Sponsor Message:
Aviation Trip Reports Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
The Great Autumn Mileage Run - Part II  
User currently offlineSeat2A From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 81 posts, RR: 2
Posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3136 times:

to Seattle or Portland.

As we continued southwest over Utah and Nevada, we were treated to some awesome views of the San Juan River emptying loads of silt into the eastern end of Lake Powell, Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River and some pretty neat looking thunderheads over Nevada.

We arrived in Los Angeles right on time and believe me when I tell you that despite my love of flight, no one could have been happier to not have any upcoming flights for the next couple of weeks! After thirty eight flights, 34,670 miles and 78 hours, 40 minutes inflight ~ I was looking forward to enjoying life on terra firma for awhile. I was also looking forward to enjoying about 135,000 more miles in my Alaska Airlines account.

I’d like to offer a few observations on my experiences aboard Northwest. After 34 flights with them all over the country, I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for their operation. In general, I found their employees unfailingly friendly and competent. The flight attendants were friendly and attentive at all times. Certainly, nobody amongst American carriers works any harder. Although the odds suggest there might be one or two “prison matrons” out there, I certainly didn’t encounter any. Northwest’s meal service, while not stylish or extravagant in any way, was generally good, if not occasionally basic. The First Class cabins, while not as plush in appearance or comfort as those on AA, CO or DL, are still quite acceptable.

Aside from the LAX-MSP mechanical problems, all of my flights operated on time or within 15 minutes of departure time. Despite multiple connections, my baggage never was lost or delayed! That might be the most amazing statistic!

In short, Northwest offers good, reliable air transportation at a reasonable price. And, as an added bonus, their newly designed WorldClubs are, I think, the best in the business.

I would not hesitate to fly or recommend Northwest to anyone for domestic air travel.

I picked up my truck and headed off to Twenty Nine Palms for the evening. The next day, I drove into Joshua Tree National Park. It's a beautiful desert park that features some really neat rock formations, rugged desert mountains, perpetually sunny skies and of course lots of Joshua Trees. There is an attractive desolation to the place, indeed to the Majoave Desert in general that really appeals to me far more than any man made resort regardless of its location.

I spent the night in Needles, California and the next day headed down to Organ Pipe National Monument, about 100 miles west of Tucson, just off the border with Mexico. The Africanized honeybees, more commonly known as the "Killer Bees" have definitely arrived in America and were known to be in residence at Organ Pipe. Proceed quietly!

I headed on north to the Grand Canyon and camped out just above the North Rim. The elevation there was about 8800 feet and it was pretty cold that night. There was lots of frost in the morning. I was happy my bag was rated to -5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The North Rim is the quiet side of the Grand Canyon. Most of the tourists and concessions are on the South Rim. The view from the North is no less spectacular, however. I hiked out to the Angel's Window and Point Royal. Awesome! I felt like I'd discovered the canyon on my own. Early in the morning, it was just me, the canyon and a crisp clear sunny morning. 2000 feet below me a hawk circled and screamed. Magic.

Leaving the canyon, I drove on past the Vermilion Cliffs, then up through Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods (US 163 and Utah Highway 261), amazing country if any of you should be so inclined to road trip. I arrived in Durango about 8:00pm and spent the next few days there visiting friends before heading up to Denver for the second part of this trip.

16 October
DEN-DFW 135p-431p AMERICAN 757-223 N623AA Coach Class Seat 13F
DFW-MIA 530p-916p AMERICAN 777-223 N753AN Coach Class Seat 21J
MIA-MCO 1110p-1214a AM. EAGLE ATR-72 N498AT Coach Class Seat 1D


Time to get airborne again. For starters, I was headed off to visit an old college buddy and his girlfriend out on their ranch in Hastings, Florida. I use the term “ranch” lightly as the reality of it is a trailer on five acres. Short of alfalfa and grass, nothing is grown there (Though VW vans are lovingly rebuilt out in the shed) and the only animals on the property are Casey and Stephanie, a couple of Rottweilers that would sooner lick you to death than ever sink a fang into you. There’s also Eddie, the ancient Jack Russell Terrier who actually might bite you, but only if he feels up to it. “The Ranch” really is a beautiful place though, and we stayed there long enough to burn some Grisman and String Cheese boots, load up the bright yellow ’78 VW Van with food and grog and then head off to Suwannee Springs, Florida for the Eighth Annual Magnoliafest ~ four days of top flight music and good times. Everything from Jambands to NewGrass to Cajun/Zydeco/Reggae blends and a few genres in between were there to be seen on three different stages. Tie Dyes, old VW vans, alligator stir fry, clouds of smoke from good weed and lots of kind folk were also in abundance. All told, this portion of the trip totaled twenty three flights on six different airlines:

AMERICAN
AMERICAN EAGLE
NORTHWEST
CONTINENTAL
ALASKA
HORIZON

In this day and age of ridiculously expensive airport parking, I found a great place to park called DIAPark. First I went to a site called http://www.longtermparking.com that links you to discounted parking at airports all over the country. They linked me to DIAPark. The lot itself appeared well fenced in and offered either “indoor” or outdoor parking. Indoor meant under a large awning. It cost $6.95/day. Outdoor cost $4.95/day. Such a deal! A van met my truck as I was removing my pack and we were off to DIA in minutes.

I arrived to find that the American counter, while teeming with AA staff, was otherwise deserted. Perhaps it was just a slow time of day, for even DIA’s massive security area was deserted. Considering AA’s precarious financial state of late, I hoped their counters would be consistently busier in the days and months ahead. For now though, I must say I quite enjoyed my leisurely stroll through check-in and security.

With an hour to go before departure, I decided to pay a visit to Continental’s President’s Club, located up on the fourth floor of the A Concourse. What a shame things didn’t work out for Continental here in Denver! For a short time, prior to their initial bankruptcy under that scoundrel Frank Lorenzo, they operated more flights out of Stapleton than even United. Ah… the glory days, when one could look down the C Concourse at Stapleton and see three or four golden tailed DC-10s lined up for departure to LAX, SEA, EWR, ORD or IAH. . .

Awaiting me at Gate C-39 was 757-223 N623AA. The bare metal looked freshly scoured and at first I thought this might be an ex-TWA machine but the Rolls Royce engines and N-number indicated otherwise. The boarding process was just about completed when I arrived so I strolled right on board without delay. Surprisingly, this flight appeared to be about three quarters full. Most of these folks must have checked in the recommended 2 ½ hours prior to departure. I don’t believe I’ve ever checked in that early for a domestic flight, post 9-11 environment notwithstanding. And I don’t believe I ever will.

I’ve not flown many of AA’s 757s, but of those that I have flown all have had the old interior with dull beige leather seats in First and sky blue seats in back. Nonetheless, this aircraft had benefited from AA’s MRTC retrofit which also included Empower Ports for laptops. These are a great bonus and so far as I know American is the only domestic US carrier offering this amenity.

