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    Welcome to the Ambassablog! We're the front-line employee bloggers of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and participants in the Airport Authority's Goodwill Ambassador Program.

    Here you'll find our continually updated posts about life at historic San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field).

    Take a look around, and Email us if there's something you'd like to see added to the Ambassablog or covered in future posts.
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    For questions or information about this blog and other social media tools used by San Diego International Airport, contact:
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Alaska Airlines’ Best-Kept San Diego Secret


California Wine Country — less than two hours away from San Diego, thanks to Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.

Did you know that Alaska Airlines operates a daily flight from San Diego to the California wine country?

I recently took the flight for a four-day weekend. It’s operated by Alaska’s regional partner, Horizon Air, and is served by a Bombardier Q400. That’s a modern turboprop aircraft which seats close to 80 people, with 2 seats on each side of the aisle.



The mid-morning flight from SDIA was smooth and congenial. There was a snack and a complimentary glass of wine (or craft beer if you prefer) to ensure my holiday got off to a good start.

The flight took less than two hours and arrived at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport just in time for lunch. Having skirted the larger airports, I missed all the hassle and cost of trying to transverse the busy Bay Area. Instead I stepped off the plane and into the bright Sonoma sunshine, with only a short drive to the nearest vineyard.


The Girl & the Fig restaurant in Sonoma Plaza.

It was a delightful four days—including oysters in the coastal hamlet of Point Reyes Station, Russian River wine tastings, and a delightful dinner at the Girl & the Fig restaurant on the Sonoma Plaza.

On my way out of Sonoma, I stopped by the outdoor patio of the airport’s Sky Lounge and savored one last glass of chardonnay. Then I walked the short distance to my return flight and was off. The late afternoon flight arrived in San Diego just in time to see the sun set.

Ahh… here’s to the good life.NewAnnBlogPic

Check out this Alaska Airlines flight the next time you have a hankering for the wine country! Alaska Airlines is online at:  http://www.alaskaair.com.  And you can book your flight using the AIrport Authority’s online route map.


The Day a Dream Came True at SDIA

By Guest Ambassablogger Cynthia of the Airport Authority’s Marketing & Communications Division 

You may have heard the news or been one of the eager watchers here at the airport on March 12 when the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew into town. Boeing brought the aircraft in for a personal visit with those folks who helped build her. If you were not one of those special few, you will have a chance to see the Dreamliner beginning in December, when Japan Airlines starts nonstop flights between San Diego and Tokyo, Japan. Initial service will be four times a week, with daily service scheduled to begin in March 2013.

I watched the 787’s approach from the airports’ Operations Duty Managers Office. Her approach reminded me of watching a graceful ballerina during her final movements of a performance. The pilot touched down with a gentle landing and was rewarded with a round of applause — which I’m sure he was oblivious to. It was truly a treat to watch this aircraft maneuver across the runway and park in her overnight spot at Landmark Aviation.

The 787’s got big windows!

Here are a few specs on the new Dreamliner so you can impress your friends or be prepared for your next round of trivia:

  • The 787-8 will use 20% less fuel than the Boeing 767 it is designed to replace.
  • It has a base passenger configuration of 224 seats, but airlines are configuring the aircraft with as few as 186 seats and as many as 240 seats, depending on the type of service they are providing.
  • Its range is from 5,500 – 7,200 nautical miles, depending on the amount of passengers and cargo carried.
  • It is 186 feet long and 56 feet high with a wingspan of 197’3” and has a cruise speed of Mach 0.85.
  • The 787-8 has a larger sister that will be available in 2015. She has similar fuel economy, is 20 feet longer, seats 259 passengers in a standard configuration and can carry a greater payload over the same distances as the 787-8.

If you’re like me and always wanted to visit Asia, a nonstop flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, with its hub operations connecting to many Asian destinations, could be the first step in getting there. It’s time to start saving for the trip. Now where did I put that piggy bank?

Make it to Milwaukee!

Giving the “thumbs up” at the Bronze Fonz on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

You may recall that two years ago (has it been that long?) a few of my fellow Ambassabloggers and I did a creative send-off of the “Laverne & Shirley” theme to celebrate the launch of non-stop service from SDIA to Milwaukee.  But yours truly had never actually been to Brew City, USA—til now.   And after having experienced a great weekend there, I’d say it’s one of the best underrated destinations our airport offers!

