Monday, April 11, 2005
America West Airlines, flight 634
Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ) to Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS)
Photo © Aaron Mandolesi
I headed to the airport straight from work, parked my car, and took the shuttle bus to the terminal. I was rather early, headed to the America West counter, and and agent advised me to use the kiosk. They wouldn't be able to issue my Hawaiian boarding pass as well, but the agent was able to check my bag all the way through, so at least I wouldn't have to deal with that in Las Vegas. After that, I headed through security, where there was virtually no line and I was able to get through without difficulty. I walked over to locate my flight's gate, B4, the gate America West usually uses at ABQ. I then went over to find something to eat, settling on the Route 66 Microbrewery. I figured a sit-down meal would be a bit better than one of the fast food places, and I had plenty of time.
After finishing my French Dip sandwich, I headed up to the viewing area, located in the middle of the terminal, above the food court. It's a rather nice area, with plenty of chairs and some couches, providing an excellent view of the field. The most interesting aircraft I saw was Southwest's Silver One 737 N629SW. A few minutes after 2000, I headed back down to the gate to wait for boarding. After a few minutes, the aircraft arrived from Phoenix, and at 2036 preboarding began, and after a few minutes boarding began by groups. There weren't a lot of passengers, and it didn't take long before my group, 4, was invited to board. I did so, placed by backpack in the overhead bin, and settled into my seat in the second row of the economy class cabin.
Photo © Andrew Muller
At 2105 we pushed back from the gate, and the safety video was shown. We made our way out to runway 3, passing the Cutter and Seven Bar FBOs, the Eclipse Aviation facility, and the FedEx cargo ramp. There was no wait to take off, and at 2116 we rolled onto the runway and immediately started our takeoff run. Moments after becoming airborne, we started a right turn and headed for Las Vegas.
A video-only trivia program ran throughout the flight on the flip-down LCD screens; headsets were not passed out. Flight attendants did do a beverage service with cold beverages only. The hour and a half flight passed reasonably quickly, and when the time came, we began our descent into Las Vegas. This was my first time flying into LAS, and wasn't able to orient myself until we were on our final approach, when I could see the hotels and lights of The Strip out my window. We touched down on runway 25L at 2138, and headed for the terminal. At 2138, we blocked in at gate B24.
I disembarked, and followed the signs for Terminal 2. They led me out of the secured area, and down the escalator to the ground level, where the Terminal 2 shuttle stop was located. After a few minute wait, the shuttle arrived, and we made our way over to Terminal 2.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Hawaiian Airlines, flight 17
Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
Boeing 767-33A ER
Photo © Ivan Nishimura
Arriving in Terminal 2, I found it undergoing some renovation. I followed the signs for the Hawaiian Airlines check-in counter. I went up to the counter, and an agent working an Air Canada flight advised that Hawaiian check-in would begin at 2300. I sat down with a few other early-arriving Hawaiian passengers, pulled out my iPod, and waited to check-in. At about 2250, the waiting passengers started lining up for check-in. An agent arrived and started setting things up, but it was about 2315 before passengers were able to start checking in. The line moved slowly at first, but as more agents arrived things sped up. When it was my turn, I received my boarding pass and headed up to the security checkpoint. As in Albuquerque I had little difficulty, and headed over to gate 4 where my 767 was waiting. Parked next to us was Omni Air International DC-10 N720AX.
Photo © Sven De Bevere
I still had plenty of time to wait, so I pulled out my iBook to check my e-mail and pass the time surfing the web, courtesy of McCarran airport's free wireless Internet access. At 0203, preboarding began, followed by general boarding by rows, from the rear forward. As soon as I settled into my seat on board, I felt at home. I hadn't been on board a Hawaiian long-haul flight since June 2002, my flights to and from Hawaii since then having been on Delta, Aloha, American, and ATA.