Interestingly, the safety video was presented in both English and French. French? What good is that in this part of the world?! Hay mas personas que hablan Espanol aqui en Colorado y Texas! In any event, it was an hour and eighteen minute flight down to DFW this afternoon. As meals probably haven’t served to Coach passengers on this sector since the days of Braniff International, I purchased a McDonald’s Grilled Chicken sandwich for my lunch. It’s the only sandwich McDonald’s offers that’s even remotely “healthy”, an advantage McDonald’s quickly negates by slathering mayonnaise all over it. I replaced the mayo with mustard and washed it all down with some apple juice.

I’ve driven through Dallas a couple of times and never found the landscape all that alluring. Today however, while approaching DFW from the northwest I noticed what looked to be an attractive wooded area about 5-10 miles from the airport. If I had to live and work in the Dallas area, that’s where I’d be.

We arrived at Terminal C and I had to transfer to Terminal A for my onward flight to Miami. This was easily accomplished via the inter-terminal TrAAm which leaves every two minutes and makes ample stops at each terminal. I was mildly surprised to overhear a couple commenting upon the difficulty of connecting at DFW. First they had to go find the train, then walk all the way from the stop to their gate. They were probably the same types that drive around the grocery store parking lot for ten minutes trying to park as close to the door as possible! Life sure is tough!

My aircraft was the third in a row of four straight 777s parked at Terminal A. They made an impressive sight, gleaming in the late afternoon sun. Departures were to Miami, London, Paris and a delayed flight to Frankfurt. I couldn’t make out the registration number on my aircraft, so I checked out the nose wheel door. Ah. 7BM. Huh? What’s that supposed to mean? Later, a search of the production lists at jetairliners.com revealed this aircraft’s true identity, N753AN. I have no idea how 7BM relates to that.

Despite the dinner hour departure, no Bistro Bag was offered for us folks in Coach as this flight was scheduled for less than three hours. Up in Business Class however, salads were being served in large glass plates! United stopped using similar glass plates for their salads long ago, and they were never seen in Business Class! I assumed the salads were followed by dinner but I became engrossed in my book and didn’t notice.

I’ve now flown 777s with UA, BA and AA and American’s might just be the most impressive of the three. Coach Class seating was reasonably comfortable and, thanks to MRTC, relatively spacious. I think it compares favorably with United’s Economy Plus because the key words in describing UA’s increased space are “up to” as in “Up to 5” more space between seats.” Depending upon the aircraft and the row, some UA aircraft offer somewhat less than 5” in E+. Business Class looked exceptionally spacious though the seats did not look nearly as plush as Uniteds, and of course only BA offered the Club World beds.

After the flight, I wandered up to the First Class cabin where one of the flight attendants was only too happy to give me an impromptu tour of the facilities. Those Flagship Suites were mighty impressive! I’ve flown up front on 777s with both BA and UA and I must say that AA’s suites appeared to be a bit more spacious. The swivel seat function was particularly impressive and the seats themselves were wide and comfortable. Were it not for what I’ve read of American’s declining International First Class product, I’d love to fly in First on one of these Suites.

I had a two hour layover in Miami, more than enough time to visit La Carreta, a Cuban cafeteria located at the head of the D Concourse. For $6.95 I got a quarter baked chicken served with plenty of black beans and rice along with a side of vegies. I also found a table with a nearby electrical outlet and managed to get to work on this report. For sure there was no time for it over the weekend!

American Eagle’s flights depart from the commuter gates at the end of the D Concourse. The aircraft are remotely parked and passengers are bussed to their respective planes. Tonight’s ATR-72 up to Orlando had a sticker indicating it was operated by Executive Airlines. Hmm... Never heard of ‘em. As commuter propjets go, I rather like AA’s ATR-72s. Although the MRTC does not apply to American Eagle, the legroom was on a par with Continental’s Coach Class. OK, maybe an inch less – no more! Inflight, the ATR is relatively quiet and vibration free. It certainly beats a Beech or an Embraer. 50 minutes later we arrived to a warm and muggy night in Orlando.

22 October
MCO-DTW 815a-1056a NORTHWEST 757-251 N541US First Class Seat 2A Breakfast
DTW-SJC 1217p-222p NORTHWEST A320-211 N322US First Class Seat 2D Lunch
SJC-DTW 1020p-552a NORTHWEST A320-211 N361NW First Class Seat 2A


After the Magnoliafest, I headed off to San Jose, California for an afternoon of fun and frolic in Berkeley before heading back to Orlando to catch my return flight to Denver. From Denver, I was headed to north to Alaska for a few days before returning to Denver and making one final run out to San Francisco and back. Truth be known, I wouldn’t have done the SJC trip if Northwest had not offered it for the ridiculously low rate of only $147.00 r/t. Jeez, I can make that in tips on a good day!

After three straight nights of getting to bed anywhere between 1:30am and 4:30am and waking up at about 10:00am, the wake up call at 6:00am was not particularly well received. Even so, I presented myself at Northwest’s First Class check in counter reasonably bright eyed and bushy tailed (as opposed to beady eyed and beaver tailed) and collected my boarding passes for today’s peregrinations about the continent. Seat 2A up to Detroit and Seat 2D on to San Jose. All was well in the world.

I arrived at the gate a good twenty minutes before departure and walked right on board the aircraft. Although the gate area was empty, the airplane appeared nearly full. Indeed, I was the last person to be seated in First Class. Guess everyone was in a hurry to get onboard today.

Pushback was on time and our taxi out to the runway past the trees and ponds that dot the Orlando International Airport grounds was kinda pretty, especially as the rising sun burnt off the last of an early morning fog. Our route of flight took us up over Jacksonville, then past Charlotte and Charleston, WV before beginning our descent into Detroit somewhere near Cleveland. Cruising altitude was projected to be 39,000 feet.

Coffee and Orange Juice from the cart began the inflight service, followed by a choice of an omelet or corn flakes. The omelet was Northwest’s usual cheese laden affair accompanied by sausage and potatoes, so I opted for the corn flakes. As corn flakes go, they were quite acceptable, particularly with the addition of 2% milk. Both entrees were accompanied by a fruit plate bearing a slice each of pineapple and papaya along with a few chunks of cantaloupe. A choice of muffin or bagel topped off this affair and there you have your basic everyday Northwest breakfast service.

Descent into Detroit was through hazy sunshine and our landing was exceptionally smooth. With an hour and a half layover until my connecting flight to California, I wandered over to Northwest’s WorldClub for a little R & R.

My flight to San Jose was to depart from Gate G18, conveniently located directly beneath the WorldClub. I watched as my A320 arrived from Washington, 15 minutes late. Fortunately, a fairly light load allowed us an on time departure. Taxi and take off seemed mere formalities as we leapt off the runway and quickly climbed to 35000 feet, headed for San Jose. The Captain came on over the PA and advised us that strong headwinds would result in a planned flight time of 4 hours and 44 minutes. Our route of flight would take us just north of Chicago, continuing on past Omaha, Nebraska and Grand Junction, Colorado. Weather permitting, we were told that we could expect a nice view of Zion National Park in southwestern Utah before beginning our descent into San Jose somewhere over Nevada. Headwinds notwithstanding, we could expect to be chocked in at SJC five minutes early. Cool.

