

I’m pleased with the outcome. In the grand scheme of what American needs to accomplish, the livery debate is a small detail. Now it’s time for the real work of reinventing American to begin.

Evolution of the Eagle

One of my many fascinations with airlines is branding. I have always enjoyed the glamour shots airlines use in their commercials, and I love it when I’m at the airport and there is a row of airliners, each with its own tail logo. Branding an airline is a tricky proposition. It has to reflect what kind of airline it is marketing itself as. It also has to be understood by people across cultural and language barriers.

Rebranding an airline is fraught with pitfalls. The “New American” is a prime example.  (The history of the American Airlines logo, from left: 1934, 1945, 1962, 1968.)*


American Airlines branding has always included an eagle and watching that eagle evolve over the years has been fascinating! The 1968 logo is as old as I am. It is one of the best examples of modern airline branding or product branding of any kind. Very few airlines have been that iconic. Only Lufthansa comes close to American in longevity and the class that American’s “Scissor Eagle” logo represents.

But changing times demand changing branding.  From the mid ’90s to the present day American Airlines has fallen on hard times. There are many factors that led to that sad state. However, today we are dealing with the “New American.” A trip through bankruptcy and a merger with USAirways has created the world’s largest airline. The New American is ready to enter a new, hopefully resurgent era and it needs a fitting brand update.

Before the merger, American spent huge amounts of money for a full rebranding effort. The silver fuselage has gone. New aircraft are made of plastic that can’t be shined. So the Scissor Eagle – which demanded this glossy has  been replaced with a much more abstract version. It is elegant but barely looks like an eagle.


The biggest shock to many people was the new livery on the tail of the American fleet. It is an abstraction of the United States flag. To say it has been a divisive issue is a gross understatement. I wasn’t a fan but once I saw it in real life, it has grown on me.

Doug Parker is the CEO of the New American. I have to give him credit as he has been working hard to instill pride in the New American by the workgroups of the Old American and USAirways. Having been made aware of how controversial the new branding is, he decided to create a new hybrid livery that uses the original Scissor Eagle logo on the new fuselage.


But I just hate the hybrid livery! There are two versions of the eagle! It sends a mixed message. American Airlines is working on becoming a global world-class brand. To my eyes, the hybrid livery looks cheap and amateurish as if somebody got creative with Photoshop.

This isn’t the first time Doug Parker has been at the helm of bad branding. He was CEO of America West during the merger with USAirways. Each airline had it’s own branding that worked pretty well. I particularly liked the old America West livery. It used visual cues of the United  States southwest. It fit the type of product America West provided.913

USAirways was in turmoil before the merger with America West. They were rebranding and in a bad place before the merger. The livery wasn’t exactly inspiring but it was an attempt to give the impression of a major international carrier. I think the effort fell flat.DCF 1.0

So the New USAirways livery was created using bits and pieces of both carriers. Like the New American hybrid, it looks cheap and inept. USAirways’ product was also low-rent albeit profitable.12_1

So what is the future of the American Airlines aircraft livery? Doug Parker is letting the employees decide, a pretty brilliant way to keep employees invested in the New American.

Dear American Airlines employees: Please, for the love of all things commercial aviation, do not fall back on the old Scissor Eagle! I understand your nostalgia for it but its time has passed. Look to the future!

As for you USAirways staff: Remember you are the NEW American. As such make American Airlines your own.

One consolation Old American employees will have is that Doug Parker has announced that the New American will keep the USAirways tradition of having one aircraft in the fleet painted in the livery of the airlines that merged to create the new airline. The Scissor Eagle will survive if only on one retro-themed aircraft!


I’m a pilot!


I’m a pilot. At least in my own imaginings. The closest I’ll ever come is combining my life long video game addiction with my aviation geekiness. There are two kinds of simulators out there. The simulators that want to be totally realistic to the last detail or video games with only a hint of realism.

