Hey, again. The last weekend of October came and went far too quickly and soon it was time to go back to old Puerto Rico. Bleh. Sorry I only have pictures of the MIA-SJU-MAZ parts of the trip... For some reason, I didn't take anything before that. Oy. Anyway, here we go. MyAviation.net photo:
Monday, November 1st, 2004
I woke up rather early, just in time to see my roommates off one by one. I finished the last of my packing before I headed down to the hotel restaurant for some breakfast. There I ate an overpriced and under-flavored omelet. Yum. Around noon, I departed to SFO with my last remaining roommate and got off in Terminal 3.
My friend was flying home with United using a paper ticket, so I spent a little time in line with her. The line was pretty damn full, so I was surprised so many people still use paper tickets. Huh. Anyway, the line moved relatively fast for only two agents working the counter. She got checked in by a very friendly counter agent that seriously made wish I was flying United instead of AA. After that, we had lunch in the food court upstairs. Soon enough, it was time for her to go through security, so we hugged and kissed good-bye and I went about finding a place to sit and wait for my flight.
After walking around I came to the conclusion that there's almost nowhere decent to sit in Terminal 3. Eventually I found somewhere to sit and waited. Soon enough, it was 4:15 or so and I wanted to get rid off my check-in bag to go wonder around the rest of the terminals, so I decided to check in.
San Francisco International Airport - SFO
AA Flight 1939
Scheduled departure: 5:00 PM PST
Scheduled arrival: --
When I got to the counters, I was directed to use the check-in machines and so I went. I swiped my card in and entered my confirmation number, but the machine couldn't find my reservation. That's when I remembered that the Mayagüez agent had said he had accidentally canceled my trip back, but apparently didn't fix it. Lovely. So, I went to the counter and explained that the machine couldn't find my reservation and when I mentioned that I was going to Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, they tried to convince me Puerto Rico was international. *sigh* I disagreed and told them Puerto Rico was domestic, and after a small deliberation, they agreed with me. Shibby. So, I gave one of 'em my e-ticket papers and she checked me in and also put me on an earlier flight to Los Angeles that was leaving in about 40 minutes. When I got my boarding passes, none were for my original seat assignments (I had reserved windows, a couple near the front and now I had aisles in the back, except for the SFO-LAX flight) and had "AAdvantage Gold" printed on them. Huh? Seeing as the security line was rather full, I said "fuck it, I'll fix it at the gate" and off I went.
By the time I cleared security and got to the gate, boarding had already started. I made my way to the gate counter, basically asked the agent "Dude, WTF?" and he looked up the flyer number and asked if I was from Florida. "Uh, no, that's not me!" I said and he quickly removed the FFN from my record. He wondered how the number got on the reservation in the first place, and while I didn't say anything, I knew it had to have been the woman who checked me in. Oh, whatever. I didn't care anymore. After I thanked him, I got on the plane.
After I put away my carry on, I looked out the window till it was time to take off. It was a full flight, so I had two people next to me, but it was fine. As I looked down at my legs I thought "So, this is MRTC, eh?" and I was glad for the extra space. Too bad they're getting rid of it. I'm 6'2", so the extra room really was appreciated. Oh, well. The senior FA (who looked like she was in her mid 50s) did a very cheerful safety briefing (which, looking around, I was the only one who paid any attention to) and we were off.
As we climbed out the bay area, I caught a glimpse of the Oakland Bridge, the downtown SF area, the piers, Alcatraz, and as we made a U-turn south, the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park as well. I looked out the window for most of the way down, getting a nice sunset and then a beautiful nightfall. Sometime after the sunset, the beverage service started and I got a cup of Coke and some pretzels. Yummy. The flight was less than an hour, so the trash was picked up rather quickly after that and soon enough, we began our decent into LAX. God, what a view.
Los Angeles International Airport - LAX
AA Flight 276
Boeing 757 (old seat covers)
Scheduled departure: 11:10 PM PST
Scheduled arrival: 6:49 AM EST
Actual arrival (by my watch): 7:05 EST
I got to LAX just after six, so there wasn't much for me to do but wait. I have a friend who lives in Los Angeles, but I, moronically enough, left her number in my check-in. Yeah, idiot. I could've rode around L.A. for a few hours with my friend instead of just doing nothing at the gate area, but whatever. At least I was able to help out a woman who didn't speak a word of English find her way. Yay, me. People watching did help pass the time as did overhearing conversations around me. I heard stuff like "American Airlines just doesn't care," "Aru aru aru aru!," and my favorite, "America West is subsidiary of American." I didn't know that! Why, you learn something new everyday. :P
Eventually, boarding time came around, so I headed over the gate for a new seat assignment. I boarded a few minutes after that and settled in seat 28F. A guy going to Peru sat in 28D. After take off, I completely passed out. I woke up around an hour and a half later, really wanting to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the guy next to me was asleep and to get out, I'd've had to awaken him, so I ignored my bladder and went back to sleep. I woke up an hour later and fortunately, he was half awake, so off to the bathroom I went. When I came back, I quickly fell asleep again. I was awoken next time by the sun rising. I thought I was not going to sleep anymore, so I just sat looking at the sunrise when I apparently fell asleep again. When I came to for the last time, we had started to descend.
