It was that time again, I just needed to get airborne. I was sick and tired of being on the ground for such a long doing the routine, it was time to fly! I found a Friday which I was free of school and all activities, and found a great fare to LAX. If one were to buy a ticket for the day I went, it'd cost them $110 roundtrip! Last June I did a daytrip to MDW on Northwest which kicked ass, so this time I wanted to do the same again, except go someplace huge, far, and make some connections!
I decided to take United to LAX for the day. The flights I selected were MSP-DEN, DEN-LAX, LAX-ORD, ORD-MSP. I was ecstatic, and looked forward to it for many weeks!
Ok, enough of the B.S., here we go!
I woke up at 4:30 am for my 6:30 am flight. I threw my camera, batteries, papers, and a book in a bag. I was on my way! My mother drove me to the airport. The roads were dead at the time so we coasted into MSP. I was dropped off at the curb, right by the ticketing area. I went straight to the United counters, watching the time as I had a small amount of time left till' departure. I went to the e-ticket machines, and put in my UA miles card. It listed the itinerary as MSP-DEN, DEN-LAX, and LAX-ORD. I couldn't find my last flight, but I figured I'd check-in for the last one at LAX or ORD. I printed off my tickets (the thick paper, not the thin ones I found on AA and NW) and was on my way to the gate. Got through security rather fast, and went straight to the UA gates. It was crowded as there were people waiting for the morning ORD flight as well, so I just sat down at the empty AA gates (their flights didn't leave until 7:30 I believe, so there weren't many people there yet). Finally, boarding began.
Friday April 30th, 2004
Dep. Time: 6:59 AM
Arr. Time: 7:36 AM
Airbus A320 (N444UA)
BOARDING: Put the ticket in the machine, and the end popped up ahead of me. I grabbed it, and headed down the jetway. I haven't flown UA since 2001 when I went to Croatia, but I remember the cabin, and it looked exactly the same. I sat in my seat 20F. There was a man in the aisle seat, and no one in the middle. I saw a UA 737 and a CRJ to the right of us. They had to move the UA 737, it was in our way! The fueler was late as well, so that took a while. After moving the 737, we were good to go! Great, we were only 20 minutes behind schedule! We backed up, and fired up our engines. We made the quick taxi to 30R.
TAKEOFF/INFLIGHT: We taxiied onto 30R, and were on our way. We blasted down the runway, and were in the air. We took an immediate left turn. Damn, it felt good to be in the air again! We made our way up to FL350 I believe. It was rather bumpy up to cruise, but I listened to CH.9 most of the way. There was a short show on yellowstone national park which I decided not to watch, followed by clips from some crappy comedies. I was doing a lot of reading, so I didn't get any pics, actually, I did get one! (I know you're pissed at me, face it, you're just scrolling to see the pics!
It's the wing! We followed that contrail visible in the middle of the winglet. It looked rather stormy below, not thunderstormy, but winterstormy! Along the way, I got a milk, nothing else. Not even a granola bar, boo!! After reading for a while, I just looked out the window for a while. I listened to ch.9, and understood everything! We descended, and went through the clouds. It was gray for the next 15 minutes, so I didn't bother looking for anything. I heard all the Frontier flights coming in along with us, it was cool.
LANDING: We made our way onto final for some runway (I don't know which one, this airport is too damn big and confusing, you can't find which runway you're on!) On short final, we broke through the low clouds, and I saw farmland! But what really shocked me, was it was SNOWING! What the flurk!? I tookoff from MSP when it was 65, it's accumulating snow here! After sweeping the farmland, we had a nice landing on the runway. After slowing down, we began our 8 mile taxi to the terminal. DEN's pretty cool, all the wildflowers and such by the taxiways, and I guess the snow was cool. We arrived at gate E15 I believe. DEN looked huge, I couldn't wait to get inside. What was odd, is that the pilot left the flaps down all the way to the terminal, never retracted them! After he turned off the seatbelt sign, everyone got up. I didn't even bother, I let the nutz stand and squish each other. The guy behind me (who was also on my next flight to LAX) told the girl next to him the time was 8:00 am. According to me ticket, I was to board my next flight at 8 am!
