Hello Reddit! My name is Benjamin Zhang. I’m a transportation correspondent and I’ve spent the past five years covering aviation and autos for Business Insider.

I’ve written about airliners like the Airbus A380 Superjumbo, the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-900. I’ve also flown on private jets from Gulfstream, Embraer, and even Honda.

I’ve also covered the Boeing 737 Max scandal as well as the demise of the Airbus A380 program.

My airline coverage ranges from interviews with the CEOs of Delta, United, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Emirates to industry stories like the nasty dispute between US airlines (American, Delta, United) and their rivals from the Middle East (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar).

As an autos reporter, I’ve driven hundreds of different cars and written countless reviews. My reviews run the gamut from everyday cars like the Honda Accord or Toyota RAV4 to luxury cars like the Tesla Model X or Porsche Panamera. I’ve also driven ultra-luxury cars like the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Bentley Bentayga. And there are the supercars I’ve driven like the McLaren 720S, Ferrari 488 Spider, Lamborghini Aventador and Bugatti Chiron.

You can find all of my work at my Business Insider author page.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/tqz1dndpx2w21.jpg

EDIT: Hey guys, it's been a blast answering your questions. I've got to go back to work and write some articles. So, I'm signing off. I'll be back in a few hours to answer any more question you may have. Thanks! -Ben

Comments: 479 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

mommarun143 karma

Do the wheels on the airbus go round and round?

BusinessInsider96 karma

Indeed they do.

mrpotatomoto113 karma

Do you think SpaceX's plans of Earth-to-Earth commercial rocket travel (e.g. traveling from one continent to another in 30 minutes) is at all realistic?

BusinessInsider116 karma

It sounds interesting. However, I don't cover SpaceX, so I don't know much about it. I'd ask Insider's Dave Mosher about it. He's the expert.

islandcactus92 karma

What do you see to be the future of air travel? Are we ever going to get SuperSonics like the Concorde or more twin engine long haulers like the 777/ a350?

BusinessInsider128 karma

The market is dictated by what consumers are will to pay for. For what I see, the future is about quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Until, supersonic airliners can fly the same route as their subsonic rivals at equal or similar costs, it's going to be 777s and A350s from here on out.

DipSETTT87 karma

Which car had the worst drive feel?

Out of everything you've driven, what would you drive in a zombie apalcolypse and why?

BusinessInsider210 karma

Generally, big pickup trucks apart from the RAM 1500 are not great to drive, but then again they aren't designed to be "fun to drive."

As for the zombie apocalypse, The Toyota Land Cruiser is the only choice. It's the toughest and most robustly built vehicle in the world.

Eli_Siav_Knox76 karma

I am a huge fan of aviation and have probably studied every single aviation disaster in history and the reasons are almost always organization, coordination and communication more so than design. What current aviation practice do you think is the most likely to lead to the next big aviation disaster ?

BusinessInsider99 karma

It's tough to say. I don't think the industry is paying enough attention to fume events.

Sh00terMcDabbin64 karma

With the negative coverage of Boeing in recent months, what is your opinion on built quality in comparison to Airbus? I am in no way an expert whatsoever and this is purely anecdotal and could be very well biased given that I am an American, but most pilots I have talked to say that Boeing still delivers a more quality product all around. I am interested in what someone who knows both companies believes.

Also, do you see an end to the duopoly of Airbus/Boeing in the future?

BusinessInsider121 karma

Both Airbus and Boeing have proven that they can build quality planes. Especially when both OEMs source of many of the same component suppliers. Traditionally, Boeing's philosophy has been to focus on giving control to the pilots and letting the tech be there to help. While Airbus has been more tech-centric and that pilots play more of an oversight role. Which is why a lot of pilots especially in the US love their Boeings.

With the Boeing-Embraer JV and the Airbus acquisition of the Bombardier C Series, the duopoly is only getting stronger. There are now zero true rivals for the two.

mradamsilver45 karma

Which cars have the best auto pilot?

BusinessInsider61 karma

Cadillac Supercruise works well.

NDaveT41 karma

What is your favorite automaker and why is it Subaru?

BusinessInsider37 karma

I really like Subaru. a strong brand with great cars. It's not my favorite. To think of it, I don't actually have a favorite brand.

rossco1218939 karma

What is your favorite plane?

BusinessInsider95 karma

The Boeing 747. The jumbo jet is still the Queen of the Skies.

Mappinus38 karma

Hey Benjamin! Thanks for doing an AMA!

What do you think about the rise of budget airlines in the US?

BusinessInsider67 karma

Budget airlines in the US have brought down airfares in a lot of markets. It's helped democratize air travel in the US. People who would have traditionally driven or spend days on a bus are now flying. So they've certainly done some good.

CloudZ111636 karma

Hi Benjamin! How familiar are you with the Comac C919? Do you think it has the potential to challenge the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320?

