March and April were good months for me. My wife, son and I moved to Portland, Oregon from Central California in early January, and we were finally settled. My new freelance web/graphic design career was taking off, and for the first time in recent memory, I had a little extra money to spend. Having looked through flight options, I thought a trip home to Toronto for a few days to visit my family was doable. It was also timed perfectly to surprise my grandfather at his 80th birthday party.
To keep costs down, I chose to fly to Buffalo instead. BUF is a modern airport with much less traffic than YYZ, it's within 2 hours of Toronto, and it usually means that flights from the west coast end up costing about half as much. Many Canadians fly to BUF for this reason. Travel to Toronto is easy by road, taking about 2 hours, minus the time through customs.
This was actually the first time I'd be flying alone in quite awhile. I love my young son, but doing a cross-country trip with a 3-year old can get pretty nerve-wracking. When we all travel, the name of the game is to get there as soon as humanly possible, but for this trip, I wasn't under those constraints. I chose an itinerary that only an aviation freakazoid would love (yes, I mean you and me both, dear reader).
The round trip involved a total of 6 separate legs, 2 different airlines, 3 types of aircraft I haven't flown on, 2 airports I'd never been through, and over 10 hours of layover time for terminal wandering and taking pictures (and that doesn't include time spent at the airport before the first flights of the travel days). Yes, you know...the kind of itinerary that makes your spouse roll her eyes, and say, “if you ever book me on a flight like that...” Oh yeah. You know that type of itinerary.
From the moment I booked it, I couldn't wait for May 2nd.
Finally, it was the day before departure. I'd be getting there on Northwest Airlines, PDX-MSP-DTW-BUF, starting on a 757-300. The 2 later flights were on DC-9-50's, which I'd never flown on. The only DC-9 I'd ever been on was a US Air DC-9-30, and that was over 11 years ago. I had checked in online, and changed my seat from the back of the plane to 17F, since a whole block of priority seats in the front of the economy section had opened up.
There was a family birthday across the river in Vancouver, WA the night before my trip, and I was stuck doing laundry when we got back. I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight, and my radio alarm rocked me into consciousness at 5 the next morning.
I opted to take TriMet to the airport since I didn’t want to get my wife and son out of bed so early. At quarter to 6, I was standing out in the pouring rain at 17th & Haig waiting for the #17 bus into the city. The trip was short, and after a quick stop at Voodoo donuts for some fuel, I walked over to Skidmore Fountain MAX station and caught the Red Line light rail to the airport.
Looking fugly but excited on the way to the airport
The train was almost empty so early, and I was at the airport at about quarter to 7. I checked my bag and picked a checkpoint. There are 2 security checkpoints at PDX you can use, and often, one will be less busy than the other. However, they both seemed pretty long this morning, so I just chose the one nearest my gate.
What followed was kind of surreal, the TSA agents were cheerful and cracking jokes with passengers. What’s in their coffee, and may I have some? It took about 20 minutes, but I was through security. I started by heading to my gate and snapping a nose-only picture of the plane. I was hoping to get one of the newly painted Delta 753’s, but this one was still in the NWA scheme.
N581NW, my ride to MSP
I decided to take off and wander around since I’ve never gotten the chance to freely explore PDX before. I covered most of the 4 concourses on foot, and even snapped some photos of my aircraft from the B concourse.
Hawaiian Airlines 763 later heading to Honolulu
From the side
A northwest sandwich
Hey don't lose my bag!
Love those squat little engines
American Airlines Mad-dog
N581NW – getting ready to take me to MSP
What a catch!
I came back to my gate, and at that point I wondered about the people who just go to the gate after clearing security. You’ll be stuck in an airplane seat for hours, so before then, you want to just sit at a gate for hours? I guess not everyone finds airports as interesting as us av buffs.
