Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Thanks for following me around the world in 2008. See you in 2009.

Calgary Dec. 2008

I wanted to spend New Year's in yet another country. It was going to be UAE, but that did not work well, so I'm headed to Canada.

I awoke at about 8:40a, so that ruled out the 9:00a flight to Calgary, AB Canada (YYC). My next opportunity is at 11:00a. Could I do it.

I got ready and left the house at 9:39a, without a prayer of getting to the airport ontime using public transportation. The plan was to take the #82 to the #500 (that expensive bus to the airport). But it leaves at 10:00a and arrives at 10:30a.

Luckily as I came downstairs, I saw my neighbor and he offered to take me to the downtown transit center so I could take the bus.

I arrived at the station at 9:51a. The place was deserted and I was the only passenger. I topped up my card by adding $20 to it, well I got a new card as I can't find my other one. No hassle this time. As I was boarding another passenger showed up. I talked with him for a bit and he says he is taking hte bus as he is a poor college student; umm... I though, the #102 is $1.25 this bus is $15, what kind of student are you?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Paris Dec. 2008: Arriving in Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) from Paris, France (CDG)

28DEC08 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down at 3:53p and headed for the gate at Terminal E. On our way there, I could see a British Airways Boeing 747-400 pushing back. It was on its way to London.

It took us about 15 minutes to get to the gate where we deplaned. I used Global Entry and my colleague use the regular lines.

We were out of there in about twenty minutes and then headed for the parking lot and into the city. It was quite the good trip.

Paris Dec. 2008: Leaving Central Paris for Charles de Gaulle airport

28DEC08 Central Paris, France

So we were up at 7:00a, but we went back to sleep until 8:00a as we were just lazy. We finally got ready and left the hotel at about 9:32a. Destination: the airport.

It was really cold outside, actually much colder than yesterday. We took the RER C to the RER B and arrived at the airport by 11:55a.

28DEC08 Paris Charles de Gaulle, Roissy France (CDG)

We then went to get something to eat and while eating I realized that it was 11:23a and we needed to get to the counter right away.

We rushed over there and got checked in and then stood on the long line for Immigration and security. It was not until 12:30p that we got to the gate. Luckily the flight was delayed, but it was already at the gate. We then paid our departure taxes and collected our Economy class boarding passes.

Then we headed to the Presidents Club and hang out until the flight was called. Soon, the flight was called and we boarded.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Paris Dec. 2008: Arriving in Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris France (CDG)

27DEC08 Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris France (CDG)

We touched down just after 11:00a and taxied into the gate. We deplaned and then headed through Immigration and Customs. It was my colleague's first time, so I led the way. We actually met up with another of my colleagues who was on the flight and we all walked to the trains.

We made our way to the RER B train station just below the airport Sheraton between Terminals C and F. We tried to use the kiosks to buy our tickets, but they don't dispense the day passes just the one way to Paris for 8.40 EUR and the 1.40 EUR single journey tickets for the city.

It took us about twenty minutes to get our tickets after which we headed for the trains. A word of caution, be really careful on the trains from the airport as there are pickpockets operating. Trust no one really.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Paris Dec. 2008: Arriving in Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) from downtown Houston, TX

26DEC08 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

It took us a while to find a parking spot as most of the lots were full. Amazing!

We made it through security and then towards the Presidents Club in Terminal E. The flight to Paris was really full and there was a strong possibility that we would not make it.

I was busy checking other possibilities. On tap were Vancouver, BC Canada (YVR) and Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ) but those flights had their own dynamics, so we just waited in the Club and enjoyed the wait.

While we waited, I ended up checking hotels. Sadly, the hotel price we found the day before was no longer available.

At about 5:45p, we both got our seats, me in BusinessFirst and my colleague in Economy class. We then left for the gate. Once there I asked the agent if I can get the Economy class seat as my colleague and I could sit together and she did.

Just before boarding, I was able to book the hotel at the new rate. It was an Accor hotel that had a view of the Eiffel Tower.

We then boarded in a bit as the flight was delayed. Apparently, the inbound was late arriving. I think it had actually just come back from Paris. These 767-400s are work horses.

Paris Dec. 2008: Leaving downtown Houston

My colleague picked me up about 3:45p. He was not yet checked in, so I did so using the kiosk. Traffic was pretty light so it was smooth sailing getting to the airport. There was not even any need to use the HOV lane.

