This is part two of a two part series detailing my trip to Chicago for SHARES training. You can view part one here:
Going To Work For United! ATW-ORD On An ERJ (by KGRB Aug 20 2012 in Trip Reports)
During the first week of training, we learned some of the most important functions of SHARES, such as building a Passenger Name Record, checking people in, and charging ancillary fees. I also had a great time with my buddies from Appleton, but by the time Friday came around, everybody was ready to go home.
My class was over around 1:30 p.m. and since I had already checked out of the ALoft hotel, I headed straight for the airport. As the hotel shuttle approached the terminal, we were granted an awesome view of a LH
744 taxiing across the bridge above us. These are the moments in which you need to have a camera ready -- and with my luck, I never do.
Oh, well. I should see some more heavies today, right???
Friday, August 24, 2012
United Express (operated by ExpressJet Airlines)
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-145
From: Chicago O'Hare (ORD
), Terminal 2, Gate E3
To: Appleton, WI
), Gate 4
Departure (scheduled/actual): 5:55 p.m./6:09 p.m.
Arrival (scheduled/actual): 7:03 p.m./6:40 p.m.
The shuttle driver dropped me off in front of Terminal 1 and when I walked in, I was relieved to see a short line at the Economy counter. After a couple of minutes it was my turn to use a kiosk (although I could have easily checked myself in using SHARES
The machine spit out my boarding pass and an agent behind the counter asked me for my airline ID
and tagged my bag. I got in line at the security checkpoint and took in the scenery. How many airports have one of these???
lady asked me for an ID
and I whipped out my ATW
SIDA badge, just like I do every time I fly. She grunted at me and said it wasn't an acceptable form of ID
, since she's never seen an ATW
badge. I was astounded by this! Not only is it a government ID
, it's an ID
from a frickin' airport! Not wanting to make a scene while representing my company, I complied with her moronic demands and pulled out my Wisconsin driver's license. I guess she's seen one of those.
This is where my screening experience gets really embarrassing. At the X-ray machine a TSA
officer asked "Who's bag is this?" and I told him it was mine. He pulled out a can of beer and said it wouldn't go through (obviously). In my haste to pack up my hotel room at five in the morning, I put it in my carry-on instead of my checked bag. Not only should I know better than to bring a liquid through the checkpoint, it was an alcoholic beverage nonetheless! I told him to throw it away and began walking to my gate.
The FIDS listed it as E3
, so I had to go over to Terminal 2. Going from T1 to T2
is like going from Ruth's Chris to McDonald's. Actually comparing the terminal to Mickey D's is giving it too much credit -- it's an outdated, cramped, ugly facility. But it did have one thing going for it -- Mad Dogs!
What can I say? I'm a Delta guy at heart.
US Airways also serves Terminal 2 and I watched one of their A320s arrive from PHX
. This flight turns around and then goes back to PHX
, with a tag-on to SAN
Now this is a rare sight -- battleship UA
and new UA
With plenty of time before boarding, I decided to do some more walking and since I hadn't seen much AA
on this trip, meandered over to Terminal 3. On the way there I found this cool indoor garden on the mezzanine.
I need this sign for my apartment!
In case you can't tell already, I love these beasts from Long Beach.
This is the spot of many a precious family photo, I'm sure. Since I didn't have my family traveling with me, here's some random people instead.
-80 was going to AUS
Finally! Some more heavy action.
An hour before my scheduled departure, I decided it was time to return to my gate. A flight to GRB
was boarding when I showed up. UA
really likes to group the Wisconsin flights together. When I arrived at ORD
last week, ATW
bags were on the same carousel as MSN
My ERJ-145 arrived from CHS
and the gate agent drove the jet bridge over, revealing one of the few remaining tulip signs at ORD
(although there are still a good amount of tulips on GSE
Boarding commenced and this group of experienced travelers boarded properly by group. Groups 6 and 7 were called and I approached the podium. The friendly gate agent noticed my airline badge and asked me if I was working for UA
. I explained that my company was taking over the UA
contract next month and he welcomed me to the United family. What a kind gesture!
When I stepped aboard the plane, I saw a teenage girl sitting in my seat, 11A. I didn't know what to say, so I simply said, "Hello?"
She replied, "Oh, are you sitting here?"
When I told her "yes," she got up and moved. Maybe I'm nitpicking here, but I think it's a bit rude to just sit in someone else's seat before boarding is even done. This isn't Southwest. She moved over to the exit row, so she came out ahead anyways. I just wasn't about to give up my 'A' seat. That's the best part about flying on the ERJ!
Unlike the ERJ on my first leg, this aircraft featured a row of gray seats, after every three rows of blue seats. I figure this a holdover from the Continental Express days, but does anyone know why they did this? To the average passenger, it must look like they just forgot to replace the seats in a few rows.
A company ERJ-145 parked next to us at E2B.
The engines were started during push back and as soon as the tug was disconnected, we powered out. It appears that we were leaving in between banks, because I saw very little UA
metal during our taxi.
compound at ORD
I apologize for the poor quality of these photos. My window looked like someone took a piece of sandpaper to it!
After waiting for an American Eagle ERJ to land on an intersecting runway, the Rolls Royce/Allison turbofans spooled up and we bolted down the runway.
There's my hotel! (The U-shaped building below the parking garage).
We hugged the Lake Michigan coastline much of the way up to ATW
, before turning west over Milwaukee. The fasten seat belt sign remained on and the captain announced it would be 11 minutes until arrival.
This did not stop the FA
from going around and offering cups of water to everyone on board. I have been on much longer flights with no drink service and I was very thirsty at this point, so I was extremely impressed.
I noticed that my seat mate across the aisle had a few Lufthansa postcards (two of a 747-8i and two of an A380). I asked him about his trip and he explained that he's from Dusseldorf and flying to ATW
as part of a student exchange program with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. We had a nice conversation about his journey, planes, and my job -- and he gave me two of his postcards. I felt bad taking a souvenir from his trip, but he insisted. I thanked him and wished him good luck on his stay in Oshkosh.
The Embraer descended over Lake Winnebago, offering us spectacular views of the sunset's reflection on the water.
The Wis. Hwy. 441/Roland Kampo Bridge in Menasha. That body of water is Little Lake Butte des Morts, which connects Lake Winnebago with the Fox River.
Landing was smooth on Runway 30 and after a short taxi we were marshaled into Gate 4. Allegiant's MD
-80 from LAS
was next to us on Gate 6 and because of this, we parked on a diagonal set of lines that are actually closer to the unused Gate 2, but that the Gate 4 jet bridge can reach.
This is what happens when you walk and take a photo at the same time.
I exited the sterile area and my girlfriend, Ruby, ran up to me and gave me a huge hug & kiss. We walked over to baggage claim and my bag was second out of the chute. UA
employees taking care of me again!
After a short stay in Appleton over the weekend, it was time to go back down to Chicago for my second week of training on Sunday. I don't think I'm going to write a report on that leg of the trip because, A) it was uneventful, B) I didn't get many photos, and C) it's the same aircraft type and route you've already read about.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed part two of my trip and I look forward to hearing your questions and comments!