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US,Nov13-4: San Diego-Midway, Chicago

 
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:17 pm    Post subject: US,Nov13-4: San Diego-Midway, Chicago Reply with quote

US,Nov13-4: San Diego-Midway, Chicago


This is Part 4 of a 5-part series, describing a Nov'13 US trip, to San Diego.
The other three parts are at the following URLs:
73. US,Nov'13-1: Tailwinds to the Windy City!
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic14179.html
74. US,Nov'13-2: Winds/Sands of Time..Windy City-Sandy Ego!
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic14198.html
US,Nov'13-3: Midway, from Midway, to USS Midway
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic14215.html
The URL for this trip report is:
http://www.airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/airlinersindia-ftopic14233.html

76.1 the long trek back...to Chicago
This would be just about the second time that I would do the
distance between an airport and a hotel, on foot.
Yes, I had one it in the opposite direction, on this trip itself.
That night, I had had a disturbed sleep,
waking up almost every hour, for me to again go back to a drowsy
sleep, an wake up again.
03:00 am.
The alarm went off, and I was up for good.
A bath and some last-minute packing later, I was ready to set out.
I had used my portable scales to check that my luggage was well
within the allowed weight limits.
Waking up early, and taking a bath are two events that heighten
the empty feeling in my stomach. It gets rather accentuated when they
happen in a cascade, one after the other.
I had stashed up some goodies for such moments.
I had a cereal bar, and an apple.
I strapped up my two check-in bags together, got my carry-on
cabin bag on my back, and checked out.
I headed out into the cool early San Diego morning.
I had my jacket on, but the exercise ensured that I would not
feel cold. This time, I gave McCain street a miss, and went in on
the main walkable entry to the airport, to reach Terminal 2. Volaris,
West Jet, Air Canada, British Airways and JAL were the
non-American international airlines serving the airport.
From here, I walked past a sleepy Terminal 2 to go to Terminal 1,
the Southwest terminal.

One cannot miss the replica of Charles Lindbergh's famous plane,
`The Spirit of St. Louis', the Ryan monoplane. Lindbergh used
this plane on his path-breaking non-stop flight from New York to
Paris, in 1927. The airport is named in honour of Lindbergh. The
plane was built in San Diego, hence the connection. The actual
plane is in the National Air And Space Museum in Washington DC.

There would have been some 10 people in
front of me, lining up for the check-in. I had come in in about
half-an-hour, just as Google Maps had foreseen.
It was quite some time before check-in agents came over.
For once, I was not subjected to secondary screening.
The security check over, I headed to the gates.
We were to board from gate 4. This area had very few gates,
circularly located close to each other. In typical Southwest fashion,
there were the boarding pillars with numbers mentioned on them.
The seating here was the usual cloth chair kind, but I was rather
happy to see even these chairs on the row just adjacent to the
wall, have power-ports between two chairs. It is nice that
Southwest gives a lot of importance to charging battery-based
devices for passengers! It was quite dark outside, and fog had
come in, in to this area, the previous night. The fog had not
lifted much, and apart from the parked planes right in front of
us, there was hardly any thing else visible.
Inside the terminal however, there were small snack joints,
which seemed to be well-patronised by the travelling public.
American spend most of their time eating, as I knew.
It was time to take out my emergency rations...another apple.
I devoured it with relish, as all these sights and appetising
smells all around me had got me hungry by then. Much to my
pleasant surprise, there was a free wireless Internet facility there.

Southwest offers a web check-in 24 hours prior to the flight.
I did not want to miss out on this after my first experience.
Neither did I want to miss out on the hotel's complementary
breakfast (which finished out quickly), the day before.
Hence, I noticed a few surprised faces in the tiny breakfast room, to
see me walking in with a laptop in hand. I quickly connected to
the WiFi, got to the site, and got a bummer, asking me to be
patient, and that the check-in would start 24 hours before the flight.
06:35 am.
I entered all my details in a jiffy, only to get a boarding
position of B-31. What? All this, in just a few milliseconds?
An airport check-in four hours before my onward flight had got me
C-18. And with less than a minute after the check-in time
started, I was er...`midway'. Wasn't I disappointed?