Hot towels, cold beer and a couple of bags of roasted almonds started off the service on this afternoon flight. Our lone flight attendant in the forward cabin did an excellent job. He really was quite polished in every aspect of the service, from pouring a cold beer to presenting our meals with a grace and bearing befitting a much more formal service. Here’s what was served for lunch. As always, I must beg your indulgence as I have taken the liberty of presenting the choices in menu form.


Detroit to San Jose

LUNCHEON

To Begin

A selection of seasoned Gulf shrimp served with a tangy mango dipping sauce and fresh pineapple cilantro salsa

Salad
Endive lettuce accompanied by sliced orange, strawberry and walnuts
Offered with Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Wheat or White Rolls

** ** **

Main Course

Grilled Chicken

A tender grilled chicken breast is seasoned with rosemary and mustard and presented with mashed potatoes and a couscous stuffed tomato

Beef Short Rib
Flavorful braised beef is accompanied by stewed potatoes, carrots and onions

** ** **

Ice Cream Sundae
Served from the cart with your choice of toppings: Chocolate, strawberry or chopped walnuts


I was happy to see that Northwest really did offer more than just the four or five rotating entrees I'd been eating all summer long. Neither of these entrees were familiar to me. I selected the beef while my seatmate chose the chicken. Both entrees looked pretty tasty though I definitely got the larger portion. I would describe the beef as being much closer to a Yankee Pot Roast in both flavor and presentation. It really was pretty good, though the gravy could have used a bit more seasoning in my humble opinion. But lets not nit pick. This is after all domestic airline food so all things considered, I was quite pleased. I washed it all down with a glass of the Rosemount Cabernet/Shiraz, noting that Northwest hasn’t changed their domestic wine selections since at least as far back as July. Also worth noting was the apparent return of all-metal cutlery to NW’s meal trays. That’s right, spoons, forks and knives! I first noticed them with this morning’s breakfast and am happy to report that thus far I’ve witnessed no incidents involving terroristic behavior much less any mild menacing. At least not in First Class. Hopefully other airlines are noting passenger behavior under Northwest’s new relaxed cutlery restrictions and will return to all metal cutlery soon.

Unfortunately, the skies were fairly cloudy along most of our flight path this afternoon so if Zion, Bryce or any of Utah’s other natural wonders were to be seen, it would have to be from the ground. As such, I polished off my book of the week, enjoyed another exquisitely chilled James Page lager and then brought this report up to date.

Getting to Berkeley from the San Jose Airport involved the following:

1.) Catch the free shuttle bus to the VTA Airport/Metro Light Rail Station
2.) Take the Light Rail Train two stops up to the San Jose Civic Center stop
3.) Take the 180 Express bus up to the Fremont BART Station, a 45 minute ride
4.) Take the BART up to Berkeley, a 45 minute ride

I left the San Jose Airport at about 3:00pm and emerged from the BART station in Berkeley at 4:55pm. Total cost one way: $6.75. Now had I been some big muckety-muck, no doubt the company car would have been dispatched for me but based upon what I saw of traffic on 880, including the HOV lanes, I think my way may well have been faster than driving. In any event, it was a small adventure that paid off with the acquisition of two hard to find CDs and a pretty good Tibetan dinner at a restaurant who’s name I can neither remember or even pronounce. By 10:30pm I was back in Seat 2A, climbing out of San Jose on one of Northwest’s newest A320s. I was asleep within minutes.

23 October
DTW-IAH 900a-1057a NORTHWEST A319-114 N338NB First Class Seat 1B Breakfast
IAH-MCO 124p-446p CONTINENTAL 757-224 N14118 Coach Class Seat 16D



Although I slept fairly well on the flight into Detroit, three and one half hours is simply not enough. I grabbed a pillow from Northwest and, after finding my gate, caught a couple more hours worth.

An A319 was scheduled to take us down to Houston this morning. I like the Baby Airbus, especially in Northwest’s configuration. It’s got 16 First Class seats as opposed to only half that amount for United. This particular morning I was particularly thankful for the extra First Class seats since I was awarded the last one off the upgrade list. This had added significance for me personally as this was also my 100th flight aboard Northwest. Out of 105 different airlines flown, I’ve now flown 9 of them more than 100 times each, and 7 of them for over 100,000 miles. On NW, I’ve logged 101,750 miles so far, impressive enough but small change compared to any long time Golds and Plats.

Speaking of upgrades, I (and many others) couldn’t help but overhear a man at the gate next door dressing down Northwest Airlines and the poor agent unfortunate enough to work his flight. He was unhappy over the fact that he could not be seated in First Class. He seemed oblivious to his spectacle, much less the gate agent’s calm and apologetic presentation of the facts as they really were. In a nutshell, his earlier flight had been cancelled and he’d been reaccommodated on the next flight out. I gathered he was some kind of Elite with NW and as such had automatically been upgraded when he’d made his reservation. Unfortunately, his new flight was sold out up front but he still refused to sit in Coach.

“Do you know how much money I spend with your airline?!” he raged. “I will NOT sit in coach!” he continued, voice dripping with condescension. “Who are you to make this decision?!” “I’ve got work to get done! I’m not sitting back there!” Whoa…

He demanded that if he couldn’t get First Class on this flight, Northwest should’ve rebooked him on another airline that did have space in First Class. The gate agent calmly explained that as he was travelling on a discounted fare ticket, that would not be possible. By the time I was boarding my flight, he was demanding to see a supervisor.

Certainly no business is perfect and indeed the airlines have had their share of screw ups but there is never an excuse for the level of rudeness and blatant snobbery exhibited by this guy. I’m all for an airline rewarding its best customers by putting them in First Class if the space is there but regardless of how much money one’s spent with an airline – if you’ve bought anything less than a First Class fare, sitting up front is a privilege, not a birthright. Unfortunately, some people just aren’t mature enough too see it that way. In a perfect world, oafish louts like this would ride a mule to work until he saw the light while the poor agent would get a commendation for her patience above and beyond the call of duty. And maybe win a new BMW on a game show.

Breakfast was the usual choice of eggs or cereal. The third option of French toast seemed to be reserved for the longer West Coast flights. I went with the cereal and was not disappointed. Today’s choice was Cornflakes. Unlike some airlines, Northwest serves up a decent portion in a large white bowl. The accompanying fruit salad was particularly impressive this morning as it included oranges, a couple of strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe and a banana. Coffee and OJ rounded out a fine start to the day. Afterwards, I reclined my seat and snoozed comfortably until our bumpy approach into Houston.

Houston’s got a great food court in Terminal C offering Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Popeye’s Chicken along with a couple of barbecue joints and some coffee/pastry kiosks. I availed myself of a Wendy’s Chicken Salad and headed down to Gate C35.

