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SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Fri Dec 20, 2002 10:37 am

I went to San Francisco for an anime convention (Yaoi Con) in October and flew there via Continental Airlines. This was to be my first time on an airplane so I didn't know anything about flying or what even to do at the airport to get to your flight. So I went to Epinions (I hadn't found this site yet) and saw that jetBlue was in the top three highest rated and after reading some of the most recent reviews, jetBlue became my first choice. This was around mid September (about a month before my trip). I went to the jetBlue site and checked out round-trip fare from San Juan, PR (SJU) to Oakland, CA (OAK) leaving October 17th, returning October 21st and it came to $536.40 with a connection in JFK airport each way. Leaving San Juan at 2:00 AM didn't sound particularly good to me (cheapest fare), but at least I would get to Oakland before noon. I did like that part of it.

Fast forward to October 9th and the jetBlue price had gone up $50.00 to $586.40. It was then I decided to go search Orbitz and see what I came up with. The search for SJU to San Francisco Airport (SFO) came back with ATA being the cheapest alternative at $402 or so (I don't remember the exact price), but I had never heard of that particular airline and the price itself made a little uneasy. So I decided to hit Epinions yet again... I did not choose ATA. The second cheapest alternatives were Continental at $504.90 (connecting in Houston (IAH) and in Newark (EWR) on my return trip) and American Airlines at $507 or so. I again read the more recent Continental reviews and I was sold. I headed over to the Continental site (I didn't want to pay Orbitz' $10 service charge) and proceeded to go about my tickets. Since I didn't know anything about seating, I let the system pick it out. I entered my card information and printed the e-ticket. I got an e-mail confirmation about 15 minutes later. And that was it. About 3 days later, I got an e-ticket in the mail. I kept the one I had printed out in case of an emergency and put both in my carry on.

**October 17th**

*SJU to IAH*

I get ready by 8:00 AM and I'm picked up by the public car line (which was actually a van) at 8:25 or so and after a detour to Cabo Rojo to pick up two other passengers, I make it to SJU by noon. My van driver tell me that I have to have my luggage scanned first by USDA scanner outside and he drops me off in front of it. My check-in bag is scanned and when it comes out the other side, it has a "USDA Approved" (or something like that) strip of paper is stapled on it. I walk inside the airport and find the Continental terminal. I'm the only one in line. Yay! So I take out my mailed e-ticket out of my carry on (which is actually the book bag I take to the uni everyday) and hand it over to the agent along with my ID. She's really nice. I tell her that it's my first time on a plane and that I know nothing and she explains everything there is to do. She checks in my bag and tells me it's checked all the way to SFO. She hands me back my ID and gives me my boarding passes. She explains to me which pass is for my flight from SJU to IAH, which is for the flight from IAH to SFO and then points me in the way of the security point. She wishes me a nice trip and I go on my way. I pass through security all right and make my way down to my gate. I wait there for a little while before the plane begins pre boarding at 12:25. After pre boarding is done, I'm next to be called out to board since my ticket is for the last row of the plane (a B737-800). Of course, I didn't know that till I sat down. Anyway, the gate agent checks my ID and hands me my stub and I board. A flight attendant says hi. I find my seat and put my book bag in the overhead bin. For the next few minutes, the plane continues to board, and I watch the flight attendants go up and down the alley, helping passengers put their carry ons in the bins when they need to. Only my aisle seat and the window seat in my side of the row (ABC row) are used, leaving the middle seat empty so it's quite confortable. As for leg room, I'm 6'1" and my knees didn't touch the seat ahead so it was shibby. The plane is clean and the blanket is shrink wrapped. The door is sealed and monitors come down from the bins and a safety video plays. Flight attendants stand at the emergency exits. Then the captain comes on. He makes a joke that I don't remember, but that made me feel a little bit on ease. After that the plane started moving, I clutched a pillow, said a quick prayer (even though I'm not at all religious) and the plane took off on time (at 1:00 PM AST more or less).

