This trip report has been in the making for a long time. As a kid, my father was in the military and we spent time stationed in Hawaii. As a youngster, this was a fantastic place to live. We get to go to the beach every weekend? Mix plate from the drive-in for dinner? Shave ice from the North Shore? Such is the life.
However, I haven’t been back to the Islands since I was 12. Now that I’m older and married, I always wanted to go back and visit the old haunts, plus see what is new. My parents had the same idea, and they had been saving for YEARS to take the family back to Oahu. Since my wife and I were living in the East Bay (Oakland-Alameda), they would fly from Baltimore and we would catch a Hawaiian Airlines flight out of Oakland the next day. I had never flown HA and always wanted that experience. But, I had to throw a wrench into the plan…I got a job outside Des Moines. That meant that I had to find a way to get back to the East Bay before we headed to Hawaii. Plus, I wanted to take my brother to an Oakland Athletics game, as he heard many a story about the bleachers and the great fans we have sitting there.
June 22, 2012
United Airlines 467
Takeoff RWY 23
Departure Time: 0631 CST
Arrival Time: 0658 MST
Departure Gate: A4
Arrival Gate: B39
My first flight of the day was pretty early. The evening before, I had a late meeting at work, went to my barber to get a fresh fade (I hadn’t seen my wife in a few months, and she likes when I get a nice bald fade and lineup), then helped my grandmother cater a graduation at an addiction recovery center. I didn’t get much sleep, so in the morning I drove to the airport, stop at QuikTrip to get some candy, and hit a great early morning breakfast spot close to DSM.
Nothing like Perkins in the Morning
I parked at the long term area, took the shuttle to the terminal, dropped off my luggage, and made my way through security. DSM has undergone some renovations since I was a student at Iowa State, and is now beginning to look like an airport that is serving a growing metropolitan area. We even have strict security! I went through the body scanner, and even got an extra pat down for good measure! I walked around and observed “RJ City”, as I call it. There was an FL 717 heading out to MKE, and a DL MD88 going to ATL. There isn’t a lot to see or do in DSM, either than check out the gift shop.
DSM check in area
"Redneck wine glasses"...smh
Des Moines...let us exceed your already low expectations! (Quote from an actual Raygun shirt)
Walking around the barren terminal got boring real fast, plus it was really early to get a glass of Templeton Rye, so I sat down and started reading my Kindle Fire. Within a few minutes, we were boarding our aircraft.
View from the seat
Our flight crew introduced themselves and guaranteed “exceptional service”. The crew seemed pretty chipper this morning, which coupled with a beautiful Iowa morning meant we were going to have a great flight. One thing though…no Channel 9 on this segment! Once fully loaded, the pilot headed out towards RWY 23 (RWY 13/31 is closed until September for taxiway work) and a powerful takeoff. Video below:
Takeoff from DSM
Our routing took us direct over Omaha and Lincoln, at a final cruising altitude of 38000ft. The crew came by and offered their service with smiles and small talk with us. I ordered a coffee (one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had on United was on this flight), and kept reading my Kindle Fire. I was reading “The Operators”, a great story about the Rolling Stone reporter who followed Gen. Stanley McChrystal and captured his comments regarding his chain of command, among other things, and his eventual removal from his command. The flight was incredibly smooth and clear skies were visible for miles. Just a beautiful day for flying!
View after takeoff and turn towards Omaha
View of Greater Omaha
Closeup of OMA and Downtown Omaha (can you make out CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park Omaha?)
Eventually we began our descent into DEN. At first we were in a gentle descent. But I’m sure the Denver Approach wanted him to get down lower, and so we went into a good steep descent to get into DEN. We landed rather rough on RWY 16L, and a good amount of breaking action was used to get us slowed down.
Descending into Denver...smooth as silk
Landing in DEN
Welcome to Denver!
We parked at gate B39, and then I headed out towards my next gate. Before that, I made sure to give my sincere thanks to the crew and pilots for a job well done. It wasn’t very far (B46), but I stopped to grab a Caribou Coffee then head to the gate
United Airlines 467
Departure Time: 1024 MDT
Arrival Time: 1139 PDT
Departure Gate: B46
Arrival Gate: 68
I got to our gate, then we were told there was an air traffic control hold at SFO. “Great…must be a cloud formed over the field” I told myself. I called my wife and told her to check united.com for my arrival time. I also texted my brother (they flew BWI-LAS-OAK) and told him I was delayed, and our lunch plans at Zachary’s Pizza in Rockridge would possibly be cancelled. I kept reading my book and took this picture of a UA 777 in new colors.
The Boeing 777...just a beauty!
As soon as I powered up the Kindle Fire, boarding started. I ran to my seat, sat down, and tried to take a few pictures. The window was pretty scratchy, but I did my best. Thankfully for this segment Ch 9 was available, so I got to hear all the action happening on the airfield. We taxied towards RWY 25, held at a waiting area to be released, then headed out to the active runway for a powerful takeoff.
View from the seat
Had to reach behind my seat to get this image
View of the Jeppesen Terminal
Our climb out of DEN was pretty choppy until 11000ft due to high winds, but I’m used to the rocky departure out of DEN heading west. The pilot got us to our cruising altitude of 36000ft pretty fast, and I kept reading my Kindle Fire. I really didn’t get good pictures from this flight, as I was pretty uneventful. The cabin crew wasn’t as friendly as the first flight; I just got a cup of coffee and minded my business. We flew direct to San Jose and intercepted the RWY 28R approach path. I was able to get this picture through leaning out towards the window behind me:
Passing the East San Jose foothills
I was able to make out downtown San Jose, San Jose State University and Spartan Stadium, SJC, the Dumbarton Bridge and the famous San Mateo Bridge (“SFO Tower, United 467 at the Bridge”). We coasted for a smooth landing on 28R. We taxied to gate 68, and I ran off the plane to collect my luggage and meet my wife.
Our bird to SFO
Quick view of part of United's terminal at SFO
She picked me up, and I drove (as I miss the wonderful Bay Area traffic) across the San Mateo Bridge to our hotel near OAK, where I met up with my family. Later that evening, I took my wife and brother to the O.Co Coliseum (or just the Coliseum, as we call it) for the Oakland Athletics-San Francisco Giants “Battle of the Bay” baseball series. We sat in Section 135, right behind the “Flag Guys”, who are known for waving A’s flags at every chance they get. Pitching change? Wave your flag. Strike out? Wave your flag. Got a fresh cup of $8 beer? Wave your flag. Plus, there’s our favorite fan with his vuvuzela, blowing his horn every chance he gets (if you listen to A’s games on radio, you can make out the horn very clearly). It was a pretty festive environment, with some of our family friends being die hard A’s fans or (unfortunately) rooting for the Giants. The A’s held the lead late, but eventually lost in the top of the 9th inning.
View from the bleachers
First pitch...getting the flags ready
Bottom of the first...A's getting ready to strike
LET'S GO OAKLAND!
Vuvuzela and flag...multi-tasking
Next up is Part 2 of the journey, or as I call it: How to kill 8 hours in the Oakland Airport with a 6 year old