During the first week of training, we learned some of the most important functions of SHARES, such as building a Passenger Name Record, checking people in, and charging ancillary fees. I also had a great time with my buddies from Appleton, but by the time Friday came around, everybody was ready to go home.
My class was over around 1:30 p.m. and since I had already checked out of the ALoft hotel, I headed straight for the airport. As the hotel shuttle approached the terminal, we were granted an awesome view of a LH 744 taxiing across the bridge above us. These are the moments in which you need to have a camera ready -- and with my luck, I never do.
Oh, well. I should see some more heavies today, right???
Friday, August 24, 2012
United Express (operated by ExpressJet Airlines)
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-145
From: Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Terminal 2, Gate E3
To: Appleton, WI (ATW), Gate 4
Departure (scheduled/actual): 5:55 p.m./6:09 p.m.
Arrival (scheduled/actual): 7:03 p.m./6:40 p.m.
The shuttle driver dropped me off in front of Terminal 1 and when I walked in, I was relieved to see a short line at the Economy counter. After a couple of minutes it was my turn to use a kiosk (although I could have easily checked myself in using SHARES )
The machine spit out my boarding pass and an agent behind the counter asked me for my airline ID and tagged my bag. I got in line at the security checkpoint and took in the scenery. How many airports have one of these???
The TSA lady asked me for an ID and I whipped out my ATW SIDA badge, just like I do every time I fly. She grunted at me and said it wasn't an acceptable form of ID, since she's never seen an ATW badge. I was astounded by this! Not only is it a government ID, it's an ID from a frickin' airport! Not wanting to make a scene while representing my company, I complied with her moronic demands and pulled out my Wisconsin driver's license. I guess she's seen one of those.
This is where my screening experience gets really embarrassing. At the X-ray machine a TSA officer asked "Who's bag is this?" and I told him it was mine. He pulled out a can of beer and said it wouldn't go through (obviously). In my haste to pack up my hotel room at five in the morning, I put it in my carry-on instead of my checked bag. Not only should I know better than to bring a liquid through the checkpoint, it was an alcoholic beverage nonetheless! I told him to throw it away and began walking to my gate.
The FIDS listed it as E3, so I had to go over to Terminal 2. Going from T1 to T2 is like going from Ruth's Chris to McDonald's. Actually comparing the terminal to Mickey D's is giving it too much credit -- it's an outdated, cramped, ugly facility. But it did have one thing going for it -- Mad Dogs!
What can I say? I'm a Delta guy at heart.
US Airways also serves Terminal 2 and I watched one of their A320s arrive from PHX. This flight turns around and then goes back to PHX, with a tag-on to SAN.
Now this is a rare sight -- battleship UA and new UA together.
With plenty of time before boarding, I decided to do some more walking and since I hadn't seen much AA on this trip, meandered over to Terminal 3. On the way there I found this cool indoor garden on the mezzanine.
I need this sign for my apartment!
In case you can't tell already, I love these beasts from Long Beach.
This is the spot of many a precious family photo, I'm sure. Since I didn't have my family traveling with me, here's some random people instead.
This MD-80 was going to AUS.
Finally! Some more heavy action.
An hour before my scheduled departure, I decided it was time to return to my gate. A flight to GRB was boarding when I showed up. UA really likes to group the Wisconsin flights together. When I arrived at ORD last week, ATW bags were on the same carousel as MSN and MKE.
My ERJ-145 arrived from CHS and the gate agent drove the jet bridge over, revealing one of the few remaining tulip signs at ORD (although there are still a good amount of tulips on GSE at ORD).
Boarding commenced and this group of experienced travelers boarded properly by group. Groups 6 and 7 were called and I approached the podium. The friendly gate agent noticed my airline badge and asked me if I was working for UA. I explained that my company was taking over the UA contract next month and he welcomed me to the United family. What a kind gesture!
When I stepped aboard the plane, I saw a teenage girl sitting in my seat, 11A. I didn't know what to say, so I simply said, "Hello?"
She replied, "Oh, are you sitting here?"
When I told her "yes," she got up and moved. Maybe I'm nitpicking here, but I think it's a bit rude to just sit in someone else's seat before boarding is even done. This isn't Southwest. She moved over to the exit row, so she came out ahead anyways. I just wasn't about to give up my 'A' seat. That's the best part about flying on the ERJ!
Unlike the ERJ on my first leg, this aircraft featured a row of gray seats, after every three rows of blue seats. I figure this a holdover from the Continental Express days, but does anyone know why they did this? To the average passenger, it must look like they just forgot to replace the seats in a few rows.
A company ERJ-145 parked next to us at E2B.
The engines were started during push back and as soon as the tug was disconnected, we powered out. It appears that we were leaving in between banks, because I saw very little UA metal during our taxi.
The AA compound at ORD.
I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. My window looked like someone took a piece of sandpaper to it!
After waiting for an American Eagle ERJ to land on an intersecting runway, the Rolls Royce/Allison turbofans spooled up and we bolted down the runway.
There's my hotel! (The U-shaped building below the parking garage).
We hugged the Lake Michigan coastline much of the way up to ATW, before turning west over Milwaukee. The fasten seat belt sign remained on and the captain announced it would be 11 minutes until arrival.
This did not stop the FA from going around and offering cups of water to everyone on board. I have been on much longer flights with no drink service and I was very thirsty at this point, so I was extremely impressed.
