Looking Back on 10 Cranky Years

Cranky 10

Ten years ago tomorrow, I published my very first post, Welcome from the Cranky Flier. Sincecrankylogonew then, I’ve published just shy of 3,000 posts, and you’ve left more than 62,000 comments. There have been millions of page views and emails sent. It seems like something worthy of a blog post, doesn’t it? Though I wanted to write about this, I have a lot of content waiting to be published so I hated the idea of taking up valuable space tomorrow. Instead, I decided to do a special Sunday post to celebrate.

When I started in 2006, the airline industry sure looked a lot different. AirTran, Aloha, America West (sort of), ATA, Continental, Northwest, and US Airways were all still flying. Delta was getting ready to build a hub in LA. United had just exited bankruptcy and was thinking about China growth. And American continued to struggle along, trying to avoid bankruptcy unlike the others. (We all know how that went.) Spirit was reinventing itself into an ultra low cost carrier, and we didn’t quite know how successful it would be. The oil spike and housing crash had yet to happen, but airlines wereCranky Jackass Award jittery.

While so much has changed, some things have stayed the same. Less than one month into the blog’s existence, I first named Alitalia the worst airline ever. And just a couple days later, United picked up the inaugural Cranky Jackass award for cutting back benefits. Those stories could have been written at almost any point in the last decade.

From my desk chair (or sometimes couch… ok, on rare occasion, bed), I’ve had a view of history being made. In 2006, the Wright Amendment began to die. The next year, the US and European Union signed an open skies deal. The year after, Delta and Northwest merged. That snowballed into a whole host of other mergers, as we all know. Writing about all of these things has been a real privilege. (Also, it has made me want to bang my head against the wall.)

In the process, we’ve seen many airlines disappear, and not just those mentioned above. In my first annual “Airlines We Lost” post in 2006, I memorialized Independence Air, Song, and yes, Hooters Air, among others. The body count piled up each year as more and more airlines went away. Sometimes I dedicated full posts to them. In particular, the day America West officially disappeared was a sad one, since that’s really where I got my start. Doing pricing work at America West was still the best airline job I’ve ever had or could even imagine.

As the blog grew and gained traction, I was able to do some pretty ridiculous things. My first Across the Aisle interview with MAXjet was just the beginning of a series that has allowed me to speak with airline leaders from all over the world. Most of the time they actually wanted to speak with me.

Of course, my “72 Hours With” series, though infrequent, has been one of the greatest highlights. The trip with Korean Air visiting everything from maintenance bases to farms (yes, farms) was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. Spending time with United and Hawaiian was also excellent, though utterly exhausting. And speaking of United, the day of flight attendant training in Houston was another one for the highlight reel.

This has been about more than professional experiences, however. You guys were there for my wedding, my honeymoon, the launch of Cranky Concierge, the birth of my son, and the birth of my daughter. Sometimes I forget that I write about these things, and I don’t do it often, but you’ve had a front row seat for the big events in life.

Back to the blog content, it has been a lot of fun for me to peruse what I’ve written over the last ten years. I’ve actually put some lists together which I thought would be fun to share. So, what I’m going to do is over the next five Wednesdays, I’m going to post these lists. I’m sure you’ll have your own thoughts to share in the comments each time. Here’s the line-up.

Thanks for reading and for commenting over these last 10 years. I have no plans to stop now, so hopefully you’ll keep reading and chiming in as you always have.

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42 comments on “Looking Back on 10 Cranky Years

    1. Jim – Not a typo! I’ve gotten into fights with airports, airlines, etc on occasion, so I’m pulling out my favorites from over the years. (I know, you probably thought it was Flights, but nay!)

  1. Congratulations on 10 years. I just met you when I worked your Southwest flight (flight attendant) from SNA to SJC! I’m now a NEW fan of Cranky Flier and look for many, many great posts! Thank you!!

    1. Bob – Thanks for the great service on the way up to San Jose! (And if anyone has the chance to fly with Bob, be prepared to laugh. I’ll write up details in the trip report.)

  2. Congrats on the milestone! It’s funny to look back and see all the topics you’ve covered and how long some of us have been reading your stuff. Looking forward to Wednesdays and reliving some of the great moments!

  3. Congrats Brett! I’m so proud of how you are living your passion! I love hearing your voice in my inbox every week. Here’s to 10 more years and beyond!

  4. Cranky – Over the past ten years, what has been the largest change you have seen in the industry?

    1. Biggest change? I think it’s probably the overall change from an industry full of airlines that were lucky to generate a profit to one with a lot fewer companies that have (so far) consistently made money. Instead of scrimping and saving, they’re finally spending money on improving things. (I’m talking about the domestic industry.)

