Instead of including pictures to the a.net database, I am including a link to my flickr page. There are some Denver pictures as well as northern Minnesota.
Frontier Flight #558
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Airbus A319 - N943FR
"Cloe The Deer Fawn"
Photo © Matthew C. Lyons
Ironically, this is the first time in my life that I have proof that I have been on the exact same plane twice - I flew Cloe in 2006! Even more ironic, it was the same route, but on a different segment (DEN-MSP).
There had been a mild Santa Ana condition in southern California that week, and when we arrived at the airport around 9:00 AM it was almost 70 degrees. We were dressed in long sleeves and had placed our heavy jackets in mom's carry-on suitcase - and we were SO glad we did!! But more on that in a bit...
This was my first trip since the airlines have started charging $15 for a checked bag, and we checked just one. Mom had her purse and a small carry-on suitcase (actually smaller than the maximum would allow) that we put a change of clothing in just in case our checked bag was re-routed, and I had a book bag (similar to the size of her purse). Again, more on this in a bit...
We requested emergency exit row seating, and the agent assured us that they were available...and then proceeded to give us boarding passes for the original seats!! This was NOT a problem, but what was she thinking?
Security at SAN is as humorless as it gets, but they were efficient and quick. Once through, we started reading our books (our favorite thing to do on a trip!), and when Cloe pulled up, I remarked to mom that I had flown this plane before!
Boarding is as insane on Frontier as it is on any other airline, and now with people trying to avoid the cost of checking a bag, overhead bin space is STRICTLY monitored to ensure that bin hogs do not take more than their share.
I feel SO very sorry for the poor flight attendants that must monitor every single passenger and what they put in the overhead bin...there were repeated announcements to "put ONLY one large bag per passenger in the bin - keep everything else with you until after loading".
Then, and only then, if there was room, could jackets go up out of the way.
Most people had to keep their jackets on their laps. Fortunately, our jackets fit in the carry-on suitcase. Considering that Frontier has the stuffiest airplanes I have ever seen - there was almost NO circulation - we were SO glad we weren't suffering like many other passengers throughout our trip.
I know the $15 fee is here to stay, and it is a "revenue enhancer", but when one looks at the length of time it took to load the plane, this can't be good for any airline's on-time record or airplane usage. Just my two cents.
We arrived at DEN right on time after an uneventful flight, and exiting the plane took just as long as getting on. A pain in the @$$, but that's not my decision to make.
This was my mom's first trip to the new DEN, and she was rightfully impressed with the entire operation. I took her up to the airbridge and we watched planes pass underneath. By the way, that is a MUCH tougher thing to do than one might think - the moving sidewalk blocks the way.
We had lunch at a restaurant called "Mesa Verde" on the upper level of Terminal A. Quite good, but avoid the pork. The steak was delicious, and the grilled romaine lettuce salad is VERY interesting, but the blooming onions are weak.
Frontier Flight #100
Airbus A319 N918FR
"Jake the White Tail Deer"
Photo © Wongwei
How ironic that a trip to Minnesota at the start of hunting season began with two airplanes with deer on them...
Boarding was the same laborious process. This is going to be the norm from now on.
As with the first flight, there were no empty seats. Ventilation was fine after the plane departed, but beforehand? Everyone was feeling smothered.
I was disappointed that the "flight tracker" system that used to be available for all passengers is now not included. However, advertisements are on the entire time, and cannot be turned off.
As for all that complaining about being stuffy? All gone once we arrived at MSP and walked off the plane...it did feel good for a second, then that cold just went RIGHT through us!!
No matter what one thinks of the set-up of MSP, it is incredibly well marked. Minnesotans know how to put up signs. Mom had never been, but she remarked that it was easy to find the way to the rental car locations. There was only one other customer at Hertz, and we were in our Grand Marquis quickly and then up I-35E (to I-35 North) to Barnum, home of the Paul Bunyon statue.