AT DEN: I got inside, and this place was a monstrosity! UA all over! What was odd, is that the gates have no LCD screens yet, still the old fashioned red dots. I read the screens, and my next flight was way down the terminal! Woohoo! I was late, and far away! I took a bathroom brake, and utilized the moving walkways to get me to my gate faster! As I walked at a quick pace, I looked outside to see the snow blowing! At least I didn't have to go outside! I was disappointed that I didn't have time to sit at DEN for a few minutes, I had to rush! After arriving at D43 I believe, I saw the massive 767-300. The sign read Kaluhui, HI. What!? I was going to LAX, not HI, though I wouldn't mind! Then after a while the sign changed to LAX, then hit myself for being dumb, it was continuing on to HI after LAX. I wanted to get the reg. so I found out it was N677UA.
Friday April 30th, 2004
Dep. Time: 9:19 am (Mountain time)
Arr. Time: 9:58 am (West coast!)
Boeing 767-300 (N677UA)
BOARDING: I gave the lady my ticket, and made my way down the rather long taxiway. I boarded the 767, and took a look at the 2 aisles. I haven't been on a 2-aisle in a while! (heh, rhymed) My seat was 31A, I was one of the last ones on as I was late thanks to my previous flight. I sat next to this kind man from Mexico who looked professional. I felt the seats were rather cramped, ouch! I looked out the window, and noticed that the wing was covered in about an inch of snow! Nice, de-ice! (I'm on a roll) We pushed back ontime after the neighboring 757 backed out. We taxiied with our white wings to the de-ice pad. I saw the A320 I had just got off, the flaps were still fully extended. I think they were because when we were landing I noticed ice in the flaps, maybe they had to clear them off. The gate next to my A320 there was a TED A320, it looks great in person! We then continued to the de-icing pad. We sat there for a while, then trucks came up to us, and sprayed us with this orangey-reddish colored de-icing fluid. It took them a while, but I appreciated it as they put time into our safety! After waiting, we were ready to head to the runway. I listened to CH.9 again, it's so sweet.
TAKEOFF/INFLIGHT: We got to some runway (again, don't know). I do know there was many buildings on the left side, and I think some were car rental places. We flew down the runway, and rotated into the air. I saw some more farmland, and went into the clouds. Since we rotated, I heard a high pitched beeping noise that was annoying. I didn't think much of it, I thought it was an oven or something. We were less than a minute airborne, and the F/As were sprinting down the aisle! Something was wrong, but it couldn't be that bad. After making that noise disappear, they sat down. They were actually the fire alarms. The captain came on and explained that the glycol from the de-ice smothered the alarms and made them go off. The smell was horrible, definitely not expected! It went away right as we broke through the soupy overcast below.
We made our way up to FL350 again I believe. After passing the snowy mountains below, we made our way to the desert. We received a drink (milK) along with a tiny snack (granola bar). That was a damn good granola bar, as I hadn't eaten for many hours, and I was 35,000 feet up while eating it! We were supposed to watch the news with a short program, but the F/As couldn't make the darn thing work! We were a little behind, but the captain told us we should make it on time. I talked with my seat mate who lives in Mexico, he spent most of his time on this flight reviewing an Aviacsa manual in Spanish, I believe he works for them.
He we were over the desert, never seen it, so I was ecstatic.
We passed another aircraft on the way, I think it's a UA 757.
We were over the barren desert, this was too sweet! It didn't even look like we were on earth!
Yep, still over the desert, sweet isn't it?
We were over the northern part of the grand canyon which was totally awesome! Never seen it, so I went click-crazy.
Comeon, this doesn't even look real! But it is!
More sweet sweet desert, I think it'd be nice just to walk down there someday.
There was another aircraft flying over us, it was an American 757. I wonder where it was going, perhaps SJC or SFO?
We made our way over some nice, snowy mountains outside LAX.
Photo © John Muzic
After the F/As cleared up all the stuff, we were told to sit and get ready to land. I was ready for LAX!
LANDING: It was 24L accoarding to the folks on channel 9!
We came in low over houses, schools, and the usual stuff. We came in really low over the parking lot at LAX, then right onto 24L. It was a nice landing. We pulled off to the right and made our way to gate 77. I saw a Korean 747-400, and I knew that was only the beginning. I was right, we made another right turn, and there was Qantas Wunala Dreaming backing out of the gate heading to Australia. Wow, this was going to kick arse! We got to gate 77 next to a few other 767s, and once again, everyone stood up at the same time. I sat there looking out the window for a while, looking at all the nice things. I finally got my bags, and contemplated whehter I should hide in the aircraft and make way for Hawaii. I deplaned.
