To The Left Coast We Go

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

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.

Homeward Bound

Yes, I know what’s going on back in Connecticut.

It’s a sunny morning in the Southland. We’re at a hotel down the block from LAX. Helaine just watched a plane fly between two buildings!

Things are fluid. Our flight was scheduled for 12:55 PST. Now it’s scheduled for 2:05 PM.

Yes, I know what’s going on back in Connecticut. There’s freezing rain&#185 falling across much of the state and it’s falling on top of snow.

I’ve checked the computer guidance and temperatures should be mild enough by arrival time tonight. Unfortunately the computers are often too generous in pushing in warmer air under these circumstances.

Our plane stops in Nashville before going on to Bradley. I’d rather not spend the night there.

&#185 – Freezing rain falls when cloud temperatures are warm enough for rain. Drops fall in liquid form, but freeze on contact as they hit the ground, tree limbs, power lines, etc. It’s probably the most dicey weather for any time of travel–worse than snow.

The Empty Airport

8:30 pm seems too early for everything to be shut tight. It makes Connecticut seem tiny and provincial.

The last flight of the day has left Bradley International. The airport is a virtual ghost town. A handful of TSA agents stand near the screening area.

8:30 pm seems too early for everything to be shut tight. It makes Connecticut seem tiny and provincial.

My parents are coming in. They have been routed the strangest way, West Palm Beach to Cleveland, a four hour layover, then Bradley.

That’s not a routing, it’s torture!

The flight is late. The airport will be even lonlier when they get here.

On Our Way

Greetings from Gate 6 at Bradley International Airport. Our plane is listed ‘on time’, though there’s no plane at Gate 6 right now. We fly to Baltimore, stop for dinner, then board another flight to Albuquerque.

The Albuquerque airport is called the “Sunport.” A little too cute for an airport.

I pulled up at the curb, took the bags out of the car and milled around, hoping no policeman would ask me to move along. The idea was to get the bags checked, then drop off the car at long term parking. It worked.

We passed security unscathed. If I would have removed any more clothing, I could have been arrested for indecent exposure.

Some folks were being sent through a ‘puffer.’ I don’t know what it does, but I feel no more secure knowing it’s there. I’m sure GE, whose large logo is festooned on the side, is thrilled.

As we removed our sneakers, a steady beep came from a line of passengers nearby. A fierce looking 80 year old woman was being given the once over. Something she brought through the X-Ray machine wasn’t making the screeners happy.

Considering my feelings about the screening process, you might think I’m making this up. I am not.

As we continued through the screening area, I flashed back to the first real estate closing I ever had – the one for our condo when Helaine and I moved to Connecticut. That morning I looked at all the people sitting at the table and thought, “I’m paying for all these people. Why?”

The TSA’s secure area is now plastered with signs printed on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. Take off your shoes. Are your gels in small see-through plastic bags? Are you packing fireworks? It’s beginning to resemble the DMV with its institutionalized surliness.

Where are the good old days when the only signs you saw warned you about Murtala Mohammed Airport?

Oh, there’s one more thing about the airport. At least at this gate, the PA system is set at stun level.

At last check, the weather forecast for our Saturday morning balloon ride was still iffy. I’m hoping for better news.

See you from New Mexico.

It’s Tampa… And A Delay

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.

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 Aviation&#185, 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]


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)

Proposed/Assigned Actual/Estimated

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.

&#185 – I described Gus, a pilot described by my friend Howard, in this entry from an earlier Vegas vacation.

What Am I (Not) Thinking

I am writing to you while on my butt at Gate 5 (thanks Northwest) Bradley International Airport. The wireless connection is free, but the only seats near a power outlet are taken.

I wasn’t going to write, but it’s been an eventful ride so far… and the flight is an hour off.

Last night, after I moved my reservations, I printed my boarding pases. Southwest allows you to do that 24 hours in advance. I sat the passes on my desk at work and forgot about them – even when I threw them out with the rest of my trash!

Luckily I remembered before the trash was taken.

