Avelo to Arcata/Eureka: Second Verse Nearly the Same as the First (Trip Report)

Avelo, Trip Reports

On the heels of my “Dad Adventure” with my son to Ogden, it was time for my daughter’s adventure. Where to? She chose Arcata/Eureka which sounded good to me. I’d never been up there, and it had always interested me.

This flight, the best I can recall from my notes, was $114 originally and we changed it as part of the shift from my son’s trip. The change functionality on the Avelo website is clunky, and so I ended up somehow paying an extra few dollars to change one way and then I had a credit left over for changing the other way. I ended up rolling that into a more expensive seat assignment, but that required calling reservations and speaking to a very nice agent who had to call a supervisor. She couldn’t get her supervisor, so she said she’d call me back. She did, and we were the proud owners of seats in row 30 in one direction instead of 34. Ok then.

This started out feeling like déjà vu. We drove to Lot G at Burbank and snagged a covered spot. Then we walked to the terminal which was actually slightly different from the week before since in the meantime, Delta moved from Terminal B to A and swapped with Spirit. We went through security — no sneaky toothpaste tubes to cause problems this time — and then we waited at the same gate B3 for boarding.

The agent working the flight seemed to be new, because she was carefully reading the boarding announcements and getting encouragement from someone else. It was going well until she started calling boarding groups and had the mic turned backwards. There were a few chuckles, then some encouragement, and then boarding began.

We were in group 1 yet again, still in the same old row 34 on the way out. This is when things started to differ. Most notably at first, there is no longer any rear stair boarding.

July 18, 2021
Avelo 121 Lv Burbank 1240p Arr Arcata/Eureka 225p
Burbank (BUR): Gate B3, Runway 15, Depart 4m Early
Arcata/Eureka (ACV): Gate Arrival, Runway 32, Arrive 10m Early
N803XT (msn 34407), Boeing 737-8F2, Standard colors, ~55% Full
Seat 34E, Coach
Flight Time 1h12m

This aircraft, 803, has a completely different interior than 801, the airplane I had on both my previous Avelo flights. These seats were traditional, new ULCC interiors with rock hard seats and magazine holders at eye level along with mesh pockets below. It may have looked more modern, but I’ll take the seats on 801 any day.

At least, I figured, these wouldn’t recline… but I was wrong. There is an interesting little roller recline between the seat cushions (the gray below). I did not use it, nor, mercifully, did the person in front of me.

We got the same flight attendant safety demo, and we again taxied out early for our departure to the south. It was one of those rare summer days where the monsoon wanders westward deep into California, and though the morning overcast had passed, we could see storms building to the north. After taking off, we climbed to altitude and sure enough, we had to do some storm dodging.

It got a little bumpy a couple times, and my daughter seemed to enjoy what she called “the massage.” Eventually, the clouds fell away and we were able to get a decent view of Sacramento. The flight attendants came through with the usual snack pack with water, wipe, and Lorna Doone cookies.

It’s like they built the ACV runway specifically for arrivals from Southern California. It’s nearly a straight shot into runway 32, and I really enjoyed the descent as the scenery became progressively greener the closer we got to the coast. Here’s a 52 second video of our arrival.

On descent, the woman next to me in the aisle started chatting with me. She was from the area and was so happy to have Avelo in town. She used to drive to LA, where she grew up. Now she can fly cheap. The family across the aisle was also from Humboldt County. I’d be really curious to know the point-of-sale split on this flight, especially on a Sunday northbound trip.

We landed early and pulled up to a parking spot. Once off the airplane, we were sent to one of those revolving doors with bars on them.

That led us back inside to a very attractive baggage claim area.

With no bags, we went straight to the only car rental counter at the airport, Enterprise/National. There would be no Emerald Aisle here. I was given the keys to a Hyundai Accent and was told to just walk to the end of the terminal and the car would be parked in a little lot there. So it was.

With the sun shining, we were off on our 24 hour sprint, and it was beautiful up there. I don’t feel like there was a ton more to see in Ogden, but in the “Lost Coast” area, there’s plenty left on my list. I could spend a week there easily.