  5. Congrats, Brett,

    As I’ve mentioned before, sticking at any blog for 10 years is a true accomplishment. Delving deep into an industry and keeping it so interesting and informative is really above and beyond. I started reading your blog only a few years ago, interested only in learning more about a guy who had taken his skill set and passion and built a business on that, but you made me see how much more there is to the whole industry than just did I get a decent fare and why was the flight attendant so cranky … which is just about all I cared about regarding air lines when I first started reading wiht you.

    Here’s to your next 10, and many more beyond that.

  6. Hi I just wanted you to know that I’ve grown up reading your blogs. I was only 16 when I first encountered your blog nearly 8 years ago. your blog actually helped me fall in with air travel and inspired me to pursue a career in travel as well.

    Thank you for all the wonderful posts!

    1. Dan – That is awesome. You’ve been reading the blog for a third of your life! Thanks for sticking with me all these years. Hopefully you’re doing something great in the industry now.

  7. I’ll be eagerly waiting for “72 Hours with Alitalia”…

    Seriously, as a professional in (generally automobile) transportation planning, I have found your perspective into airlines fascinating!

  8. Congrats on the milestone! As a former TMC employee, your blog has often helped with getting up to speed on the ins and outs of the airline business.

    1. Blaine and the AirlineReporter people – Thanks for that. I feel like we’ve somewhat grown up together since AirlineReporter was only a couple years behind me! Hope to see at least one or two of you at Dorkfest. (Yes, do it.)

  9. It’s really impressive that you managed to keep the blog going, after such tragic timing in starting it. I mean, when Hooters Air folded in ’06, you must have felt like there was nothing left to write about in the industry.

    Thanks for soldiering on anyhow, and congratulations.

  10. Congrats Cranky! I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Looking forward to the next 10 years and more.

  11. I eagerly await the post featuring “Cranky’s 7 Best (or, Um, Worst) Photoshop Efforts”.

    Based on the constant controversy about them in the comments, at least, I would nominate the “Birthplace of Godzilla” (Tokyo map) image, as well as the “Across the Aisle” smoking person image.

      1. That makes sense. Those two were the first recurring images that came to mind, as they have become almost inside jokes to regular readers of this blog, and because someone always seems to whine about them or not get them.

  12. Congratulations on a job well done and continuing. We were honored to have you as the featured speaker a few years ago at the Association of Retail Travel Agents 50th Anniversary dinner.

  13. Congrats to you and many thanks for your blog, the best one on the net…well, one that I care to admit I read, anyway!

    Wishing you many more posts. Just take your time, posting what you like, when you want to, and have no fear, we’ll let you know what we don’t like!

  14. Thanks Cranky for the great posts over the years…I always look forward to my morning e-mail. And thanks for the opportunity to guest post a few years ago…that was a rare privilege for me, being able to write a piece about the industry I have loved since I was four years old!

  15. Thanks for 10 awesome years. We’ve corresponded privately before and I’ve shared the dream of working for the Chief Airline Dork but also we’ve chatted about our mutual love for the industry and great airlines of the past. I’m still a huge fan and look forward to my updates from Cranky! Hope to finally share a burger with you at the well known hot spot off 24L sometime soon!


  16. Great job Brett. Congrats on 10 years and hope you have another 10. I drop by two or three times a week and enjoy your knowledge, insight and humor on the industry. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for doing what you do. Side note, will there be a full post detailing your Southwest CA flights? I read some snippets here and there, but a full breakdown would be awesome (or maybe thats just me).

  18. “Yes, they should keep all their “hubs” if they use that term loosely. By the time they’re done with Memphis and Cincinnati, they might look more like Indianapolis. See, all those small Upper Midwest cities that Delta serves from Cincinnati can now very adequately be served from Detroit and Minneapolis. And all those southern cities that Northwest serves from Memphis can be served from Atlanta. Heck, those two cities themselves are only 400 miles apart. So, I would completely expect to see those hubs shrunk down”

    Pretty prescient for eight years ago.

    Love your stuff; thank you.

    1. Mark – Looks like I got pretty lucky there! I’d say my guess about American hasn’t been quite as successful so far. But then again, there’s still plenty of time.

      1. Is there a quick explanation of why MSP and DTW are still both hubs? I know that they are a good 500 miles apart, only slightly less than ORD and IAD for United, but as a layperson I just don’t see the value add of having both MSP and DTW based on geography.

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