Bye, Bye, Things in the Sky (Guest Post)

Guest Posts

For those of you who read Dan Webb’s musings about the airline industry at Things in the Sky, you might be wondering where the blog went. Well, he’s going to work for an airline, so he told BoardingArea that he would be winding things up. They took the blog down before he had a chance to say goodbye. So, I was happy to volunteer this space for him (only requiring that he give me freedom to do what I wanted with photoshop…)

Just about four years ago I was finishing up high school and decided to start writing about the airline industry. I was always interested in the business, and I had a domain name I wasn’t using, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I thought to myself that I would get bored with it after a while, but, well, here I am. Dan Webb Says ByeNow I’m a college graduate about to enter the airline industry professionally, and as a result my commentary is wrapping up — my blog is already offline, and I just recorded my last episode with the Airplane Geeks Podcast. Brett has been very kind in allowing me to share a couple of final thoughts here.

Needless to say, it’s been a very busy four years, and all of them have allowed me to learn a bit more about how this crazy industry works. What I’ve learned the most is to expect (rapid) change. I started blogging in the middle of 2008. Since then we’ve seen the Northwest and Continental brands disappear. The amount of ancillary revenue generated by carriers has exploded thanks to bag fees.

American placed a massive Airbus order and also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Southwest acquired AirTran and ordered 737s with more than 137 seats. “Ultra low cost carrier” (ULCC) has become a new buzzword as airlines like Spirit have become successful. I really can’t think of an industry that’s as hectic and constantly changing as this one, which is why tracking it can be so addictive.

But I’ve also learned that there’s a wealth of information about the industry freely available to those who are willing to to put in some additional effort. The publicly traded companies have the usual SEC filings and earnings calls, of course, but the DOT has a load of information for free — whether it be taxi times at certain airports or operating expenses by aircraft type. It truly is amazing what one can learn as long as he/she has an internet connection. If you’re an enthusiast willing to expand your knowledge, I encourage you to put in the effort — you’ll find some amazing stuff!

Before I go, I need to give a special thanks to the whole aviation social media/Internet community — especially Brett. He added me to his blogroll just after I started writing, which gave me that little extra motivation to keep writing. There are many other people I should thank — including Her Royal Highness Queen Benet Wilson, my colleages from my internships at Flightglobal, and my co-hosts at the Airplane Geeks — but the list would be too long if I put everyone on it. If you’re sitting on the sidelines of this community, I encourage you to participate. I’ve met so many wonderful people over the past few years that have become close friends and have provided me guidance and advice that has proven to be invaluable.

To everyone who read my blog or tweets or listened to my bits on the Airplane Geeks — thanks for your support.

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28 comments on “Bye, Bye, Things in the Sky (Guest Post)

  1. It really stinks that now I’m going to have to do all my own analysis with Dan’s blog gone. What’s worse, I wasn’t the guy who hired him!

    I’ll guarantee this isn’t the last we’ve heard of ‘ol DW. In fact, I’ll make a prediction that within 20 years, Brett will be awarding Dan a Cranky Jackass award for deciding to go with 26-inch pitch in his new airline’s 797 open rotor. Non-stop service to Dubai from PVD…just because.

    Congrats, Dan! It’s been fun, but you’re just starting.

  2. Dan, it has been an absolute blast listening to your antics and reading your insight into the airline business over the last few years. Best wishes with all of your future endeavors. I know you will go far.

  3. I always enjoyed reading your blog, Dan. All the best in the future. Once the airlines finish consolidating, they’ll become a bit more boring. Totally boring? Never, but a bit more rational. I like to draw comparisons to what happened in the railroad industry roughly thirty years ago. I see a lot of parallels with what’s going on with airlines now. Again, all the best. I hope you can write an “insider” blog here once in a while (that’s a not-so-subtle hint, Cranky).

  4. Dan, if there’s one thing true about the industry and change, you ain’t seen nothin yet. Now, you get to help create some of that change, but leave SWA alone, okay? Seriously, best of luck in your new career, and we’ll always have Oshkosh 2010.

