Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2145
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:40 am

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Contour Airlines is regional airline based in Tennessee with a small fleet of Embraer EMB-135s and Jetstream 31/32s linking between smaller cities and major cities. Its major routes including Macon and BWI, and Tupelo, Missouri and Nashville, and on the West Coast, it flies between Crescent City Del Norte Country Regional Airport and Oakland International. Santa Barbara is its latest West Coast destination, with daily flights to Oakland and five weekly flight to Las Vegas. The EMB-135s typically just sit in Oakland the whole day before flying back to Crescent City in the late afternoon. Soon the aircraft will fly six sectors five days a week. Contour Airlines is actually more like a boutique airline that targets smaller but well to do regional cities, and has basically taken a row off the EMB-135 to provide a comfortable 30 seats cabin. Each seat has at least 36 inches of legroom. Checked bags are included in the air fare. The service is personal and every one from check in agent to flight attendant is friendly and aims to know each guest well. I read about the Santa Barbara inaugural at airliners.net and happened to be free that day, so I decided to give it a try. While it was nothing like a JetBlue or Virgin American’s inaugural parties, there are more personal welcomes. CEO of Contour, Matt Chaifetz, was very hands on, and was ever serving passengers on the inaugural flight to Santa Barbara. I hope that their service to and from Santa Barbara will be a success.

Full Album link
http://s1213.photobucket.com/user/Carfi ... aInaugural

Check-in:
I arrived Oakland International Airport about an hour and forty-five minutes prior to departure.
Contour Airlines uses Terminal One, as expected.
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Its check-in counter hides behind Volaris, which only operates in the evening hours.
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Tammy was the agent working both the check-in desk and gate later. This kind of one-person show is fairly typical for this small regional airline operation.

Contour Airlines is part of the TSA Pre Program but you have to remind the agents to enter your Pass ID onto your record. You can’t do it when you book the ticket online.

It uses gate 5 most of the time, except when there are more than one Norwegian flights departing in the evening. The other gate they use is gate 12.

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N11526 is a former ex-United Express EMB-135LR and is mostly based in the West Coast. I presume that a second EMB-135 will somehow rotate in, especially these planes will work more flights. Contour has a quite number of EMB-135 regional jets and Matt, the CEO, said that they were trying to get more planes. With the major airlines retiring their EMB-135/145s, I can see them getting more planes.

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There was a small celebration at the gate with bottled water and cookies.
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Boarding began around 9:38am, and Contour Airlines’ CEO, Matt Chaifetz, was there welcoming all passengers and amall number of OAK guests. Matt was very friendly and professional, and was on this inaugural flight to Santa Barbara this morning.

Mr. Chaifetz was announcing the boarding for LF 3201.
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The load was a bit on the light side but typical for inaugural flights. Many passengers though were not aware that today was the first flight. They were pleasantly surprised.

As I said earlier, the cabin was reduced from 37 seats, a typical all-economy cabin configuration, to 30 seats, with ten rows of three abreast seats with 36 inches of legroom. It reminds me of JetSuite X’s cabin but Contour Airlines keeps the overhead bins, since it operates more like a commercial airline, rather than private jet.

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Best seat of the house is 1A with the unlimited legroom.
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1BC was not bad.
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Exit rows have a bit of extra legroom but since the average seat pitch is 36 inches, the exit row is not as important as other flights.

Regular seat pitch – 36 inches
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Even the last row was okay!
10A
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10BC
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Powerful AN AE3007/Rolls Royce AE 3007 turbofan engines
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Galley shots:
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Door was closed early at 9:49am and Oakland airport was not that busy at this time of the day.
We pushed back at 9:53am and headed towards R/W30 for takeoff.

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We were number one on queue for R/W30. We took off at 10:03am for a shorty forty-eight minutes flight to Santa Barbara with a cruising altitude of 25,000ft.