When boarding was announced, I saw that 31 would take pole position at
the start of the boarding class, from the left of the boarding
pillars. This was after A-1-30, A30+, and B-1-30.
I gave up all hopes of getting a window seat.
As I entered the aircraft, I took my laptop and camera out, so as
to quickly grab hold of a good seat, just in case there was one left.
A quick look around did not encourage me much.
The overhead bins had filled up very quickly as well.
I had made three enquiries at three inviting window seats, only
to be told that the seats had been taken. Those seats had been
`reserved' by passengers who had boarded earlier, waiting for
their companions who would come in later.
My eyes were constantly scanning the overhead bins, and window seats,
searching for empty spaces in both places.
My joy knew no bounds as I saw a window seat on the port side
empty, with the over-head bin only a third full.
My joy was quite short-lived, as I discovered that I had chosen
a seat on row A, which actually did not have a window beside it.
I would have a very limited view out of the window of the seat
in front of me, if I stuck my zoom lens out. The reader can gauge
my situation, with the little light coming in from the left, from in front.

The plane had been cleaned some time back, with water droplets
dotting even this very limited view.
I resigned myself to my fate, and looked around.

The plane was absolutely spic-and-span, with not even a single
grime mark visible anywhere. When I looked up at the bins above
me, it dawned on me that this was a very new plane, with the
Boeing SkyInteriors! There was a light blue mood lighting on, and
the new plane with its large Dream)liner-styled bins, LED
lighting, and light-and-air controls above the passenger, were
all the Dream)liner type, which was the Boeing signature `Sky Interior'.
It was my first ride on a Sky Interiored B738!


The captain made an appearance at the front of the cabin, took
the mic from the cabin crew announcement position, and announced
that we might have a slight delay. The oleo struts needed some
Nitrogen gas refilling, since this was a 100% full and a heavy
flight. As the Engineer came towards the forward door, the
captain again came on the intercom, and requested all of us to start
clapping as soon as the gentleman boarded the plane.
That was a nice move, and the Engineer was quite touched at the
gesture, as the whole plane clapped and cheered for him.
The flight time was announced as 03:30 hours.
We would take off along the runway 27, from the East, to the West.
We took a left turn over the ocean (from where I observed the USS
Midway among other interesting things.) Soon, we were headed
North-East towards our destination. From Midway airport Chicago,
the flight would continue to Cleveland, Ohio. Here is the
SouthWest logo, resplendent in a Boeing SkyInterior cabin, with the
morning light coming in from the right.


There was free LiveTV on board, courtesy Dish.
The speed was quite good.
The Internet speed would have been quite good too, since it
connected to the Southwest site in the twinkling of an eye.
However, I wished I could have said the same about the content as well.
There was a fair choice of programmes available on LiveTV.
I am not a big fan of American sitcoms (with a few notable exceptions),
and typical American-style news programmes, or `infotainment'
programmes, which got me a bit bored.
Finally, I settled for the live flight tracker, that tracked the
progress of the flight on a slider atop my browser screen.
This is quite interesting: Southwest do not have any in-flight
entertainment on their aircraft: no PTV screens, no audio jacks, no
drop-down monitors. They offer free LiveTV and paid Internet
and movie watch services on board, for compatible devices.

We went over some rather dry country, as we crossed the Arizona
arid zones, after coming from California.
Now, I opened the flight tracker feature, explicitly.
The ground speed was around 555mph, as per the indication.
We were cruising at about 35,000 feet.
I found this to be the most entertaining part of the programme offerings.

The reader can see a bit of the trip report itself being typed
out, on the screen of the Sony Vaio TZ VPCZ227GG, running Ubuntu.
This would be perhaps my last trip in which I would have Ubuntu
as my operating system on the laptop. I would shift to the more
stable Debian Wheezy, soon.

First, the drinks orders were taken.
I chose my favourite Orange Juice, as usual.
The big cardboard snack box came towards me,
and my hands brought out a packet of Nabisco Lorna Doone
shortbread crisps towards me.
They made their way down my oesophagus in no time at all.
Then came the OJ, and down it went.
It felt nice.
It would have been even nicer had the flight attendant explicitly
offered me a choice of the signature free snacks, a packet of
peanuts, or the pretzels. I remember that on the onward journey,
I had explicitly asked for them.

I had very high hopes about the LiveTV. I had seen the person
beside me watching some sitcom with a great deal of interest on
his mobile device, on my onward journey.
I was more interested in watching movies on my iris screen, with
my eyes closed. I had been too tired to stay awake.
I had got an email the day before, announcing that our flight
would have WiFi on board, and there would be free LiveTV.
I thanked my stars that I had an Air India single-pronged pair of
earphones (suitable for the Thales i3000 on the airline's narrow-bodies)
with me, which I could use to listen to programmes on my laptop.
I had muted the audio, packed in the earphones, and had tried to
watch some travel programmes, which I gave up, after a while.
There were too many advertisements, to cap the experience.

After a while, I couldn't take it any longer.
I saw a FA moving up the cabin, and explicitly requested her for
the Southwest peanuts. She smiled at me, and took a packet out
from her apron pocket, and handed it over to a very pleased Sumantra.
The honey roasted peanuts were quite good, though the quantity
left much to be desired.

