Trip Report – The Comfy Run: Seattle to San Francisco

Seattle to San Francisco
Aloft San Francisco Airport
San Francisco to Atlanta
Atlanta to Newark
Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark
Newark to Minneapolis
Minneapolis to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle

Friday 1st March 2013

After starting work early so I could get out of the airport at a half decent time as I knew that what should only take 10-15 minutes on a good day would easily take an hour in peak hour Friday traffic.  I left work and low and behold, traffic was actually as bad as expected, If not a bit worse.  With the time I left work, if I didnt take more than an hour I had been thinking to myself, I could get an earlier flight down to San Fran and afford me an extra hours sleep.  So I was hoping and praying I could get there in good time.

I dropped the car off at Wallypark (yes that is the real name) and spent most of my time having to spell my name out to the attendant who was taking my ticket (apparently spelling my name needs to be clearer, R as in Roger didn’t work, R as in rabbit didn’t either, funnily enough he understands the word Robot) and then spend another 5 minutes waiting in a van on my own while he sat there doing nothing.  Not looking good at coming back here now!

We made the terminal pretty good and the United check in desks were empty and I mean it.  There was more staff available than people checking in and it meant that even though I was using a machine at the Star Gold check in desks that I could do it first and get out of there.  But I went up to someone anyway and enquired about Stand By.  She told me that I would have to pay to stand by for the earlier flight.  Well that sucked, and then i said the magic words “Even though I am Star Gold” and showed her my card.  To which her whole demeanour changed.  Within seconds I was holding a Standby card (little did I know this could of bit me in the ass later).  Free stand by with 3 other Star Golds ahead of me and things were looking up!

Security wasn’t to bad and the priority queue had not a single person in it, so I was through within minutes.  Get to the machines and dignity dance my way ready when all I jump into the line ahead of a few dawdling people taking their time I get a dirty look from someone who I was actually ahead of in the queue.  But didn’t phase me.  As it was my turn I stepped up and then rather than left into the WTMD it was right into the Nudeoscope.  SeaTac never fails me.  But this is where my brain must of been left at check in.  I was still wearing my belt.  Right before the scanner starts the TSA agent says “Are you wearing a belt?”  “O SHIT!”  I pulled it off and he actually held it for me rather than send me back out into the queue again.  NICE! I guess there are some nice TSA agents out there afterall.

With Security dealt with and slowly redressing myself I jumped on the train to the N Gates and figured I would make a pit stop by the United Club for a drink and a bit of a snack prior to camping out in the Standby line.  So that is what I did.  SeaTac has 2 United Clubs.  In the B gates you have the lovely old Continental Presidents Club with a bit of a view of the ramp.  In the N Gates you get “The Dungeon”.  The legacy United Club located in the depths of the N Satelitte right next to the train station.  No windows, no view, just wall after wall.  But it could be worse, it could be the crammed gate area.  Not much in the way of snacking (it is a United Club after all) and there was way less than usual as well, which was very dissapointing.  A coffee, some water, a shortbread and some carrots (I checked the expiry date first after a previous incident of an Avgeek friend) and before I knew it the previously flight was due to begin boarding any time.  So I headed on up to the gate.  Presented myself to the desk and was informed to take a seat, if they needed me they would let me know, but that it would be doubtful as they were 100% full.

I stuck around reading my book in a seat within site of the gate as the flight arrived a bit late, and took  its time boarding.  Slowly slowly the gate area emptied.  Things were not looking good.  Volunteers were not required, people were being called up for seat assignments and it was still not looking good.  But I wasn’t worried.  I had a seat assignment on my flight (and exit row as well) if I didn’t make the flight the plan was to go and find some food for my next flight to waste away the half hour before we boarded.

The gate area was pretty much empty.  There was 6 of us left.  I was #4 on the list.  I headed up to the gate again as the 6 of us were mingling about.  Then I heard it, “Ok who is #3 on the list?”  A guy presented himself up front, and then it was said “you just made it, you get the last seat”  Damn.  I stuck around a bit longer, hoping and praying someone wouldnt show or that something else would change, I don’t know why though.  Another girl who was last on the list had been waiting around all day and hadn’t made any of the flights to SFO.  She was devestated and figured if she didn’t make the next flight, she was stuck as it was the last flight to SFO that night.

I finally gave in, hoping someone else would give in or just miraculously get booted off.  I headed off to find some food.  I went to check out the C gates as I figured that there was a Wolfgang Puck that might have some good food.  I was wrong, they had good food on the menu but none of it left for takeaway.  So back over to the N gates to the bagel place that would have double points thanks to a promo and off I went.  A Garden salad, bagel and a drink in a bag, a scone for something sweet (although not to sweet) and I was set for the flight.  Boarding by this time was due to begin so I headed over to my gate.

