Monday, June 7th, 2004
UA 6721 (operated by SkyWest)
Pasco/Richland/Kennewick (PSC) to Denver International (DEN)
Seat: 1B (left side, bulkhead aisle)
Departs: 11:30AM Gate: 3
Arrives: 2:38PM Gate: B57
I was running late this morning, as my ride to the airport and I were having communication difficulties. I finally arrived PSC at 10:56AM and hustled to the UA Express ticket counter for check-in. There was a small queue due to a small argument between the agent and the passenger before me about overweight baggage. I finally got to the counter around 11:04AM. The agent quickly checked me in and gave me my boarding passes all the way to MSP. I had planned on arriving at PSC early because the flight was overbooked and I wanted to volunteer, however by the time I arrived, the volunteer list was full (and they ended up not needing anyone anyway). I breezed through security (the joy of small airports) and was at the gate by 11:10, just as the agent called for general boarding. I waited a little while to board, because I was in no hurry to board the CRJ (my least favourite plane along with the Jetstream 31 and 41). I finally boarded as the agent announced the final call at 11:20.
I walked out on to the tarmac, gave my bag to the planeside baggage person, and boarded the CRJ. I was greeted by a very nice and friendly (but rather effeminate) FA named Johnny. There was a life raft in my overhead, so I had to place my backpack in the one behind my row and finally took my seat. The SkyWest CRJ’s seem to be slightly more comfortable due to better padded seats, however they have the same extreme lack of leg and shoulder room and tiny windows the plague all CRJ-200’s. Thank goodness I could stretch my legs into the galley or this 100% full flight would have been intolerable. The guy in 1A closed the window shade so that I couldn’t see out, which was quite annoying. As the FA prepared to close the cabin the plane developed a computer problem, which caused the pilots to complete shut down the plane and reboot all of the systems. This seemed to fix the problem and we closed the door and taxied out at 11:40AM. After a short taxi we took off on Runway 3L at 11:45AM. The pilots announced the flight time as 1:55. About 20 min into the flight Johnny began his service consisting on a choice of drink (full can) and the ubiquitous SkyWest snack mix. After serving the passengers and collecting the rubbish, Johnny basically sat in the galley and read a book for the rest of the flight (until the last 15 minutes). 15 minutes out, the pilots made the “please prepare the cabin for landing” announcements. Johnny made his final sweep and read the connecting gate assignments. We touched down at exactly 2:38PM and quickly taxied to gate B57. The rampers collected the planeside baggage, while Johnny attempted to flirt (I think, or he could have just been being friendly) with the guy in 1C. After a few minutes we were finally allowed to deplane.
Transit: Denver International Airport
Gate B57 at DIA is essentially a ground-level trailer with several doors attached to a regular gate. I expected better out of DIA, since other about built around the same time such as Pittsburgh and Cleveland have adequate regional facilities, with a gate for each aircraft. The Denver Airport is very modern, bright and airy, while lots of steel and glass. Unlike Chicago O’Hare and Seattle, it actually has decent concessions. The train system seems to run well and the bridge from the Main Terminal to Concourse A is really cool. I rode back and forth on the moving sidewalks and watched the Frontier and Ted Airbus’ go underneath me. While I was in Concourse A, I also managed to catch a glimpse of the daily Lufthansa 744 as it came in from Frankfurt. By the time, I walked around the airport; it was 3:25PM. I then headed to !Que Bueno! Mexican Grille and bought a few Tacos and headed to Gate B38 to catch my flight to Chicago.
Denver International (DEN) to Chicago/O’Hare (ORD)
Boeing 777-200ER (XC Configuration)
Seat: 39J (right hand, window)
Departs: 3:55PM Gate: B38
Arrives: 7:22PM Gate: B17
Gate B38 is a Dual Jetway gate, with B38 for the First and Business Passengers and B38A for the Economy passengers. I boarded through gate B38A and was greeted by a beautiful FA at door 2L who pointed me to the correct Aisle for Seat 39J. I passed through the aft Business section and was surprised to find that C-class was 2-3-2; if I shelled out the cash for a business class seat, I definitely would not want a middle seat. In coach there was a pillow, blanket, headset, and program guide for the PTV’s at each seat (which were the same as those in the 767). I headed back to row 39 (4th row from the back), stored my bag in the very spacious 777 overhead bin. I quickly took my seat and turned on Channel 9, while I watched the rampers load the last few containers into the cargo hold.