"Oh, gosh, it's just kinda started to get cold" - oh, yeah, you betcha...Sunday had a 20+ mile-per-hour wind that certainly dropped the temperature below zero farenheit. Monday was cloudless and beautiful, and we took a drive to Duluth harbor.
Here's what I can't figure out: I have been to Duluth many times in July (my annual trip), and it has always been cold, cloudy, windy, and Lake Superior always has been as choppy as the Pacific Ocean during a typhoon. Today, in mid-November, it was bright, sunny, warm, and the lake was as placid as an empty bathtub.
Tuesday we drove back in the morning and it started to "snow". Well, a few flakes tried. About halfway back (Rush City is my usual coffee stop - if you are driving I-35 north of the Twin Cities, you MUST stop at Holiday travel plaza. The BK coffee is terrific!!) the snow turned to rain. It rained all the way back, but it wasn't bad.
This was my first trip over the new I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. Very well done.
We had lunch with a buddy of mine at the Mall Of America so mom could see it (and my buddy works close to it), and because it's so close to MSP. After lunch, we returned the car and checked in for the return flight.
Frontier Flight #107
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Airbus A319 N934FR
"L.G. The Lynx Cub"
Photo © Tim Samples
Once again, we were SO glad our jackets fit in the carry-on bag...
This was my first time to be de-iced!! Of course it was well done - who knows more about dealing with ice and snow than Minnesotans? We were in adjoining aisle seats with an okay view of the wings, so we saw part of the process. The downside to all of this was the weak ventilation coming from the overhead vents was turned off during the de-icing, so poor ventilation went to no ventilation for a few minutes. Once completed, though, everything came back on, and we were fine. Take off was one runway 12R (as was our arrival), and the flight to DEN was just fine.
This time we ate dinner at Chef Jimmy's Bistro & Spirits - this time the food was INCREDIBLE!! Mom and I both had soup - tomato bisque and broccoli cheese - and I had the Kung Pao salad. Beautiful greens and vegetables with udong noodles, and the dressing had quite a zing to it. Chef Jimmy's is very highly recommended!!
Frontier Flight #551
Airbus A319 N946FR
"Perry The Puffin"
Photo © John R. Beckman
This flight departed from gate A52, which is at the very far end of Terminal A. Unintentionally, mom gave me a great "Airplane!" moment as we watched the plane taxi in...
"Surely the pilot can't make that sharp turn!!"
Okay, you see it coming?
"Yes he can...and don't call me Shirley".
She just rolls her eyes.
Once again we were in adjoining aisle seats, but a young marine was in a middle seat next to mom, so we switched and mom took the middle and he got an aisle seat. I told the flight attendant that if he wanted something "premium", to let me know and I would pay, but he was in uniform and couldn't consume alcohol.
By the way, bless his heart, this guy could NOT put down his phone!! He was texting the entire time from when he sat down to the time we pushed back from the gate...then he called someone and talked while we were taking off!! So yes, Virginia, cell phones do work when the plane is taking off...about two minutes after take-off, though, I think he lost the call, because he hung up. I thought about saying something, but honestly I wanted to see how long the call would last!!
We arrived in San Diego a bit early, and oddly enough, this can be a problem...I guess the ground handling is shared by several other airlines, because our checked luggage had to wait for the previous flight's bags. Six carousels, but only one was operating. However, my bag made it safe and sound...
When I picked up my bag, I discovered someone had written on my tag "CLOWN" in big letters. Perhaps if that made some phallically-challenged nobody feel like a "big man", well, it's only a bag tag. Nothing was stolen, although there wasn't anything in there but dirty clothes.
To sum it up - the trip was fine. We got our basic transportation, and nothing else. My trip this summer on Frontier felt much "happier", I guess - maybe it was just the negative energy at boarding and unboarding I was sensing from passengers and crew, but the smiles I remember from the flight crews in July just weren't there this time. Understandable, but still a bit sad.
If you've made it this far, I thank you for reading!!