Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ALB-DEN-ALB, Part IV: The chicken's good for me

Here is author David Sedaris' take on undecided voters in this election:

"I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention? To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. 'Can I interest you in the chicken?' she asks. 'Or would you prefer the platter of s**t with bits of broken glass in it?' To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

On Sunday, in Fort Collins, CO, I had the chance to look at and listen to "the chicken."
And so did another 44,999 Coloradoans.
The chicken looked good and sounded great. We ended up on the stage behind Senator Obama, which was quite fortunate because otherwise we would have been in that sea of people.

It goes without saying, but this was perhaps one of the most exciting moments of my life. Senator Obama spoke at 3:30pm, and the first person in line showed up at 4:00am. There were so many people that wanted to see and hear this transformational leader, that even though the 2 mile-long line started moving in 2 hours ahead of when he was going to speak, there were still people entering the Oval as he closed his remarks.

Believe me, and the other tens of thousands of inspired Coloradoans: the chicken is for real, and it is good. When the flight attendant pulls up to your seat on November 4th, you can comfortably order the chicken.

And, in case you are wondering, I did not get to see his campaign plane, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

ALB-DEN-ALB, Part III: A pro-aviation enthusiast airport

We all know the importance of first impressions, and by all accounts, Denver International Airport did not make a good one. It was late, overbudget, had an inoperative baggage handling system, and was perhaps the home base of a shadown government.But I'm a believer in second chances, and boy did DIA ever make it up. If you arrive at the C Concourse, make sure you look up so that you don't miss this:This Learjet, owned by a local businessman and philanthropist, was the first plane to officially (?) land at DIA in 1995, as memorialized by this stamp underneath the wing.
After the historic landing, the plane was donated to the airport and ceremoniously placed in the C Concourse for all aviation enthusiasts to admire. I asked around and learned that the plane was disassembled and came into the Concourse through the windows.

Now that's what I call decorating. They should put that on one of those design shows.

ALB-DEN-ALB, Part II: A mosaic of flight

Here are some images from my flights. I sat on an exit row window seat for each leg of the flight, so the images are wing-heavy. Each leg was operated by an A319.

Here are some shots from the flight from the flight out west. This is the aircraft that took me the whole way to Denver. The sun tries to catch up to us as we head west to Detroit.The foliage around Detroit, which is no match for the foliage in Albany.

And the arrival in an overcast Denver.

And here are some shots of the flight back east. She was a sweet ride. Here she is pulling into the gate at Denver International.

This time, I'm leaving the sun in the west (and probably will not see it until April - jk).

A rainy approach into Detroit.

And a rainy Albany, just like I remember it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ALB-DEN-ALB, Part I: Walking the talk

I have broken up the news from my surprise trip to Denver into four parts so that I can stay focused and on message, and so that the length of the posts is not overwhelming. With that in mind, here is topic numero uno: as the old saying goes, don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk.

Well, I have talked the talk, and here is evidence of me walking the walk. A short time ago, I endorsed the green bag from the Unspeakable Visions Market as the "must have accessory for today's air traveler" since it allows passengers to pack their own, hopefully healthy lunch and carry it on board.

Folks, I not only own a green bag of my own, but on this last trip I baptized it at 35,000 feet. And I even did it with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as one of the resident experts recommended. And all it cost me was about $.22 in peanut butter, $.17 in jelly, and $.47 in bread. That's $.86 instead of $12 for a tuna crapwich at the airport.

On the way back, I turned it up a notch. I packed, or rather, had packed for me by my mother and sister, four milanesa sandwiches, two apples, and four oreos. (Not all pictured.)
Don't worry - I did not eat it all at once, although I really wanted to. But after a horrifying pant-buying experience, I did not need any more motivation to slow my food intake down a bit.

So - there you have it. Green bagging it at 35,000 feet. With the economy as shaky as it is, every $11.14 kept in your wallet counts.

Rain, rain, go away

Here are the Flight Aware charts for my flight from Denver to Albany via Detroit.