Once the plane was leveled, the flight attendants handed out headphones (free!) and started the meal service. There was a choice of meat or chicken (so I heard), but by the time they got to my row, the choice was meat or meat. They actually asked me if I wanted meat or meat. I thought that was cute. Ah, the food... Uh, it *looked* like meat. Some kind of meat. I tasted it and it was horrible, but I hadn't eaten anything all day so I ate it. Even after eating it, I still had no clue as to what kind of meat it was... Ah, a mystery. The rice beneath the meat was worse though. The salad, bun (with butter packet), and the cookie were all right. The salad helped pass the mystery meat. After giving out the food, the flight attendants handed out the drinks. I had a can of 7-Up. After that, the flight attendants picked up the trash. Then they ran another drink service. I had a can of coke that time. The in-flight entertainment consisted of a Woody Allen movie, some Continental/CNN stuff, a Frasier episode and a Reba episode. The plane was freezing though, so the cold and the two cans of soda made me use the bathroom. It was clean as it should be. After that, the trip was uneventful. When we approached Houston, the captain came on to tell us we were descending into IAH, and told us the local time and temperature. After we were on the ground, the Puerto Ricans appauded (-_-) and captain came on again to tell thank us for flying Continental and to have a nice day. The plane eventually came to a complete stop and everyone slowly left the plane. We arrived on time at 4:35 or so CDT.

*IAH to SFO*

Outside the gate where my flight came in, there was an agent calling out for people who had connections. I came to her and she asked me my name. I gave it to her and she looked me up in the list she was carrying. She then pointed me in the direction of the gate my SFO flight was leaving from. I thanked her and quickly found the gate. I saw many men with cowboy hats, boots and really big belt buckles. I was *so* in Texas. Anyway, I sat down and waited for boarding. It wasn't too long before the call for pre-boarding and then boarding. I was called first for boarding so I was in the last row again. The plane was a B757-200, I think. This time the plane was full up so I didn't have an empty seat in between window and aisle. The seat width was okay for me, but for a larger passenger, it might be a little too small. Well, anyway, the safety video was played, the captain came on, and we departed. I didn't hug a pillow that time, but I still did the prayer. So as soon as we leveled off, the flight attendants started distributing the headphones. Or rather, started selling the headphones. So they weren't free for that flight, but $2. I had put my previous headset in my book bag so I didn't have them now to watch the movie or listen to music, but I wasn't about to pay $2 for them either. After all, I already had a pair. The movie they played was "Jawanna Mahn." They also played the same Continental/CNN thing and the same Frasier/Reba episodes after the movie. I was *so* glad I didn't buy another pair. Sometime during the movie, the flight attendants did their snack service. Now, I had no idea what a "snack" was supposed to be. I had pictured pretzels and a coke, but instead they gave us a chicken sandwich, a small bag of Lays, chicken sandwich sauce, an apple (which I observed no one ate... dead nutritionists everywhere must've been spinning in their graves), a smore, and I got a coke with it. The Texan coke tasted weird... But I drank it anyway. The chicken sandwich was very good though. They soon cleaned up. Cold plane made me use the bathroom again. Quite clean. They ran a drink service afterwards and I had another coke. Still tasted weird. Flight attendants cleaned again. We hit a little turbulence during this flight, but it was over as soon as it began. Eventually we got to SFO and descended. Such an awesome view of San Francisco at night... I wished I had the window seat. Flight attendants went after trash one last time and the captain told the time, temperature, thanked us for flying Continental Airlines that evening. We landed on time (7:50 PM or so PDT) and everyone slowly got off the plane. Flight attendants said good-bye. I walk down a dark, lonely part of the terminal and found my way to baggage claim. It takes a while to get my bag. But eventually I do. I meet my friends in front of baggage claim and I leave SFO.