An early check at itn.com revealed that this flight was just a few seats shy of full so I considered myself fortunate to have snagged an aisle seat in a reclining exit row. As I entered the 757-200, I was immediately assaulted by the sounds of screaming children. Lots of them. All screaming at the same time, it seemed. I was reminded of that commercial from a couple of years back depicting some poor business traveler who, because of his company’s cost cutting efforts had to endure the worst of airlines, car rental companies and hotels. I trudged to my seat and perused the inflight magazine.

The flight itself was pretty non-eventful – beverage only service and high clouds all the way into Orlando. Heavy rain put us in a holding pattern outside of Orlando that extended our flight time to 2:12. Worthy of note however were the flight attendants. They did a great job, constantly patrolling the aisles with beverages and garbage bags. We were even offered TWO bags of peanuts!

24 October
MCO-MIA 900a-1001a AMERICAN A300-605 N7076A Coach Class Seat 26H
MIA-DFW 1110a-124p AMERICAN 737-823 N962AN Coach Class Seat 14A
DFW-DEN 229p-332p AMERICAN DC-9-82 N591AA Coach Class Seat 21F



Ah… westbound again! So long to heat and humidity and hello to wide open spaces, deep blue skies and cool clear air. (Coverage area does not include most of the Los Angeles Basin or the Denver area front range during inversions) Headin’ where the climate suits my cloths, goin’ where the wind don’t blow so strange... Tonight I’d be at 10,600’ in Leadville, Colorado.

Check-in at American’s E-Ticket kiosks could not have gone better. While a large line had formed for those unfortunates bearing paper tickets, I strolled unimpeded up to an E-Ticket kiosk, entered the relevant information, and sauntered off less than five minutes later with baggage checked through to Denver and a stack of boarding passes in hand.

My flight down to Miami this morning was aboard an A300-600. The Dash 600s are the upgraded versions of the original A300-200s that Eastern Airlines introduced over U.S. skies back in 1977. Possibly due to residual fallout from the December 2001 crash of an A300 at JFK and more probably due to passenger dissatisfaction with the aircraft for Trans-Atlantic services, I’ve heard that American is considering plans to sell off these aircraft in the next two or three years.

As I boarded the aircraft I couldn’t help but notice all the chipped paint around the doorway and the peeling OneWorld sticker affixed nearby. A check at jetairliners.com revealed that this plane came on line back in 1992. That’s not very old! Inside, the First Class cabin looked not only old but claustrophobic as well. American puts only 16 seats up front on its A300s so the cabin really is rather small by wide-bodied standards. The old pale beige leather seats and grayish sidewalls lent a gloomy ambience to the interior. I continued on through to the Coach Class cabin. Ah… much nicer. It just seemed brighter back here – blue stripped seats and of course way more daylight from all the windows. I took my seat in exit row 26 and spent the duration of the 41 minute flight working on the crossword puzzle in the inflight magazine.

Just a few minutes before we were to board the 737-800 that would take us to Dallas, we were informed that the aircraft had an engine bleed problem that would inhibit the correct operation of the aircraft’s de-icing equipment. De-icing? How cold could it be in Dallas in October? Cold, but not that cold. Apparently a front was moving through the Dallas area and as we’d have to descend through clouds associated with it, there was a concern that we might encounter some ice along the way. The agent assured us that down in Dallas, a light rain rather than snow and ice was the order of the day. In any event, we switched aircraft with a flight headed for San Pedro Sula, Honduras where a cold front is defined by anything less than 75 degrees. Ice? We doan have no steenking ice!!!

American’s 737-800s are, from this passenger’s perspective, an impressive aircraft. In fact, I would go so far as to anoint them the finest narrow bodied aircraft flying in America today. I’m not talking about the 737-800 in general but rather about American’s 737-823 specifically. This plane is loaded with extras! First Class is at once bright and spacious, featuring 20 blue leather and fabric seats offering an impressive 38” pitch. Back in Economy, each aircraft has benefited from American’s MRTC program so that the seating is not only relatively comfortable but spacious as well. Each seat offers audio entertainment and there are 10 video monitors spread throughout the aircraft for ease in viewing. As an added bonus, each of these planes is equipped in both First Class and Coach with Empower ports for laptop power. Again, given the space and the features, I can think of no finer narrow bodied plane upon which to wing about America.

Alaska Airlines, are you listening? I sure hope so because flying your 737-700s on the longer and more competitive trans-con runs without so much as an audio system installed will put you at a distinct and deserved disadvantage.

As a long time Mileage Plan member, were I faced with a five hour trans-con flight in Alaska’s First Class with no audio and only a tiny DVD player for video as opposed to sitting in American’s spacious Economy Class with audio/video and laptop power (I can watch my own video and get some work done, thank you) I’d have to give serious consideration to American. That’s right – American’s Coach over Alaska’s First Class. Sheer madness, you say? I wouldn’t be surprised if American offers the same legroom in coach as Alaska does up front. Alaska’s First Class seats are stiff and short on pitch while its First Class meal service, by trans-con standards, is nothing to jump up and down about - it’s good but hardly extravagant. Where’re the appetizers and hot towels? And, as a Mileage Plan member I get exactly the same amount of mileage credited to my MP account flying AA as I would flying AS. Alaska’s been somewhat insulated flying primarily to and from Alaska and up and down the west coast where United and Southwest have hardly pressured them in the inflight service and amenities departments. Now that they’ve chosen to enter the larger national arena, an upgrade to their services should be in order. As a long time supporter of Alaska Airlines, I shall anxiously await those enhancements.

For plane spotters, especially those who like older aircraft, Miami International is heaven on earth. As we taxied out to the runway today, I saw:

Bahamas Air 737-200
VarigLog DC-10-30
Trans Mediterranean Airways 757-200
Polar Air Cargo 747-400
Cayman Airways 737-400
Miami Heat 727-200
AeroSur 727-200
Arrow Air L-1011

Flight time to Dallas was planned for two hours thirty one minutes, cruising at 35000 feet. The pilot mentioned a few places we’d be flying over like New Orleans but it hardly mattered once we’d gotten past Tampa as it was cloudy the rest of the way. Due to the aircraft switch and some minor headwinds, arrival in Dallas was about 20 minutes late, so I hurried over to my connecting gate and hoped that my baggage would be as expeditious as I was.

Although the gate area didn’t reflect it, the flight up to Denver was way full. There might’ve been two or three empty seats in the entire plane, none of them in my exit row. Flight time was a short one hour and twenty nine minutes, cruisin’ at 31000. Of particular note was the temperature: 29 degrees. Cool! Maybe we’ll git some snow tonight!

I caused a bit of a stir as I first unveiled and then ate a delicious Wendy’s Chicken BLT Salad at leisure. I then plugged my Targus Empower Adapter into the outlet beneath the seat and fired up my laptop. Neither of my seatmates were aware that such technology even existed aboard American. After enlightening them as to how to procure an adapter for themselves, I caught up on a bit of correspondence and this report.

