Part 2: STL Layover and onward to ORD and DFW
Here is the link to Part 1: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...ums/trip_reports/read.main/141656/
We rolled off of Runway 30L and taxied into Gate A6 in STL. I have been to STL quite a bit in the past, and I was used to having all Concourses being connected. Well to my surprise, Concourse A has it's own security checkpoint and secure zone. I was very disappointed that I couldn't go to Concourse C and pay a visit to my own hometown airline, and especially not getting to make the walk through Concourse D and over to my other hometown airline. I'm not sure I would've been able to cover that much carpet in 1 hour and 45 minutes, but the fact I would've had the option would have made me happy. I didn't just want to stay in Concourse A, so I talked my dad in leaving and going to see STL's semi-famous terminal building. Another unpleasant surprise. The view of the ceiling is blocked mostly with plywood and scaffolding because they are remodeling. One thing that did make me happy was that I got a great view of the Concourse C ramp from the hallway linking the Terminal and the Metrolink station. If you are ever visiting STL and have a layover, I definitely recommend leaving security, and visiting the hallway because I has views of the ramp I would consider almost as good as a Skylink at STL would be. With 45 minutes to departure of United 8052 to Chicago, we made our way back to Concourse A security. One thing was interesting about our security check. I took off my shoes as I usually do, but I forgot one thing for some reason I will never know. I forgot to take off my belt, which has metal on it, and I didn't take the money/coins I had in my pockets. I walked through the metal detector, and it didn't beep and they sent me on my way. My dad on the other hand, also didn't take the change out of his pants pockets and he was scolded by an old TSA agent that looked like if wasn't ready to retire, he needed to retire soon. Anyway, he was sent through again. I didn't realize I had secretly snuck coins into the Secure area until I had noticed I didn't have to put my belt on because I had left it on. After passing through security, we took a walk back to Gate A6 where our MD-88 that brought us to STL was loaded, and preping to head back to ATL in about 3 minutes.
Our MD-88, N997DL ready for pushback to ATL
Different angle from an abandoned gate next to Gate A6
As we walked down to the United Gate area, my dad was surprised and taken back in time to his childhood when we saw this:
Any a.nutters know what this Northwest DC-9 is up too?
If you can't make it out, the crane is hooked to the elevator of the DC-9. Seconds after I took the picture of that DC-9 undergoing surgery, our United Express EMB-145 pulled up to the gate.
Preping for our flight to Chicago O'Hare
As I turned and looked at the end wall of the United gate area, I saw this too
I was very surprised by the level of nostalgia at this airport. I kind of enjoyed going back in time.
A few minutes before boarding for United 8052 to ORD began, I saw this Pinnacle CRJ-200 arriving at the ramp
This Trans States EMB-145 taxied to parking. I've never seen this livery before
3) United Express 8052 (Trans States Airlines)
Embraer 145 Jungle Jet
The gate agent called for boarding of all United MileagePlus members with any kind of status to board, and probably 10 people boarded. I was surprised at how many were on this small flight. Then she eventually called for Seating 2, and we boarded the EMB-145 via the jetbridge. I'm 5'4" and I felt like I need to duck my head to clear the doorway. Once I stepped aboard the aircraft, I remembered how small this aircraft is. It was comfortable for me none the less, but it is definitely small. I can safely say I wouldn't agree to flying IAH-PSP in one of them, but a short 45 minute hop is no problem at all.
View of the United ramp at STL out of seat 10A
Wingview from 10A
Cabin view with door not shut and secure
We departed the gate 7 minutes before our scheduled departure time, and made a quick taxi to Runway 29 for a quick and powerful takeoff to ORD
Shortly after takeoff from Runway 29, turning northeast almost immediately
A view of the Mississippi as we cross into Illinois
Climbing to FL240
View of small cabin inflight
The inflight service. I didn't get the can, but I wasn't going to complain since it's such a short flight.
So excited to see all of the snow!
And the snow just gets thicker as we begin to descend into ORD
The ORD airfield comes into view
An even better picture. This may be my favorite picture
As we begin making our final descent, the lake and downtown come into view
These next three pics, I was scolded by the F/A because she caught me with my camera on after she asked for all electronics to be turned off.
We made a nice final for Runway 27R. I noticed two CVS Pharmacy's a block away from each other on Higgins Ave. and Foster Ave. Made my chuckle a little. We touched down and rolled off of Runway 27R about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and we sat in the penalty box for about 5 minutes waiting for our arrving gate, B22B to be vacated. It was also a nice touch that our flight attendant read off connecting gate information while we sat waiting for our open gate. There were 5 connecting international flights that STL passengers had to catch. After hearing where other people were headed too, I was disappointed I was headed to DFW. We then made a quick taxi into Gate B22B, and hardstand. A departing United Express EMB-145 had just left, and obviously the ground and ramp did too because we waited for about 6 minutes before the stairs we pushed up to the aircraft for us to deplane.
I took this picture of another United Express EMB-145 sitting next to us at the Gate B22A
We deplaned quickly, and we hit with a frigid cold that I haven't experienced in awhile due to my Texas residence. It was 7 degrees with a -4 wind chill, and my father didn't have a jacket, so he was running inside as quick as he could.
I managed to get this picture on the ramp of our aircraft after arrival from St. Louis
We entered the gate area where I believe a flight to Nashville was next to depart. We walked through the bending hallway of the high B gates, and then turned into the main concourse.
Curving hallway in high B gates of ORD's Terminal 1
United's EasyCheck-In and Rebooking Center in Concourse B
Concourse B sporting it's highly industrial look
I was very impressed with these huge TV screens that hang with United's gate areas in Concourse's B and C.