In the last few minutes before boarding, I kept overhearing chatter from the next gate over. A flight was about to leave and one of the passengers had left a sweater somewhere else in the terminal. Well the Northwest groundcrew was doing everything possible to locate it and get it back before the flight departed, ending with one of them taking off and actually running through the terminal to pick it up and bring it back to the aircraft. They made it with 2 minutes to spare. Wow! How come we only ever hear about the pissy airline staff?
Leg 1 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW218 - PDX-MSP
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 757-300, N581NW
Load Factor: ~98%
Scheduled Departure: 8:50AM
Actual Departure: 8:47 AM
Boarding was called and I used that excuse to head for one final bathroom visit, and then boarded the plane. I had a great seat in front of the engine but unfortunately, the window had some gunk on it, so my photos weren’t as spectacular as hoped. I was sitting next to an older couple, and the gentleman in the aisle seat seemed to have issues with his hip and wasn’t able to move easy. This became a problem later on…you’ll see.
For a fully-loaded 753, the boarding process was surprisingly quick, and we pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule. It was still gray and rainy outside. We taxied out to Runway 10R. PDX had just the other day closed the other main runway, 10L/28R, for a runway extension project.
The engines roared, and we climbed into the murky gray. We stayed in the soup for quite a while and finally surfaced into clear skies.
Out of the clouds and into the blue
Over the Rockies
I sat back and enjoyed the flight, as instructed by the captain (I was just following crew member instructions, ha ha). About an hour into the trip, I started feeling pressure as my morning coffee was catching up to me. The drink service was slowly traveling down the long and narrow aisle, and since one of my seatmates had trouble moving, I waited as long as I possibly could before asking them to clear out so that I could run to the bathroom amidst a flood of my own apologies.
Unfortunately, I was stuck back there for 10 minutes or so, and I came back to find that half an episode of Frasier (among my favorite shows) had already played. I watched the rest of it though. It was the episode where Martin & Cam Winston’s mother pretend that they're dating to drive their kids nuts, and Niles was darting around on a Segway scooter for no reason I can think of other than because Segway gave them a lot of money.
I spent much of the rest of the flight listening to my puny iPod mini on my gigantic noise-canceling headphones, but 45 minutes out from MSP, I had to admit that I was feeling a definite urge to make a bathroom trip again. However, I couldn’t make my seatmates move again in good conscience, so I had to hold it.
We came in from the east, and finally touched down on 30L. By now my bladder was screaming at me but there wasn’t anything I could do until I was off that plane.
Over the threshold
Reversers & spolers deployed
This 757 landed behind us
Ooh! Delta 747!!!
The aircraft pulled up to the gate, but sat there for another 10 minutes waiting for a marshaller. THE AGONY!!!!!!
Next gate over
As the plane docked, I realized, holy cow, I can’t really ask them to move to let me out…I’ll have to wait for the entire plane to get off first. I had just accepted the imminent bursting of my kidney when they offered to let me out, and I managed to squeeze into the tiny spot between a particularly large passenger and another who either didn’t know I was there or refused to move an inch forward to give me room. You know the way people are before they get off a flight.
Exiting the plane, I made a beeline for the nearest bathroom, screamed HALLALUJAH in my head, and finally, zipping up my pants, walked out into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
I had a 3 hour layover here, and was happy to just go wandering. I walked down the Lindbergh Terminal's G concourse, went across to C and up towards D and the observation deck. After walking for a while, I realized just how big this terminal is. Freakin' huge!
NWA E-jet – MSP was full of them!
The last time I had been at MSP, even though I knew roughly where the observation deck was, I still couldn't find where it actually was. At the time, I just gave up and assumed that it has been closed for security reasons ('twas the season). But this time, I wasn't going to give up that easy. I soon found it and headed up there. Well, it certainly was quiet. There was only one other person up there, a gentleman chatting quietly on his cell phone. I made myself comfortable, took out my camera, and snapped away.
