Trip Report: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part 2 – The Ugly)

Trip Reports

Back to the story. Now, where were we again? Ah yes, Denver airport. Sitting and waiting and sitting and waiting. 07_07_11 denoverheadAnd yes, I was still hungover.

July 8, 2007
Frontier #413 Lv Denver (DEN) 405p Arr Los Angeles (LAX) 525p
DEN: Gate A51, Runway 17L, Dept 21m Late
LAX: Gate 38, Runway 24R, Arr 48m Late
Aircraft: N808FR, Airbus A318, Fawn tail, 100% full
Flight Time: 2h9m

The flight before ours was at the gate about 30 minutes past departure time, so when it finally pulled out, our flight was able to pull in. This plane was the short and stubby looking A318. Maybe the low number of seats confused people into thinking they were on a private plane and there was no reason to hurry, but every passenger acted as if they were taking a Sunday stroll through the jet bridge. It took forever to get them off the plane. It was another 15 minutes after that before the plane was clean, by which time the scheduled departure time was rapidly approaching.

This is really the only complaint I have about Frontier. There was no urgency to board at all. They leisurely called rows up, the flight attendants didn’t help with bags, etc. You’d think they’d take a little more interest in pushing on time.

So, now past departure time, we got into the jet bridge and of course were backed up due to some passenger who probably couldn’t figure out why their 10 foot by 10 foot bag wouldn’t fit into the overhead bin. While I sat in there sweating, I kept hearing this voice repeating the same thing over and over again but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Sure enough, it was a girl equivalent of Rain Man. Seriously, she must have been autistic. I shrugged it off and just kept trudging toward the plane.

07_07_11 brokentvAt this point, I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. I got to my seat and broke out the free tv card we were given on the flight out, ready to just sit there and enjoy some mindless entertainment on the way home. Bzzt. Wrong. Not gonna happen.

My tv decided it would be better to assume the identity of a black box instead of actually showing me anything. Great. So after activating my girlfriend’s tv, the flight attendant apologized and gave both cards back to me. A nice gesture, sure, but it wasn’t going to help at all.

At this point, my girlfriend blissfully fell into an HGTV-induced happiness, and I begrudgingly picked up a magazine and started reading. That’s when the Denver Babies Choir decided it would be a good time to practice their screaming sessions. And this was no small choir. We’re talking a lot of babies. This was not good.

As if that weren’t enough, remember the girl with autism? Yeah, she was only a couple rows behind. She kept yelling gibberish over and over but sometimes I could actually make out what she was saying. I heard her same something about “lots of bubbles” 20 times in a row and then something about “Christmas pequins” (piquants? penguins? what is it?!?!) later on.

At one point, after saying “Mrs. Robbins” for the 150th time in a row, I kid you not that a woman in between us actually yelled “broken record,” as if the girl was doing it on purpose. I really thought a fight was going to break out, and I didn’t relish the thought of being delayed once again just so the police could come arrest her. So when we pushed back, I considered it a small victory.

As we taxied, I could see the remains of a thunderstorm over the south and west parts of the airport. Fortunately, it was nothing but blue skies to the west, so it wouldn’t affect us. Oh wait, yes it did. They stopped all departures for some reason even though arrivals were proceeding as normal. After a 20 minute wait, we were off into the choppy Rocky Mountain air. I passed the time watching the cloud formations, reading a magazine and trying to ignore the noises penetrating the cabin which were mercifully muted by the roar of the engine.

Again, service was good and the flight passed relatively quickly . . . until we started descending. One of the members of the Denver Babies Choir must have had a stuffed up ear, because as soon as we started descending, he started screaming. And this was no normal baby scream. This was a piercing, painful cry of suffering so loud and awful that the idea of ripping my ears off my head somehow sounded pleasant.

Thirty minutes straight of screaming babies led to a nice, soft landing at LAX. Since we were in the exit row, I pondered the idea of pulling it right there and jumping out of the plane, but I changed my mind at the last minute. That was probably a good idea since I’m pretty sure jail is not a good place for me.

I figured a two minute taxi and we’d be back at the gate, but of course, I was wrong. We had to wait for what seemed like hours (probably 5 minutes) before they cleared us to cross the departure runway, and then we lumbered into the gate about 12 hours after we had first left Vail that morning. That couldn’t be the end of it, could it? Of course not.

It took them awhile to get the door open, so we just sat. The pilots decided to start shutting down, but they failed to turn off the power transfer unit. Airbus fliers know where this is going. As if the screaming babies, Christmas pequins, and blank tv screen weren’t enough, now we had the delightful sound of the PTU, something I liken to a ninja repeatedly kicking a seal in the head.

I can’t express in words how happy I was to get off that plane. The funny thing is that as miserable as the flight was, it wasn’t really Frontier’s fault (except for the tv technician, I suppose). I actually really enjoyed all my dealings with their people and wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again . . . as long as the Denver Babies Choir isn’t onboard.

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4 comments on “Trip Report: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part 2 – The Ugly)

  1. Do you travel with earplugs? (Or noise cx headphones)? I get them at Walgreens for $3 for about 16, and they’re always in my messenger bag. I jam them deep into my head during noisy flights, traffic noise in strange hotels, or just riding the bus in my hometown wanting to block out noise.

    They won’t completely mute out a gaggle of kids, but it’s amazing when I remove them how deafening general ambient sound seems for a second. Earplugs and library books are the best personal entertainment devices ever.

  2. My girlfriend actually made the comment that our flight was the perfect advertisement for the Bose QC2. I don’t have them, and I usually don’t like to use them because they’re too bulky. I pride myself on bringing a carry on regardless of the length of the trip. I should probably grab some of those earplugs though.

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