Posts Tagged ‘Southwest’

 

No Shirt. No Flight.

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

melissa and charlotte smirkIt’s 10:00 PM. Helaine and I should be on a plane approaching Milwaukee. Instead, the plane is over Western Kansas and we’re in SoCal.

We were headed cheeseward on the occasion of my niece Melissa’s daughter’s naming. Grand niece, right?

Charlotte!

She’s really adorable and I’m sure I’m already her favorite uncle. If not, please fix that.

Thank you Arizona criminals!

It all started around 2:30 at a Tempe, Arizona gas station. A fight there turned to gunplay with one man critically injured. The perps took off.

Cops quickly spotted them speeding from the scene. These guys weren’t giving up easily. They hit the gas hard until the police were forced to back off for safety.

shirtless suspectThey were next seen at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Two of the suspects, a man and a woman, were quickly arrested. The third guy, shirtless for easy identification, ran into Terminal 4.

Shirtless! Was he hoping to get on COPS?

Terminal 4 is where Southwest’s TPA-DEN-SMF-SNA-PHX-AUS Flight 4661 usually makes its next to last stop.

We were ready to board at John Wayne when the gate agent told us to sit, Phoenix was closed!

First Southwest delayed the flight. Then they cancelled. They pulled the trigger very quickly on what looked to be a full load. Surprising.

Within seconds nearly everyone at Gate 16 reached for their pockets. We got emails. We got texts.

I tapped in Southwest’s number.

“We can call you back in 12-17 minutes,” the not-really-a-woman on the phone said.

I pressed one for yes.

Forty five minutes later they called back.

We were stuck. Christina, Stef’s best friend, is scheduled to stay here Sunday night . This Milwaukee trip was already squeezed into the tiniest possible space.

We picked up Doppler at the sitter and came home.

sky harbor shooting arrestDay wasted!

We will reschedule soon. We’ve got a great niece to see and my folks, plus Trudi and Jeff’s three generations.

Oh, and Phoenix suspect… on behalf all the people inconvenienced by your stupid, violent act and on behalf of the poor man you sent to the hospital, don’t get your hopes up for character witnesses.

POSTSCIPT

John Wayne Airport claims to be located in Santa Ana, but it’s really in a complex governmental no-man’s land. No one calls it Santa Ana, probably because Santa Ana is poor. That’s not very comforting.

The airport is commonly referred to as Orange County or John Wayne.

Because the magnetic field of the Earth changes ever so slightly from year-to-year, this summer they had to renumber runway 1R-19L and 1L-19R to 2-20 left and right. Honest.

I Feel Your Pain — Still

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

IMG_5154

“I love the four seasons,” said no one in the Northeast today. The weather sucks!

There’s already six inches to a foot on-the-ground in Connecticut.

With rain/sleet/freezing rain and then a turn back to snow, the pack will be wet, heavy and tough to clear.

I just traded texts with my niece Melissa in Milwaukee. She and husband Mark are supposed to fly Southwest to New York City tomorrow. Good luck.

New York City’s new mayor is in snow denial mode. Another attempt to blame the weatherman. It’s bipartisan. Everybody does it!

The mayor and Al Roker battled it out on Twitter this morning. Winter will do that to you. Everyone gets testy.

Southwest hasn’t cancelled flights for tomorrow yet. They will!

Will Melissa’s plane even make it to Milwaukee tonight so it’s available for a 6:05 AM departure? Will the crew have enough rest hours? How crazy will our nation’s air traffic system be?

I’m not sure what to do on a day like today? It’s 75&#176 and partly cloudy at John Wayne Airport. Out my window, totally blue skies. Should I just keep my mouth shut and hide?

I totally understand what folks in the Northeast are going through. It might seem like I’m rubbing it in. I’m not. My dues are paid-in-full.

Usually by mid-February, winter had gotten the best of me. And yet I knew there was more snow to come. There was nothing to do but grin and bear it and plan my escape.

More snow Saturday. Post photos. That’s as close as I’m getting.

How Do Tall Guys Do It?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Geoff on Southwest

We’re at cruising altitude. Sully has turned off the seat belt sign. I’m on my way to Los Angeles via Denver. The little bar Southwest inserts on every webpage says 3:15 to go.