It all started when my sister gave me the first flight simulation game way back in the days of my beloved Commodore 64. At the time the program was subLOGIC Flight Simulator. The cutting-edge software and graphics featured a crude rendering of the John Hancock building along with the landscape of Meigs Field in Chicago. As the years went by, the program came out in more and more versions on many platforms with increasing realism and sophistication. Microsoft ended up buying out subLOGIC and the program lives on as the Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Flight Simulator wants to be as realistic as possible. The entire cockpit is rendered and you have to learn to be a true pilot. To succeed, you have to do everything perfectly down to the tiniest detail. I’ve given up on these kinds of programs as they are simply too complex. Flap and engine settings, weather, air traffic control, and thousands of other adjustments just aren’t fun for me.

The other types of flight simulators are the ones that fall squarely into the video game category. Some of my favorites include Star Fox 64 and Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64.

Star Fox and Pilotwings make no attempt to create the feel of a true flight simulator. How could a flying fox be realistic? Star Fox was closer to recreating the dog fights from the Star Wars franchise. It is silly fun but hardly realistic. Pilotwings has somewhat accurate physics modeling based on real world conditions that one must learn in order to master the game.

My current obsessions are Airmail and  Airplane! for iOS. Airmail is stunningly  beautiful. The graphics have nothing to do with the real world. To me it feels like a grown up version of Pilotwings. Airmail has great flight physics that include details such as the control surfaces of the wing and moving as any aircraft in the real world would. It has an engaging story narrative. Every aspect of Airmail adds up to a highly entertaining  experience.

Airplane! for iOS is the most “video game” of anything I’ve played. The aircraft, even though modeled after real-world examples, are the exact opposite of Flight Simulator. The control surfaces don’t move on the aircraft at all. If your airspeed falls too low, you kind of hover in the air or if you are too fast, the aircraft doesn’t shake itself to pieces. Airplane is a fun waste of time, but I find it frustrating because real-world flight physics are totally ignored. The aircraft even lowers the landing gear for you.

I want to find a happy medium. I don’t want to have to learn the flight manual for an aircraft and spend my time worrying about minutiae so complex that it takes the fun out of feeling like I’m soaring around the world. Yet, on the simple end (Airplane!), I am frustrated by the lack of realism. I still have yet to find the anything that combines real-world physics with a balance of ease of control.


It’s like the weather…..

People like to complain a lot about flying! The traveling public likes to complain about flying almost as much as Chicagoans like to complain about the weather.

Many complaints are legit. However, I believe there is an underlying cause to the overall situation. It comes down to the fact that we are giving up control of our lives.


From the moment of booking the flight we are told what to do. We are told when to be at the airport. The amount of luggage and how it is packed is determined by the airline. We are told where we can sit. Most options are beyond our control.985bf812-8c9a-406d-b5bb-43391863a17e_travelling-with-toddlers-airport-aeroplane-flying-with-children-luggage

The TSA tells us what and how much we can have of our personal effects. We have to supply the proper identification. We are told what line to get into. We must behave in specified way at security. Failure to behave appropriately can make us miss our flight or even get arrested.


Once through security, we have to follow a maze of signs telling us how to get to our flight. What makes it even worse is that many airports don’t make it clear.

At the gate we are told when and how to board. Once onboard we are told where to put our belongings. “Place your smaller items underneath the seat in front of you.” We are told when we can eat, drink, and even go to the restroom. We are not encouraged to leave our seats. “Don’t block the galleys or congregate near the forward lavatory.”child-crying-on-plane

You must…, please don’t…, federal law requires…, return to your seats…, and more such directives are the way of traveling. When things don’t go as planned, we are given even more directives about what we must do.mydung-201366-10355237-080099-child-on-plane

By the nature of air travel, we are separated from our belongings. If those belongings are delayed or mishandled, the airlines determine the course of action.


Giving up control of our lives almost completely, willingly, and paying for the privilege only builds resentment. This adds a legitimate expectation of entitlement by the traveler. The levels of entitlement that the airline gives and the passenger expects are often very different.

It isn’t any wonder that travelers melt down like toddlers.


For your in-flight entertainment….

