So I went online, and found a ticket to leave from San Diego to fly to Honolulu the next day, and then at the end of October fly back to Monterey so I could pick up my stuff in storage and drive it down. Even better, the flight would push me up to Premier status in the United Mileage Plus program.
So how much does it cost to buy a ticket to Hawaii with so little advance purchase that if I had so desired, I could have checked in online as soon as I was done buying the ticket?
This three months after I get an Oakland-Honolulu round trip ticket for $282 two days before flying. Just lucky I guess.
Friday, September 30, 2005
United Airlines, flight 704
San Diego, California (SAN) to San Francisco, California (SFO)
Photo © Daniel Wojdylo
After parking my car and taking the parking lot's shuttle to the airport, I arrived to find people lined up, waiting for the kiosks to open at 0458. It looked like the kiosks that could issue boarding passes only with no checked bags were available, but if you needed to check bags, you had to wait.
When the kiosks came on, people started checking in. There were a couple of people in front of me, so I still had to wait a couple of minutes. The unlucky folks in the line next to me watched as their kiosk announced that it was closed when the others turned on. Oh, well.
Once I had my boarding passes, I stepped aside to allow people behind me to check in, and stood behind the person who had checked in before me. Even though the kiosks were open, no United Airlines employees had arrived to tag the bags. About 10 minutes later they did, and started calling out the names on the tags that had been printed. Since we were lined up in order, it went pretty smoothly, but it would have been better if the employees had arrived sooner.
Once my checked bags were taken, I headed for security, stopping for a moment to pull the laptop out of my backpack before arriving at the checkpoint. There wasn't much of a wait and I went through without difficulty. Despite the last minute purchase and unlike the June OAK-HNL trip on Ryan International, I wasn't a selectee.
After proceeding through security, I stopped at Starbucks to get a Strawberries and Créme Frappuchino and a scone for breakfast. I settled down by the windows at gate 11, overlooking the 737 that would soon be flying me to San Francisco. It was painted in United's new livery, though it's radome cover matched the white-top Shuttle by United livery. This was my first time flying on a United mainline flight in the new livery, having previously flown in an newly-painted Air Wisconsin/United Express CRJ-200.
At 0600, boarding started. I was in group 2, and when that group was called I proceeded to the gate, inserted my boarding pass into the reader, collected the stub, and walked down the jetway to the aircraft. Once I found the row I was seated in, I placed my backpack in the overhead bin, sat down, and plugged my headset into the in flight audio system and tuned to Channel 9.
After everyone finished boarding, we pushed back from the gate at 0628. The flight attendants did the safety demonstration and we made our way down to runway 27. The area around the gates was foggy, but by the time we reached the end of the runway it was clear. When I first arrived at the gate it was clear, so the fog must have just been rolling in.
We were first in line for takeoff, with a Alaska 737 and JetBlue A320 behind us. We were airborne at 0638. We made our way up to our cruising altitude of 34,000 feet, and the flight attendants came through the cabin with water, orange juice, and coffee. I had a cup of juice.
It was a rather uneventful flight up the California coast. We followed the BIG SUR 2 arrival into SFO, touching down on runway 28L at 0743. After a short taxi, we parked at gate 70 at 0747. The captain thanked us for flying and noted the early arrival.
Unlike on previous flights, the flight attendants didn't provide any connecting gate information. Instead, as soon as we parked, a ground agent came on board and read connecting gate information.
When the passengers ahead of me cleared out, I got my backpack out of the overhead bin, disembarked, and headed to the gate for my flight to Honolulu.
United Airlines, flight 59
San Francisco, California (SFO) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL)
Photo © I. Gunawan
I arrived at gate 81 to find many passengers already there. I stood near the edge of the gate area near the windows and waited to board. Because I spend so much time sitting when I fly, I often prefer to stand when waiting for a flight, especially if it's just for a few minutes.
At 0818 boarding of our 767 started. As before, I waited for my group to be called, and when it was, I went up to the gate and boarded the flight. I made my way to the back of the aircraft, placed my backpack in the overhead bin, and plugged my headset in to listen to Channel 9.
Row 41 the last row of the aircraft by the windows, row 42 only has seats in the center section. Like on Delta's 767-400, this seat affords me guilt-free recline, since I can recline the seat without having to worry about impinging on the space of the passenger behind me, since all that is back there is the lavatory.
Nobody took the seat next to me, and at 0900 we pushed back from the gate. The flight attendants attempted to show the safety video, but were having trouble with some of the projectors. They said they were going to try and reset them and then try the video again, and if that didn't work, the flight attendants would do the demonstration. The video worked the second time, and we were on our way. The captain also mentioned that Channel 9 would be available only during the takeoff and landing.