The classic MSP C concourse lineup
US Airways flight pushing back
Bowling shoe A319 – probably will be in Delta colors soon
After a while up there, I headed down to look for some lunch. I chose to get a Grilled Veggie Sub at Charley's Philly Grill. It was tasty but a bit too greasy. After that, I wandered down toward the commuter gates, concourses A & B. I took the terminal tram to get most of the way there.
Delta MD-80 from the food court
Saab 340 pushing back
It amazed me how quiet these commuter gates were. I didn’t see any more than 5 or 6 passengers at any one gate. I guess I stood out like a sore thumb, as some wierdo walking back and forth in a near-deserted terminal snapping pictures. However, an interrogation never happened, so maybe not.
Bowling shoe CRJ starting up
I slowly made my way back to the observation deck to spend the last little while before catching my next flight to Detroit.
An E-jet under perfect lighting...tears to my eyes!
Delta 747-400...does anyone else think their new livery looks really boring on such a large aircraft?
Back up on the deck, there were only 2 people up there this time. The entire time I was up there, in 2 visits of over 1 hour total, only 5 people had been up there, not including me. What a waste of a good observation deck!
Delta taking over...
There goes the DC-9
I think CR9's are so damn good looking, especially in the NWA scheme!
Panorama of the C concourse
40+ year-old DC-9-30
Slightly newer A319
Aha! A 'Delta' A320. I was happy to catch one.
US Airways E-jet...I still much prefer this classy livery to the newer US Airways scheme.
With 15 minutes until boarding, I sauntered over to my gate, just 2 gates from where I arrived. While waiting to board, I called home and then wandered over and found a great view of the aircraft through the tall, thin windows spaced across an access walkway.
N779NC – my ride to Detroit
Catering truck wondering why it's there in the first place
At last…time to board this beautiful old DC-9!
Leg 2 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW1446 - MSP-DTW
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-50, N779NC
Load Factor: 100%
Scheduled Departure: 5:05 PM
Actual Departure: 5:05 PM
I had chosen a seat right beside that big engine. I figured, might as well go for the real DC-9 experience!
Hehehehehehe – whadda view!!!
The flight pushed back, again on time, and oh man, those engines starting up…it was something wild!!! The whole back of the plane was vibrating and it was hard to hear anything else. Regrets? HELL NO!!!
Taxiing by widebodies
Ah, a Delta A330
A newly-painted 753, N590NW – was hoping for this one on my flight from PDX
The plane launched like a rocket off of 30L and turned south-east towards Detroit.
The quintessential Northwest Airlines photo – Minneapolis viewed from a DC-9!
The in-flight service was beverage-only and quick, I ordered a cranberry-apple juice and gazed out the window.
It didn’t take too long before we entered Detroit airspace, and buzzed over the suburbs. I had no idea about the city geography, and so I wasn’t sure what direction we were headed. I saw the city center off in the distance, but we turned away from it and landed shortly thereafter on DTW's runway 22R.
I was pretty surprised at how lengthy the taxi was. 22R empties onto the Q taxiway and that seems to meander around the edge of the airport a ways before turning up towards the South Terminal.
After a long taxi
Rounding the South Terminal
I got to see an interesting sight. I think that because the inside A gates have such narrow taxi space between the terminal and the terminal access roads, multiple departing flights all push back and startup at the same time, so then arriving flights can taxi in to take their place. I saw 4 DC-9’s being pushed back simultaneously, and then taxiing by us shortly thereafter. We then followed 2 other DC-9s in.
Note the 4 DC-9s pushed back and starting up
Waiting for the area to clear
Another docked DC-9
Off to the runway
Pulling into our gate
We pulled into the gate and powered down. Wow, I can hear again. It took a while to get off the plane, but I was, for the first time, in Detroit.
I was right next to the terminal train, so I popped up there for a free ride, one of the things which I thought would help pass my 2-hour layover.
View of the train & terminal from the South Station
Video: Going for a ride on the train!
Now THAT is one good-looking plane.
I had been warned about a nasty DTW feature…the thousands of tiny window dots. So unfortunately, pictures were mostly out of the question, although I did try for some more creative ones later in the evening.
