How Do They Know It’s Us?

Helaine is out-of-town for a few days. She left from Hartford this morning.

Yesterday afternoon we spent about twenty minutes, including a call to Southwest, trying to ascertain if food was as explosive (and restricted by the TSA) as mouthwash or toothpaste.

It is not.

She left Bradley and flew to BWI Airport outside Baltimore. Terminal B arrival. Terminal A departure.

Southwest flies to Houston’s Hobby Airport’s (I wish it were professional as opposed to a hobby&#185), and this particular flight went to Gate 50. Yes, there are gate numbers higher, but none more remote.

How do they always know we’re coming to make it as far as is humanly possible? They do, you know.

A few years ago, when it was a United hub, we changed planes in Denver. We literally walked the walk between their two farthest gates. It was like taking the tour of DEN!

Another night, changing at Detroit’s Wayne County Airport (DTW if you’re checking your baggage tags) we were so far away, with so little time, I slipped some money to a person driving one of those long motorized carts and got chauffeured.

The terminal was so crowded, I’m still not sure we ran someone down. I closed my eyes except when I was staring down my watch. We got to the gate in the nick of time… well, it would have been if the flight hadn’t been delayed.

Back in my SciFi Channel days I changed planes in Minneapolis. I was talking on the cell phone walking slowly to my gate – 15. As I walked, I passed 19, 18, 17, 16, 31, 30, 29!

You’ve got to be kidding. They were out of order! I almost missed that plane.

Of course this is one reason I enjoy flying from Tweed New Haven Airport so much. There’s only one gate currently in use. Unfortunately, you can only fly to Philadelphia.

Actually, if more airlines would come in to New Haven, I’d promise not to kvetch about the walk.

&#185 – I know, Hobby was a Texas governor – Governor William Pettus Hobby. I just can’t resist cheap humor.

On My Way to Atlanta

I’m writing from seat 2F onboard my flight from New Haven to Philadelphia. This laptop’s battery isn’t what it once was, and that will limit my writing time.

The trip to the airport was quick… quick enough to be there an hour early. I was by no means the earliest. Most of the passengers look to be leisure, rather than business flyers.

Tweed-New Haven Airport has changed a little since my last trip through. Delta now flies there, with jet service to Cincinnati. The TSA has moved their gear in, limiting the space in the terminal area and the parking lots have been reconfigured.

Let’s talk parking first, because I went to park in the much smaller long term lot only to face cones and a sign saying “Full.” I’m going to have to pay about $3 more a day because I was forced into the hourly lot. The good parking news is I parked amazingly close. It was literally a 20 second walk from my car to the terminal building.

I’m trying to think about the real cost of passenger screening at an airport like Tweed. There are few flights, each with a limited number of seats. There is no economy of scale here. I’m not sure how the costs are allocated but it can’t really be figured on an actual cost per passenger basis.

The plane pulled up to the terminal right on time. This dark blue USAirways Express plane is a DeHavilland Dash 8. It’s four across seating with a flight attendant. This is a great improvement over the day when 18 seaters flew here. On the other hand, we used to have service using Dorniers to Pittsburgh, a much nice prop plane.

The interior of the plane looks tired. It’s the difference between someone’s home and a summer cabin. Maybe shabby is the right word. I’m hoping USAirways is saving the money it might spend on refurbishing the cabin and using it on… oh, maybe engine maintenance. That would be nice.

If you’ve never flown a smaller plane like this, you might be surprised by the legroom. There’s plenty of it! The seats are narrow, but you’re not bumping into the person ahead of you.

We’re in the clouds now and the flight is a little bumpy. Not terrible, but noticeable. Jets fly above this. It’s also noisy. On the inside, small prop planes are much noisier than jets.

Even with the noise… even with the bumps… even with the shabby surroundings, this flight is worthwhile because of the ease and convenience of Tweed-New Haven. I wish there was more service there.

More later from Atlanta.

Heading South

Today, I started getting ready for a quick trip to Atlanta. My friend Jeff, who used to work here but is now at The Weather Channel, is marrying Lauren. I’m looking forward to this because I like them both.

Jeff is the first of my friends to have met his wife-to-be online. If Lauren represents potential spouses on the Internet, a lot of people are going to be running to find their mate on the net. She’s a knockout.

I haven’t been to Atlanta in about a zillion years. The first time I was there was in the early 70s. I was flying to Charlotte, NC from West Palm Beach, FL. Charlotte got snowed in! Eastern Airlines paid to put me up in a motel. I met a girl from my flight and spent most of the evening with her… though less of the evening than I anticipated.

There won’t be much time to poke around, but a friend at CNN will give me the 50&#162 tour and the groom-to-be is taking me to The Weather Channel (though I still can’t figure out where he’ll find the time).

Part of the fun of this trip is the fact that I can leave and return through New Haven’s little airport. Though Atlanta’s dominant carrier, Delta, now flies to HVN, I’m going on USAir via Philadelphia. My first leg is on an 18 seat prop plane – something I don’t mind… though I know many do.

The advantage of Tweed-New Haven Airport is its tiny size. No crowds… or few crowds and easy access. The disadvantage is the number of flights and choice of non-stop destinations – two, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.