I managed to hit the button right when it went off
We made our way from Terminal 1, through Terminal 2, and finally into Terminal 3 in I'm guessing 10-12 minutes of fast walking. We tried as fast as we could to get to Concourse L as fast as we could to see some Euro heavies, but it was just getting too dark.
This Olympics ad is hanging in Terminal 2 I believe
The famous hallway from the movie "Airport", just not as crowded as it is made out to be
We ended up not taking any pictures over in Concourse L, but Delta seems to have some nice quarters over there. We decided to make our way to Concourse K to see Iberia's daily A340. While walking to Concourse K, I passed fellow a.nutter lfutia, but didn't disturb him since he was working.
What happened to the flags??
They still had the signs up saying which country each flag belongs to, but the flags absence was a disappointment. I feel like I didn't get the whole ORD experience without the flags. Anyway, we made our way to the end of Concourse K to find out Iberia's flight was delayed 1 hour and 55 minutes, and there were alot of angry people in the gate area. I managed to get a couple of rather quality pictures of Terminal 5.
LOT Polish Airlines 767 departing for Krakow
Air France loading up for CDG, and Air India in the final stages of boarding for a long flight to DEL
After I'd seen Terminal 5, my dad insisted it was time to eat something. I walked past an Uno's Pizzeria and immediately became hungry. $11 is a bit much for a personal size pizza and bottle of water, but it was undoubtedly good.
Dining room in AA's Terminal 3 rotunda
After a great dinner, we walked up and down Concourse F while my dad window shopped in Brookstone.
Rather empty Concourse F
Well, now the sad time comes when you have to head over to your gate for the last flight of the day. While lazily walking back to my last flight, United 561, I stopped and took this picture of United's curbside
United Curbside Check-In
It didn't seem like there were too many flights going out of the low B gates, so I didn't bother to take too many pictures. As we headed down the escalator into the tunnel for Concourse C, I snapped a couple of photos of my dream family car
The Americans and Germans know how to make nice cars
And we stepped off the escalator into a colorful tunnel sort of reminding me of the tunnel at DL's WorldGateway in DTW
Concourse C tunnel
We stepped into United's Concourse C, and it was definitely busier than Concourse B.
There were lots of heavies still parked at the middle C gates either preping for European adventures, or a flight to LAX. I snapped a few pictures of the flight to LAX.
Boeing 767-300 headed to LAX
After taking the pictures of the LAX bound 763, we headed up to Gate C28 were we presumed a United 737-500 would await us. The gate area wasn't to full. The aircraft was booked about 50%, and there were 11 passengers on stand-by for this flight.
4) United 561
I really like UA's new gate area boarding system
Our plane was to leave at 8:20pm, and at 7:48pm, 2 minute prior to boarding, I went to the window to catch a glimpse of our aircraft.
At 7:48pm, 2 minute before boarding was to begin
At 7:49pm, the gate agent went on the speaker to tell us she had no idea why the plane was not here, but she did know it was coming from the hangar. She informed us that when it pulled up to the gate, it would be empty and ready to board immediately. At that time, our TV displayed a 20 minute delay, with a new departure time of 8:40pm due to Aircraft Servicing. At 8:10pm, the new scheduled boarding time, this is what I saw out the window
My dad was starting to get mad because he was tired and ready to get home. The gate agent came over the speaker once again telling us the same thing a second time, and our flight was now delayed until 9:00pm. To make a long story short, at 8:45pm, our 737-500 pulled up to the gate.
Boarding started immediately, and we were in Seating 2, so we boarded rather quickly. I sat in my seat, 15F, put on my headset I paid $2 for earlier today in DFW from Delta, and was pleasantly surprised to hear ATC chatter. This might have made up for the delay. Once all passengers were boarded, the First Officer came over the speaker and told us she assumed they filled the fuel tanks at the hangar, but they weren't 100% sure. Her words were "We can't legally takeoff until we know how much fuel is in the fuel tanks, so we are having the tanks dripped right now to see how much is in there." I thought to myself, you can't morally takeoff until you know how fuel is the tanks. I thought it was a rather bad choice of words, but it was nice that they informed us. Finally at 9:15pm, 55 minutes after our scheduled departure time, we pushed for Gate Charlie 28, and made a very quick taxi to Runway 32L for an immediate departure.
My view from Seat 15F
After a bumpy takeoff, we turned directly south and headed towards STL. Service didn't start until we were southwest of STL at FL370. I would've taken a picture in the cabin, but it was too dark for any good pictures. I asked for my usual Sprite, and it tasted weird. The can had a different pattern than usual. I think it may have been a Sprite from Mexico. It tasted just like the one I had when I visited Mexico. It wasn't sweet enough, and it wasn't Sprite Zero. Anyway, it was a nice, quiet flight with a duration of 2 hours and 2 minutes, then longest of the day. We began our descent and we flew directly east of my house about 10 miles. It was cloudly so I couldn't see my house, but we flew over Frisco, Texas and Allen, Texas which are extremely close to where I reside. We flew south to Downtown Dallas then turned right and flew perpendicular to our landing runway, Runway 36L. We had a very quick taxi into Gate B28 in DFW, and deplaned very quickly due to the punctual DFW ground crew.
After seatbelt sign was turned off
A descent picture of one of the Susan Komen Cancer planes painted on AA and MQ aircraft
We obviously had no checked luggage, and we off the plane and in our car in 2 minutes flat.
Delta's Score: 9.5/10 just because I never give 100%
United's Score: 7.5/10 because the crew was rather rude, and we left ORD almost 1 hour after scheduled. Out of my last 5 flights on United, 3 have been delayed over 45 minutes! I won't hesitate to fly United again, they just need to work out some of the kinks.