Trip Report – Escaping South for Winter – Seattle to Los Angeles

Saturday 19th January 2013

My first trip for 2013 and no need to be up at OMG o Clock. Just about 30 minutes earlier than my standard wake up, but as I drove out of Bothell heading towards SeaTac it still felt like OMG o clock as it was still pitch black. Ahh the joys of winter in the northern hemisphere.

Managed good time on the freeway as I trucked it south, parked the truck and within 45 minutes of leaving the apartment I was pretty much on a shuttle almost to the door of the terminal. Todays flight meant a drop off at Island 3, up the escalators and over the Skybridge and into the Southern end of the terminal. I found the Virgin America check in (which had moved north a bit compared to where they previously were) was empty, so I walked straight on up to the premium line, but was actually helped by a general agent. Didn’t really worry me all that much, checked in, bag tagged (though no priority baggage with Virgin America) and I was off to security.

Security was a mess. I tried to skip the main checkpoint behind check in (Checkpoint 2 at the A/S Gate Connector) however my dodge was closed so it was all through the one checkpoint unfortunately. Even with jumping the queue it still meant a good 15 minutes, thankfully I had planned ahead of time for this.

I got all the way to the front of the queue and still had a good 45 minutes before my flight was due to board and I didn’t feel like going through the Nude O Scope so I did something I had never done before. I opted out. I got the dirtiest look from the TSA agent on duty and she started yelling “MALE ASSIST I NEED A MALE ASSIST”. Part of me wanted to make a few dirty jokes to her but I kept my mouth shut & waited. To which I was then escorted around and got my first TSA Grope of 2013 (and probably not my last). The TSA agent who did my “Enhanced Pat Down” was pretty nice about it and explained it all calmly and was gentle about it all. Even commented on my watch saying he liked the look of it and asked where I got it. All in all a “pleasant” security experience.

After getting myself redressed I turned around to where Starbucks was located and the line for a coffee was as long as security! So gave up on that idea straight away. Decided to just slowly make my way out to the end of the A pier. But along the way I managed to pass Coffee Bean and there was no one waiting, so I still got my coffee. Took my time getting out to the gate and waiting in front of me was my ride to LAX (albeit surrounded by fog). Lined up next to it was 2 flights to Hawaii leaving around the same time so I was super jealous, but 3 flights to the sunshine in a row, what are the odds.

Virgin America VX780
Seattle-Tacoma to Los Angeles
Airbus A320 (N635VA)
Main Cabin Select – Seat 10A

Boarding: 0824 (Gate A13)
Push Back: 0911
Take Off Roll: 0930 (Runway 16L)
Top of Descent: 1115
Touch Down: 1138 (Runway 24R)
Shut Down: 1145 (Gate 31A)

Boarding was called for First Class guests and people with special needs (I am special does that count?) and then it was Main Cabin Select (MCS) guests, so I was quickly up and headed through the gate down to the flight. Little bit of a back up at the door with all the first class guests ahead of me, but I didn’t mind waiting 😉

I settled into my exit row seat and and got my stuff together, I was hoping the seat next to me would go out empty. Nothing better than an exit row window with a spare seat next to you in economy. Since I was in MCS entertainment was free, food was free and I had the half decent seats as well. Since it was breakfast I tried to tie up my order now, but the system wasn’t yet active. I had to wait 🙁

But as the aircraft slowly filled and we got a brief by the very cute sounding pilot up front (2nd female captain on a VX flight for me!). She said something that most people would dread but I was kind of excited about. We were going to get deiced. I had never been in an aircraft that gets deiced and they did ours at the gate once we closed the door and they took away the jet bridge. It was kind of cool as they sprayed around the orange goopy looking substance all over the wings and body of the aircraft. Once that was done, we pushed back and headed north to the 16 thresholds.

We didn’t wait all that long in line and as soon as we hit the active, the pilots gave it gas and off we went. When we got up above the extremely solid cloud deck it was amazing to see sky. Beautiful blue sky!! Something I had not seen in almost a week. As we climbed out I was just plodding away taking photos out the window (once the crap had cleared off my window) and browsing what was on tv (though I wasn’t all that interested). As soon as we got to the right height, I heard the usual chimes and saw the Electronic Devices light go off, and out came my new Chromebook.

My plan for this flight was simple. Coffee, Breakfast and Internet. I had 12 passes on Gogo thanks to the Chromebook and another one up my sleeve, so figured it was time to get some work done. So I logged in and within minutes I was tweeting away! Awesome++ Eventually my coffee showed up and so did my breakfast of Granola & Yoghurt (though it was a pitiful amount of it! Even United gave a better similar breakfast option) but the water I did order never showed and when asked again, I was ignored. It took another 45 minutes and 2 more orders using the system to get that small lowly bottle of water.

I managed to do quite a bit of work and after being fed, watered and grabbing a packet of nuts for the road (thanks to all food being free) we were soon descending into LAX. I hadn’t even really noticed what was going on, the flight just kind of disappeared. Pretty soon we were descending in from the north doing a long loop around for a line up onto 24R. Past the Hollywood sign in the distance, the blue sky looked so good and the temp at around 75 sounded like heaven.

We touched down on 24R and taxied all the way back to T3 past the Pacific Ramp (where all the Qantas, Virgin Aus & Air NZ park during the day) and the SQ A380 at TBIT. We pulled into our gate and eventually I made it off the aircraft after letting everyone else past me. It wasn’t too bad at all. I went downstairs to grab my bag into what feels like the most ghetto terminal ever and once my bag finally showed up (I swear it was one of the last ones off, thanks VX) I headed out and had to run for the National Rental Car Shuttle.

Within 5 minutes I was at the National lot, up the escalators where it is always a tough decision picking out my car, and eventually I decided on what looked like an ok choice but was in fact… a piece of crap. But that’s the luck of the draw and I only have myself to blame. I knew I should of grabbed the Ford Escape :/

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