Despite several previous attempts, I have never been able to take a tour of a Boeing airplane factory. This time, when SilkAir invited me to a delivery ceremony for its first 737, I jumped at the chance knowing I’d finally get to see the airplanes being made up close. Though the event began Monday, I had to fly up Sunday to be ready for the morning. That was Sunday during the Super Bowl. And I was flying to Seattle. This was going to be fun.
[Disclosure: The trip was paid for by SilkAir]
Living in Long Beach, I naturally wanted to fly locally, and the times worked out well for me to take JetBlue up and Alaska (actually, a SkyWest CRJ-700) back. No, it was not lost on me that I wasn’t flying on a Boeing aircraft at all on this trip.
I was particularly interested in flying JetBlue up because I didn’t want to miss the game. As scheduled, I’d get a lot of pregame and then the first quarter from the air. I found myself rooting for an hour delay to get me to halftime. No such luck.
After I received my confirmation from SilkAir, I went to JetBlue’s website and added my Pre Check number. But when I checked in, it wasn’t to be. No Pre Check this time, though of course, it’s less concerning when you’re in a laid back airport like Long Beach.
As usual, I left home an hour before departure and had no trouble getting to the gate with time to spare. Travelers were decked out in all kinds of Seahawks gear. Boarding was a bit chaotic with a lot of people trying to board out of order. But the gate agents corralled everyone and got it under control.
Being in the back half of the airplane, I had the rare treat of boarding from the rear door. That’s how I got the two great shots above.
February 2, 2014
JetBlue 1006 Lv Long Beach 2p Arr Seattle 444p
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 11, Runway 12, Depart 4m Early
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA): Gate D5, Runway 34C, Arrive 20m Early
N623JB, Airbus A320-232, “All We Need is Blue” Barcode tail colors, ~99% Full
Seat 18F, Coach
Flight Time 2h13m
I took my seat as the captain was stepping out of the cockpit to greet everyone. He said something along the lines of “How many Seahawks fans do we have onboard today?” The crowd went wild. “Then what are you doing flying on Super Bowl Sunday?!” Everyone laughed, and it set a festive tone for the flight.
With a rare chance of rain heading toward Southern California, the runways were turned around and we took off to the southeast before looping around to head north.
It was strange to see every TV tuned to the exact same channel. Even the people next to me who didn’t seem to know what was going on and didn’t appear to speak English found their way to watch the game eventually. It was quite the spectacle. As I said to the flight attendants, they must love working these flights. Nobody even realizes they’re on the airplane since faces are glued to the screens.
We had some snacks and drinks ($1 alcoholic beverage to celebrate the Super Bowl). Then the plane started to erupt with joy. Yes, that was a very good first half for Seattle. After an obligatory awe-inducing mountain view, we touched down very early.
Just after we landed, Seattle scored its first touchdown and the entire plan cheered. The flight attendants quickly got on the PA and said, “we’re so glad you enjoyed our service on this flight.” Well done.
People got off VERY slowly because they didn’t want to miss anything. For once, I don’t think anyone else cared how slow it was going. But we hopped off in the now very quiet D concourse. There were a handful of fans in sports bars, but then just as I got to the central terminal area, a huge scream roared up. Seattle had just picked off Manning and ran it back for a touchdown.
After that, it was straight to the car so I could head into town and enjoy the evening. But just two days later after the factory tour, I was back at the airport ready to go home.
As much as I like Alaska, I wasn’t thrilled about 2+ hours on a CRJ-700. But JetBlue’s flights were a few hours later, and I wanted to get home. Alaska it was.
I checked in online and was happy to see the Pre Check logo come through this time. When I got to the airport, I went through the long Pre Check line in about 10 minutes and headed to an Alaska Board Room. One of my concierges had given me a couple Board Room passes for the holidays, so I was excited to put it to good use.
I sat down and did some work with this great view outside. Then I went over to the regional gates and got ready to board. It was cold in Seattle and outdoor boarding isn’t exactly enjoyable. Then again, I should be happy it wasn’t raining or snowing.
February 4, 2014
Alaska 3474 Lv Seattle 135p Arr Long Beach 406p (operated by SkyWest)
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA): Gate C2K, Runway 34R, Depart 8m Early
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 4, Runway 30, Arrive 16m Early
N215AG, Bombardier CRJ-700, Alaska colors, ~99% Full
Seat 2A, Coach
Flight Time 2h7m
Once onboard, it dawned on me that Alaska is the only US airline with CRJ-700s in a single cabin configuration these days. I couldn’t get a seat assignment in advance, but when I checked in, seat 2A was open so I grabbed it.
We taxied out quickly and took off into the thin cloud layer. Once above it, we were treated to yet another spectacular mountain view.
The flight was actually pretty pleasant. I wasn’t feeling great or I would have had a free microbrew. Instead, I just flipped on some music, grabbed a ginger ale, and enjoyed the view. Though the CRJ isn’t my favorite airplane, I do like the ledge for your foot on the window side. The time passed quickly and I was more comfortable than I was in some of the slimline seats I’ve flown recently.
We descended over Santa Monica Bay, hung a left over Catalina Island, and then lined up over Huntington Beach for a scenic landing. I was surprised to see us backtrack on the main runway a little bit in order to avoid a JetBlue traffic jam. I was off the airplane right away and back in the warm Southern California air.