What You Missed at Today’s Cranky Dorkfest

Cranky Dorkfest

It’s been a long time since we’ve all been able to just stand around, eat In-N-Out burgers, and talk shop in person. The joy of being able to do that again was palpable as about 300 of us gathered for Cranky Dorkfest earlier today. For those who couldn’t make it, you missed a great time. I don’t say that to rub it in; I just hope it’ll make you want to come next year.

Even though it started at 11am, I showed up about half an hour early to find dozens of people already gathered. The marine layer had nearly burnt off by this point, and the ocean breeze made the weather just about perfect.

For the first hour, several of us spent time handing out raffle tickets as more and more people began to show up. The crowd was big enough that you could see people across the street at In-N-Out starting to stare, wondering just what was going on.

LAWA CEO Justin Erbacci came by and handed out challenge coins.


LAWA was also kind enough to bring me a bullhorn since my voice alone doesn’t carry far enough when 300 people are there. Though frankly, even the bullhorn wasn’t enough for such a crowd.

At noon, it was raffle time, and the airlines all really stepped up this year. Thank you to everyone at all the airlines who came up with these ideas. The top Avgeek items had to be:

  • United: A very rare model of the Boom supersonic aircraft in United livery which wasn’t brought to the event but will look something like this:
United wagers environmental and technical credibility in supersonic bet -  The Air Current
  • Southwest: A beautiful 727 model in the desert gold livery
  • Southwest: A bag full of old plastic boarding cards which was definitely a huge hit
  • Delta: A Northwest DC-10 model in the final livery and some killer Delta socks
  • Frontier: A whole bunch of safety cards from the now-retired A319 (which you can also see above)

There was also a Delta A350, a Boeing 787-10, and this nice looking Spirit A320 model.

This wasn’t all. We had a whole bunch of free tickets to hand out from Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit, and Avelo along with a $100 gift card from Delta.

Flightradar24 donated some subscriptions — a special thank you to Ian from Flightradar24 and Seth Miller from PaxEx.aero for helping run the raffle — and Jon Ostrower from The Air Current donated one as well. The Flight Path Museum threw in a complimentary annual membership.

Oh, and did I mention SpaceX showed up? They gave some $50 gift cards to their swag store. We tried to figure out how many of those we’d need for a flight to space, but we came up a bit short.

Did I mention there were burgers?

By now, you’re probably wondering if we even saw any airplanes. We sure did. The highlight was hands down the Lufthansa 747-8 in the retro livery.

There was also a bittersweet moment, at least for me, when the Emirates A380 came in. Why was it bittersweet? That’s the only A380 arriving at LAX during the daylight these days — China Southern still has a twice weekly arrival at night — a far cry from the regular parade of A380s we saw just two years ago.

This certainly wasn’t all we saw. There was a mix of 787s, 777s, and A350s from Aeroflot, Air China, ANA, Asiana, British Airways, China Airlines, JAL, KLM, Korean, LOT, Qatar, and SAS along with all the usual domestic operators.

If you want to see more, you can follow #dorkfest on Twitter which was actually trending in California during the event.

In the end, I stayed far later than the official 1pm end of the event. Some people headed off to the SpotLAX2021 event that evening, others just went to grab beers with friends, and some headed straight to LAX to fly back home. I think everyone who attended will agree, it was just a really fun day.

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

15 comments on “What You Missed at Today’s Cranky Dorkfest

  1. Dorkfest was an absolute blast. Absolutely worth the first-flight-in last-flight-back turn out of AUS, the self-inflicted sunburn, and the cab ride back from the airport that I just completed. I’ll be back next year, maybe with a longer layover to catch the other SpotLAX events :)

    Fingers crossed 2022 will have more variety back in the skies…Qantas???…but the variety was still reasonable, coming from somewhere where all but one of our daily widebodies are cargo.

    1. Cranky sent out a notice that the event was cancelled. It turned out Avelo can only park at the gate if it has a scheduled flight. Cranky’s e-mail went out Thursday, around 2 PM PDT. Here is what Avelo’s Head of Communications relayed to Cranky, which was included in Cranky’s Thursday e-mail:

      “The airport team (not Avelo) advised us that we couldn’t do the tour because planes can’t be parked at gates on days there are no flights.

      We looked into alternatives, but it was getting more complicated with each turn. So, while I thought that doing the tour on Saturday when we didn’t have flights would be a smooth and easy option – it wasn’t.”

  2. Looks like a great event!

    I would really love to attend if this event can be on a Sunday rather than a Saturday.

  3. It looks like it was a great time! I’m sorry I couldn’t make it this year. Hopefully I’ll make it in 2022.

  4. Did Tim Dunn show up to interject with 45-minute speeches when all the non-Delta prizes were handed out, lecturing everybody about how they were ultimately inferior to Delta’s Ultra-God Level Masterpiece Prizes?

  5. Congrats for another successful Dorkfest event. Must have been fun especially since it had to be cancelled last year.

    So LH intentionally sent the retro livery one for the event? That’s really cool. Hope other airlines follow and send special livery ones next time such that Dorkfest becomes a gathering of special colored airplanes at LAX. And hopefully LAX arranges their arrivals into the in-n-out runway for their fans.

    1. hk – I’d love to say LH did that just for us, but they didn’t. Or at least they didn’t tell us. We just got` lucky!

  6. Happy to hear that the event was a success. Sounds like you may need to get a professional sound set up (with speakers, a microphone, and [dare I say it] even a DJ or band, city permits, signs, police crowd control, and all that jazz?) pretty soon if the event keeps growing. I can only imagine what the “non-avgeek” people at In-N-Out thought was going on. Glad that you got the (semi-official) LAWA approval for the event with the visit from their CEO; never hurts to have attendees and fans of the event who are in high places!

    I live in the opposite corner of the country from LAX, and don’t exactly relish the idea of two cross-country flights in basic economy within 24 hours, even if I could get them cheap, but nonetheless… The more I hear about Cranky DorkFest every year, the more I realize that I’ll have to bite the bullet sometime soon and make it out to the event while I still can, as it’s quickly moving up my “bucket list” of events to hit and memories to make. Can’t wait.

  7. I have an idea for the crowd and sound next year, depending on what happens and time off etc. But will fill you in next year :D

    1. A suggestion. You may want to let Cranky know of your idea for crowd and sound now – as if the crowd were any larger – and it is probably already too large, you will need permits and such from the City of Los Angeles. Under normal circumstances, that takes time, and with all the new baked-in delays, it takes even extra time – double what it normally takes.

      Not to be “Debbie Downer” here, but as a business owner who operates locations within the city limits of Los Angeles, the city is not very business or people friendly when it comes to the issuance of permits, etc. The park is not under the oversight of LAWA, even though LAWA itself is a city department.

      As I’m not a permit issuing bureaucrat, the city will probably insist on portable bathrooms, ADA access, trash/debris removal, insurance, security, parking, and if applicable at the time of the event, complying with any County of Los Angeles health department orders on masking and social distancing and on and on and on it goes!

      What a great event and turnout – but I was surprised at the large number of people that attended, considering the “new” normal we are operating in. I thought maybe 100 or so might show up. Who knows?… this may end up turning into “Dorkfest-Con”, now that the Wall Street Journal gave Dorkfest coverage. Too bad the Journal didn’t turn-on the comments feature for this article – as they do with most articles.

      Quoting Scott Lind, a major airline employee, “It really centers you when you’re having a rough day,” he said. “This is what got all of us attracted to aviation—it wasn’t a spreadsheet, it wasn’t financial results. It was that airplane flying overhead.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier