Honeymoon – Final Day – Bye Bye Sunshine

I can’t believe this trip is almost over. Today is our final day and we fly home at 545pm this afternoon. Although I will be happy to be flying again, I am sad that it is all over and we have to go home :(  we both want to stay down here and keep having fun. The last few days have been a blast.

The time in Anaheim was great. Although we were not staying as close to Disneyland as we could have, it was still a good location. The Radisson Suites Buena Park was right next to Medieval Times (no we didn’t go) and surrounded by restaurants & shops. We were also about 500m to Knotts Berry Farm. Can’t complain about that right? The hotel wasn’t bad and had decent sized rooms. We really only stayed there to be close to Disneyland and it was only a 10 minute drive away.

Ahh Disneyland, what can I say about you. I had a blast acting like a 4 year old all day. We both got into the swing of things and at the suggestion of the ticket agent we went to guest services to get a celebration badge (we actually got 3 of them) and for the rest of the day we got many congratulations for our wedding. It was odd yet awesome. The rides were good and we didn’t have that much of a wait for anything. Longest wait for a ride was maybe 20 minutes if that. The longest wait we had all day was for Heidi to meet Thor. Yep, not even as long as for the mandatory Mickey visit (which was funny and a whole different story). Once we finally got into visit Thor, Heidi was star struck (and it wasn’t even the real Thor), she couldn’t speak.

Disneyland was fun but I am never going on Space Mountain again….. EVER! I just don’t like that ride, it is horrible! I would be ok with the roller coaster if it was light but in the dark my body (and mind) just couldn’t handle it. Not doing that again. O and I almost puked on the tea cups, so that was worth it!

We also headed down to Long Beach to catch up with a friend (hey Brett!) and also check out the Queen Mary. We didn’t do a tour as the prices are extortionate, but it was good to see the ship that my Grandfather came home on from Africa, during World War II. The boat is so small in comparison to others yet was one of the biggest of the time. I don’t know if that is a sad thing or a good thing.

We headed out to the Ontario (California) area so that we could spend some time with Heidi’s best friend Sylvia. It was good to catch up with her & finally meet her husband. I hear so much about them both so it was good to spend some time with them. We took some time out yesterday and headed to Santa Monica & Venice beaches. Santa Monica felt super touristy & posh and Venice was just weird. Although I don’t normally like touristy places all that much, I would take Santa Monica any day of the week. Venice was just an absolute clusterfuck. It was just amazing that people could live in that area with how bad the traffic, parking & overall stupidity of California drivers (that part deserves a post on its own).

We finished off our honeymoon by retracing the steps I took to head out to Vegas almost two weeks ago. Cruising down the 105 towards LAX really added to the fact that it was coming to an end. We had a good final couple of donuts, a last lunch at In n Out & then it was time to drop off the car.

Sitting here in Terminal 5 at LAX I am sad to be heading home. I wish we could keep going but it is back to reality.

Current Location: Gate 52A LAX Terminal 5
States Visited: 3
Miles Driven: 2000 miles
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 8
Cookies Eaten by Mal: 38

Honeymoon Day 8 – A Graveyard of Sorts

Tucson was fun, much better than I thought it would be. Our time there was Heidi’s idea from the start and to be honest she handled it like a trooper. She treated her avgeek husband like you would expect in this situation. You let him go and say yes dear a lot.

We spent the last two nights in Tucson at the Country Inn & Suites by the airport. Why that one? Well we were using the mountain of Club Carlson points I have and the card offers the 2nd night free on a stay, so for very little we could get a free stay. It wasn’t bad but our check in was comically bad. 3 rooms till we got one that was acceptable. It was like Goldilocks, the first room had a broken shower curtain rod, the 2nd reeked of cigarettes (non smoking hotel as well) the third was just right (and by just right I mean we could live with it). Breakfast at the hotel was basic (but they couldn’t make oatmeal to save their lives) but tasty enough. Nothing really to complain about for the price we paid.

The main reason we went to Tucson was to visit The Boneyard. I will cover more in the airlinereporter pieces about them specifically but we had fun, PIMA was great and they had way more planes than I expected. It was heaps of fun and Heidi wasn’t totally bored.  Great spotting as A-10s were always climbing out of Davis Montham (even managed to see a couple of F-16s doing touch & go’s at the main Tucson airport).

Tucson was a good break for us. We could settle in for 2 nights and relax.  The weather was nice (70s during the day) and we thawed out after the Canyon & Sedona. We also caught up with some friends of Heidi’s (well her best friends in laws) for dinner. It was apparently the birth place of the Chimichanga although I was to scared to try one (who deep frys a burrito… Seriously!). We even found a really cool ice cream shop that had old school sundaes (although as usual I chose wrong & ended up with something smaller than I wanted… Typical).

We rolled out of Tucson early this morning as the sun rose. A lot of highway ahead of us as we cruise along I-10 heading to Anaheim. Tucson was a great stop & one that I enjoyed. We will probably go back some time, there is more I want to see around that area, a good way to escape I guess.

Current Location: I-10W, Mile Marker 70, La Paz County Arizona.
States Visited: 3
Miles Driven: 1369m
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 5
Cookies eaten by Mal: 35

Honeymoon Day 6 – Being Shown the Kimpton Love

I hadn’t intended on giving Sedona it’s own post, it was an in between stop for us.  A stop for us to switch off and give us a break between the Grand Canyon & Tucson. We could have driven that in one day and perhaps had an extra night in the Canyon, but we didn’t. We decided to break it up & we could see more (plus this way we avoided Phoenix).  When we originally decided to stop in Sedona we wanted to try the Kimpton, to give them one last go at keeping out business. After the incidents on the starvation, I was a little dubious about what might happen. However that need not have happened.

We made good time into Sedona & Heidi was at the wheel the whole time. We stopped at the Oak Creek Vista trailhead for a quick lunch stop. Sadly the temperature wasn’t much better than the Canyon but it was still higher at least. The quick stop gave us a chance to stretch our legs and feed our stomachs (we had packed a lunch from the morning buffet).

We rolled into Sedona around 2pm and went to the hotel first, thinking we would have a room to go to. When the Amara told us that the room wasn’t quite ready, they would look after our stuff & give us a call once it was ready but it wouldn’t be to long. So we left our stuff & the car and hiked up the hill to town. We went for a walk wondering if this was going to be a moment of truth.

When we got the call to come back, we came back down the hill to the resort, checked in & headed for our room. We were on the far side of the resort (which isn’t all that big). Our room was at the end of the left wing, on the upper floor, it didn’t look all that big from the outside & I was wondering if the upgrade didn’t happen. Then we walked in. The room was huge, I wouldn’t call it a suite but it was awesome still.  More a junior suite with a large 2 person Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. We were in the room mere moments till we saw the Amenity.

Kimpton hotels are pretty awesome to their elites. All their entry level members get free wifi & $10 worth of bar credit (at the bar or mini bar). But as an elite (which i am till the end of this year) you also get a tailored Amenity. They will put whatever you want in your room. Like nuts & diet coke, that’s what you get. Our last Kimpton Stay was a shock because we didn’t even get our Amenity, we got someone else’s. Not this time. We walked into this:

image

The hotel knew we were on our honeymoon, we had told them in advance. We had tweeted how excited we were to be staying at a Kimpton, I guess they did some research on us. They had done it right, all our snacks wer packaged up like takeaway boxes like you might get on a flight. We even had bottles of water with our names on it. We were Muir Airlines!

The amenities were spot on for us. Cookies, Fruit, Diet Coke & Water. Add on some Prosecco to celebrate our wedding & that would have been amazing on its own. The staff even wrote us a little note to say that they appreciated our stay, the kicker is what was on the TV, us. We were on TV, the TV in our room. What the hell. I remember stammering to Heidi “look at the TV”. The hotel had downloaded the YouTube video of our wedding and was playing it via a USB stick in our room.

It isn’t that often that you get to see a bug moment of your life in a hotel room in a state several hours flight time away from home. They had really done it, pretty much Kimpton had our loyalty now, one small gesture like that will keep us staying (though inner circle probably will slip). The Amara as a whole was a great hotel. Nicely furnished, not to large of a resort but not to small either, a good mix of both. The staff were great and really helped us enjoy our one night in town.

Although we didn’t do much, we still had a great time. We did go for a little explore through the trails around Sedona (and by explore I mean getting lost on some trails for an hour or so). Sedona overall is a great town, somewhere we would like to come back to spend a few days in the future. But if your thinking of going, go to the Amara, you won’t regret it, we didn’t.

Current Location: Exit 175, I-10E Arizona.
States Visited: 3
Miles Driven: 1005m
Slim Jims eaten by Heidi: 3 

Honeymoon Day 5 – From Desert Heat to Canyon Cold

After we rolled out of Vegas at 6am Saturday morning we were heading East towards Arizona. Retracing some steps I took the very first time I visited the USA though this time I was at the controls and not trying to sleep off any hangovers. The drive was stunning as the sun started rising over the mountains.

We made a pit stop in Kingman AZ for breakfast. Quick stop at the Dunkin for coffee & a bagel and back on the road we go with Heidi at the wheel.   Another pit stop in William AZ for a walk, a snack & some beverages & then North towards the Canyon. The road was easy going & our first real road day together on this trip. We were aiming to be in Grand Canyon Village by 1300 at the latest as we had a helicopter flight booked. I had applied for an industry stand by rate for one of the longer flights and it was a deal for $35pp.

We made it into town around 12 so went for a walk, grabbed some lunch & tried to check in but they wouldn’t let us. Not a big deal. We headed off to the airport for our flight. This was Heidi’s 2nd helicopter flight in as many days & she was still super excited.  I thin I have created a monster. I am going to say that the best way to get a perspective on just how vast the Canyon is you need to see it from the air.  No real commentary from our pilot bug a good flight. I was in the back with Heidi next to me on the window. Didn’t worry me at all, we only paid 1/10th the price others did.

After our flight we headed into the National Park (here’s a tip, purchase your pass at the Imax Theatre, same price, no lines & no wait at the park entrance)  and headed for the rim. Originally we were going to head to the rim around the main visitors center for sunset, however there was massive crowds, way over the top. We decided to go East towards Desert View & the sunset point out there, it would be less crowded (it was). The winds were up and the temperature had dropped dramatically. In Vegas it was in the 70s during the day, at the Canyon it was high 30s plus windchill. Ugh. We had an early night with Mexican food & TV in bed.

Woke up the next morning to a snow & ice layer on the ground. A temperature of high 20s was a rude shock. Not something you want to deal with when you are meant to be out hiking. We revised our plans after recovering from a rude awakening by the fire alarms going off at 5am (joy) and decided to just stick to the rim walk for a few kms, mainly for safety & keeping our bodies in one piece.

The Canyon walk was good & worth the hour or so we took to stroll along. At one point we came across an entire flock of Mule Deer, just wandering along as though we didn’t exist. Still really beautiful & Heidi had a blast running about amongst nature. We finished our Rim Walk by the fire thawing out at Bright Angel Lodge before Hopping the shuttle back to our car.

The Canyon is ever as beautiful as I remember it, the colors at sunset were stunning. Although we didn’t come prepared for temperatures at that level (my hands froze solid at one point & I went through considerable pain as they thawed out) we still enjoyed the time we had there. Right now we cruise out of the park headed for Sedona & our most expensive night on this trip, but hopefully the one that is going to be the most relaxing & luxurious.

Current Location: State Route 64 between Tusayan & William AZ
States Visited: 3
Miles Traveled: 777m
Slim Jims Eaten by Heidi: 3

Honeymoon Day 4… The Vegas Aftermath aka my stomach hurts

Vegas was a good couple of days. Heidi has never been before so it was a good mix of new stuff for me (on my 4th time around) and also seeing the traditional touristy things for Heidi. I picked Heidi up at the airport after the first flight in from Seattle. The flight was actually early and I made it to the terminal pretty much as she was walking off her flight. Timing it well and the 15 minutes free parking meant that I could be there as she cleared out of the secure area, scored a big hug for that. Took Heidi back to the hotel so she could get some breakfast and finish off some Uni work she didn’t quite get done and then it was off to explore Vegas.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel, the Mandalay Bay. After 2 days of searching www.mycheapvegas.com I managed to find a really good rate for a Bay Suite that was less than what other hotels were charging for a room (conferences in town and the Rock n Roll Marathon had something to do with that). But the check in process really summed up just how this hotel was either hot or cold. There was never a real middle ground, the hotel was either really good for something, or just horribly bad. The first person to check us in at the Invited Guest desk (a suite check in benefit we had, along with also the fact that my Mlife Gold status has that benefit) was borderline rude. Treated like we didn’t deserve to be there and that just put me off immediately. Had Heidi not been there I may have made a scene, one thing for certain, she didn’t get a tip (aka $20 trick). When we came back later to get our room, the person greeting us then gave us a great welcome. However even though I had made a point to make sure they knew it was our Honeymoon, no one really seemed to care.

The Mandalay had it’s good and bad parts, the rooms were large and spacious and I did love the bed (however it wasn’t to Heidi’s liking). The bathroom was large and we had a giant Tub but the room itself had three major flaws:
1. No power plugs anywhere near the bed at all, they seemed to be centered around the desk where there was an ample supply of 6 plugs
2. The lights were terribly awkward to control and were predominantly lamp based, again a pet hate of mine.
3. This one really got Heidi’s goat, but there was no coffee available in the room. Not just no supplies but no way at all in making any. Not even like MGM where they provide a Keurig machine and charge you $6 for the cup and the pod to use. Nothing at all! Way to go Mandalay Bay, you just made an enemy of my wife.

The facilities around the hotel were great, and although the main pool was closed for the winter, Moorea was more than ample for Heidi’s needs (way too crowded for me personally). Our most memorable part of the Mandalay was technically not even at the Mandalay Bay but at the Four Seasons Las Vegas. A hotel within a hotel, the Four Seasons lobby and check in are below the main casino floor but they occupy a good portion of floors towards the middle of the main tower. They do however have a hidden gem that is Charlie Palmer Steak. This isn’t your typical Vegas steakhouse where you pay $120 for a piece of steak with no sides. We opted for the set menus at $50 for 3 courses including “Bottomless Wine Pairings” it is amazing value. The “Cut of the Week” menu that I had alternates on a weekly basis but the value for money is amazing. We expected to end up with smaller portions like you may expect for a set menu (ala restaurant week) however the portions were full size. Well worth it as my Steak would normally go for $40 on its own!

Apart from the Mandalay Bay we spent quite a bit of time outside of the hotel. We spent time exploring Caesars Palace and their shops (as it has a very large H&M that Heidi wanted to check out). We also spent some time wandering through the Venetian and grabbing some treats at Carlo’s Bakery (famous from the TLC show Cake Boss). I am a sucker for a baked good and one that is from a celebrity chef. SOLD! Not bad but the Tiramasu that Heidi decided to have was quite expensive for the size. My Cookie though was super tasty. We also grabbed a couple of cup cakes from the Cupcake ATM which was a weird experience of itself. We had a good time exploring Cosmopolitan in search of their secret pizza place and it was worth it. Yummy thin pizza, New York style, and cheap too! Of course this is Vegas and what trip would not be complete without a buffet. Of course you all know Heidi and I love going to Brunch. But in Vegas, Brunch is a weekend only affair and we couldn’t have that. So we went with a breakfast buffet instead, one that we could enjoy without feeling guilty over the quality. There was many hours of research, checking out best value and best quality and in the end it came down to Aria. Their buffet even had like 9 different types of Ice Cream. We had breakfast with my friend Kevin and I think Heidi and I ate way to much food. I know I had 4 of those 9 ice cream flavors along with other tasty treats (Banana Waffle, with Bananas foster sauce and Pumpkin Ice cream is AMAZING).

I was able to get Heidi her first ride in a Helicopter (though you will have to wait till I write that up for AirlineReporter to see what she thought of it) and I also checked out the Neon Sign Museum. It was really interesting to see a good portion of Las Vegas history from all the signs that the city was just so well known for. Also a piece of interesting trivia. Put Las Vegas Neon Museum into Google Earth and see what you see when you Zoom in, you will thank me :D

We rolled out of Vegas early this morning with the overall feeling that it was a great couple of days. It really pushed in the fact to both of us that Vegas in small portions is ample enough time. You can always come back another day to see something else, because I am sure it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. We left heading further east towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon hitting up some old school Route 66 but heading into the National Parks.

Current Location: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon
Miles Driven: 725m
States Visited: 3
Nights on the Road: 3
Slim Jims Consumed by Heidi: 2

Honeymoon Day 1… Road, Road & More Road

This won’t be a normal trip report for one of my long vacations. Instead this will be more just random blog posts to cover what has been happening. The flights on this trip are pretty boring and average. I took Delta down to LAX, woop de doo! But some fun stuff did happen. Heidi dropped me at the airport which was rough for her because she didn’t get home from work till almost 1am. Then to have her drop me at the airport just after 5am… sorry hun! But the good thing was at that time of the morning I got from our home in Renton, through to the airport and time for a quick hug and kiss goodbye. Then checked in to drop off a bag (I had to wait in line mind you in Sky Priority behind a few people) and that was still painless.

Once through security I checked my watch and it was only 5:30am. We had walked out the door of our apartment at 5am. That is amazing! I remember when it took me at least 30 minutes to get even remotely close to Renton from my old house. That process I just described would have been a solid hour at least! Love living in Renton! My Virgin Australia Gold Expired in October, so unfortunately I am now Silver (Still get a free bag!) but for some reason Delta still thinks I’m a gold. I still have my Gold Cards as well. A quick little deflection (read lie) about the expiry date and the lounge agents let me in! SCORE!!! Not that I needed it but it was still nice to have a free coffee and avoid the large line.

Our flight down was 45 people total and it was painless. I had a full exit row to myself and lots of relaxation. We arrived 30 minutes early and then we sat on the tarmac waiting, waiting, waiting! We landed 30 minutes early and got to the gate 20 minutes late. Yep, awesome right? Way to go Delta! It was shocking when people were just getting up and down and walking the aisles while we were being held on the taxiway. That went down well! At least the bags were quick and I was at the National lot in good time (though a solid hour after I wanted to be). Then came the tough game of choice. I was trying to avoid the Impala incident from September and had strict orders from Heidi that first preference should be a Dodge Challenger. But sadly I couldn’t see any, so I ask (because it is always worth a try) and off the guy goes to the storage area to find one. Sadly they had not a single one on lot, where as that same time last year, it was all they had! O how times have changed. Instead I was tossing up between a GMC Arcadia (a car I haven’t driven before) or a Chrysler 300C (a car I have driven a few times). Called the Wife quickly and got ordered to take the 300 because she didn’t want an SUV (but she had to concede on the fact that the car had keyless start, aka Push Button). So in the car and off to Vegas it was!

I planned on stopping at a Target in Victorville to get supplies (water, snacks etc) but missed the turn off, and ended up stopping at the Walmart in Barstow instead. Then it was a matter of just sitting back and eating up the miles. Covered the drive in about 4 hours, pretty good time. The car was faultless (and i could hear this wierd sound, which i thought was in the glovebox turns out it was in the back seat and it was an empty bottle from the previous renter.. not good National!). But by the time I got to Vegas, I was starving! Crossing the border into Nevada has a new bit of scenery with a Giant Solar Power Plant dominating the landscape & then you cross the border and the first thing you see is Casinos (probably empty ones).

Driving into Vegas though is always an excitement, the skyline just screams money. Huge towers, lots of lights, neon, colors, yet the horizon is flat. Flat, Flat, Flat! Still it was good to be back, just a different experience this time since I wasn’t here to see planes (well, maybe I did get a little bit in before the sun went down). Caught up for Dinner with a friend in town for a conference at a Burger place that was really good (wouldn’t say it was the best ever, but it was really good) and then went to Jet Tila’s new Ice Cream place (and I liked it!). Asleep by 1030 on a day that had been extremely long (up at 330am to hit the gym). Needed to get my sleep as Heidi would be getting off her flight around 8:30am the next day.

Current Location: Fairfield Inn & Suites Las Vegas “Airport”
Miles Driven: 300m
States Visited: 2
Nights on the Road: 1
Slim Jims Consumed by Heidi: 0

Trip Report: Drinking the Southwest Koolaid – Dallas to Seattle

Tuesday 9th September 2014

After taking the employee shuttle from the HQ building through the back parking lots of the facilities and around the outside perimeter of the airport, we arrived over at the new Love Field terminal. Dallas’s closer airport to downtown is Love Field and it was old. But with the massive upcoming changes to the Wright Amendment coming up in October the whole airport was upgraded. The terminal feels fresh and new and not at all outdated.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As I headed over towards the ticket counters I grabbed a few snaps of the new branding that was installed on Sunday night while no one was around. The entire airport was redone so that there was at least one terminal done. Check in took a while as only one counter was open for those of us who couldn’t use the self tagging kiosks (wish I could as I was travelling on an old school paper ticket). The paper ticket issue was resolved swiftly and quickly when I got a chance and I was shortly headed off to security. Having to sit in normal security lines for once was a bit of a change as normally I could use a premium lane with a card from another airline or something like that. Not here in Dallas, since the only airline in the terminal at the moment is southwest, and I dont’t have southwest status.. that aint gonna happen. But the TSA stuff at Love Field were great, friendly across the board and that surprised me. There was even one staff member walking through the lines wishing everyone a good day, at least you know some TSA employees can be nice.

From Southwest Heart

As I cleared security I had just walked past a gate Flight Information Display Screen and low and behold…. delay. This was not good. My flights today would take me from Dallas to San Diego with a brief stop in Albuquerque where I would not get off the aircraft. After a 39 minute connection in San Diego I was to fly home to Seattle. My flights were now screwed essentially. I headed off to find the customer service desk near my gate (Southwest generally have a counter that serves multiple gates at once). After speaking with a gate agent who informed me I would not have a problem and that my flight will connect as they would hold the plane for me, I was skeptical, very very skeptical. I headed off into the terminal and since I was still on my work “Vacation time” and off the clock for the blog for the trip home… I took it upon myself to enjoy a donut, A Dunkin Donut no less! Since not having the chance to see a Dunkin since I was in New York last year and not getting the chance to have one then, I figured I might as well. I felt like a treat as my entire day could possibly turn to shit.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

I also took a brief walk around the terminal, scoping things out and checking out all the goodies. The place was pretty amazing, fresh, modern, plenty of places to sit (since Southwest doesn’t have a lounge) and socialize. Plenty of food outlets especially local options like BBQ or Whataburger (which I am not quite sure how good that is, but apparently the amount of people who had some would have to mean something right?). I headed over to the gate area, found a spot and sat down to wait, tweet, and enjoy my pumpkin pie donut. After a while of tweeting and worrying a plane pulled up to our gate. At least I know I would be getting out of there. However luck was holding out as there had been an equipment swap to a 700 series which meant WIFI!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Southwest Airlines – WN802
Dallas Love Field to Albuquerque
1610-1650
Boeing 737-700 (N752SW)
Economy – Seat 16F (Seq B36)

Boarding: 1630 (Gate 6)
Push Back: 1700
Take Off Roll: 1707 (Runway 13L)
Top of Descent: 1705
Touch Down: 1731 (Runway 26)
Shut Down: 1735 (Gate A7)

While waiting for the passengers to deboard, I moved myself over closer to the windows where the side I needed to be on when my group was called to line up and took some photos of the plane, wrote a couple of notes, sent a few texts home. Everyone was lined up quickly ready to go. They all knew they had to get onboard quickly to make up some of the time. The best part was watching people organise themselves into the right order. No one was fighting, everyone just got in line like they should. There is something to the way Southwest’s boarding system works and although some people may not like it, you have to give them props for it.

From Southwest Heart

My turn was called and I lined up and once let onboard I headed on down to the plane. Seeing the WiFi logo by the door was great as it meant that an $8 investment could give me a good afternoon of WiFi and productiveness onboard. It would also mean that i could stay connected while the flight was going so i could keep abreast of the situation at hand. I could research gate positions, maps of the terminals, times anything needed to get me between planes quickly.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

I found a window seat towards the back but first I had to ask someone to step out of the aisle first. He was taking the aisle seat in the hopes that he could get a full row. Nice try buddy. As I settled in and the plane filled up. Someone asked if he would mind moving to the middle at all so he could sit down (this guy was not small but not overly large but obviously could do with some space into the aisle) and the guy on the end of the row rudely said “I ain’t sitting in the middle for no one, go somewhere else”. Not the best way to start a flight. It did mean in the end that the middle seat stayed open next to me for the first leg through to ABQ.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

We pushed back and headed for the runway which was as far away from the southwest headquarters as we could possibly go. I was hoping to get one last photo but sadly that was not to be the case. We took off very quickly without much of a hold and I was pleasantly surprised by that. The climb out was pretty standard with a good right turn over downtown Dallas so I got to see everything I saw on the way in but from a different angle.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As we climbed out and passed 10,000ft my laptop came out and so did my wallet to process the $8 fee and that bought me WiFi for the next several hours. It wasn’t just $8 per session but $8 per day on a single device. So although I was now only stuck using it on my laptop I was still ok with that. As we climbed out I kind of tuned out to the flight and didn’t even put any music in or anything while we were flying. The first couple of flights were about 90 minutes each so I was more interested in getting work done than doing anything else. When the beverage service came around I tried out what I had found out on the way into Dallas. If you ask for a “Can of Water” you literally get a can filled with water. I had not seen that before the flight and wasn’t sure if it would work. I gave it a shot and it worked! I had a whole can to myself.

From Southwest Heart

I worked away and then as we dipped towards New Mexico and the ABQ Sunport i put away the laptop and out came the camera. I was enjoying it as we came in closer and closer. I had no idea where I was at all but the surroundings were great. I had not been in ABQ since I had passed through quite a long time ago. As we approached ABQ on finals I noticed a couple of C130 hulks sitting in some grassy area so figured that there must have been a national guard base around. Wrong!! As we landed I passed about a dozen more Hercs then about a good 30 or so Blackhawks. Then I saw it, a building that said “Kirtland Air Force Base” and sitting in front of that was an Osprey. It could only mean one thing was stationed there Air Force Spec Ops but really because of the Helicopters it was the rescue squadrons that were present.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As we taxiied to the gate I flicked my phone back out of Airplane mode in the hopes of getting an update on the flight connection and giving one to home as well. The time was spent trying to get a connection and waiting for everyone to get off the flight.

Southwest Airlines – WN802
Albuquerque to San Diego
1730-1820
Boeing 737-700 (N752SW)
Economy – Seat 6A

Boarding: 1742 (Gate A7)
Push Back: 1759
Take Off Roll: 1807 (Runway 21)
Top of Descent: 1805
Touch Down: 1836 (Runway 27)
Shut Down: 1838 (Gate A7)

Once everyone was off that was meant to get off, they counted the people up and gave the go ahead to move about the cabin. I quickly got up and grabbed my bag heading for the front to try and snag a window seat as close to the door as possible. I wanted to make sure that when I got to San Diego I could get through as quickly as possible. I got the gate updates come through on my phone through Tripit (thanks for the flight delay information guys… ) and then heard someone say “We will have to go through security again… I panicked. Please don’t do this to me!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

We had a fairly quick turn in Albuquerque and as we pushed back and taxiied out I got a good couple of shots of a Delta 757 landing and taxiing up right next to us. We headed over to a different runway from the one we used on arrival and that had me puzzling. Then we stopped and waited. This was weird because I heard the double chime for the flight attendants telling them to take a seat, and there was no one else ahead of us on the taxiway and I couldn’t see anyone at all. What the hell were we waiting for. Turns out a tiny small cessna was landing on a small cross runway so when he passed us the pilots gave the plane the boot and off we went!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As we climbed out I looked down and saw a familiar looking river. One that I had floated over a number of years ago in a hot air balloon. That made me think back to some good times on my first real overseas adventure on my own. Memories! We shortly passed 10,000ft and i went back to work on the laptop. As I worked away the service came around and I got a can of water again. Deciding to focus more on working out this connection. It was true what I had heard, we were going to have to reclear security and I was frantically trying to work out what to do. Without really realising just how long we were in the air, the plane made it’s top of descent dip and next thing I know we get the initial descent greeting by the pilots.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As we headed into San Diego I was looking around for familiar landmarks. I had only ever flown into San Diego once before and was not sure what I would see from this direction. I think I saw MCAS Miramar off in the distance, but I wasn’t sure but then as we started to turn and descend further the Navy Facilities came into view. Seeing the Amphibs come in to view then the big white ship standing out put things down for sure. We were coming in over the city on the 27 approach and that white ship (which is the US Navy’s Hospital Ship USNS Mercy) meant that the Naval Station San Diego was in sight and that we would be on the ground in minutes.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

As we came in to San Diego I could see plenty of Southwest Aircraft on the ground and numerous lined up for take off. For me it meant that I didn’t have long as the taxi times at Southwest for landing can be quite short. We were not on the taxi way long at all after landing and in the gate moments are pulling off the runway and as we pulled in I noticed that there was a special over near the gate area we were going to. I couldn’t see a gate number at that point but I was fairly certain that it was on our gate. Which special? Nevada One painted to pay tribute to the State of Nevada.

From Southwest Heart

Once they pulled into the gate there was a mad scramble for bags and then they made a blessing of an announcement. “Would all the passengers travelling to Seattle, please make themselves known to the two staff waiting at the end of the Air bridge. You will be escorted to your gate so that you do not need to reclear security”. That sentence was probably one of the best I had heard all night. I made it off the plane quickly and identified myself and then we had to wait a few minutes to collect a few more people (as they wanted to move us in two groups).

From Southwest Heart

When we left the gate area heading towards the exits right before heading out of the secure area they moved us left towards an exit door and that meant one thing. A Tarmac walk. They told us “No cameras” to which I promptly ignored and off we went outside across the tarmac from one secure area to another. It was then that I saw that Nevada One was most certainly sitting on our gate. As we walked into the secure area again I saw a whole heap of people sitting around and thinking they hadn’t boarded yet that was good, then I saw they were gate 2 not 1 and had to quickly run off towards our gate.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Southwest Airlines – WN238
San Diego to Seattle Tacoma
1905-2155
Boeing 737-700 (N727SW – Nevada One)
Economy Seat – 4A

Boarding: 1855 (Gate A1)
Push Back: 1907
Take Off Roll: 1910 (Runway 27)
Top of Descent: 2120
Touch Down: 2145 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down: 2150 (Gate B6)

I made it to gate 1 and there was still people standing there. Not quite sure what was going on I asked the first person I saw if they had boarded the Seattle flight to which the gentleman said that since there was only 50 people on the flight they were going to wait for a bit to since they couldn’t depart early. THANK GOD!! I had made my flight and when I looked at my watch it meant we may not be delayed all that much. This made me a very very happy man.

I had a chance to take a deep breath and take my space in line. I headed over to the boarding lanes and got myself in the right spot. Asking someone who was standing there already what his number was so that I could work out if i was in front or behind of him and he said that he didn’t care he would board whenever he wanted. That is so not how things are done buddy and I would have been extremely unhappy if I had the ability to care right that moment. But I didn’t so I just waited to board. When it was time to get on I was giddy, I had never flown a special livery before.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Boarding Nevada One was like any other flight, except the plane was just painted differently. We boarded very quickly and since the load was so we could have all had rows to ourselves. As it was I had a row of 3 in row 4 to myself and I was a happy chappy. Quick chat to the young lady in the row in front of me and demonstrating my muscles as I helped her with her carry on. When we pushed back I checked my watch to enter the data in my log book and it turns out we were departing ON TIME! I had gone from 50 minutes late departing Dallas to making up all that lost time in San Diego. Sure I didn’t get a chance to grab any food so since having that donut in Dallas all i had was a cookie i had stashed in my bag and forgotten about and that was all I was going to get till I got home.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

We headed for a taxi to the end of the runway and the sun was setting fast. The light was getting amazing but it was making it tough for the camera to focus and that meant I missed a fantastic avgeek shot of a 737 making a right turn in sunset. A brilliant composition missed by seconds. When it was our turn to hit the sky, we leapt off the pavement and made a right turn out over North Island Naval Air Station and out over the coastline. The sun kept fading and the photos were just being snapped continuously. Once clear of 10,000ft I pulled the laptop out for the final time and got to work.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

This sector was going to be boring. I was going to work, and just work. The drink service got me a full can of Diet Dr Pepper (as shock as water in a can was to me, Diet Dr Pepper onboard a flight had me flawed) and some wifi and a small pack of peanuts had me going to a happy place. We cruised up the coast and I flicked between my work and twitter most of the way and just relaxed, something I had not fully done since leaving Dallas. It was a good feeling. We passed the coastal parts of Southern California at first, then flew straight north as we flicked over the inland of Northern California. At one point I saw Reno off our right side on the map.

From Southwest Heart

We started descent roughly over Portland and I slowly packed up my stuff, not before informing my ride that she should head towards the airport to pick me up, sure was going to be happy to be home for once and not have to spend another hour in the truck getting home. I was coming home to someone that was as happy to see me as I was to see her. We got our descent briefing from the cockpit and he said we would be down on the ground in ten minutes and had to take a northerly pattern to come in towards the south. I just laughed inside at that, no way we were landing in 10 minutes, we were no where near seattle at that point, 20 minutes at least. As we descended towards the city I was struggling to keep my eyes open at this point.

Right turn over Freemont & Ballard and tracking for a 16R arrival all while not being able to get a great shot of the Space Needle due to being in the dark. We landed right as another 737 was taking off (not that i could tell who from in the dark, but probably Alaska and we started taxiing over towards the terminals. We had to hold at 16C for another aircraft taxiing infront of us and then at 16L for a departure. We taxiied quickly around to the B gates and pulled up pretty much right where I had left a couple of days earlier.

Through the terminal, down to get my bags and my bag spat out around #5 in the queue. I was extremely happy to find out that it had made it as it was full of all the airline swag I had managed to gather. Heading up to the departures level to be picked up (always a smarter idea at night when there is barely anyone using it) and it was off home. From touch down to home in 20 minutes…. can’t beat that!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Trip Report: Drinking the Southwest Koolaid – Dallas

My time in Dallas wasn’t going to be long but I was here for a good reason. I was here as a guest of Southwest Airlines for their 2014 media day. The whole event was organised to be non stop start to finish. I was here for two nights and it was certainly not going to be over quickly. The airline covered my accomodation, my flights and my transportation (and everything here is my own opinion of course). The driver who was meeting me was waiting at the arrivals area of the car park so I knew eventually where I was headed. As I exited off the aircraft and into the terminal it was a shock as to how nice the new Dallas Love Field terminal would be. I was blown away by just how modern and smart it looked. I didn’t have much time to explore but felt that I should definitely stop by here on the way out for a better look.

As I headed for baggage claim I waited for my bag (which was one of the first few out) then headed over to the arrivals area to meet the driver. After waiting a bit for a couple of other people who were set to join us (and they were not able to unfortunately due to flight delays), we headed off to the hotel. Dropped off at the Warwick Melrose Hotel it was in a very affluent area not to far from the Love Field airport but close enough to the city. It was a historic hotel that had a lot of history and it wasn’t too bad. Probably not somewhere I would have chosen for myself, but hey, its free!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to fix my fitbit which had decided to crap out on me, catch up on life, emails, writing etc and get myself prepared for the big day ahead tomorrow. Media guests were invited to a happy hour function at a local bar (and apparently a dallas institution) and it was great to meet some people I had conversed with on twitter for a while. After a quick detour to a local market to pick up some breakfast for the next day I hit the sack after an extremely long day.

From Southwest Heart

Monday 8th September 2014

Waking up and going for a morning run as per my normal routine made this feel kind of like any other monday morning. Apart from the fact that I was no where near my work. I was all the way over in Texas. I scoffed down my breakfast moments before having to be in the lobby for our early morning pick up. It was going to be a busy day as a small part of the morning had already been leaked Saturday night with a new livery for Southwest going to be revealed. Even though they were not saying anything, we all knew it, and the airlines knew that we knew, but it was a big deal.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The morning went off like a giant party. Lots of excitement, buzz and an almost party like atmosphere. The livery was pretty great and I had a fantastic time just getting up close and personal with the aircraft and also seeing some of the staffs and employees reactions to the changes. The livery reveal was not the only thing we were doing that day. We had a full day of meetings with the executives at Southwest so as we moved from meeting to meeting, I learnt a lot not only about the new livery and branding (sorry, not a rebranding, a bold new change to the look of the airline) but also about the airline in General. Unlike some of the people who where at the media day, the history of Southwest was not something I was totally familiar with.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The day went by almost so fast and with a bit of free time to be able to work on my story, we headed off to the weekly Monday “Deck” party. This time though the party was held on the ramp at the Tech Ops building. They had the two aircraft with the new livery nose to nose (although some people think I should say “Heart to Heart” on display. This was a party like I had not seen before. It was a huge event with hundreds of people in attendance, all of them out for a great time. No one was worried at all and they had plenty of wine, beer & other drinks (plus all the airline snacks you could think of) for everyone. With freedom to have a bit of fun and not be on the Media clock for a little bit, I could relax, chat with some of the other media and also get some personal photos (I may have gotten myself a heart selfie).

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

After the party it was off to dinner with the executives and after breakfast at 730am, lunch at 11 it was time for dinner around 8pm. It was a good night anyway and after that broke up and we could return to the hotel, I still had some story work to do to make sure that the piece went out on time. By the time I made it to sleep around 1115pm, it sure had been a really long day.

Tuesday 9th Septmeber 2014

The fun of the day began after a run in the morning and packing up to check out. We were back to the airport and the Southwest training center (called TOPS). The morning was going to be a bit of a tour around the facilities, some “Heart racing” activities and then a tour of the Network Operations Center. The few things that were interesting me were the NOC and getting a few extra pictures of another area.

From Southwest Heart

The Heart racing activities though were pretty fun. We got taken into the full mock up area where they train employees in check in and gate area activities. These mock ups replicate fully the area in which the employees will do their job. They have full check in kiosks and even boarding podiums, even an old Love Field air bridge! So we boarded our flight to “Aruba” and headed on down the airbridge. Our flight wasn’t going anywhere though, we were boarding the Emergency Operations trainer. It was a full airline cabin mock up that could simulate movements and emergency prodcedures like smoke evacuation, fire drills etc. It was a blast.

From Southwest Heart

We went through the full evac demonstration as though we were going to have an emergency landing. A small tip though. If you are onboard a flight and hear 4 chimes in a row (usually 2 or 3 is the norm) then you know something is going to go down. 4 chimes is emergency time. I got a video of us going through the emergency and it sure was an experience. Hearing the yells of “Heads Down Stay Down” continuously certainly was a start to get the adrenaline pumping. Then as they cleared the front of the plane we heard it out the back. The next thing we heard from the front was the emergency slide being activated. O yes… I got to go down the slide. It was fun! My heart was racing like crazy by the time we got the bottom and had i known we were doing something like that, I would have worn my heart rate monitor.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The tour continued onto the NOC (which I am going to write about for AirlineReporter) and then after that we went back to the main headquarters building for a tour through and then some lunch. The tour through the headquarters building was an experience all on its own as the building was like a living museum. The staff have the most amazing work areas with heaps of shared work stations and environments where you could go to get away from your desk or have a meeting without feeling trapped in a room. The conference rooms were all named and were also themed. So if there was a break area (called a Culture Center) that had an awards theme, all the conference rooms around it were generally of a similar theme.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The whole time in Southwest Country was amazing and as i caught up on life before my shuttle back to the airport, I had to think to myself just how great the experience was. So many people love working for the airline and fight hand over fist to get in there. I can now see why.

Trip Report: Drinking the Southwest Koolaid – Seattle to Dallas

Sunday September 7th 2014

I had to get up super early this morning for this trip. My flight was due to depart around 530am and i was living closer to the airport now, but it meant that I could justify a work out in the morning. It would save me having to go for one when I reached my destination. But it ate into my sleep. But I would live. Heidi dropped me at the airport around 345am and I walked straight inside into the line full of people.

Check in apparently doesn’t open until 4am and since I had a paper ticket (yes an actual paper ticket), I couldn’t just use my phone or anything. I had to drop a bag off anyway but it meant waiting in line. Which wasn’t all that bad. When check in opened I was helped fairly quickly but it was still a bit of a wait. When I got to the front of the queue, I told the agent directing traffic that I had a “4 Pack” to which she corrected me and told me in Southwest Terms it is a “4 Part” and sent me on my way saying it will be fine.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

I checked my bag through to Dallas and rather than stand in the normal security queue, I tried an old trick. Flash the Gold Card and see if it works, well it did. Premium Security for me! Through security and spat out airside. Awesome! It was a short walk from security to the start of the B concourse then it was out in search of coffee and a power point. Why a power point? I didn’t charge my phone properly before leaving the house and was hovering in the teens on my phone. Not a good thing for a day full of flying on planes without power.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

I got a coffee and some water and then when and stuck it out by the gate with some power, catching up on my life for the morning. I was waiting for them to start the boarding line up calls and was close enough to hear the gate calls, but far enough away I wasn’t caught in the masses. O how much I would love an airline lounge right now!

Southwest Airlines – WN1632
Seattle Tacoma to Denver
0535-0915
Boeing 737-800 (N8616C)
Economy – Seat 19F (Seq B11)

Boarding: 0505 (Gate B8)
Push Back: 0536
Take Off Roll: 0546 (Runway 34R)
Top of Descent: 0830
Touch Down: 0901 (Runway 16R)
Shut Down: 0906 (Gate C30)

Boarding was called for the A Group and then once they were set free, they allowed the start of the B group to line up. So being B11 I had a good chance of a half decent seat. When they called down the B group I waited my turn, got scanned and headed on down the bridge. Down to our shiny new BSI 737-800. At least I could get some stuff done on the flight now that I was awake thanks to the coffee!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The flight boarded as expected and I got myself settled in. The usual process and right on time we pushed back. No real funny stuff this morning, nothing over the top at all, but then half the plane probably was not awake. The guy in the seat next to me had two pillows. One for his neck and one for his face. We had a quick taxi to the runway as they were using 16R and since the B gates are practically on the Taxiway, we were 2nd in line behind a United 737 and then we were off into the morning sky. I picked wisely as the sun was rising out the left side and I was seated on the right. So i could still see things out my window and not be blinded. Smart!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The guy next to me decided that as soon as we got the right altitude he would recline his seat back with a slam and then off to sleep he went. Although 10 minutes later he decided to tray table sleep. So why he needed full recline I don’t know. I was really waiting for the person behind him to get angry so they would start a fight. Then i could video tape it and sell it to CNN. Sadly that didn’t happen and I am still poor.

From Southwest Heart

The flight went by pretty simply and I had a cup of coffee from the service and stashed the snack they offered. I had thought Southwest only served peanuts on their flights, but I was a little bit wrong. They also serve mini graham crackers. Which was new to me! But they got stashed for later on. I worked away on the WiFi which was an ok speed and nothing to complain about. The price was ok for a 2.5 hour flight at $8 but it is a day pass. Although this first flight would be the only one with WiFi.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Top of Descent came and I started to pack up my stuff. This first leg would be the only one where I had to plane change. The next two flights would be the same plane and same crew. Southwest do things a little differently, that is for sure. I saw nothing on the approach into Denver as I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane. I had wanted to be able to see something but I guess I can’t complain. We landed easily and on time and taxiied straight to the gate. We pulled into our assigned gate and within seconds the engines were off, seat belt signs dinged and everyone was getting up!

