Winnipeg to Orlando - Trying out the new United
I was presented with an opportunity to attend a major IT conference in Orlando. As I haven't been on any training lately, I used this opportunity to escape the cold climate of Winnipeg and take in a few days of sunshine and humidity of central Florida. All the talk around town is the snow, rain, and impending flood, so this would be a nice break from reality, and a great learning week!
Originally, my work booked this flight for me back in January. Originally, I had asked to be routed through Denver on United, simply because I have heard so many people being delayed or having issues going through Chicago. The fact I got a few extra Aeroplan miles didn't hurt either. So, all was set for me to leave April 9th, at 6:00am to Orlando via Denver.
Fast forward two months, and things had changed slightly. There was a volunteer event that I normally helped out at occurring April 9th, one week later than normal. I asked my work if they could move my flight 1 day ahead so I could still attend the event. Apparently, it was going to cost $600 to make the change, so that was a definite 'no!'
Fast forward to April 7th, and I still wanted to try to move my flight. So, this time I called the travel agent directly and inquired into the cost of moving ahead 1 day. I noticed that the fare was still the same as I paid, so I had some hope. My travel agent informed me it was be about $191 to make the deal. As this fit my budget of $200, we made it happen.
Having moved my arrival ahead by a day, I had to change my car and hotel reservations. This wasn't too hard to do, and soon everything was set.
Saturday came around, and I checked in. I could see that the flight to Winnipeg-Chicago was about half full, and the Chicago-Orlando was completely full. I was thankful I had paid the extra $50 for Economy+!
The volunteer event was a huge success, but exhausting. I had to pack my bags, and make sure I had everything. Most importantly, the passport. Everything else I could buy once I got there. Being a busy day, I was in bed early. This was okay, as I had to be up for 4am for my 6:30am flight.
Also, for this trip, I was going to try and travel as lightly as possible. That included the technology aspect as well. No digital SLR for taking pictures, or laptop for notes. Only my iPod Touch and iPad.
April 10th-Winnipeg James A. Richardson International
I woke up at 4am, and my brother in-law picked me up for 4:30am. My flight left at 6:14am, so it gave me plenty of time to get to the airport. I arrived at about 5:00am, and proceeded to grab some breakfast.
This is a $13 breakfast at 5:00am. I regretted eating this for the rest of the morning
Looking out over the Air Canada Arrivals area
Behind the stores on the second level...Notice the dirty/mouldy ceiling
Looking out over the Westjet Arrivals area
Fuzzy departures board.
Looking over the tarmac from the observation deck
About 5:30am, I proceeded to Transborder security and United Checkin. The United/Delta transborder checkin area looks like one of the more modern areas of the airport, but that myth is quickly dispelled once you go behind the doors. It is a dungeon/cave. Low ceilings, dark colours are the norm until you get on the plane. There are very few windows to look out of, and the boarding area is quite small. This is one area that WILL be vastly improved when the new terminal opens in October.
United 6757 - YWG-ORD
ETD: 6:14AM ATD: 6:14AM
ETD: 8:44AM ATA: 8:10AM
Boarding started at 6:05, and we pushed back right on time. The load factor was about 50%, and the seat next to me was empty. This was a good thing, as I HATE CRJs with a passion. The seats on these damn planes are awful. I find Dash-8s waaaay more comfortable than these pencil-tubes of hell. Thankfully, the empty seat made the flight bearable.
Takeoff from YWG to ORD
We took off of runway 18 a few minutes after pushback, and proceeded southeast to Chicago. The $13 breakfast I had was rolling in my stomach at this point. I didn't think I was going to lose it at any point, but I certainly regretted eating that awful wrap. Thankfully, my stomach settled down by the time we started out descent into ORD.
We started to descent at about 7:45am, and touched down at about 8:00am. We were out of the airplane at 8:10am, and I was about to enjoy my first visit to Chicago O'Hare.
Landing at ORD from YWG
I was very impressed with Chicago. I had to change terminals from 2F to 1C for my connecting flight. I could ride on the shuttle between those two terminals all day long watching the planes. It is sooooo close to the planes, they smell of jet fuel/exhaust.....Ahhhhhh! Unfortunately, some of the older passengers were having troubling carrying their carry-ons up and down the stairs (and the airport staff seemed less concerned for helping them), so I could see why people don't find it convenient. I loved it, and want to do it again.
Once in terminal 1, I walked around just to take in all of the airplanes, destinations and people. You get a sense of just how awesomely huge O'Hare airport is just watching the people and plane activity. It is truly magnificent!
My only gripe with the airport is the utter lack of device recharging stations/wall plugs. People will squat in the middle of nowhere just to use a plug in to recharge their iPod/iPhone/Cell/laptop/iPad. Also, it seems like they made sure most of wall outlets were so loose that your chargers always fall out. It would be really, really handy to having recharging stations available (like they do in MCO?!?!?) My iPod was getting a little low on juice from recording the take-off and landing, so I needed to recharge it.
After FINALLY finding a semi-stable wall plugin, I was able to recharge my iPod, and go to gate 1/C15 for my 757-200 flight to MCO.
United 206 - ORD-MCO
ETD: 9:40AM ATD: 9:50AM
ETD: 13:01PM ATA: 12:50PM
UA206 was 100% full. I was, again, very happy that I bought the economy plus upgrade, as the extra space was well worth it. It happened to be, though, that my seat was positioned in such a way that I had to look behind me to look out the window. This was going to make recording the take-off and landing difficult! I managed to get them anyways, but it wasn't my best work.
Take-off from ORD to MCO
Once we took off, I put on channel 9 and drifted to sleep. Listening the ATC is cool, especially during the flight level changes, or traffic alerts. Every airline should have a channel 9!
The 4am wake-up had finally caught up with me. I slept for pretty much the whole flight, and woke up just as we started to descent from our cruise of 37,000.
We landed about 20 minutes early, and I was glad to hear the temperatures were in the 90s (much warmer than the 30s (2 Centigrade) that I left back home. We taxied for about 10 minutes to gate B40, and disembarked. The heat hit you right away, and it felt great!
Landing at MCO from ORD
The conference was utterly fantastic in Orlando. I made a ton of contacts, and learned a ton. After 4 days of conference, it was time for me to head back to thawing homeland in Manitoba. That will be part two, which I hope to write in the coming days.
Thanks for taking the time to read!
[Edited 2011-07-28 22:35:11]