I’m writing this at about 35,000 feet in the air somewhere above a “square state” on my way to San Francisco. What other venue would be more appropriate for me to write a post?

This has already been an eventful experience. My sweetie donated his miles to me so that we could see each other in San Francisco. Sometimes using frequent flyer miles can make for some strange detours. I had to go from Chicago to San Francisco via St. Louis. It doesn’t make sense from a routing standpoint, but I’ll take the flights where I can: It’s two flights for one way! Yes, I think this is cool. Pathetic, I know. Does anybody like to connect?

Anyway, I’m heading to my gate for my United Express (operated by GoJet) flight. I notice the agent working the gate. She looks SO familiar. It hit me like a bolt out of the blue. IT’S SANDY! We worked together all those years ago at American. We had lots of fun together. Sandy was my day-trip buddy! I took my first non-rev with her. We had day-trips to Montreal, Minneapolis, New Orleans and more. It was always a gigglefest working together. Sandy is one of the fondest of my fond memories of my American Airlines era. After our last layoff she applied with United and moved from terminal three to one. Why didn’t I think of that!

We even had to go through the hell that was training at the “Charm Farm” in Dallas together. Sandy had to complete the grooming course! She came out of the class with her head hung low. She whispered to me that she looked “like a drag queen!” Sadly, she did.

Hugs, giggles and more were gushed at the gate when we realized who we were. It was a few glorious moments of connecting with our mutual history. Sandy brought the departure paperwork onboard and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. It was a sweet moment I won’t soon forget.

The flight leaves the gate right on time. The crew announces that there will be a free Coca Cola products beverage service. The flight attendant gives me a sly conspiratorial smile and asks me what I would “really” like. I say “vodka”? Apparently the booze is only offered in the tiny first-class cabin as the flight is so short that running credit cards in coach would take too long.

Long story short, those lovely ladies made sure that those cute little airline bottles were never less than half empty. It’s amazing how much vodka I can swill in 45 minutes! I love being considered “industry,” which Sandy arranged. Part of me is desperate to be real industry again. It could also be all the vodka.

My connection in St. Louis was flawless. I checked with the very young gentleman working my departure about getting a window closer to the front. All that was available was any exit row aisle. I rarely give up a window seat. However it’s nighttime here in seat 21D anyway. I was struck by the fact that all the staff at the gates in St. Louis looked liked kindergarten graduates. I guess that job is for the young. So what do I miss more? My youth or my job with American? Since I like myself a lot better at 45 than 25 it must be the job.

I had enough time to leave security and see the main terminal. It was designed by Minoru Yamasaki almost 60 years ago. The sweeping lines and bright areas have been preserved – a good thing.

I had a quick, ridiculously expensive sandwich and beer. The flight left the gate right on time. So here I sit. I simply love the whole atmosphere of being on an aircraft. The drone of the engines. The takeoff and climb thrill me. Seeing the earth sink away as we take to the heavens never stops fascinating me. It always seams like some kind of minor miracle that I am now speeding through the stratosphere, which everybody is taking for granted as though they were riding on the subway.

Part of the flying experience is an in-flight meal. I bought the soba noodle chicken salad. It was actually quite tasty. It was bigger and better than a lot of “free” coach meals I’ve had placed in front of me.

I got to reconnect, however briefly, with an old friend and coworker. I allowed myself more nostalgia than usual while flying. Getting the “insider” extra-special service was a nice added bonus.

Assuming my bag is on the belt when I land, this is going to be one of my best travel days in a long time.*

We are beginning to descend. I need to stow all my iDevices along with my bittersweet memories.

Here’s a toast to you Sandy!

(*For some reason that even United could not  explain, my bag was placed on the later non-stop flight from Chicago. My bag arrived almost two hours after I did. Thanks for the crappy denouement!)

Growing up Icelandic

I was born in what was then West Germany. My father was an American expat. My mother is a born and raised German citizen. We moved to the States when I was very young. It was to be a temporary move with the plan of moving back to Germany after two years. My father needed to reestablish US residency as he wanted to be a civil servant for the US government back in Germany.