After a whirlwind, our final stop was a ride through the Avenue of the Giants which was over an hour south of the airport. We rode along the small road that cuts through towering redwoods until we thought we were cutting it close enough to departure. Then we hopped on the 101 and got to the airport about an hour in advance of the flight.

After dumping the car back in the lot, we walked inside to go to the ticket counter. I had checked us in, but like in Ogden, I hadn’t printed anything out. The counter actually had a pretty long line, so I decided to just push my luck and try to use the printed pass on my phone. I didn’t want to wait, and it wasn’t a problem.

We made it to security, and despite having emptied my water bottles out, I completely forgot that I had one of the little bottles in my small pocket from the flight up the day before. Oops. The TSA agent pulled it out and then let us go.

The waiting area is stunning for such a small space. It has a beautiful, arched roof that is, I assume, made of redwood, but I’m very bad at knowing. It looks like a wing, and made the basic box look a whole lot more interesting. Arcata/Eureka is huge compared to Ogden…. It has TWO boarding doors. We were at gate 2, and had no trouble finding a place to sit.

This time, since we were in row 30, we had moved down into boarding group 2. It didn’t really matter when they called groups 1 and 2 to board at the same time anyway. The agent mentioned that there were about 130 people onboard which seemed pretty good for a Monday to me.

July 19, 2021
Avelo 122 Lv Arcata/Eureka 305p Arr Burbank 5p
Arcata/Eureka (ACV): Gate 2, Runway 32, Depart 1m Early
Burbank (BUR): Gate B3, Runway 15, Arrive 23m Early
N802XT (msn 34405), Boeing 737-8F2, Standard colors, ~70% Full
Seat 30B, Coach
Flight Time 1h21m

I was excited to be able to complete the Avelo trifecta. Avelo had three airplanes in the fleet at the time we flew, and I have now been on all of them. But would 802 be like 801 or 803… or neither? It turns out it’s a twin to ship 803 with the slimline seats. Oh well.

I thought we were ready to go early, but people kept trickling in. I wondered if there were issues at the ticket counter or security, because people would come in spurts and look very relieved to be onboard. Either way, we still buttoned up early and pushed back just one minute before schedule.

After the safety briefing, we headed to the runway and launched toward the northwest. When we boarded, it had been gray outside, but the stubborn marine layer had finally cleared before departure. That meant after getting over the ocean, we turned back and had a stunning view of the airport and then Eureka itself (on the right side of the bay below).

The pilot on the PA had that true captain’s voice that seemed straight out of central casting. He told us it was a nice day for flying, and he was not wrong. Some of the high clouds had lingered a bit as we climbed through them, but we were above them quickly and after that we could only see clouds over the Sierras in the distance.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think the pilots were drunk. They received so many vectors that we ended up with this flight path.

At the end of the flight, I spoke with the captain and said it looked like they were keeping him busy. He just laughed and said “yeah, flying in Southern California can be interesting” or something to that effect.

We got the usual snack pack as we zigged and zagged our way down. Then we started to descend, and it was one of the more unique approaches I’ve ever done in the area.

We came down from the north, skimming through the tops of some small but mighty clouds building up in a couple of spots. We hung a left and then went alongside the Topatopa Mountains.

We were sitting on the left, so while those on the right had a view of population centers and the ocean beyond, we had rugged, tectonic-twisted mountains all the way down.

We passed just south of Magic Mountain and I figured that is where we’d make a turn into the valley to line up for landing… but we didn’t. I can’t remember doing this before, but we did a rare (?) approach into Burbank from the north, flying parallel to the Santa Susana Mountains which form the northern rim of the San Fernando Valley.

We kept a slow right curve going as we descended alongside the mountains, finally touching down and coming to a halt about 20 feet from our gate. If you’d like to watch it along with expert commentary from my daughter, we’ll, you’re in luck with this 3 minute video.

After a left turn, we were at the gate, and it was very early.

Again there were no rear stairs, but we made it off eventually and walked out to the car where it was time to sit in traffic. The good news is that we had landed so early that we walked in the door at home only an hour after our scheduled arrival time in Burbank. That’s pretty amazing.