I could picture these charts as the flights were occuring because of all the maneuvering that we did in our approaches. These look like my flight paths on Flight Simulator - you know, due to the non-directness of the routes. In Northwest's defense, there was some pretty nasty weather around both Detroit and Albany last night, so much so that the captain of the second leg did not allow the flight attendants to offer the complementary beverage service.

Here is the flight between Denver and Detroit:
The pilot announced we would be flying over Des Moines, IA, Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI and Flint, MI.

Here is the flight between Detroit and Albany:This was a really bumpy ride, especially during the approach. I was a bit disappointed that we landed on runway 19 instead of 1. A landing on runway 1 gives you a great view of the city, and I would have been positioned to get a great overhead shot of the Empire State Plaza. No such luck though.

I cannot recall landing in such rainy weather before - I am sure I must have at some point. But I was especially vigilant last night, and it was really neat to see the rain drops illuminated every time the strobe lights on the wing flashed. I tried to get a picture of it, but I could not get the timing down.

Speaking of pictures - I have not downloaded my trip pictures yet. I expect to do that tonight, so expect a comprehensive blog post (including evidence of Green Baggin' it at 35,000 feet) in the very near future.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How do you sneak up on somebody in an A319?

It's not easy. It takes a lot of planning. And you have to be ready for the slightest alterations to your plan.

Since Gov. Paterson is on a mission to ruin the summer, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (Hannukah for me), I had to scrap any plans to fly to Colorado for the high holidays. So instead, I decided to surprise the mother and the sister this weekend in Colorado.
I booked a flight to Denver International for Wednesday and rented a car with the hopes of showing up in Fort Collins to surprise the family. It was a simple plan, a plan that could not fail. That is, until my sister told me casually that she and my mother were going to be in Denver on Wednesday afternoon.

Great. There goes Plan A.

I secretly became very interested in the whereabouts and travel plans that these two renegades had for Wednesday. I feigned massive interest in when they were leaving, what street they were going to be on, and how long they planned on being there.

Since I got to Denver in the mid-morning and they were not going to be in Denver until 4pm, I had plenty of time to scout the location and make a plan, Plan B at this point.

I staked out the office and secretly spied them as they arrived. My sister was going in for an interview, so I did not want to spook her before that in case it affected her performance. As soon as I saw my sister go in, I called my mother and told her that I had done some web-based research and discovered that there was a Starbucks about three doors down from where my sister was interviewing.

My mother took the bait. I planted myself on a bench between the building where my sister was interviewing and the coffeeshop. As my mother made her way to Starbucks, talking to me on the phone and thinking I was still in Albany, she suddenly realized that the voice she was hearing was coming at her from the park bench to her right.

Needless to say, she was both shocked and awed. She muttered something about how she thought she was going crazy and imagining things - going as far as demanding that I remove my sunglasses to verify that it was indeed me. (NOTE: I still don't know if she believes I am here.)

After sipping our coffee, we went back to the building where Luci was. As soon as Luci left the interview, my mom told her, "Call your brother, he's been bugging me and wants to know how it went."

My sister dialed me up and was somewhat surprised to hear my ring tone around the corner. She was even more surprised when I emerged from said corner and asked, "May I help you?"

As my loyal readers undoubtedly know, I have fully documented the trip, and will have pictures up as soon as they are downloaded. For the impatient ones, occupy yourselves with this map of my connecting flight between DTW and DIA. I flew on Northwest, which was a first. I have no major observations or complaints, except to say that I had a ton of legroom on the exit row, and I actually liked it very much that they allow people sitting in the exit row to board with all the special members/elite folks. I got a free cup of coffee on both legs of the flight (which incidentally was on the same plane - deplaning required in Detroit).

The aircraft was an A319 (but not the one above), which I must say was rather beat up on the inside. But got the job done. Like I said, and I am sure you believe me, I documented the flight extensively - so stay tuned.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I try my hand at food service

It's the start of another work week, so you know what that means: a blog post!

A few weekends ago, I was summarily recruited by one famous teacher dudette from the T.O.C. to assist in the selling of adirondack kettle corn and kettle corn accessories at a Harvest Festival in Colonie's Heritage Park.