The airlines don’t like it, but I appreciate this less than full flight. Helaine and I usually occupy the aisle and window seat and try to avoid eye contact, hoping no one will go for the middle seat.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Today it worked!

Once we were flying level I headed to the forward lav. It’s the one you’re not supposed to congregate in front of. It’s adjacent to the upgraded cockpit door.

My head touches the bathroom ceiling on most planes. TV makes me look taller. I’m not quite 5′ 10″.

Exactly how do you tall men do this? No, seriously.

I read one airline (it was either Spirit or Europe’s Ryanair) wants to shrink the bathroom more! How tall is their CEO?

To The Left Coast We Go

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

We are going to the Left Coast later this week. It’s a very brief trip, just a few days. My friend Howard’s son is being Bar Mitzvahed in Los Angeles.

We normally drive to Bradley and usually fly Southwest. Not this time. I’ve finally convinced Helaine we can fly nonstop from JFK.

This had better work.

I love you Lt. Eugene M. Bradley International Airport&#185. I know you well. Sorry. Nonstop wins.

Of course the peril of JFK is it might take an hour forty five to get there or six hours!

This was sneaking peeks at Google Maps traffic layer day. The route was clear except for the Van Wyck Expressway in South Jamaica. A two mile traffic jam was exactly where it used to be when I was a kid!

Growing up we lived in Flushing and my grandparents lived in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. We went nearly every weekend. I’ve been driven down the Van Wyck then west on the Belt Parkway past the airport hundreds of times, though none in the 21st Century.

We fly a JetBlue A320. One free bag apiece. We’ll be fine. It’s been running early most days this past week.

Helaine and I booked window and aisle hoping we’d get the center seat free. Right. That trick never works.

Someone who currently thinks they’ll be jammed in a middle seat from coast-to-coast gets good news upon boarding!

We’ve also got a reservation for parking nearby. That doesn’t look like a problem.

Even with the slightly longer drive to Kennedy we’ll still save time and gain convenience by eliminating a connection. That’s if everything works out. I take full responsibility.

&#185 – I got the airport’s long name from Wikipedia. If the official Bradley International website has it I couldn’t find it. The airport is named after Lt. Eugene M. Bradley.

While piloting in a dogfight training drill, Lt. Bradley’s P-40 crashed on August 21, 1941. Following his funeral in Hartford, Lt. Bradley’s remains were interred at San Antonio National Cemetery in Texas.

Following a groundswell of sentiment in favor of naming the Windsor Locks airfield in Lt. Bradley’s honor, the airfield became Army Air Base, Bradley Field, Connecticut on January 20, 1942.

I’ve Made It To Baltimore, Jack

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

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bwi gate b10

It doesn’t qualify as halfway, but from a practical standpoint it is. I am at Baltimore-Washington International Gate B 10.

My flight from Bradley was great. I was awakened by the wheels hitting the runway on landing.  Actually, I woke up disoriented and startled by the bump.

Scared to fall asleep here. I’d surely sleep through boarding and be in Baltimore the same way Charlie was on the MTA.

Waiting At Gate 2

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Good morning from BDL. I’ve got an 8:30 AM flight to Baltimore then a second flight to West Palm Beach. I came an hour early. but the gate area is already crowded.

Note to boss: FoxCT’s morning news is playing on the TV here at Gate 2. It’s much too loud.

We’ll see how I survive the day. I wanted to go to bed early, but have no discipline. A little after 1:00 AM my cellphone rang. It was Helaine upstairs who’d woken up and wondered where I was?

The ride to the airport was fine. The only real problem was in the TSA area. They had me remove the two big camera lens from my roll on. The woman in front of me turned my way and asked, “Does this really do anything?”

No.

Even though skies are clear I’ve been watching planes get de-iced. I assume they’ll stop now that the Sun is up.

I assume I’ll stop now that the Sun is up!

A Few Minutes At The Airport To Think

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

How times have changed. I’ve just waited for this webpage to load and got upset the free gateside Internet at Bradley isn’t fast enough! Seriously, what’s wrong with me?

I’m at Southwest’s Gate 2. Our flight is still an hour away. There was a little snow. We left early. Arrived early too!

Helaine asked me to check if we were close to a free week at the place we always park. Yes, right after this trip. Then I wondered if we’d be here to use it?

The TSA agent swabbed my palms looking for explosives then looked at my boarding pass. He was verifying what he already knew.