When I got up to the gate, something wierd on the screens,  My seat (8A) was showing as free.  So I asked how accurate that seat map was, and was told it was 100% correct.  I said to the staff member that then we have a problem because I have 8A and it’s showing as free.  I gave him my boarding pass (after fishing it out) and he fixed it up.  Somehow my seat was given up when I went on Standby on the other flight.  Something stupid obviously.  I was told boarding should be about another 5 minutes as the flight had just pulled in and I hopped out of the way and watched as he cleared the boarding list (the girl I had been chatting to before got her seat, the last one for the day!)

United Airlines – UA6426 (Operated by Skywest)
Seattle Tacoma to San Francisco
Canadair CRJ-200 (N935SW)
Economy Class – Seat 8A (Exit Row)

Boarding: 2000 (Gate N11)
Push Back: 2017
Take Off Roll: 2027 (Runway 16C)
Top of Descent: 2150
Touch Down: 2215 (Ruwnay 28L)
Shut Down: 2221 (Gate 35)

They called for Preboards but there weren’t any, or any first class on this aircraft, so Groups 1 & 2 were combined into one and i was about 4th or 5th in line.  I had a fight in the jetbridge with the baggage handlers about “weight and balance” claims.  Even though my bag will fit in the overheads they wanted to take it off me because it would be required for “weight reasons.”  Pfft! I pretty much ignored the guy and walked on with my bag,  I never heard a complaint or got removed or accosted by security so I figure they were just trying to get everyone to give up their bags.

The boarding process was pretty quick to but then it is a CRJ so it is not as if there are many people to board.  During the boarding process the loan flight attendant made a bit of a goof.  She welcomed us aboard our flight to “Los Angeles”.  This caused so many people to freak out.  But she ended up correcting herself and we all calmed down.  The good thing was that even though it was a full flight, the CRJ is tight but never feels all that packed to me.  It feels more comfortable than a crammed 737.  Maybe it was the leg room, maybe it was the small windows (though they are annoying), I don’t know the real reason.  The biggest thing for me on these flights is some peace and quiet, enough to sit back, maybe do some work or read a book.

We pushed back 4 minutes late (being mindful the flight arrived 4 mins late, so that is not to bad really) and headed quickly for the 16 take off points.  About half way along we were informed we were #1 for takeoff and would soon be airborne.  Good quick taxi tonight.  Flight time announced as well and the pilot gave their quick walk through while we held at 16L for an arriving jet to touch down.  If they are landing 16L it means that it is 16C for departures.

We pulled up to 16C, the pilot gunned the engines and off we went into the night sky, through a cloud bank about 5000ft and that was it.  Effortless and uneventful.   Isn’t that the way all flights should be?  I was extremly happy to be cruising along, reading and chilling in some peace while my ipod was waiting a few inches away for the 10000ft mark.  Once reached, ipod out, headphones on, into my own world I go.  I pulled out my dinner which would be almost a 3 course affair on this “First Class flight” as it had been described to me, cause everyone was in first class tonight ;).

On tonights menu was a Garden Salad to start:

A Roast Beef Bagel for the main course:

One slight problem though.  I may have forgotten to get napkins… and a fork.. Smart move!  I couldn’t believe how dumb I was.  Luckily i was intending on eating the Salad without dressing or I would of been up the creek.  I ended up eating the salad bit by bit as a I read and had my bagel.  The trash was collected after a drinks run (which I had a club soda in the hopes I would get the whole can… nope).  The flight by this time was just cruising along, no big hassles.  I had my scone while finishing a chapter and then once that was all done I did a little bit of work.

I managed to knock out the introduction to the trip report on the flight and get started on this leg as well by the time we hit descent I had barely realised how close we were to SFO.  I could see plenty of lights out the window as we descended and I packed all my stuff back up.  I had been waiting till then to try and get the tail number of the aircraft as it was to dark to see it on the way onboard (though I knew it was ship #935).  I was told it was N935SW but wasn’t quite sure if that was right, but it was I found out much later.
The flight descended from the north for a big loop around the city, past Oakland, a detour a fair distance south then a right turn onto the final approach.  When the gear was deployed, dear god was it loud and forcefull.  I had never felt or heard any gear deployment that bad and I had flown CRJs before.  Maybe cause I was right above the main gear?  We touched down smooth and taxiied quickly to Terminal 1 which was handy as I could scope out a path for what was only a few hours away.

Once at the gate everyone slowly made their way off and I headed towards the door, glad to be up and walking, though the weather was indeed slightly chilly (about the same as when I had left Seattle though).  As people lined the jetway to await their bag, I slowly strolled out and off I went, towards the hotel shuttles and a very quick nights sleep.

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