Now, I was well prepared for a hearty lunch at my cousin's place in Chicago.

Soon, we crossed the city of Albuquerque, and I could see some
snow on the mountains. We were mid-way between La Madera and Sandia Heights.
I took a picture of some crop circles as we crossed Boise city,
in the Oklahoma area, while flying over the Great Plains.


I could not have enough of the Boeing Sky Interiors, on a B738.
Almost everything around gave me a feeling of being in a
Dream)liner, without actually being in it. Here are the overhead controls.

I find it quite ironical that I have flown on a Dream)liner many
more times than on a Boeing SkyInterior'ed B737. Till the time of
posting this trip report (February, 2015), this has been my only occassion.

As we went over Peoria, the FAs announced the gates for those
passengers who where connecting to other places from Chicago
Midway. The Captain made a feather-smooth touch down at Midway
airport on runway 31L (I guess it was that, I do not remember
that much about it). There was an impressive Volaris A319 nearby.


I began the long trudge from the gate,
to the baggage claim at the exit, just below the Southwest
airlines check-in level, where I had spent quite some time
before, on 05 November, when I was waiting to check in to my
flight for San Diego. As I approached the (wrong) belt, my Uncle
and cousin's husband were right there (at the correct belt)
to welcome me to the windy city.
``Ha, the last time you had come in dressed as Roald Amundsen,''
remarked my uncle, looking at my relatively light jacket, rather
apt for the kind of weather in Chicago, at that point in time.

The concluding part of this 5-part series will be the next one,
77. US,Nov'13-5: Haring back, Return from O'Hare
---
Links to my 76 trip reports:
https://sites.google.com/site/sumantratrip/


Last edited by sumantra on Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ameya
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the wonderful TR Sir.
Few comments
Isnt Spirit American ?
The picture of spicejet logo is also interesting was it also designed to resemble with all our hearts ? Wink
Very interesting TR !
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ameya Sir, thanks for the comments in spite of a very hard day at work, as you described it to me!
ameya wrote:
Isnt Spirit American?
Thank you for the correction: trust me to goof-up. Indeed it is the ultra-LCC, as they advertise.
ameya wrote:
The picture of logo is also interesting was it also designed to resemble with all our hearts?
That is a nice observation...I hadn't thought about the heart here, and that in the SG slogan!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great continuation, sir!
Your excitement with the first BSI flight reminded me of my first BSI flight in 2012, onboard VT-JFC. That was something I'll never forget Smile

Decent offering from Southwest, especially the flight tracker!

Good to see a fairly decent crew onboard!

Hmm, interesting that you flew on more B787s than BSI B737s. But that's obvious, isn't it? Razz

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4485
Location: New Delhi

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
Decent offering from Southwest, especially the flight tracker!
It was the only offering which was `watchable', and free! And we avgeeks love this part of the IFE, don't we?
jbalonso777 wrote:
Hmm, interesting that you flew on more B787s than BSI B737s
I guess I've been lucky Smile
Thanks a lot once again, Sir!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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stealthpilot
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Capt standing in front of the cabin and talking + asking everyone to clap, what fun. Only in America .... I mean that in a good way.
Thanks for writing.
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stealthpilot wrote:
Capt standing in front of the cabin and talking + asking everyone to clap, what fun. Only in America .... I mean that in a good way.
I'm sure you get standing ovations for your landings and plane handling, too! Thank you for the kind words, and reading this!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great TR Sumantra.

Good to see some write up on American LCC's specially Southwest who are know to be the "Baap" of all LCC's.

It has been a while since I have been to the US so your trip brings back memories of the US travels.

Does the new Boeing with sky interiors also have automated window shades like the dreamliners?

Thanks for posting.

Sri_Bom
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2015 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sri_bom wrote:
Good to see some write up on American LCC's specially Southwest who are know to be the "Baap" of all LCC's.
Ha ha! The American-style LCCs often give you better service (and miles!) than the legacy carriers, which are stingy with almost everything!
sri_bom wrote:
It has been a while since I have been to the US so your trip brings back memories of the US travels.
Thank you, Srinivas! After the Nov'13 trip, there was another in Aug'14, and there is another coming up in Apr'15. I hope to get through my backlog quickly: there was some frantic but exciting domestic wide-body flying in between as well!
sri_bom wrote:
Does the new Boeing with sky interiors also have automated window shades like the dreamliners?
No...the shades are the ordinary kind. I guess Boeing left out the window shades and the lavs for the Dream)liner alone. And on this trip, I did not even get the shades: I got a `non-window' window seat Sad
Cheers, Sumantra.
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