Those plans didn’t pan out and we ended up staying here. I was so young the fact that we stayed didn’t directly affect me. It was a bit harder for my mother and particularly difficult for my sister. She literally was counting the days until we moved back to our beloved Aschbach in the spectacularly beautiful Odenwald. At her age (11) I would have done the same. Here in Chicago I consider myself a German American but when I’m back in Germany I feel more like an American German.

We went back to Germany every summer to stay with my grandmother. At the end of the summer, my grandmother would fly back with us and stay through to the New Year. I’m grateful for the cross-cultural experience that my youth afforded me. In retrospect, I am also particularly grateful to my parents. Back in those days before deregulation, tickets to Europe were particularly expensive. Lufthansa, Pan Am and TWA had a three-way monopoly on flights. My parents with their working class income must have sacrificed a lot to afford the tickets every year.

Hidden among my childhood photo albums I have a receipt from a flight I took to Germany in 1982. It was for $699.00. I have flown on tickets less expensive as an adult even before figuring in 30 years of inflation!

This transatlantic upbringing is probably the biggest factor in my becoming a total aviation geek.

CL-44 Yukon, Rolls Royce Prop Jet

Back then, the cheapest ticket was with Loftleiðir Icelandic, more commonly known around the world as Icelandair. Loftleiðir was often referred to by the somewhat pejorative nicknames “Backpack Air” or “Hippie Air.” If it was good enough for Bill Clinton, it was more than good enough for us! Loftleiðir managed to work around the IATA tariff regulations by selling two tickets. One from the United States to Keflavik and then another on to Luxembourg. Luxembourg was the only European destination, as the country was not part of the IATA tariff regulations. Loftleiðir also threw in a Greyhound style bus connection on to Germany.

The tagline of the airline’s advertising was “We may be slower but our fares are lower!” Icelandair can be thought of as the first Low Cost Carrier (LCC) long before Southwest came onto the scene. To this day, it is the only LCC with scheduled transatlantic flights. Unfortunately, they also followed the LCC trend of having meals only available for purchase.

Loftleiðir also flew the previous generation of aircraft across the North Atlantic. Up until the 70’s, they flew the CL-44 Yukon marketed as the Rolls Royce Prop Jet. The use of previous generation hardware kept the airline under the radar of the much bigger legacy airlines. My earliest memories of flying were of the DC-8-60 Series narrow body jets. For sentimental reasons it is one of my favorite airlines to this day.

Loftleidir – Icelandic Airlines Douglas DC-8-63CF Haafke

As I grew up, so did Icelandair. They bought new state of the art Boeing 757’s. Business Class was introduced. Modern amenities such as seat-back video were eventually added as well. They also dropped the Luxembourg hub and now fly to many destinations in the United States and Europe. The modern Leifur Eiríksson terminal in Keflavik has replaced the original terminal, which was not much more than a shack in the middle of an American NATO base. I’m very sad to have seen that change. The one constant, beyond the rock-bottom fares is the promise of top-notch duty-free shopping and layovers in Iceland. I still own Icelandic woolens and pottery made with Icelandic lava rock.

Icelandair Douglas DC-8 Luxembourg – 7 August 1983

I’ve never flown Icelandair as an adult. They haven’t served Chicago since I was a teenager. The low fares they pioneered before deregulation are now, for the most part, matched by the legacy airlines. Nonstop flights almost always trump connections if the cost is the same. The biggest bargain on Icelandair now is flying business class. The “hard product” isn’t as luxurious as offered by the major airlines but it is also less than half the cost of the nonstop routes.

I have so many wonderful and some less-than-wonderful memories of Icelandair. Maybe I’m a little bit Icelandic as well!

Contemporary 757-200 of Icelandair

Sometime in the 1970s, The Icelandic Tourist Bureau, in conjunction with Loftleiðir and Icelandair Airlines  (Then two separate companies) produced this marvelous film about all things Icelandic.

