Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Trip 2007:Kosrae (KSA) to Kwajalein (KWA)

11 CS956 28DEC Kosrae (KSA) to Kwajulein (KWA) 3:30p 5:36p N14249

Flight Time: 0:45
Estimated Departure Time: 03:09 PM
Estimated Arrival Time: 05:20 PM
Pushed Back: 03:09 PM

The ground staff gave a message similar to the one that was given in PNI. We started the engines and headed for the runway and with a quick turn around on the runway, spooled up the engines and were airborne.

I was out of battery now so I had to make notes on paper :-(. Paper was my receipt from getting gas in Cairns, but it was all I could find easily.

After the takeoff, which on these islands are always spectacular, the flight attendant made the announcement that she made on all the other segments. I think I could repeat it word for word now :-). We had a good load out of Kosrae. What I noticed is that it is customary for people to give flowers when departing these islands as many passengers had wreaths either around their necks or head. They were quite elaborate and very beautiful. The wearers seem to really appreciate them as well.

Surprisingly, there was a meal and an elaborate one at that; remember, this is a pretty short flight of only 0:45. We were expeditiously served a ham sandwich with mustard, peanut butter & honey wafers plus some Chamorro Chip cookies with the Continental Airlines brand on the packets. I ate heartily, trying not to think about the calories I was consuming on this meal.

They came back and cleaned up and soon after we started the descent for Kwajalein. it was a beautiful approach as we landed next to a pristine golf course. We were told that Kwajalein is a military installation, so no pictures are allowed to be taken and we had to all remain on board; security checks will be made on board.

Christmas Trip 2007: Off to Nagoya

I got a seat so I'm off to the gate. We will communicate once more in Nagoya tomorrow night Dec. 29, 2007. The arrival time is 6:40p

Christmas Trip 2007: Switched Clubs

I am now in the Presidents Club, where the atmosphere is different. The Club is a little large and there are crackers and cheese, peanuts, fritos and fruits (pineapple and grapes). I had some of the latter.
There is a mini business area so I can plug in although I opted to do so in a corner area with comfy chairs; there are also two TV areas.

I am still awaiting my flight with about an hour to go before departure.

Christmas Trip 2007: Kosrae (KSA)

Kosrae (KSA)

Arrival Time: 02:36 PM

It was a smooth landing on Kosrae despite the strong wind straight down the runway.

I disembarked with other passengers and got my passport stamped as I noticed that the guy was doing it for others. This terminal is really old and is divided into two places. Everyone here is so laid back it is not funny; well it is. The heat and humidity was intense as well.

They boarded by row numbers but we (transit passengers) mixed with the new passengers so we had to wait for most of them to go. I asked a Japanese couple where they were going and they said Majuro; another passenger asked me where I was going and I said Honolulu; he said the same. He had not been to Honolulu since 1976 he said! He was going as he was working with his church having retired from the military. There was also a Group in very colorful shirts that was also boarding.

I could not find a power cord and by now I was out of power, so I could not re-charge or check for a wireless signal. My cell phone had no signal though.

There was one passenger changing her seat, which I thought was odd.

As I got back to the plane, I picked up my bag from the baggage cart and boarded the plane.

Christmas Trip 2007: Kosrae (KSA)

Kosrae (KSA)

Arrival Time: 02:36 PM

It was a smooth landing on Kosrae despite the strong wind straight down the runway.

I disembarked with other passengers and got my passport stamped as I noticed that the guy was doing it for others. This terminal is really old and is divided into two places. Everyone here is so laid back it is not funny; well it is. The heat and humidity was intense as well.

They boarded by row numbers but we (transit passengers) mixed with the new passengers so we had to wait for most of them to go. I asked a Japanese couple where they were going and they said Majuro; another passenger asked me where I was going and I said Honolulu; he said the same. He had not been to Honolulu since 1976 he said! He was going as he was working with his church having retired from the military. There was also a Group in very colorful shirts that was also boarding.

As I got back to the plane, I picked up my bag from the baggage cart and boarded the plane.

Christmas Trip 2007: Pohnpei (PNI) to Kosrae (KSA)

9 CS956 28DEC Pohnpei (PNI) to Kosrae (KSA) 1:45p 2:46p N14249

Estimated Departure Time: 01:29 PM
Estimated Arrival Time: 02:32 PM
Pushed Back: 01:29 PM Arrival Time: 02:36 PM

Boarding was smooth and this time around I did not have anyone joining me in my row. There seem to have been a seat dupe, but there were plenty of open seats so that was not an issue. One of the reason why I chose to take this trip was that the flights were not too busy on all legs.

There was a kid behind me, that kept kicking my seat as his mother watched and did nothing. i turned around and to both of them to stop it and it subdued a bit.

