Trip Report: Why I Don’t Need Inflight Internet

Frontier, Trip Reports

I’m baaaaaaack. Miss me?

If it’s the end of December, it’s time for Christmas in Indiana. This is my third year having traveled back to spend the long weekend with my fiancee’s family and once again, we decided to split the flying on one airline on the way out and another on the way back.

On the eastbound trip, I was cautiously excited to give Frontier a shot. It was $250.99 all-in per person, and though that was a little more than we could have found on other airlines, I liked flying Frontier back in July and wanted to fly them again. I say I was “cautiously” excited, because you may remember the nightmares of travelers stuck in Denver last year after the major snowstorm. Fortunately, we had none of those issues and the flights were excellent.

December 21, 2007
Frontier #144 Lv Los Angeles (LAX) 625a Arr Denver (DEN) 944a
LAX: Gate 39, Runway 24L, Dept :17L
DEN: Gate A38, Runway 35L, Arr :09L
Aircraft: N947FR, Airbus A319-111, Maya the Jaguar, 100% Full
Seat: 11A
Flight Time: 1h47m

Since it was the Friday before Christmas, we figured we’d need to get to the airport really early to navigate around the inexperienced travelers that come out of the woodwork at this time of year. With a 625a flight that meant a very early wake up call. We pulled up to the curb at 5a and saw no lines in our terminal. It took 10 minutes to get through security thanks to a couple of pokey people in front of us, but then we sat at the gate for awhile. They boarded the plane early, and that was good because the terminal was really cold for some reason. It seemed like everyone was onboard early, but we just sat there for awhile. The captain came on and said there were a couple planes pushing in the alley behind us so we couldn’t go. When we did push out, we ended up sitting short of the taxiway for some time. I got a little restless since I knew we didn’t have the longest connection time in DEN.

The captain finally came on and said that there was a traffic jam at LAX and we would have to wait. He said something about “the lovely air traffic control system you’ve heard so much about lately.” I found out later that LAX was experiencing 30 minute air traffic control delays. Strange.

07_12_26 laxtakeoffOnce airborne, we climbed into a beautiful smog-less morning in the LA Basin, washed clean by several days of rain. At left, you can see a 757 climbing off the south runways in front of Palos Verdes and Catalina in the distance. The captain said that we wouldn’t need to worry about connections because we had an excellent tailwind that would get us in almost on time. After watching the view for a few minutes, I turned back to the TV.

Frontier has LiveTV like JetBlue, but they only have 24 channels instead of JetBlue’s 36. They also charge you $5 for the pleasure unlike JetBlue, but I had no problem paying for it. I watched Sportscenter for awhile and then flipped around for a few minutes before it was already time to come in for a landing. They had come by with a drink and granola bar service, so they passed through to clean things up early thanks to the captain’s warning that it would be a rough ride on the way in.

07_12_26 landing in DENIt turned out that the ride wasn’t very rough at all, and we had a beautiful view of the front range of the Rockies as we landed from the south. Snow was due later on in the day, but it was nothing but brilliant blue sky when we arrived.We made our way off the plane into the airport that took several hours of our time last July. Fortunately, it was a much quicker visit this time. A short walk to the east end of the terminal led us to our gate, and our flight had yet to start boarding.

December 21, 2007
Frontier #618 Lv Denver (DEN) 1025a Arr Indianapolis (IND) 250p
DEN: Gate A51, Runway 34R, Dept :27L
IND: Gate C3, Runway 5R, Arr :15L
Aircraft: N917FR, Airbus A319-111, Doc the Snowy Owl, 100% Full
Seat: 11B
Flight Time: 1h56m

The plane was apparently late getting to the gate because the flight before it was delayed. So it took some time to get it cleaned and really nobody seemed to be in any sort of hurry. When we did start boarding, it was slow and leisurely, and we sat on the gate for a long time. No announcement was made, but as I saw breathless passengers stumble on to the plane over the next several minutes, I realized we must have been waiting for late connections. That was no big deal for us, and I sat and watched tv.

