So, I picked up my co-worker at 05:00 and headed for the SFO. I decided to try off airport parking, and selected Parking Company of America. After securing my vehicle, a quick ride on the parking lot shuttle dropped us at the SFO terminal. The last time I took the CO was a good twenty years ago, and I was excited to finally fly someone other than the UA, if for no other reason than to compare airlines.
CO flight number 1520
Scheduled departure: 06:30
There was no line at the counter, so check in was smooth as silk. My co-worker and I asked to have our seat assignments changed so we could sit next to each other, a request that was immediately granted. If I remember correctly, boarding began at 06:10 and was quick and easy. The flight was about half full, so there was plenty of room to spread out. I took the aisle seat, my co-worker the window. The flight pushed back from the gate at 06:31, and after a quick taxi to the runway, we were off to IAH. Food service consisted of breakfast: cereal, a donut and a piece of fruit. My stomach hadn’t woken up yet, so I opted to skip. The scheduled flying time was 3hours, 52 minutes, but we completed the journey in 3:32. This was good news as I began to regret not eating breakfast and was hoping to grab something to eat on the way to the connecting flight. I don’t remember what gate we arrived at, but I do know we had to walk across the airport to reach the connecting flight. With plenty of time, and a path that took me by the restaurants, the walk was fine with me. After grabbing a burger at Chez Wendy’s, we headed for the gate to board the flight to IND. Very interesting site: parked out on the runway-a huge Russian cargo plane, white with a blue tail. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, I’ve seen it on TV as being one of, if not THE, biggest cargo jet around.
CO flight number 1682
Scheduled departure: 13:16
Once again, I asked to have our seat assignments changed so that we could sit next to each other. No problem, as this flight was only a third full. We boarded about 12:55 and settled into our seats for the scheduled 2 hour, 15 minute flight to IND. The flight pushed back from the gate right on time and headed for the runway. We were number 6 for departure and were quickly jetting towards IND. Beverage service only on this flight. For the second time this day, CO arrived 15 minutes earlier than scheduled and we were at the gate in no time. For a second after we landed, I thought I was suffering some weird sort of jet lag induced flash back. I looked out my co-workers window, and there was ANOTHER one of those Russian cargo planes. So, I’m thinking IAH and IND? Wonder what that was about?? We arrived at the gate and were on our way directly to the Avis counter.
I ended up with a Buick somethingorother. Had to be one of the worst cars I’ve ever driven. Mind you, I have no opinion on Buick as a whole, but this thing was a nightmare. Oh well, all it had to do was get us to where we needed to go, and it actually was a good source of humor.
Left the Avis parking lot took a right, a left and another left to join 475 (I think it was 475 anyway). No traffic to speak of and the highway patrol were out in force. They were picking people off right and left. The officers were in dark colored Trans Am’s (or were they Camaro’s?) with no marking. Anyway, you’d never see them until it was too late. So, observing the speed limit, I left the freeway on exit 33 and quickly found the Marriott Indianapolis North Hotel. The hotel was fairly empty, so there was no line at the check in desk. Within minutes, I was on my way up to 612, my co-worker to 416. I hadn’t been in the room five minutes when the phone rang. It was the hotel asking if the room was acceptable and letting me know to call if I needed anything. Never had that before at a Marriott-nice touch.
Spent the following day, 9/13 in Fisher and the first part of 9/14 downtown. After lunch, it was off to the airport. The flight wasn’t until 17:28, but we were hoping to jump on an earlier flight and get home early.
CO flight number 1685
Scheduled departure: 17:289/
Well, so much for that idea. There was nothing heading west until our scheduled flight. Fortunately, IND has an observation deck with ATC piped in. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, and the rain was falling. Worse still, it had become foggy, so the view from the deck was limited. It appears Fed-Ex has a huge distribution center at IND, there must have been 20 planes loading up. Not much interesting plane-spotting here, nothing unusual at least.
We boarded at 17:10 and were not able to sit together as the flight was 100% full, however we were able to get the exit row together on the next flight. Everyone found their seats and the door shut. We didn’t move for a good 10 minutes, and I knew something was up. Sure enough, due to T-storms in IAH, we were issued a 30-minute ground hold. GREAT. I had 45 minutes to make my connection once I reached IAH, so I was hoping we’d get out earlier as I expected we’d be in a long line to land. 17:55, finally, we were issued clearance to push back. Once airborne, the flight time was a scheduled 2 hours, 21 minutes. Snack service consisted of a chicken sandwich and an apple. Skipped the sandwich and ate the apple. By the time we reached the IAH area, the T-storms had moved on and we waited for our landing slot. We were assured that all the aircraft were delayed and we would make our connections, which made sense to me. After reaching the gate, grabbing my carry-on and finding my co-worker, we checked the board to see if the IAH-SFO portion was also delayed….NOPE, it took off in 8 minutes. So, the airport track meet began. Once again, we had to go to the other side of the terminal to catch the flight. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to run through an airport. Just as we were running up to the gate, the door slammed shut. Fortunately, the gate agent was nice enough to re-open it for us, and ended up leaving it open for another 10 minutes as people were trickling in from delayed flights.
CO flight number 1851
Scheduled departure: 20:35
We pushed back about 20:45 and waited in the alley way for a good 15 minutes. Per the Captain, they were finishing up some “paperwork”, whatever that meant. About 21:00, we were on the way to the runway and were behind a long line of other CO’s waiting to take off. Video panels, spaced every 4 or 5 rows, dropped from both sides of the interior and broadcast the safety briefing. . 21:20, we began the scheduled 4 hour, 9 minute flight to SFO. The 737-800 is a great aircraft! The seats are comfortable and the headrest with “wings” is a great idea. Prior to the movie, “frequency”, the panels displayed our location, airspeed, outside temp, miles to destination etc. Our route took us over Austin, Phoenix, LA, and into the bay area. Personally, I could’ve watched the flight info the entire trip and done without the movie! Travelling through Texas, especially Austin was quite bumpy, however, it smoothed out as we went west. Once we arrived in the bay area, ATC issued us a holding pattern due to flow control into SFO. It was a crystal clear night, so I enjoyed some sightseeing of Monterey and Santa Cruz. We held for about 10 minutes, and landed at SFO surprisingly on time.
Once outside the airport, I only had to wait about 5 minutes for the shuttle to the parking lot. When boarding, the driver asked what space I was in. Um, row 5?? See, I figured they just took the patrons up and down the rows like it’s done at long term parking. Turns out, you’re supposed to know your exact space. Sure would've been nice for someone to TELL ME THAT. Uh-hem, no matter. We cruised row 5 and rapidly located the car.
All in all, CO is everything I’ve heard. I look forward to flying them, especially if it’s a 737-8 again!