Friday, February 1, 2002
Photo © Andy Martin
My father and I had spent the majority of Wednesday afternoon and Thursday looking at flights for the trip to Milwaukee. They were all extremely pricey, as they were less than 48 hours notice. However, we narrowed the choices down to Midwest Express (for a direct flight) or Continental. We ended up choosing Continental as they had better return times to LAS.
We packed the night before and knowing LAS would be pretty busy in the morning, we decided to head out around 5am and only taking 10-15 minutes to get to the airport, it was more than enough time. We arrive at the airport at about 5:15am, and my father drops the car off while my mother and I go to the ticket counters. To our horror, the line was a mile long, but as we came closer, a CO agent asked if we were domestic or international, we said domestic, and she pointed us to the e-ticket kiosk, which had no line (apparently there was a LARGE amount of international bound traffic) and we quickly got our boarding passes printed out. My father then arrived and we then had to wait in a 5-10 minute line to check our 3 bags (despite only being a 4 day ordeal, we had nice clothes, and lots of heavy stuff that did not fit well into smaller carry-ons). Both the America West check-in and Southwest check-in were also very busy, the other airlines were pretty busy, but nothing like the CO, HP, or WN check-in. We then got the gate assignment (something in the A gates) and we proceeded upstairs. As we walked towards the security check-in, there was ANOTHER long line to get through security. This again, though, only took about 15 minutes, as all the checkpoints were open (however, a HP crew member was screaming and holding up one of the check-points about what looked like coffee??). By this time it was about 6am, and as the flight left at 6:59am, we proceeded to the gate and settled in. It was very busy here, and as always, I listened to the chimes of the slot machines. My father and I decided to grab some breakfast at Burger King, by the time we got through the line, they were starting to board the aircraft. We had seats 14 A-B-C on the 757. We boarded and found our seats. My god, those seats are tight. I have wide shoulders, so my dad had to squeeze into the middle seat (I was at the window). We had a nice view out, and the sun was still coming up, but it was a beautiful, but brisk, morning. We departed about 5 minutes late, made a relatively quick taxi to 25R. Passed a large number of overnighting aircraft from Delta, Continental, United Southwest, Aloha, etc. We stopped at the hold short of Runway 25R as a Southwest 733 landed. We then proceeded onto the runway. Waited a second, and then full power was applied. The 757 has a very nice and powerful takeoff in my opinion. About half-way down the runway we rotated and up we went. We made a slow climb (this is odd, they cut power, and leveled out under what seemed to be 10,000 ft for a good 5 minutes) made a wide u-turn to the east, and then started to climb again.
The flight itself was uneventful and very smooth. The legroom though, was atrocious. Actually, we had no space at all when the seats were reclined in front of us. I pulled out my latest issue of “Airways” magazine as I listened to the IFE. They ended up showing “Hope Floats” and I said screw that and kept reading. They served us a breakfast consisting of Cheerios, a banana, milk, and that was about it. Nothing big, but since I ate before the flight, I was fine. The cabin crew on this flight was nothing spectacular. They made the regular round of drinks and quickly served the meal. But they never did return after cleaning up breakfast unless they were called. However, they were friendly and never seemed annoyed.
The approach into IAH was interesting. Upon descending, the air brakes were deployed for more than 10 minutes in the air. Were they going too fast? Did they have to make quick drops? I didn’t think they would be used for that long? Anyway. The landing was quick and we landed without waiting. We then exited the aircraft, and found out the information for our next flight. It was a CO Express and we had to go to the B gates. We had more than an hour, so we took our time.
Friday, February 1, 2002
Depart 1:30pm (scheduled)
Photo © Jeremy Hooper
We walked through IAH and took the tram to the B gates. We arrived at the gate with about 30 minutes until the flight was scheduled to depart. However, the flight information at the gate read “delayed”. Oh goodie. So, as 1:30 approached, we wondered how long it would be. Then 1:30 slipped by, and still nothing. 1:40…1:50…then finally they made an announcement there was a gate change. So, we had to go across the B gates to another gate. 2:00…and then finally. They started to board the plane. I was originally worried about flying a small regional jet, as I never have before, and based on the 757, I thought I was going to be very cramped. Much to my amazement as I boarded, the plane was a little low (had to crouch slightly), but the amount of room was excellent. We were in seats 4 B, 4C, and 5C. I took 4C. These seats were much better than on the larger 757. Leather, good legroom, and I even think the seats were a little wider. Another bonus, I think the windows were even bigger. The flight was full, but amazingly did not feel crammed at all. We taxied to the active runway (I don’t remember which it was, but we did taxi past the cargo area, so maybe that helps). We taxied right onto the runway, and full throttle applied. I must say, this aircraft is one of the quietest I have ever flown. We quickly rotated and off we were. Almost immediately after takeoff, the solo flight attendant served us a turkey sandwich, carrots, and a little mint (I was amazed we would get anything more than peanuts on this flight!). I quickly ate that and looked out the windows. Is it me, or does the ERJ climb a little slow? After about 20 minutes, I fell asleep (rare! A testament to the aircraft). I woke up just outside of Chicago. The ground was covered in snow, but I had a nice clear view of Chicago and O’hare International. We then began the approach into MKE. We flew out over Lake Michigan, and made a steep turn back towards Mitchell. We made a very smooth landing and had a nice quick taxi to our C gate. I saw a few Midwest Express DC-9s and a Northwest DC-9 along with a few Skywest aircraft. We exited the aircraft into blistering cold weather (even in the jetway it was cold.) Got our bags and rental car and proceeded to my aunt’s house in Waukesha for the funeral and other events until Monday.