We pushed back right on time at 3:55PM and taxied to runway 34L (which the pilot specifically requested due to the weight of the aircraft). After a very long take off roll we rotated at 4:03PM. After we passed through 10, 000 feet the FA’s began to prepare for their service and pilot came on and gave the routing of the flight and the estimated flight time of 1:44. This was also displayed (along with the flight level, time at destination, ground speed, and maps at various levels of zoom) on the Airshow/ATC channel on the PTV’s. The FA’s also began the IFE which consisted of a multitude of short programs on the PTV’s. I chose to watch an episode of Stargate and an episode of Monk (all while alternating with Airshow/Channel 9). The FA came around with snack mix and a choice of drinks about 15 minutes later. Being a normal US and NW flyer, this level of IFE on such a short domestic flight was a welcome surprise to me and made the flight go very quickly.
At 6:36PM we began our descent into Chicago. We touched down on runway on Runway 14R at 6:56PM. The landing was kind of rough and one of the center overhead bins popped open. We turned off on to Taxiway M, and in the meantime ATC told us that our gate Bravo 16 was occupied and that we should check with operations for a new gate assignment. The pilot checked with ops, received the new gate assignment of Bravo 17 and was cleared by ATC to taxi there. We docked at B17 at 7:08PM.
Transit: Chicago O’Hare International Airport
I was originally scheduled on flight 1660 at 9:30PM, however when glanced at the electronic boards I noticed that there was a 7:45PM departure that was delayed until 8:20PM. I motored through the tunnel and made my way to gate C8 where flight 689 was leaving from. There was a small queue at the counter, but I made up there after a short wait. I asked the agent if I could be transferred on to this flight and she answered that I could be put on the standby list if I had no checked baggage. I agreed. I took a seat and waited. I also watched an Air India 747 in addition to BA and AA 777’s taxi by. The agent soon announced that although we would be departing the gate at 8:20PM, we did not expect to take off until 9:13PM due to weather in the MSP area. Boarding began at 7:50PM. I was cleared off of standby at 7:55 and assigned seat 14F. I then boarded the plane when seating 3 was called.
Chicago/O’Hare (ORD) to Minneapolis/Saint Paul (MSP)
Boeing 737-500 (United Shuttle Livery)
Seat: 14F (right hand, window)
Departs: 7:45PM Gate: C8
Arrives: 9:16PM Gate: E10
I was greeted the door of the aircraft by the flight and crew and made it to my seat. I stored my bag in the overhead, sat down, and tuned into Channel 9. This flight boarded very quickly and the doors were shut and we pushed back at 8:15PM. We then slowly taxied out to the threshold of runway 14L where we powered down waited to be cleared for take off by the ATC. In the meantime the pilots and the ATC chatted about what the holdup was in Minneapolis (it turned out to be earlier high winds) and the Stanley Cup finals. The FA’s passed out glasses of water while we waited. Other people passed the time talking on cell phones and using the restroom. I had a very strange conversation with the gentleman seated next to me in 14E, who happened to be a practicing witch and was reading some sort of witchcraft manual. At 9:05PM, the ATC cleared us for take off. We waited a few minutes for the FA’s to clear the cabin and took off at 9:11PM. After we reached 10,000 feet the FA’s began their service with regular updates from the about the hockey game. We had a very quick flight and managed to land on runway 30R at 10:08PM. We had very short Southwest-style (i.e. very fast) taxi and docked at gate E10 at 10:12PM
8/10: good service, but I hate CRJ’s passionately so they loose points.
10/10: I really like United; so much in fact, I’ve decided to make them my primary carrier (as long as I don’t have to fly United Express from ORD). UA0252 was the best coach domestic flight I’ve ever had. They have a far superior domestic product when compared to US and NW. In addition, Channel 9 rocks as well as UA international 777’s.
9/10: Very nice airport, however I had expected better since it is ranked so highly. It needs better regional facilities to get the extra point.
Thank you for reading my report.