The last day of the year is a good time to stop, take a moment, and think back over the past year. It’s also probably not the best day to write about the year in review because you’re likely to forget a lot of things … but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
2010 was a big year for Flying With Fish in many ways, as well as a busy year with a non-stop supply of airline and travel news.
2010 for me began with the fallout from publishing an Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security directive that was classified as “SSI” at the end of December 2009, a blog post that garnered significant national and international media coverage. January 1 2010 saw my first appearance on Fox News to discuss my encounter with the TSA sending two Federal Agents to my house following the publishing of the TSA security directive.
Since this incident at the end of 2009 that carried into the start of 2010, I have since written in detail about other TSA “SSI” security directives … including writing about one three days before most people within the TSA even know of the security directives existence, and another one that was handed down to the TSA’s front line screeners hours before it was released to most TSA screeners.
Along with my coverage of the TSA I profiled unsuccessful candidates for the position of TSA Administrator, as well as the man who would eventually assume the role of TSA Administrator. I also wrote in-depth about the cost of airport security in the U.S. The TSA’s budget has become bloated and the numbers don’t lie.
This past August I wrote about the TSAs claims that 100% of air cargo was screened before being placed onto flights. In my coverage of this I pointed out massive gaping holes in the TSA’s “100% screening claim” and no one cared … well no one cared until the end of October when terrorist placed not one, but two, packages with bombs on two separate flights, via UPS and FedEx to the United States.
On topics other than the TSA …
… the end of January 2010 was a fairly sad day for many as a very tangible sign of Northwest Airlines ceased to exist. At 2:00am on January 31st NWA.com disappeared, becoming Delta.com. The merger of the airline had been in place long before the website disappeared, but this was an event I waited up to see … why? Because I had a long time love-hate relationship with Northwest Airlines and I just needed to say goodbye.
Just as we lost signs of Northwest Airlines’ existence early in 2010, by the end of the year signs of Continental Airlines have begun to fade as the carrier merged with United Airlines. The combined airline has adopted the Continental livery, with the United titles, but each day the airline that was Continental fades further away.
Early on in 2010 I introduced travelers to a knife that they can fly with. As trivial as it sounds, I now know of hundreds of travelers who now travel with the Swiss+Tech Utility Key, all around the world.
In March Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) banned Hare Krishnas from their airport … thus ending a long running tradition of many travelers who fly through LAX of avoiding these cult members. The memory of men with shaved heads and togas walking through airport asking you to buy a flower now lives in through the classic movie Airplane! In unrelated Airplane! news, the movie celebrated its 30th Anniversary this year … and Otto is still flying high through the skies.
In March of 2010 Southwest Airlines and Air Tran went toe to toe creating hysterical commercial mocking each other. The sheer humour that went into these battling ads was a stroke of brilliance … however on September 27th it was announced that Southwest Airlines would be purchasing AirTran in 2011. With Southwest Airlines buying AirTran, rather than merging with AirTran, I guess it means that Southwest will have the last laugh in that battle of the dueling carriers.
British Airways and United the Union publicly battled as management and labour worked their way through a strike on issues that are unresolved. My coverage of Unite the Union’s completely made up statements, not based on any facts at all, were picked up by a number of news outlets, including The Guardian in London.
By the time spring rolled around, air travel as we know it pushed a new boundary with Boeing flying the X-51 Hypersonic ‘WaveRider” achieving speeds of Mach 6. Mach 6 flight occurring within the Earth’s atmosphere is just mind boggling and I can’t wait to see what Boeing does with this technology.
This year has been a critical year for National Flag Carriers. Japan Airlines (JAL) filed one of the largest bankruptcies in Japan’s history. The airline has faltered and is left struggling as it reorganizes. Japan has officially become a gloves off, knock down, drag out, battleground for airlines.
While JAL flies on, Mexico’s Mexicana was not so lucky. Mexicana, the oldest and longest continually flying airline in The Americas ceased flight operations. The airline maintains that it will begin flying again … and the OneWorld alliance website still lists Mexicana … but each day the hope for Mexicana seems slimmer and slimmer.
The ‘jump the line’ airport security scheme CLEAR reappeared this year, despite the TSA having ceased the Registered Traveller program and the Department of Homeland Security no longer running background checks on CLEAR members. CLEAR was purchased at auction by Alclear, and acquired the hardware, name and passenger data from the former owner, Verified Identity Pass … despite requests from the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to destroy all previous data … but we’ll get more into this story in the coming weeks of 2011.
… and to round out the year … the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified Santa’s new sleigh, a NextGen sleigh with the call sign of Santa One.
Professionally 2010 was a great year for combining my love of airlines and airplanes with my in-depth knowledge of social media strategy and execution. The year began with me finishing up a global project for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines; with KLM using me as their global voice through the airline’s beta blog project and me taking the lead in their global Twitter strategies.
Along with the KLM project I had the opportunity to work with my friend and colleague Shashank Nigam, creator of Simpliflying, in developing a social media campaign for Bombardier Aerospace … third largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft in the world. The setting for the project couldn’t have been better, the Farnborough Air Show, one of the premier commercial sales air shows in the world.
… and watch out for another project I’m working on with Simpliflying in early 2011. I know you probably want more details now … but you’ll have to wait!
I think by far the best project of 2010 was this … the request from a corporate travel client that I purchase an iPad 3G and take it on the road to test their specific travel needs parameters. Initially I didn’t think the iPad made any sense for me, I had a 13″ MacBook Pro, a 10″ EeePC HA1005 netbook with significant battery life and an iPhone 3G … but once I began using the iPad I was proven wrong.
The iPad has changed how I work, how I travel, how I interact in social media, how I edit images when away from my house, even how I shoot with my Canon EOS 5D and 5D Mk II cameras. The iPad in short has taken most of what I though I knew about working on the road and having the technology I want to use when away from my house and flipped it upside down.
At the start of 2010 I could never envision getting in a plane without a laptop, for both work and entertainment reason. When I waited for my iPad to arrive I could have never envisioned an iPad largely replacing my laptop under most situations, however only days after receiving the iPad I found myself getting on a plane to San Francisco to photograph a project with only an iPad tucked into my bag and my MacBook Pro sitting on my desk 2,665 miles away from me. Shortly after my San Francisco trip, I found myself flying to Paris for a day leaving my MacBook Pro 3,533 miles and a whole ocean away from me and realizing I was no longer paniced about not having a laptop with me for that project.
Regardless of all that has happened this year, all the TSA stories I have covered, my multiple national TV appearances, handling global social media projects for airline and aerospace clients … for me, 2010 will be the year that the iPad revolutionized my work, my travel and the tools I use.
I am sure that 2011 will be a fantastic year, full of news, full of stories, loaded with reader mail and new iPhone and iPad Apps to write about.
Thank you all for allowing me into your lives, even for only a few minutes every few days, I sincerely appreciate it. I wish you all a Happy and a Healthy New Year!
Happy Flying … because its always a good day to fly!