I know exactly what you are thinking: that is a great place to watch planes approaching Albany International from the south. You read my mind.

Unfortunately, I was so busy bagging, selling, dodging, and snacking on popcorn that I was not able to take in the full extent of the viewing opportunities until the way out, when this very classy SW B737 made it's approach.
What a poetic picture. A human-made flying apparatus in the background and nature's version in the foreground.

And here is my photographer's depiction of the plane flying into a tree.
Don't tell anybody this, but if I had known our location, I probably would have worked for free. Plane-watching is its own reward.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Coalition of the flying

The coming election is SO important that nobody and no issue has stayed on the sidelines.
I made the case in October for the candidate that, in my opinion, will best serve the interests aviation enthusiasts. Our interests, in case you were wondering, include the following planks:

(1) approach routes that maximize the plane-spotting experience at all major airports,
(2) arm rests for every passenger,
(3) gentler wand people at airport security,
(4) puke bags in every seat back pocket, and
(5) a place for every carry-on bag.

If aviation is the biggest issue for you in this election, and you were conviced by my arguments, the campaign button above is the perfect way to show it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finally some good news for the penguins

It is probably of little surprise that my favorite creatures in the animal kingdom are birds - you know, given that they airplanes. Except for penguins - who got screwed by evolution. (Maybe.)

On a tip from a high ranking environmental official in New York, I learned that finally there is some good news for the penguins. The Argentina Fisheries Secretary has permanently banned all fishing activities around Burdwood Bank (Birdwood?) - an underwater ecosystem 136 miles off the country's southern tip - which happens to be an important feeding ground for penguins. From the article:

“Armed with sound science, Consejo Federal Pesquero has taken a big step in ensuring sustainability in Argentina’s fishing industry by protecting Burdwood Bank,” said Dr. Claudio Campagna of the WCS-Sea and Sky Program. “With the protection of this small, but critical area, the ocean is better able to replenish what we take from it, and equally important, Argentina’s unique biodiversity is reserved.”

Somebody pinch me. Since when is Argentina the most progressive country in the world on fishing? And what is this nonsense about using sound science to develop environmental policy?

I kid, of course. But seriously, you made me proud today, Country.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Green Bag it - at 35,000 feet

Check out this article on MSN called "The death of the airline meal." Here's the Cliff Notes Version: When the airline industry was still heavily regulated in the US, meals were a way for airlines to distinguish themselves. Prices were uniform, so it was service that mattered. With deregulation, airlines were free to set their prices and their services adjusted accordingly. After the webfares craze in the 1990's, the industry has had to squeeze out inefficiencies to compete with lower prices, and every $3.50 that they saved per passenger by not offering a meal added up.

Today when you travel, you can choose to (1) buy food onboard, (2) buy food at the terminal, or (3) go hungry. I would suggest an often overlooked option: pack food from home --- and carry it in a Green Bag, one of the many handmade crafts available at Unspeakable Visions.
Here's the reasoning: travelers are allowed to carry food from home through security - only drinks are prohibited. Instead of purchasing a soggy $12 dollar tuna sandwich at the airport terminal, why not do as these travelers (cited in the MSN article) have done:

Kerry Neville, registered dietitian: packs the inexpensive, indestructible and inevitably superfilling peanut-butter sandwich.

Candy Wallace, personal chef: packs as if on a light picnic: a nice salad, hard cheeses, grapes, nuts and perhaps a little meat in a separate bag.

Bob Cowen, travel guru and the founder of Internet Travel Tips: carries granola bars and water on every trip, even quick Detroit-to-Chicago hops.

Guess what? Each of those meals would fit in a Green Bag. And you could even stow it in the seat pocket in front of you until you are ready to eat. Better yet, when you have finished your meal, your Green Bag folds neatly into your carry-on bag.

Forget the funky pillows and the earmuffs (those people look ridiculous anyway). The Green Bag is the must have accessory for today's air traveler.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Major Flight Simulator upgrade

A few years ago I purchased the deluxe "Century of Flight" Flight Simulator edition. It features some really amazing upgrades from my 1998 version. For example, it offers a whole batch of new aircraft.

