…….and so it begins, another Trip Report from me. Where did I go this time? Back to BWI. That’s right. I cannot stay away from the city. As some of you may recall I flew my STL-MCI day trip to earn the 16th credit needed to fly to LAX to meet up with Phil and Tommy and others. I could not make that weekend work. No, I wasn’t afraid of Tommy or Phil (ok, maybe Phil just a little bit ) So I decided to use my Free Rapid reward Ticket on SWA to fly back to BWI for Veterans day weekend and see my crazy cousins again, and go spotting at DCA, and see the famous landmarks and buildings and historic sights I wasn’t able to see last time I was there. I got online, and reserved my Trip for STL-MDW-BWI-STL. Then Ryan ( Southwest Pilot friend) let me know he was flying into BWI that same day, and told me his flights so I could fly on his flight, he was flying RDU-BWI so I called SWA, and re-booked STL-MDW-RDU, then change to the RDU-BWI flight, keeping my BWI-STL n/s. That was really easy to do, no having to pay to change (It is 100 dollars on American to change dates or flights on a Reward ticket as well...providing the fee isn’t waived or otherwise stated by the agencies.) Then, about a week before the trip, I talked to Ryan again, and he informed he was relocated to HOU and that was his new base and he wouldn’t be flying the RDU-BWI segment. Not a problem, I will simply change my flight back to the original STL-MDW-BWI segment. Then I got an Idea and decided to try and use my ticket, plus buy another segment on SWA and fly out to LAX coming home as in BWI-LAX-STL on the 13th, and visit Tommy who was on a Business Trip. We would meet, have lunch, argue, and bicker about stupid crap, and then spot, and then he would throw me back into the Southwest Cargo 737 bin and I’d be on my merry way back home to STL. I called Southwest and again (I swear they must know my name by now….ahahah ) but I couldn’t change it to LAX because the returning flight from LAX to STL I needed to get on would not arrive until 12:45am, and the last shuttle to the car on the train leaves at 12, so I would not be able to get to my car. So that didn’t work out with a “thank god almighty” (coming from tom )….Finally, my cousin called and said she did not have to be anywhere Sunday morning and I could stay until Sunday night and leave at 4:00pm if I wished. So..once again, I called SWA and changed my returning trip to leave out of BWI at 4:00pm instead of 7:50am, however the 4:00pm departure was another change of planes thru MDW. Oh well, I love flying through MDW, so this was not a problem for me. This shows you how extremely flexible SWA is, and with the Award Tickets. It will be interesting to see how much of an effect it is now with the new changes being taken Feb 10th, with the addition of restricted seats and no blackout dates.
I left my Math class at 10:30 to drive the one hour and half drive to the metro link train station in Shiloh, Illinois. I got into Shiloh at 12:45pm. I got out, grabbed my suitcase and bags, and got on the train. We left at 1:00pm and got into STL Airport at 10 after 2. I was really pushing it as the flight LEFT scheduled at 3:15pm. I hurried inside, printed out my boarding passes and walked down the terminal.
Called my mother to let her know I arrived and would be boarding in about 30 minutes. Paul (nother southwest friend ) had let me know the day before I was scheduled on N399WN. What is ironic about this is I flew this very same aircraft (reg too) 4 years ago, STL-PHX. It would be leaving from the very same gate too, E-22. Talk about a reunion with SWA . I walked by E-22 and already saw people lining up. Oh geez, man do they board early, and do they mean business or what? I do realize STL-MDW is a business route but holy crap. Every single person on board this flight was dressed very nice and/or had a business suit on. I was mighty impressed and this totally threw away any doubts of “hicks” flying SWA. Everyone in line was on the cell phone jabbering away and such. I myself was guilty of it too, texting my friends and talking to people as well. I watched a plane land, and saw it coming to my gate, it was indeed N399WN. Perfect!
Very soon, they started to announce boarding. Pre-Boarding boarded first. Then A, that would be me! I grabbed my bag, handed my boarding pass to the agent and she welcomed me. I walked down the jet bridge and was greeted by Jason, the “main” F/A. He also welcomed me and urged everyone else to quickly find seats as we were running behind. We had all male crew on this flight; the other guy was a Spanish Mexican guy, who I could hardly understand at all. The 3rd whom I didn’t see, he worked the front most of the time and rarely came in the back of the plane. Looked out the window and watched the planes go by.
We backed from the gate, and headed to R 30 L. I saw New Mexico land and taxi to the gate I was just at. Awwww just missed it by one flight. Yuck.
We taxied down to 30 L, and stopped on the runway for a few seconds. Then finally, the engines started really loud and we immediately went down the runway.
Soon we lifted off, and turned right to head back over Illinois to MDW. It was a very clear afternoon, moon had already risen, and it was a beautiful afternoon to be flying in the skies.
The F/A had taken our drink orders on the ground. The Spanish guy served my area and asked what I’d like. I requested a Coke. He said “Diet Coke?” I said “, no...COKE please” he goes “ahh ok diet coke, I get you diet coke, be right back” *rolls eyes* Ok sure. I thought, I will drink it for his sake….They came back and got our drinks and sure enough I got Diet Coke, and we also had two bags of peanuts. I drank the soda and put the peanut bags away to eat later. I sat back and read the spirit magazine. Flight did not take long at all. The sun was starting to slowly set, I had planned it so all of my flights would be at sunset or in the dark as these are my favorite times to be flying, and I just absolutely love it! Pretty soon we got near MDW and we started to get lower, and lower.
They began to lower the flaps and I saw the shoreline of Lake Michigan appear and we flew parallel to it.
