Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a fireside chat. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea.com. But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one. Now on to this weeks chat.
Most travel blogs are about points. ModHop is unique. Sure there are other sites that in a basic way show a chart about a seatmap but that is about it. Jake, the “voice” and writer of ModHop takes it to such a new level you have to follow his site. Also he touches on so much more than just the seat you are about to enjoy on your trip like airport lounges, hotels and even trains. Let’s sit down and get to know Jake!
Rene – Hi Jake it is so great to sit down with you. I just really LOVE your blog. I love to hear your inflections when you review good and bad parts about seats/lounges/hotels/trains! Not just informative but just flat out fun to watch. But I am jumping in too far. First, you, what made you decide to do your unique site and how did you end up calling BA home?
Jake – Modhop, like many of my life choices was born out of anger. I was on a Delta 757-200 to Manchester in an exit-row seat that SeatGuru gave their “green” rating to. What they (at the time) failed to mention was that there was a massive exit slide that I had to angle my legs around if I wanted to stretch out. So I figured I’d start a site that lets people actually look at the seat. Pictures of seats led to video and the more comprehensive reviews I post today.
Boarding Area became a home after a friend who travels frequently for business suggested I contact their team, so I did. BA was familiar with what I had done to that point and after reviewing the site further, let me into the club.
Rene – Oh, sigh, I have been in that Delta 757 seat ONCE you are talking about. That is what I think is so great about your site, it takes all the things we wish were there and gives it to us with a fun flair. Next question, do you take requests? I kid, a little. Your site is self hosted and thus the very different look than some BA sites. Have you found the way you do videos and focus on PEDs a better way for readers to get the great info you post?
Jake – That’s the goal with our new, responsive site design. Pages automatically resize to best fit the device you’re using whether it’s an iPad, Android phone, Blackberry, heck, maybe even your Coleco football game from the 80s (we haven’t beta tested that one though…no promises.). There are bound to be some kinks as we roll the new look out, but it should be a better user experience overall.
Rene – This may be the least organized fireside I have done so far but as a big fan of your site I am jumping all over anyway (fun to do on ModHop too). Tell me more about Jake. What is your background in travel and other than uber helpful and cool info what else can we learn from you?
Jake – When I started Modhop, my travel experience was sort of a jumble. I had just recently started traveling internationally a few years before but had done it with a vengeance. Trips to Asia and Europe on some pretty unique carriers were part of my motivation to start Modhop and years of domestic travel just fueled the fire.
I think what makes Modhop unique is that it uses video to focus mainly on the upgraded flight experience and less about points and miles. I try to cover a wide range of upgrades from extra legroom seats in economy to Über-fancy business class seats aboard international carriers. Everyone loves an upgrade, I just hope to help readers find one that works best for them.
My desire to travel and love of all things airplane and lounges can be traced back to my childhood. My grandparents would take me out to MSP just to visit what I think was then known as the Northwest Orient “Top Flight Club”. I remember being fascinated with their ability to access a secret room with free snacks and soda. Visits to the airport also included brief lessons on how to tell an Airbus plane from a Boeing and maybe a story about my grandparents travels. They’ve inspired me in a lot of ways but those little field trips sparked my curiosity in regards to flying and lounging.
Rene – I know some others at BA are into all kinds of media like Travis from EPoP who does his podcasts. I understand you are into XM radio and we can follow you there too. Tell us more about that.
Jake – My professional background is almost all radio. I’ve worked at big radio stations in Minneapolis (my hometown), Washington DC, Miami, Houston and others over the past 15+ years hosting music shows and producing the interstitials that go in between songs as a producer. The latter is my main job at SiriusXM but I still host a weekly show on Alt Nation, our alternative rock station and fill in for absent DJs on a few channels. You’d think this would help my narrative skills but there are some weeks when my modhop videos sound like I’m half asleep. Despite my best efforts I often forget to remind myself that I should never record voiceover first thing in the morning or after more than 2 drinks.
Rene – Neat. I love learning new stuff and can’t wait to check that out and it is fun to learn the background of the BA bloggers too. So what else can we look forward to from ModHop over the coming months?
Jake – I’ve got tons of footage stacked onto my hard drive ready to be edited into bite-size modhop reviews. In the next few months we get close up with Asiana Smartium business, Eva Royal Laurel class and LOT Polish Elite Club seats aboard their 787 Dreamliner. One of the flights I’m pretty excited about is a hop to LA in JetBlue’s new “Mint” class in June. Look for us to post live from the flights and a full video review not long after.
Rene – I cannot wait – exciting. Jake I cannot thank you enough for all the hard work you do on ModHop and for sitting down to get to know the Jake behind the blog!
Jake – My pleasure. Thanks for being patient with my fear of fire by letting me sit on the other side of the room. Is that a Duraflame log or real firewood?
You can follow ModHop on his blog at BoardingArea, on Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and subscribe to his RSS feed and contact him as well. Be sure to check back next Sunday to get to know another of your favorite BA bloggers. – René
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