I settled down at Waterworks Bar & Grill and ordered a tuna melt and a couple of beers. I was carded, as usual. I’m 31, but I still get carded 80% of the time when I buy alcohol. I guess it will be more fun when I’m 50 and trying to get a senior’s discount. In any case, dinner was great.
Still with some time to kill, I wandered around a bit more, took some more snaps. Man, I really hate those dots. Look at the great sunset shots that I could have taken. What is the point of these dots other than to annoy people to want to take a picture?
Dots. Thousands and thousands of little tiny dots.
The dots are less visible from a distance
A78 – for some reason, no dots here!
The original looks like there's a halftone pattern on the photo.
Finally I was able to calm my ass down about the dots when I thought, yes, I'm pissed that I can't get any decent photos, but at least I'm not the guy who had to paint these hundreds of thousands of little tiny dots all over the windows. Man it would suck to be them. (Anyone who thinks that a machine did this, don't ruin it for me! It's the only way I was able to get over it!!!!)
I ended up down in the tunnel to the B & C concourses. They have a light, color and sound show set up and it’s pretty trippy…even more so after a couple of beers.
Woah man, the walls are alive....
I wandered back to my gate, and after taking down the registration of the aircraft sitting there, realized that it was the exact same plane that I had taken from MSP.
Leg 3 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW1684 - DTW-BUF
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-50, N779NC
Load Factor: 80%
Scheduled Departure: 9:31 PM
Actual Departure: 9:31 PM
Boarding was quick, the aircraft was about 80% full. I tried to snap a picture of the aircraft beside me, but it was too dark for anything decent. I finally put my camera away, after a great day’s shooting.
Last photo of the day!
For my third flight today, we departed on time. That’s 3 for 3, for Northwest Airlines! Well done!!!
The flight took off, but with a flying time of just over half an hour to BUF, there was no drink service. Ah well, not a problem. I was pretty tired by this point and just dozed and listened to music.
Before I knew it, we were touching down in Buffalo and the plane emptied into a near-deserted terminal. My parents met me shortly thereafter, and we drove home to Toronto. Had a little interesting event at the Canadian border crossing, a car ahead of us was taking an excessively long time going through, and finally the driver gunned the engine and pulled sharply over to an inspection building. When we were cleared through, we saw two customs agents searching the car and the driver was nowhere to be seen. Smuggler?
The next 3 days went like a whirlwind. The birthday party was a lot of fun, and I spent the rest of the time with my family…talking with my mom, trading Photoshop techniques and photographs with my stepdad, checking out my father’s newest collectables and helping with his vending machine route, meeting my stepsisters for a drink, and having breakfast with my aunt and grandparents, as well as my brother and my 1-year-old nephew.
The day before leaving for home, I checked in online for my Continental Airlines flight back to Portland, routing BUF-EWR-IAH-PDX. It was kind of a roundabout way to get back to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd never been through IAH and I was looking forward to flying in a 737-500 & -900 for the first time. Large blocks of seats had opened up on the 3rd flight, and I gleefully grabbed an overwing exit row window seat. No such luck for the other two, so I stayed where I was.
My father and stepmother drove me out to Buffalo the night before. There was a 5-minute wait going through customs, and we soon after arrived at the Millennium Buffalo Airport Hotel, a 3-star find on Hotwire for about 60 bucks. I checked in, had a refreshing shower, and then lazed in bed eating microwave popcorn until I fell asleep.
My alarm went off at 6 AM, and I packed up the rest of my belongings. I also took a few snaps out the window.
Walden Galleria Sign
View over the hotel complex
I got on the hotel shuttle van a little before 7 AM. I think everyone else on board was Canadian since they all seemed totally mesmerized by a Tim Horton's that we passed by on the 10 minute drive to the airport. “There's Timmy's!!!”
I checked my bag at the Continental self check-in & bag drop kiosk. Those things are so convenient. Security was a breeze, BUF just opened up an expanded screening area and I was through in only a couple of minutes.