As soon as everyone was on board, an announcement was made in the local language of PNI; I could only understand the city names so it sounded like the message was about what to expect from here on in. The agent left the aircraft and the doors were closed, the stairs were pulled away, we started the engines and then headed for the runway, making a left as we departed the apron; turned around on the runway and departed without any delay.

Once airborne, the flight attendant made her announcement and then the documents were handed out and the beverage service was started. Peanuts were served followed by drinks.

The captain came on with his PA saying that we will land at about 2:46p. it is 30C and we will actually be early and will start our descent soon. In about 10 minutes or less, we started our descent into Kosrae.

The kid had stopped kicking my seat now as he was asleep.

Christmas Trip 2007: Pohnpei (PNI)

Pohnpei (PNI)

We landed really hard, but any landing on these islands is a good one; the couple next to me was now at their destination. We taxied back using the runway as a taxi-way.

It was now my side of the the plane's turn to get off and wait in the transit area for inspection. I did saying, I'll be back" to the crew again. This is going to be fin I thought...

On the ground, the facilities were quite small, but cozy. The re-boarding announcement was made without a PA system and the normal boarding process commenced.

I checked for a wireless signal but none was found. I also did bring my power cord to get some charge while here and I was able to plug in. This room had a TV going (American football) as opposed to the bare one in TKK.

It was now 8:03p 27DEC in Houston 1:03p local time on 28DEC. Time travel is really freaky.

It was now my turn to board. As I walked out I asked one of the guys if he was from PNI, he said no, he was actually from Kosrae and was in the military and was heading home. I was trying to find out what was there to be done in Kosrae, but no luck there.

Christmas Trip 2007: HNL awaiting the flight

I just arrived at the airport. On the ride over the lady asked me where I was going; Tokyo I said without thinking, then said actually Nagoya. I asked her how was her Christmas and she said she had to work adding "they don't think we have families." She also said she will be working New Year's day as well.

I thanked her for the ride, tipped her and exited the van. I checked myself in and then headed to the security area, showing my credentials and entering. As my computer came through the guy asked to swab it and took it away. he then said to open; I quipped, "it does not look like a computer?" I don't think he heard me as he said yes and I moved on; you could tell I am a little annoyed at the system today...

I then headed to the Northwest WorldClub and presented my credentials. She explained that there was a Presidents Club next door that I could use if I wanted, but I am also welcome to use the WorldClub.

I asked about shower facilities in either this Club or the Presidents Club next door and she said that neither has, but the Qantas Club does, but you don't have access. She then said, you look fine, to which I smiled and said, not for now, but in the future is what I was looking for.

The Lounge is nice, but nothing compared to the ones in Tokyo. The usual newspapers, a well stocked bar and some snacks. It was hard to find somewhere to plug in my electronic items though.

They do have complimentary Internet access though, so I can make this blog entry; kudos for that.

why i hate this hotel

So more reasons why I hate this hotel; when I checked in last night, they gave me a remote for the TV with my key; that is always a bad thing whenthe front desk gives you the remote at check-in; what the remote is that costly that people steal it? Or the clientelle you expect will steal remotes?

So I am checking out and I give him my key, he asks me for the remote and I have to go back to the room to get it :-(. Good grief!

gotta run

Christmas Trip 2007: Leaving the hotel in HNL

I'm heading out of the hotel so I will continue the updates at the airport. It was good to get a shower in a non-airport environment even if the hotel sucks!

Christmas Trip 2007: Chuuk (TKK) to Phonopei (PNI)

9 CS956 28DEC Chuuk (TKK) to Pohnpei (PNI) 10:45a 12:58a N14249

Estimated Departure Time: 10:30 AM
Estimated Arrival Time: 12:49 PM
Pushed Back: 10:30 AM

I boarded saying hello to the crew once more.

I took my seat as did others. I realized that the couple next to me were in seat 17 as opposed to my row as the lady said she thought the "14" on the boarding was the seat number, not the gate number. I guess the other guy had made the same error. The folks for those two seats took the once directly behind as they were empty. I did not have that luxury in Guam.

The flying time would be 1:04 minutes to Pohnpei says the crew before starting the safety video. The engines started and we headed out; on the islands, the airplane parks and ensures that it can get out on its own power as there is no pushback carts; at least I did not see any.

More documents were issued for the new passengers and the normal announcement of the service to be expected was given. We were served peanuts and beverages on this leg.

Soon, we started a long and what seemed early descent into Pohnpei. The water around the islands are absolutely stunning!

Christmas Trip 2007: Guam (GUM) to Chuuk (TKK)

Guam (GUM)

I left the Lounge at about 7:48a and headed for the gate, just two clicks away. They were already in the boarding process, but no seat was assigned as yet.

