B. Ben Baldanza has worked for commercial airlines for over 35 years, including eleven years as the successful if controversial CEO of Spirit Airlines. Before Spirit, Ben held finance, marketing, and operations roles at American, Northwest, Continental, Taca, and US Airways. Having joined the industry out of college just a few years after the passing of the federal Airline Deregulation Act, Ben has seen the successes, failures, and innovations of the industry first hand and has worked with some its most colorful personalities. He teaches a class called “Airline Economics” at George Mason University in Virginia, and now serves on the Board of Directors for JetBlue Airways and GoAir in India.
Ben received on-the-job media training in his role as CEO, where he was often asked to explain Spirit’s policies and business model on CNBC, Fox Business, Fox News, CNN, CNN International, Bloomberg Radio and TV, and shows like the Today Show, Charlie Rose, and the O’Reilly Factor. His live TV interview with Gayle King is transcribed and used as a model for proper preparation and performance in a critical media program setting in the “Media Training Bible” by Brad Phillips.
Scott McCartney has 40 years of experience as a national reporter, at The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal, as well as a contributor to television, radio programs and podcasts.
He is president of Middle Seat LLC, a consulting firm, as well as an adjunct professor adjunct professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses on business journalism and Corporate America’s role in public policy and social issues.
McCartney is a frequent speaker at industry events, offers media and executive communications training and conducts research projects for airlines, airports, hotels and other travel companies. His work evaluates customer interactions, new ideas and initiatives and actions by competitors. He is an experienced podcaster as well as on-camera presence. One of his Wall Street Journal videos has had more than 6 million views. McCartney learned the airline industry from legendary CEOs such as Herb Kelleher, Gordon Bethune and Bob Crandall. He has studied loyalty programs, pricing,
FAA and DOT regulation, air-traffic control, airline route strategy, and aircraft seats and amenities. He graded and ranked airline and airport operations. He has written extensively and influentially about all things travel in his popular Wall Street Journal weekly column, “The Middle Seat,’’ which he created and wrote for 20 years. The Middle Seat was one of the Journal’s most-popular news fixtures.He is the author of four books including THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO POWER TRAVEL: How to Arrive with Your Dignity, Sanity, and Wallet Intact.
A native of Boston, McCartney spent 11 years with The Associated Press before joining the Journal in 1993. He is an instrument-rated, multi-engine private pilot and lives in Dallas.
Our Roving Reporter–the founder of TheAirchive.Net, has been an airline enthusiast, or #AvGeek, since he was five years old. He is president and founder of television production and promotion company, 2C Media, which produces TV shows and promos for national cable and broadcast networks.
Occasionally, 2C and Sloan produce programming that appeals to his passion of flying, such as the hit Travel Channel series “Airport 24/7: Miami,” which has just been renewed for a second season. Sloan also oversaw the TLC documentary on the building of the Airbus A-380 featuring John Travolta.
Previously, Sloan has held senior level executive positions with NBC, TLC, and USA Networks. Sloan’s aviation highlights include rare Boeing and Airbus factory and mock-up tours, being a passenger onboard the first revenue flights of the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, as well as flying on the world’s only flying passenger Douglas DC-7.
Sloan is a frequent contributor to Airways Magazine, CNN Travel, and The Points Guy. In his other life, Sloan is an avid married dad of two boys, decent off-shore fisherman, aspiring BBQ grill master, all around tech geek, and runs a humanitarian organization called Caleb and Calder Sloan’s Awesome Foundation. Follow him on @AirchiveSloan on IG and @Airchive on Twitter.
Chris Chiames has had a 30+ year career in the travel industry, including executive roles with Airlines for America, American Airlines and US Airways, where he served as Senior VP of Corporate Affairs and led the company’s public relations, government affairs, consumer relations and investor relations functions during two rounds of bankruptcy restructuring and eventual merger with America West. His travel industry portfolio has since expanded to include leadership positions at Orbitz, Sabre and Carnival Cruise Line. He has served as a strategist and spokesperson for major aviation and travel news stories and events: the Unabomber threat at Los Angeles International Airport; the Department of Justice’s unsuccessful effort to sue American Airlines for predatory pricing; multiple airline accidents and airline labor disruptions; the launch of the OneWorld alliance; new aircraft deliveries; the 9/11 attacks and subsequent aviation security enhancements; airline industry consolidation; and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris is a frequent guest speaker on reputation management, crisis communications and public relations strategies. He holds a BA in journalism from California State University, Fresno, an MA in journalism from the University of Maryland, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.