As posted before, I flew to San Diego for a brief weekend getaway. Here's a rundown of my air-related experiences...
Airline: American Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing 757-223
Registration: N628AA (Delivered 1990)
Departure: Scheduled 6:25pm/Actual 7:15pm
Arrival: Scheduled 9:29pm/Actual 9:41pm
Left my office in Union Square around 3:30, arrived terminal 8 around 4:30 via Q train > LIRR > AirTrain. I had printed my boarding pass online, had 2 carry-ons and nothing to check, and passed through Terminal 8 security without any lines are hassle.
Terminal 8 is a real disaster. I know it's under renovation now, but it's still really grimy. Areas that are not being worked on are a mess so that's not an excuse. Very little to do past security in the way of food or shopping. Bathroom was in shambles, the wooden fixture beneath the sinks was busted open and none of the three stalls had operational locks.
Flight 127 was set to leave from Gate 4. Oddly there is a Gate "4X" which uses the same waiting area but the door is on the opposite side of the corridor. The 5:30 flight to Santo Domingo was using this weird gate so I sat near gate 6 where a pretty Malev 762 was preparing for its evening flight to Budapest.
Working on the flight deck.
With US Helicopter arriving from Wall Street.
We started boarding on schedule at 5:55. I had reserved a seat in row 12, unfortunately only a middle seat was available when I checked in online. Luckily, the flight was only about 85% full and I was able to move to an aisle seat in the row ahead of me with no one in the middle, and an extremely attractive lady in the window seat. It was immediately clear this was an older jet, as it had ashtrays in the armrests and the bathroom, even though they were sealed in place. Some of the plastic mouldings on the wall near my seat seemed like they had been displaced for repairs and then replaced incorrectly. The seats were worn but clean, the floor was clean other than a few weird food stains.
We pushed back about 10 minutes late, only to wait on line for about an hour before takeoff. The captain seemed somewhat amazed by how long the queue was, though the weather was fine so I think it's probably like that every day around that time. He told us we could use our cell phones and other banned devices until we were 4th or 5th for takeoff, which is when I pulled out my Treo and made this post. Saw lots of heavies waiting to take off for Europe. Air France 777, Turkish A340, Austrian 777, PIA 742 and others.
We took off strong from runway 13R and out over the Atlantic, then made a hard right U-turn to take us west over Staten Island and New Jersey. The captain said our cruising altitude would be 33,000 feet, and we would follow a route which would take us over Pittsburgh, St Louis, Topeka and some other cities out west which I can't remember...since I didn't have a window it didn't really matter.
The IFE consisted of the small monitors above the aisles broadcasting some clips from miscellaneous CBS shows followed by a movie. The movie was Take The Lead, an atrocious thing starring Antonio Banderas as a ballroom dance fiend who decides he needs to teach Harlem kids to waltz and tango. The earphone jacks were compatible with regular earphones, or you could buy some to keep from the F/A for $2.
The food was "Food for Purchase" which I always thought meant sandwiches and decently hearty stuff. On this flight the only options were "Snack Box" for $4 or "Asian Salad with Chicken" for $9. I went for the snack box thinking I might be pleasantly surprised. I was disappointed to find it was exactly the same as the old snack boxes you would get for free, with crackers, spreadable cheese, raisins, Lorna Doones. The only difference: A SLIM JIM! It wasn't a real Slim Jim, but it tasted pretty much the same and I quickly felt my blood pressure spike as the salt poured into my bloodstream.
The flight was pretty uneventful. Hot window seat girl was nice and we tried talking but my Spanish isn't that great and her English is non-existent so we kinda gave up. She asked one of the F/A's for a blanket in Spanish and he didn't understand, so I interpreted for him...and even though I obviously spoke English, he apparently thought I was with her and addressed me in Spanish for the rest of the flight which I thought was pretty funny.
Saw some lightning below and in the distance out over the plains. My notions that liquid containers were banned from carryons were somewhat upset when I saw a guy in first whip a giant bottle of Curvoisier out of the overhead. WTF?
I couldn't really see the approach too well due to my lack of a window, but it seemed like we circled out over the Pacific and came back. Thankfully I was able to see out the left side and the view on final was amazing...the downtown skyscrapers are maybe a mile to the left and at eye level and above as you're descending.
For whatever reason they use door "2L", the door just ahead of the left wing, for 757s at SAN, as seen here on this Delta with paint issues...
It was a bit of a long walk from the gate to the doors to get out, but the terminal was very nice and renovated-looking, clean and well lit and the signs were pretty good. My friend was waiting for me at the escalator, we walked out a door and there was the bus stop, and the bus came right away. Plane door to the door of her apartment right downtown was only about 25 minutes and $2!
Airline: Delta Air Lines
Aircraft: Boeing 737-832
Registration: N397DA(Delivered 2000)
Departure: Scheduled 10:10pm/Actual 10:12pm
Arrival: Scheduled 6:15am/Actual 6:20am
After a great weekend in beautiful San Diego, I headed back to "the nation's busiest single-runway airport." Took the bus again. SAN consists of three terminals...the Commuter Terminal, Terminal 1 which is mainly Southwest, and Terminal 2 which is American, Delta, US, jetBlue, Hawaiian, and others.
The registration of the aircraft I was on is in question. On the front gear doors it says 3727, but there's no active registration containing 3727. Also, the ACARS search thing says it was N3766 that did flight 1870 and flight 1871 (which 1870 arrived as from ATL) that day.
This was my first time on a 738, and the cabin was clean and modern as you would expect from a 5 year old jet. I took my reserved seat 14A, window seat on the left side next to the engine. This flight was also only moderately full and while most rows were full, I had mine to myself! This made me very happy because I was going straight to work from the airport and wanted to get at least a couple hours of sleep.
The view from my "bed".
What I didn't understand were the several people who brought young children on a redeye. The kids were getting pretty loud, and I got really concerned as I needed to sleep. Eventually they quieted down, and to insure that they stayed out of my ears, I put in my Shure soft-foam earplug-style earbuds and turned on some music.
We rolled to the opposite end of the airport to take off. There was a short wait while a plane landed then we taxiied into position. The engines were much quieter than the 757 at takeoff power and cruise. We took off to the southwest and circled back toward the northeast. There was a beautiful view of the city through a break in the clouds which would have made an amazing photo had I been able to set up in time.
The entertainment was provided on several small drop down LCD monitors. When we first took off there was a GPS map rotating between different views of us on the map, our speed, distance travelled, etc. Later they put on a movie, Ice Age 2. Unlike American, you had to purchase their headphones to hear the movie.
I stayed awake for the "refreshments" portion of the flight, which was essentially a smaller version of the American snack box, then I closed the shade and went to sleep using a Delta blanket as a pillow on the wall.
I woke up with the sunrise around 5:30 over north central Pennsylvania. We began our descent over the Poconos but couldn't see anything because of the thick haze. We crossed over northern NJ, upper Manhattan, northern Queens right over LGA, just south of Phil's house, over my house, then made a right down over the Atlantic and another right to head west toward JFK. Thought we were heading for the 31s, but we went around for 13R visual which was pretty frikkin cool.
That's about it. Fun weekend. Comfortable flights. The end.