First, the itinerary:
The initial flight schedule I posted last month included some pre-round-the-world flights and some planned, but at that time unpurchased, segments. The current itinerary includes all but a couple of connections within India and Australia. New: Two days in Abu Dhabi!
Shout me if our paths will cross anytime this summer/fall:
And now the confession:
I’m an airline geek.
I read Today in the Sky, Airline Route Updates, and The Cranky Flier religiously. I know all the world’s major airline hubs (and their three-letter codes) and can guess which airline someone took based on routing. I know which airline is in what alliance and play favorites like any sports fanatic. I get geet when Delta announces a new international route from the world’s largest airline hub in that great Southern city of Atlanta, and I honestly wish American Airlines would shrivel up and die and release us all from its figure-four grip on Latin America. I track my own stats at FlightMemory.com (I’ve flown 0.0019 times the distance to the Sun) and I play around relentlessly with the Great Circle Mapper. I stare for hours at the photos on Airliners.net, sometimes saving them as my computer wallpaper, and sit on airplanes with the in-flight magazine opened devotedly to the route map. And in my dorky nerd solitude, I even created my own fictitious carrier (contingent, of course, upon me being the benevolent dictator of Venezuela and developing the place smartly as a Latin American emirate): Solair—Fly the New Fiesta Route from Europe to Australia, with a free stopover in (fictionally) fabulous Caracas or Tahiti! Naturally, Solair is a member of the SkyTeam alliance.
I’ve always been this way, inexplicably. In elementary school, I began to collect airline timetables, often holding on toll-free numbers for hours to get exotic-looking flight schedules from Sabena, Saudia, and Singapore (this was totally me). I would get my folks* to take me downtown to the main library to study the airport terminal maps in the phone book-sized OAG (international version, of course). I created my own version of Monopoly called Airopoly, in which players would purchase major airports and try to establish hubs. I collected die-cast and plastic snap-together model airplanes at only $20 a pop. I decorated my room with travel posters I ordered from airline marketing departments. I got a special tour of the airport that I arranged myself in the ninth grade, incidentally the year of my very first plane ride. I applied to the airport management undergraduate program at the Florida Institute of Technology (the very inadequate partial scholarship I received called for a major shift in plans).
*These same folks forced me to throw away all of my timetables and not-so-well-maintained model planes when I finished high school. They claim they had no idea any of it would be worth anything nowadays. Ain’t that some shit? Parents.
At college, though, my interests swiveled more towards culture, history, and politics, and the one and only time I seriously applied for an airline job—as a US Airways gate agent in Tallahassee—was thwarted by my ridiculous adolescent driving record (“Heeeeellll naw, you ain’t gettin near our planes,” I’m sure the guy was thinking). Stupidly, it never occurred to me during the four years I lived in Washington to apply for some part-time gig at United for the flight benefits; my driving record had hardly improved. A couple years ago, I saw an opening with Delta for a corporate communications manager based in Buenos Aires, handling the media in fifteen Latin American and Caribbean countries; I would have been espectacular in that position. But in order to secure the interview that would have secured me the job, I had to first apply through the website, and there ain’t nothing on my official CV that would give an airline head hunter pause to consider my professorial self (Shameless plug: I’m great at written/verbal communications, speak Spanish and Portuguese, love aviation, and I’m cute…hire me, somebody!!! American, I didn’t mean what I said about dying, eheheh.).
So now, I’m a run-o-the-mill airline aficionado with no real ties to the industry and no big collection of paraphernalia to speak of. Just my mental flights of fancy on Solair, a crapload of aviation trivia in my head, a love of retro airline imagery, an appreciation for the theoretical (if not always financial) ability to jet in a single day from one major population center to another on the opposite side of the globe, and a hankering to lift off the Earth’s surface every chance I get.