AT LAX: I went into the terminal, which at first didn't impress me. I looked at the gates around me, one was heading to Honolulu, the other to Lihue, and our gate to Kaluhui. LAX is unequivocally the gateway to HI. I decided that I was to head over to the Tom Bradely International Terminal (TBIT) to spot for a while. I went outside, and the sun was strong! I was around 85 degrees, last time I felt air was at DEN where it was below 30 degrees.
I went over to the 'blue' busline, and boarded a bus to the TBIT. It was only me, and two others on the bus. We drove around the airport, and I was impressed by the looks of LAX! The landscaping is beautiful, and it's well organized in my opinion. We stopped at all the terminals, and a woman got off at the WN terminal. We continued on to TBIT, and we finally got there. I immediately got off, and went in. It was huge! The ticketing area was a mess, everyone everywhere, it was actually interesting! I went upstairs to the food court level, and I went over to the seating area and found a nice spot to spot.
Photo © John Muzic
Photo © John Muzic
Photo © John Muzic
Photo © John Muzic
I took many photos like this, I only uploaded a few to a.net, I still have tons more to upload later, but I'll show you a 'preview' here in this post!
Yeah, I was shocked too. I just flew in from DC-9 world to find a LOTR Air New Zealand 747-400 taxi right in front of my face.
I don't think I saw JAL since Frankfurt, Germany, so this was a nice surprise.
The Aeroflot was awesome, I was so glad to see it. There are plenty more shots, but I bet you'd like to get moving, right?
I spotted for a while more, and saw a 'deaf' man trying to sell pins of the American flag to he could make a nice living. I knew it was a scam, so I shot him a mean look and pushed the pin away. After sitting for at least 2 hours spotting, I needed to get something to eat. I went over to the McDonald's (figures) and got a double cheeseburger! Yeah! All the places around were all ethnic, a little too ethnic for me. So I went over to a new spot, and sat right outside the window from an Aeroflot 767 as I ate. That was one of the best burgers I have ever had.
After spending many hours spotting, I decided to head outside before my flights back to MSP. After leaving the TBIT, I saw a nicely trimmed grassy knoll with beautiful flowers in a sun drenched corner. There were many people laying in the sun, I figured why not? I layed down and let the sun warm me up, it was a great feeling. This was the view from where I was laying looking straight up: I spotted as I was lying down, I saw the aircraft that were taking off from 24L/R.
I decided to walk from the TBIT to the UA terminal, it was about a 10-15 minute walk. That's the sweet thing about LAX, you can walk from terminal to terminal in sun, along nice pathways. I walked for a while, I didn't want to leave. I looked in the parking garage, and saw electric vehicle parking where you park and plug in your vehicle. It was rather cool. I got to the UA terminal, went up the stairs, and went to go check-in.
I put in my card, and it gave me those flights again! All I needed was the boarding pass for ORD-MSP, I had the rest. So I asked a nice gentleman at the counter, and he was able to give me my pass. I went outside for a last feel of the nice CA sun, and snapped a shot of the tower and restaurant.
I went to security, and got through in about 15 minutes. It took a while. I made my way to gate 74ab and sat down. Right as I sat down they started boarding. I got a drink then joined the queue. I saw the massive 747-400 sitting there, I was anxious to fly again!
Friday April 30th, 2004
Dep. Time: 2:32 pm
Arr. Time: 8:07 pm
Boeing 747-400 (N121UA)
I boarded 74B, 74A was for all the first class cake eaters.
I showed my drivers liscense, and walked down the jetway. I made my way to 51K, it was a nice seat. The flight was supposed to be totally full, but to my luck, there was only a lady sitting with me, and she was in the aisle seat.
We backed out about 10 minutes late for unknown reasons. We fired up all 4 of our engines, and made our way to 24R for departure. We joined the queue with a few aircraft, the most notable an Aviacsa 737-200. It had an engine extension, looked rather cool. It was finally our time to shine.