Paris Dec. 2008

It's been a while since I've been to Paris so a colleague and I are heading there later today.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Killeen for Christmas 2008: Arriving in Killeen/Ft. Hood, TX (GRK)

24DEC08 Killeen/Ft. Hood, TX (GRK)

We landed at 3:58p then turned off the runway and headed for the terminal. As we pulled up to the terminal, I could see an American Eagle ATR at the gate.

We pulled up to the jetway and then disembarked after our bags were returned to us. I made my way up to the top of the jetway and then headed beyond security. I called my sister and she had just arrived at the airport. In a few minutes, I was in her car and we headed out.

Killeen for Christmas 2008: Arriving at Houston Intercontinental from downtown Houston, TX

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

Once I arrived at Terminal E, I headed downstairs and took the inter-terminal train. Although it is as slow as molasses, it was the most efficient way to get there.
I made my way up two stories and through security. I was carrying a model of the A380 for one of my nephews, so it showed up on the security screens like a pointed weapon.
I told the guy what it was, but my bag still had to be checked by hand. Once that was over, I ran to the gate A7 which was nearby. While at the counter, I heard the agent made a last call announcement for the flight. I was elated as I thought that it was already gone.

I quickly made my way to the gate, identified myself and she told me to wait and she will see if she can get me on. There was one other lady waiting there as well.

In a few minutes, she made an announcement for two passengers who never showed. She then gave the other lady and myself seats and we boarded right away.

Killeen for Christmas 2008: Leaving downtown Houston, TX

We got to leave work early so I headed out for the airport with two colleagues of mine. One was going to Bombay via Dubai on Emirates (EK) and the other to New York-La Guardia on Continental.

I checked in using enroute. I had less than an hour, but the system still worked so I was elated. I did not think I would make the 2:55p from Terminal A, but I was going to try anyways.

Traffic was not bad, so it was smooth sailing to the airport.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

London Dec. 19, 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

21DEC08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down on the far runway a little after 2:00p. Off in the distance, I could see the Singapore Airlines (SQ) Boeing 777-300 at the gate. As we drew closer, I could see a TACA Airbus A320 at the gate in Terminal D.

We had to wait for a bit to cross the other active runway so we could make our way towards Terminal E. Eventually, that time came and we continued our journey.

Once at the gate, I deplaned and made my way to the Immigration area. It is great that I now have the Global Entry system as I breezed past everyone and made it through immigration. There was no line downstairs so that was easy too.

I then made it to the bus stop in time for the 2:50p departure to the city after waiting a little less than ten minutes.

London Dec. 19, 2008: Departing Central London

21 DEC08 Central London, England

I awoke really early at about 5:45a. I got ready and made my way to Paddington Station so I could take the Heathrow Express to the airport.

It was 6:45a when I got there just in time to take the 6:55a train which takes 15 minutes. The next one is at 7:10a with a Heathrow Connect train which takes 25 minutes at 7:11a. I then bought my ticket and boarded the train which departed ontime.

It was a quick 15 minutes arriving at the Terminals 1, 2, 3 at 7:12a.

Friday, December 19, 2008

where to?

So where to this weekend? Well it is London, England (LHR).

Friday, December 12, 2008

in town

I am staying in Houston this weekend and hanging out with friends.

Under consideration were a day trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) as well as a day trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (POS). Buenos Aires is tonight and Port of Spain is a Saturday departure. There was even a random trip to fly on Virgin America (VA) as well as United Airlines' ps service cross country. Neither materialized

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

snow in Houston

If you can believe it, it is snowing in Houston today!

Monday, December 08, 2008

London Dec. 5, 2008: Airplanes at Heathrow

London Dec. 5, 2008: The Emirates (EK) A380 in Heathrow

As I was taking off, I was elated to see the Emirates (EK) Airbus A380 at the gate. This is the same gates used by the Singapore Airlines (SQ) A380 that had left the gate only about 35 minutes ago. Fantastic! Can't wait until the SQ one is delayed or the EK is early so i can see them both at the same time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

London Dec. 5, 2008: Airplanes flying over London

Northwest Airlines Airbus A330

British Airways Boeing 747-400

Air New Zealand Boeing 777

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The French Caribbean Connection: Arriving in Orlando, FL (MCO) from San Juan, PR (SJU)

29NOV08 Orlando International, Orlando FL (MCO)

We touched down at 2:30p and I then realized that we were in a different pod than Continental, so catching the 2:40p flight was not going to happen. On our way into the terminal, I saw the following aircraft:

AirTran's (FL) Boeing 717

Delta Air lines (DL) MD-88

AirTran's Boeing 717

Westjet's Boeing 737-700 with winglets

Once at the gate, we deplaned and made our way to gate A6. Unfortunately, as this airport is built badly, we had to exit security, walk to the other side of the airport and then re-enter security.