Beautiful day to fly…
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Golden Gate Bridge
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Contour Airlines offers complimentary non-alcoholic beverage and pretzel service for its normal flights. But today, there was sparkling wine and Bloody Mary offered too. Alcoholic beverages are provided for free too on the return flight. Mr. Chaifetz was helping Janine with the cabin service this morning.

I took a Mimosa.
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I love the napkin!
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Mini breakfast muffins were also offered too this morning. I was not sure if this was the normal service or not.
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Pretzels (Contour Airlines branded) were offered, too.
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Throughout the short flight, CEO Matt Chaifetz was in the aisle talking to passengers.
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From what I gathered, the flights were doing very well. These inaugural flights featured the lowest load this week and the flights to Las Vegas were doing very well. The Friday flight to LAS and Sunday return flight was already sold out.

Descent soon began at 10:36am.
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We landed on R/W25 at 10:51am.
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We got a real gate for this flight, as we parked at Gate 2 at 10:57am. It took a while for them to attach the jet bridge to the plane, but since we were early, nobody was in a rush.
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Once arrived, we got welcomed by local airport staffs with a gift bag.
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There was a small continental breakfast spread featuring these beautiful contour-decorated blue donuts and bottled water, juice and coffee. There were some local media interviewing passengers.
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I love these Contour-themed donuts!
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Gift bag
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Contour Airlines’ branded souvenir
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Some plane-spotting notes here:
Frontier A320 heading to Denver (they had just resumed service to Santa Barbara and don’t use those jet-bridge equipped gates)
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Our aircraft being towed to a nearby stand for the three hours rest in between flights, as other American Eagle and United Express flights use our gate.
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Santa Barbara Airport is quite a nice regional airport with a unique terminal building. It is a big more unique than your typical sterile looking airport terminal.
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Entrance
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Beautiful flowers decorated the building
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Contour Airlines check-in counter – all the way towards the end of the check in area
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Sign celebrating the new flight
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I headed to the downtown for an hour or so, since there was really nothing much going on at the airport. There was basically just one casual bar/eatery in both the public and restricted areas. The observation deck was cute but there was not much to see. Plus, it was very hot yesterday.
 
Carfield
Topic Author
Posts: 2145
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Thu Oct 18, 2018 12:41 am

So around 2pm, I was back at the airport and gate 2.
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Alaska Airlines’ daily 737 Seattle flight was pushing back from gate 3
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N11526 getting ready to head back to gate 2
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There was a small buffet table this afternoon for the inaugural back to Oakland. There were some nice sandwiches, along with cupcakes, along with bottled waters.
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I love the “Contour” branded cupcakes!
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I took a photo with Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz.
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Around 2:49pm, boarding began at Gate 2.
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Matt gave his welcoming but would not be flying the return to Oakland this afternoon.
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Final shots of N11526, which will most likely be the sole plane working these Santa Barbara flights.
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Thing went a bit slower on the return flight, as the ground staff was also learning its way too. There was a test flight the day before, but things ran a bit differently with passengers on board. I believe that they ran a test flight to Vegas today too before the formal inaugural flight tomorrow.

Matt and the station manager in SBA, Tammy…
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We pushed back at 3:08pm and took off from R/W25 at 3:17pm.
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The return flight took us over Gaviota, Las Cruces, Lompoc, and Santa Maria before reaching 28,000ft. Then we flew past Whitley Gardens, Fremont, and directly into OAK’s R/W30.

In-flight cabin was the same with leftover sandwiches offered from the buffet and alcoholic beverages were free.

Diet Coke
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Sandwiches – only for inaugural flights
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Pretzels were offered too but I declined.

I did not take many pictures before the sunlight did not work in my advantage for this segment.

