I was planning on leaving for Birmingham a little before 4:00 PM. Helaine had a suggestion – leave earlier.
How do you react to that? You really have no choice, because if you leave ‘on time’ and miss the flight¹ it’s incredibly embarrassing. On the other hand, what’s a little time in the terminal?
I left early and the trip was even quicker than I had anticipated. It took 20 minutes door-to-door.
This is not LAX or JFK I was going to. This is Tweed/New Haven Airport. This little field is a gem. All it’s missing is frequent service! Right now, you can fly to Philadelphia via USAir (prop) and Cincinnati on Delta (jet) and no place else.
I’ve attached two pictures to give you a feel for the place. The first, a residential street scene is actually the last street you drive on before you get to the airport.
Tweed is in a neighborhood.
The second shot is the ticket counter. This is not a cropped shot. This is everything. The whole shooting match. USAir’s on the left. Delta’s on the right.
What’s good about the airport is that it is so easy to get around in. Everything is close. Everyone is friendly.
I hear about people driving to New York or Hartford and say, “why?” Yes, sometimes these bigger airports are appropriate, but Tweed has so much going for it and too few people use it.
I cleared security and headed upstairs to my gate. Though there is a jetway, these little jets (mine was a Canadair CRJ40) board from the tarmack.
In the gate area, a TV suspended from the ceiling was showing Fox News. I looked up. The picture was an Air France passenger jet on fire at Lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto.
Oh my God!
The dozen or so of us watched attentively. What kind of omen was this?
The flight was called and we all walked back downstairs and onto the field. I had brought both my bags as carry-ons. The bigger didn’t fit in the overhead.
The one advantage smaller jets and prop planes have is the ability to check something at the plane. You get a little ticket, watch it get put into the belly of the jet and then pick it up at as you deplane. No waiting for checked baggage. It’s sweet.
As we took off, fully nine minutes early, the plane accelerated like a little sports car. Other than my ride in a Navy F/A-18, I can’t ever remember a takeoff with this much ‘push you into your seat’ kick. The climb was swift and smooth.
I’d liike to say the flight to Cincinnati was smooth. Instead, we bumped our way up to 32,000 feet.
The CRJ40 is a very nice plane. It is about the right size for a single aisle regional jet. There are 40 seats and a crew of three.
I didn’t have a tpae measure, but it seems like the distance between rows is substantial. The width of the seats is not. I’m 5′ 9″ and I was too tall for the bathroom!
We landed in Cincinnati (actually, Northern Kentucky) about 7:15. We were sent to C72 with my connecting flight at C12. It’s as far as it sounds.
As I walked through the terminal, I looked at the TV screen to see my flight and an earlier flight to Birmingham, leaving in ten minutes. Was it possible?
I got to the ticket counter and explained how I had just flown in, was scheduled to leave later, but would gladly take a seat on this flight. No problem!
I walked onto the CRJ 700 and settled into the aisle seat in row 17. The man sitting at the window was speaking to someone on his cellphone. Swedish possible? It had that ring to it.
Whereas the 40 seater is sized right, this 70 seat jet is all wrong. It is cramped and much too long for a very narrow single aisle.
For takeoff and landing, one of the two flight attendants sits in a jump seat centered on the rear bulkhead. I turned to her and asked if this was punishment for something she had done wrong?
We were in Birmingham by 7:30 CDT. That meant it took three and a half hours to fly from New Haven to Birmingham. Unreal. That’s more than I could have ever asked for.
I walked into the terminal and, seeing the courtesy phones used, called the Radisson on my cellphone. Ten minutes later a van driven by a very nice man with a very bad hairpiece drove up.
We started to the hotel, but before we could get off airport property, his cellphone rang. There were more. Would I mind?
The hotel is fine, though nothing special. It could have been a Holiday Inn or Sheraton or any of a zillion moderately priced business hotels. It does have a floor mounted air conditioner in this room which is noisy.
It also has something I’ve never seen in any building before – a 13th floor!
More later today from Birmingham. Registration for my conference is at noon and I’m bushed.
¹ – I have been flying commercially since 1967. I have never missed a flight – never. I have stated this fact to Helaine enough times that she is entitled to slug me if I ever say it again… which I will.