TAKEOFF/INFLIGHT: We pulled onto 24R, and went flying down the runway. We rotated around where the AA terminal is, and we were airborne. I took one last look back at TBIT, and wanted to go back and spot some more!! We passed the beach, and levelled off really low over the pacific. The captain brought the engines low, and we cruised above the Pacific for a few minutes as part of our departure plan.
We continued our climb, we were flying powerfully and fast! The 747-400 is so nice. I haven't flown one since 98' when I took Lufthansa to Croatia.
If you look closely, you can see the Catalina Islands. There were many boats going to and from the islands, it was sweet to see em' all. I saw a little Cessna way below us on his way to the islands as well.
I got one last look at the west coast, I wanted to go down there!
We were rather high up, it was FL370 accoarding to CH.9. We passed over some more desert which is totally picturesque.
The inflight movie started, which was "Paycheck" starring Uma Thurman and Ben Affleck. We were served a snack during the movie. It was a little box which contained a chicken sandwich, a bag of Fritos, package of dijon mustard, and a Philadelphia creamcheese candy which was awesome. The food was good, but the sandwich was a little cold. I truly enjoyed this, I haven't had a meal, even if it's small on an airline in years. Thanks UA! The movie went on for about 2 hours, it wasn't bad.
I looked at the inflight map and we were over Missouri.
This is one of my favorite pictures. Dark sky above, nice clouds below, NICE. I saw an aircraft in the distance heading south, I believe it was a WN 737. We made our descent into ORD, and I noticed a f/a that was on my DEN-LAX flight! I didn't talk to him, but I don't think he saw me on the first flight! Good, he probably would've thought I was nutz doing this! Sure enough, ORD was to be a mess, there were some strong storms below.
We made our way into the gray clouds again. There was a backup at ORD, so we were in the holding pattern. We only went around the pattern once, it took about 10 minutes or so. I was still on ch.9, there were so many aircraft at ORD. The Chicago ATC seems nice, they have a good sense of humor as well.
The pilot applied some spoilers to slow this baby down. We got lower and lower, and it just got darker and darker. We were already 20 minutes late, but that was alright. When we broke out of the muck, we were already really low, and it was night outside! We had a beautiful landing on some runway (ORD is pretty tough to find out which runway, especially at night). The 747-400 slowed down without much reverse. We pulled off the runway, and made our way to the B terminal. We passed the international terminal, and over a bridge where the cars went below us. I wish I could've saw what it looked like from the outside: a massive 747-400 on a bridge. When I think about it, I think I know the runway. What's the runway 31L, the other end called? That was it.
We got to our gate, and to our right was a United 777-200 in new colors. They look fabulous in new colors. It was pouring hard outside. After everyone left the aircraft, I got up and went to first class. I talked with a nice gentleman who was also in economy. We both tried out the first class suites, and the suites are sweet! It's not even like flying, it's like sitting/laying at home! I got off the 747-400, and made my way to my final flight.
AT ORD: After deplaning, I went to the screens. Before the screens, I stopped by the Lufthansa gate next to us, it was leaving at 10:00 pm for AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA. I wanted to get on and head back to Croatia! Instead, I went to the screens. Sure enough, my flight was to be delayed by about 45 minutes or so. I made my way over to the C terminal via the underground, colorful walkway. I haven't been in this walkway since I went to Croatia in 2001. It was really nice and calm, there weren't many people as it was 9:00pm. I remember back in 98' I was heading to the B terminal for a LH flight to AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA, and we had to carry a Croatian lady's 80 lbs bags! Dad made us do it, I didn't get to enjoy the walkway! Now, I was by myself, it was near empty, the music was going, and I just stood there. It was so nice to see all the lights, I really like this walkway!
After the nice walkway, I went up the escalators to gate C41. The flight was late coming in from DL / KBDL), USA - Connecticut">BDL. We were at the end of the concourse, so I saw the other 2 flights that were by us. One was heading to IAD, one to ATL, and ours to MSP. All of us were 737s. I like the LCD screens at ORD, it shows plane type, if there's a delay the reason, a picture of the plane type, meal, flight miles you'll receive if you're a member, times, audio/IFE, and the coolest thing: a photo of a landmark at your destination. Ours was the nice art museum by the U of M campus! (I think it's by the Walker Art Center) It's silver, abstractly shaped, etc.