  5. Dan, watching you dive into airline financial statements over the years, I always suspected that you were a masochist. Now that I know you’re going to work for an airline, it’s 100% confirmed. Are you sure you don’t want to go into an industry that has a better chance of making profits over the long term? Like maybe U.S.-based manufacturers of inexpensive toys?

    Anyway, good luck to you and happy travels.

  6. Dan – you must not have learned too much about airlines over the past four years if you are going to put your career into that industry. :-)

  7. Hi Dan,

    I will miss your analysis. One of the few places on the web where data drove conclusions more than sentiment or “inside knowledge.” Whoever hired you is lucky to have you.


  8. Good luck Dan! I’m glad Brett gave you a chance to write a farewell post. I was wondering what happened over at BoardingArea.

  9. First of all, is Dan really already graduating from college? It seems to me he just started a few weeks ago :) I’ve been following “Things in the Sky” for years and was always extremely impressed by the thoughtful and analytical posts. Lots of work went into it, that much was obvious. Best wishes for your career in the industry! Hope we hear from you — as someone above said — via guest posts.

    I have to admit, though, I am kind of surprised that Boarding Area basically deleted the blog. Those posts had value. Maybe they didn’t sell as many credit cards as other BA blogs, but what’s the point of erasing content? If a journalist leaves a newspaper, the editors don’t go into the archives and remove every single article that person ever wrote. Bizarre.

  10. I was wondering where Dan went the last few weeks. Best of luck with your new job! Its refreshing to see someone tell us how to use the reams of data available to us. The kind of data and open information we have in the US is unprecedented and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Thanks Dan for showing us how we can learn and enjoy.

    Don’t lose your aviation geekness as you move to your airline. Best of luck!

  11. Dan, you will be missed. I will be keeping an eye out for which airline you are going to. I hope being on the inside is as interesting as it has been looking from the outside. Look forward to guest posts and guest spots on the Airplane Geeks.

    Thanks to Cranky as well for the space to say goodbye from blogging…

  12. Dan – great post. I wanted to congratulate you on your new job! I got “hooked” on the airline biz years ago in college and essentially was self-taught through research, reading and networking. I got my fix in management consulting focusing on aviation. Then…I realized the entire industry is hopeless and I moved on to do something else. But….I hope you don’t give up hope in the industry like I did. While some of the moves you referenced are big they are not truly transformational, and the industry needs a new generation of leaders to push new thinking. Best of luck! B2

  13. Dan,
    I always enjoyed your nlog kept me informed on the airlines sometimes even before some airline employees that I talk with. Have always been someone who loves the airlines I’m a collector and love it evert time I get to fly. My first flight was with American on a DC-6.

    The best to you the airlines sure got a good guy.

  14. Congrats on all you’ve done in your online aviation career, Dan, and best wishes as you start this new chapter. Your insights, perspective and wit will be missed. Can’t wait to see where you land in the industry (pun intended)! All the best!

  15. We’re suffering something at the Airplane Geeks podcast that’s not unlike empty nest syndrome. The show will never be the same without you, Dan! But go focus on your career, do amazing things, and have fun along the way! I bet we’ll see (or hear!) you online again before too long.

  16. Dan, the Unnamed Coworker and I are happy for you and proud of you. Congratulations! Now that you’re on the inside, we can really talk and compare notes…

    Stay in touch.


  17. What?

    Dan Webb left the Airplane Geeks? He shut down his blog?

    When did this happen?

    Ah … who is Dan Webb again anyway?

    Seriously, it won’t be the same without him. But aviation’s really much smaller than most folks think. He’ll be back again soon I bet.


  18. Dan Webb?? Yeah, I know that guy….I think.

    I always said the kid would end up running an airline some day, and I think he’s just taken a big step in that direction. I look forward to the day when we can chat about Dan in an article on Airplane Geeks. That’ll be going “full circle”. Good luck Dan.

  19. Dan,

    Congratulations on graduating! Your insights and quips have been entertaining, to say the least. Wishing you the best of luck in your new career.

    We’ll have to light a candle, or encase a pink polo in glass at Oshkosh for you this year.


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