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

My job now once I could get off the plane was to get out into the terminal and find a bathroom, some liquids, the gate and some power. That is generally the order that is preferable, as the bathroom was required, but I passed the gate first and decided to scope out the terminal as much as I could.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

I found the gate area and went for a stroll around the shops after finding the nearest bathroom. I grabbed some water and then headed back to the gate for a power outlet and some more relaxing. I didn’t really have all that much to do till tonight, but I was going to enjoy myself for the mean time. Once the inbound came in, I packed up my stuff and went over to a more reasonable spot to jump into the lines once they formed. I had an A group this time so that made me happy :D

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Southwest Airlines – WN4376
Denver to Kansas City
1020-1255
Boeing 737-300 (N619SW)
Economy – Seat 11A (Seq A43)
Boarding: 0950 (Gate C46)
Push Back: 1021
Take Off Roll: 1036 (Runway 17L)
Top of Descent: 1220
Touch Down: 1245 (Runway 19R)
Shut Down: 1248 (Gate B41)

Boarding was called and they pre warned us this was going to be a full flight. They were actively selling the first 15 a spaces for $40 so that people could get overhead bin space. I couldn’t care less as with an A space anyway i would get bin space and a decent seat. The funny thing for it all was that half the flight looked to be filled with one group heading back to Kansas City. Fun for them! I found a decent seat once it was my turn to get onboard but it was non reclining. It didn’t matter to me all that much as for the next 3 hours of flying it was two short hops. I was joined within 5 minutes by a nice older couple and I settled in for the flight.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Looking around as the boarding countinued it was all young, college age girls, all athletes (as they had school sporting gear on) but I wasn’t sure what sport. That was fixed as they came on to announce that the team onboard had just won their competition. YAY THEM! Me all I cared about was getting more power into my phone. I had resorted to using my portable battery pack, even though I wasn’t sure how much power was on it. We pushed back from the gate on time (who says that Southwest are never on time!) and started a long slow taxi, way off into the middle of no where.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

We took off without stopping as we turned onto the active and headed up into the skies. More seat miles, same old thing. Relax, coffee, this time eat my breakfast that I had brought with me from home (bagel and banana, my on the road fuel) and relax. Relax I certainly did, with my music and nothing much else other than the window to look out of. I didn’t want to touch the laptop for this flight (to be honest there wasn’t really all that much room for it) and I stayed away from it.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

By the time we got to top of descent, I had kind of drifted off into my own little world and then as we were turning towards finals for the airport, the battery in my camera died. I had drained it all the way intentionally as I was using my new camera that I got for my birthday. We landed at Kansas City and it looked deserted. There was one lonely United 757 and then one other Southwest 737 which seemed to push back not long after we landed. As we taxiied to the gate they told those of us staying on board we could not stand up until instructed and to let all the people getting off to get off.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Once they were all off, they counted up the people onboard (46!) and let us loose in the cabin. This is what I like to call Southwest Roulette. Once you’re onboard waiting for people you never know what other people are going to do about their seats. Me, well I had eyed off the unlimited legroom seat in the exit row, so as soon as they let me loose, I saw no one was in it, turned around and swung my bag into the seat. Score!

Southwest Airlines – WN4376
Kansas City to Dallas Love Field
1325-1450
Boeing 737-300 (N619SW)
Economy – Seat 13A

Boarding: 1300 (Gate B41)
Push Back: 1320
Take Off Roll: 1327 (Runway 19R)
Top of Descent: 1405
Touch Down: 1435 (Runway 31R)
Shut Down: 1440 (Gate 5)

I got settled into the new seat as the boarding announcement was made to let the crew know that new passengers were coming on and then I waited for the cabin to fill back up again. I did more of the usual as I waited for push back and tweeted away with all the people who were waking up from their slow sunday mornings out west…. Bastards.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

We pushed back from the gate this time early by a few minutes, and headed back off to the runway. We climbed out 2 minutes after scheduled departure so we made some good headway. It was only a short hop up into the Sky and just over an hour to Dallas. It seems that any time I head to Texas I end up with 3 flights. Last time it was in the middle of winter and I barely made it. This time, I did pretty well in the summer with all on time flights.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

The flight went along pretty boring, third flight of the day and it should be boring by now. I was getting tired and fading a little bit at the same time. So I stuck it out by reading my book and just looking out the window. No WiFi or Entertainment is that big of a deal these days, I can survive either way. The unlimited legroom didn’t hurt either.

From Southwest Heart

We began descent above a giant bank of clouds so the weather in Texas was definitely not as good as what I had been through most of the day. Both Denver and Kansas were blue as far as the eye could see, however in Dallas it looked to be grey all the way.

We started approaching Dallas and again, I couldn’t see anything of the airport but I did get a decent look at the downtown area as we turned for finals and it is surprising to see just how close to the city that the airport is. Coming into Love Field is so much better than into DFW. We touched down a little bit early, not by much though. The airport was very small so it didn’t take long to taxi to the gate. As we pulled up I was called by the driver who was picking me up to check on me and i told him i wouldn’t be long. Off the plane and into one of the nicest terminals I have seen.

From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart
From Southwest Heart

Trip Report – To the Last Frontier: Conclusion

Introduction
Seattle to Anchorage
Anchorage
Anchorage to Seattle
Conclusion

                                                                                                                                                                      

My trip to Alaska was something I desperately needed on many levels. I had a big yearning to fly as so far this year up until this trip, I had flown 0 miles. For someone who flew over 60,000 miles last year, I was desperate. I just wanted to get up there again. This trip also allowed me to tick Alaska off my state list. Even though it was only a short trip, it allows me to plan on heading back there in the future.

Even though the weather was crap for most of the time, I still enjoyed myself. I stuck it out in the rain for a good portion of the day and just kept taking photos. I would have done the same back here, had I still been in the city (speaking of which I missed a test flight of the Air New Zealand 787-9 because I was playing around in the rain, I just can’t get that thing!).

The flight up was down right horrible (thanks to a crappy crew who didn’t seem to care and also the delay and the WiFi issue (All of which I have made complaints about, but nothing so far). The flight back though was the total opposite, so how United can get away with being Day & Night differences, I don’t know. But it also shows that any airline can be good or bad. United gets a bum wrap at times, and this time I can’t really fault them all that much for the return flight. Having an entire row of 6 to myself, exit row as well! Can’t be all that bad.

The hotel in Anchorage did it’s job. It wasn’t flash or luxurious, but it was close to the airport and exactly what I needed to get me through. I wouldn’t ask for anything more than a clean room, a gym, WiFi & some parking. Anything more than that is just more frosting on the cake.

All told I took over 7588 photos of just planes over the weekend. The processing of these is going to take some time, that is for sure. I don’t quite know how long but I usually budget about 10% of photos taken, make it out of the cull. What does that really mean… I am going to be working on these for quite some time!