The most important upgrades, however, are the dynamic scenery, the ridiculous amount of airports that were added, and the amazing new navigation tools. Until this weekend, I had lacked the software to run the game, but that all changed with a quick trip to the local technological doogy-thingy-majig store.

The first order of business was to try the hop over the Andes from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile in the Learjet 45.

It was a great success. Not to brag (because my success rate is only about 30%) but these were two of my finest landings - and back to back.

Here is my approach and finals at Arturo Merino Benitez in Santiago.

Flaps down, center line in view - what else can you ask for?

How about a ridiculously handsome touchdown complete with smoke coming off the tires?

Ask and you shall receive:
Seriously, how good am I?

Another of the upgrades to this deluxe edition is interactive Air Traffic Control. You have to request permission to land and you are guided to a specific runway by the controller. The 1998 game has a version of ATC, but it consists of scrolling text on the top of the window. This edition features actual audio interactions. Shortly after landing ATC hands you over to Ground control which tells you what gate to taxi to.

So, to give you an idea of the totality of the flight, check out the flight tracker from MDZ to SCL. At the point where my flight path crossed the gridline, I was just to the north of Aconcagua.

After chilling out in SCL for about 30 minutes, I realized I wanted to head back to the good side of the Andes. I requested a southbound departure so that I could circle to the west and pick up altitude before heading over the Andes. I flew at somewhat of a southeastern heading over the Andes so that I would emerge in Argentina at a location that would give me plenty of time to descend comfortably into Mendoza's El Plumerillo International Airport from my cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. Hence the loopiness.

Welcome to MDZ.

By the way, does anybody else find it coincidental that I primarily blog during the work week? Just checking.

Retroactive flight searches on Flight Aware

This weekend my mother flew from Denver to DC and, being the thoughtful, caring, creepy son that I am, I tracked her flight on my new favorite website.

The outbound flight looked like this:

By all estimations, it was probably a pleasant flight since they did not hit any major weather patterns. She covered ten states by my count, although that generously gives her Kansas which is questionable. The major cities she flew over were Peoria, IL and Columbus, OH.

My mom called me to let me know that she had landed in DC, and she was more than a little surprised when I said, "I know."

I actually missed the majority of her flight home but I found out that you can do searches for already completed flights. After a quick search, I pulled up her flight from BWI to Denver, and it looked like this:
For some reason, I could not find an image with the highways so as to identify major landmarks. By my best estimate, the highlight of this flight was St. Louis, MO. The plane then veered north of Kansas City, MO and hit some weather in eastern Kansas.

It is a wonder that I get any work done at all anymore.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Misty the jokey-jokemaker

For those of you dying to know how my catsitting went last night, you'll be happy to know that it was successful. I did not lose Misty, so "Mission Accomplished."

It was also "Mission Accomplished" for Misty because she finally bit me. Those of you who know Misty will no doubt be surprised to find out that I had not been bitten by her until last night. And it is not for lack of trying on her part, it is because I also have cat-like reflexes. She was on top of her game last night, though. And she looked so proud of herself after finally getting me.

Here's something you may not know: Misty has a wonderful sense of humor. During the course of our Flight Simulater game night, I started playing around with the elements to create a difficult landing environment. I had the visibility down, the winds gusting, rain falling - they type of weather that Cyclocrossers dream of.

I had a particularly rough landing with these elements. The wings only evened out right at touchdown, the descent was nausceating, and the landing itself was - well, let's just say that the Learjet bounced higher than Barack Obama after the debate. It was so bad, I almost got sick.As I was taxiing to the gate, basically just thankful to be alive, Misty looked at me and wittily said, "Did we land or were we shot down?"

Then she licked herself and left the room.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A very cuddly co-pilot

Tonight I am cat sitting for a very industrious environmental lobbyist who is away exploring ways to keep the Adirondacks pristine. My feline companion, Misty - aka Misty Misdemeanor Elliot- is already looking forward to our evening together. She told me so.
I stopped by this morning on my way to work and told her that tonight we would be playing Microsoft Flight Simulator all night. She licked herself and left the room.

