We cover aviation, travel and airlines. Home of the AvGeek! : AirlineReporter

Hopefully live streaming content will be easier at 30,000 feet - Photo: AirlineReporterHopefully live streaming content will be easier at 30,000 feet – Photo: AirlineReporter

Imagine someone took your iPhone and disabled LTE. Annoying. Then they shut off 4G. Super annoying. Then they took your remaining 3G connection and split it up between you and 160 of your closest friends. Welcome to the complicated world in-flight WiFi.

In-flight WiFi quickly transitioned from a magical new technology that few people had any reason to use, to a near-ubiquitous amenity that passengers demand on every flight. A victim of its own success, in-flight WiFi is now often incredibly expensive and annoyingly slow. How did we get here, and what is being done about it?

Flying time in the Q400Flying time in the Q400, which is operated by Horizon Air

“Take a trip for only $7!” Not today.

There are many stories out there that will tell you how to travel super cheap. That’s not this story. I am a middle class professional, without a lot of disposable income, so I need to make sure I spend it wisely. I haven’t flown in a while and started to get that itch. You probably know it. Where you feel that you need to be airborne again. I had no trips coming up for AirlineReporter and even if there were, my schedule was tight, so making something work was unlikely. I finally decided to try and set up a weekend trip on my own.

Oh Montana!Oh Montana!

I was talking to a friend (let’s call her Brittany — turns out to be her name) about wanting to fly and she shared the sentiment. We decided to take a trip, with a few requirements: 1) Somewhere not too far away from Seattle (SEA), to have meaningful time on the ground; 2) Fly on a Bombardier Q400 (she had never flown on one); and 3) Some place where we could wear our cowboy boots (yea, I guess you can wear cowboy boots anywhere, but we wanted to go somewhere it made sense). We were up for the challenge and decided on a great location!

overnight-layover-01A sunset landing is always a treat, but what about a night at the airport? – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter

Even for the most enthusiastic air travel aficionados, the idea of an overnight layover probably sounds awful.

Airports, after all, are an awkward place to spend the night. Hotels by the terminal can be overpriced and uninspiring. Getting into the city isn’t always a realistic option. Transit lounges aren’t always open 24/7, and even if they are, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a cozy spot to hunker down.

For these reasons and more, overnight layovers are anathema for the business traveler elite. But for flyers looking for dirt-cheap tickets, they are sometimes a necessary evil.

But hey, we AvGeeks are an adventurous bunch, right? I figured there must be at least a tolerable way to make it from sunset to sunrise without leaving the airport. And with summer travel plans that would place me overnight at Tokyo Haneda for not just one night, but three, I had the chance to put that guess to the test.

Could there be such a thing as a good overnight layover? Join me for my three nights at Haneda – each spent very differently – to find out.

Off we go!

A beautiful day and location for a run - Photo: John HustonA beautiful day and location for a run – Photo: John Huston

It is said that if you’re running around on the fifth runway at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) you’re having a very bad day. Either your plane has just crashed or you’re about to be arrested and sent to jail for a very long time. Or… maybe there’s something else going on that has the makings of a very good day.

I had the opportunity to run The Mayor’s 5K on the 5th Runway at ATL on August 27. The race is an annual fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and sponsored by Delta Air Lines among others. It’s the one day a year where mere mortals, like me, can be out there laying down shoe rubber in the same place where the big jets lay down tire rubber–without getting arrested.

On your mark... - Photo: John HustonOn your mark… – Photo: John Huston

This is the third year for the race. I hadn’t heard about it until recently, but once I did, there was no way I could resist the chance to participate.

There was one sort of catch, however. The race had to be over and the runway completely cleared by 8:00 a.m. You know, so the planes could land and stuff. Which means things began very, very early.

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