Houston, TX 10 Oct. 2009. I would rather be heading to the beaches of Oahu, but the flights are full this weekend. Instead I started to look down the list of cities that Continental serves and found that Asheville, NC (AVL) was not available, but Charleston, WV (CRW) was.
I then got ready and jumped in the weekend rental car that I have and headed for the airport at about 9:07a. As its a Saturday, traffic was light and I was at the airport at 9:35a parking at FastPark. It was about 9:55 when we pulled into Terminal B.
The TSA security line was minimal so it did not take long. There was a guy who had a flight in 17 minutes, so we all allowed him to go ahead of us. Some of the folks in the line commented that, only in Texas would he be allowed to jump the queue, adding that people in the Northeast would have scoffed at him. Ah, northeasterners have such a bad rep.
There was also a young guy in his navy garb. He had just spent nine months in Florida and was heading back home to Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) for some well deserved rest and relaxation before returning to find out where he would be deployed.
I cleared security after having to remove my belt as the kid in front of me beeped. What does that have to do with my belt? Geez…It is a new belt and I wanted to test if it would beep anyways. To avoid any issues, I took it off and cleared without beeping. No new see thru machines in Terminal B.
I then headed to the Presidents Club where I had a bagel with light cream cheese (is there really such a thing though?), some muffins and water. I was looking for a banana, but they only had apples. All four available newspapers (Wall Street Journal, Houston Chronicle, Financial Times and the USA Today (yesterday’s edition)) had the President Obama Nobel Peace Prize headline. Congrats Mr. President.
It was time to get to the gate, so I did. I settled in after getting my boarding pass and used the power plugs that are set up to charge your phone before the flight. Soon an announcement was made for y flight to Charleston, WV. It was at that moment that I noticed that the flight to Charleston, SC was leaving from the doorway right next to my flight. People were confused and also laughing, but checking their boarding passes to ensure that they board the correct plane.
An older lady next to me was a little confused, but I assured here that her flight to South Carolina was not yet boarding. Some people including me took pictures of the two displays next to each other. I looked around and everyone was checking their boarding passes to ensure they did not miss their flight or board the wrong airplane.
When it was time, I boarded through the door for West Virginia and headed down the jetway, noticing that were signs above both jetway entrances with the city names. At the airplane door, a couple was talking with the flight attendant as there was another couple sitting in their seat. Oops, I thought, I believe that they boarded the wrong flight.
Sure enough that was the case. The gate agent came on board and made an announcement that we are going to Charleston, WV, not South Carolina. The flight attendant also reiterated this fact. The couple headed off adding they do not want to go to West Virginia as their car is in South Carolina.
The door on this not so heavily booked Embraer ERJ-145 closed at 10:50a and then the flight attendant started her demo. Seven minutes later, we pushed back and headed for the runway. On our way there, the pilot made a hard step on the brakes and we changed our direction. This was followed by another direction change. I assumed that we changed runway and we did, we were now heading for runway 27-9 which takes you over Lee Road on takeoff.
I did notice a Boeing 777-200ER that had just landed and wondered where it was coming from that early in the morning. It ended up at E4. I’m puzzled.
We were number six for takeoff behind a few Continental jets as well as a Continental Connection Saab 340 and a Continental Express ERJ-145. As it was almost our turn, here came a Delta Connection CRJ-900 who took to the runway ahead of us.
At 11:15a, we took to the cloudy skies breaking into beautiful sunshine as we cleared them. Soon after the lone flight attendant came on the PA and announced the service expectations for our flight which included a snack.
Soon after that announcement, I smelled nail polish. Why would anyone think that it is O.K. to polish your nails in an airplane? People do this from time to time, please don’t do it. I now have a headache and watery eyes.
The flight attendant came by at 11:33a and offered a choice of a turkey or ham sandwich. I chose Turkey which was served with mayonnaise, a pack of Fritos corn chips and a mini Hershey milk chocolate bar. Drinks followed at 11:43a. Trash pickup was at 11:58a.
I fell asleep after the battery on my MacBook died. I awoke as we started our descent into West Virginia. It was really beautiful as the leaves were just changing. Also, it is a very mountainous area, so you can see homes nestled into the side of the mountains and ridges.
We were really close to the ground though, wow. We made it into the runway which sits at the top of one of the mountains at 981′ above sea level. It was 2:11p when we touched down and we made it to the gate within a minute. The pilots really hot the brakes and when we turned I realized why, the runway ended pretty short after where we turned off.
Charleston, WV 10 Oct. 2009
At the gate, I deplaned and headed for the exit as I wanted to see what the ticket counter area was like. It looked like all the passengers were already at the gate as the flight departs at 2:55p. I made it outside to the ticket counter, checked in, got my boarding pass then headed outside to take some pictures. At the counter, there was a lady waiting as she had some liquids to put back in her suitcase. I don’t think that was going to happen as there was no one at the counter. In small stations, there is usually a small staff and they do everything. Since the flight was in they were at the gate. Also, her bags were more than likely already in the plane. I told her I’d tell the gate she was there, but if they did not show by 2:30p, she was to make her way back to the gate.
After taking pictures, I walked through the baggage claim area and headed back through security. I was the only one going through as everyone else was at the gate. I heard an announcement that the pilot wanted to leave early so everyone should make it to the gate.
At the gate, I collected my boarding pass from the agent. I told her about the lady at the counter. Eventually I saw the lady coming up to the gate, not sure if she got her bag back. I doubt it though.
I boarded when it was time and as it turns out sat across from that lady. I heard her say that she had to throw her stuff away as she could not get her bag back. She had like peanut butter I think she said as well as a large tube of toothpaste. She was none too happy, but her friend she was traveling with told her she would give her some toothpaste. It was really funny listening to them talk about.
The door closed at 2:54p, so much for leaving early. Not sure what was the hold up. I kept thinking that I was going to get booted as the airport is 981′ above sea level and the flight was weight restricted as a result.
It was 3:00p when we pulled forward after the jetway had been pulled out of the way. We taxied down to the lone runway and was airborne by 3:07p. It was beautiful as we cleared the trees and saw the foliage below. We also flew over the city and you could see the river that runs through it as well as the city’s capitol building. I wonder how many U.S. cities have one of those capitol buildings?
Soon, we had some pretzels and drinks. I was a bit tired so I fell asleep and awoke when we landed in Houston at 4:40p on 8L-26R. It took another ten minutes to make it to the gate at B81A. As it turns out, the airplane will now go to Charleston, SC (CHS).