25 October
DEN-SEA 630p-815p ALASKA 737-4Q8 N765AS First Class Seat 1F Dinner



Ah, another beautiful day in Colorado that began high in the Rockies, continued to a car stereo place down in Westminster and ended with the sun sinking behind the Rockies as I boarded an Alaska 737-400 bound for Seattle. Next up, a cold beer, an agreeable dinner and an evening at the Fiddler’s Inn listening to a band called The Acoustic Big Foot Zoo.

Our flight attendant up front was an older lady who, while ostensibly pleasant, seemed otherwise bland and insincere. It seemed as if she was just going through the motions and that her smile (when she smiled at all) was only there because the service manual recommended it. I don’t expect the flight attendants to be my best friend but a little charm and a sense that they enjoy their job goes a long way towards a more enjoyable service regardless of what class you’re sitting in.

My seatmate was a talkative fellow who exhibited the impressive ability to carry on a conversation, eat dinner and get a lot of work done on his laptop all at the same time. We drank Beck’s Beers (First time I can remember seeing Beck’s on Alaska) and chatted while he typed away. Being experienced Alaska fliers long accustomed to the distinct pleasure of an ice cold MacTarnahan’s to start a flight off properly, we both asked the FA (practically in unison!) about the missing MacTarnahans. She claimed to know nothing about that and quickly scurried off to the sanctuary of her galley.

The dinner choices were presented as follows:

“Tonight we have chicken or shrimp.”
“What kind of chicken?”
“It’s baked.”
“And the shrimp?”
“It’s served on rice.”
“So, is it just some shrimp sitting on top of rice all by themselves or are they in some kind of sauce as well?”
“I think some vegetables come with them.”


It was like pulling teeth to get anything more than the most basic response from this woman. There was a time that her style of service might have been considered gracious – it was called the Pleistocene Age! For the present however, I chalked her up as clinically depressed and ordered the chicken and another round of Beck’s.

The chicken was a good choice. It had been lightly breaded and seasoned on top and was served with bright orange squash and French cut green beans. Across the aisle, a gentleman had ordered the shrimp. From my angle, it looked like three or four shrimp in a bright red sauce served atop a pile of white rice. I didn’t see any vegetables. Seatmate and I ate and chatted away while he positioned his laptop on the center divider and typed away between bites.

I wasn’t going to eat dessert but when I saw my seatmate’s plate delivered I couldn’t resist. Tonight’s selection was a delicious and very rich multi-layered chocolate cream cheesecake. I don’t mean cream as in cream cheese but rather a layer of light creamy filling and cheesecake beneath a hard chocolate shell. This was certainly one of the finest desserts I have ever had inflight.

After circling over Walla Walla for twenty minutes, we made our approach to SeaTac from the north. Seattle was clouded in (imagine that!) so we were deprived of the pretty sights of the downtown lights as we flew over. We parked at C12 and I hurried off with friends to The Fiddler’s Inn where The Acoustic Big Foot Zoo played an inspired though not overly memorable set. They were kind of like opening a potentially fine wine before its time: all the ingredients were there - they just hadn’t had time to mature yet. But you could still tap your foot and get drunk with them. Being one who hates falling down however, I limited my intake to three or four pints. Maybe five. I don’t remember…

26 October
SEA-ANC 630p-914p ALASKA DC-9-83 N973AS First Class Seat 1A Dinner
ANC-FAI 1102p-1159p ALASKA 737-490 N753AS First Class Seat 2A



This morning began with a cup of good freshly ground Seattle coffee followed by a visit to Pike Place Market and a leisurely lunch at the Athenian. Later, I arrived at SeaTac with enough time to pay a visit to Alaska's newly reopened airline lounge, The Boardroom.

The Boardroom had been closed for much of the summer while undergoing refurbishments. Although it reopened almost a month ago, only the new upstairs portion of the club was presently available for use. The downstairs section and indeed the entire club was slated for its official Grand Opening on Monday, November 4th. It was to be be a catered event and everybody who was anybody at Alaska Airlines would be there. I had hoped to be there myself, if only to answer questions and sign a few autographs if requested but alas, my presence was required in Colorado that day.

The new Boardroom certainly looks very nice. Whereas the old Boardroom welcomed visitors through a single wooden doorway that was tucked away in a small alcove just off the Taco Bell, the new Boardroom sports a large and stylish cherry wood wall proclaiming the existence of the Boardroom with large silver metallic letters. The single door has been replaced by large double doors made of wood, glass and metal. The impression one gets is of a stylish airport club as opposed to the small, quaint lounge that served as the Boardroom for so many years.

Once inside, the staff greet you from behind a large wooden desk topped with black granite. There’s quite a lot of wood, in fact. The door, the walls, the desk, the hand rails - I was told that it’s all cherry wood. To the left of the desk is a grand stairway paved in stone or slate “bricks” that leads to the upstairs lounge. For those not quite up to the long climb, an elevator is located just off the front desk. It’s faster to take the stairs, though. I timed the elevator once and it took 22 seconds from the time the doors closed to ascend one floor and open the doors.

The upstairs lounge is at once spacious and homelike with plenty of tables, chairs and intimate seating areas with couches and small tables. The room is quite bright compared to the old lounge due to increased lighting and wall to wall floor to ceiling windows. The view, or should I say the panorama of the ramp between the C and D concourses is a plane watcher’s dream, if that is, you’re into Alaska Airlines jets. On a clear day, the view of the Olympics would be spectacular.

Telephones are everywhere - atop every table as well as atop a granite counter that runs along the windows facing out towards the ramp. Some of the newer telephones offer high speed internet connections while older dial up connections are available through a few floor jacks as well as a couple of older phones. In a hallway off the main room are the usual selections of snacks and beverages with the exception of beers. The choices are now Budweiser and Coors Light (No more MacTarnahans or Millers!), served on tap from the kitchen area. There is no self service like that found in Northwest’s WorldClubs. Also, a new “Premium Call” service is planned that will offer premium wines, microbrews and possibly other spirits for a fee.

There are two large TVs upstairs and this afternoon both were showing Game 6 of the World Series. I was unaware the World Series was being played so early and had expected the University of Washington-Arizona State game to be on instead. Sure enough, a small group of Husky fans did eventually show up and actually requested that one of the TVs be switched to the Washington-Arizona State game. Surprisingly, they were turned down rather resoundingly as far more people were interested in watching the World Series. Given Alaska’s presence in the San Francisco and Southern California markets, it was understandable that there should be a large number of Giants and Angels fans in the club, not to mention baseball fans in general.

I left the lounge about twenty five minutes before departure time and arrived at the gate just as they were calling my name for last chance to board. Whew! Even so, we sat around at the gate for another ten or fifteen minutes and loaded another dozen or so people before finally pushing back and taking off to the south. I overheard one of the FAs say the load was 12F/69Y. Flight time was announced as a relatively expeditious three hours and six minutes, cruising at 35,000 feet. Well alrighty, then!