At that point, my flight was about an hour and 15 minutes away from boarding. I wandered the terminal and finally ended up in a big, glassed in area at the east end of the terminal. No one else was there because it was heating up fast. The traffic was slowgoing, but I still got a few snaps of incoming and outgoing flights.
I'm surprised US Airways flies a 757 to BUF, the only other US plane I've seen there is a CRJ
Ah, nice find.
US Airways CRJ
Southwest aircraft being towed to the gate
Our Continental Connection (Colgan Air) Q400 flight arrived a little later than scheduled, and pulled up to the jetway.
Here comes my plane!
The turnaround was done super-fast, and we were soon boarding.
Leg 4 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO3404 – BUF-EWR (Colgan Air)
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Bombardier Q400, N195WQ
Load Factor: 95%
Scheduled Departure: 8:40 AM
Actual Departure: 8:40 AM
I took my seat right next to the port-side propeller, and a *very* talkative woman in her late 40's sat next to me. I got the feeling at first that she was nervous, since one of the first things she said is that a plane just like this one crashed a few months ago. However, I didn't see anything to indicate that she was anything more than just really talkative.
The flight pushed back, AGAIN on time, and those engines hummed to life. Even though the prop was right next to me, it never got all that noisy.
We taxied out to runway 23, and without delay, accelerated and took off into the bright, hazy morning.
My seatmate and I ended up talking for the entire flight, and even though I'm not the most talkative person, I quite enjoyed it – some people have very disarming personalities. She was extremely proud to be traveling to Raleigh-Durham for her daughter's graduation from Duke.
Later in the flight, I excused myself to take some snaps.
Big ol' prop!
It wasn't a long flight, and before long we sunk down into the New York City area, which was much cloudier than Western New York State. We popped below the ceilings a few minutes before landing, and below us sprawled a very busy Garden State.
As we neared touchdown, I looked across to the parallel runway, where dozens of aircraft were in line for takeoff. The only other time I've flown to EWR, I got stuck in a line like that for takeoff and it sucked. Ah well. The pilots did a greaser of a landing on 4R, but the reverse thrust was really something that had to be felt to believed! I couldn't believe how fast that plane decelerated! Man, the Q400 sure puts the 'S' in 'STOL!!!'
Long lineup of departing flights
The line keeps going...
El Al 777
This guy's waited far too long...let's get this baby off the ground!
”Uh, I think there's a Dash 8 stuck in the engine...”
We crossed the parallel runway after a 5 minute wait, and taxied into the C concourse. I was expecting the A concourse. Is this because Continental Express uses A, and Continental Connection uses C? We pulled into our gate, and de-boarded.
Coming into the C Concourse
Parking next to a 735
My seatmate commented that the prop looked plastic...is it true?
Thanks for the ride!
My layover was scheduled for a little less than 2 hours, which was more than enough time to wander EWR. I got to take some pictures of Continental's beautiful 777's.
Hazy Manhattan skyline in the background
Nice looking T7!
More Continental tails
Despite how many people comment that EWR is particularly anti-spotting/photography, I was never once approached or even given an inquisitive eye.
I still think it's odd to see 737's without the eyebrows
Whadda you lookin' at?
I think 757s are the most attractive aircraft from the front
As I kept wandering, it occurred to me how boring it was taking pictures in the C concourse. Continental has no logojets or anything, and all of their aircraft are in 1 scheme. Nothing transitional, no new liveries to catch or old aircraft waiting a repaint. Everywhere you look, same old same old. Plus, the cloudy sky didn't do anything to brighten things up. I didn't have the time to travel to any of the other concourses, so I just dropped by Vito's Gourmet Deli and had an absolutely fantastic tomato, basil & mozzarella panini sandwich. Yes, I know, Continental feeds you, but on my flights I couldn't order a special meal, and I'm quasi-vegetarian (I eat seafood occasionally, but no other meat). So, I doubted the snack-meal would likely be very useful. Not a problem though, that was a damn good sandwich.
