I was going to do this all at once, but it started getting really long. So, I’m posting part 1 today (The Good and the Bad) with part 2 (The Ugly) following tomorrow.
Apparently, much of the world decided it would be lucky to get married on 7/7/07. That included one of my girlfriend’s friends. For us, that meant we’d be making the trip to Vail for the long weekend. But we didn’t fly to Vail – that was too expensive. We went to Denver and drove.
Frontier and United were roughly the same price, but we opted to give Frontier a shot since we’d never been on them before. Cost: $231.80 per person. I must say I was impressed. They run a nice little operation and everyone we encountered was extremely friendly. Let’s start on a positive note.
July 5, 2007
Frontier #539 Lv Los Angeles (LAX) 1050a Arr Denver (DEN) 203p
LAX: Gate 38, Runway 24L, Dept ~On Time
DEN: Gate A30, Runway 34R, Arr ~15m Late
Aircraft: N927FR, Airbus A319, Flip the Dolphin tail, ~97% full
Flight Time: 2h5m
I hadn’t been in ancient LAX Terminal 3 in about 10 years, so when we arrived 50 minutes before our flight, I was looking forward to checking the place out. The security line was nonexistent so we sailed through easily. I was impressed to see that T3 is actually in better shape than I would have guessed. The seats were clean and not torn, and the bathroom (at left) actually did not make me fear getting a disease, unlike most LAX bathrooms. It also still has that nostalgic early LAX feel to it (the terminal, not the bathroom) which reminds me of my early days of flying.
They started boarding early and had everyone ready to go about 20 minutes before scheduled departure. Unfortunately, we just sat there for 20 minutes instead of leaving early. They have a nice little racket going in the way of their “free preview” of live tv. While you’re on the ground, it’s free. Once you’re in the air, you have to pay. After already getting hooked on a show, it’s hard not to pay the $5 for it.
Soon after departure, we had our first drink service (there were two, believe it or not), and my girlfriend decided to get a glass of wine. Ok, so I actually made her get a glass of wine because I wanted to see the credit card processor in action. Frontier recently went completely cashless so you now have to use a credit card for everything. It’s incredibly easy. They swipe your card in the machine at right and you’re done. You can’t get a receipt printed, but in theory you can always print out the credit card statement if you need to expense it. I say “in theory” because it has yet to show up on my card’s recent activity.
About an hour in, we decided to give the credit card another workout when my girlfriend opted to watch tv, but the swipe didn’t work. The flight attendant tried to help, but he couldn’t make it work either. A couple minutes later, he came back with a free tv card for each of us on our next flight. That was really nice, and it was definitely unnecessary to give me one as well. Instead of watching tv, my girlfriend passed the time reading the oddly titled inflight magazine article at left.
We dodged a few thunderstorms on our way in, and came up directly from the south once we passed over the front range of the Rockies. We got below the layer of scattered clouds and in true Denver fashion, it started to get bumpy. Strong gusts combined with what may have been some light wind shear made for an unhappy stomach. The drops were even big enough to get some breathless gasps out of a couple of passengers.
We finally landed a few minutes late. We went to Alamo and had a horrible time renting from them, so it was almost 2 hours after landing that we were on the road to Vail. The wedding was very nice, but of course, we had to return all too soon.
This was a looooooooooooong day. We were driving with another person who had a 120p flight. Even though ours wasn’t until 405p, we figured we’d standby for the next earlier flight at 1240p. This is where choosing Frontier over United ended up coming back to bite us.
The rental car shuttle dropped us off curbside at about 11a and we got in line at the ticket counter. A few minutes later, we were told that only one seat was open on the flight right now so they couldn’t confirm us. Damn. They said to just go to the gate and hope for the best.
We found three very long security lines at the airport. When we picked one, we were told it would be 25 minutes. Sure enough, it took about 30 minutes to get through. I must say, the line was constantly moving and that made it much easier to stomach. Fortunately, we were still moving slow enough to be able to admire the carpet (at left).
We pulled up to the gate at 1145a and were told to sit and wait. The gate agents were very nice and they promised to do what they could. In the end, the flight was a bit late, but they had two seats left. Unfortunately, one of them was given to a passenger who misconnected on an earlier flight, so we only had one seat. Instead of splitting up, we declined and headed down to the gate for our next flight with 3 hours to kill (that’s why United would have been better with their frequent flights) and no wi-fi to be found, or so I thought. I later noticed that my wi-fi card had been turned off, so there may very well have been service in there.
After wandering the airport for hours on end and literally watching storms form around the airport, I finally started to lose it. Every flight on the board said “on-time” but I had seen plenty of delayed flights to that point. How annoying. Ours was no exception, and that’s when this got ugly.
Part 2 – The Ugly will be posted tomorrow