**October 21st**

*SFO to EWR*

I arrive at SFO early morning after having had one of the best weekends I have ever had in my life. One of my friends drops us off ('us' being me and two other friends of mine) early because she had a flight out of Oakland and she wanted to beat rush hour traffic to the other airport. Both my friends' planes would leave before noon, but mine wouldn't till 10:45 PM that evening so I spend the better part of 15 1/2 hours waiting in the airport. People watching does pass the time... But not fast enough. Eventually day becomes night and at about 7:45 PM or so I check in. I tried using the electronic check-in thingie for e-tickets, but because my flight's to Puerto Rico, it doesn't work. So I head over to the counter agent so she can check me in. She asks for my ID and if I have any bags to check in. I pass over my bag and a man behind her takes it. She gives me back my ID and tell me to follow him. I follow. He goes into a side room where my bag is scanned. After it's scanned he gives me my boarding pass and tells me it's checked all the way to SJU. Shibby. I go through security where a grouchy guy tells me to put my bag through the scanner and go through the metal detector. The security people at SJU were nicer. So I get my bag and walk down the dark terminal and find my gate. I sit down and wait for the next couple hours. Eventually 10:25 rolls in and it's boarding time. This time I don't have a last row seat so I have to wait a little to board. Eventually I board and the gate agent wishes me a nice trip. Flight attendant says hi as I go in the plane. I find my seat and wait for departure. Departure time comes and I discover that I'm the only person in my side of the row (DEF). Yay! Actually, the whole plane is more than half empty. I go to the bathroom and then come back and I sit in the window seat (mine was aisle). The bathroom was clean, the security video plays. Captain says his welcomes and we depart. It was nice watching the plane come over the fog through my window. Very pretty. As soon as the plane leveled off, the flight attendants did a drink service and gave out pretzels. I had a coke. Soon after they picked up the trash and I laid across my three seats and went to sleep. I woke up around 2 1/2 hours later and looked at the time. I still had an hour and a half of flying time so I went back to sleep. Next time I woke up, the plane was descending and sat up and buckled up. It was still dark out, so it was nice seeing the city all lit up as the plane went down. We landed on time (6:55 AM EDT) and the captain says his thanks for flying Continental. The airplane is left quickly this time. Well, being half empty and all... Flight attendant says bye and the headphones were $2 again.

*EWR to SJU*

I walk outside the gate where an older man is giving people directions to their connections. I give him mine and again I'm pointed to the right direction. Oooh... The Newark airport is nice... A lot nicer than SFO or SJU. What I saw of it (and the other two), anyway. So, pretty airport aside, I find my gate and I sit again. Boarding time comes at 7:25 AM and I don't have a last row seat again so I have to wait. I think the plane was another B737-800. Eventually I board, gate agent says to have a nice trip and flight attendant says hi. I find my seat and the plane finished boarding. Flight attendants distribute headphones. They're free again. Plane's pretty full this time, but there's an empty middle seat again. Sweet! So, safety video plays (which I'm pretty sick of by now...), the captain says his hi's and welcomes and we are third in line for departure. Less than 10 minutes later, we're in the air. The plane levels off and breakfast service commences. We have a choice of cereal or eggs. I chose the eggs. I got eggs, breakfast potatoes, sausage, cantaloupe and honeydew blocks, a bun and a coke. And, damn, it was *good*! I was happy. And fed. The flight attendants then took the trash and did a drink service. I had another coke. The movie was Men in Black 2 so I watched it. Eh. First one was better. I don't remember what the other entertainment was. Anyway, the cold plane and drinks did me in again. Another clean bathroom. Oh, clean plane, too and the blankets were shrink wrapped again. The flight was pretty uneventful after this. Eventually we got to SJU and we descended and the captain told the temperature, time and thanked us for flying Continental. We landed, but were taxied around for about 10 minutes while a plane that was using our gate left. Eventually we got to the gate and the place was exited. Flight attendants said bye. Flight was still on time even with the taxiing (11:52 AM AST). After, I got myself down to baggage claim. It took forever, but eventually I got my bag and left the terminal. Outside the public car line picked me up and I headed home.