Exactly on time at 0245 we pushed back from the gate onto a very quiet ramp in the city that never sleeps. The many midnight departures were long gone, but 0245 works out to be a good departure time for Hawaiian's Midnight Madness flight, allowing passengers to experience one more night in Las Vegas and then getting to Hawaii just in time to go to work, making it something very rare: A westbound domestic redeye flight. We slowly made our way across the airport to runway 25R, passing the aircraft parked for the night at LAS, including a number of Ted A320s, Southwest 737s, and Allegiant MD-80s, and of course the safety video was shown. At 0306, we took our position on the runway, and started our takeoff roll.
In-flight service appeared to be organized to minimize disruption to sleeping passengers. The in-flight snack, consisting of a turkey sandwich, a bag of Ruffles potato chips, and a package of two Oreo cookies was served early in the flight, along with a choice of beverages. Headsets were rented and the in-flight movie, "National Treasure" also began early. I didn't watch; even though I generally don't sleep that well on airplanes, I wanted to try and get what sleep I could, and I think I managed to do pretty well.
Towards the end of the flight, the flight attendants came through with water and coffee, and passed out the State of Hawaii Agriculture Declaration Forms. We began our descent, and at 0551 we touched down on runway 4R. I saw taxiing in front of us another Hawaiian 767, which I determined once in the terminal by checking the monitors was the flight from Pago Pago, American Samoa. As we headed to the gate, I could see another aircraft on final approach, and once it landed saw that it was a China Airlines A340. We pulled into gate 30 at 0558; I disembarked and headed for baggage claim, as usual choosing to walk rather than taking the Wiki Wiki shuttle bus. Bags were a bit slow in coming, but my bags did arrive and I headed to my parents' house.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Hawaiian Airlines, flight 8
Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) to Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS)
Boeing 767-3CB ER
Photo © Erik Nugal
Circumstances required that I get to the airport a bit early. I put the bags to be checked through agriculture inspection, then headed over to the line to check in. As is seemingly typical for Hawaiian at HNL, all the passengers were standing in line even though there were several empty kiosks. The passengers in front claimed that if we were checking bags, I had to be in this line, and since I had little else to do, I just waited. I got to the front of the line, where an agent checked me in at a kiosk, tagged my bags, and sent me over to drop them off with the TSA. I also asked her and she said I could use any kiosk, didn't have to wait in line... oh well.
After checking my bag, I got in the short line for the security checkpoint, again getting through with no difficulty. Once I was done, I headed over to the main terminal (all Hawaiian flights check-in at the interisland terminal). I wandered over to gate 28 to check things out; nobody was there, and no aircraft, though a Hawaiian 767 was parked at the adjacent gate. I headed over to the food court to find dinner. On my way there, I saw that the new security checkpoint, at the site of the former aviation museum, had been opened. The area just past the checkpoint was quite nice, with overhead skylights brightening things up. There was still some construction in adjacent areas, hopefully when that's done it will be similar. I had never thought of HNL as a bad, dark, gloomy airport, but I could see a difference between the old areas and the newly renovated area.
After having dinner at Burger King, I wandered back to the gate where there were now a few more people. I pulled out my laptop and started writing this trip report, getting both outbound segments written. Eventually, the aircraft was towed to the gate.
A few minutes before boarding started, the agents came around and collected their half of our boarding passes, supposedly this would speed up the boarding process. Boarding started at 2107. Since I was seated towards the front of the plane, it took a while before my row was called to board. When it was, I got up, showed my half of the boarding pass to the agent, and got on board. I settled into my seat and waited for the flight to pushback at 2144. The safety video was shown en-route to runway 8R, where we started our takeoff run at 2200.
Once we had reached a safe altitude, the flight attendants came through the cabin renting headsets and digEplayers. I declined both, hoping to get some sleep on the flight. Shortly after, they came though the cabin again, this time with the snack service. We had a choice of turkey or ham sandwich, which came with "tropical mix" (pretzels and triangle-shaped-cracker-things) and a chocolate cookie, along with a choice of beverage. I chose the turkey sandwich and pineapple juice.
