Monday, October 6, 2008

Where can we go from here?

One of the neat things about LAX is the wide variety of destinations with direct service. These days, it's possible to get from almost anywhere to nearly anywhere else via the hub and spoke airline connection systems, but direct service is not always so easy to come by. If you're in a city that serves as some airline's hub, i.e. Atlanta (Delta and AirTran), Dallas (American), or Houston (Continental), then you're in good shape. If you're not in one of these places, the first leg of your journey will be to one of them, where you can then get on another airplane that will hopefully take you where you want to go. LAX does serve as a hub for United, American, and Alaska, and thus we have many options with those carriers. Southwest also has a major presence here, as does Delta. Not surprisingly, foreign airlines also have strong availability: Air Canada, Aero Mexico, and Mexicana all have many flights out of L.A. each day.

Many other airlines, foreign and domestic, have limited service from L.A., usually to their respective capitals or hubs. At this writing, there is direct service from L.A. to destinations on five of the seven continents of the world. Currently, we have no direct flights to Antarctica nor Africa. Egypt Air used to serve the latter, but they haven't flown out of L.A. for some time now. Even with at least fifty airlines operating here, not all destinations are served daily; some are only two or three times a week (Moscow and Dublin come to mind).

It's taken me several weeks to compile a list of destinations, airlines, and flight times; even so, it may well not be complete. If I'd done it in August, there would be at least a dozen more destinations than what are now available. Presentation is the problem: I don't want to just paste a great big table or list of destinations here, as that would be pretty clunky. So instead, I'll just hit various interesting highlights as they occur to me:

Shortest and Longest:

The shortest scheduled flight out of LAX is twelve minutes: Skywest flies non-stop to Oxnard, which is just up the coast from the LA area. Thanks to where Skywest parks on the airport, it can sometimes take this flight longer to get to the runway than it does to get to its destination once airborne.

The longest scheduled flight out of LAX is the Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore, which in the summer takes about sixteen and a half hours. In the winter time, I've seen it run closer to eighteen. At present, no one else makes this run out of LA, and Singapore does it with the Airbus A340-500, seen here arriving on runway 24 right. The A345 has the big engines of the A346, but without the extra-long fuselage. Thai also brings A345's into LAX, on the next-longest flight, to Bangkok, which usually runs just a few minutes less than the flight to Singapore.

This is the only shot I've got of the Thai airbus; it arrives about 8:30 in the evening, and then leaves again a little after midnight - not the best times to attempt photos. The B747 at the gate next door is the China Airlines (callsign Dynasty) with the Boeing Dreamliner paint scheme.

No Pax - Boxes only:

There are a few destinations that are only served by cargo carriers: actual humans need not apply. Among these are
Brussels; Luxembourg; Fort Worth, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; and Wilmington, Ohio.

Brussels and Luxembourg are both served by Cargolux, using B747-400's. You can tell that this is a factory-built freighter by the short hump: Passenger -400's have the longer hump that first appeared on the -300 model. The winglets are the clue that differentiate the -400's from the earlier models; so far as I know, no one has yet retrofitted winglets as they have on the B727's and B757's. We are starting to see former passenger -400's that have been converted to cargo use; Eva and World both bring in ex-passenger, now freighter -400's.

Most of the Fedex flights out of LAX go to Memphis, Indianapolis, or San Jose. But there's one that goes to Fort Worth's Alliance airport. All passenger service from here to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex goes into DFW (thanks to the Wright Amendment, Southwest doesn't go from LA to Dallas Love - yet). This flight always seems to be in an Airbus A310, which is a shorter version of the A306. Fedex has both. When I was in Memphis, I referred to the A310's as "short buses", and everyone seemed to be clear about their traffic. Here's one of each.

The only flights from LA to Kentucky are for boxes only. UPS has their hub at Louisville's Standiford airport, served usually with B767-300's, although we do see B757's as well. Most UPS flights out of the LA area actually go from other airports, such as Long Beach and Ontario.

Airborne Express and DHL have combined forces, although you wouldn't know it to look at their fleet - we see at least three different paint jobs each day, and they don't all park in the same place, either. There are three different places at LAX where they park, and the three paint schemes don't necessarily correspond to the three ramps. Regardless of the color of the airplanes, they're the only way to Wilmington from here.

That's it for now; next time we'll look at jets versus props.

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