I had a business meeting to attend in San Jose, CA on July 12th and because it was on short notice the fare on America West was almost 1/3 less than what NW wanted. I couldn't talk our corporate travel agent into NW this time! It did give me a chance to experience a different airline that I had never flown on before - America West.
I got to the gate around 6:30 am for the 7:25 am departure. For those of you unfamiliar with MSP the HP gates are way down at the end of concourse C near the commuter gate area. The plane was at the gate and I spent some time watching the normal NW arrivals and departures on runway 30R.
We boarded the plane and appeared to be headed towards an on-time pushback and departure when the pilot announced that they were having trouble re-booting on of the onboard computers. They made it seem like they could fly without it but wanted to try and get it working for a zero-defect departure, which prompted some passengers to ask aloud "How many defects are acceptable?"
It turned out that the first officer's FMC was on the fritz. Working in the software industry I quickly called my tech support group via cell phone and asked if they had any document in their knowledge base about rebooting an A320. Unfortunately they did not but suggested powering the whole aircraft off and restarting everything. Mind you, I work for a software provider of ERP software for manufacturing companies so I jokingly told my support rep that I would pass the suggestion along to the pilot. To my amusement, the captain announced shortly after I ended the call that they were going to "shut everything down and power it back up!" They finally had to have NW mechanics take a look at it and they ended up replacing the computer. We finally departed from RWY 12R at 10:00 am.
Shortly after departure a low cloud deck prevented any sightseeing from my seat in 18A. The plane had the dropdown lcd monitors and since we were so late they gave everyone headphones free and I watched the movie The Dish. On our approach into Las Vegas the clouds thinned out and I got some good views of the desert and town of Las Vegas. We landed on 25L in 104 degree heat. The approach had some light turbulence that only made it a bit more interesting of an approach.
On taxiing to the gate I saw several aircraft that I normally do not get the chance to see:
HP 757 - Phoenix Suns livery
HP 757 - Phoenix Cardinals livery
WN 737 - California One
727 - AVIACSA
WN 737 - In new colors
We arrived a B20 and I had just enough time to get to my gate at A5 as they were boarding.
My first flight aboard an A319 went smoothly. Departure was on-time around 11:50 am from Runway 25L. Got a nice view of the Vegas strip from my seat in 17F. The A319 reminded me of a DC-9 in terms of cabin space only more modern. The aircraft did have personal video screens in the seatbacks but they were not available for the 70 minute flight. A shame because they are there, why not use them as much as possible? Again low clouds obscured most of the view and upon our descent into SJC things cleared up a bit to see out the window. This was my first visit to SJC.
We had a smooth approach and landing on 30L at around 1:00pm. I was surprised to see that there were no jetways at terminal C and we had to use the rollup stairs and walk across the tarmac at our gate C6. I didn't have any time to check out SJC because my meeting was starting in about 45 minutes.
My meeting went rather quickly and I found myself back at SJC around 6:45pm. I went to the outdoor observation deck and got to see a lot of planes that I don't usually see in MSP:
Airborne Express 767
2 Fed Ex DC-10's
BAX Global DC8
Alaskan Air MD8?
I spent the time until our 9:25pm departure spotting on the observation deck. It was a nice evening and I was pleasantly suprised with the outdoor observation deck and the variety of aircraft. For anyone having to spend some time at SJC I would definitely recommend it. There is a free shuttle that runs between terminals so it would be easy to get to from the AA/WN terminal as well.
As I was heading to gate C6 for departure I came across 2 news crews (a local channel and I believe CNN) interviewing a woman. From the seriousness of their appearance I was wondering if there had been a crash somewhere. It turns out a TWA plane had blown an engine on takeoff somewhere in the midwest and her husband had been on it. They landed safely. I haven't seen anything in the NTSB database concerning this. Anyone here anything?
Supposedly the woman was told that the flight had been delayed without telling her why and she only found out why when her husband contacted her. The interviewers seemed to be taking the old familiar "the airlines lied" slant to the story. Personally, if I were in the husband's situation I would not want my wife to know any details until I was able to talk to her.
Our flight departed on-time from 30L and the evening sky had cleared up. We climbed north of the airport for awhile and the turned towards the south. I got a good view of SJC as we passed it from my seat in 10F. I also had a great view of the arriving aircraft lining up on approach.
The flight was smooth and we landed on 25L in LAS at 10:50pm. The approach was smooth and I had a good view of Las Vegas all lit up and could easily pick out the light atop the Luxor. As we departed the airplane at gate B22 the temperature was a balmy 93 degrees!
I had decided to fly all night because spending the night in SJC would have gotten me back to MSP late in the afternoon on 7/13, so at 1:15 Las Vegas time I was seated in 10A departing 25L. Not much traffic at this time of night so we had an immediate and smooth departure. I managed to stay awake for the next half hour looking out the window but then I quickly fell asleep. I awoke and looked out the window just in time to see Lake Minnetonka out the window. The sky was clear and the visual approach to runway 30R was smooth and fun to watch out the window. We arrived at the gate around 6:05 am and I went home to grab a nap before heading into the office.