I have a set routine for my Flight Simulator game nights. My aircraft of choice is a Learjet 45. I have the option of a B737, but I have only been able to land it successfully once, so there is very little point of flying with it at this point.
When choosing my destinations, I have two general rules:

1. I like to keep the flights relatively short, about 45 minutes max, and
b. only go to airports that I am certain I will locate with landmark cues.

My version of Flight Simulator does not have the advanced radar and maps of the deluxe editions so I have to rely on visual landmarks to fly. You can imagine how annoying it is to fly for 45 minutes and then not be able to complete the flight because you can't find the airport.

To meet those two general rules, I generally stay around the Chicago/Great Lakes region. I cannot think of an easier airport to find than Merril C. Meigs (at least in computer world, thank you very much Mayor Daley). It's right on Lake Michigan with Chicago's majestic downtown as a backdrop.

My destination of choice is Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, MI. It is about a 30 minute hop across the lake from Chicago. From there, I either do a quick turnaround back to Meigs Field, or operate a quick flight to South Bend, IN - which usually takes about 25 minutes from Grand Rapids.
I used to run a flight to Detroit, MI but I have stopped primarily because there are no distinguishing landmarks in "cyber Detroit" to guide me to the major airports. With better visual cues, that would be a great flight, because I used to do it in around 45 minutes and Wayne County Airport is a lot of fun to land on.

Toronto has a nice airport right on the lakefront as well. The appeal of Toronto City Center Airport is that it is easy to find and I have been generally successful with the landings there. The only catch is that a flight to Toronto is a longer flight than I am usually interested in making.
Maybe my cuddly co-pilot will convince me to visit our other neighboring country: Afghanistan.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sensory overload: Asian Regional

I suppose that once you see the brackets that we still have to go through as we complete the Best Color Scheme Among Flag Carriers Tournament, you will understand why I saved these for last. They are overwhelming. Many countries. Many airlines. Little time - or attention span, I forget which.

I am going to try to tackle one of these monsters today. Let's go to Asia...

This is how the bracketing worked out. I had to hold a mini-primary in my head to get the tournament field down to a manageable level. For the critics out there, I say: "RELAX." Even the World Cup has a qualifying round.
Anywho, I broke Asia up into four regions: West, South, East, and Southeast. There are four representatives from each region, one in each bracket as such:

Bracket 1: Aeroflot (Russia), Air China, Pakistan International Airlines, and Singapore Airlines
Bracket 2: Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong), Armavia (Armenia), and Thai Airways International
Bracket 3: Air Astana (Kazakhstan), Japan Airlines, Air India, and Malaysia Airlines
Bracket 4: Uzbekistan Airways, Korean Air (South Korea), Ariana Afghan Airlines, and Garuda Indonesia

In addition, I included four wild cards, which will compete in a play-in round against the flag-carrier representing the country with the lowest population in each bracket. Let's go to the play-in matchups first:

Singapore Airlines v. Vietnam Airlines: This is a difficult match to judge. On the one hand, Singapore is one of the most successful airlines in the world, and I have a soft spot for them due to the fact that the first commercial A380 flew under their colors. However, this is not a popularity contest. Vietnam Airlines is the nerd to Singapore Airlines' jock in this matchup. But Bill Gates was a nerd. I am a big fan of the blue, so much so that I have the same shade in my bedroom. WINNER: Vietnam Airlines.
Cathay Pacific v. Phillipine Airlines: I have not hesitated to advance airlines with very simple color schemes. But, Phillipine Airlines is much too dull, especially when seen next to the very nice color combinations on Cathay Pacific. Even though it looks like the Cathay B747 is sporting a moustache, it still breezes through the play-in. WINNER: Cathay Pacific.
Air Astana v. Biman Bangladesh Airlines: Here is a choice between two predominantly white color schemes. Biman is not a fundamentally bad color scheme, and I actually like the crane like bird on the tail, but the fleur-de-lis for me is a symbol associated with much goodness. And I really like how Astana has two of them superimposed on the tail design. WINNER: Air Astana.
Uzbekistan Airways v. Sri Lankan Airlines: On the one hand, we have, again, a rather pleasant white-based scheme. Sri Lankan has enough activity on the tail and the lettering to make the color scheme interesting. Although I am a big fan of the baby-blue on Uzbekistan Airways, why on God's good Earth is most of the color on the top of the plane where nobody can see it? Stop wasting my time, Uzbekistan. WINNER: Sri Lankan Airlines.
Now that the play-in matches have been completed, let's move on to the four brackets. I will play out the matches until we have the bracket winner. The bracket winner then moves on to the regional semifinal. On to Bracket 1...