I did manage to get what I'd estimate between two and three hours of sleep, some during the movie, "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events". After the movie was the HawaiianSkies video program. Not a whole lot about the flight to report really, since I was sleeping or trying to sleep for most of the flight. Towards the end of the flight, the flight attendants came through the cabin offering coffee and water.
We began our descent into Las Vegas, and at 0606, touched down on runway 25L. We taxied to the ramp, parking at Terminal 2's gate 4 at 0613. I headed down to baggage claim, claimed my luggage, and went outside to catch the shuttle to pick up my rental car.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Since I had an all day layover in Las Vegas, making the most of it as any spotter should: Spotting! The sky was clear, but a bit windy. I spent most of the day out at the spotters lot on Sunset. Highlights included a couple of FunJet Vactions/TransMeridian 757s, a Champion Air 727, the Palace Air 727 N727RE, and the US Airways Star Alliance 757 N623AU.
Photo © Peter Tsagaris - CYOW Airport Watch
Photo © Danny Fritsche
Photo © Vincent de Koning
Photo © John E. Jauchler
After a while, I headed over to do the other things I wanted to do in Las Vegas. The first was head to the Las Vegas Hilton to visit Star Trek: The Experience and the new Borg Invasion attraction. I also went through the Klingon Encounter attraction, which had changed since my last visit.
There was one more thing on my list: Let the monorail buff in me out for a breath of fresh air. When I was done with Star Trek, I went out to the Las Vegas Monorail station, conveniently located next door. I rode the train painted to promote Las Vegas itself from the Hilton down to the southern end of the line at the MGM Grand, and then back to the Hilton. It's a nice train, though to me the Disneyland Monorail still looks cooler (the Las Vegas Monorail is a transit version of the Walt Disney World Monorail, which does have some differences from the Disneyland version, despite their similar exterior appearance). One of the recorded announcements claimed a speed of 50 miles per hour, though it didn't seem that fast most of the time; likely the frequent stops kept it from being able to move quickly. Still, it's a great idea that more cities need -- putting trains underground can be expensive and problem-laden (just ask Los Angeles) and in many big cities, acquiring land for surface rail can be difficult and expensive. The land need for a monorail isn't much at all, just enough area for the support beams, and it looked like in most areas the area in the middle of a divided street was sufficient.
Once that was done, I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to do, so after dinner, I went back to the airport. After returning my rental car, I took the shuttle to the main terminal. After checking myself in at an America West kiosk, I dropped my bag off with the TSA. I had seen on the McCarran website that there was supposed to be a aviation museum in the terminal, so I went looking for it. Found it, but it was just a bunch of displays with pictures and various historical items.
After spending a few minutes browsing that, I headed to the security checkpoint. Again there was no difficulty, so I headed to gate A3 to await boarding.
America West Airlines, flight 212
Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) to Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ)
Photo © David Mueller
Since I still had a while to wait, I opened my iBook, read my e-mail, and hung out in the Airliners.net chat room. There was actually another flight, bound to Chicago, that was going to depart from the gate before mine, so I watched the flight board and depart, and then another Airbus came to the gate, this would be my flight.
Boarding started at 2333, and when my group, the fourth, was called, I got up and boarded. I settled into my seat and awaited pushback. The flight was fuller than my ABQ-LAS flight. We pushed back at 2354, as an America West 737 did the same from a nearby gate. The safety video was shown, and we made our way to the line for departure on runway 25R. Most, but not all of the aircraft, were America West. Our turn to takeoff came at 0018.
The flight attendants kept the cabin dark as they served beverages to those passengers who were awake. I had a cup of apple juice. The hour flight was a good length, and before too long we began our descent. We touched down on runway 8 at 0218 (remember the hour time difference between Nevada and New Mexico) and taxied straight to our gate, B4. We were the only passengers in the airport, everyone else having already arrived, and the next flight would not be until morning. After my bags arrived, I went outside to see a van for the parking lot my car was in was waiting, so I climbed aboard, and headed home.
David / ABQ