“Find anything yet,” he asked? He said he read about me in the newspaper.

Here’s today’s good news. Southwest has added industrial strength padded seats with AC and USB power at their gates. Sweet. It’s as close as Southwest comes to first class seating.

My friend Wendie is picking us up at Fort Lauderdale. She was the assistant news director when I came to Channel 8 in 1984. Later she became my boss.

Back then in TV it was get out of the way of the falling bags of money! Times have changed.

Southwest Buys – The Foxes Worry

Monday, September 27th, 2010

My first words to Helaine this morning: “Did you hear about Southwest?” Southwest is buying AirTran.

I saw the story while laying in bed trying to avoid starting my day. We are big Southwest customers/fans. This story will impact us at some point.

Though Southwest is the biggest passenger carrier in the U.S. it always operated smaller. It’s tough not to notice more passenger/employee interaction and the ability of line employees to make their own decisions. I don’t want to see that gone.

One of Southwest’s strengths has been its dependence on Boeing 737s. Though they fly a few different 737 models it’s my understanding that using just one type of aircraft added flexibility in maintenance, crewing and scheduling. Southwest used to brag about that.

AirTran has 86 Boeing 717s. These are fine planes, but they’re different. You can’t use 737 parts on a 717 nor a 737 crew! That’s less, not more flexibility.

Beyond that the more I read the better this sounds. Flightglobal.com reports:

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the carrier has decided it wants to keep and operate the 717, and will operate the smaller aircraft in a single 117-seat configuration. Currently AirTran operates its 117-seat 717s in a dual class offering.

No math necessary. Removing first class and maintaining an identical seat count means more leg room in coach!

When it comes to bag fees, change fees and assigned seating Southwest says,

  • Upon full integration, it is our intent to have a consistent product offering. It is our intent that the bag fees would not be part of that product.
  • Upon full integration, it is our intent to have a consistent product offering. It is our intent that the change fees would not be part of that product.
  • Upon full integration, it is our intent to have a consistent product offering. It is our intent that seat assignments would not be part of that product.

It looks like Southwest wants AirTran’s culture absorbed into theirs. Easier said than done. People are people. No one likes change. Someone will feel slighted. Employee discontent spreads more quickly than the common cold! Wanting and accomplishing aren’t necessarily linked.

As mergers go I’m pretty happy. AirTran opens Southwest to loads of new cities with very little overlap, like Atlanta.

AirTran serves 38 airports not served by Southwest and Southwest serves 37 airports that AirTran does not serve.

Southwest says this will be a ‘fleet neutral’ acquisition. They’ll still need all the planes and crews.

I’ve never heard of an acquisition this size with no reduction in force. That’s usually a big reason mergers and acquisitions take place. Maybe I’m missing something? We’ll see.

On The Way To Florida

Monday, March 29th, 2010

“I’ll call you when I get to Baltimore,” I wrote in an email to my friend John who will be picking me up at Ft. Lauderdale. Uh oh. I’m not flying through Baltimore. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to function as an adult this time of day?

I’m writing from Gate 6 at Bradley International. My flight is scheduled to leave for Ft. Lauderdale at 9:00 AM with a brief stop in Tampa.

At the moment Ft. Lauderdale is feeling the sting of strong thunderstorms with a Tornado Warning in effect! The system has moved out of Tampa.

The tsuris in Florida is related to the same weather system we’ve got in Connecticut. It poured for most of my drive to the airport. It wasn’t any worse than rain I’ve driven in a hundred times, but it was enough to make the drive less pleasant and more cautious.

I followed a Southwest pilot through security this morning. He had a tiny HP netbook in his tray along with his his iconic Southwest leather jacket.

Why does he need to go through security? He does, after all, have the keys to the plane. Is there really a security advantage to having him walk through the airport in his stocking feet?

If you haven’t been following this trip came up when my mom fell and shattered her elbow. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. It’s outpatient surgery… but isn’t everything nowadays.

I expect it will be a bumpy departure from BDL.

Roxie’s First Flight

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Roxie survived our flight out west… but it didn’t go smoothly. Though drugged up to the Woodstock level she still managed to chew her way through her carrier. That’s a real problem because she then attempted to escape!

The bottom line is Southwest didn’t kick us off their planes. Roxie can avoid cross country trips for a while.