Meal and drink orders were taken from front to back. In marked contrast to yesterday’s FA, tonight’s flight attendant was bright eyed and energetic with a ready smile and a winning personality. She took our drink orders and then described the menu choices to us. Following is tonight's menu:

Seattle to Anchorage

DINNER

To Begin

A packet of warmed cashew nuts to accompany the beverage of your choice

Salad
A selection of mixed spring greens complimented with tomatoes, basil and fresh Mozzarella cheese. Offered with Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Entrees

Asian Five Spices Chicken

Served with fried rice and sautéed Bok Choy

Orecchiette Pasta with Shallot and Mushroom Sauce
Presented with grilled Italian Sausage

** ** **

Dessert
New York Style Cheesecake


Apparently, for the time being Mactarnahan's had been replaced by Beck’s Beer, a tasty enough German import though hardly a Macs. Beck’s it was then, along with the Five Spices Chicken. Back in Economy, the choices were announced as:

Sweet and Sour Turkey
Presented on rice and accompanied by carrots

Swedish Meatballs
Served with buttered egg noodles and peas


I’m not kidding when I say the packet of cashews was warmed. What a nice treat, one that I hope will become de rigeur in the future. As for the chicken, it was pretty good, though more flavorful than spicy. Interestingly, the fried rice had all the flavor without all the grease. Well done, Alaska! Dessert looked quite sumptuous as well – a chocolate crusted cheesecake topped with a drizzle of strawberry sauce. Still, my waistline isn’t getting any smaller eating all this rich fare so I passed on the cake and had a coffee instead.

Our final approach into Anchorage was memorable. First, passengers on the starboard side got treated to a beautiful view of the city as we made the big wide turn over Turnagain Arm and lined up for our final. Then, those of us on the port side were awed by a shimmering band of Northern Lights and the rising moon reflecting off of the waters of the Cook Inlet. Priceless.


30 October
ANC-SEA 319p-746p ALASKA DC-9-83 N947AS First Class Seat 1A Dinner


After a morning spent running errands all over Anchorage from Downtown to Muldoon to Diamond to Spenard, I was more than happy to sink back into the foam rubber ecstasy of the First Class seat aboard tonight’s DC-9-80, chug my bottled water and await the dinner choices. Here they are:


Anchorage to Seattle

DINNER

To Begin

A bag of mixed nuts and a cold beer

Salad
A selection of mixed greens accented with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and grated carrots. Offered with roasted garlic tomato vinaigrette dressing

Entrees

Stuffed Turkey Breast

A breaded turkey breast is stuffed with Mozzarella cheese, then baked and topped with barbecue sauce. Served with rice, peas and a medley of red, green and yellow peppers

Portobello Mushroom Pasta
Served with a creamy shallot sauce

** ** **

Dessert
Polar Bear Pie


I opted for the Turkey breast and engaged my seatmate in light banter that included an extended discussion about the amount of rain that the Kenai had suffered through. The Sterling Highway down to Homer was closed and a number of bridges had been washed out. It was getting pretty bad down there. I knew a few people down Homer way. I’d have to give ‘em a call. Over the PA, the captain informed us that due to strong headwinds we’d be looking at a flight time of 3:37 down to Seattle. This SEA-ANC route must be one of the few in the world where you can experience strong headwinds in either direction! The meal choices for Coach Class were also announced:

Rigatoni
Served with a creamy tomato sauce

Poached Whitefish
Topped with a creamy dill sauce

Nice! Does any other airline in America feed its coach passengers so well, especially on a flight of this length?

I really liked that roasted garlic tomato vinaigrette on the salad but determined that the barbecue sauce really clashed with the flavor of the stuffed turkey breast. On the plate, it was a good looking entrée but I would strongly recommend the flight kitchen switch to a marinara sauce instead of barbecue. The Polar Bear Pie was a delicious chocolate, cream, caramel and walnut crust dessert that no chocolate lover could resist. Barbecue sauce notwithstanding, this was a good meal.


31 October
SEA-DEN 606p-936p ALASKA 737-490 N767AS First Class Seat 1F Dinner


I awoke to an absolutely spectacular day in Seattle – sunshine and not a single cloud! Mt. Rainier was out in all its glory, towering to the southeast while across the Puget Sound the Olympics beckoned to the west. After a fine breakfast at Costa’s on the Ave. up in the U-District, I answered the siren call of the Olympics by hopping aboard the Washington State ferry over to Bremerton and then driving up to Kingston and catching another ferry back across the sound to Edmonds. I returned my rental with an hour to spare and repaired to the comfort of the new Boardroom before boarding my 737 to the Mile High City. Unlike Seattle where sunshine and 55 degrees were all the rage, Denver was in the grips of a winter storm. The forecast for our arrival was snow and freezing temperatures. Here are the dinner choices for tonight’s 2 hour 27 minute flight into Denver:


Seattle to Denver

DINNER

To Begin

A bag of mixed nuts and a cold beer

Salad
A selection of mixed spring greens complimented with tomatoes, basil and fresh Mozzarella cheese. Offered with Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Entrees

Sun Dried Tomato Crusted Halibut

Served with Lyonnaise Yams and buttered asparagus

Orecchiette Pasta with Shallot and Mushroom Sauce
Presented with grilled Italian Sausage

** ** **

Dessert
Pumpkin Cheesecake


Sitting in Row 1 has two benefits on Alaska Airlines. First and foremost, the legroom is far superior to rows two and three. When I exited the row to retrieve my daypack, my seatmate didn’t have to get up to let me out. Secondly, meal orders are usually taken from Row 1 first. Such was the case tonight and both I and my seatmate ordered the Halibut. He was an ex-UA Premier Executive who was only too happy to see Alaska’s arrival in Denver. He immediately wrote to Alaska thanking them for finally coming to Denver and inquired about transferring his United miles and future business to Alaska. He was made an MVP Gold and has never looked back. While Alaska may not pick up much of UA’s business out of Denver, I wonder how much they’ve taken along the West Coast?

Oddly, Alaska uses a slightly smaller salad plate on its shorter flights within the continental US. I say odd because the salads don’t seem any smaller than those offered on the services up to Alaska. Tonight’s halibut entrée was superb! It looked every bit as good as it ultimately tasted, and the yams and asparagus made for nice accompaniments as well. Alaska’s got a real winner with this entrée. Coffee and pumpkin cheesecake polished off the repast but heavy turbulence approaching Denver threatened to bring it all back up again. We made a smooth landing to the south and my pack was second off the carousel. The 17 degree temperature felt most refreshing (To me, at least) and I only had to wait a couple of minutes for the van to my remote parking area to pick me up and return me to my truck. Were that all days so nice!


