Friday, November 21, 2008
Northwest Airlink flight 3173
Depart: Columbia Regional, MO (COU)
Arrive: Memphis, TN (MEM)
Departure time (actual): 4:21 p.m. CST (4:22 p.m. CST)
Arrival time (actual): 6:04 p.m. CST (5:45 p.m. CST)
Departure gate: 1
Arrival gate: A19
Equipment: Saab-340, N408XJ
Load factor: 90%
It was a great idea for the city of Columbia to select Northwest to provide Essential Air Service to the city. It makes so much more sense than the daily flights to Kansas City on US Airways Express that used to meet the EAS requirement. Those were on Beechcraft 1900s. The Northwest service to Memphis allows for much easier and streamlined connection opportunities.
Today I was using the Columbia-Memphis service for the first time since it started in August. And man am I excited. I have never flown out of my college-home airport before, only visited a few times to marvel at its small size for an airport that has commercial service. I came out here last fall when the Texas A&M football came in on an American 757 that was as big as the terminal. That was cool to see.
I arrived at the Columbia Regional Airport, which is south of town about 10 miles, at about 2:50. I noticed a device that looked like you had to take a ticket from, but it was obvious it was a bit outdated. It said take a ticket and the gate would open into the parking lot. Well, there was no gate into the parking lot. Parking is free here.
So, I circled around a little bit and found just the right parking spot. Then it was off to have some fun before check-in.
I got out of my car and, silence. It was such a strange thing at an airport. No sounds.
Finally, a private jet started up and it felt like an airport again.
I got out my digital camera and just started taking as many shots as I could. Wanted to document this stylish airport as much as I could.
After taking shots for about 15 minutes, I went inside and found my fellow Columbus Mizzou student waiting inside the terminal. I said hello to him and went over and got some shots of the NWA ticket counter.
Also got a shot of the hallway. Pretty classic airport image.
I then went back outside to my car and got my bags and brought them inside. There was now a few people at the counter so I waited for a bit and then used the kiosk to check one bag and pay for it for the first time. I slid my credit car in for the $15. Mark it down, first time paying to check a bag. What a memory.
The agent was extremely nice and she took my bag and sent it through some little doors behind the counter to the baggage cart.
I then went back outside for some more pictures. I waited for awhile and tried to watch the Saab land coming in from MEM but it got to be about 3:45 and I figured I should go in and see if they opened up the security line yet. They had and people were starting to move through. So I stayed inside and jumped in line.
Security was very easy. I just had to take my sweatshirt and hat off and I was through in a minute.
Then, it was into the gate area, which is more just like a spruced up garage.
It does the job though. The room was pretty full and they’ve got a nice sign so that helps.
At about 10 after four, the agent called everyone up to board. I jumped in near the back of the line and made my way out to the ramp.
I got some good shots of the terminal and the plane as I boarded.
I went up the airstairs and into a Saab cabin for the first time. It was very nice, I thought. I think it’s even taller than an ERJ cabin, which are pretty tiny. I was impressed with the room inside for the Saab. I went on back to seat 8A and that too offered about the same if not more space than an “A” side seat on an ERJ. Very nice.
The door was closed maybe a minute or two after scheduled time and then we made a taxi out to runway 20.
We lifted off right at 4:30 and made a turn to the southeast to head for Memphis. Really pretty night with the sun setting and a clear sky.
The flight attendant came around with a drink cart and I got a cranberry juice.
The sun continued to go down and we were descending into MEM at about 5:20.
We made an easy descent with a few turns down to Memphis. We landed on 36L at 5:40. We turned right off the runway and held for a second for an American MD-80 to cross in front of us. We taxied down to the end of the A concourse and then doubled back a little bit to park at one of the stands at A19.
We waited a few minutes outside the cabin while carry-on bags were unloaded from the back and brought to the front door. Then we were off into the Memphis night on the ramp.
We walked a little path into a door and then up some stairs into the terminal.
My friends who already got off the plane waited at the top of the stairs. I joined them and we walked towards the C concourse, where my connecting gate was.
We stopped and ate at Corky’s. Very good sandwich, not great price but oh well.
Then me my Columbus friend said goodbye to the other guy who was headed to Dallas. We had just a few steps over to gate C2.
Northwest Airlink flight 2262
Depart: Memphis, TN (MEM)
Arrive: Port Columbus, OH (CMH)
Departure time (actual): 6:55 p.m. CST (6:54 p.m. CST)
Arrival time (actual): 9:40 p.m. EST (9:25 p.m. EST)
Departure gate: C2
Arrival gate: B36
Equipment: CRJ-200, N8980A
Load factor: 100% as far as I could tell
It looked like a pretty busy gate area. It appeared there was a name on the standby list at the monitor at the gate but it might have just been the example.
My friend and I waited for only about 5-10 minutes. He noticed a “NWA Ground Ops Training” sign right in the middle of the gate area for this cluster of gates. There was a staircase leading down under this sign. I’m wondering why is this here? Isn’t there a better place than the middle of the terminal for this? Or an easier way to get here?
The agent made a very quiet boarding call for elites at about 6:35 followed quickly by boarding all rows. We had a little backup in the jetway. A great place to take some pictures.
I headed into seat 6D and felt cramped compared to that nice Saab. Just not the same.
The door was closed a little ahead of time and we pushed back a few minutes later.
Made a pretty long taxi to 36C. We sat on the runway for a few seconds and then were off.
A very nice ride on a clear night followed. The flight attendant took individual orders and went back to the galley each time to retrieve them. I just had a water this time.
I just rested on this flight, closed my eyes a little bit. I was going to reach for something in my bag but didn’t want to disturb the lady next to me because it is so cramped. And I was tired.
Arrived on 28L in Columbus at 9:20. A few American Eagle, Southwests and a Continental CRJ were out on the south side of the field. We turned right off the runway and parked at B36, next to a Northwest DC-9 that had used the jetway earlier. We waited a few minutes again for bags to be brought forward.
I got off and realized I couldn’t see the reg. number! Uh oh. So I went back down the jetway and asked a pilot. He was ready to get out of there, just closing everything down. He was nice enough to look up the number on his Blackberry. Nice guy.
Then I walked through the B concourse and out of security. I met my family, then went down to get my bag, then came back up to get a Frosty before I left the airport.
Wow, what a great trip. This is just perfect for me. But I was really impressed with the Northwest Saab. I could do a lot more flights like that. It’s so easy for people in Columbia to get out on a flight and connect to a lot of destinations through Memphis. I just wonder what will happen as the Delta transition continues.
Will post the return trip next week.