This is my first post to this board... I hope it didn't suck. ^^;

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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Fri Dec 20, 2002 11:22 am

Very nice report, especially for first, blew my first trip report out of the water. A couple of questions, what kinda planes did you get SFO-EWR and EWR-SJU? And what kinda eggs did you get?
DC-10's Forever
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Fri Dec 20, 2002 11:51 am

Ah, thank you! ^^ Oh, and uh, both planes were B737-800s. I forgot to mention that in the SFO-EWR part. I did in the EWR-SJU, though. The eggs were scrambled.
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Sat Dec 21, 2002 1:58 am

Great first report... better than mine too.  Wink/being sarcastic

It is interesting to see that CO's meal service on the San Juan flights is a fair bit better than the standard domestic meal... which is usually just a hot sandwich. Too bad about the mystery meat though. Sometimes the catering can really vary from station to station... As for the headphones I remember them being either 4 or 5 dollars... they must have lowered the price. Though I should have saved the pair from my last trip. Oh well... hope you enjoyed San Francisco, it is on the list of places that I need to go to.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Mon Dec 23, 2002 2:12 pm

Wow, that's a great trip report.

I noticed on my Coontinental flights in August (my first time on CO) that they, like you said, helped me find my connecting gates when I got to IAH. American has never done that for me. They always say on the plane that an attendant will be available to answer gate questions, but I never see one, and on Continental, the agent sought me ought- "excuse me, are you making a connection?" I was very impressed with Continental overall.

It sounds like you had a great experience...

Conti flies nice airplanes, and I was pleased with their cleanliness as it sounds like you were. On a flight this summer from Dallas to Hawaii, my American Airlines 767 was without toilet paper, hand towels in one restroom, and missing hand soap in two restrooms! Disgrace.

By the way, what does "shibbey" mean?

I have to stick up for Texas here. Being as I'ma native of this here great big ol' place we like to call Te-jas, I gotsta defend 'er. No, seriously, some of us DO wear cowboy hats (not me) and boots (definitely, POSITIVELY not me). But many of us don't. I promise on my good honor that I don't own a horse.

I am glad you liked your trip!

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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Tue Dec 24, 2002 10:27 am

AA737-823: Dude, I'm sorry about your bad experience with American. I mean, no toilet paper? Or soap? Jeebus... What kind of airline doesn't have TP or soap in its plane's bathrooms? Oy. *shakes head*

Well, actually, the thought of flying American did cross my mind if only to fly out of MAZ which is, according to Yahoo! Maps' driving directions, 92 miles closer to me than SJU. But in the end I decided that I didn't want to fly the airline that pretty much everyone flies here and to just try and like the 2 1/2 hour ride to SJU and save myself the money. Don't know if I'll do it again next year... But I really loved Continental, so I probably will.

Shibby means fantastic, groovy, awesome. ^^

Heh. I'm sure you're not the big-ass belt buckle and cowboy hat type. Most of the men I saw were of the larger proportion and over 40. Hmm... Tejas. Oddly enough, I've never pronounced like that. Always Tek-sah or Tek-sis when speaking in English. Ah, well. Thanks for commenting. ^^
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Tue Dec 24, 2002 3:11 pm

It's too bad you passed on ATA based on those reviews. After I looked at them I noticed that most of the bad ones were written prior to the NEW ATA. I think you would have enjoyed our flight and saved money at the same time. I hope you will consider ATA on your next flight.

Take care.
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Fri Dec 27, 2002 6:49 am


I can't say I blame you for never having heard of us. As a matter of fact, we're launching a new advertising campaign around New Year's to increase brand awareness. By way of introduction, here are some selected snippets from our fact sheet:

ATA (American Trans Air, Inc.), the 10th largest U.S. passenger airline, focuses on serving popular business and vacation destinations through its growing scheduled service and charter operations. Now in its 29th year, ATA's brand of reliable, high quality air transportation serves more than 8 million passengers annually.

