Trip Report: Back to the Bay

This weekend, we had a quick trip up north to do some more wedding planning. We took JetBlue up since Long Beach is always our first choice. But we saved over $100 flying back on Southwest, and they had a better schedule for us anyway. Since a friend offered to pick us up at LAX, it was a done deal. Flights were good both ways.

July 26, 2008
JetBlue #242 Lv Long Beach (LGB) 8a Arr Oakland (OAK) 917a
LGB: Gate 2A, Runway 30, Dept 3m Early
OAK: Gate 9, Runway 29, Arr 2m Early
Aircraft: N566JB, Airbus A320-232, “Blue Suede Shoes”, ~90% Full
Seat: 18F
Flight Time: 52m

We left home at 7a for our 8a flight. JetBlue Tail A320Security lines were short, and we had plenty of time to spare. They boarded the front rows of the plane first, strangely. Apparently they hadn’t pulled up the stairs to the back of the plane yet, so they just made us wait. When they did get that ready, we went toward the back and I snapped this great shot of the tail. I love boarding via airstairs.

Not much else to say about this flight. It was good and the flight attendants were friendly. The only thing of note (at least in my warped mind), was the snack selection. Apparently Frito Lay has given up innovating completely and has now decided, 08_07_28 70percentorganic“Hey, why don’t we just throw all of our chips into one bag and sell it as something new and cool?” Behold, the Munchies. They also threw in some of those fancy 70% organic cookies. I still think that’s funny.

We landed and grabbed our Budget rent a car (with the awesome 9,999 bonus Delta miles). It was a nice weekend, and we got everything done that we needed to do. The only downside was that it was race weekend in Sonoma, so we ended up paying $150 for a Quality Inn that should have been half that price.

July 27, 2008
Southwest #1655 Lv Oakland (OAK) 2p Arr Los Angeles (LAX) 320p
OAK: Gate 28, Runway 29, Dept 5m Late
LAX: Gate 5, Runway 24R, Arr 5m Early
Aircraft: N455WN, Boeing 737-7H4, Canyon Blue, ~99% Full
Seat: 12E
Flight Time: 54m

We did our work in Napa yesterday morning and then we raced to the airport, hoping we’d make our 2p flight home. We dropped the car off and took the 30 hour shuttle ride back to the terminal. Man, that thing is far. New Oakland ConcourseIt took 10 minutes to print our boarding pass and get through security, and then we went to the brand new concourse that Oakland probably is now regretting they built (traffic . . . dropping).

One complaint for the folks at OAK. There are some prime airplane watching areas when you’re walking down toward the new concourse (picture above), but they covered it up with art. Give me windows! When you get into the new area, it looks a lot like a nice version of LAX Terminal 8. There are stores on one side and gates on the other. They couldn’t have built gates on both sides, because that’s basically at the perimeter of the airport and planes don’t enjoy parking in the bay.

Southwest has rolled out some parts of its new gate area design here and it’s pretty nice. Southwest Chair in Gate AreaThey had normal gate area seating, but there were a couple rows at each gate with these comfy chairs. The best part? You can see the USB ports and power outlets in there. Nice.

Anyway, boarding worked as well as it should these days. Nobody lined up until the gate agent called for it. And then, plenty of people tried to cheat the system. The gate agent stopped them all and said it happens all the time. Glad to see they’re enforcing it.

For some reason, Southwest couldn’t get their stuff together here and we pushed back 5 minutes late for no good reason. At this point, the captain apparently decided it was time to make up for lost time. I can’t think of a shorter taxi that I’ve had at an airport before. We headed right out to the runway and entered it part of the way in (taxiway U for those who care). I don’t think he used the brakes at all when we taxied and soon enough, we were airborne and through the low cloud layer.

It seemed like we were ascending pretty quickly and my ears were feeling it. It wasn’t long before we settled at the extremely high altitude (for such a short flight) of 41,000 ft. They threw a few peanuts and drinks at us and then it was time to land. We were at the gate 5 minutes early and on our way home in no time.

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