Monday, February 4, 2002
Photo © AirNikon
After a very sad weekend, my family along with my Uncle and Aunt and cousin headed back to Michell for the flight back home. My Uncle works for coke in Atlanta(actually is the guy who is in charge of the coke cups and coke products at all 7-11) and his Delta flight to Atlanta was departing at 6 while mine was departing at 4:50. Our gates were next o to each other so we decided to entertain each other. Check-in at MKE was simple. No lines and we got right in. Security was also quick. We arrived at MKE with only and hour, as last time we came earlier, and had a very long time to waste. We arrived at our gate with about 30 minutes left until departure. It looked as though this flight was going to be light. They then called our flight about 10 minutes prior to departure. As we were boarding, my bag was searched and my bag wanded and I had to take my shoes off, but nothing major. We boarded the plane, and had seats 17 A-B-C. The flight was very empty, and the last few rows in front and behind us were empty, so I asked the FA if I could move seats and she said sure. I must say, I don’t think I have been more comfortable on a flight in a long time. These ERJ are leaps and bounds better than the props I used to ride in with American Eagle. This was also a smooth flight. The FA though, was outstanding. She served everyone plenty of drinks, AMPLE peanuts and pretzels (Actually, more than I could ever want) and was very attentive. I slept in this plane for the 2 hour flight and awoke as we were coming through the clouds into IAH. It was pretty bumpy coming through the clouds and then we finally broke through. It was a bit wet outside. We circled the airport for a while as it was pretty busy, and then we finally began the final approach. An MD-80 was just out the window landing also. The landing was very smooth. We left Milwaukee on time, but we landed late due to the heavy traffic, so our connection was cut short. We only had about 25 minutes to go from our plane to the C gates. We quickly exited the aircraft and hurried to the other gate. We arrived just as they were doing the general boarding.
OH, the guy behind me had a camera and was filming the landing, maybe he is on this forum? hehe
Monday, February 4, 2002
Photo © Andy Martin
We hurried onto the aircraft, and proceeded to our seats. We had 27 A-B-C. This flight was pretty full, but again, we managed to be in the back and a few rows were empty, so my family was able to spread out. Otherwise, like the 757, this was cramped and tight. I had never flown a 737-800, so I was looking forward to it. Our taxi out was uneventful, but there were a number of CO aircraft lined up for takeoff. We managed to be the third for takeoff, but there had to be at least 10 other aircraft behind us. The takeoff was smooth, but about 5000 ft up, it became very bumpy. The IFE started (mainly 3rd Rock From the Sun, CNN, etc) and drinks and peanuts were served. It became very bumpy again, so much so that they stopped the drink service for a few minutes. The flight crew tried different altitudes, but to no avail. It was bumpy most of the 2 hours and 30 minutes. I certainly enjoyed the moving map display, but they did not show it enough. Our approach into Las Vegas was sudden. We flew over Arizona, made a sharp northern turn north of Kingman, and then up the Colorado River, and then a sharp turn towards LAS (I had an awesome view of Vegas). We made a very rough landing (I actually saw the smoke from the tires from my window!!) and taxied to our A gates. I did notice that there were quite a few CO aircraft parked at the remote stands. Overnighting? Anyway, we got into the terminal, it was very very busy. Got to the baggage claim only to find none of our bags made the transfer. No biggie though, as they were put on an HP flight that was about an hour from landing, so we told them to just drop the bags off when they come in. We got our car and drove home.
All in all, I was very happy with CO and would be more than happy to fly with them again, but I really wish they and other airlines would do what AA does with their MRTC.
I only wished that it was under better circumstances. Good news is that I will be flying back to Madison WI this summer for a wedding. I wonder what airline I will fly.