Friday, October 31, 2008

amsterdam/london: At Houston Intercontinental. Houston TX (IAH)

At the airport, I proceeded through security and as the TSA agent as not paying attention, my computer fell to the floor. I called it to their attention and one agent claimed it was my fault. of course I was angry about it, but remained calm. The drop had pulled the battery cover over and now it was hanging by one screw.

After a long talk, they gave me a card so I can email the TSA. I will wait until I am more calm to do so. I then proceed to the Presidents Club where a beverage calmed me down.

I will get to the gate in a bit.

amsterdam/london: driving to the airport

We left work about 4:40p and headed to the airport. Traffic was pretty bad as we headed out, but as we too the HOV lane we had no issues arriving at the airport at about 5:45p.

Where to go this weekend?

Well, I have a few choices this weekend, Sweden/London or Amsterdam/London or Houston/London.

Looks like Amsterdam/London has won out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008: Munich International, Munich Germany (MUC) to London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR)

LH3233 26OCT08 Munich International, Munich Germany (MUC) to London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR) 9:15a 10:25a 321 D-AISG

Flight Time: 1:30
Seat Map

By the time we boarded it was about 8:55a. We had to go down the stairs to a waiting bus. When I got there, the driver closed the door and advised that I had to wait for the next bus. There were now about 7 of us left; we were the last 7 passengers.

In a few minutes, another bus arrived and we were on our way. eventually, we got to the hardstand and walked up the steps to the waiting Airbus A321-200.

The flight attendant said "good morning' in German and I replied in English and walked past the two rows of Business Class seats which held eight passengers. A curtain separated them from the Economy class in a 3-3 configuration. The cabin before the Exit door and mid-cabin lavatory had five rows with the lst row on the right having only two seats. The normal aisle seat is replaced by a backward facing flight attendant jumpseat.

We settled in and the main door soon closed at about 9:12a. A minute later, the Captain came on the PA and was saying something lengthy in German. I turned to my colleague and told him that this does not sound good at all. Also, i am sure that the Captain's English version will be uber short.

Well, I was right. The English version said that we were delayed for 13 minutes due to fog and his speech lasted only a few minutes.

At 9:30a, we pushed back and just before that the flight attendants did the demo manually as this aircraft does not have any entertainment system.

Our taxi out to the runway started at 9:37a. Once at the threshold for runway 26R, we waited. On my right, I could also see a Lufthansa Regional CRJ-900 waiting its turn. In a few minutes, it left and then we waited.

It was 9:51a when we made it to runway 26R and took to the skies.

It was nice as we broke through the fog and the clouds and could see the mountains off in the distance and part of the fog/clouds allowing a smoke stack through. I tried to take a picture, but to no avail.

At 10:02a, the meal service commenced with a ham sandwich and a chocolate bar. You can have whatever beverage you desired; alcohol or otherwise.

At about 10:14a, we leveled off at our cruisin' altitude.

I just realized that I am heading for the U.K. and have a bit of time there and did not bring my U.K. plug.

This means I cannot charge my devices while we wait for the next flight in the U.K. And British Airways does not have outlets onboard so I can charge during the flight, that is a bummer.

I was really tired so I fell asleep. I awoke when we were already descending into Heathrow.

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008: Arriving in Munich International, Munich Germany (MUC) from Kiev

26OCT08 Munich International, Munich Germany (MUC)

We touched down softly at 7:50a (Munich is 1 hour behind Kiev) and I was awoken to see whiteout through the window. Thank God for instrument landing systems. You literally could not see anything outside. In a few minutes, we made it to our gate miraculously and parked at about 7:57a.

We disembarked and made our way to gate G-41 which was actually behind a security area. As we made our way through security, the guy in front of us told the agent that he had some alcohol that he had just bought in

Kiev at the duty free place. The agent looked at the sealed bag and asked where he was going. He said he was

going to Canada. She then left adn when she came back, she told him that he canot take it with him as Kiev

was not a part of the European Union. Annoyed, he told them to thrash it as he would have to check his bag by first entering the country and going outside to the check-in counter.

Finally, we got through security only to be stalled again by another guy who had a knife in his bag. His kids also had after shave which turned out to be O.K. as they had them in the approved bag.

