Here is my first round-trip report:
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
ExpressJet flight #445
N13202 - Seat 4A
Snack: A bag of Sun Chips, a package of granola trail mix, a package of two Keebler cookies, and beverage service.
Flight Time: 42 minutes wheels up to wheels down.
The Commuter Terminal at San Diego is such a unique experience - a complete throwback to the early days of flying. No real "gates", just doors marked as 1,2,3, & 4. When your flight is called, you meet as a group and are escorted to your plane by an airline employee.
Oddly enough, there are no pictures of N13202 on the airliners.net database other than what I am posting here.
The Commuter Terminal has really become a happening place now that XJet has joined the party - no longer just the occasional EM2 of UAExpress or American Eagle Saab SF340 & ERJ! N13202 was the middle of three EMB145's in the unique green and orange livery. I am curious as to just how many spots XJet can use there, what with all the flights they have from SAN...
The taxiing route we took was quite a surprise - we left the terminal area, took a left turn, crossed runway 9/27, and proceeded to the end of runway 27 via the NORTH taxiway. I'm not sure why we did this, as there was no one ahead of us or behind us on this side of the runway, AND all other traffic, including an EM2, was using the south taxiway, but it did provide an interesting close up of the traffic parked on the northeast side of SAN:
Can anyone tell me more about this L-1011? She's looking as good as she did the day she rolled off the Lockheed assembly line!!
One learns something new every day - I did not know that Stage 2 aircraft had a more restrictive take-off curfew than Stage 3 aircraft!!
We took off on runway 27 and made a right turn over the Pacific. When we approached Catalina Island, we made a slight right turn and crossed the California coastline at San Pedro.
As virtually all north-south traffic does, we flew directly over LAX. The new runway 25L is visible and distinctly different from the others:
Another gentle right turn over LAX put us on a due north course and we continued over the Santa Clarita area. After passing over Lake Castaic, we began to slow down somewhat and after crossing the San Andreas fault, we were quickly at the base of the "Grapevine", the VERY steep mountain pass on Interstate 5 connecting the central valley to Southern California:
Now over the vast San Joaquin valley, we continued northward for a bit, but much like an approach to SAN, flying in from the south into BFL required a sweeping turn AWAY from the airport (in this case, to the right) and then a BIG left turn to line up with runway 30R, taking us over the town of Arvin and Lamont:
I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, and I lived there until just eight years ago. A.netter's are familiar with my stories of the atrocious facilities the airport used to have, even though the runway has handled Air Force One and is considered an emergency Space Shuttle landing site (due to its proximity to Edwards Air Force Base). I had always hoped and prayed that one day a new terminal with proper facilities would be constructed to encourage better and more permanent service at BFL.
I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that any traveller to BFL will NOT be disappointed!! The new William M. Thomas terminal at BFL is not only visually stunning in all aspects, but is modern, user-friendly, and best of all, designed to be expanded as service warrants.
At the current time, there are three jetways. Oddly, they are marked as gates 2, 3, and 5, but perhaps 1 and 4 are future gates. Gate 6 is the "outdoor" gate, which has passengers proceed down an escalator to tarmac level and actually go outside to board their planes. At the current time, only United Express uses this gate, as I assume EM2's cannot use a jetbridge.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
ExpressJet flight #446
N17169 - Seat 4A
Snack: Only beverage service - I assume this has to do with expediting the late flight.
Flight Time: 45 minutes (LONG easterly track before turning west at Mt. San Miguel for arrival to runway 27)
The plane for the my flight today originated at COS and was delayed approximately 30 minutes taking-off for SAN. This in turn delayed the inbound flight #445 from SAN, but considering the length of time it would take me to drive, 30 minutes is a blink of an eye. However, the plane arrived, and we expedited our boarding and departure:
Taxiing out, we passed by the old terminal which is now the international terminal...I LOVE saying that, but I will never get used to it:
We took off on runway 30R and made a big sweeping left turn over the west side of Bakersfield, flying first over Rosedale, then Stockdale, flying almost directly over my sister's house!!
Flying south-southwest over the San Joaquin valley, the Tehachapi valley (specifically Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs) were clearly visible as is the western edge of the Mojave desert. The elevation difference between the desert and the valley floor is quite striking:
It is simply surreal to see the land go by so fast - I am so used to driving this route, and now it's zooming by in the blink of an eye!!
Generally, my driving landmark is Six Flags Magic Mountain - this marks one hour from Bakersfield. Today it was done in ten minutes:
Crossing into the Los Angeles basin, we once again flew directly over LAX:
The rest of the trip had significant clouds, so only a few landmarks were visible, such as the nuclear power plant in Camp Pendleton and the Del Mar Racetrack. The ludicrous amount of traffic was yet another reminder of how lucky I am to have this flight available.
When we landed, we were escorted very quickly off the plane and into the terminal for baggage pick-up. Mine had been almost the last bag put on, and it was almost the first one off.
XJet seemed to be having a day full of delays on July 26 - every single inbound and departing flight was flashing "delayed" on the information screens. I don't know what was up, but I didn't care - I was home, I was unstressed from not having to drive, and XJet treated me like a pre-deregulation airline would have!!
I am sending XJet an extraordinarily good letter commending them for their service, and hopefully I can include a link to this page so they know word of mouth is certainly spreading. If you ever get the chance to fly on them, they come HIGHLY recommended!!!!!!!
Thanks for reading!!!