We made our way out to runway 28L, where we were first in line for departure and followed by an American 757-200. Just before we started our takeoff roll at 0914, an ATA 757-300 landed on 28R.
After departing San Francisco, we made our way out over the Pacific Ocean towards Hawaii. The service for the flight was outlined, with a movie, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants", and breakfast would be available for purchase for $5. Choices consisted of three of the four snack boxes (the Jump Start box was not available), as well as the fresh breakfast. I pretended I was a Hobbit, and bought the fresh breakfast for Second Breakfast. It consisted of some grapes and melon slices, slices of various types of cheese, crackers, a danish, and a cup of yogurt. Not bad overall.
The pilot also came on and gave us the information we'd need to determine our guess for the Halfway to Hawaii game, in which the passengers try to guess the time the flight reaches the geographic midpoint of the flight to Hawaii. I estimated a time of 8:31:07 Hawaii Standard Time.
We made our way up to 33,000 feet, and the pilot asked Center for the callsign of a flight that was ahead of us at flight level 330 or 340 for weather. We were told that Omni 102 was about 50 miles ahead of us at 340.
Once we were handed off from Oakland Center to San Francisco ARINC, Channel 9 went silent for a few moments, then the music program began. At this point I plugged my headsets into my iPod, and listened to my own music while reading the Hemispheres magazine.
After finishing the magazine, I decided to take a nap, having gotten up at 0345 that morning. It must have been during this time that the Halfway to Hawaii forms were collected, since mine never was collected.
Around the time the movie ended, we ran into some turbulence that ended my nap. I watched a program that previewed NBC's fall television lineup, then went back to the iPod, periodically checking in with Channel 9 to see if it was back on.
When it was, I put the iPod away, and shortly after we began our descent. The remains of a tropical depression were passing over the islands, and we encountered some bumps on the way down, and a couple of times we asked to deviate from course for storms. Aircraft ahead and behind us were asking for the same corrections, and at one point, after one Hawaiian 767 flight asked for a correction, approach cleared both him as well as the Hawaiian 767 behind him to deviate.
Our course took us out past the leeward coast of Oahu before turning final to line up for 8L, an arrival I've nicknamed the "Halfway to Kauai approach". We touched down on a wet runway at 1110, and passed an Island Air Dash 8 that was waiting to cross the runway. After a short taxi, we parked at gate 7 at 1114. The pilots thanked us on behalf of the San Francisco based crew, and pointed out the early arrival. Passengers connecting to interisland Aloha, Hawaiian, and United 4000-series codeshare flights operated by Aloha were directed to the Inter-Island Terminal.
After disembarking, I headed for the baggage claim to claim my bags. In a move that made things complicated, bags for our flight came off two different carousels. I had two bags, and ended up having one come off of each. My mother met me in the baggage claim area, and once we the bags had arrived, we went to the car and headed to my parents' house.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
United Airlines, flight 58
Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) to San Francisco, California (SFO)
Photo © Jason Whitebird
The morning rush hour starts pretty early in Honolulu, and as a result I got to the airport a bit later than I would have liked, about 0630. My brother dropped me off curbside, and I went to put my bags through agriculture inspection. That took the usual few seconds, and I walked up to one of the many open kiosks to check myself in. I had to wait a couple of minutes before the agent got to me to check in my bags, then I went over to the security checkpoint. There was just a few people there, so I went right through.
I walked out all the way to the end of the Diamond Head Concourse, to gate 6. On the way out and while waiting to board, I did see a few interesting aircraft. A Japan Airlines 777-200 arrived and taxied by to the gate. A Continental 737-800 was parked at a gate in the Central Concourse; this was the "Island Hopper" flight that makes several stops between Honolulu and Guam. Finally, there was a Shandong Airlines 737 parked on the north ramp, which was in the midst of its delivery trip from Boeing to China.
Boarding started just a couple of minutes after I arrived, at 0654. When my group was called, I joined the line, and when I got to the front, my boarding pass was run through the scanner, I collected my stub, and walked down the jetway to the aircraft. On board, I found my seat, put my backpack in the overhead bin, and plugged in my headset to listen to Channel 9. The in flight video programming was running on the monitors.
The flight attendants showed the safety video, and at 0727 we pushed back from the gate. During our taxi, I noticed that there was a stand with an X at the end of 8L, however interisland flights were still using 8L for departures at intersection L. Normally, 4R is used instead of 8L for overnight arrivals since the approach to 4R is over the ocean. We made our way out to the reef runway, and took off from runway 8R at 0741.