Once the line started to roll again, I took up my stuff and went downstairs to the gates. The agent told us to wait a bit for our seat so we did.

The boarding process started at about 8:38a with a group of young girls.

Once everyone had boarded, we were told to board as we had been cleared. We did and got two seats next to each other.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008: Arriving in Amsterdam Schipol International Amsterdam Netherlands (AMS) from Houston, TX (IAH)

25OCT08 Amsterdam Schipol International, Amsterdam Netherlands (AMS)

We touched down at about 11:23a on the Center runway. Excellent, as now we don't have far to go to our gate. In no time, we were at gate G4. We disembarked, checked the gate and headed to D5.

On our way there, I ran into my colleague who was on the original trip with us to Kiev. He had flown into London-Gatwick on the last Continental flight the day before. He then took a British Airways (BA) flight to Amsterdam. He hang out with us for a bit.

At the gate, there was a line so we went back to the Transfer Desk to check-in in. After a while we used the kiosk to do so and then headed back to the gate. Since it was only about noon, we headed to the KLM Crown Lounge. As our colleague did not have a Presidents Club card and we were not allowed any guests, he waited for us outside. We hung out there for a bit having a little breakfast.

We then headed back to the gate, got our boarding passes, bade goodbye to our colleague and boarded.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

By 5:49p, we were through security and headed for Presidents Club for a relaxed after beverage. Our colleague was going to London on the 6:25p, so she bade us goodbye and headed for gate E-4.

My other colleague and I hung out in the Club for a while longer as our flight was not until 7:10p. We chatted, I updated the blog and in no time, it was 6:40p so we headed out to gate E-20 for our flight.

When we got to the gate, we waited a bit and secured two seats together in the Economy class cabin. We boarded right away.

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008: Leaving downtown Houston

Downtown Houston, TX

It was 4:46p when we all met up downstairs. In no time, we were battling traffic on I-45 heading for I-10.

It is always difficult to get across I-10 quickly enough so that we can make the US59 exit on the left. No one wants to let us in at all.

Eventually we made our way over passing those same drivers who would not let us in. Amazing huh?

We arrived at the airport parking facility at 5:25p and Terminal E at 5:40p.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kiev, Ukraine Oct. 2008

A few months back, we tried to get to Ukraine, but that fell through as we had arrived late in Paris and missed the flight.

So now we are going to try to do this again starting tomorrow via Amsterdam as the flights out of Paris are quite full. Coming back will be interesting as well since we have to go either through Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) with Lufthansa or via Munich, Germany (MUC) then to London and then to Houston on British Airways (BA).

Only two from the original three will make the attempt this time around.

Looking at maps.google.com, we noticed that there is actually no street maps of Kiev available. Last time this happened was when I was looking at map information for Tel Aviv, Israel.

A possible trip to Chihuahua, Mexico (CUU)

I was going to see my friend Alexis who was in Chihuahua, Mexico (CUU) for a meeting. I had decided it was not possible as the flight would arrive back in Houston at 9:02a this morning giving me no time to get to work ontime.

Well, it rained like crazy last night and when I got to work a friend told me that the outbound flight was actually canceled. So I would not have been able to go anyways.

I'll have to plan on doing CUU at another time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Google Android G1 Phone: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) from San Antonio, TX (SAT)

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down at about 6:35a and was in the gate by 6:39a, one minute late.

As we taxied in, I tried the GPS once more and it was still giving an error. I touched "My Location" once more and it revealed that I was actually north of the airport close to Farm Road 1960. Weird. I was clearly on an airport taxiway which I could see on the map.

Once at the gate, I gathered my stuff and headed out. I called up Metro (it was quicker than navigating their Web site) and found out that I had just missed a bus but the next one was in 13 minutes. I went down stairs and noticed that Metro had now hired their own airport staff and had moved their sign from under the Super Shuttle area; good move I think. I asked the guy if I could top up my card and he said yes, so I did. He said that his opening hours were 6:00a to 8:40p.

I then thanked him and headed out to the bus stop. Like clockwork, at 6:56a, the 102 arrived. I was able to play with the GPS on the way home. It was funny as it had difficulty find my location a few times.

