Making plans a couple months back for my Fiance and I to go on vacation, I have been to the Virgin Islands on three occasions ('93, '94, '98). After hearing me brag about the beauty of the Islands my fiance said "sounds nice lets go", so off I went to plan my fourth and my fiance's first visit to America's Paradise.
Booked accommodations for 4 nights on St.Thomas at the Frenchman's Reef Marriott and 3 nights at the Westin on St. John, I've stayed at both places on previous trips. Booked us on CO from EWR-STT, went to the local CO ticket office in Freehold Twp. to confirm our seats the day before our trip.
Wednesday August 18, 2004
Continental Airlines flight 1903
Scheduled Departure time 9:30 AM
Boarding 9:00 AM
Woke up at 5 something in the morning, started getting ready for the ride to the airport. Got a call at about 6:15 that my fiance who lives on the otherside of town was having car problems, her Mom was going to drop her off at my house. My fiance and her Mom pulled into my driveway at about 6:45, her Mom (in pajamas, was sleeping) and my Mom starting talking while we finished getting ready. My Mom was going to drop us off at EWR on her way into work in Manhattan, we left and hit no traffic and got to EWR's Terminal C around 7:30 AM.
CO has two separate Departure levels at Terminal C, the Upper Departures level is for International flights and the mid level is for Domestic Departures, not sure which level to use for a US Territory we went to the International Level where the line of cars waiting was less than the very long line up of cars for the Domestic levels ramp. Pulled up and grabbed our suitcases, kissed Mom goodbye and proceeded inside.
We walked up to a line which was designated for Caribbean flights, upon speaking to a customer service rep at the entrance to the line he indicated that ST.Thomas flights check in on the Domestic Level. Headed down to the Domestic level and was greeted by a very large crowd, it was busy this morning! Thankfully the Check in line went pretty quick, about 10 minutes or so.
The aggravating thing was that after we checked in we had to take our bags to the TSA screening line which was not as long but moved slower than the Check in line, why sometimes I fly and they take my bags right at check in counters and other times I have to take it to the TSA stations I don't know but I will leave that questions for another thread.
Once the very polite TSA agent took care of our bags and wished us a good trip we headed for the screening lanes, Terminal C has three large screening areas to enter the secure concourses. We decided to head up to the closest screening station to where we checked in, the middle station in front of the C-2 Concourse. The line for screening at the C-2 entrance was very long, people were all over the place. My commuter instincts took over and I dragged my Fiance back down to the Domestic Check in level then across the Terminal to the C-1 screening areas which were much less crowded, my commuter instincts worked well here's why..
I often take NJ Transit Commuter Trains to work in Manhattan, the commuter trains are between 8 and 11 cars long. At most suburban stations there is one main entrance to the boarding platforms, in the middle of the Platform. Once commuters are on the platforms they don't walk that far from where the walked onto the platform from the street, the effect is that everyone is bunched up in the middle and few people actually walk towards to far ends of the platforms. When the train arrives people board in the middle of the train and the seat in the middle quickly fill up, while the cars at the very fron and the very rear of the trains oftern have plenty of seating.
Same with Airport terminals, people go to the closest entrance and usually bunch up there instead of walking to one side or another where there's less crowding. Back to the trip report..
Our flight today was boarding at gate 90 in the C-1 concourse, directly across from the C-1 food court. Arrived at the gate at about 8:40 Am and noticed a sparse crowd, the flight today was not going to be that crowded. The gate agent handed us a complimentary copy of a Caribbean magazine specifically for Continental's flights to the Caribbean, this one was Virgin Islands specific. My girlfriend and I were hungry so we went to the Dunkin Donuts in the Food court, I must say the Dunkin Donuts is just one of the reasons why CO's Terminal C at EWR wins so many concession awards. It's a nice new Dunkin Donuts which had excellent coffee and breakfast sandwiches,
Taking note of the time (9AM) we quickly headed back to the gate to prepare for boarding. We waited until everyone else boarded so we could finish our coffee, did not take long to board today.
Seats 16 A B
Once we grabbed our seats and a few minutes went by I noted we were not going to make our 9:30 depature time, shortly the Pilots came on to welcome us aboard and also to inform us that on their morning walk around they noticed that the two left rear tires had some damage and that they requested that they be replaced. At that time I took note to look out my window at the two CO Maintenance trucks parked right outside next to the back of the wing, there were two or three Mechanics working on the tires while a Maintenance Supervisor and one of the two pilots for our flight (the Captain and F/O alternated) monitored their work.
The Captain made note of Newark's Professional Maintenance crew and said we would be ready to go in 30 minutes, exactly 30 minutes later the Ground crew cleared up their equipment and we began our push back. Once we got to the taxi way near where the old Newark Tower once stood the Captain came on again to say "folks were going to be getting to know one another really good, unfortunately due to our delay because of the tire change we are departing during rush hour. We are # 15 for take off, we might be in line for about 40 minutes before we take off".
He gave us the news in a professional manner while also in a calming way, since the flight was only about 45-50% full the FA's told us we could get up and take what ever seats (in economy) we wanted.
The FA's brought around drinks and started the CO visions programming, the wait went quick and we were airborne to the North off of runway 4L by 11:00AM.
The Captain noted there might be some rough air along the route, but it was pretty smooth all the way to STT. The movie was Johnson Family Vacation, it's a huge knock off of National Lapoons Vacation but it was still funny.
Lunch was served on this flight, the Lunch was a Chicken Sandwich, Lays chips and some chocolates and fruit. All were very good, washed it down with a Salvador's Premixed Margarita which was really good but tired me out a bit.
The flight was about 3 hours 20 minutes and the Islands appeared in the distance out my window, we touched down on STT and began our vacation. The first 3 days on St.Thomas were VERY HOT, oppressively hot. However the next four days were comfortable, especially on St.John.
The Marriott on St.Thomas is very nice, however the Westin on St.John is exceptional. Spent lots of time at beaches, bars, restaurants and Shopping. My fiance is a shop aholic and was in her natural surroundings amongst the Duty free shopping of Charlotte Amalie St.Thomas.
Here's a cabin view of our flight down to St.Thomas..
I have lots of better quality photos from our stay and of our return flight, I just wanted to make sure I can display the photos. The return and the photos are forthcoming..
[Edited 2004-08-27 06:19:14]