Friday, January 27, 2012

Business Trip –Pasco / Tri-Cities (PSC) to Orange County (SNA) via San Francisco (SFO) in United Economy and First

United Canadair RJ200
Seat:  3B
Cabin:  Economy
Date:  01/25/12
Scheduled Departure:  5:37pm
Actual Departure:  5:36pm
Scheduled Arrival:  7:25pm
Actual Arrival:  7:16pm

The client actually ferried me from my hotel to the campus for meetings and then to the airport.  It was nicer than dealing with a rental car and provided more time to connect with my client contact.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, the Pasco airport is very small.  It’s the type of airport that has the same person checking you in and managing the gate.  Security at these smaller airports is always a gamble.  Sometimes the TSA agents feel the need to exercise their authority more than their counterparts at larger airports.  I have been through more wandings and pat-downs at airports like Charleston and Huntington than at LAX or DCA.  These agents were very friendly and I passed through security without any issue. 

The airport terminal, all three gates of it, had a central seating area serving the major three airlines present: Alaska, Delta, and United.  I surprised to see that Allegiant has a check-in counter at the airport.  Perhaps they have a seasonal service in the summer to Pasco.  Complimentary Wi-Fi is available however, few power outlets can be found.  The terminal seating area could barely hold two regional jet loads of passengers.  A Delta flight at a neighboring gate was experiencing technical delays and their passengers combined with the United flight were crowding up the area. 

There was no jet bridge to board the smaller regional jet which was a nice treat to walk out to the plane and up a ramp.  United’s CRJ-200’s do not have first class or economy plus seating.  The seat map had blocked out several seats in the forward part of the cabin that it looked like a 1-1 configuration versus a 2-2 configuration.  I was seated in one of those seats but it was a standard set up.  They may reduce some seating on the plane for weight reduction as the flight continues from Denver to San Francisco without refueling in Pasco.  Legroom on the flight was decent and we were about half full. 

The departure was smooth and I managed to fall asleep for most of the flight.  I awoke about 20 minutes outside of San Francisco and from my seat I was able to see the outline of the Golden Gate Bridge and city lights at night.  I’ve always enjoyed flying into large cities at night and seeing all the buildings lit up and the traffic moving on the streets and highways.  The fog was starting to roll into the bay reducing visibility around SFO which thankfully wasn’t impacting our landing approach or time.  We pulled up to the gate a few minutes early allowing me plenty of time to grab some dinner before my connecting flight home.

The United terminal at SFO has a several food options available.  I will usually hit up the soup station for a bagel or oatmeal in the morning for breakfast and the Japanese place for lunch or dinner.  There I tend to always go with the chicken bento box with brown rice as it seems like a relatively healthy option.  I could pass on the shrimp tempura though.  Once finished I had about 20 minutes before my flight was scheduled to board so I headed over to that gate to wait. 

United Airbus 320
Seat:  2F
Cabin:  First
Date:  01/25/12
Scheduled Departure:  8:51pm
Actual Departure:  8:45pm
Scheduled Arrival:  10:19pm
Actual Arrival:  10:00pm

I saw several people on the Pasco flight waiting in the gate area to head to Orange County as well.  The flight load was very light; only 44 seats out of the 144 were occupied.  My upgrade cleared earlier in the weak and I was looking forward to my more spacious first class seat.  The gate agent started boarding the flight 30 minutes prior to departure and was able to load the plane quickly.  Everyone was in their seats waiting 15 minutes prior to the departure time.  As passengers boarded the purser offered first class passengers drinks and hung up all of our jackets.

We pushed back about 15 minutes early and were number 2 in line for takeoff.  I was grateful for an early departure so I can get home that much sooner and into my own bed.  Once the plane had leveled off a bit drinks were offered in a quick but courteous fashion.  A snack basket followed with options like bananas, Toblerone, chips, granola bars, and a few other items.  Overall, there was nothing outstanding to note about the service on this flight. 

The in-flight entertainment was a couple “short subjects” – Subpurgatory and a genealogy special with Gwyneth Paltrow.  The other entertainment on the flight was watching the guy next to me head bob while he snoozed and listening to his rather loud snoring.  It wasn’t as fun as seeing the middle-aged women hunt and peck on her laptop on the previous flight but it was still entertaining.  I just hope that I don’t snore like that when I am sleeping on a plane. 

Before I knew it we were already starting our decent into SNA.  It was a quick flight that ended a very productive trip and best of all an early arrival!  When the plane rolled up to the gate I was disheartened that I was at the very far end of the terminal, the farthest gate from where my car was parked.   

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