Helaine packed the bulk of what we were taking. I packed a computer, camera, cellphone and enough chargers to choke a TSA agent. I event bought a strip plug for all the electronics.

As always I scouted the hallway, taking bags down to the car. I closed the door, Helaine got in and we were off.

A half hour down the road I turned to Helaine to ask if we’d taken everything? Good question when beyond the point of no return. She looked but could see one of the carry ons. Oh sh**.

I got off I-91, pulled into a convenience store parking lot and opened the doors. Helaine got out like the baggage assurance inspector she had become. Yes, everything was here.

On to the airport and the parking lot we use. We unloaded the car into a van and headed off to the terminal. It wasn’t until we’d checked in that I realized

I had left my computer bag, with all the electronics and chargers, in the car.

I called the parking place. Within five minutes their van had arrived with my bag! OK – they deserve a mention for service above and beyond – Thanks Roncari.

And now you’re up-to-date… except for the fact we had to walk by a non-stop for Las Vegas (full) to get to our gate for the first stop in our journey, Baltimore.

More coming from Las Vegas, if I remember everything.

Stupid Airline Tricks

We went to Bradley International Airport to pick up my folks. In spite of traffic we were early.

Helaine and I sat down near the giant DO NOT ENTER signs, waiting to see someone try and enter. It didn’t take long. This is too predictable. It is the low hanging fruit of airport entertainment.

With little to do, I moved over to the TV screens to make sure my parents’ flight was still on time. That’s where I spied today’s stupid airline trick.

On the board was Delta’s Flight 6969, service from Bozeman, MT via Minneapolis to Hartford. Right below it was Northwest Flight 1270 from Bozeman, MT, also via Minneapolis.

It was a code share. There’s no doubt about it. Instead of competing, Delta sells tickets aboard this Northwest flight as if it were its own.

I don’t like the idea because it is anti-competitive, but I understand why it happens and that it does happen with government approval.

Oh – on the board… the Delta flight was scheduled to land 10 minutes after Northwest’s. Hello! It’s the same plane.

On My Way to Florida

I am only writing this because I can. I pulled out my laptop at Bradley International Airport to see if there was any wireless Internet access. There is and it’s free. Wow!

I woke up at an hour my friend Kevin refers to as “Oh Dark Thirty.” Actually, it’s not as simple as that.

With my cold I’ve been sleeping an odd schedule and never soundly. Sunday was no exception. I felt a little woozy in the afternoon and laid down. Then I went to sleep again around 10:00 PM.

I didn’t sleep long. Even before I got out of bed, I was hacking away. I’m sure that quashed any sleep Helaine had planned. I finally moved downstairs and watched some TV.

We left the house around 5:00 AM – late enough to get a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. There was a coating of very light snow on the ground. It looked slippery, though the car never slipped.

In less than an hour I was at Bradley. I took the two bags inside and went to check in at Delta/Song. The counter is confusing and somewhat disorganized. Delta has moved some automated kiosks in, but they still need a human with every passenger to check ID and the like. The machine gave me an error message because I had already printed my boarding pass at home (500 free miles for that).

After check-in I carried my bags to security and waited in line to be screened myself. No problems, and I wore my sneakers! For some reason Helaine’s feet are always inspected.

I am early. I suppose it’s better than being late.

In front of me, at the next gate, another Delta plane awaits its departure. It’s bound for Orlando and the number on the front wheel door says “1404.” I am documenting this in case anyone from Delta is reading this.

The front of this plane, over the cockpit window, is scratched or scraped and a few large patches of paint are missing. This is not how you install confidence in your airline. And this is the end of the plane pointing right at the window. Everyone here in the waiting area can see it.

It is my understanding that any UPS truck involved in a fender bender or otherwise receiving body damage is pulled from the road until the truck is fixed. Think about it. when was the last time you saw anything but a clean and pristine UPS truck. Maybe Delta can take a lesson here.

My flight leaves at 7:30. This is my first trip with Song and I’m looking forward to the onbaord TV.