BusinessInsider51 karma

The C919 is China's first true attempt at a modern mainline airliner. It's not going to a viable challenger for Airbus or Boeing. However, a successor to the 919 may be.

AsianBlueberry26 karma

Which middle eastern airline do you think is the best based on the price and quality it provides at that price?

BusinessInsider45 karma

Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all have really impressive product. I've only had the chance to fly Emirates and they delivered a solid experience at an affordable price.

pandamaster224 karma

Do you have any air travel tips?

BusinessInsider76 karma

Prepare your body for jet lag ahead of a long trip. Start adjusting your sleep and eating schedule to match your destination days before your trip. Your body can only adjust 1.5 hours a day to time shifts.

pandamaster222 karma

Thanks for responding. As a new driver, is there anything that I should know about cars?

BusinessInsider54 karma

There are very few really bad new cars out there. Also, certified pre-owned is a good deal.

Bboytweed22 karma

Any jobs going doing what you do?

BusinessInsider40 karma

Business Insider is actually hiring for an airline reporter. Check our careers page.

braylons16 karma

How exactly did you acquire this job? What led up to you being able to do this?

BusinessInsider26 karma

I applied to be an intern in early 2014 and have been here ever since.

preparingtodie14 karma

What's your daily driver?

BusinessInsider42 karma

My daily driver is a 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion that I never drive. I take the subway to work and I drive test cars on the weekend.

someguy77342069 karma

If you never drive it, is there a particular reason you keep it around?

BusinessInsider34 karma

My fiance drives it.

thehottestmess12 karma

What airline is the most worth it?

BusinessInsider9 karma

Depends on what you are looking for in an airline.

psubsp18 karma

What should we be looking for in an airline? What makes some airlines stand out from the others?

BusinessInsider31 karma

Look for a strong safety record, strong customer support (i.e. they are really responsive to people online), and have a reputation for great service.

truefent12 karma

Do you think the mystery of MH370 could be solved?

BusinessInsider11 karma


ThunderbirdJr11 karma

The best car you have ever driven? Personal opinion, driveability etc.

BusinessInsider21 karma

I've loved every Porsche 911 I've ever drive. Brilliant around corners, fast in a straight line, and easy to live with.

RESERVA4210 karma

Does your last name mean "Excellent! 👍" in Cantonese?

Have you ever flown a plane and given a review of it like a car review?

How do you keep your sentence structures fresh in your writing?

BusinessInsider26 karma

I don't speak Cantonese, but from what I know, it does not mean excellent. I although I think my last name is excellent.

I've flown simulators but never actual planes. I wouldn't trust myself at the controls of an airplane. Unsafe at any altitude.

I read. Taking in the writings of others is a great way to infuse your writing with fresh diction and syntax.

Aximill9 karma

How far off do electric planes seem to you? Any other "cleaner" fuels for planes like biofuels or hydrogen fuel cells in development?

BusinessInsider20 karma

There are many in the industry working on electric and hybrid electric commercial airliners right now. JetBlue and Boeing actually invested in a startup called Zunum Aero. They are working on a hybrid/electric regional airliners. Weight remains a big hurdle and batteries are heavy.

Flash3678 karma

What are your thoughts on the long term future of the Max 8? Now that it's dirty laundry has been extensively aired and revealed to be due to short cuts and the bottom line, will this significantly alter confidence in the product and upcoming purchases? There hasn't been much coverage yet, either, regarding how the Airlines really feel about the product they purchased and all its 'quirks'.

BusinessInsider12 karma

The long term future of the 737 Max is unclear. It really depends on whether Boeing can really come up with an effective fix and how short the traveling public's attention span is. At this point, Boeing has a backlog of more than 4,000 737 Max aircraft on the books, they won't be short on cash as long as they can deliver them.

Airlines are all about the dollars and cents. If the plane is safe, passengers are cool with the plane, and the crew feels safe, the 737 Max will still make economic sense.

tanq_n_chronic6 karma

We just bought a Nissan Rogue; what are your thoughts on the car?

BusinessInsider13 karma

Well designed, comfortable, fuel efficient. good cargo capacity. Good choice.

mmmmmmtoast6 karma

What’s your favorite weird quirk or cool feature from either a car or plain?

BusinessInsider8 karma

I'm a fan of the augmented reality landing systems that many private jets and airliners have. I believe it's called synthetic vision.

Leeloominai_Janeway5 karma

What do you think of self driving cars?

BusinessInsider11 karma

They are really cool. But probably a decade or more away from being truly viable.

escapesuburbia5 karma

What's one thing most people don't know about flying on private jets?

BusinessInsider24 karma

The comfy seats are nice, but the biggest advantage of private jets is the convenience. Imagine having a plane that operates on your schedule? It goes when you are ready. Definitely a power move.

nlimbach12134 karma

What is according to you the best car in terms of fuel efficiency without sacrifice in safety?

