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Guest post: Vishal Mehra’s list of top commercial aviation blogs, websites, and resources

Today, we feature a guest post by a regular reader of Bangalore Aviation, Vishal Mehra, a Digital Marketer by profession, and an aviation geek by passion. At our request, Vishal prepared his choice of top aviation sites and resources. We are honoured to be among some of the best known names in aviation information. Thank you Vishal.

Devesh Agarwal
Editor

A busy apron view of Bangalore International Airport India

With my last post, The Social Dutchman, I reached readers from 24 countries with inspiring feedback, providing me the urge to do better with my next. A benchmark was set for me and for over two weeks I thought about how to engage with more geeks like me, whether those are Social Media, Digital Marketing, Technology or in the case of this post, Aviation Geeks, or as they are called on twitter, #AVGeek.

There would have been other lists done before, maybe yes, then what is the value addition I bring to the table? As a Digital Marketer, I get asked this question on daily basis.

I bring my own experience of being an ardent aviation reader for over three years to the table, during which I have been to over 120 aviation websites and blogs.

I have been fond of airplanes for as long as I remember, being in awe of pilots walking to their craft, clicking pictures with crappy cellphone cameras, reading every word of safety manuals in seat pockets,  along with my fellow AVGeeks, was probably the biggest fan of Pan Am, the show which ABC dropped, nerdy stuff like that but I delved more into the industry with the arrival of twitter, my favorite social network as I mentioned in the last post as well.

So this list compiles seven of the best commercial aviation related web resources (listed alphabetically) that I know of, hopefully enthusiasts, from noob to pro level, all of them would find something they like.

In the spirit of Bangalore Aviation, your comments are welcome. You will find the comments section below this article..

Airline Business Blog

Although Airline Business is a monthly international magazine for senior airline management, it also has a blog on the flightglobal blog page, focusing on “a sideways look at the airline industry”.

13 other blogs jostle for attention on the same page, including the famous FlightBlogger. With such rich content and renowned contributors, Airline Business Blog has carved a loyal following for itself by providing unparalleled coverage on Airline News, Interviews, Infographics and well researched opinion pieces.

Max Kingsley-Jones article on Boeing’s 787 at this years Farnborough show has been 1 of my favorite off late, summing up the Blog for me by being precise, studied and descriptive.

Arun Rajagopal’s How to know your Airbus from Boeing

Although Arun’s blog is full of marvellous information about aviation and his trip reports (Read this with a tissue; his report on last Kingfisher international flight), this article, more so a plane spotter’s guide, as Arun explained me himself, has been “one of the best things I have ever done in my life”

Differentiating between an Airbus and a Boeing aircraft is one of the most important things for an enthusiast, a conversation starter and a handy way to show off among your friends, I can vouch for the last one.

Arun wanted to know more himself and realized there wasn’t any resource online suitable enough for him, so he wrote his own guide, took him 2 weeks but clearly it was well worth it and we can consume those 2 weeks of hard work, complete with explanatory pictures, in less than 40 minutes.

Aspire Aviation Analysis

This is where I come when I need commentaries on issues pertaining to Asian aviation scene in large. Their location, Hong Kong, one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs, certainly helps in their coverage of stories.

Although Aspire Aviation is primary an aerospace consultancy business, their analysis section piques my interest with every visit, Daniel Tsang, the founder and chief analyst of the site told me he wanted to start a blog where he could express his views about industry developments and with time they added editors increasing the diversity offered.

Daniel also realized that Aspire could provide qualitative analysis for free, instead of hefty fees charged by others, as information cost fell significantly and they were in a unique position to provide Asian perspective to issues.

Besides Asian Aviation, Daniel, along with Vinay Bhaskara has also authored detailed posts on Airframe manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier.

Bangalore Aviation

I remember visiting Devesh Agarwal’s Twitter page, through Mashable’s top aviation list in 2009, which led me to BangaloreAviation.com.

Since that day, without a shadow of a doubt, Bangalore Aviation has been my first stop for everything related to Indian Aviation news and analysis; turns out hundreds of thousands of other enthusiasts feel the same way.

Devesh, joined off late by Vinay Bhaskara, has this uncanny way of making the industry approachable for newbies, as well as make the pros feel at home, with their concise approach and detailed analysis. I, especially look forward to Airlines financial analysis, which Vinay undertakes for the site.

I understand aviation has been in Devesh’s blood since childhood, he has flown aircraft, has covered millions of miles as a passenger, and advised the Minister of Civil Aviation on Bangalore’s HAL and BIAL airport, giving him an edge which very few can boast of in this beat.

Cranky Flier

I’m not at all surprised that Crankyflier.com usually figures in the top aviation blogs list everywhere, as Brett Snyder has been responsible for one of the world’s best online destination for people’s thrust (literally) for aviation industry.

My regular lunchtime reading aviation tweets usually have a link to a latest piece on cranky and I marvel at the ease with which the articles envelop the reader with excitement and information.

Brett calls himself the President and Chief Airline Dork for Cranky Flier LLC, and that dorkiness has been with him since he was a kid, like going to LAX to pick up airline timetables and birthday gifts which led to plane spotting. He has worked with airlines, travel companies and now consults on various projects, along with running a personal concierge service.

You should visit crankyflier for insights and happenings in American aviation industry, and checking up on Brett’s regular articles for Conde Nast Daily Traveler and other blogs.

SimpliFlying

Simpliflying is probably the world’s best combination of marketing and aviation for me. Shashank Nigam’s (CEO, SimpliFlying) quote during our discussion explains it best, “Our brand engagement with a can of Coke is about 10 minutes. With Starbucks, it’s about 2 hours. But with an airline, it’s anywhere from 2-24 hours. And that’s just within the cabin. So why do airlines keep applying the same marketing principles as Coke and Starbucks, despite seldom turning a profit?”

That’s why we have Simpliflying today, right from explaining how weather problems are airline brand business, to key influencers making a difference, Shashank and his team have explained all this and more through easy to understand infographics, video content, presentations, interviews, webinars, articles and even an iPhone app.

The Points Guy

I came across thepointsguy while I was preparing myself for a business trip to US and it has quickly become my go-to site for information on frequent flyer programs, credit card and hotel deals.

Although I would admit that the site is mainly focused on American readers, it still has some great resources for overall understanding about collection points, like The Beginners Guide, which has step-by-step instructions to become an addict.

For my travel, I was able to extract two important links concerning my hotel bookings, for example: I got to know how I could earn up to 5x air miles (in my case, it was KLM Flying Blue) by staying at Hyatt Reston, and another link helped me in deciding between going for Hotels.com free nights or Hotel Points offered at their sites. (I went with the latter of course).

During my communication with Brian Kelly’s office, the founder of the site, I was able to clearly see that unlike other similar sites, he disseminates information to his readers in a more intuitive, easy to understand and most importantly street smart way to work effectively with the system.

It has inspired me to travel one day in J class with a bag full of miles and points, instead of cash.

SPECIAL Mention:

I would like to mention Live From A Lounge, hosted as part of Boarding Area, an India dedicated site for Credit Card, Airport Lounges, Hotel and Airline miles, run by AJ, I certainly enjoy reading his reports and he answers reader questions frequently as well.

Update: I have received an email from AJ, requesting for some additions to this summary :

LFAL is an India-dedicated site covering Indian aviation and hotels, focusing on how to travel smart and in style from India by making the best use of deals, miles, points and credit cards offered in India. Live From A Lounge frequently features in the Top 20 travel blogs worldwide as per Technorati, the global authority on blog rankings.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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