“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.” ― Sigmund Freud

“Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy.”
― Sigmund Freudb

Everybody must dream. It is vital for our mental health. The psychoanalytic school of psychological thought believes that dreams provide insight to our deepest desires and neuroses that we would never acknowledge in our conscious wakeful state. Freud’s book on the interpretation of dreams is considered a seminal work that is still relevant today over 100 years since its publication.

So what does that mean for an aviation geek? The content of one’s dreams can provide proof of just how much aviation geekdom is part of one’s conscious and subconscious being.

In general, like most people, I don’t remember the content of most of my dreams. That is unless they are abnormally bizarre or are terrifying nightmares.

Last week I woke up remembering, as Freud would call it, a particularly crazy dream. It was long and convoluted. It placed people I know well in the wrong parts of the country. There were many other truly surreal images and plot details. I vividly remember two very good friends driving me to the airport for a flight to San Francisco where they actually live. The geekiest detail was that I remember telling them they would have to drop me at O’Hare’s terminal two so I could catch my flight on America West that was routed via Phoenix. Instead of dropping me off at O’Hare they dropped me off at a high school. I went in to my locker and opened it. I realized that I couldn’t find my French text book. I thought that was okay as I never did my French homework anyway. I tried to get into the main part of the building which was locked off. I realized the school was closed for a holiday. I ran outside but my friends had already left. I panicked as I was so far away from home. Luckily a minivan full of sassy high-school-aged girls came to my rescue. They advised me they could get me part of the way home but they were actually driving in the wrong direction. I was so grateful for their, uh, help!

I woke up thinking what the hell was that all about? The most obvious interpretation was that I will be flying from San Francisco to Chicago via what was America West’s primary hub of Phoenix in a couple of weeks on its successor USAirways.

I have fond memories of America West. The first time I flew it I was headed to Las Vegas for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary celebration. At the time, America West comped alcoholic beverages on every single flight. For a 21-year-old impoverished college student that was a huge plus! I also flew America West to Las Vegas for my sister’s wedding. Good times.

I got upgraded to first class several times. America West was also particularly generous to the travel-agent community by providing deeply discounted industry passes.

America West was founded shortly after the deregulation of the US airline industry. It became a major national carrier that avoided imploding, unlike most other upstarts of that era. The America West DNA still survives. USAirways uses the radio call sign “Cactus” which was originally assigned to America West. Phoenix is still a vital hub of the USAirways route network.

I’ll probably never analyze the dream fully, but I don’t need to spend the coin on a shrink to get its gist: My aviation geekdom is deep-seated and “particularly crazy.”

When is Southwest not Southwest?

Most airlines have a two-letter code that identifies them. These codes are assigned by IATA, the International Air Transport Association. IATA regulates how member airlines work with each other. Passengers usually notice the airline and airport codes on boarding passes or bag-check tags. These were established so that airlines around the world have a way to do business and to communicate with each other across language and political barriers.

The IATA code for Southwest is WN. Most people would assume Southwest’s code to be SW. But when Southwest joined IATA, SW was already in use by South West Air Transport, now called Air Namibia (SW may also refer to the country’s former name of Southwest Africa.)

The story/urban legend about how Southwest became WN is kind of funny. That is to aviation geeks anyway. Northwest used NW. And since Southwest could be considered the mirror image of Northwest geographically, IATA flipped NW to WN (think REDRUM / MURDER from The Shining.)  Somebody at IATA may have had a sense of humor. Or maybe at Southwest. Airlines do have input on what codes they get. Then again, it may have been a simple luck of the draw. I prefer the story. It’s much more fun.

IATA does allow airline codes to be recycled six months after the previous owner goes out of business. Some codes are so iconic I doubt they will ever be used again. PA must always stay Pan American. Let’s have some respect for the dearly departed.


Today, with all the new airlines, IATA has run out of unique two-letter codes. Numerals have been added to the mix. That’s why is B6 is jetBlue.

Sibir Siberian Airlines has the code S7. Sibir has now rebranded and does business as “S7 Airlines.”


If you happen to enter airline geek websites such as airliners.net and use SW for Southwest you will be quickly and firmly corrected.