I listened to Channel 9 for as long as I could. As on the outbound flight, it switched to music programming when the pilots switched to the enroute frequencies.
When the flight attendants came through the cabin offering breakfast, I again purchased the fresh breakfast. It was similar to the outbound flight's breakfast, except the fruit was pineapple and two kinds of melon, and the pastry was a apricot breakfast cake. I could tell that the flight was partially catered with locally-procured items, as the milk on the flight attendants beverage cart was Viva, a brand produced by Honolulu's Meadow Gold Dairy. I think they also had a local brand of bottled water.
The in-flight movie was "Fantastic Four", and I watched it. I hadn't seen it before, and while it wasn't spectacular, it wasn't a horrible way to pass a couple of hours.
After the movie, I turned on my iPod and listened to that while reading the Hemispheres magazine. I checked on Channel 9 periodically, and as I felt the beginnings of descent, I checked again and it was back to air traffic control. The skies were overcast so I couldn't tell exactly what approach route we took. We popped out over the salt fields at the south end of the San Francisco Bay, heading for runway 28R.
A minute or two from landing we were asked to change to runway 28L, and did so, touching down at 1514. No connecting flight information was given, but we were told we would be arriving ate gate 84. With all of the arrival announcements I couldn't hear what exactly happened, but we parked at gate 80 instead. My guess was that another aircraft was still in 84, but 80 was available (upon arrival in the terminal, I didn't see anything about a departure anytime soon from gate 80).
When I was able, I got my backpack out of the overhead and headed to the front of the plane and the jetway into the terminal. I checked the monitor to find out the gate for my connecting flight, and saw that there was an earlier flight to Monterey that I might be able to make because of our earlier arrival. I asked the agent at gate 80 if it had open seats and he said I needed to go to gate 87A to ask because it was another airline (SkyWest). So I went down, and they said it was oversold.
I went back to the food court in the hub of the terminal to get something to eat, and ended up getting a Teriyaki Beef plate from the Japanese restaurant. When I finished that, I spent a few moments browsing the airplane models in the gift shop before heading back to gate 87A to catch the bus to the United Express remote terminal.
United Express, flight 6204
operated by SkyWest Airlines
San Francisco, California (SFO) to Monterey, California (MRY)
Photo © Cameron Bowerman - Airplanespotters
I rode the bus out to the remote terminal, found a seat near the window at the far end of the terminal, and started up the iPod again. I had quite a while to wait yet, and passed the time watching the planes arrive and depart.
Not too long before my flight boarded, another flight was announced that it was delayed since the inbound flight had just left late; but then a few minutes later they said it was on time after all and started boarding. I think I caught them in their little lie, as the passengers on that flight went out to a Brasilia that had been on the ground when I arrived. I suspect what really happened (but they didn't tell the passengers) was that they did an equipment substitution to get the flight back on time. It wasn't the only delayed flight.
At 1749, boarding for my flight was announced through door 4. After my boarding pass was collected, we waited until the agent was ready to lead us to the aircraft. We got to the end of the terminal and waited again, so that we wouldn't get mixed up with another group and end up on the wrong flight.
Once on board I placed my backpack under the seat in front of me and waited for departure. There were a few late passengers, and the flight attendant asked a couple of people to move from the back to the front. There were also a couple of people who noticed that their seats in row 11 didn't exist as this was an aft lavatory aircraft; the flight attendant just told them to sit anywhere.
Once everyone was finally ready, the flight attendant did the safety demonstration, and at 1820 we started our taxi. On the way to runway 1L I saw a couple of interesting aircraft: A Cargolux 747-400F and N482UA, a Ted A320 featuring a blue nose. There wasn't a wait for the runway, and we took of at 1831. After takeoff we did a tight left turn past the airport to head down to Monterey.
As is usual for this route, there was no in flight service due to the shortness of the flight, announced at 25 minutes (the longest I've ever heard announced for it). And sure enough, just 19 minutes after takeoff, we touched down on Monterey's runway 10R at 1850. At 1853 we were parked at the gate, and a couple minutes later, after the ramp agents had been able to unload the gate-checked bags, we were able to disembark.
I headed to baggage claim to find it a little busy, as the Denver flight had gotten in just before us. When the baggage arrived, it was announced that the front cart had the Denver bags, and the back cart had San Francisco. However, once all the bags had been unloaded, I didn't see mine until I went to the other end, which was supposed to have been from the Denver flight. But no matter, everything had arrived. A friend of mine picked me up and we headed to my hotel.