At the end of each year, I present the most read articles of mine in a neat little list for those interested – including me! This year I thought a Top 13 would be appropriate, as a little reflection upon the unusual 2020 we all endured. Each article garnered well over 10,000 views apiece.

For those interested, you can flip back and see my Top 10 from 2017, the Top 10 from 2018 and even the one from last year. Anyway, without further ado, here’s the list for which I hereby dub, “The year of the long titles”!

Clicking on a title, by the way, will take you to the article, if you wish to read it.

13A. Check out this video of Gladys Ingle changing planes mid-air… with no safety equipment!

This was my sleeper post of the year. When it originally went live, it received few views and I was disappointed as I thought it was a great story.

Happily it took off (ha!) a while later and did consistently well for the remainder of the year. I have all the respect for Gladys Ingle, as I really don’t think I could do what she did.

13. What is the new Qatar Airways Quisine economy class dining like?

Economy class meals always seem to be an afterthought, which is a shame. Qatar Airways, a member of the oneworld alliance, reimagined their meals to increase portion size and reduce packaging waste.

Having experienced it on two flights, I came away impressed. The simple presentation looks clean and tidy, plus the food portions are decent. More airlines could take a leaf from the Doha based airline’s book when it comes to economy class food.

12. What is First Class like on a British Airways A380?

During January I pulled out some vintage flight reviews that I originally published in the Trip Reports forum on, before I became a writer here. These randomly did extremely well!

This one was four years old when I published it here in January. Luckily the experience is largely the same these days, minus the excellent tasting menu.

11. How awful is it having to run for your British Airways Premium Economy flight to Sydney?

Hailing from December 2014, I re-published this in February. Having to run from plane to plane in Heathrow Airport is not something I would recommend.

Arriving at the gate in rivers of sweat is an unpleasant experience all round. Especially with a 13 hour flight ahead of you.

10. Is Cathay Pacific’s old business class seat (“the coffins”) really that bad?

Another one published in January but actually written in September 2009 is a review of a flight with the short-lived business class seats that Cathay Pacific used to have.

People used to complain about these seats. I never understood that as I thoroughly enjoyed my flight in them… though not facing the window would have become an issue had I been in them regularly.

9. Does anyone remember the long-range Boeing 747-400ER?

My ongoing “Does anyone remember…” series continued to attract a lot of readers throughout the year. In the series, I present a curated video selection about a particular aircraft that is rare or hard to find.

Qantas is the only airline to have operated the Boeing 747-400ER in passenger service, which made it a rare bird indeed. I am glad I managed to fly on it twice.

8. With British Airways BA1 cancelled, it is a great time to upgrade the plane, right?

Back when the pandemic was just beginning, it was announced that British Airways were stopping their Club World London City flights. Since the aircraft had an old product, I opined that perhaps it would be a good use of the downtime to upgrade the interior.

People were quite frankly shocked I would suggest such a thing, as though I had no idea a pandemic was on. I was serious though, it would have been relatively little cost since it was just one plane. Alas, I don’t think we’ll ever see it return.

7. Does anyone remember the fast short range Boeing 720?

Who knew people liked the Boeing 720? I was surprised that the article did so well as I never much cared for the aircraft. Clearly I’m in the minority!

Perhaps it was the atmospheric vintage picture that helped it, who knows. Regardless, I am happy that people seemed to like the piece.

6. Which aircraft has the largest windows for passengers? It’s not the Boeing 787.

This article went live the day before I created this list and did very well indeed, which is why there are actually 14 on the list, but don’t tell anyone! After some online research, I managed to find the window dimensions for a bunch of aircraft.

Since it was time consuming putting the article together, I am pleased it is doing so well. Looks like size does matter after all!

5. Is British Airways BA001 the closest you’ll get to a private jet?

Another January post where I re-published a flight review from 2015. The main point of doing this was just to get them over onto Travel Update to preserve them, more than anything.

I fondly remember my two trips across the Atlantic on the Airbus A318 with just 32 seats. This review was for BA1, London City to New York JFK via Shannon. I had a ball!

4. What does airline passenger hell look like? Seven seats across a narrowbody cabin, that’s what!

Aviation history is filled with interesting and strange stories and this one takes the cake. Squeezing seven seats across a narrowbody cabin that usually takes six actually happened.

For some reason, I still would have liked to have tried it once. My only regret with this article is that there was not a better picture of the cabin in question available to use.

3. Why did Boeing make Qantas a special version of the 707?

Aircraft manufacturers are usually loathe to make airlines special versions of their planes. It adds costs, means more work in certification, makes them harder to resell at the end of their life and so on.

Back in the 1950s, Boeing agreed to honour their original contract with the Australian airline Qantas, resulting in a version of the 707 that was unique. Both the first one and last one still exist today!

2. Why did Boeing make Ansett a special version of the 767 with a flight engineer?

Another one for the history books is where Ansett Airlines in Australia operated the Boeing 767 with a flight engineer. All the other airlines used two pilots, which is what it was designed for.

The story about why that happened certainly resonated with people. All I could think about was how much that would have cost over all the years they did this. Pilots are not cheap!

1. Why did Airbus make Indian Airlines a special A320 with different landing gear?

Europe’s Airbus does not usually customise aircraft, if you overlook the Airbus A380, which is customised for virtually every customer. An exception was for the Indian Airlines A320.

Back in the 1980s, some airports in India did not have the pavement strength to cope with the aircraft weight. Solution? More wheels to spread the load, making for a unique plane.

Overall Thoughts

Seeing more than one article record in excess of 45,000 page views, as well as others over 20,000, makes me pretty happy. After four and a half years of writing for Travel Update, 2020 turned out to be my most successful year in terms of overall readership. It’s actually been increasing each year, so let’s hope that trend continues.

My favourite article of the year is one that didn’t make the list. It is a flight review of Swiss business class, which was my first flight with that airline and first time on an Airbus A220. I enjoyed the flight, enjoyed writing the article and thought my pictures were pretty good. Happily, Swiss picked it up and published it internally, so it got plenty of exposure. It appeared on several employees LinkedIn, with even the crew seeing it, so that was great!

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for 2021. Perhaps we will be beginning to travel again, but it will still be months and months before that comes about.

What did you think of the Top 13 posts for 2020? (Yes, I did cheat, since the window post unexpectedly did well, there are in fact 14 now!) Are any of your favourites missing from the list? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Stefan Fluck on Unsplash.