Soon, my name was called and I was assigned an Economy Class window seat. I asked if I would be upgraded on the other islands if there was a seat and I was told no. This would be my seat for the entire flight. Odd, I thought, but I guess it is too confusing to do otherwise.

I boarded, commending the agent on her boarding style; it sounded so great when she rattled off the names of the airports and ended with Honolulu, Hawaii. She made the announcement a few times as I was standing there.

8 CS956 28DEC Guam (GUM) to Chuuk (TKK) 8:20a 10:37a N14249

As I boarded, the flight attendants checked my boarding pass and welcomed me on board. I greeted them and advised that I would be staying with them for the duration of the flight. I walked through the 2-2 Business Class cabin which was almost full and made my way to Economy Class in its 3-3 configuration.

I noticed that there was someone sitting in my seat, so I alerted the flight attendant of the situation who was standing nearby. He asked the guy for his boarding pass and he was actually seated at an aisle seat further back in the plane. I put my stuff away in the overhead bin and took my window seat.

I said hello to the couple next to me who as it turns out was on my flight from Cairns. They were heading to Pohnpei (PNI) for eight days. I had a good chat with them about their arrival in Guam experience and they commented that they were fingerprinted and that was not a fun experience.

A gentleman passed down the aisle in a uniform other than flight crew or flight attendant and I told the folks next to me that he is our mechanic; they seemed startled, but I assured them it was fine. This flight takes a mechanic in case one is needed as there are none on the islands; that is such a cool job, I thought. There is also an extra pilot and an extra flight attendant I think.

By now all the passengers had boarded and it was push back time. The crew were now in the aisle as the safety video had started; an English version. It was a short taxi to the runway and we were airborne in no time. It was great to see Guam in the morning sunshine as I had arrived when it was dark. We made a hard left turn so I was able to see the airport and its surroundings in its entirety as we turned left and headed out; it was quite a beautiful sight.

The lead flight attendant welcomed everyone on board and explained the service for today stating that we would have a hot sandwich. The couple and I were talking about this trying to decide if we would get a meal or not. They had taken Virgin Blue from Melbourne to Cairns and mentioned that they charge for meals on that flight and I was saying that meals are done at meal time and depending on the length and type of flight.

I was actually delighted as I did not expect anything, but kind of thought there would be since this is a Continental Micronesia-operated flight and the flight is international.

Documentation for the Micronesian Islands was passed out to those who needed them; the flight attendant saying that I would get my documentation in 10 hours; I laughed. At this point, this seemed like eternity.

The meal service was soon started and consisted of an egg, ham and cheese English muffin with a fruit bowl and an apple juice. The normal fare of beverages was also served. Clean up was completed quickly after that.

It was 9:30a when we started our descent into Chuuk; wow that was quick I thought. Not much time for Duty Free, I thought as well.

For Chuuk, we were told that we had to deplane but only those on the right side of the plane; if anyone else wanted to they could but would have to take all their stuff with them; so of course I did, you never have to ask me twice to get off a plane and touch my foot on a foreign soil.

The landing was pretty much a plant, but knowing that the runway is short, it worked. We landed on runway 15 and then turned around on it and taxied back towards the gate.

There were lots of people looking at the plane coming in as this is quite the event for them.

Once I deplaned and entered the terminal, I checked for a wireless signal, but alas there was none. My phone did not work either. This is going to be a long day. I love small airports! I checked again and one wireless signal showed up, but it was protected and required a network key. I did not see any power plugs so I could recharge; besides I did not bring the electric cord.

Boarding started at :21 with priority customers first, etc. this was done by a gentleman just speaking to us not on a PA system, this was the greatest thing , so casual and so orderly.

Christmas Trip 2007: In Honolulu, HI experiencing the same day twice

It is very weird experiencing the same day twice, but I am. I just awoke and will do the updates in a bit. I feel better now, but just annoyed about this hotel.

Christmas Trip 2007: No shower in Guam

Guam (GUM)

In Guam, I went through the Immigration and security formalities and re-entered the concourse. I searched for the Lounge and asked an agent where to find it. He pointed towards the direction.

After checking in there, I asked about a shower facility. He said there is none but is the biggest thing on his wish list. I was a little annoyed, but what to do. I made the most of the bathroom facilities to at least change my clothing, wash my face, brush my teeth and shave. In 35 minutes I was ready to go again.

Now I wait for my flight at 8:20a to Honolulu, HI (HNL), first stop Truuk (TKK). This is going to be a very long day.

You perhaps wont hear from me until I arrive in Honolulu, HI at about 2:00a on Dec. 28, 2007. I'll have to go down to Waikiki for a room if I cannot find one that is reasonable at the airport.

Christmas Trip 2007: On my to Guam

Cairns International Airport, Cairns Australia (CNS)

I arrived at the airport about 10:46p and it was still raining. I had missed the left turn for the international terminal and ended up going around one of the round about twice and ending up close to where I wanted to be, but not quite. I think I was in the waiting area for the international terminal; kind of like the cell phone lots in some U.S. airports.