07_12_26 rayettaOnce we were in the air, I flipped through the channels and landed on a guilty pleasure, the Game Show Network. As I sat there watching Rayetta (you can see her name tag at left proving that I couldn’t make up a name like that) win at Card Sharks, I realized that I don’t want wireless internet.

If I have internet access in front of me, I’ll end up blogging, checking work email, and doing all the other things that monopolize my day (and night) more often than not. I know you can say that I can turn it off and ignore it, but I’m not like that. If it’s there, I’ll use it and regret it later on. So as I flew Frontier watching a game show I probably haven’t seen since my youth (though this was the pre-Bob Eubanks version with which I grew up), I discovered how incredibly relaxing it could be. If I had internet access, it would be just like I was anywhere else. In an increasingly connected life, I like being forced to unplug.

They gave us a choice of Doritos or SunChips (I took the latter) as we made our way over the foggy Plains below. The less common east wind in IND meant we got to land to the east, a great treat indeed. That meant we didn’t have to circle around Indy, and more importantly, it left us even closer to the distant terminal on the east side when we landed.

When it came time land, we found ourselves in a low fog in IND from about 5,000 ft up. We couldn’t see anything until just a few seconds before we landed, but it was a smooth return to the earth as we slowly drifted toward the end of the runway.

I could see the new terminal on the left, and it looks like it’s coming along nicely. Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be landing there instead. After getting off the plane, we headed out for a nice long weekend in the Circle City.

Tomorrow, I’ll have the story of our insanely long return journey involving 2 planes, 3 flights, and four states.

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6 comments on “Trip Report: Why I Don’t Need Inflight Internet

  1. I share your sense of freedom at having at least one sanctum where I can truly be off-the-grid. Once inflight broadband becomes ubiquitous, employers will start expecting their people to remain online during flights.

    (Alternatively, I can try using my Blackberry in the Sepulveda Pass. That normally elicits a similar feeling of being off-the-grid, albeit in a non-desirable way.)

  2. Glad your Frontier flight went smoothly! I start cabin crew training in a month or two, perhaps I’ll get to serve you soon! Nice touch adding what “Animal” you flew with. :)

  3. Astra – Good luck with cabin crew training. I thought they were laying people off, so that’s good news they’re still hiring.

    They make a big deal about which animal you fly with, so I certainly thought to include. For those who haven’t flown the airline, when you walk in there’s a poster with the animal saying something like, “Hi, I’m . . . .” Then, the announcements generally include the animal. At the end, they say that “all of us including the flight crew and the animal thank you for flying” or something like that.

  4. Yeah the animals are a unique and fun marketing angle – and their banter is featured on TV and radio ads too. Although all my miles are on UAL I fly Frontier whenever schedule and price fits. They were one of the first low cost carriers to service DEN in the 90s when it was a fortress hub by UAL. And since they’ve stuck around and overall provide a good product I try and support them when I can.

    They haven’t done great with point to point service in California, and except for a few routes and service to Mexico almost all flights connect through DEN.

    As for DEN and winter: Hopefully we’ll do better this year. The city is on it’s toes now about keeping people (including private contracters for city streets,) on the ready, thus avoiding another embarrassment. I flew back this Christmas night (from LAX) and although snowing and icy the runways and ramps were clear.

    The only bad thing about having an airport on a gigantic swath of open prairie is just that. Lots of winds and blowing snow during storms, even if they only last a day.

    p.s. Astra good luck with your training.

  5. I agree about being unplugged for a while. A 14-hour flight from L.A. to Paris is one thing, but people can’t be without their computer, BlackBerry, cell phone or whatever for two hours? I was on a SEA-LGB flight before Christmas, and the minute we were allowed to, all the cell phones came out, which is pretty standard these days. Can you imagine the cacophony if 120 pax could spend the whole two hours talking on their cell phones — at what would likely be at an unpleasant volume? I guess that’s why I like early-morning or late-night flights; everyone is asleep.

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