Then, I saw the Chicago skyline appear above the right wing. I leaned forward to take a picture of that as well. Chicago is amazing, I just absolutely love Chicago.
It was also a sad reminder of my very good friend, Mary Jane, who was also like a 2nd mother to me. She died of a heart attack 4 months ago. She lived in Chicago; this would be my first time to Midway Airport without her being there. So I got a bit quiet. Last time I saw her was in fact at MDW Airport, after she had dropped me off at the airport for me to fly back home back in May. Any time I had a layover in Chicago I’d try to make it long enough so I could go see her and we would grab lunch or meet up at the curb, she always went out of her way to come see me. Sadly we would not be able to do it on this trip .
We continued the approach and quickly the rooftops came up slowly and faster, with the same question on our mind, are we going to land on top of the houses? Of course as always we don’t and we land just fine on R 31C.
We had a bit of crosswind so it was quite bumpy all the way down, and we took very long to slow down. We slowed down though, and quite hard. By now the sun was really setting and it was getting a bit dark, but still enough light to see for another 30 minutes. We landed and arrived at the gate at about 4:30pm.
This meant I had 30 minutes to go find my gate before we would start boarding. I called mom and friends and chatted to them for quite a bit, interrupting to say excuse me as I kept running into people. I did not see anyone at MDW from AIRLINE. I recognized some workers who had appeared briefly, but not the official ones as Colleen and Anita. My flight to BWI was scheduled to leave from B-19. So I walked over to B-19 and watched the sun set slowly, as finally the -700 pulled up to the gate. N482WN was the aircraft.
I recognized quite a few people on my STL-MDW flight in line for the MDW-BWI segment. This flight had quite a few people dressed up as well but some laid back people too. I was 5th in line for the A card. They called for boarding, and we all got on. I sat down and watched the sun continue to fall down.
This time we had a female on board but still 2 male F/A. They once again urged everyone to get to their seats quickly, but we were actually on time. They really do want to get paid ha-ha as they get paid as soon as the plane leaves the gate. They started the briefings and we were on our way to I think 4R? I know we took off parallel to the Sears tower; it was on the right side of the aircraft. We waited for a Learjet to arrive with an ATA 738 behind us. We turned onto the runway. We sat there, he revved up the engines, but we stayed on the runway. Finally he released the brakes and I was pushed back into my seat. We rumbled down the runway and eased up into the air. We turned right and we leveled quickly. This is where it becomes so beautiful and explains all the reasons for flying. The pilot eased the engines back, and I felt myself getting pushed forward as he relaxed the thrust. All I could hear was the humming. We cruised very low I think about 5,000 feet. We flew past the sears tower, over navy pier. It was so beautiful at night, soaring high above the Chicago skylights. Then I saw the shore of the lake appear. We cruised out into the lake for a good minute or two. I turned and watched other planes taking off from MDW follow the same action we did. In the distance I could see the lights of aircrafts setting up for the S approach for ORD. It was just amazing and really, really cool to see the planes doing that. Then out of nowhere *vrrooooooom* the pilots turned the engines “back on” and he revved it up again, and I felt myself getting pushed back into my seat and he went what felt nose up almost. We shot straight up and cruised to our flight altitude. God, that was AMAZING!!!! I just loved that and to me that is what flying is all about. Experiencing lack of gravity, the thrust, the city lights and all the planes setting up for the take off sequence or landing approach. I will never get tired of it.
One of the F/A started to pass out the snack bags, more then peanuts, but less then a snack pack. I was not even expecting this to be honest. I was simply expecting the usual 2 bags of peanuts and drink. I later found out flight between 1 hr and 2 hrs get this service, and flights under 1 hr get the peanuts and flights 2 hours or more get the snack pack. This was a 1 hr and 55 min scheduled flight but took about 1 hr and 30 minutes total flight time. I asked for Coke, and this time I got Coke instead of diet . I quickly finished up, and grabbed my book “The Things they carried” as I was reading it for homework. It is actually a great book, about the Vietnam war. But I won’t get into the book, it’s a trip report, not a book report . I read it for awhile, listened to my CD player. Flight was very smooth with the occasional jolt here and there, but not enough to turn on the seatbelt sign. Rest of the flight went well.
Soon I heard the DING! And saw the seatbelt lights were turned on and we would be starting the approach now. F/A went around to collect the trash and clean up a little bit as the plane continued to approach into BWI. R 33L would be our runway to land on. As we got close to the runway the flaps came out really fast. It didn’t go set by set; he basically let it all come out at once. It was VERY windy outside. You could tell by how much the winglets were shaking, and how much the wing would rock back and forth. Right as we were near the runway, we hit a huge jolt of turbulence or a brief air pocket or something and we dropped, and every ones arms kind of lifted up into the air. Mine did as well. If we had not worn our seatbelt we may have been flown out of our seat. It was very brief though, passed quickly. Soon the runway appeared and we touched down, but not before another blast of wind knocked our right wing up and he had to turn it back down and the wing dipped one more time before he slammed it down. THAT landing was definitely noticeable. We slowed down quite quick and turned off and taxied to gate A-2. Woo hoo. I get to see the new concourse at BWI. I waited until most others were off then I got off the plane. I called my Cousins and they said they were waiting outside the doors in the car. Perfect timing! I walked out downstairs underneath, pass the baggage claim areas and spotted their car. Time to go have some fun!!! Here are some things I did and/or saw.
Went spotting at DCA.
Sunset over Chesapeake Bay
That's my TR!
Hope it was enjoyed!