Saturday was the third annual Crankyspotting Dorkfest, and I had a fantastic time. Judging from the tweets, emails, and Facebook posts I’ve seen, it sounds like the rest of you did as well. For those who missed out, here’s why you need to be there for the 4th annual event next September.
The day started at 11a when we descended on the park across the street from In ‘n Out just north of LAX. By the time I arrived, there were already a dozen or so people there enjoying the warm and clear day.
I’d say that we probably had at least 50 or so people attend throughout the day, a big increase from last year. People came from as far as Hawai’i and Florida to join us and watch airplanes. My personal spotting highlights were a Cathay Pacific 747-8 freighter and American oneworld 777. Of course, the real highlight was seeing some people who I hadn’t seen in years.
Even though the event is primarily designed as a casual spotting event where people can just grab a burger and enjoy, I didn’t want people to leave empty-handed. I had a box of goodies from Boeing, someone from American brought more swag from Dallas, and we had a travel agent in Seattle bring a bunch of stuff as well.
Though I said I’d be leaving at 1p, I ended up staying until about 230p because I was having such a good time. Then I raced home, put on a suit, and headed out for the big dinner event to be held on the Pan Am 747 replica.
There were 28 of us scheduled to “fly” on Pan Am flight 120 to London that evening, and I had to arrive early to make sure that everything was ready to go. I was greeted by the owner of the mock-up, Anthony Toth, and the red carpet was rolled out.
The crew was already onboard, preparing the cabin for departure. Three of the crew were actual Pan Am flight attendants, and they shared their stories all night.
I stood at the podium and greeted the passengers as they arrived. Anthony had even printed out boarding passes for each person.
To answer the obvious question, no that Apollo terminal doesn’t work. In the end, we had two no-shows, which was certainly painful because I know others really wanted to attend. Next time, clearly we’ll have to get a sophisticated revenue management system to set proper booking authorization levels.
Once onboard, pre-departure drinks were served and passengers began to explore the mock-up. We put an excellent historical documentary on Pan Am on the overhead screen so people could watch and enjoy. It was so good that most people grabbed their seats and watched.
Then our First Class passengers were escorted upstairs to the dining room where the long meal service would begin. As you can see in the photo below, the no-shows were supposed to dine on the upper deck.
The Clipper Class passengers were seated downstairs in the First Class seats for their meal. I joined them on the lower deck to eat as well. The flight attendants were quickly coming through the cabin, passing out almond packets and taking drink orders.
Then the meal service began. The tables were set and rolls were brought out. Then the appetizer was served (tomato and mozzarella or shrimp). Salad followed with a choice of dressing. Then it was time for the main course. Most people chose the Chateaubriand with a peppercorn sauce which was carved in the cabin.
The meat came with a choice of mashed or roasted potatoes along with carrots or broccoli. (Or both.) Possibly my favorite moment of the evening came when one flight attendant put my plate down and the other, a Pan Am original, gently reminded her that it was supposed to be served in the 5 o’clock position (not sure if it was the meat or the parsley, depending upon where you start the clock). That was certainly not something I can imagine being in the flight attendant handbook at an airline today.
After dinner, it was time for the cheese and fruit trolley to come through the cabin. I had mine with a little port wine. Dessert was served after that.
People began to leave at that point as the meal service began to approach three hours. Others stayed into the evening, watching more videos and just talking. I didn’t head home until about midnight. Though I was exhausted, it was a fantastic day.
I’ve already seen feedback come in about the dinner, and it seems clear that we need to do this again so that others can experience this. We’ll definitely do it again next year, if not sooner.
Now, I’m curious. If you have a sophisticated revenue management system for this event, what’ll you do if you have to bump people? Send them to the In-n-Out for more plane spotting?
$400 Pan Am voucher for next year?
A free meal service on a future Pan Am flight and accommodation in the coach cabin.
Looks like a great experience on many levels.
OK I give, what’s that on the dinner plate photo above the plate that looks like a bunch of long twist ties bundled together?
Mrs Cranky must not have been happy with you getting home so late. Between that and not approving of your HP t-shirt in the morning, you may still be in the dog house…..lol
David – That actually was the tie that went around the napkin. I should have cleaned it up better before I took the picture.
Oh good, thought it might have been a bundle of wiring that fell from the ceiling and you might all have a system failure :-)
Great time! Glad I didn’t get bumped.
Brett: I am SO bitter that I couldn’t be there this year. I especially enjoyed the part of the post about the first class dining service. I noted your comment about the one FA who corrected the other about how your plate should have been placed. You won’t see U.S. flight attendants doing that, but last week I did a “flight” on Qatar Airways where the service was on point down to the last detail. You could see the training these ladies received. Here’s my post (with photos) on the experience. http://bit.ly/1bmcib5 Love, Aviation Queen
How do I sign up for the next event? My son Randy attended this one and RAVED about it. I am retired from US Airways via PSA. I had a chance to ride in Pan Am’s first cabin from New York to Los Angeles in 1990. You did the experience proud. The Golden Age of air travel. I enjoyed the memories, thank you.
Best regards, Lew Brown
Lew – Randy actually told us some of your stories. Sounds like you had a great career. If we do more of these, I will post about it here on the blog. So just keep watching and you’ll see if it comes up.
I would love to have attended and will try to find a way for next year. It was just impossible to get from my 50th birthday in Sydney to LAX in time for the event. I really should just have booked in for a 50th birthday dinner in 1st class :-)
It was brilliant, Brett. Many thanks, as always.
Didn’t get to do the Pan Am dinner but I had fun. And I got to experience the DirecTV service on my UAL 737-800 flight back to SFO. Or should I say lack of service because all the channels got shut off after take off unless you paid. Not one channel was available. At least on the 757 on the way down to LAX we had free music. We couldn’t even get that much on the way back up. So I give UAL to thumbs down on its IFE. Emirates gave me too many channels of free TV. UAL gave me none.
nice it looked like a great time for all..
everybody had a great time,,,,,,