Showing posts with label Midwest Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Midwest Express. Show all posts

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Milwaukee Airport's Deserted D Terminal

Milwaukee's Mitchel Airport has a creepy deserted terminal that I never knew about until I flew through it last week.  Since Frontier changed their hub operation in Milwaukee to a lonely outpost, there are just two flights to Denver and a less than daily one to Mexico.  For this minor operation, Frontier has 26 gates and an entire terminal to themselves. There were several restaurants, but only one is open.  The closed ones still had all the fixtures and supplies to open any day, but are deserted.  The ground level gates with zero flights a day sill had a moving walkway and escalators running. It is an airport ghost town 
Moving Walkway to Nowhere
I'm surprised the airport authority doesn't move Frontier to an unused gate (they only need one or could share even) in another terminal and close the D terminal until traffic picks up enough to necessitate it.  The costs to keep a terminal up and running must be exorbitant and Frontier's landing fees don't cover the operation.  It would also remove a creepy ghost town, it was seriously disturbing (Omega Man?).
View On The Way Into Milwaukee
MKE still has a cool airport museum, I enjoyed browsing through it again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mitchell Gallery of Flight - My Favorite Airport Museum

Quite a few airports have museums or historical displays and most are quite interesting.  San Francisco Airport’s museum is the most famous and accredited; they have changing exhibits spread across the airport.  A recent favorite of mine was TV’s over time and historic racing motorcycles.  SFO has a large budget and lands high profile exhibits worthy of any museum.  The disappointing aspect is there are rarely aviation themed displays. 
Early Television at SFO Museum
Classic Racing Motorcycles at SFO Airport Museum
Milwaukee has a permanent museum dedicated to aviation.  Most of the items are related to Milwaukee aviation or local famous aviators.  The Mitchell Gallery of Flight is my favorite airport museum.  The displays are relatively static (the Midwest meal service display is gone and an Airtran case is new) and generally interesting.  The museum is located in the main terminal outside security, can’t miss it.  The celebration of flight is everywhere and makes me enamored of the museum.
Mitchell Airport Museum, Milwaukee
Billy Mitchell Portrait
There is an impressive display on Billy Mitchell, famous WWI aviator and military aviation pioneer.  There is also a display of the evolution of flight and the growth of Milwaukee’s airport.  Jim Lovell, Gemini and Apollo astronaut and Naval aviator, has lent two cases of personal items from his flying career to display.  Most airlines operating from MKE have cases with model planes and information about their service.  Unique artifacts and models abound. 
Midwest Express, Now Aviation History
Mitchell Airport Museum Displays
Phoenix’s museum tries to be a local art gallery.  SFO tries to be a downtown museum.  ORD has a Hellcat bomber and a small case on Butch O’Hare.  Other airports follow suit with little or nothing on display, but only Milwaukee dedicates their museum (well Montevideo too) to the wonders of flight.  The Mitchell Gallery of Flight is worth a visit and don’t be surprised if you spend 15 or 30 minutes looking around.
Capt. James Lovell's NASA Gear on Display at MKE

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Memory of Midwest Airlines (Midwest Express)

Frontier Airlines announced that they will stop serving fresh baked cookies on board their flights.  The cookie was the last remnant of Midwest Express.  Republic Airways purchased Midwest and Frontier out of bankruptcy and merged them together under the Frontier brand.  Midwest was known for having “The Best Care in the Air” and that included fresh baked cookies on all flights.  The cookie doesn’t fit with Frontier’s drive to be an ultra-low cost carrier, so it is no more.
Midwest Express Plane Landing
Midwest Airlines started as an extension of Kimberly-Clark’s aviation division.  Flights had 2x2 leather seating (when 3x2 was standard on similar jets) and every flight had a meal service.  It was an all first class airline with economy class fares.  Their hub was Milwaukee and they served all of Wisconsin, most of the Midwest and a few locations on each coast.  Midwest was also active in Milwaukee and advertised heavily, including upgrading fans to their airline seats at Brewers games to show off just how nice it was.  Midwest’s fresh baked cookies were even sold at the games.
Frontier Airlines E190 Plane, Cookie Free Since 2012 
Things took a downturn when high fuel prices and increased Milwaukee competition hit.  Midwest dumped the meals, but kept the cookies, added more seats, and started their race to the bottom.  They stuck it out for a while, but finally went bankrupt.  Republic purchased them in an attempt to make their own national branded airline with Frontier.  All the Midwest branding was removed.  The only thing left was the cookie and now that is gone too.  Midwest focused on service and the customer experience, but those aren’t things many people are willing to pay extra for.  It’s a shame and Midwest will missed.  The airline club at Mitchel Field in Milwaukee is called the Best Care Club, the last bit of Midwest Airlines branding (closing May 31st).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Time On Frontier

I’m a Star Alliance flyer for about 99% of my trips.  It can get you almost anywhere in the world quickly and easily, but not DEN to LAX on a Wednesday after 9pm.  The only option was Frontier, so I joined a new frequent flyer program, booked my ticket, and broke my flying routine. 

I’ve been interested in Frontier since they (Republic Airways really) took over Midwest Express a few years ago.  Republic is a successful operator of regional jets for mainline carriers.  It’s a nice business model as the large airline pays for fuel and has to sell tickets.  Express carriers just need to show up with a plane and crew to collect a flat fee per flight.  A few years ago, Republic’s management decided to run branded service and purchased Frontier out of bankruptcy.  Soon after, they bought Midwest Airlines in bankruptcy too.  This isn’t proving to be the best business decision as Frontier loses as much money as their core business line makes.  Frontier has a large operation in Denver and is serious competition to United and Southwest at DEN; helping keep fares down.  They also have different animal pictures on their aircraft, so it makes for fun plane watching too.  I had never traveled with them before and didn’t know anything about flying with them.

My travel experience with Frontier was pleasant all around.  There were no lines at check in and no window seats on my flight.  Frontier sells their equivalent of Economy Plus called stretch seating; it provides a few more inches of leg room and seat up front, but I declined the upsell.  If you don’t buy a stretch seat, select row 20 or higher, those are the first rows called in general boarding.  The boarding process could have been done better because there was no general explanation of the process before it started, so everyone gathered around thinking they could be next.  The gate agent made one announcement per group and had to turn many people away because they didn’t hear the single announcement.  Frequent use of the PA would be a simple solution to a frustrating situation.
Decent legroom on Frontier's A320

The aircraft was a new A320 and spotless inside.  It had LED lighting and the new slim style seats.  I sat in seat 20B, a middle seat, but with enough space for the two hour flight.  There are seat back TVs available for a fee, unlike JetBlue’s free DirecTV offering.  The flight attendants came through with a drink offering and baked onboard chocolate chip cookies, the lasting legacy of Midwest Express.  The flight arrived on time and I enjoyed my first Frontier flight.  I don’t think I will become a regular, the EarlyReturns program is very weak, but will defiantly consider them for future travel.