We landed on R/W30 at 4:08pm after fifty-one minutes. We parked at gate 12 six minutes later.
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I spotted this Level’s A330-200 EC_MOY towing to gate for their departure to Barcelona. Level will move back to SFO at the end of the month, but I honestly have little interesting to fly Level at this time. The review is pretty bad.
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In conclusion, I wish Contour Airlines the best of luck and can’t wait to find out their next Californian focus city.
If you live in Santa Barbara, Contour Airlines is a very good option for you and the boutique airline experience is a bit different from the other two new entrant carriers, Frontier and Sun Country. It is not $49, but if you want more affordable flights out from Santa Barbara, please support Contour’s flight to Oakland and Las Vegas. The only way that these services can continue is to support the service.

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Thanks for reading!
Carfield

PS. More trip reports and inaugurals to come soon!
 
User avatar
jaybird
Posts: 293
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 4:23 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:10 am

Thanks! Great trip report - all the pix and information! :-)
 
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fleckenmann
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri May 27, 2005 2:10 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:24 pm

Very nice report. Would like to try that Airline Pretty soon….
 
wedgetail737
Posts: 4700
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2003 8:44 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:49 pm

Nice trip report. I flew on Contour about a month after they inaugurated the OAK-CEC service. I thought they were a good, little airline. I want to try the SBA flights soon!
 
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CollegeAviator
Posts: 416
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:05 pm

Great trip report, thank you so much for sharing this. Nice to get up close with the operations. Hopefully Contour are able to sustain their niche market in to the long term future as well...
 
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AirAfreak
Posts: 891
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:20 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:04 am

If Contour commenced Santa Barbara-Los Angeles & v.v. services, I would gladly fly them and visit Santa Barbara. The cabin space seems very comfortable for an E-Jet. How far is the city center from the airport and what are the public transport options besides the usual Uber, Lyft, and Taxi? Though I have lived here in Los Angeles for more than 18 years, I have yet to visit this part of California. Thank you again for sharing your review on this airline!
- Korean Air / Excellence in Flight.
 
Redwood839
Posts: 178
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:26 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:47 pm

AirAfreak wrote:
If Contour commenced Santa Barbara-Los Angeles & v.v. services, I would gladly fly them and visit Santa Barbara. The cabin space seems very comfortable for an E-Jet. How far is the city center from the airport and what are the public transport options besides the usual Uber, Lyft, and Taxi? Though I have lived here in Los Angeles for more than 18 years, I have yet to visit this part of California. Thank you again for sharing your review on this airline!


I think I walked downtown once after flying in from WHP. Maybe 20 mins?
 
wedgetail737
Posts: 4700
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2003 8:44 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:28 am

My thought is that Contour may go to SJC next...just my opinion.
 
cschleic
Posts: 1564
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2002 10:47 pm

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:29 pm

Redwood839 wrote:
AirAfreak wrote:
If Contour commenced Santa Barbara-Los Angeles & v.v. services, I would gladly fly them and visit Santa Barbara. The cabin space seems very comfortable for an E-Jet. How far is the city center from the airport and what are the public transport options besides the usual Uber, Lyft, and Taxi? Though I have lived here in Los Angeles for more than 18 years, I have yet to visit this part of California. Thank you again for sharing your review on this airline!


I think I walked downtown once after flying in from WHP. Maybe 20 mins?


SBA to downtown Santa Barbara is about 10 miles. 20 minutes driving makes sense; 20 minutes walking is impossible. Maybe it was Goleta, the actual location of the airport. There is city bus service to the airport.

Nice trip report with photos and details. Hopefully traffic remains sufficient to keep it going.
 
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twindocstravel
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:46 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Sat Nov 17, 2018 2:36 am

Interesting trip report, thanks for posting!
 
aviatelife1
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:19 am

Re: Contour Airlines' Santa Barbara Inaugural October 2018

Mon Dec 17, 2018 4:50 pm

I can't believe I just found this! I was there to spot the inaugural departure (I missed the arrival because of school). I tried to find myself in your shot from the runway, but I don't think your camera took a wide enough shot. Maybe you remember seeing me and my friend there or maybe you don't haha. Anyway, it must have been cool to take a double inaugural. Awesome and very detailed report!

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