Well, this trip started off with a one-way SAN-IAD fare that was too low to resist. I couldn’t find anything quite as good for the return segment, but eventually found a BWI-IAH-SAN on CO for $94. I was looking forward to Indy as I had heard very good things about their service.
DH 52 SAN-IAD Lv1235 Arr2030 4/15/05
A319-100 N805BR Seat 2A
I reserved a 10:30 pickup from campus for my 12:35 departure. Cloud 9 shuttle showed up right on-time as usual, although the driver seemed a bit dubious when I mentioned Independence Air. He reviewed with me the “official list” of SAN carriers to make sure I wasn’t on another carrier such as Canadian, RenoAir, or TWA. Maybe he's new at this job. I just told him to drop me off at Continental.
It was a good thing I arrived early, as the security queue was the longest I’ve ever seen at SAN. It extended the length of the skybridge and then doubled back to the check-in area. However, the line moved quickly, and I was through in 25 minutes. As I headed to gate 38 (DH shares with Frontier), I saw the HP Arizona plane, and noted DL was still promoting the upcoming B6 IAD service on its gate display.
It may have been wishful thinking, but I had thought the second-day of service might still warrant some pre-flight festivities. However, all the decorations had been taken down and no souvenirs were offered. Boarding was efficient, and the lead F/A gave us the spiel about the FlyI experience, emphasizing the excellent on-time performance. In spite of this, we took a departure delay, and crew never explained what was going on. We finally took off from rwy 27 at 13:11 for the 4 hr 45 min trip. I enjoyed a great view of downtown and the harbor off the port side as we turned to head east following the Border 5 departure.
The flight was only about ½ full, and I had an entire row to myself. The DH 319s feature comfortable blue leather seats with a roomy 33” pitch (same as on F9 319s). Shortly after takeoff, the F/As came through with the digeplayer cart ($10 rental fee). I only counted six takers among the 65 or so passengers. Shortly afterwards, the first snack and beverage service was offered. As usual, Carfield described the in-flight offerings in exquisite detail, so there’s no need for me to reiterate. I will echo the comment about the poor headset design (I even heard a couple pax complain).
The flight was very relaxing—so much so that I broke the rules and dosed off for a while. When I awoke, I found the snack box and a bottle of FlyI spring water waiting for me. Kudos to the cabin crew! I also liked how the hot towels were actually hot, and weren’t the thin papery kind either. The snack service was adequate (similar to WN), but I think BOB will be an improvement.
We took a long and meandering approach course into IAD, finally arriving just over 30 minutes late. It would have been nice if the flight crew had at least acknowledged the delay, but I didn’t have a connection, so I wasn’t too bothered (tho I was a bit miffed that I narrowly missed the 21:15 Wash Flyer bus). Fortunately, my plined hotel (Hyatt Arlington) was ½ a block from the Rosslyn metro stop. I was greeted by a friendly agent who took my Hyatt Plat card and moved me up to a gold passport floor. My room (really a mini-suite) featured a refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker, all of which came in handy. I also received both a Saturday and Sunday Washington Post.
Next morning, I rode Metro to the Nat’l Air and Space to catch the bus to Udvar-Hazy Center (did seem odd heading back to same area I just came from, but I was assured this was the best way). It was about 45 minutes each way, and there was no view since the whole bus is painted over. Upon arrival, I spoke with a docent who told me not to miss the control tower and the pilot simulator. The pilot sim is like one of those kiddie rides, so I skipped that. The obs tower was pretty boring (this one lady kept telling her son "look at the huuuuuge plane!!" everytime a CRJ arrived). There’s more than enough to see in the aircraft and space hangars. I tagged along with one of the guided tours, which yielded a few interesting tidbits. Of course, there were lots of neat birds (MiGs, SR-71A, space shuttle Enterprise, B-29 Enola Gay, Langley aerodrome, Boeing 307 Stratoliner, -80 and Concorde F-BVFA) just to name a few.
CO 1064 BWI-IAH 733 Lv 17:37 Ar 19:56 4/17/05
Flight was showing a 30 minute delay due to late inbound from CLE. G/A said delay was a mechanical (lav problem). Inbound arrived at 17:40 and boarding began at 17:55. Upon boarding, I noted that the cabin was clean, and that pillows and blankets were placed on a number of seats throughout the cabin. I’m guessing they do this to free up bin space, which speeds up boarding—smart thinking! And, at least they didn’t eliminate pillows entirely like certain other airlines. Even though the flight was nearly full, all the carry-ons fit and there were no gate checks. With a combination of better carry-on size enforcement and bigger bins, the boarding process is much more orderly and efficient. We pushed at 18:16 with a load of 12/12 and 107/112. This dolt seated a few rows back continued to chat on his cellphone until we were clear away from the gate. I’m sure he was paying careful attention to Larry’s video. We took off at 18:25 from rwy 28 for our 2 hr 46 min flight.
In-flight service consisted of the usual snack service in Y (small ham or turkey roll, Ruffles chips and a bag of M&Ms) and two drink services. The full can was only offered upon request. There was no audio or video on this 733, but an F/A came through the cabin with a large stack of magazines (how often do you see that now days?). Unfortunately, there were only a few titles and none were of any interest. The 733 seats didn’t feature a headrest, but also weren’t as hard or cramped as those on the 738.
We landed at 20:11 and parked at gate E23 at 20:19. This aircraft would continue on to CUN (more on that in a bit).
CO 337 IAH-SAN 738 w/winglets Lv 21:00 Ar 22:19
This was my first time in the E terminal (now almost two years old), and I was quite impressed with how modern and spacious it is. In particular, I liked the fact that everything looked so clean. My connecting gate was E8, and boarding had not yet started when I arrived. Good timing! We pushed back on-time with what looked to be a full load. I hadn’t asked if they needed volunteers, and they didn’t make any announcements while I was in the boarding area. Oh well. On the way out to the runway, I saw my inbound flight pushing back from E3 (continuing on to CUN). We met again at the thresholds of runways 15L (733) and 15R (738 ) for a cool parallel takeoff. From 19A, I had a perfect view of the 733 barreling down the runway almost perfectly in synch with our 738. The 733 was aloft just a couple seconds before us and banked left while we banked right.
In-flight service consisted of two drink services and pretzels. The movie was Finding Neverland, followed by an episode of Will & Grace. As I mentioned earlier, the seat pitch was very cramped and my knees were pressed against the seat in front of me. Fortunately, the flight time was only 2 hrs and 45 min. Our cruising altitude (at least initially) was only 26K, and there were some bumps along the way. We arrived early into SAN at 20:08.
CO performed well as always, and I thought Indy did a great job with transcon. Their loads seem to be improving, but I think yields are still a problem (if the fare I paid is any indication ). Still, things are headed in the right direction and I wish them the best!