I noticed that my seat mate across the aisle had a few Lufthansa postcards (two of a 747-8i and two of an A380). I asked him about his trip and he explained that he's from Dusseldorf and flying to ATW as part of a student exchange program with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. We had a nice conversation about his journey, planes, and my job -- and he gave me two of his postcards. I felt bad taking a souvenir from his trip, but he insisted. I thanked him and wished him good luck on his stay in Oshkosh.
The Embraer descended over Lake Winnebago, offering us spectacular views of the sunset's reflection on the water.
The Wis. Hwy. 441/Roland Kampo Bridge in Menasha. That body of water is Little Lake Butte des Morts, which connects Lake Winnebago with the Fox River.
Landing was smooth on Runway 30 and after a short taxi we were marshaled into Gate 4. Allegiant's MD-80 from LAS was next to us on Gate 6 and because of this, we parked on a diagonal set of lines that are actually closer to the unused Gate 2, but that the Gate 4 jet bridge can reach.
This is what happens when you walk and take a photo at the same time.
I exited the sterile area and my girlfriend, Ruby, ran up to me and gave me a huge hug & kiss. We walked over to baggage claim and my bag was second out of the chute. UA employees taking care of me again!
After a short stay in Appleton over the weekend, it was time to go back down to Chicago for my second week of training on Sunday. I don't think I'm going to write a report on that leg of the trip because, A) it was uneventful, B) I didn't get many photos, and C) it's the same aircraft type and route you've already read about.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed part two of my trip and I look forward to hearing your questions and comments!
United1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5337 posts, RR: 8 Reply 1, posted (8 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 5079 times:
Quoting KGRB (Thread starter): Unlike the ERJ on my first leg, this aircraft featured a row of gray seats, after every three rows of blue seats. I figure this a holdover from the Continental Express days, but does anyone know why they did this?
I think I heard somewhere that the seats in the grey row have an extra oxygen mast...parents with lap kids have to be seated in those rows. Very much a hold over from CO however...
HermansCVR580 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 494 posts, RR: 1 Reply 3, posted (8 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4625 times:
Looks like fun. I remember going down to training for UAL back in 1997 and coming back from ORD to MKE was a 737-200 along with a missed approach do to a KC-135 that was hanging out on the runway a bit to long. Oh how times have changed.
The best part of training is coming home
The right decision at the wrong time, is still a wrong decision. "Hal Carr"
Thanks guys. I should've known that already since I have a list of what rows have infant oxygen on the ERJ. I just didn't put two-and-two together. I prefer DL's system on the CRJs, where all of the 'C' and 'D' seats have them -- it makes it much easier to remember. I don't know what they do on the ERJs though, because we never see them in our station.
Quoting HermansCVR580 (Reply 3): I remember going down to training for UAL back in 1997 and coming back from ORD to MKE was a 737-200 along with a missed approach do to a KC-135 that was hanging out on the runway a bit to long. Oh how times have changed.
Yes, they certainly have. IMO, the best thing that came out of the UA/CO merger was the 737s. Hopefully they redeploy a few of them to MKE to replace the RJs.
BC77008 From United States of America, joined Sep 2011, 230 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (8 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3605 times:
Quoting United1 (Reply 1): I think I heard somewhere that the seats in the grey row have an extra oxygen mast...parents with lap kids have to be seated in those rows. Very much a hold over from CO however...
You're almost right... At one time they were the extra oxygen mask rows for parents traveling with an infant. All aircraft have been reconfigured for some time now and now the extra oxygen masks are located in 3, 7, 11, 16, 19 and 19A. Instead of changing the seat covers, they instead came up with this catchy little phrase for us Flight Attendants to remember which row is suitable for an infant: At 3 o'clock I went to 7 - 11 and met a 16 year old who told me she was 19. Just about every FA on these aircraft know this jingle.
"He waited his whole damn life to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought 'Well isn't this nice...'"
ORDnHKG From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 185 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (8 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3436 times:
Quoting KGRB (Reply 4): Yes, they certainly have. IMO, the best thing that came out of the UA/CO merger was the 737s. Hopefully they redeploy a few of them to MKE to replace the RJs.
Using 737 for ORD-MKE is overkilled anytime, even back in the 90s, there were only 1 or 2 flights per day was a 737, the rest of the flights were all BAe146.
Currently there are tons of flights with 3+ hours duration got downgraded to an RJ (to name a few IAD-DFW, ORD-YYC, ORD-MIA), those should be in priority to get swtich back to mainline than ORD-MKE ! Besides, ORD-MKE only serve as feeder service, no one would buy a stand alone ticket just for this segment, as driving would be a lot less expensive and much faster than flying, even Amtrak is much better option as well.
777ord From United States of America, joined May 2010, 355 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (8 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3240 times:
So you are a new hire to UAL? Welcome! I hope you took a moment somewhere in your visit to come visit the NOC. I work up here on the 27th floor, and it really opens your eyes to just how massive this operation is.
KGRB From United States of America, joined Sep 2010, 614 posts, RR: 1 Reply 10, posted (8 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 2563 times:
Quoting 777ord (Reply 8): So you are a new hire to UAL? Welcome! I hope you took a moment somewhere in your visit to come visit the NOC. I work up here on the 27th floor, and it really opens your eyes to just how massive this operation is.
Sorry for the late response. I have been busy on vacation in Phoenix for the past week! I work for a vendor in ATW, which also handles DL Connection. Appleton-based Air Wisconsin has the UA contract (they've been there before UA Express even began!), but it turns over to us on September 22.
I have yet to visit the NOC, but I'd love to the next time I'm in Chicago. Hopefully by then the Willis is renamed to the 'United Tower.'