Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Airline Industry: My First Love

The runway at the city airport where i'm from used to be my playground (cue the Madonna hit) before they banned public access to the runway after the expansion of the airport. My dad worked for the flag-carrier for a long while and I basically grew up in the industry. I used to have early chilly morning drives along the runway picking up stones and pebbles (and sometimes goat poo) that might become projectiles that would pierce the aircraft body during landings and take-offs. It was a different world then. Mornings would be really chilly and foggy, reminiscent of autumn-shot movies. But that's beside the point. As I was growing up, I always had the notion that I would become just like my father. I would be involved in the airline industry and my future was resolved. Either a ground crew, and aeronautic engineer, a flight crew, or a pilot. God knows how much I wanted to be one. I still want to be one. In fact, I've got it all planned out. After I've completed this part of my life and career, I'd go for getting myself licensed. It's never too late.

One of the things that captivated me in the industry are the different types of aircraft. The technology that allows these massive, metal birds to fly is just unbelievable. I have my favorite airplanes, too. Those that i've had the chance to fly in, those that i've had the chance to see in real life. These are the moments when I'm ecstatic about flying. I am ridiculously happy in airports.  There are a ton of people who just abhor being stuck in airports. But I'm not one of them. I relish getting stuck for hours inside airport halls. hahaha The noise, the sights, the airplanes, the beautiful crew carrying around their tiny luggage. It's plain heaven to me.

I am lucky to have a family member who worked in an airline company. I get perks such as lifetime limited supply of free trip-passes to anywhere the company flies. I was a jetsetter even before I understood what travelling was. I only started travelling internationally in the last three years though.

I loved seeing the Boeing 737-300s touch down at the airport. They used to be my favorite aircraft, until I got to ride on a Fokker 50, and then it became my favorite. Eventually, times changed and fleets changed. Even airlines servicing my city changed. What replaced the regular 737-300s and Fokker 50s were the McDonnell Douglas DC 9s of CEBPAC and the old 737-200s of AirPhil. I loved seeing the diversity then. I have never, if not rarely, seen an aircraft with rear mounted engines and a T-tail configuration so I was absolutely enamored by the DC 9s that  regularly serviced the airport. Unfortunately, I never got to get on one. By the time I was old enough to travel alone, CEBPAC had replaced their fleet with brand new A320s which I absolutely hated. It was just aesthetically unappealing to me. Very drab for such a modern aircraft. Later on, after resuming service to the city airport, PAL followed suit and replaced all their existing domestic serving aircraft with the ultra-modern A320s and A319s. It was disappointing. Up until that time, I had flown on a 737-200, 737-300, Airbus A340, and A320. Before the Asian financial crisis hit, we were afforded all the cool benefits of PAL. When we wanted to go to Cebu, we'd take a flight out of Dumaguete to Cebu via Manila. That was the coolest. PAL often served the MNL-CEB route with their larger aircraft to accommodate the large number of passengers plying the route. They often used their Airbuses and that's how I got to fly the A340.

When I became independent ( when my parents trusted me enough to let me travel alone) while in college I got to fly to Hanoi, Vietnam via Thai Airways. That was my first real experience of flying international. I flew on an exquisite 777-200 to Bangkok for a short layover, before boarding an Airbus A300-600 to Hanoi, which was a decent, well-maintained aging plane. I loved the fact that I was able to fly on the A300 because there are only few airlines servicing passengers with this pioneering wide-body. The return trip via BKK was on an A330 which I've been on. Not a month after, I moved to Tokyo, Japan to study for a year and flew there on board a PAL A330. I swear among all the wide-bodies, I flew on the A330 the most which makes me like it even more. The flight back to the Philippines was on an A340, one of my favorites, which I will write more about at the end of this entry. Three months later, I flew to Sydney, Australia via Melbourne on an A340 again. It was at that point the longest flight I've ever taken. 9 freakin' hours! But hey, no complaints. I was feelin' fly (pun intended). While there, I flew on Jetstar A320s to Brisbane and back to Sydney via Sunshine Coast airport, which was a quaint and lovely little airport. I only wish we can turn our domestic airports into the likes of Sunshine Coast airport. It was a little over half a year later that I got to fly again on CEBPAC's extremely compressed A320 configuration to Bangkok and back. And then about the same length of time later, flew to Malaysia on the same aircraft from Cebu and back. I got to say, I've slowly gotten to like the A320s a bit more the more I flew in them at that point.

Part be continued

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joselle said...

I love flying! only did it a few times and mostly to Manila but it feels nice, getting in and out of airports...the anticipation of leaving and arriving. Keep writing!