Saturday, November 24, 2012

Travel weekend: Sacramento on United

I went to Sacramento for about 40 hours two weekends ago. I left work at about 2:15pm on Friday afternoon and headed to LAX. I didn't hit much traffic at all considering it was a three-day weekend and I arrived at  LAX around 3:00pm. I had prepaid reservations to park my car at the Hilton LAX which in my opinion is one of the best deals for parking at LAX. You can either self-park or do valet and if you book 2 weeks in advance, then you get even more of a discount. It is cheaper than the economy lot that is run by LAX and the parking is all indoors. When I arrived at the Hilton there was a giant crowd of people dressed up like Japanese comic book characters. They looked like they belonged in Harajuku in Tokyo. It was odd. It turns out that it was some expo the entire weekend. I paid to self-park and I ended up circling the underground lots for about 20 minutes and never found a spot. I then proceeded to the overcrowded valet and waited to have my car parked. I thought that I was going to miss my flight because I still needed to take the shuttle to the terminal. The hotel was so crowded that it wasn't possible for the shuttle to get through the valet area. A hotel employee told the gathered crowd waiting for the shuttle to head toward a different hotel entrance to wait for the shuttle there. By this time it was about an hour until my flight was departing. I started thinking about what was going to happen if I did miss the flight. I arrived at Terminal 6 for the Premier check-in area for United and luckily there was no line at all and I had 45 minutes until my flight left. I am now a member of the TSA precheck program and it changed my life. I didn't need to take off my shoes, or take out the liquids, or even take anything out of my pockets. It was just like the good old days. I had to walk all the way to the gates at terminal 8 and all the way down to the end. 

I waited at the gate for about 5 minutes before we started boarding. My flight was on a CRJ 700 on United Express. The flight was completely full and we left the gate on time. Our flight went all the way to the other side of the airport to use the runway and along the way I got a really good view of the progress of the international terminal which looks awesome with several gates large enough for multiple A380s to park. 
By the time we took off it was dark and I didn't take any more pictures. The flight time was just under an hour and we flew right up the center of the state. The service included only a drink. While descending into Sacramento, we passed the airport and made a u-turn right onto the runway.
Two days later I found myself back at the Sacramento airport. My flight was supposed to leave at 10:40am with a stop in San Francisco. When I checked into the flight on the kiosk, it offered me an earlier flight for no extra charge. It offered me a nonstop to LAX leaving 5 minutes later, but arriving 2 hours earlier, so I changed it. This is a shot of my plane, another CRJ 700, before boarding.

Once again the flight back down the state was about an hour with just a drink. We flew right down the center of the state and right over Oxnard and Malibu, then turned inland, then a u-turn back towards LAX. We parked back in terminal 8 and I only needed to wait a few minutes for the bags to come out. I then waited about another 20 minutes for the Hilton shuttle to pick me up. The nice thing about doing the valet parking at the LAX Hilton is that you can text them your ticket number and they bring out your car so that it's there by the time you arrive from the shuttle. It's the best deal in town and much more convenient than the LAX economy lot and cheaper. Other hotels in the area do this too, but I like the Hilton. 

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