This trip marked two milestones.
1. It was my first trip to ORD.
2. It was the first trip in which I flew to a destination and flew back the very same day.
No. 2 is significant when you consider that flights in years past would see my in bed for two days while I came out of a medicated fog, a cocktail to squelch motion sickness. Still, I really wouldn't know how I'd do. Maybe the experience would be too much and I'd have to go beyond my 'one meclizine'? Sometimes, the only way out is through.
I arrived at IAH around 5:20am, very early for my 7:10 flight. Of course, security lines were light, and since I had a single carry-on and slip-on shoes, I practically floated through the TSA Maze. I always have plenty to amuse myself, so the wait was fine. Across the way, a group of church-goers gathered for their trip, their shirts displaying the name of the destined Chicagoland congregation. I perused the news on my Blackberry and enjoyed a Starbucks' decaf.
Time seems to slip by in an airport, and we were boarding before long. I couldn't see the 737-300 (COA1746) from the boarding area, but caught the standard head-on glimpse while entering the jetway. I took my seat in 5D. (Within actual spitting distance of the folks in First Class.)
The plane shimmied just slightly as the wheels left the runway and IAH sank below. Before long, we were encased in an early morning cloud bank. The jet's ascent was so smooth, the view so obscured, I now understood what most people meant by "it felt as if we had stop moving."
The forecast for Chicago was "light winds" and "considerable clouds." That changed during the flight to overcast and 30 mph winds, the flight-deck confirmed as we began descent. The landing was slightly more bumpy than the one's I've experienced at KBOS, but quite comfortable. Admittedly, one moment saw my heart skip, but it was very minor.
I had resolved to get the name of the captain, but chickened out at the last minute. (I guess I was worried it would constitute a "suspicious remark.") Two things struck me about him. First, before boarding, he walked up to every waiting FA in the gate area and greeted them. Second, his announcements were very informative and seemed to me to a little longer than the normal. Maybe people don't generally care about this stuff. As a relatively new airplane traveller, I hadn't seen it before. I wasn't used to seeing the captain before entering the plane. I also was used to very short annoucements. Some captains hardly say anything. I really enjoyed this flight and part of it was due to the captain.
All that I knew about ORD up until this moment were those things generally brandished during rants: how it's too crowded, how everything is always late or canceled, how it's too big to walk around, how people wound up lost and never heard from again. (Yes, I made up the last.) Me? Well, yeah, it's crowded. I suppose anyone who has been there knows that. Too big? I don't know. I found it quite easy to get around. I did wind up a tad lost trying to get to the street where my party would pick me up, but a quick question answered I was there. Admittedly, I landed at Terminal 2 and wound up outside at Terminal 1. How? Well, it's not terribly hard to do so. Plus, well, I was a bit like a tourist. I don't think I've ever seen so many United planes in one place. I stopped to take pictures here and there, made it to the street where I met my party and went to the meeting.
Getting back to ORD at the end of my meeting was a chore, but not for the airport itself. The traffic was quite heavy. I left in plenty of time and walked around ticketing a bit to take in some of the airliner logos I had never seen before, like KLM. ORD's graphic design is fun to look at. I arrived at the airport in the early evening and apparently arrived for a taste of ORD's infamous crowds. It was quite busy, especially within the gates. Whenever a plane boarded, the jetways would fill up and people would spill into the main walkways. I took a shot of planes outside the gate window. So many tails! I simply marveled at anyone's ability to make sense of it.
It was quite windy with some patches of driving rain as I boarded this 737-300 (COA1647) and took 5B. Our taxi was quite long, but I spied a number of aircraft and airliners I had never seen before like SkyWest, TED, KLM, ATA, SAS, Air Canada, Air Korea, Virgin. There was one tail I could not identify. It was a dark color, perhaps black, with a gold crown. I never could catch the front the aircraft.
Our ascent was not initially bumpy, but the clouds saw to that soon enough. Breaking through them is always a nice treat, but this trip saw a very interesting site. (To me!) There was a time where the aircraft leveled and we skimmed the very top of a cloud bank for awhile. It wasn't for very long, but it was a neat sight! I was just too nervous to take a picture in-flight. Too bad.
The flight arrived at IAH at 10pm on-the-nose. Out to the car and a quick 20-minute ride home. I am pleased to say that I only encountered the slightest queasiness during the trip up through the clouds from ORD. In all, though, a successful trip in more ways than one! I woke up the next day a bit tired, but nothing like I had experienced in years past. Every new flight I take brings on more fascination, more excitement. I very much enjoyed my trip, though maybe I'll get some more time in Chicago next time. Kudos to CO.
I have some pics from the trip here. Excuse my wonky camera work. I am not a photog.