Thursday, 9 September 2004
AirTran Airways Flt. 1723
B737-700 (N169AT, Ship 302)
Scheduled Departure 20:55 Eastern
Actual Departure 21:30 Eastern
Scheduled Arrival 22:45 Pacific
Actual Arrival 22:50 Pacific
Departure Gate: D1
Arrival Gate: 36
Scheduled Flight time: 4:50
Actual Flight time: 4:20
The trip began with our departure from Athens, GA at about 4:30PM. We had just finished our Thursday classes (which I couldn't miss) before heading home to Snellville. I switched cars at my house and picked up my soon-to-be-sold airport beater car. We left Snellville and headed down to ATL after fighting Atlanta's suburb traffic for a while. Checked in at AirTran's counters in the North Terminal- the CSR definitely did it all by the book, as he asked to see our "footwear" to ensure we were in appropriate non-revving attire. We passed the test and headed to security, which was surprisingly dead at 6:30 in the evening.
Gaddis had called me earlier to tell me we were going out of C2 tonight, but the boarding passes said D1. Confused, I decided to head over to C9 to talk to Gaddis' co-worker who would hook us up with some good seats and check on the gate for us. We met her at C9 as she was working a flight to MDW I think. We waited for her to finish and talked to an F/O who was deadheading to Flint. We got hooked up with 1A and 1B and happily made our way over to D1 (which was the gate afterall), stopping so my friend could get a Philly cheese steak for dinner.
We got to D1 just in time as the flight was pretty much boarded. The gate agent told us our seats on this brand-new, 8-day-old 737 were taken but to just sit across the aisle in 1C and 1D. That's what we did- put our bags in the overhead bins and plopped into our leather Recaro business class seats. I was even offered a pre-departure drink before we were told to vacate said seats and move to row 18.
Though it was difficult to move back from Business Class to Cattle Class, we just did what we were told. Only problem was that 18A and C were taken, but 17B and C were open. The couple who had previously occupied 17 said they moved from 17 to 18 and we could have their seats. We took them, and only then did we realize that they had the exit row and our seats didn't recline. Oh well, we sat down and strapped in. An announcement was made by the Captain saying that we were holding the fight for a couple pax who were just arriving from JAX as we sat at the gate, waiting for an on-time departure.
Then, I noticed a bit of commotion up in row 14. People began to gather around and then I heard the purser say: "We aren't equipped to handle that in flight. The best I can offer you is an ambulance." Apparently, a young teenager had hit his head on something as they ran to make the flight and the back of his head was bleeding pretty badly, though he didn't notice it at all! He was offloaded and taken away in an ambulance. We left the gate shortly afterwards, about 40 minutes late.
After a short taxi over to 26L, our 737 took to the air and began to haul arse westward to L.A. with hopes of making up for our delay. My friend took out her Philly and began to eat it, thus replacing the smell of a new plane (before it smells of old coffee) with that of beef, cheese, onions, and peppers. Tasty!
I had a banana for dinner.
The in-flight service was pretty good. Drinks were regularly brought around, though I only had one bag of AirTran pretzels. As I usually do on longer flights, I had already bought a large bag of pretzels at the grocery store to munch on. I read a little and then we took out the personal DVD player and watched Sum Of All Fears. Sleeping was next to impossible in our non-reclining seats.
After we finished the movie, I began to drink coffee to become alert enough to drive to San Diego after landing. Descent began shortly afterwards and took us over the entire city of L.A. The approach was pretty cool- L.A. is one big city! We landed at 22:45 and taxied to gate 36 immediately afterwards. A Frontier A319 (N932FR) with the Bald Eagle on the tail sat next to us. We deplaned and headed though the very dark and dated-looking gate area down to the ground transportation area. After picking up our car from Dollar (got a free upgrade to midsize), we immediately drove to San Diego via the 405 and I-5 freeways. We crashed at our hotel at 1:45AM.
Friday, 10 September 2004
You know you just spent only a few hours at a hotel when you check out and the same person who checked you in is still behind the front desk! We left the hotel at 6:00 AM and headed to Denny's for a greasy breakfast before meeting up with the family of our buddy. We headed over to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot right next to SAN for the graduation ceremonies and parade. As planned, our buddy was totally surprised at our being there. After he was dismissed, we went immediately off base and to In-N-Out Burger. No trip to California is complete without stuffing one's face at In-N-Out, and nothing was more entertaining than to see America's newest Marines being turned loose to eat junk food after 3 months of government chow and MREs. We all had double cheeseburgers, fries, and bought t-shirts. Unfortunately, they had to leave to make a 2:45 Frontier flight to DEN and then continue from there to DFW. We said goodbye and headed back to L.A. to fight traffic and kill the rest of the day in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, etc. before our red-eye flight back to Atlanta.
Now for the return:
Friday, 10 September 2004
Airtran Airways Flt. 1724
B737-700 (N168AT, Ship 303)
Scheduled Departure: 23:55 Pacific
Actual Departure: 23:45 Pacific
Scheduled Arrival 07:00
Actual Arrival 06:40
Departure Gate: H36
Arrival Gate: C1A
Scheduled Flight time: 4:05
Actual Flight time: 3:55
Photo © Jet City Aviation Photography
We returned our car to Dollar and took the bus to LAX and checked in at AirTran's counter, operated by Midwest employees. This CSR probably didn't care one bit how we were dressed because we were in shorts still. No questions about our footwear.
We went from there to security, which was deserted. After the painless screening, I wonder if they even cared about what we had with us in our bags. TSA agents were talking among themselves about what they were doing when they got off at midnight, etc. From there, we went back to gate 36 and waited on Flt. 1723 to arrive. Gaddis was on the flight because he had the day off. He was just going to spend an hour in L.A. and turn around and head back with us. As we sat in the dark old terminal, I watched a BA 747-400 (G-BNLC) crank up and head out to LHR as Speedbird 268.
Our 737 (N168AT) pulled up on time and we boarded early as they wanted to make an early departure. The plane was 4 days old and smelled new. Unfortunately there was no room up in Business Class, so we got put in row 26. It didn't matter to me at all, because once I sat down, I strapped in and pretty much passed out from having 4 hours of sleep the night before and driving to and from San Diego in all forms of traffic conditions. We left the gate and headed over to the runway (don't know which one) and took off.
Saturday, 11 September 2004
The next thing I knew, we were descending and turning for final approach into ATL. We touched down at 6:40 in the morning, just as the sun was beginning to break the horizon. Our gate was C1A and we were there within a couple minutes.
After sitting at the gate for about 10 minutes and after Gaddis' phone call to someone in operations asking for a jetway driver, the captain came on and said the jetway wasn't functioning correctly and we were going to try to get a new gate. 20 minutes later, another announcement from the cockpit said no new gate would be available and that we would have to get a stairway to the door. After yet another 20 minutes, we had a stairway, but it wasn't your typical air-stair, but a stairway used just for maintenance personnel. All this time we had waited for this contraption, but I didn't care because I was still sleeping. Basically, it was a lightweight aluminum ladder. We deplaned and walked across the tarmac to C-Concourse, all torn up and in the middle of renovations. Gaddis said goodbye and we headed home (after I got a cup of coffee).
Overall, the trip was well worth it. We got to surprise our friend in the Marine Corps, saw a little of L.A. and flew on AirTran's new 737. AirTran's planes are great; now if they could only get their facilities in a little better shape! Overall, my second AirTran experience was very good. I'll fly them again, no doubt. If Delta doesn't get their act together, goes under, and vacates ATL, I can assure you that I will be a Citrus customer for life.
Most importantly, thanks be to Gaddis for the buddy passes!