Since she had just had a birthday, I thought it would be a nice birthday present if I paid for her ticket to go. Unfortunately, this involved buying the tickets in ABQ and bringing them up with me to give her outside security. Still, it gave me a chance to wander around the terminal a bit!
So, now that that is explained, I will begin.
One of the unique things about ABQ is that no matter how busy the flight is, passengers seem to check in one at a time, so there is almost never a line, as is evident in this picture:
After checking my bag, I proceeded through security to Gate B6 to wait for boarding.
Although the flight was originally full, a total of 8 people moved up on the earlier flight, allowing me to squeeze in with 3 seats to spare.
Flight F9 4336
Frontier Jet Express operated by Horizon Air
N601QX (Bald Eagle)
Seat: 5A (window)
Photo © Jason Whitebird
The flight pushed back on time, and we taxied to Runway 21 for takeoff. It has been a long time since I have left on this runway, since Runway 8 is the most common in ABQ. The winds were from a different direction today. The flight is just a little bit longer when we use this runway, since we take off to the south and have to circle all the way around to get to DEN.
The service on this flight was standard short-flight service, with only a glass of Sprite to pass the time. We arrived on time onto Runway 7, and I now had a short 3 hours before I met up with my traveling companion at the F9 ticket counter. I wandered around the concourses and snapped some pictures while I was waiting.
Lufthansa 747-400 arriving from FRA:
Song 757 heading out to ATL. While Song aircraft are operating on regular DL flights now, many are still configured in all-economy with 199 seats. I am assuming this is one of them:
Brand new Skywest CRJ-900 parked remotely. It was not operating a flight – Anyone know what it was doing there?
View down the UA side of Concourse A. Notice the absence of Ted flights. They were all moved to Concourse B in early September. Also note the Champion Air 727 operating some sort of Charter.
View down the F9 side of Concourse A. The menagerie includes “Carmen” the Blue-Crowned Conure, “Holly” the Heron, “Jim, Joe, Jay, and Gary” the Emperor Penguins, the yet-to-be-named Ermine, “Sarge” the Bald Eagle, “Fritz” the Mountain Goat, and “Klondike and Snow” the Polar Bear Cubs.
After a little while, it was time to go out and meet up with my traveling companion. Before I met up with her, I snapped a picture of the impressive DEN main terminal.
We waited a little while in the check-in line so that she could check her bag, (mine was checked through), and proceeded to Gate A30 for boarding. The flight was pretty open, so we got our seats right away. We had an entire row to ourselves, seated in 19D and 19F. While I was at the counter, I noticed that there were numerous retired ticket jackets that had not been thrown away, so I grabbed a bunch. Here are all of them, including the one that I was actually given:
Flight F9 563
N940FR (“Jack” the Snowshoe Hare)
Seat: 19D (aisle)
Photo © Nathan Zalcman - AirTeamImages
Since I was feeling generous, I let my traveling companion sit by the window. She had not been to San Diego since she was very young, and the approach is really cool into SAN. I wanted her to have the best view of the city as we flew in – Very gallant of me, eh??? (Although downtown was actually on the other side of the aircraft – Oh well!)
We pushed back on time and headed to Runway 17R for takeoff.
Service began with the typical single-glass service of soda, followed by a choice of Fritos or Sun Chips. We both had Sprite and Sun Chips. Since the flight was quite empty, a second service was offered, where I was given the rest of the can of Sprite. Yes, I had to visit the facilities before we landed..!
We landed on Runway 27 after one of the best approaches in the country, skimming the tops of the buildings as we floated in. We turned off of the runway and arrived right on time into Gate 18 in Terminal 1.
I was not surprised to find that my bag was already there. After all, I did have a 6 hour connection in DEN!
ORD was causing problems again, and about 3 flights worth of delayed UA bags were pouring out of our baggage carousel. As such, we were moved next door – It was much less crowded! After picking up my companion’s bag, we headed to the rental car shuttles and picked up our car.
Just a tip – If you arrive late into a city and the representative tries to upsell you from an Economy to a Luxury or SUV, chances are that is all they have! I declined the upsell and said a little car would be fine. The representative looked quite disappointed and told us where we could find our car. We walked out and found this parked in our assigned space: (taken the next day)
Paid for an Economy and got an SUV – Not bad! I also want to point out my fantastic parallel parking job!
We found our hotel and settled in for the night – Tomorrow was going to be a long day…
Since it was a long time since we had both been to San Diego, and even longer since we had been to the San Diego Zoo, we decided that it would be a great idea to head back.
A couple of meerkats hanging out:
Mother Panda having lunch:
Baby asleep in the tree:
Giraffe looking around:
After the zoo, we decided to head to La Jolla to see some animals in the wild. Here is a picture of them basking in the sun:
A view from La Jolla Cove:
We then headed south to Coronado.
A view of the Hotel Del Coronado:
One of about 4 different weddings we saw that day. A wedding on the beach – Not too shabby. It was kind of funny, all of the female guests had plastic bags around their feet to protect them from the sand.
After a long day, lunch at In-N-Out, dinner at the Hard Rock Café, and a stroll around Seaport Village, we were completely exhausted and headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved sleep!
The next day, we returned the car and headed back to the airport to fly home
Upon checking in, we grabbed some Starbucks for breakfast and proceeded through security. I dropped our Standby cards off at the desk and went across the concourse to wait to be called. I didn’t have a very good view out of the window, since there was a UA 757 at the gate going to ORD. I did get a couple, though:
HA 767 going to OGG or HNL:
AM 737 going to somewhere south of the border:
Flight F9 568
N919FR (“Lance” the Ocelot)
Seat: 11C (aisle)
Photo © Airwim
While this flight was a little fuller, we were still able to get aisles across. The flight left Gate 18 on time, and we taxied to Runway 27 for takeoff. We had to wait a little while for a Skywest Brasilia, two Southwest 737s and a Hawaiian 767 to takeoff, but we were soon on our way.
The service was the same glass of soda and Sun Chips/Fritos choice, enough for the 2 hour flight to DEN.
We arrived on time into DEN. I said goodbye to my friend and waited for the next flight to ABQ.
Unfortunately, Sunday is a busy day for flying, and I did not get a seat on the 5:50pm flight. It went out completely full. There was one other non-rev who had to wait, also. So, I now had another 3.5 hours until the 9:35 flight. This one, of course, was completely open.
During my wait, I was able to grab a picture of BA arriving from LHR:
Flight F9 335
N914FR (“Stretch” the Great Egret)
Seat: 5A (window)
Photo © Anne Deus
A quick trip down to ABQ, with a whole can of Sprite! It was a bit bumpy, with the seatbelt sign turned off for just 5 minutes. Due to the light load, I had an entire row to myself. We arrived about 20 minutes early into B6. I picked up my bag and headed home after a nice relaxing weekend!
Thank you for reading, and safe flying!