02 November
DEN-SEA 1135a-121p ALASKA 737-490 N797AS First Class Seat 1D Lunch
SEA-SFO 315p-520p ALASKA 737-790 N624AS First Class Seat 2A


What a great weekend to get outta Denver! The city was socked in with ground fog and freezing temperatures with no relief in sight until Monday. As well, the Broncos had a bye week so there was no game to look forward to.

Alaska’s Saturday web specials notwithstanding, this flight looked to be only about a third full. Upon boarding, the gate agent exhorted everyone to please not block the aisles and to get their carry-ons stowed away as soon as possible since the jetway was extremely cold inside and you wouldn’t want to have anyone waiting out in the cold any longer than necessary. Yeah, right. It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes some people to get themselves situated, blocking the aisles while trying to decide where and how they want to stow their carry-ons. Today was no different as the guy seated right behind me took an inordinate amount of time to determine that his roll on best fit into the overhead lengthwise rather than sideways. The boarding came to a standstill once again for almost a full minute as someone back in coach apparently had a similar problem.

First Class was of course totally full. My seatmate was a middle aged lady who had her nose deeply buried in what appeared to be a romance novel, judging by the cover. I’m not kidding! She had that book up within 6” of her face! As I got seated, she launched into coughing fit to rival the best in any pneumonia ward. Wonderful… I was tempted to recommend a medical thriller but held my tongue. Then the guy behind me started coughing. Oh, man…

We took off to the north and quickly climbed through the inversion layer and into sunlight. Ahh… Much better! I reclined my seat and accepted my first Beck’s along with a packet of honey roasted almonds. No watered down “Deluxe Snack” pretzel mixes for Alaska. First Class rates either honey roasted almonds, cashews or mixed nuts. Today’s luncheon choices were as follows:

Cobb Salad with Chicken Breast
or
Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with Pasta Salad

I opted for the sandwich and listened while the Captain described our flight up to Seattle. If you drew a straight line between Denver and Seattle, that’s pretty much how we went – up over southwestern Wyoming and on past Idaho Falls, passing about 80 miles northeast of Boise before beginning our descent over Yakima and landing to the north. Conditions in Seattle were sunshine and a comparatively balmy 48 degrees. This new bit of information caused the seatmate to launch into another spasm of coughing. She looked at me apologetically, then quickly returned to her book. Poor woman. She’s missin’ out on some good literature!

Luncheon was served shortly thereafter. My sandwich came on a large toasted Bolillo style roll and was accompanied by a tasty walnut pesto pasta. Truth be known, the pasta was the best part of the meal since the sandwich was a bit short on meat, much less anything else. There were a few thin slices of roast beef along a slice or two of red pepper and a bit of melted cheese. There were none of the usual accoutrements like tomatoes, lettuce or onions nor was there any mustard. Good thing I’d filched a couple of extra packets of Gray Poupon during my visit to the Gas Line Deli in Fairbanks last week. I’d recommend Alaska add some onions and turn this sandwich into a French Dip. It’d be nothing to nuke a small container of Au Jus to serve on the side.

On the other hand, the Cobb Salad actually looked quite good. It featured the usual mixed greens along with sliced tomatoes and eggs and a sprinkling of peas. The chicken breast was of good size and sliced into thick strips. I’ve had this salad before. And I’ll have it again, too. Next time.

As promised, it was a beautiful Autumn day in Seattle. I had a two hour layover and rather than hang out in the airport, I took a walk out of the terminal and all the way up the Pacific Highway to the Radisson Hotel before catching the 174 bus back to the airport. I popped into the Boardroom for some cheese and crackers, then sauntered on over to Gate C3 where boarding of our 737-700 to San Francisco was in progress. This flight was near full – surprising for mid-day on a Saturday, I thought – and this time my seatmate was healthy and looking forward to two weeks in the Bay Area followed by three weeks down in Mexico. He was from Fairbanks and as is so often the case with two people from a small town, we had some common acquaintances.

If ever there was a flight to have a window seat on, this was the one. As I mentioned, it was a gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest and, after taking off to the north, those of us on the right side of the plane were treated to beautiful views of Lake Washington and the distant Cascade Mountains. As we banked to the left and turned back towards the south, I could clearly see the Boeing plant at Everett, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands, the Hood Canal Bridge and the Olympic Mountains. After that, you’d have wanted to be on the other side of the airplane to watch Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and the rest of the Cascade volcanoes pass by, along with a nice view of Crater Lake. We made an interesting approach into SFO, swinging way out over the Pacific as the sun hung low over the horizon. I watched as a 747 out of SFO climbed across the western sky and wished I were on it. This is my favorite time of day to fly. We turned back towards the coast and got an excellent view of the entire San Francisco Airport as we flew just to the north of it. I should imagine the views of downtown San Francisco, the Bay, the bridges and Oakland must have memorable for those on the other side. We looped around to the south and landed to the north, thus ending one of the prettier flights I’ve been on in some time.


03 November
SFO-PDX 1014a-1153a ALASKA 737-490 N705AS First Class Seat 2A Snack
PDX-SEA 130p-222p HORIZON CRJ-700 N614QX Coach Class Seat 8E
SEA-DEN 606p-936p ALASKA 737-4Q8 N774AS First Class Seat 1F Dinner


Sunshine and 60 degrees, beautiful California coastline, 49ers vs. Raiders – who would want to go back to the cold and snow of Colorado? Not me. Still, I had business to attend to in Denver (Driving in Denali is not my only avocation) so return I must. I took some consolation in the fact that it would probably be sunny and 60 in Denver before the week was out.

I was dropped off at SFO with plenty of time for coffee and a bagel at the President’s Club. Alaska operates a Board Room down on the concourse but I like the SFO President’s Club a bit more.

It’s not much of a flight between San Francisco and Portland – only an hour and 17 minutes – yet somehow Alaska found it in their hearts (and budget) to offer us First Class passengers a fruit plate and a blueberry scone. I remember when this snack used to be served on the two morning flights between Fairbanks and Anchorage but that was back in the late eighties. Today’s fruit plate consisted of a wedge of cantaloupe and some grapes.

There was no fog this morning, so the views of San Francisco, the bay and all the bridges was quite nice. Clouds gathered briefly as we climbed to 35000 feet, then dissipated to give us a spectacular vista of Mt. Shasta and the Trinity Alps.

I had an hour and a half layover in Portland, pleasantly spent in the Board Room bringing this report up to date whilst glancing occasionally at the football scores. How bout them Patriots?! 38-7 over the Bills in Buffalo no less!

My flight up to Seattle was with Horizon Air aboard their new CRJ-700 jet. I’m not kidding when I say newest jet, either. Although Horizon has been operating the CRJ-700 for almost two years now, ship 614 was the newest one, joining the fleet as of July 10th. This would be my first flight aboard the CRJ-700 and I was curious to see how the jet would match up vs. Horizon’s promotional material which described the jet as “roomy” and “comfortable”.

