During my 4-year old daughter's life, most of our trips have been relatively short distances (except for an extended trip to the west coast almost 4 years ago), however this time, we took a plane to LAX. My dad was buying a new van, and he offered us his old one (a '96 Grand Caravan with 100,000 on it, in great condition. Not too hard to accept that offer!). Only thing was, the trip was on rather short notice.
Southwest 995, February 28, 2003, MSY-HOU-LAX, 737-7H4, N775SW:
Being that I had my 4-year old daughter with me, and the 8:20 AM nonstop to LAX is too early for us, we chose a direct flight. I didn't want to try chasing all over PHX or LAS on a connection. So we chose WN 995, a direct MSY-LAX flight that stopped at HOU.
I made the reservations the night before, had to do it over the phone (youth fares, etc). We drove down to the departure ramp at MSY, got the luggage out, and found out that we had been been 'selected'. Probably due to the last-minute res and that we were flying one-way. (I had had this vision that someone somewhere was going to accuse me of kidnapping.....you know, one-way, short notice, 4-year old in tow). Anyway, by the time we got the car parked in our employee's lot, and rode the shuttle back up, we had been cleared.
Down at the gate, we awaited the arrival of our aircraft from TPA, which turned out to be 737-7H4 N775SW. When it arrived, a good number of offloading loading passengers looked like they were headed for Mardi Gras (the following Tuesday). One man gave my daughter a string of beads as he disembarked.
We boarded the plane early, and were second after a wheelchair pax. We took our seats on the right side two rows back (seats 2E and 2F?). The flight ended up with about 30 empty seats. We were a little late pushing back, and taxiied to runway 01. We got on top of a low overcast rather quickly, and set sail for HOU. The overcast continued all the way to HOU, and we landed on runway 13. The flight attendant gave Ashley a coloring and game booklet, which she promptly dove into.
At HOU, the gate agents asked for volunteers, and we passed (we wanted to get to LA!). The flight filled up, and we once again took off into the low overcast, this time on runway 22. The weather finally cleared for us, and we got our first views of the ground somewhere west of AUS. We flew just south of San Angelo (SJT), then westward over El Paso. My brother-in-law lives in ELP, and he says that he did see Ashley waving at him as we passed overhead. It clouded up again over eastern Arizona, then cleared up west of PHX. We were served the standard box of snacks (peanuts, Oreo cookies, cheese crackers). Ashley went through 3 small peanut bags, and the cheese crackers. I ate some ham and a cereal bar that I had brought aboard. On approach to LAX, we got some views of LA (I get my pics back later today), and the infamous In-and-Out Burger at Sepulveda/Lincoln, and we landed on runway 24R.
As we taxiied in, we saw 3 Qantas 747-400's at the extreme west end of the field, not in remote parking, an Asiana 747-400, then lo and behold our first Alaska sighting turned out to be the Disneyland a/c! Also, a Virgin 747-400, and an ANZ 767 (man, I miss spotting at LAX!). We pulled into gate 4B at T-1.
Ashley had a great time on the plane, and all the way home in the van, kept asking if we were going to fly home!!!
As an aside, we did some spotting at LAX (both from the parking lot at the Proud Bird: most interesting arrival there was a China 747 cargo plane). We then did a lot better from an intersection near Arbor Vitae and 93rd Street (BA, EV, etc 747's, NW 757-300's). Some of the LAX employees still think the observation deck is open. Also went to SAN (after a trip to Sea World) to the hillside on the north side of Lindbergh. A great view is to be had at Columbia?/Nutmeg.
On the drive home (had to pick up wife and baby daughter in NE Louisiana), we had time to stop at PHX for a while, also by TUS (saw all the storage aircraft there, so that's where Legend's other a/c are!), and the Pima Air Museum. We rode the tramway in ELP for a great view of the airport and city, also passed by Midland-Odessa (MAF).
All in all, a great trip. We had a great family visit, we got to do some serious spotting (not like the same old junk we get here at MSY), and we now have a third car.
Tom in NO ( at MSY)