Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quick weekend to San Francisco on United

I took a quick Saturday to Monday trip to San Francisco. This was the same trip that was related to my previous rental car post. My flight was scheduled to leave Orange County (SNA) at 11:50am. I spent a little bit of time at the tiny United Club before going to the gate to board the plane.

The United Club is located right above the new Ruby's Diner in what used to be the center of the terminal. Now that there is an extension to the south side of the terminal, it is no longer in the very middle of the terminal. This was the view I had.

I took my seat in the exit row with loads of legroom and two windows. So I was a very happy camper. This flight was on a 757 and it was pretty full for a Saturday. There was once a time when traveling on Saturdays was the best because the flights were empty. I can't remember the last time I was on an empty-ish flight recently.

When it was time to leave the gate there was a little problem. The spoilers wouldn't go down from the previous landing. I think it was the ones on the other wing because the ones on this wing were going up and down and they kept testing them for a long time. They delayed our flight for about an hour. Then when we were supposed to get going at the new scheduled time, the captain said they were going to do more tests and let the mechanics on board again. At this point there was a little bit of unrest because many people were having connecting flight issues. So they made an announcement of certain flights and removed some people from the flight. They also added some people to the flight eventually. So another 30-40 minutes goes by and we were finally on our way.

As always, the flight up the coast to San Francisco was just over an hour. It had been almost a year since I've flown through SFO and saw the makings of a new control tower being built by the newly renovated terminal 2.

In the United terminal (terminal 3) there is a really long hallway to get to the baggage claim and the rest of the terminal. They always have some kind of art exhibit and this time it was "Toys of Japan". Of course there were Hello Kitty items, but these caught my eye because these were ones I had as a kid. I'm almost certain that I got them in Hawaii when I was really young because they sold Japanese toys there that weren't available in California. 

This one is Kikaida, which was my favorite. I had the doll and I loved watching the TV show too. This I know for sure was only in Hawaii.

So after being almost 2 hours delayed, I needed to get to my rental car. This is a shot of the Air Train that takes you to the rental car center. It was very windy and a little cool. 

The train goes right by the international terminal G gates and there are always jumbos parked there.

Two days later it was time to go back home. I arrived at the airport several hours early so I decided to go to one of my favorite places to watch planes. There is a completely unobstructed view of both runways at SFO. Here is a nice shot of an Air France A380.

After watching planes for a little while I put gas in my car at the Costco just north of the rental car center and returned the car. Taking the Air Train back to the airport you get to pass the A gates of the international terminal on the opposite side of the airport. This British Airways 747-400 had just arrived.

This flight back to Orange County was from the international terminal G gates, which was a treat for me since I had never been in that terminal before. My A320 came from Cabo San Lucas, hence why it parked at the international terminal. 

For dinner, I had an overpriced salad from Il Fornaio in the international terminal. I sat right by the window above this nice looking Swiss A340. 

Thankfully this flight was on time and I had the bulkhead seat 7A which is my favorite bulkhead seat because there is actually room for a bag by your feet. Most bulkhead rows require you to put your bag up in the overhead bin, but not on United A319s and A320s. That's a nice little secret. This return flight was just over an hour again and I was home before I knew it. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Recent Trip to Madison, WI

Here is a quick report from my recent trip to Madison for a conference. I had never been there before and the cold weather was shocking to my system. This is my 737 at Orange County airport that took me to Chicago.
My seat, 10C, had nice legroom in the economy plus section, but there was no window, which is torture for someone like me who likes to look out the window. On long flights I like to sit on the aisle though, hence why I sat on the aisle this time.
I had not been in United's terminal B in a million years and it looks just like terminal C, but it's more narrow. I ate lunch at Wolfgang Puck's here in terminal B.
Afterwards, I went to terminal C where my gate was. This is a shot of the psychedelic moving walkway complete with music.
My flight from Chicago to Madison was 28 minutes long. The flight was on a CRJ 700 so it wasn't the smallest plane. I was in the first row of economy and had a ton of legroom. The flight was so short that there was no service besides cups of water. The flight was so short, it was kind of ridiculous. 
Approaching Madison, there were lots of frozen lakes everywhere. Ugh!
I stayed at the Hilton Monona Terrace that is directly connected to the convention center seen in this picture. My conference was located there and it was nice not to have to wear my winter coat to the conference. A frozen Lake Monona is also seen here. It almost looks like a desert. 
Having spent 5 days near this frozen lake, I completely understand why people want to walk on top of these. But it's always the ones that go wrong that end up on youtube. There were a bunch of people on the lake fishing and skating. It's a foreign experience for a California native like me. 
Here is a shot of my plane on the return to Chicago. It was a gorgeous day and it might have reached the 50's, which was a welcome treat after several days in the 30s. 
I was actually upgraded to first class on this 28 minute flight. It was nice to have a large seat and my choice of drink, even though I ordered water. I think there was actually less legroom than the first row of economy.
This was my seat 7C on the return flight to Orange County from Chicago. There was a lot of legroom and my TV was on the wall, but I didn't use it at all though. 
Here is my view into the first class cabin. Unfortunately my dinner consisted of some overpriced chicken wrap that wasn't that great. 
All of these flights were uneventful and they really flew by because I was so enthralled in the book I was reading.