We took the opportunity to pick up boarding passes at the Continental counter before re-entering security. We then made our way down to the gate and waited for the 4:10p flight to Houston. The gate area is actually under quite a bit of construction. I remember this area as it used to be used by ATA (TZ) which I used to fly quite a bit in the early 1990s.

At about 4:00p, we both got seats and boarded the full flight.

The French Caribbean Connection: San Juan, PR (SJU) to Orlando, FL (MCO)

B6744 29NOV08 San Juan, PR (SJU) to Orlando International, Orlando Florida (MCO) 12:25p 2:35p 320 N509JB

Flight Time: 2:55
Seat Map

As I boarded, I saw a sign that said take a free headset so I did.

Once on board, I was greeted by the flight attendant at the door who verified my boarding pass. I then turned right and made my way to my seat.

This aircraft has a 3-3 configuration of leather seats. There is no First class cabin and each seat has an individual TV. Movies are 5 USD plus you have channels from Direct TV and XM Satellite radio that are complimentary.

You can see Live TV when you are within 45 minutes of the shores of the U.S. and of course when you are flying over the U.S. They always run Times on Air on channel 41 so you always have something to watch or listen to.

I found my seat and got settled in. Soon, the Captain came out of the cockpit and welcomed us onboard and advised that our flying time today would be 2:55. He also added that we would depart in about eight minutes and all was well for an ontime departure. He concluded by saying the weather in Orlando was good and sunny. He then hung up the PA system and disappeared into the cockpit.

The manual safety demo started as we were pushed back and pulled forward out of the alley way. Just before the demo one of the flight attendant gave us a briefing on the emergency exit door usage and what to do in an emergency, ensuring that we were all O.K. with it, via a verbal O.K.

We began our taxi out to runway 8. On our way out there, I saw the American Airlines (AA) Boeing 757-200 that has the yellow ribbon on the tail.

A private jet rotated just in front of me as we continued our taxi. The captain then said it was time for us to depart, so we took to the runway and were airborne in no time. Here is what I saw on takeoff.

After takeoff, one of the flight attendants gave us a review of the service. Complimentary drinks will be offered, plus you may also purchase drinks. In addition, the LiveTV service will not activate until about 45 minutes away from Orlando. By the way, one of our flight attendants is called Orlando. One of the flight attendants pointed that out much to his chagrin.

One of the flight attendants handed out free headsets as they have a surplus here in San Juan says the flight attendant. They are normally 1 USD.

There are 41 channels, 38-40 are used for the paid movies; Mama Mia and another movie (with Will Farrell) were on.

At 36,000', with 2:30 (1:03p local) remaining the Captain came on and said to enjoy the service.

Soon a flight attendant came by and asked what we wanted to drink offering a bottle of water if you needed it.

I ordered a Mohito which was for 3 USD, but was told it was 8 USD as it is 5 USD for the rum. Funny how the booklet in the seat pocket did not mention that.

At 12:44p, a flight attendant an announcement that the following snacks were being offered; sweet potato chips, pumpkin ginger cookies, chocolate chip cookies and cashew nuts, Doritos munchies mix.

As we flew along it was amazing to see the islands outside.

At 1:25p, the channels started appearing. We were within an hour of our arrival into Orlando. The Channels were:
ESPN1/2, ESPN NEWS, ESPN U, Big 10, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNBC, NC, CNN< CW, Live Map, TWC, TBS, TNT, Comedy Channel, USA, Bravo, FX, SciFi, A&E, History Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, TLC, Food, Travel, HGTV, Animal Planet, Cartoon, Nickelodeon, TVLand, MTV, VH1, VH1C and Setanta Sports.

I watched a few programs and did fall asleep for a bit as well.
On landing, I did see an airplane off to the right landing; it was a beautiful sight.