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004
Miami International Airport - MIA
AA Flight 861
Airbus A300-600 (new seat covers)
Scheduled departure: 8:00 AM EST
Scheduled arrival: 11:34 AM AST
Actual arrival (by my watch): 11:25 AST
As I got out of my flight from LAX, I realized that I was at the end of Terminal D and my flight to San Juan was at the end of Terminal A. "Oh, goody," I thought as I began to make the long trek across the airport. I made it to gate A26 in about 13 minutes. Heh. Anyway, I walked to the gate counter and had the agent change my seat again to a window. I got 33A. Not the same as the 10J I had reserved, but whatever. At least the guy was friendly.
So, eventually boarding started and I settled myself in my nice window seat and wondered if anyone would sit beside me. Someone did, but after boarding finished, there were plenty of available seats, so he took the entire row of four sets next to me. I stared out the window.
"Hey, TAM... How *you* doin'?"
Eventually, we started to taxi out to the runway. The FAs did a manual safety demo as the monitors wouldn't work. They were working when we boarded, though. Weird. Anywho, we took off.
"Old AA had a hub, e-i-e-i-o. With an ATR here and an ATR there..."
Bye, Miami. Your airport gave me a nice workout.
For the beverage service, I actually got a full can of Coke. I was amazed, actually. o.o We also got a Chewy bar to go with it, but it sucked. Ick. The senior FA was a nice guy, actually, though after the beverage service and trash pickup, they all disappeared for a while. Well, I did see the senior FA talking with a gay couple a few rows northeast of me, but no clue where the rest went. Well, until an hour and a half or so in the air, when I did see a couple FAs tinkering with the IFE, trying to make it work, but it stubbornly stayed dead.
Clouds: Damn good IFE.
Just after a couple hours in the air, we started our decent into San Juan. And I have too say that I loved flying in the A300 both times I did in this trip. It was very comfortable, and damn if it ain't beautiful both inside and out. I can't wait to fly in another one.
Hello, San Juan. My, but you're hot.
"A-taxing we will go, a-taxing we will go, hi-ho the derio, a-taxing we will go."
"So we meet again, Terminal D."
"Yo, Mr. 757."
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport - SJU
AA Flight 5400 (Operated by American Eagle/Executive)
Super ATR - N420AT
Scheduled departure: 1:00 PM AST
Scheduled arrival: 1:39 PM AST
Actual arrival (by my watch): 1:30 AST
Photo © Carlos Aleman - SJU Aviation Photography
As I exited the gate from my Miami flight, I thought "I'm hungry," so I set out to find something to eat and explore the terminal a little. San Juan has nothing to eat. A couple of snack places and a sports bar is really not enough.
In case you don't know where you are, here's a map for ya.
"So Terminal D belongs to American? How would I ever know?"
"Oooh! A logo!"
After walking a little more and considering just buying a gate sandwich, I found Dominos. So, for $9 I got myself a pepperoni personal pizza and a Coke which I took down to the American Eagle area to devour. I usually don't like Dominos, but the pizza was really good. I guess I must've been really hungry.
The American Eagle gate area... Featuring fake plants, balloons and a bunch of annoyed passengers on an overbooked flight.
After finishing up my pizza and getting $20 out of the only ATM I could find, I went over to the gate area and had my seat changed to a window. I asked for 17A since it's the last seat on the plane and therefore the first one off. I complemented the gate agent on her mad typing skillz and she laughed. I took my boarding pass and sat down to wait for boarding. By now they were offering a $300 voucher and a confirmed seat later in the day for the other overbooked flight. No takers. The tourists behind me were getting disgruntled.
Soon after, though, boarding time! The gate agent addressed me in English when he asked for my pass and ID and then changed to Spanish when he saw my Puerto Rican driver's license. Heh. I spoke back in English, though. :P Anyway, I went through the gate and got on the bus. I left my carry on in the space in front and took my seat way in the back. The bus ride is awesome.
"Hello, up there!"
"Look, mommy, a blurry ATR."
My sweet ride to Mayagüez.
Everyone slowly got off the bus and boarded the ATR-72. I hit my head on the way in. Oy. Anyway, I saw that the FAs had placed their jackets on 17A, so I moved a couple seats forwards and sat in 15A, the same seat as my outbound trip. The FAs did their safety demo and soon we were taxing to the runway for a number 2 departure. The engines powered up and we were off!
Bye, San Juan...
I'll see again soon
We pretty much stayed near the coast for most of the short flight. The FAs got some water for themselves and sat in the last couple rows, looking out the windows. I managed to see the Arecibo airport (ABO), but I didn't get a picture of it. Soon, though, Mayagüez was in sight.
"Hey, Mayagüez, I'm almost home."
The pilot turned towards the sea and kept on going for a couple minutes before making a U-turn back to Mayagüez. We passed over highway 2 (I should've gotten a picture of that) and landed rather hard on MAZ's 4,998-foot runway. We taxied up to the terminal building and we slowly got out.
We walked to the terminal and up a wheelchair ramp (opposite of the one the gates use) that led directly to baggage claim.
"And the carrousel runeth over."
Now, having had such an interesting experience with American, and having so many connections, I really thought they were going to lose my luggage, but to my pleasant surprise, they didn't. Of course, it was the last on the carrousel, but what else is new? As soon as I got my bag, I called a cab from a pay phone and I soon picked up outside for a rather rainy 18-mile ride home.
I didn't have the most pleasurable experiance with American, but I'm willing to try them again. They did get me to San Francisco and back safely and that's what really matters. So, as long as American Eagle keeps flying to Mayagüez, I'll fly American again. Otherwise, I'll just fly Continental or jetBlue from Aguadilla. American isn't really worth the drive to San Juan.