Aeroflot v. Vietnam Airlines: This match could very well have been the Regional Final. Both of these color schemes are beautiful. Vietnam Airlines is just striking in every sense of the word. The gold livery jumps out of the blue background. Aeroflot combines a very classy metallic gray with an ornate and patriotic tail design. Notice how the red stripe on the fuselage becomes the red stripe on the flag. And matching engines to boot. WINNER: Aeroflot.

Air China v. PIA: Every plane with Air China's livery that I have seen looks retro. It is an old school color scheme. I hate to say it, but this is what I would have expected from a Communist country. And that's not an insult in any way. At some point, they painted their planes that way, decided that they looked good that way, and kept it. Just like other stuff that Mao did. And, in a way they have a point. Color schemes do not HAVE to be changed all the time. It's sort of like these new businesses rising up that sell you cell phone ring tones. When did "Ring...Ring" stop being good enough? Long story short, Air China is not being punished for being old school. They are being punished by PIA's superior color scheme. WINNER: PIA.
BRACKET FINAL: Aeroflot v. PIA: Frankly, both of these color schemes are not entirely different. Both tail designs feature the nation's flag and there is an underbelly to roof motif on both. The beauty of Aeroflot is that it really makes its planes look sleek and missile-like. PIA is not an inherently poor design, but the ribbon-like stripe is simply no match for the totality of the Aeroflot color scheme. And, I just had the thought that with Pakistani food being served on those long flights to Karachi, the inside of the PIA planes have got to smell like curry big time. I don't think I could handle that. WINNER: Aeroflot.
Aeroflot moves on to the Regional Semis. Now for Bracket Numero Dos...
Armavia v. Cathay Pacific: Wow, I do not think I have seen a color scheme as colorful as Armavia's since Air Jamaica in the North American Regional. You might recall that at that point, I praised Air Jamaica for having a color scheme that stood out, but at the same time noted that even the Houston Astros eventually went to a less "loud" uniform. However, I don't see Houston Astros on Armavia, I see the Denver Broncos Orange Crush. Nicely done, Armavia. And, by the way, I have not been able to find any explanation for the moustache on Cathay Pacific. WINNER: Armavia.
Turkish Airlines v. Thai: The white-based color schemes have been either very disappointing or very nice in this Regional. Turkish falls into the "very nice" designation. I like the matching winglets and the two-tone lettering. Thai sees their bet and raises them a very intricate rear-fuselage livery with a fleur-de-lis-like tail design. These are two very nice color schemes, but Thai's extras overwhelm Turkish Airlines. WINNER: Thai.

BRACKET FINAL: Armavia v. Thai: Continuing the football theme started in the first match of this bracket, I would say that Thai is the Minnesotta Vikings to Armavia's Denver Broncos. There is much to like about Armavia. For example, take a look at how they have created a "mountain range" on the fuselage and tail. And although the lettering is bold, it overwhelms the color scheme. Thai presents a balanced color scheme, which like a previous winner in this tournament, combines the elegance of a white-based scheme with an ornate and unique color combination at the rear of the plane. WINNER: Thai.
HALFTIME...Ok, now back to work. Bracket 3 is up next...

Air India v. Air Astana: Astana flew (get it?) into this round on the strength of it's tail design, which is not only very well finished, but also triggers a soft spot in my heart. I was skeptical that Astana would advance on the strength of the rest of the color scheme because it simply does not really have anything else going for it. Air India has the same problem that Air China did, and that is that it is too old-looking. Look at not tell me that looks like a modern color scheme. WINNER: Air Astana.