About Horizon’s CRJ-700, the best thing I can say is that we made it up to Seattle in only 27 minutes. That’s faster than I’ve ever made it in one of the Dash 8s. As for comfort, the plane is about the same as the Dash 8. Seat pitch is only 30-31 inches. It’s probably a bit quieter than the Dash 8 as well. For flights around Horizon’s traditional routes like Portland to Eugene or Sun Valley or Spokane, the little jet is a definite upgrade over the props but I wouldn’t want to fly it on Horizon’s new longer services between Denver and Portland or Boise.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once more: The best regional jet I’ve ever flown on is the Avro RJ-85 (ex-Bae-146). It’s got a DC-9 sized cabin offering 2-3 seating every bit as comfortable as the seats found on the larger jets. As well, the cabin is wide enough that many airlines have the option of offering a First or Business Class cabin.

As we taxied out to the runway, I noticed that the tower at PDX bore a striking resemblance to the tower at SEA. They were almost exactly the same! I wondered if there are kits or models for airport control towers available now, like houses from Linwood Cedar Homes. Pick your style. Some assembly required.

Horizon packed a lot of service into this 27 minute flight. Large packs of dried fruit and nuts were doled out followed by the beverage cart offering a choice of apple juice, water or Winterhook Ale. Each month, Horizon features a complimentary ale from one of a variety of northwest microbreweries. The Winterhook is a seasonal ale from Seattle’s Redhook brewery and was a popular choice on today’s flight. Although coffee and tea were probably available, I don’t recall those or any other beverages being offered.

What started out as bad news – the inbound flight from Fairbanks and Anchorage was running three hours late – turned into good news when Alaska decided to put an alternate aircraft on the Seattle-Denver leg. As if this weren’t enough good fortune for the day, when I arrived at the gate I found N774AS, the Alaskaair.com aircraft! Although I’d flown ship 774 before, it hadn’t been painted in the promotional color scheme at the time. I remember Alaska’s 727-200 “Seahawk One” had a Seahawk theme to its interior so I was curious as to whether there’d be anything special about this aircraft. There wasn’t. In retrospect, short of installing internet access technology, how else might you fix up the interior of an airplane painted to promote the company website?

My seatmate was another disenfranchised or should I say disenchanted United Premier Exec who had taken his business to the Northwest/Continental alliance. Like a hung over frat boy after a particularly hard night of drinking, he swore he’d never fly United again. Ever! His main complaints were service cutbacks coupled with poor service both on and off the aircraft. United’s plan to charge $100.00 for same day stand-bys was the final straw. As for air fares, on this trip to Seattle with a two day advance purchase he got a ticket on Alaska for a little less than $600.00. He claimed the United fare was over $1500.00! Wow!

While I’m no fan of United’s generally shoddy service and attitude over the past few years, nothing would make me happier than to see them return to profitability and once again become a first rate carrier. When I had my unlimited First Class pass back in the mid-eighties I thought United’s service was amongst the finest in the country.

Beer and honey roasted almonds started off the service here in row one. I also found out that MacTarnahan’s would be back soon. Our flight attendant told us that the Beck’s was only being served in homage to Oktoberfest. Huh? Is Alaska considering a route to Germany? Probably not though Lord knows we get enough visitors to Alaska from Germany during the summer months. If Alaska were to seasonally lease a 767 for summer charters from Munich or Dusseldorf, they’d probably have no problem selling seats. Plus, an Alaska 767-300 would make a nice looking airplane. But enough day-dreaming. Tonight’s dinner selections were as follows:

Seattle to Denver

DINNER

To Begin

A bag of mixed nuts and a cold beer

Fiesta Salad
Endive lettuce with red and yellow peppers and Jicama slices. Garnished with sliced red and yellow tortilla strips

Dinner Roll

Entrees

Herb Crusted Chicken Breast

Served with rice risotto topped with asparagus and buttered snap peas

Shrimp Stir-Fry
Ginger-soy marinated shrimp and vegetables served over noodles

** ** **

Dessert
Wedding Cake with Kiwi Fruit garnish


I’d had the Stir Fry on another flight this summer. Were it served on rice rather than noodles, I might have ordered it again. As it was, I found the chicken quite tasty if not a tad dry. The risotto and peas offset the dryness quite nicely however and the dinner roll was so large I didn’t finish it. Usually I’m good for two but have learned to make do with one as that’s all Alaska stocks. The cake was delicious! It had a layer of marion berry filling in addition to the delicious white frosting. I actually liked it better than cheesecakes because it wasn’t as heavy.

Seatmate and I had a lot of fun rehashing old airline war stories as well as chatting about our travels through South America and Australia. The 2:16 minute flight seemed a lot faster as a result and although we landed forty minutes late in Denver, I chalked this up as yet another fine flight with Alaska Airlines.

So, there you have it. If you’ve read this far, thanks for hangin’ in there for the whole report. Hope you liked it, too - domestic flights notwithstanding. Some of you may be pleased to know that a portion of all the miles I’ve garnered during this fall’s travels will be redeemed towards a First Class seat aboard Alaska and British Airways back to Tasmania with intermediate visits to England, Finland and Russia. That will be in April. For now however, it’s time to fire up my trusty midnight blue Mazda pick-up and once again head out onto that westward highway. Hiyo Blue Mazda Awaaay!!







1 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCMK10 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 513 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (11 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2962 times:

You sure can write 'em! I must say I dont have a bone to pick this time, how unlike me  Big grin. You ought to come out to my end of the country more. And did you get my email?
DC-10's Forever



"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic The Great Autumn Mileage Run - Part II
Username:
No username? Sign up now!
Password: 


Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Trip reports only! Other topics here
  • If criticizing an airline, express yourself in a dignified manner.
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
  • DETAILED RULES
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)


Similar topics:More similar topics...
The Great Autumn Mileage Run ~ 49 Days, 54600 Mi. posted Fri Dec 27 2002 21:20:46 by Seat2A
Round The World, Mostly On 777s. Part II, EY And SQ posted Wed May 31 2006 08:35:39 by The777Man
Autumn Mileage Run On AA, AS, CO And NW And Amtrak posted Sun Dec 5 2004 16:04:30 by Seat2A
The Perfect Mileage Run That Didn't Happen! posted Sun Nov 2 2003 16:37:03 by Zrs70
CDG-ICN AF Espace Premiere Part II posted Tue Sep 5 2006 04:49:50 by Flpuck6
Switzerland 2006 Part II - LX22 GVA-JFK posted Sat Jul 22 2006 19:50:59 by ANITIX87
Aeroflot DEL-SVO To IAD Part II posted Thu Jul 20 2006 03:35:41 by Desiguy2447
Round The World Mostly On 777s, Part III NZ And EK posted Thu Jun 1 2006 08:19:14 by The777Man
Round The World, Mostly On 777s. Part I, AF posted Tue May 30 2006 16:47:03 by The777Man
To The Great Wall ARN-CPH-PEK-CPH-ARN (Pics) posted Thu Apr 13 2006 18:47:03 by Malmoaviation

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format