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Network 2008: Airline Speed Dating

Posted on 03/04/2008 by Kristie VanAuken

I have been in beautiful San Diego since Saturday; and let me just say that I can understand why folks spend millions to live here. Sunshine-check. Beautiful harbor view- check. Palm trees- check. Aircraft carriers and big cruise ships- check. Fun night life… and oh yes, about 30 airlines-check.

I am here for an event called Network 2008. It is a gathering of airports, airlines, airplane manufacturers and industry experts. We are all trying to figure out what to do next; where to grow; where to stop growing; and in the case of the airlines, with whom to merge. It is fascinating really. Of course there are the usual cast of airport characters: the bigs (Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, etc…), the meds (Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, etc…) and the pikers (Akron-Canton, Knoxville, Tri-Cities and Flint). There are bunches of others too… check out the web site if you must know them all.

I met with eight airlines in all. I had great fun when Cleveland's very own Todd Payne was meeting in the next booth over with the same airline as me. Imagine that! He may not have thought it was funny but I did.

The San Diego Port Authority treated us to a wonderful evening last night aboard the USS Midway. An aircraft carrier commissioned in 1945 just after the end of World War II. After years of amazing service to the US Navy, the USS Midway is retired here in the Port of San Diego. We went aboard, had an amazing dinner, flew combat missions in simulators, learned about incredible heroics by US service men and women and danced to live music. The band was even kind enough to let me take the mic for a bit. I sang…"give me the beat boy and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock –n- roll and drift away…" What a hoot! My girls Melissa and Christine also sang and danced on stage.

It was a great time and a wonderful compliment to the intensity of back-to-back airline meetings. Thanks to Airline Business Magazine for organizing this wonderful event. Next year the speed dating relocates to Dallas- Ft. Worth. That'll be a treat for me since I went to school about an hour north of Dallas at Austin College.

The trip has been fantastic but I sure am looking forward to returning to my kids, hubby and good ol CAK.

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Kristie Van Auken

Kristie VanAuken
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer

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