ATA operates the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleet in the airline industry including Boeing 737-800s, 757-200s, 757-300s and Saab 340s.

We boast a safety record second to none. The fleet is supported by ATA's own maintenance and engineering technicians, with maintenance and engineering facilities in Indianapolis and Chicago-Midway, and a number of maintenance support stations worldwide.

Boston, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Lihue, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-LGA, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Petersburg, San Francisco, Sarasota, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.-DCA

International Destinations: Aruba, Cancun, Grand Cayman, Guadalajara, Montego Bay, Puerto Vallarta, San Juan

ATA Connection: Cedar Rapids, Dayton, Des Moines, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lexington, Madison, Milwaukee, Moline, South Bend, Springfield, Toledo

Charter Service
ATA is the largest North American operator of commercial and military charters. ATA provides worldwide capacity to more than 400 destinations for a variety of customers, including leading tour operators, the U.S. military, government agencies, incentive customers and corporate clients.

Booking Information
Making a reservation with ATA is easy. Just book on-line or call
1-800-I-FLY-ATA (800-435-9282). En español 1-800-VUELA-ATA
(800-883-5228). Travel agents can book and ticket ATA through their CRS under the "TZ" code. ATA participates in the four major domestic CRS systems.

I hope you'll consider ATA next time your travels take you to one of our destinations.

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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Tue Jan 07, 2003 4:26 pm

Fly_ATA, Jjbiv:

I have read up more on ATA and I may consider them in the future, depending on how my budget is. Actually I'm trying to save up to visit a friend of mine in Tallahassee so I may just fly ATA part of the way there. Though for a longer trip (say to SF again later this year) I'll probably go with a more frill-ier airline again. It's just a very long way to travel on just snacks. Not that plane food's all that good, but it's better than eating something in a hurry just so not to miss a connection, you know?
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Wed Jan 08, 2003 4:50 am


Very nice trip report. Glad you liked Continental, they are pretty reliable as far as product is concerned. ATA can be pretty good and I have a good friend that works for them in SJU.

PRINAIR - Puerto Rico International Airlines
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Sat Jan 11, 2003 11:45 am

Very good trip report.
Do you go to school RUM La Inter (in San German)?
Its good to see another Puerto Rican on not that many of us around here.
Anyway going to your trip report Continental seems to be doing prety well with its flights out of San Juan it was even rumored a couple of months ago that Continental Express might enter the market.About your carryon having to put it through agricultura- you dont have to put your carry on through there only luggage you plan on checking - its basically to try and avoid people from transporting Mangos, agucates, gandules, pasteles and other fruits and vegetables into the states.
ATA has been advertising heavily in Puerto Rico this past year with T.V. commercials, newspaper adds, radio advertising, and even billboards in San Juan so they are becoming a very recognized airline in Puerto Rico.
Buenisimo trabajo especialmente para ser to primer trip report.
Fly the Flag!!!!
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RE: SJU-IAH-SFO-EWR-SJU On Continental

Sat Jan 11, 2003 2:39 pm


Hello. ^^

Yeah, I go el Poli de San German (la Inter). It's about 5 minutes away from my house on foot. I also thought about going to el RUM or la Catolica in Mayaguez, but, you know, el Poli was just a lot closer. ^^;

Hmm... I searched and read about the Continental Express thing... Anything been said about that since then? Or about jetBlue from PSE? Would be nice not having to go all the way to SJU to catch a plane... Still, there's MAZ, I guess. And BQN. Too bad BQN flights didn't show up when I seached them then. At least they do now (after the 2nd week of February). Hmm... Going a little OT, aren't I? Er... Yeah.

ATA has really advertized a lot here? Hmm... Maybe I should buy a newspaper every now and then instead of just reading it off the net. ^^

Ah, y gracias por los comentarios, Chepos. Son muy agradecidos. ^^


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