Goodbyes are bittersweet.
This one, in particular, will be a tough one for me after so many years.
The story began eight years ago as a simple email that was called, “Pics of the Day.”
It was summer 2010 when my friend, Pat, and I would send each other links of awesome airline photography, taken directly from airliners.net. He was working at Allegiant at the time, and I was fresh out of undergraduate. We had both interned at Southwest Airlines together several summers back and found a common thread amongst us as #AvGeeks.
Overtime, the distribution list on the e-mail chain would grow as Patrick found more people at Allegiant HQ in Las Vegas to read my daily, “plane porn” email. I would theme it, such as, “DC-10 day” or “Into Finnair,” choosing some random, cheesy topic that would appeal to the masses and had corresponding photos of said theme.
More than two dozen people would eventually join the chain by the end of that summer. People would want to be the “guest star” writer who sent out the email. It was a small, yet growing, community of random #AvGeeks linked from around the world.
The tradition continued when I started my first job in Chicago, IL, and all the sudden, people’s passion and interest in the airline and travel industry continued to grow. As a Consultant, I met many people who were flying out Monday – Thursday each week who became miles and points junkies, but also could tell the difference between an American Airlines MD-80 and a United Airlines Airbus A319.
My friend Catherine described it best: “it’s kind of like your passion and interest in airlines, traveling, points, miles, and so forth is like becoming a foodie or a wine connoisseur: it may appear obscure at first when you’re younger, but over time, people start to take a genuine interest in it, and they will get more on your level.”
In January 2012, I decided to stop e-mailing, and created a word press blog, called, ‘Aviation Daily.’
Real original, right?
It was similar to my, “Pics of the Day,” email, but served as a repository for my thoughts, opinions, and ideas about the on-goings of the airline industry. The world around us was being shaken up by the minute. American Airlines was re-organizing in bankruptcy. United was merging with Continental, Southwest with AirTran. SAS nearly went out of business, possibly following the fates of Spanair, Malev, and Kingfisher. Qantas was forming a joint venture with Emirates, and Qatar Airways was joining OneWorld. Lufthansa had taken the new 747-8I, continuing the trend of keeping the Queen of the Skies in the air for just a bit longer, while Singapore Airlines was dumping its ultra-long haul flights on 4-engine aircraft. The 787 had gone into service and then would be grounded for months.
The aviation world was out there and I wanted to write all about it.
Writing and having my own blog served as a source of therapy. I had a blank canvas and I could paint whatever picture I wanted. But, I also wanted to have a portfolio, a collection of proprietary research and analysis archived in a singular place. It was less about the feedback I would receive from readers and more about keeping a diary. When an event transpired that piqued my curiosity, I wanted to write about it. I wanted to dig-in, and not cut any corners. I went big or went home.
I did this for over a year. It was rewarding, and people were supportive and gave both good and constructive feedback.
But, as any blogger knows, writing and maintaining your own blog is a huge undertaking. Readership can be easily generated via keywords, fancy content management sites, all sorts of tricks that have created full-time jobs and careers for people in digital mediums. That all is great, but writing for me will always be a side hustle, like teaching yoga and recording podcasts. I needed to be plugged into a place that had the organizational structure in place to support my writing (and, perhaps, have the added benefit of a readership base).
I was fortunate to stumble across Upgrd.com in March 2013, and attracted the attention of Mike Cargian. A New York-based blogger and AvGeek himself, Mike took me under his wing and saw that I provided a different, “niche” to Upgrd with writing on the economics of the industry. But, Mike also saw value in nurturing my desire to write about loyalty and points. I was learning the ropes of status matches, travel tools, technology, different things that would be of value and use to others.
I called the blog, “AeROspace:” a play on several words: Air + Rohan + Space = “Aer Roh’s Space” for his blog.
I can feel you cringe from thousands of miles away.
In a parallel vein, I started writing for AirwaysMagazine, but the split in writing actually helped me become much more organized in terms of fit. Airways allowed me to write analytically, but upgrd enabled me to write passionately. I could speak freely about Pax Ex, and other things.
Then, Upgrd was acquired. We found out randomly in the fall of 2016. I remember getting a call from James Dozer and talking to him for 45 mins via phone while I was house sitting for my parents. I had recruited James and Sriram to join Upgrd. Now, we were about to embark on a new journey. Like people from a company who deal with an acquisition, the phone call was laden with a mixture of speculation, venting, optimism, skepticism, and all of the above. Who was this guy Scott Mackenzie? And I had never heard of Travel Codex – now all the sudden, I’m technically a “boarding area” writer? What the what?
Scott took us under his wing. He gave us an entirely new set of tools, data, and analytics to allow us to blossom as writers. I became versed in SEO concepts and other metrics to help me capture a broader audience. We grew proliferously under his leadership, and he took us into places we had never been before.
I was given full reign to do what I wanted. I could continue to write trip reports, do my Friday AvGeek series on route maps, and write about gadgets and gizmos.
This went on for nearly two years. Like Scott, I was a workaholic: pursuing my MBA while working full-time and maintaining the blog. But, Travel Codex continued to be a source of therapy for me. I loved writing too much to place it on the back-burner.
However, life has had other plans for me.
As some of you may know, I was in a unique position to be able to maintain a travel and airline industry blog (or rather, blogs) despite being employed by a major US airline. There were certain rules and criteria that I could abide by as long as my job duties and my writing duties were never compromised.
While that hasn’t changed, for the most part, I’ve taken on a new role that has tighter restrictions, and places a lot of things in the gray area. For the time being, the best decision moving forward is to put a pause on my blogging career indefinitely.
It’s something I’ve known about for months, and something I disclosed to Scott well in advance, but even knowing that this day would come does not prepare one to discontinue something that they love and enjoy. Not to mention, I feel like I didn’t even get to write about half of the things I wanted to write about in the final few months, as I was preparing to overhaul my work and personal lives in relocating to a new city and company.
I’ll still be around, though. My social media accounts and website, rohananand.com, will remain active, albeit entirely focused from here on out as a mnemonic for documenting my flight log, travel photos, etc. No more trip reports, reviews, analyses, etc. for the time being.
That may change in the future, but for now, I wanted to say thanks. To all of you. For being my supporters, naysayers, naggers, cheerleaders, and friends since the very beginning.
Oh, and please don’t leave me off of any invites to AvGeek meet-ups. FOMO is a real and powerful thing.