For the third straight year, we’ve brought together some of the biggest, sassiest names in aviation to judge this year’s BlueCity birthday cakes. Meet the panel and read their reviews of this year’s best homemade cakes below.
Brett Snyder, better known as Cranky Flier, is basically the world’s biggest aviation geek, with stints at USAir, America West, United, and even Eos (remember them?!) under his belt. He lives in Long Beach and can often be spotted volunteering at LGB Airport. Despite his name, Cranky is a really nice guy. Find him at crankyflier.com or on Twitter @CrankyFlier.
Henry Harteveldt is an airline and travel industry analyst by trade and a New Yorker by birth, which means he has a lot of opinions. A true aviation veteran, Henry has worked at TWA and Continental, and is now a travel industry analyst, which means he gets his name in the New York Times a lot. He lives in San Francisco — but spends most of his time in airplanes — and tweets his travel thoughts (and lots more) from @HHarteveldt.
Benet Wilson, affectionately known as the Aviation Queen, is one of the aviation industry’s leading voices. She is the new air travel expert at About.com and was previously a journalist with Aviation Week. An airline geek at heart, Benet has worked at Delta, Mesa Air, and Rolls-Royce North America. She lives in Baltimore, where she is currently learning to fly. Check out her blog at aviationqueen.com or her Twitter feed @AvQueenBenet.
Henry: As they may say in ORH, “wicked clevah!” The ORH cake concept is very “on brand.” I like how the cakes incorporate the first and most recent tail fin designs into its concept and the balloon design is fun. As someone who struggles to make a piece of toast, I admire the team’s decision to create a “cake of cakes.”
Cranky: Very impressed with their sneaky placement on top of a Dunkin’ Donuts logo. For some reason, that brand seems to have magical powers over people in the Northeast, but they didn’t realize two of the judges would be in California, able to resist. The balloons do look great – I can see the tail designs in there and they come together nicely. Though the way that number 4 is listing, it looks like ORH is weighing it down!
Benet: THIS works for me, even though there’s not that sense of place I like in my JetBlue cakes. Anything with a Dunkin’ Donuts tie always gets my vote. And I like how this cake shows a piece of the airline’s history by the use of the first and latest tail art. Nice job, ORH!
Henry: A lot of love clearly went into this! Kudos to whoever led this effort to make this a team-building exercise. Whoever did the frosting must be very patient; If I ever get stuck at PWM and experience a long delay, I hope I get to work with that Crewmember. I respect the effort it took to prepare this cake (especially the frosting). For me, however, the cake didn’t incorporate a strong sense of place about Portland, Maine, or JetBlue (aside from the blue icing).
Benet: While this is a perfectly lovely cake, it tells me nothing about JetBlue in general and PWM in particular. I always enjoy seeing cakes that give a sense of place. I wanted to see a big fat lobster (BWI did crabs on its winning cake last year), a fisherman, or the Portland Observatory. I *need* that sense of place or the JetBlue identity. I only know this could be JetBlue-related because of the color and because you told me so!
Cranky: Holy blue, Batman! That is gonna make anyone who eats that thing look like a Smurf for days. I’m a fan of the tall cake, but there isn’t anything Portland-like here. Oh sure, there’s the PWM in white, but you completely miss that. It’s not even on the cake!
Cranky: Come on, Austin. Aren’t you guys supposed to be weird? This isn’t weird! I like the blue and orange being brought into the cake – very JetBlue-y. But I wouldn’t know what those JetBlue-covered monuments are without an explanation. I can tell a lot of work went into this, but it’s not really coming together for me.
Henry: Brett, don’t confuse AUS with PDX. Portland, Oregon “owns” weird. That’s why we have “Portlandia” rather than “Austinia.” As someone who has lived in both Dallas and Houston, and spent plenty of time visiting Austin, I give the AUS team credit for incorporating so many local elements. Bonus points for using the orange that’s a hallmark of both UT and part of JetBlue’s color palette. And hey, is that a postcard on the side of the cake? All that said, the cake has a rather typical shape. I would have liked to have seen AUS come up with a more unique shape that better reflects Austin’s true distinct character.
Benet: This is much better than last year’s effort. I get a sense of place with this cake. And that postcard on the side is a great touch. My only nit – and it’s a small one – is I would have liked to see a shape different than a boring old square. Austin deserves better! And Henry, as much as it *kills* me to say it, Brett is correct – the slogan is “Keep Austin Weird.” Now will someone from the AUS station ship me some Amy’s Ice Cream and Salt Lick BBQ? xox
We loved all the cakes we saw, and would happily dip into any of them, but our panel has the final word! Here’s their vote:
Henry: I vote for ORH.
Cranky: Me too!