I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to fly Avelo again, but with the exception of the seats onboard, it was a consistent and pleasant experience. With all flights being on time and the price being right, I’d consider flying Avelo again to places that aren’t easily reached from Long Beach.

If you’re interested in going to Arcata/Eureka, here’s how we spent our day:

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20 comments on “Avelo to Arcata/Eureka: Second Verse Nearly the Same as the First (Trip Report)

  1. I have family in Eureka, so seeing ACV brought back some memories. That revolving gate has been there forever, hasn’t changed a bit. But the hold room is new and looks great, the old one was tiny.

    It’s a beautiful area, and if you roll your windows down in many places (even some on 101) you can smell the pot growing.

    Last two times I went to visit I had to fly into SFO, then OAK and drive a rental car up, the prices were outrageous. I have to admit I miss the Brazilias back in the day, even did the relatively rate Brazilia-to-Brazilia connection flying ACV-SFO-FAT as part of a longer trip. Had the Brazilia on the FAT-LAS leg of that trip too.

  2. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the pilots were drunk. They received so many vectors that we ended up with this flight path.

    I assume none of them were vector 324? Or did you have to request one.

    It got a little bumpy a couple times, and my daughter seemed to enjoy what she called “the massage.”

    That’s a priceless comment by your daughter, absolutely made my morning. Thanks for that & the trip report.

  3. Looks like you, too, got caught with the “Delta water bottle” (as the TSA referred to it when I got caught with one on the return from a DL roundtrip). Many airlines are now handing out ziploc bags with a snack/cookies and an 8-ounce bottle of water (or similar) to reduce contact, instead of doing the whole “pouring soda from cans in the drink cart” thing. As a result, it’s quite common to be caught with those little waters by TSA on the return flight, as more than a few of us tend to just slip the small bottle of water (or the entire ziploc snack pack) into our carryon bags and forget about them.

  4. I’m so jealous of your trifecta :) … I’ve only flown on ships 801 and 802.

    Sounds like a great trip. My favorite line from your daughter is the repeated “Avelo are professionals”, which almost sounded like it had a question mark at the end!

  5. The route is actually not that different from the filed one, as I believe that is the blue dashed lines on the flightaware track. They just vectored you early before catching the arrival STAR, probably for spacing, There is also a lot more air traffic at 4:00 pm on a Monday, than on a weekend.

    Not sure what Sean is referring to as vector 324. Maybe Victor 324, but since you were above 18000′, you wouldn’t have been on that anyway.

    Those seat recliners are usually where they are located on bus seats, maybe left over from when it flew for Turkish Air? And 801 last flew with a different operator than 802 and 803, that is probably why the seats are different.

  6. No matter what your past, current and future professional credits may be, your GREATEST accomplishment in this Life will be your children. They are growing up so fast. Many of us remember when they were born. God has Blessed you and May He Bless them as well. Amen.

  7. Former lives of the 3 Avelo 738s

    N801XT was operated by TUI Airlines Netherlands, Arke & ArkeFly (PH-TFF)
    N802XT was operated by Turkish Airlines (TC-JGG)
    N803XT was also operated by Turkish Airlines (TC-JGI)

    Explains why the seats were the same in 802 & 803.

    1. Tjwgrr – These are new seat shipsets that Avelo installed. So they must have just gotten a smoking deal on either a set of 1 or 2 and then got the rest separately. But it shouldn’t make a difference where the airplane came from since I think either shipset would fit in either aircraft.

  8. Alright, who else is unable to read the word ‘vector’ without saying to oneself, ‘What’s your vector, Victor?’

    1. I think I have that entire movie memorized. Between “Airplane” and “Wrath of Khan”, I’m surprised there’s room in my brain for anything else.

  9. Fantastic trip report. Seems that they’re are able to fill planes with their niche; hopefully they’re able to do it profitably.
    BTW your daughter’s commentary on final into BUR is PRICELESS!!

