It was the end of my summer adventure in the Pacific Northwest and it was time for me to head home. I found myself in Victoria, BC and because my plans kept changing I ended up waiting until the last minute to book my ticket which wasn’t very smart in terms of finding the best price.
Being a poor grad student, whenever I travel anywhere I have to buy the absolute cheapest ticket on whatever mode of transportation is the cheapest. All last minute one way YYJ to MSN flights were ridiculously expensive with my options being YYJ-SEA-ORD-MSN on AS/AA or YYJ-YYZ-ORD-MSN on AC/UA. So I had to look at alternate airports and alternate modes of transportation. What I ended up with consisted taking the Victoria clipper ferry to Seattle, then I flew SEA to MSP on SY and finally I took the bus from Minneapolis to Madison. When I’m faced with choice of saving time or saving money, I’ll usually try to save money.
Load: 100% (293 people)
I arrived at the ferry terminal at 6:30, picked up my ticket and breezed through security which consisted of getting my luggage x-rayed but not having to walk through a metal detector myself. I went through immigration pre-clearance and found myself in a holding room mobbed with people waiting to board. The Victoria clipper boards Southwest style with the zone thing. I was shocked when I looked at my boarding pass and saw that I was in zone 1. I grabbed a window seat on the lower level because I figure the rocking of the ship would be less noticeable on the lower level. The Victoria Clipper is passenger only with two decks on the lower deck the seating is 2 – 4 – 4 – 2 across and on the upper deck it is 2 – 4 – 2. The only thing out of the ordinary on this ferry ride was that an hour and a half into it the ferry starting vibrating and making this grinding sound and then we stopped moving and for a split second I thought something seriously might be wrong with the boat and that we would have to abandon ship. I thought myself, “what a cool way to end my trip, put on a life vest and jump into the strait of Juan de Fuca!” I was jolted back to reality when the captain said “folks we just ran over a piece of driftwood and ingested it, it’ll take a minute to fix the problem”. Boy was I disappointed! After that problem was taken care of we continued on with our trip and arrived at Seattle’s Pier 69 where 3 customs officers were processing the entire nearly 300 people! The customs line slowly inched forward and when it was my turn the customs officer did not seem amused with my humor when two of things I acquired in Canada I listed as, “a sunburn and laryngitis.” Seriously though, I got laryngitis in Canada.
I was on the street by 10:30PM and I had arranged for my friend Erika to take me from Pier 69 to SeaTac. She also happened to bring the ditz squad (her cousins) along for the ride and their conversations consisted of a lot of giggling and sighing and squealing.
Sun Country Airlines
Depart: 11:59PM Pacific Time (Actual 12:30AM)
Arrive: 5:09AM Central Time (Actual 5:20AM)
Erika dropped me off at SeaTac at 10:50PM where I said goodbye and rolled my eyes at the ditz squad. Before checking in I had to repack my suitcase and carry-on as my suitcase seriously weighed like 8000 lbs so after moving the books and heavy stuff to my carry-on I was able to check in at the Delta counter where there was practically no line (seriously though, last December I once saw a guy who had a bag that clocked in at weighing 145 lbs).The DL ground staff handles Sun Country at SEA, along with China Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. I breezed through the TSA security checkpoint and made my way to gate A13. At 11:50PM an announcement was made that due to strong headwinds the flight would be 30 minutes late. But I also know that before the inbound flight left MSP, it only had a 5 minute turn-around time, at least according to the schedule, so I don’t know if that affected the delay or not. I reminded my self of the dirt cheap price I paid for the ticket and gladly accepted the delay. The inbound flight finally arrived and shortly thereafter we boarded the plane. The entire cabin crew was very senior looking and very attractive as far as seniors go. They wear their age very well. I’m guessing they may have been former NWA F/A’s since Sun Country’s also based at MSP? Don’t LCC’s and charters usually have younger crews? Well, they also had really attractive yellow and blue uniforms.
I took my seat 23A. The seats are leather but with just average width and pitch. When I looked at the seat map online earlier that day it showed row 23 to be empty except for my seat 23A so I was really looking forward to having three seats to myself as I’m 6”1’. To my dismay, a rather large man with a baby sat next to me with his equally large wife spilled into the aisle. I felt like a sardine pressed up against the window! I groaned and said to myself “this is gonna be a long red-eye!” I was also worried because of my laryngitis I was drinking a furious amount of water which made me wanna pee every 5 seconds and I didn’t want to have to keep asking two people to move every time I need to use the toilet. I was about to ask the wife if I could have the aisle knowing it would be harder to sleep there but giving me easier access to the toilet when the man flagged down the F/A and asked her if his family could move to one of the empty rows (there was only a 70% load), the F/A said yes and the family was gone. But then a non-revving pilot came and sat in my row which I didn’t mind because we at least had an empty seat between us.
I don’t know the SEA runways so I don’t know where we took off from and everything was dark anyway. Shortly after take-off the city lights disappeared and we were on our 2 hour and 45 minute flight to MSP as announced. All the water I had been drinking had its effect on my and I needed to use the facilities. I saw the non-revving pilots eyes start to close and I was praying, “please don’t fall asleep before the seatbelt sign turns off” but he did and now I was faced with a dilemma: do I wake him up and ask him to move or do I just try to climb over him where I might end up waking him up anyway with my butt shoved in his face?” Then I thought to myself, “ok if someone is going to wake me up I would rather have him shake my arm than shove his butt in my face while trying to climb over me”. So as soon as the seatbelt sign went off I asked him to move and let me out and he seemed pissed at me for waking him up but I couldn’t just pee at my seat so it was necessary.
Then came the shock. After hearing other trip reports and anecdotes on how there is usually no service at all on red-eyes you can imagine my surprise when one of the F/A’s announced a drink and meal service! Huh!? The “meal” consisted of a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich with a white chocolate cookie. The part that seemed somewhat strange to meet was that there was practically no light at all in the cabin and so the F/A’s did the services in complete darkness and they looked like they were shadows floating up and down the aisle. What was also kinda strange, but considerate, was that they were trying to do the services without speaking loudly so not to disturb the sleeping people. When the drink F/A got to my row, she noticed that the non-revving pilot was out cold so she leaned way over him and whispered into my ear those magic words, “psssst, do you want something to drink?” I whispered my request right back and was promptly served. The F/A doing the meals didn't talk at all. She just walked down the aisle holding a meal up in the air and pointing at people who were awake, then pointing at the meal, and if the person nodded, the F/A gave them a meal. These F/A’s were really going out of their way to not disturb the sleeping people. I was really amused by the whole thing. After they did one service back to front they did another service front to back. Two drinks and two meals, not bad for an LCC/scheduled charter (I don’t know what would officially define Sun Country). After the services I listened to some music then dozed off for a catnap and woke up just in time for our descent into MSP where we docked at the Humphrey terminal.
There was a short wait for my luggage and then I hopped on the very convenient light rail system which took me right to the bus station downtown.
Greyhound Bus Lines
Minneapolis to Madison
Load: 4 %
Seriously, there were only 5 people on this bus ride, but busses suck so I don’t want to write about a bus trip and I’m sure you guys don’t really want to hear about a bus trip. It was uneventful and I slept the entire way.
Well my summer adventures have come to a close. I had such a great time. I hoped you liked my trip report. It was the first one I’ve written.