My muse to make the visit was actually a fellow coworker at the airport, our ever-friendly “Plant Man,” Ernie.  He makes the rounds trimming, watering and nurturing our indoor greenery, offering cheerful salutations to everyone.  After having made a trip of his own to Milwaukee, and knowing that I ride a Harley, Ernie suggested that I live out the “Laverne & Shirley” script and see the home of Harley-Davidson and its namesake museum.  I figured that was reason enough to visit.

But I was pleasantly surprised that the Milwaukee Art Museum was yet another great sight to see.  Covering all kinds of media from antiquities to the most contemporary, the museum is a work of art in itself, famous for its unique design and flapping wings.

Playing Evel Knievel at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

But more than museums, the city has some outstanding outdoor offerings in the Mitchell Park Domes and Boerner Botanical Gardens—places sure to please Ernie!

Everyone has to eat, and there’s a lot more than just beer and bratwurst!  Wisconsin is known for its dairy delights, and artisanal cheese plates are a ubiquitous item on every restaurant menu.  For authentic German cuisine, take in the Old World charm of Mader’s.  For farm-to-table freshness from an on-premises garden, try the hip Roots.

I got to relive my own 2010 Harley ride of Route 66 with a Sunday buffet brunch of chef specialties from cafes and diners on the Mother Road at Smyth, the restaurant at the biker-boutique Iron Horse Hotel (yes, bikers can have impeccable tastes!).

No trip to Milwaukee would be complete without a trip to the Safe House.  The average food isn’t the draw, but secreted behind an export building façade accessed from an alley, the place is inspired by the spy hideaway homes of espionage ages past.  It is complete with tricky mazes, Cold War kitsch, and whimsical ambience.  You have to have a password to be let in, but there is a way around that if you don’t know it; I’m sworn to secrecy not to reveal more.

From the eclectic ‘hoods of Brady Street and the Historic Third Ward, to the Milwaukee Riverwalk and Lake Michigan shorefront, Milwaukee abounds with charming, historic architectural stock with one-of-a-kind shops all fit for pedestrian exploration.

Milwaukee is so much more than just its breweries, though one can certainly imbibe well if so inclined.   While there is no visible homage to Laverne and Shirley in their hometown, there is the Bronze Fonz paying tribute to the “Happy Days” character that first put Milwaukee on the entertainment map.  So head off from SDIA and get your own obligatory photo-op with the epitome of coolness!

San Diego to London – Nonstop!

Michael Irizarry of La Jolla sent us this gorgeous photo he managed to capture of the inaugural British Airways flight 273 coming in for a landing at San Diego International Airport yesterday evening. For more information about the new service see this news release:

British Airways Launches New Daily Non Stop Flights Between San Diego And London Heathrow

O, Say Can You Fly … to BWI?

Some fellow visitors graciously offered to take this picture of me hoisting Old Glory at Fort McHenry - a memento I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

Regular readers of this blog know that the largest airline by flight and passenger volume at SDIA is Southwest Airlines. But did you know that it has only one non-stop East Coast destination from our airport? The furthest east you can go non-stop with Southwest from San Diego is to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), roughly a half-hour train ride from our nation’s capital. I recently took the coast-to-coast, five-hour flight to BWI for my first visit ever to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments and museums of America’s heritage.

A shot of the main terminal

Main Terminal at BWI. (Image via Wikipedia.)

One of the most moving experiences of my trip was seeing the original Star-Spangled Banner in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In case you need a history refresher, our national anthem has its origins in the War of 1812, a “Second War of Independence” which is hardly remembered nearly 200 years later. Our young nation then fought our former colonial ruler, and the British dealt a serious blow to America when its troops sacked the District of Columbia. They burned the White House, the Capitol, and the Library of Congress, forcing American troops to make a decisive stand at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Baltimore was then our nation’s third-largest city, and at the head of the Chesapeake Bay it was a port of substantial commerce whose wharves and warehouses the British coveted. On September 13, 1814, the attack came on Fort McHenry, and the Americans dug in, surviving an onslaught of bombardments for 25 solid hours. As the morning sun rose on the 14th, our flag still flew proudly from the fort’s mast, a 30-foot by 42-foot ensign that defiantly waved as weary British forces retreated.