After that, I wandered back to my gate, and got the best picture I could of the aircraft that was going to take me to IAH.
Once more onto the breech!
Leg 5 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO411 – EWR-IAH
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500, N46625
Load Factor: 60%
Scheduled Departure: 11:45 AM
Actual Departure: 11:45 AM
It was a fairly empty flight, with about a 60% load factor. The 2 seats next to me remained empty during boarding, but after the door closed, an off-duty flight attendant sat down in the aisle seat. I kind of was pissed about this, because I wasn't going to test how strict she'd be with the no-electronics rule. I grudgingly put away my camera as the flight pushed back and started up...once again, ON TIME. Wow. 5 flights out of 5 on time. What's happened with US air travel?
The taxi was short, and I noticed that the runways had reversed and we'd be taking off in the opposite direction, compared to the direction we'd landed a couple of hours ago. Not only that, but the huge traffic backup was completely gone – there were only 2 aircraft ahead of us in line for takeoff, and soon after, we taxied over the piano keys, the engines roared, and we were off.
The climb out of New York airspace was fun, with tons of turns and rapid changes in climb speed.
We cleared the lower clouds, but there were high-level clouds way above us, so we never really saw the sun until much later in the flight. At last we were above 10,000 feet and I was able to take pics again.
Wings across America
The meal service came, and it was a turkey sausage roll...it looked tempting and I considered breaking my 2 year stint of quasi-vegetarianism, but only for a short minute.
Later during the flight, I saw a huge airport down below, but I couldn't recognize it because it was mostly covered with clouds. I took some pictures to look it up later, turns out it was ATL. Too bad the weather wasn't nicer.
The weather seemed really unsettled through the entire flight, even though we hardly hit any turbulence. Check out some of the clouds along the way.
Almost eerie cloud formations...
There was no one sitting behind me, so I spent most of the flight fully reclined, listening to my iPod, dozing, gazing out the window and struggling with the Sudoko puzzle in the in-flight magazine. It was a really quick 3 1/2 hours, and as the cabin was being readied for landing, the clouds broke somewhat and I saw the coastline which I later realized was where Texas meets the Gulf of Mexico.
Once again, the camera went bye-bye. We landed on runway 27 and it was a very short taxi to our gate in Terminal E. I got off the plane into Houston, my first time ever in this airport. Now, I had almost 4 hours to kill until my next flight. I dreaded that it was going to be as dreary as EWR, but some sun shone down through the haze improving my photos, and I started walking.
In the sake of wasting time, I took the inter-terminal train over to the B Terminal, where the Continental Express flights operated from. I swear, from the train, I saw nothing other than ERJ's over there...with one exception...a CRJ at what looked like a maintenance building. When actually in the commuter terminal, I walked to the end of one of the piers, and, other than crappy photos of just the nose, there were no decent shots I could get. I took the train back to the main terminal and continued wandering.
The connecting bridge between D & E gave me this view of the D departures level
I stopped to rest a few times, trying to stretch out my visit...and I visited every corner of the C, D & E concourses. I ended up in the D concourse taking pictures of the BA 772, AF 773 & LH 744, as well as other aircraft hanging around.
Getting tired of writing captions
When getting into position for a half-blocked picture of an EK 772, a Qatar 772 landed in front of my eyes. I was so excited, since I'd only ever once taken a photo of a Qatar plane, an A330 in 2002. But here was a beautiful new 772 in their new livery.
Rrg, who put that thing there???
I stood around waiting for it to taxi in, and got some great shots. What a beautiful bird!
Captions are irrelevant
With that success, I settled in to a restaurant for a greasy veggie-burger dinner and a few glasses of Fat Tire. Yummy!
Much loosened, I kept walking around for the final hour. It was actually well timed because I was never far from a bathroom. That was helpful when the seal broke!
