Thursday, June 3rd, 2004
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Chicago/O’Hare (ORD)
Seat: 10F (right side, exit row window)
Departs: 2:00PM Gate: E10
Arrives: 3:28PM Gate: B4
Photo © Tom Turner
I began this trip by hopping on the #84 bus, which got me to MSP very early at 10:35AM. I had decided to arrive at the airport quite early in order to change my seats to exit rows or Economy Plus. The queue at the check-in counter was quite long, so I decided to check-in using the Easy-Check-In machine and have my seats changed at the gate. I then proceeded to clear security at Checkpoint #4, where there was no queue. I went to gate E8 to have my seats changed. The agent there was very nice and friendly and promptly changed my seats to exit rows to Seattle and offered to change my seats all the way to Pasco, but I told her not to bother. I then left the airport for the Mall of America to finish my Graduation present shopping.
I returned to MSP at 1:15PM, cleared security again using the Skyway security checkpoint. I took the tram to the end of concourse C (I didn’t get stuck like the last time I took a tram at MSP) and walked over to gate E10 just as the called Seating #2, which I was a part of. I walked down the jetway to find a very cheerful Philadelphia based crew greeting me. I made my way to seat 10F, stored my carry-on baggage and was seated. This 737 had the basic old United interior, with the dated sidewalls, old grey, blue, purple and orange print seats. This flight was 100% full, with quite a few nonrev’s. We pushed back a few minutes early at 1:57PM. The announced flying time was 49 minutes. After a short taxi, we took off to the south east from runway 12L. We had a relatively quite ascent to 24,000 feet. Once we passed 10,000 feet the FA’s began their service, offering the usual assortment of drinks and snacks. After ~ 35 minutes of flight we began our descent into Chicago. We touched down on runway 9R at 3:03PM. We passed Terminal 5 and saw the usual assortment of heavies there, including an IB A340, BD A332, LX A330, AZ 767, SK A330, and an LH744 among others. Since we arrived so early, our gat was occupied. We had to wait on a deicing pad for ~10 minutes before our gate opened up. We docked at gate B4 and 3:18PM.
Transit: Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Photo © Gary Chambers
Upon deplaning, I decided to explore Chicago O’Hare a bit as I had a 1 hour and 22 minute connection. In addition, I was hungry and nothing in the UA terminal really appealed to me. I walked over to Terminal Two to see what was on offer, but it really was no better. I did notice how unorganized the United Express operations were in Terminal Two, with planes strewn all over the tarmac and passengers strewn all over the terminal. It reminded me a lot of the old Midway terminal where there was never anywhere to sit. I addition there seemed to be a higher than usual amount of cancellations and thus irate passengers abounded. I then proceeded to Terminal Three, but the offerings were no better. I did not how much more organized the AA Eagle operations were compared to UA Express. Each Eagle plane had its own gate and jetway. Overall, however, United facilites in Terminal One are much nicer than AA’s in Terminal Three. By the time I finished exploring, it was 4:15PM and I motored back to Terminal One for my connection. I ended up grabbing a plate of Orange Chicken from Panda Express before I headed to C9 for my flight to Seattle. I arrived just as the agent announced the final call at 4:30PM.
Thursday, June 3rd, 2004
Chicago/O’Hare (ORD) to Seattle/Tacoma (SEA)
B767-300 (domestic) N673UA
Seat: 21A (left side, 2nd exit row window)
Departs: 4:50PM Gate: C9
Arrives: 7:09PM Gate: N9
Photo © Michael Arcellana
Upon boarding, I was greeted and directed to my seat by a member of the Chicago and Seattle based flight crew. I was struck by how cramped the First Class cabin looked as I passed through it; I think my exit row in Economy was far superior. This 767 had the new United interior with the bluish-green fabric and winged headrests. This flight was also 100% full with a few nonrev’s. We pushed back on time and the FA’s played the safety video. I found the safety video interesting because I think it was wrong. It told the passengers to inflate their life vests before the left the plane, while I have always been told to inflate it afterwards, because otherwise you will be pinned to the top of the cabin if it fills with water. Does anyone know who is right?
After push back, the captain came on and gave the flight details including the routing and the flight time of 3:41 and told us he was turning on Channel 9, which I immediately tuned in to. We then slowly taxied to runway 14R and rotated at 5:03PM. After take off we made two sharp right turns to get us headed in the right direction. The flight attendants began their service ~ 20 minutes into the flight. This was a Buy on Board flight, so the FA’s handed out a Menu containing what was for sale (Au Bon Pain). They the came around with drinks and snack mix, followed shortly by the Buy on Board meals. My seatmate bought a BOB salad, it looked pretty good but I don’t know if it was worth $10 dollars. After this the Video entertainment began and I was forced to put down my window shade. The movie was Calendar Girls followed by NBC short programming which included an incredible amount of commercials. Around 6:30PM (PST), we began our descent into Sea-Tac. The view was beautiful, with water and mountains combining very picturesquely. We touched down at 6:53PM on runway 16L. Unfortunately, there was a 747-400 at our gate, so we had to wait for it to leave. We finally docked at Gate N9 at 7:05PM
Transit: Seattle/Tacoma International Airport
Photo © Sam Chui
Seattle/Tacoma International Airport is a horrible place to Transit. Everything, except for Great American Bagels, in the North Satellite terminal was closed at 7:00PM. I decided to go to the other parts of the airport to see if there was anything to Eat, See, or Do, but alas, there was nothing. The food was horribly overpriced in the few restaurants there were. Almost everything was under construction and covered in plaster and soot. I thought it would have improved from when I was there two years ago, but it has not. This was one of the longest two hours of my life. I did manage to spot the AlaskaAir.com 73G, but thatwas it for the unique spotting opportunities.After yacking on the phone for a bit, I re-cleared security at 8:15PM. I caught the train back out to the North Satellite Terminal.
Thursday, June 3rd, 2004
UA 6335 (operated by SkyWest)
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) to Pasco/Richland/Kennewick (PSC)
Seat: 8A (left side, window and aisle)
Departs: 9:20PM Gate: N12
Arrives: 10:09PM Gate: 3
Photo © Stephen Fox
This plane arrived late from Portland at 9:00PM. It was quite beat up with paint peeling off of the nose and tail. Boarding began at 9:15PM. After, planeside checking my carry-ons, I was greeted at the door by the Portland based FA. She was not friendly at all unlike the rest of my crews that day. Some her antics include screaming at a passenger “No you don’t, that seat is only for me,” which might have been true but screaming at the passenger was inappropriate. Doors closed at 9:30PM. The FA did her safety demonstration and we taxied to runway 16L for takeoff. Rotation was at 9:36PM. After ~ 10 minutes the FA began her service consisting of drinks and SkyWest snack mix. The flight was short 37 minutes and we touched down on runway 21R at 10:13PM. After a quick taxi we deplaned at Gate 3 at 10:18PM.
UA: seems to be a very well run carrier with an excellent product and competent dedicated employees. 10/10
SkyWest: seems to be a well run carrier although the staff can be unprofessional at times.
MSP: home airport, one of the best in the world. 10/10
ORD: 8/10 runs amazingly smoothly despite the volume it gets. Could use better concessions and thorough renovation of Terminal Two. 8/10
SEA: 4/10 Hopefully will get better once renovations are done.
PSC: 10/10 small and easy to use