BusinessInsider7 karma

I don't think high fuel efficiency sacrifices safety, even in a smaller vehicle. There are tons out there that deliver tremendous economy with great safety ratings like the Honda Accord Hybrid, Honda Insight, and Lexus ES300h.

lanthanide3 karma

Dude, you went to UGA right? I think I knew you.

BusinessInsider5 karma

I did go to UGA. Go Dawgs

trucktalk573 karma

A lot of auto makers are moving factories outside the US. Do you think people really care about where their vehicles are built?

BusinessInsider16 karma

That's not technically true. US automakers are shutting down factories in the midwest and the northeast. But the auto manufacturing sector is strong in the south. Alabama has Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai. South Carolina has BMW, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz Vans. Georgia has Kia. Tennesee has Nissan and Volkswagen.

US automakers have built plants in foreign markets, but that's to build cars sold locally or within that region. It's much more feasible financially for them. Also, local production helps support growth in the local market. Which is why Honda makes Civics in Ohio and Toyota builds Camrys in Kentucky.

Lukdono3 karma

Hey Benjamin! I’m currently studying to be a part of the aviation industry (B. Sc.) in firms focused on the administration of either airports or airlines.

Do you think any will have more negotiation power/leverage than the other in the future or will a new business model prevail for air travel?

Thanks :)

BusinessInsider3 karma

I think both industries will continue to evolve. Not sure which side will have more leverage. Sorry, I wish I had more.

rjpsg2 karma

Will Comac be able to challenge Boeing and Airbus in the coming 10 years?

BusinessInsider9 karma

No. Not even if the Chinese government forces the state-owned airlines to take them.

Ken_Gratulations2 karma

Since you've done a boatload of car reviews - what cars do you own?

And what would you want to own if price did not matter?

BusinessInsider8 karma

I own a 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 4Motion and 2000 Nissan Maxima SE (That I don't drive anymore). If price didn't matter, I'd had a 1998 Honda/Acura NSX-T.

primefun2 karma

Which year Electric beats Conventional cars by market share across US, wild guess?

BusinessInsider6 karma

Hmm....2040? Not sure exactly, but EVs still make up roughly 1% of US auto sales, so there's a long way to go. Expense, slow charging times, and lack of charging infrastructure are major hurdles. Also, range anxiety is a real thing. Even in a Tesla.

The_Impaler_2 karma

What tips or advice do you have for choosing an airline?

BusinessInsider8 karma

Safety is #1. Look at their operating history and see if they've run afoul of regulators for operational and maintenance shortcomings. Could be a sign there are corners cut.

I'd also look at their responsiveness on social media and how they assist passengers. What truly separates a good airline from the bad is when things go wrong.

JustTom20182 karma

Do you like vegimite?

BusinessInsider6 karma

Never had it. Could be fun though.

justin_memer1 karma

Why are GM products such garbage?

BusinessInsider11 karma

GM products aren't garbage. They are offer quite a large number of compelling products. The Cadillac ATS -V was one of the best sports sedans I've ever driven the Cadillac CT6 is the best luxury sedan America has ever produced. The Chevy Bolt EV is probably the best combination of the range and value in the EV market.

Laya_L1 karma

Is there any other thing about the avaition industry that you feel we should be talking more about?

BusinessInsider4 karma

I think fume events are something we brush aside often.

eboy-magic1 karma

Do you like the Porsche Panamera?

EarlofATX1 karma

Do you know my friend Graham? If so, tell him hi and that we should geek out over transportation stuff next time I'm in NYC.

BusinessInsider1 karma

I know a couple of Grahams. But I'm always game to geek out about transportation.

Maybe_Black_Mesa1 karma

Which is better? The Bentley Bentayga or Lamborghini Urus

BusinessInsider10 karma

Urus. It's a really likable and easy to live Lamborghini. The Bentayga just didn't feel "Bentley" special to me. I know both cars built on the VW Group MLB evo platform, the Urus feels more like a Lambo than the Bentayga does a Bentley.

nathan_from_texas1011 karma

What’s your favorite car that you’ve driven?

BusinessInsider6 karma

The Porsche 911 never fails to please.

123321tb-1 karma

You look Singaporean. Are you Singaporean?

BusinessInsider1 karma


Marmite_Badger-2 karma

Benjamin, me ol' mate! Let's get down to the real questions.

Do you like Marmite?

BusinessInsider1 karma

Never had it.

yes_its_him-3 karma

But have you flown hundreds of planes?

BusinessInsider2 karma

No. You don't want me flying around out there.

someguy77342060 karma

Your experience with the flight simulators you have flown is that bad?

BusinessInsider1 karma

In an actual airline flight simulator, I quickly realized I didn't have the talent for the job lol