As Helaine and I stood, milling around with our fellow members of Southwest Boarding Group “A,” we looked left. The boarding area was crawling with pre-boarders – parents and their small children?
“SBF,” I asked?
Though I’d never used those initials before, she knew exactly what I meant. Would this be the ‘screaming baby flight’ to Tampa?
As it turned out, most of the noise on the flight came from the boy’s and girl’s tennis teams from Springfield College, though even they were well behaved.
This was a classically good flight. I fell asleep before we were airborne. In fact, at one point I briefly woke up, turned my head to look out the window and only then realized we were flying.
Our pilot, from the Gus Souflas School of Aviation¹, was very excited today. Instead of flying out over the Atlantic, we were flying over Central North Carolina.
Like I said, this was a very nice flight. Until the last few minutes it was smooth as could be, and even the bumps we felt on descent weren’t too bad. We landed in Tampa 25 minutes early!
Unfortunately, the first thing we saw in Tampa’s airport was the television screen showing us our outbound flight would be late. Luckily, there’s free wireless access at this airport.
Origin Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l [KPHX]
Destination Tampa Int’l [KTPA]
Route TFD2 CIE J2 FST J2 JCT J86 LEV Q100 REMIS BLOND3
Date Saturday, Mar 11, 2006
Duration 3 hours 20 minutes
Progress 1 hour 36 minutes left 1 hour 43 minutes
Status En Route (936 miles down; 856 miles to go)
Departure 11:15AM MST 12:51PM MST
Arrival 04:29PM EST 06:11PM EST
Speed 453 kts 516 kts
Altitude 39000 feet 39000 feet
Flight 915 is over Houston… and speeding its way here (faster than the original flight plan called for), but it will be late. It is a casualty of Phoenix’s first rain since October.
I’ve been on planes that stopped in Tampa, but I’ve never actually set foot in the terminal. It is broad with high ceilings and lots of space. I can see the stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play out the floor to ceiling wall of windows.
Like any airport, it’s not meant for extended stays, so I’ll be hearing the “suspicious packages” announcement a few dozen times before we leave.
As I mentioned, there is wireless access, but there are few places to plug my uncharged laptop. I hunted down a socket with a flip-up covering in the carpet. It’s turned off.
The only working plugs I could find were associated with a phone booth. Actually built for dial-up Internet access (before the airport started giving it away), this fixture is a dinosaur. Between cellphones and wireless, there’s not much business left for pay phones.
My folks are holding dinner. We won’t get to their place much before 9:00 PM.
Did I mention this is Florida? Even at the tale of a long winter it’s sunny and green outside.
¹ – I described Gus, a pilot described by my friend Howard, in this entry from an earlier Vegas vacation.