  10. I read all of your trip reports and while I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them, this may be my favorite.
    The videos (I’ve flown in/out of BUR so many times!) with your daughter’s commentary and your replies/comments to her are what made this perfect to me,
    Thanks for posting it!

  11. Your daughter’s commentary was adorable, and I wish there was more if it. My daughters are now >30, and this brought back happy memories of them at that age. :)

    Off topic: the 1st flight I took them on, maybe 1997 was IAD to ORD for a big family wedding, on United. Departure ~3 pm. Clear weather. Rehearsal dinner in Chicago at 7:30 pm. I wanted a daylight flight for them to enjoy the views for their 1st experience. They were thrilled. We boarded, they closed the door, and we sat. Mechanical issues. For 5 hours – at the gate. Never started the engines. No A/C. Hot. Stake air. No food. No drinks either. People were close to rioting, demanding to be let out since we never left the gate. Sometime after 8 pm (too late to find alternative flights) they let everyone deplane but told them to stay nearby and listen for announcements. Around 11 pm they called us back to board. By then it was raining in both cities too. I’m leaving many other details out. Terrible experience for my daughters first flights. I never flew on United again even though they are very major at IAD. Was happy to see United get in trouble in 2017 for dragging Dr Dao off a plane in Chicago. BTW, my uncle was a career captain who flew ~25,000 hours for United.

  12. Why would you make a comment so stupid as “if I didn’t know better I’d think the pilots were drunk”. Because they had a few vectors? You knowing a bit about aviation I’d think you’d know the feds take even the slightest comment in reference to drunk pilots seriously . Stupid comment to say the least

    1. I want to jump to Cranky’s defense. In context of the entire article, it was clearly just a comment about the route of the aircraft – which is given to the pilots by ATC. The accompanying graphic from FlightAware clearly shows what he was referring to. The comment could have been just as easily applied to the Air Traffic Controllers, since they told the pilots when to turn and what route to take. Commercial airline pilots don’t have discretion to make turns any way they want along their route. ATC controls that. Cranky also didn’t make any negative comments at all on how the aircraft itself was flown. The tone of the article was complementary to Avelo. Any FAA official reading this post is not in any way going to conclude that someone is reporting drunk pilots. In fact, he also says:
      “At the end of the flight, I spoke with the captain and said it looked like they were keeping him busy. He just laughed and said “yeah, flying in Southern California can be interesting” or something to that effect.”
      I think you are overreacting…

      1. Regardless of the tone, context, or how harmless one may think a drunk pilot joke is… the faa does not take humor in it in the least. If he had made that comment to the pilots directly they would not have seen the humor and it would have been taken very seriously resulting in them voluntarily or involuntarily taking alcohol tests . Yeah they would have thought that was hilarious

        1. To beat a dead horse, which I love to do :)

          Yes, and that is exactly the point. He did NOT say that to the pilots nor did he say anything like that while on the aircraft itself or even while on airport grounds. He wrote a complimentary trip report afterwards. So you are overreacting.

          Some aviation journalist could write, days after his/her flight, that “our route taken looked like it was flown by a crazy person”. Should that trigger the FAA to send in a strike team of mental health professionals to evaluate the pilots and ATC controllers? No. Because context matters. Don’t forget a non-drunk pilot flew a plane into a mountain in Europe and MH370 disappeared into the Southern Ocean. So I am sure the FAA takes mental health as seriously as alcohol consumption.

          You are making an inapplicable and fallacious point because you are essentially saying that “he should not have done what he NEVER DID do, because the FAA would take it very seriously”.

          This is why things should never be taken out of context, and why if the FAA saw the word “drunk” in some blog they would not jump to such a conclusion. Context and what was actually said matters. Not just a trigger word.

          For example some aviation journalist might say in an article a week after a flight “that reminded me of riding with my drunk uncle on our tractor back on our farm” because of some brief unexpected air turbulence at some point. So should that comment trigger the FAA to investigate possible drunk pilots?

          Now if a passenger saw pilots having difficulty walking, heard slurred speech, or they smelled alcohol while passing by them, or experienced erratic aircraft control, that would be actionable.

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