The caption reads "A VIEW of the BOMBARDM...

A VIEW of the BOMBARDMENT of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British fleet. (Image via Wikipedia.)

“By the dawn’s early light,” a lawyer named Francis Scott Key was being held aboard a British ship, trying to negotiate a release of American prisoners. When he saw the Star-Spangled Banner “ever yet wave” that morning, he was inspired to compose a poem commemorating the American victory. It was an immediate hit, published throughout the country and set to music, eventually becoming our national anthem.

The 15-star, 15-stripe

Early historical photo of the original 'Star-Spangled Banner' which inspired Francis Scott Key, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C. (Image via Wikipedia.)

As fortune would have it, the original flag that served as Key’s muse at Fort McHenry has been restored and rests on display in Washington, D.C. Made by Mary Pickersgill with her family and a servant, it has proven resilient though fragile. So popular was the flag in the 19th century that clippings were made from it as souvenirs, reducing its size and costing it one of its stars. There were 15 stars—and 15 stripes—on the flag, one for each of the states which comprised the Union at that time: the 13 original states plus Vermont and Kentucky. (It was only later decided to keep the flag’s stripes at 13 and instead add only stars for each new state’s admission – to make the 50 stars we now know.)

Seeing the original Star-Spangled Banner inspired me to see Fort McHenry in Baltimore, too, so before I returned home from BWI, I drove the short distance from the airport. Even today Baltimore Harbor is a hotbed of commercial activity, with industrial buildings and container ships framing the scene. From the massive earthen defenses of the fort and the cannonade aimed out into the bay, one can imagine the valiant stand America made with our massive flag flying as a rallying symbol against British might.

A large 15-star and 15-stripe flag still waves proudly from the fort, and the exhibits include Key’s original manuscript with strikeout editing. A stirringly narrated film at the visitor center leaves nary a dry eye in the room, swelling viewers with pride in our troops’ courageous stand. It culminates dramatically in a screen lifting to reveal the flag flying in the fort courtyard, as a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. I know that I will never feel the same way again in hearing our national anthem; never have I felt more proud to be an American!

Aerial view of the star-shaped Fort McHenry. (Image via National Park Service.)

So inspired was I by my visit that I bought a flag at the gift shop (they sell both the current 50-star flag as well as the 1814 version that flies at the fort). As if acquiring that keepsake alone was not enough, they offer to fly it at the fort and give you a hand-signed certificate commemorating it! My eyes lit up in childlike wonder … how could I refuse that kind of opportunity?

I walked reverently out to the flag mast with the park ranger escort, who insisted that I clip on the flag and hoist it up myself. Some visitors at that moment felt the same patriotic pride and graciously offered to take my camera and photograph the event. Now I have a memento that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

So if you’ve ever wondered about whether there’s anything worth seeing in Baltimore, wonder no more.  And, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, you can make it there non-stop from SDIA. If you visit, you just might come back to the West Coast with a heaping helping of American pride “that our flag was still there”!

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The British Are Coming!

Nonstop flights between San Diego and Europe. How does that sound?

British Airways announced today that, in cooperation with American Airlines, nonstop service between San Diego International Airport and London Heathrow Airport will start June 1, 2011.

The announcement was made moments ago at a special news conference at Airport Authority headquarters attended by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Airport Authority Board Chair Robert Gleason, Airport Authority President/CEO Thella Bowens, and representatives from British Airways and American Airlines.

British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia Airlines recently formed a new partnership, and today’s news is part of a growth strategy resulting from that partnership.

Airport Authority analysis shows there is a significant untapped market of people – from the business and leisure sectors – eager to take advantage of nonstop service between San Diego and London. The new service will be aboard British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft, seven days a week. Passengers may book the flights through British Airways or American Airlines and accumulate miles in either airline’s frequent flier program.

For more information, read the news release.

The return of nonstop service between San Diego and Toronto

Toronto beckons, thanks to new nonstop service from San Diego on Air Canada, starting in June.

Starting in June, Toronto will be just one nonstop flight away from San Diego, thanks to new service from Air Canada.

Click here to read a news release about this exciting new service.

And find out more about the significance of this service to San Diego over at SDIA’s Facebook Fan Page.

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