I continued driving and then found the left turn and parked the car in the Avis Return area. I took my own sweet time and got everything together as much as I could without opening the door as it was still raining a little harder now. After noting the mileage, etc. and ensuring that I had not left anything in the car, I exited, got the stuff from the trunk and headed for the door.

First item was to get my bag together and check out the shower. I walked through them and they seemed virtually untouched. I’ll have to drop a letter to the airport officials and see if they can do a little better with them. If I remember correctly in Sydney, you can at least go buy shower stuff from the nearby store. I could not find anywhere in Cairns where that could be done. In addition, the sink does not have any soap attached or any paper towels. It just all seems so mismatched. So , with that said, I decided that the shower thing would not work; instead, I washed my face and hands n the male toilets as there was soap and paper towel there. I did use the space in the shower for re-packing though; bt in the male toilet there is no place to hang your coat unless you are using one of the stalls; who designed these facilities?

7 CO903 1:35a 6:05a Cairns, Australia (CNS) to Guam (GUM) 738 N??232

Once on board, I made my way to my seat and settled in. All the other Business Class passengers were already seated. Each seat had a plastic bag with a pillow and a blanket. It is a 2-2 configuration of all leather seats totaling 14 seats. I looked over into the Economy class area and they had a while flap over the seat back that read “Resort Shuttle.” I think this is the brand that is used for the Guam operation for all those flights to/from Japan and other cities. Economy class is configured in a 3-3 configuration for a total of 141 seats.

A little girl ran forward and noticed that the door was closed; I guess she forgot something. As it turns out, they left a pillow in the baby’s chair. The baby stated crying. The flight attendant explained that the stroller was already in the hold and the airplane was pushing back so there was nothing that could be done.

We pushed back quite early at 1:11a. Everyone was accounted for I guess so there is really no need to wait around. The engines were started as we pushed back. The safety announcement was first made in English and then Japanese; there is a large amount of Japanese passengers on board; remember that “Resort Shuttle” reference?

It looks like we used the runway as a taxiway, but it was dark so I can’t really tell for sure. We straightened up for runway 15 and took off into the dark, wet skies. You could see the lights of the city below and the dark rain clouds hanging around. Not too many lights were on in the city, but you could see those of the casino still lit.

Once we buzzed 10,000’, the flight attendant also explained the noting that the flight number is CS903 as opposed to CO903 which is what is printed on the boarding pass (this flight is operated by Continental Micronesia whose code is CS).

Alcoholic beverage is on sale for 5 USD. There will also be inflight duty free which will close approximately 1 hour before arriving in Guam.

While she made her PA, we had a little chop, well quite a chop for a little while.

After her message, the inflight system started with a Duty Free commercial. One of the flight attendants came by with a complimentary headset. Next another flight attendant came by with a hot towel.

The movie had started and it was “Surviving Christmas” with Ben Affleck and the guy who played Tony from the Sopranos, James Gandolfini and Christina Applegate. I don’t think I’ve seen that one just yet. It’s been out for about two or so years I think.

The lead flight attendant came by with the appropriate forms; as it turns I don’t need anything since I am connecting to another flight immediately. It’s been a while since I’ve tansitted Guam, so we will see what gives.

The Captain came on and said that we were at 36,000’ and that is our cruising altitude for the night. He also said that he would turn of the seatbelt and that we would arrive twenty minutes early. As soon as he finished, the baby started crying once more, but that was short lived. I fel bad for the mom since the baby was not well it seemed.

The flight attendant came by with linen for the table and asked me if I wanted to have a midnight snack. I was also asked what I wanted to drink and I opted for the chardonnay. The midnight snack arrived with Chardonnay in tow; a fruit plate a small salad and a chicken and melted cheese sandwich and a Hershey’s chocolate.

The crew was very attentive to our needs and ensured we were well looked after. I fell asleep and awoke to see my tray being slowly removed from in front of me. I went back to sleep.

The next thing I knew is that I was being awaken as we were landing in Guam at 5:42a, 23 minutes early.

Christmas Trip 2007: In Honolulu, HI

Well, I'm in Honolulu, HI, not too happy, hotel sucks, Customs delayed me, but will tell you more tomorrow when I awake...

Christmas Trip 2007: on board

7 CO903 Cairns, Australia

As I boarded and took my seat, I was offered champagne, mimosa or water. I opted for a mimosa and was not disappointed.

Oops, we are leaving so gotta go.

4:08 enroutime
82F in Guam.

Christmas Trip 2007: Heading to Guam

I am departing Cairns, Australia now and will arrive in Guam bright and early. I will try to update you on the rest of the Cairns story and the events of the flight.