Our flight, a 737-900ER, arrived late and we were told that there would be about a 20 minute delay. Great, my last leg would be the only one that was delayed out of 6 flights...now that I was anxious to finally get home.
I couldn't see the registration from where I was, so I motored over to the C gates where I was able to snap a shot of N37419.
Our plane, fashionably late
It was worth it to walk all the way over to C to get the registration
Took a few more while walking back.
I was among the last passengers to board, by choice...I wanted to make one last trip to the bathroom, to clear out the last of my beer rental. I took my place in a very spacious exit-row window seat.
Leg 6 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO553 – IAH-PDX
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900ER, N37419
Seat: 16F (exit)
Load Factor: 90%
Scheduled Departure: 6:40 PM
Actual Departure: ~7:10 PM
The woman next to me was again very talkative, and we chatted off and on for about half an hour as the plane pushed back, started up and taxied out...about half an hour behind schedule.
Next door neighbor
We sat on the runway for several minutes before taking off into the evening sun and turning north-west for Portland.
As the sun set, I got lots of shots of the great-looking winglet and the dying day.
Like many of Continental's newer aircraft, this one had no IFE of any kind. Too bad! I would have enjoyed a movie to pass the time, this turned out to be a really dull and long flight.
The snack-meal service came, but it was chicken, outside of my diet choice so I didn't take it. It's ok, that's why I ate before boarding. I did get a Heineken, though.
At this point, I got really bored. The seat, while spacious in the legroom department, wasn't so comfortable for my rear end. I squirmed a lot, listened to music, and tried not to concentrate on how slowly time was passing. I swear it's been a long time since I've been that bored on an aircraft. I just sat there watching the minutes slowly tick by over the 4 ½ hour flight.
Tried to be creative
It took FOR-EV-ER, but finally we entered the Portland area. It was wet, just like when I left, and we flew through patches of heavy rain which illuminated quite well against the aircraft lights. We came in from the east, along the Columbia River, and finally touched down. Apparently, my wife and son, sitting in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot, saw my plane go by and touch down.
I was so anxious to get off the plane and home, so of course it seemed to take twice as long as usual to taxi in and deboard. I made a bee-line out of the secure zone, and was one of the first to pick up my checked bag. My wife picked me up on the departures level (the arrivals level was bumper-to-bumper), and I was soon heading home. It was after 10, and unfortunately my son was fast asleep by the time they picked me up. I missed that little guy!
In any case, despite the loooooooooong last leg, I had a great time. My thoughts were that the service on my Northwest Airlines flights was superior to Continental, having judged this based on 3 flights on each airline. Continental had no in-flight entertainment of any kind on any of the aircraft (not expected for the Q400 of course, but it would have been nice on the longer legs). I know that they have IFE upgrades coming soon in the form of PTVs though. The flight attendants, while polite, didn't seem like they were all that excited about being on board. On two of the legs, the FA's were doing something else when I boarded. Call me old fashioned or prudish but I always appreciate a smile and a greeting when I'm getting on board. Continental's free hot food is certainly a wonderful feature these days, but I do wish I had the opportunity of getting something veggie. I know that they vary their snack-meals, and some of those meals don't have meat. Maybe since they're mass produced, they could mix the food items up on each flight just to try to cover a few extra bases - instead of just offering a 'chicken-or-nothing' ultimatum. Well, I was probably one of the only passengers who didn't take it so it's not all that important in big picture. In any case, their aircraft were pretty new and very clean inside...and no gunk on the windows!
Northwest Airlines, while seeming pretty bony on the on-board service front (thanks for the cookie), gave me smiling flight attendants on all three legs, 3 on-time departures, and I couldn't get over how that ground crew in PDX was going to all that trouble just to get a sweater back to a passenger. They've really got some good people working for them. I wish them the best on their new partnership with Delta Airlines, which is an airline I have yet to fly on. Maybe next time!
Note the addition of the D95, 735 & 739 to my signature below. Woo hoo!
Thanks for reading and I'd be happy to get any feedback!!!