Friday April 30th, 2004
Dep. Time: 9:52 pm
Arr. Time: 10:50 pm
Boeing 737-300 (N389UA shuttle colors)
We were darn late, but I didn't mind. I was looking forward to this flight, nice and dark, just a time to rest after a long day. I gave the lady the boarding pass, looked back at the incredible terminal (very beautiful), and walked down the jetway. I boarded the aircraft, and made my way to 16A. There was just a man in the aisle seat, no one in the middle again! I read a Time magazine someone left as we backed out.
We turned on the engines, and were ready to go. I tuned on ch.9, but I forget the runway! We taxiied, then stopped for a few minutes to let some aircraft by. The most memorable was the British Airways 777-200 to LHR as flight 294. We made our way to the runway as I heard Cargo King (China Airlines cargo) tune into the frequency as well. They wanted a different runway for takeoff, and it took a while for ORD ground to get them to where they wanted. We got to our runway, waited for a NW DC-9, and an AA A300 (I think) to takeoff.
TAKEOFF/INFLIGHT: We rolled down the runway, and lifted up into the air. It was a nice takeoff, I looked back at the many colorful lights of ORD. We went up into the clouds again. After a while, we broke through the clouds, and it was a dark, starry night. This flight I just reclined, and listened to ch.9 all the way. It was so pleasant to sit there, looking out the window at the wing, as we cruised at I believe FL310 to MSP. The f/as came around with some drinks. I took a sprite, and a little bag of mixed snacks (like Gardettos).
It was a smooth, nice flight. The cabin was almost all dark except for the few lights people had on for reading. On ch.9 I heard Chicago Center talking to us, Cargo King, another UA flight, and the British Airways 777 that was heading to LHR. After a while, we tuned to MSP Center, for our approach. We had a smooth descent, there weren't many clouds, so I could see everything.
We were to land on runway 30R, the runway I initially took off in the morning to DEN. On the channel 9, I heard everyone was taking the visual approach as it must of been so nice outside. There was about 3 including us landing at the time. The pilots had a hard time keeping it steady, it was left and right, up and down, very bumpy! I enjoyed it though. We had a fairly tough touchdown. There were about 3 aircraft in the holding area waiting to takeoff. We pulled off the runway, and made our way to the gate E3. E3 is used by United now for the time being, I guess they need more space. I saw the same CRJ that was there this morning, but it actually flew to IAD and back and was in the same place, ready to do the same thing the next day.
We got to E3, next to a Frontier A319, which looked way taller than us. I got off the aircraft after asking the pilot for the reg., and went into the terminal. I called my mother and asked her to pick me up. While I waited, I stayed in the terminal instead of go outside and do some latenight spotting of the aircraft at the gates.
Please excuse the blurry photo, it was kinda dark, and it was hand held. This is the E concourse of the Lindbergh terminal at MSP at late night. It's pretty long, and it's the gates for all the non-NW airlines such as CO, US, UA, DL, FL, etc. There are other non-NW airlines that use other concourses, but this is the most diverse. I went over to E8 where I left in the morning. There was a lady sitting there, turns out she was waiting for the flight on UA in the morning! What a nut! After doing a little spotting, I decided to go outside. When I was away, a cold front came through, because it was cold outside and it had rained. As I waited, a flight from LAX on NW came in.
My mom picked me up, thus concluding my fun day!
These are my ratings for the flights, and the overall rating.
MSP-DEN (A320): 8/10 Sure it was a nice flight, but not even a granola bar, and left me a little nervous when I was going to be late for my next flight.
DEN-LAX (767): 9/10 Great flight, no IFE though. Desert experience was amazing!
LAX-ORD (747): 10/10 Phenomonal flight! Actually got food, IFE, desert outside, smooth, overall damn nice!
ORD-MSP (737): 10/10 At least we got something to snack on, smooth flight, nice pilot, very quiet, well done!
Overall: 9/10 Nice job UA! It was one hell of an experience that I will never forget, and UA made it special! I know I'll fly them again, wheter it's another daytrip, or when I go again to Croatia!
This report took over two (2) hours to right, I hope you enjoyed it!!!! Look for my next one in less than 2 months when I do NW MSP-CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO, CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO-MSP.