This is my first trip report in a long time, so I hope you enjoy it! And my hats off to the captain, first officer and inflight crew of C0285 for the best flight, ever!
CO285 was scheduled to depart Houston IAH at 1800 but afternoon thunderstorms delayed the flight for nearly four hours. After numerous delays and a gate change, boarding finally started at 2115 from gate E20. The flight was plagued with problems from the very beginning, but the crew did an outstanding and professional job of addressing all issues!
The APU was MEL'ed, so we got a ground connection and started #1 at the gate. Then, our flight plan expired because of the long delay, so we contacted operations to refile. In the meantime, we were still waiting for all the weight and balance information to be uploaded to the ACARS. Once we finally got the clearance and the w/b information, we called for push. Ramp cleared us to push to spot "Tango" and tail east. We started taxi and completed a crossbleed start to #2 as we exited the ramp area. The line for 15L/R departures was at least 20 deep, and we waited for 20-30 minutes until we finally reached the threshold of 15R. We planned for the Junction 4 SID, Junction transition. Our flight plan took us over ELP, New Mexico, LAS and northwest through California's central valley.
As we turned onto 15R, we were cleared for takeoff, right turn 270 and up to 4000. It was amazing to see the takeoff roll from the cockpit, coupled with the roar of the engines! We were cleared up to 15,000 with a direct routing, then up to FL230 and finally, FL380. The ride was choppy east of ELP and we asked for a deviation south of course to negotiate some buildups. The weather radar painted a great picture of the adverse weather and allowed us to dance around it with minimal chop. Vegas really looked like a desert oasis with millions of lights, surrounded by the desert expanse of Nevada.
The arrival called for the MADN4 STAR into OAK, and we expected a visual approach to runway 29. As I was discussing descent planning with the crew, Oakland ARTCC cleared us to FL340 and then continued our descent clearance to FL230. We checked in with NORCAL Approach who descended us to 3300 with a direct routing before finally clearing us for the visual approach to 29. The approach was backed up with the ILS 29. The FO disengaged the autopilot and completed a beautiful approach to the runway. The runway lights were visible from afar and looked great in the Bay waters. The FO made it look easy as he lined up with 29, we received the landing clearance from Oakland Tower and he put it down right on the blocks. A little bit of reverse thrust and brakes and we cleared the runway on a high-speed. Tower instructed us to taxi "Yankee" to gate 3 on his frequency.
This was my first jumpseat ride since my childhood experience of an Air Canada jumpseat ride in 1998 and what an amazing ride it was! A special thanks to the First Class F/A who entertained me and kept me very well fed throughout the evening. This flight reaffirmed my love and passion for aviation!
Hope you all enjoyed the story...