Malaysian Airlines v. Japan Airlines: Here is another matchup of white-based color schemes. Malaysian Airlines uses a simple red and blue stripe to highlight the white and I have no objections to the sting-ray like object on the tail. JAL's use of red creates a very bold look for it's aircraft. The red on the tail stands out magnificently, and like before, I have to express my approval of the two-toned writing on the fuselage. On a technical note, I would like to say that only the day-to-day color schemes are considered in this tournament for fairness sake. Many airlines employ one-time color schemes for special occasions or promotions. Malaysia and JAL are two of the best at it, as you can see below. WINNER: JAL.
BRACKET FINAL: Air Astana v. JAL: It comes down to this: these are two white-based schemes with nice tail designs. The difference is JAL's fuselage, which has two-toned writing and a well-placed red strip on the logo. It was a good run for Astana, but the tail could not carry it through another round. WINNER: JAL.

"Are we there yet?" NO! Bracket 4. Right. Now.

Sri Lankan v. Garuda Indonesia: You know, I really enjoy my job as the decider of the best color scheme among flag carriers, but this is getting ridiculous. Two more white-based schemes - who would have guessed? Coming up with reasons to pick one over the other is getting to be like coming up with reasons to pick between milanesa and gnocchi for dinner. In this match, it comes down to this: I like blue, Garuda has blue. WINNER: Garuda Indonesia.

Korean Air v. Ariana: My readers will no doubt recall that I am a fan of the baby-blue. Maybe it's my birthday. Two airlines with baby-blue color schemes. Korean Air uses it as a base, Ariana as the highlights. In the end, we come to the tail designs, and while I enjoy the eagle-like design Ariana uses, it is, for all intents and purposes, a generic moniker. Korean Air employs a national symbol and rides it to the Bracket final. WINNER: Korean Air.

BRACKET FINAL: Garuda Indonesia v. Korean Air: When a flag carrier uses a white-based color scheme, I half expect that the highlighting colors would be those of the national flag. Garuda uses blue, the flag uses red. Fail. WINNER: Korean Air.
So now, eight days later, it's time for the Regional Semifinals. The winners of the following matches play for the right to represent Asia in the BIG DANCE...That's what is keeping me going at this point.

Aeroflot v. Thai: You know, it is because of matches like this one that I get paid the big bucks. Here we have two airlines who flew (get it?) by the competition without serious challenge. Again, we have two airlines with similar approaches to their color scheme. Although I consider the Russian flag to be very handsomely displayed on Aeroflot, I keep coming back to the Thai logo. It is so elegant. And look at the strip of white separating the mid-fuselage stripes from the tail livery. Classy, indeed. WINNER: Thai.
JAL v. Korean Air: What a battle royale in the Orient. This semifinal pits two flag carriers with distinctly different approaches to their color scheme. While I have been highly laudatory of JAL's simple livery, upon further inspection I have concluded that the airline erred in not adding any sort of color to the engines. On a plane with four engines, such as a B747 or A340, that just leaves too much white. After looking at Korean Air's color scheme again, I find it even more appealing. Look at the dark blue lettering and the light gray highlight under the baby blue. Well done, Korea. WINNER: Korean Air.
And now, finally, we have reached the Asian Regional Final. Drumroll, please.


Thai v. Korean Air: I admit it. The pressure of finding small details on which to base my decisions has become increasingly more difficult as this regional has progressed. I have poured over hundreds of samples of both of these color schemes and it became nearly impossible to find major flaws that would concede victory to the opponent. Eventually, I found this document which aided my decision-making process:
Baby blue is good on a plane, it is not good on a flight attendant. Suddenly, I am not so hot on the baby blue anymore. And I keep going back to Thai's logo. It is captivating. Each glance I get of it compells me to want to look even closer. Secretly, I think that Thai's color scheme is the color scheme embodiment of a certain environmental lobbyist I know who not only looks great in purple, but also really likes the fleur-de-lis. In the end, perhaps it was not fair to the rest of the field that Thai's color scheme had a hold over my heart. But, for the record, let's just say that Thai won because their color scheme looks better on flight attendants. WINNER: Thai.
See you at the dance...