Commercial airline carriers are shifting their focus away from the expensive costs of providing inflight amenities and onto the ground in providing services to their travelers through their airport clubs. This is a cultural shift that acknowledges the in increasing delays and difficulties involved in air travel that airlines can do little to combat except through providing ways for their customers to make the most of their time en route.
What’s in them?
Airport clubs have come a long way from just a lounge and a bar. Many of them now offer full restaurant services, cigar bars, reading lounges and business services. The business services are extensive and can include everything from conference rooms to Wi-Fi, faxes, computers and teleconferencing. More and more airport clubs are also offering a Japanese styles “pod” hotel. These are small rooms where travelers can nap and sometimes even shower between flights. The goal of the airport clubs is to recharge the passenger so that the longer layovers and possible delays do not result in as much of a disruption to their life. These clubs are primarily aimed at the business traveler although some now do include “kid’s clubs” to accommodate the family vacationer.
Where are they?
American, US Airways, Alaska Air and United are the recognized top providers of first class airport clubs in the nation. They range in offerings from American’s Airport club in LaGuardia that is immense and even includes a “mood room” to Alaska Airlines club in Los Angeles that is small, family friendly and keeps up a more cheery mood with its emphasis on Pacific Northwest cultural details. US Airways in Atlanta has a/+ top of the line club as does United’s Houston club. These major airlines maintain clubs in almost all the airport hubs across the nation of varying size and accommodations. The largest is American’s LaGuardia that can accommodate over 300 people and Alaska Airlines has the smallest. Even if you are not entering one of these highlighted clubs, all of them will share the same focus on providing comfort and service.
How to become a member
Stock up on your fashionable aviation accessories from your favorite aviation store and get ready to make your entrance. There are several ways to become a member of one of these airline clubs. The first is to purchase a day pass, which can be done by anyone regardless of whether you are booked on that airline or not (although many do give preferences to ticket holders. The second is through annual membership through the airline itself in the form of a VIP pass. And the third option is to use your frequent flier miles to gain access.
Why a club?
Why would you join when so many airports offer restaurants and business services? A large part of the appeal has to do with comfort, safety and security. All of these clubs are restricted to members only, even if that member has only become one for the day. There are areas to store luggage that are protected and you are separated from the general flow of foot traffic in the airport. This means a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. Because it is a restricted environment, food services tend to be quicker and of a better quality as well. Traveling has become defined by hassle these days and making use of an airport club membership will help reduce the stress involved with the process.
ProFlight Simulator has everyone talking but the thing they are talking loudest about is whether or not it is worth the hefty cost attached to the program. There are other flight simulators out there for a lot less. Is this one worth it? The answer is yes, if you are looking for the closest experience to actual flying, then this is the one for you. The answer is “no,” however, if you are looking for a game to play.
What sets it apart?
ProFlight Simulator has an intense level of detail in it that goes beyond realistic graphical representations. Anyone with real-time experience flying is going to love the intricacies of the controls and elements of setting the flight planning. A large part of the simulation, just like in real life, takes place on the ground with careful flight navigation planning and maintenance. This is not what you find in your average flight simulator.
While people with a real interest in flight experience are going to obsess over all of these details, it can overwhelm someone who just wants to “hop into the cockpit” and take off. The dashboard and navigation can even be overwhelming to the experienced pilot, but you have to be patient – the system is actually intuitive. ProFlight Simulator has carefully ported the controls of the cockpit to the keyboard and controller; it makes sense if you stick out the learning curve. Again, this may be too complex and time-consuming for a casual gamer.
The Graphics and Options
While casual gamers may be put off by the intensity of the cockpit and ground requirements the simulator places on the pilot before allowing a successful flight, they would do well to stick out the learning process because the payoff in what happens in the air is beyond any other simulator. The graphics are very realistic and fluid. You can fly private planes, major airliners or even historic planes. There are over 20,000 airports loaded into the simulator with a companion amount of geographies. That could keep you interested for quite a while but there are options to experience pre-set flight scenarios – such as storms and disasters, so you can practice your skills at handling damaged landings on extremes in weather while in the air.
There are also some bonus items included with the simulator that will not appeal much to the casual user, but to the serious simulator pilot – they are a bonus treasure. You can customize landscape to create your own scenarios as well as access any of the pre-set landscapes and conditions that have been drawn from actual flight data and war records. They provide the Kelpie Flight Planner which is an exact copy of a real-time flight planner plus a manual of flying that is almost 300 pages long. The bonus that everyone talks about though is the Aeron Combat Flight Simulator. You can fly simulations of real combat from historic and modern datasets in a plane, helicopter or jet.
The Final Verdict on ProFlight Simulator
It is pricey and intensive but well worth it if you are seriously interested in flying a true to life simulator. Plug-n-play gamers are going to be disappointed because there is a learning curve that has to be mastered to truly access all of the program’s features. For flight enthusiast though, this is a win-win program.