The Google Android G1 Phone: San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

CO278 22OCT08 San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 5:45a 6:38a 738 N??225

Flight Time: 0:32
Seat Map

I greeted the flight attendants as I walked past the 19 passengers in the First Class cabin in a 2-2 configuration of leather seats. It appears that one person was running late as there was an empty seat. Or maybe there is one more upgrade to go.

I was sitting close to the front of the plane at a window seat, so I asked the guy at the aisle to allow me into my cloth seat in a 3-3 configuration, and he did. Morning flights are so weird as everyone is so sleepy and this flight was no exception.

We pushed back at 5:40a as the safety demonstration played then and headed out to runway 12R. We waited for a bit and then we took to the runway. It was actually a long bit. As we took of you could see about eight Southwest Airlines (WN) Boeing 737s at the gates; all with winglets. The same for Continental; there was even a Boeing 737-500, aircraft 653 with winglets.

As soon as we buzzed 10,000', I checked the map on the phone and noticed that it still said we were in SAT. The phone was in airplane mode so it was fine and GPS devices are allowed above 10,000'. Later, I got an error message that said 'i Attention There is a connection problem...we'll keep trying", bummer.

The Captain came on a few minutes after takeoff and advised we were at our cruising altitude. Beverages were offered, but I declined as I had already ate at the Presidents Club moments ago.

It was 6:12a when we commenced our descent by the indication of the seat belt signs being turned on.

The Captain and the flight attendant noted that our arrival gate was C24.

It was amazing to see outside as there was traffic backups on all the major highways I could see. Amazing how many people are up at this hour. This area really needs a major mass transit infusion. I wished I could have used the GPS at that time; but we were below 10,000' so that was a no-no.

It looked like we made a really wide circle as I thought I saw the San Jacinto Monument as well as lights from the refineries near the coast before we made it into the airport.

The Google Android G1 Phone: Arriving in San Antonio International from San Antonio, TX

22OCT08 San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT)

We made our way to the Terminal 2 through the construction barriers. My friend tells me that they are going to expand Terminal 1; get rid of the existing Terminal 2 and rebuild it. Oh what a mess.

I collected my boarding pass and then made my way to the gate, stopping at the Presidents Club for breakfast first. I did not think it would be open, but it had opened at 4:45a. Good deal, I thought. I messed around with the phone a bit as I ate.

At 5:20a, I made my way down to the gate and went straight on board with a slight delay due to congestion in the jetway.

The Google Android G1 Phone: Departing San Antonio, TX

22OCT08 San Antonio, TX

I awoke and looked at the time on the phone, it was 4:12a, three minutes before the alarm was set. My friend set it last night, so I'll have to figure this out later. He was intrigued that there were so many settings. The good thing about the alarm, is that each time you use the phone, you are reminded of the alarm time. We were laughing that the phone actually told you how many hours to the alarm time; smart alec!

I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep knowing that in 3 minutes the alarm would go off. Sure enough it did although it seemed like forever.

I got ready and we left the house at 4:40a phone in hand and headed for the airport. Traffic was extremely light and we had no issues. Taking the time to catch up some more and using the G1 to denote our position. It did work this time and showed our progress as a flashing dot on the map. We verified with neighboring streets that it was indeed correct. Strange how last night it did not show us where we were when we had it in directions mode. It even showed the airport with runways and all.

At 5:00a, we turned off the highway and into the airport.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Google Android G1 Phone: My thoughts

The gPhone (that is my name for the G1 :-)) is O.K. it was not too intuitive to figure out how to change the battery and I could not get to the little flap open that covers the storage card. Eventually a friend of mine opened it and used the stylus for his phone to remove it and then used it to put it back in.

My fingers seem to be too big for the web items, but it does have a feature that can zoom out so that should help.

It does fit in my shirt and pants pocket so that is a good thing and once I figure it out I can blog. I can also access the net from almost anywhere and blog too. So watch for this blog to come mostly from there although the typing is a bit clugy at times.

It does not have a flash on the camera, so I have not had a chance to take a picture just yet as everywhere I've been is always dark.

My friend here in San Antonio is more excited about that I am :-).

The Google Android G1 Phone: Arriving in San Antonio International from Houston TX (IAH)

San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT)

It was 8:24p when we touched down in San Antonio. I turned on the phone and my friend had called me saying that he was waiting just outside for me. I told him I had to stop and send a work-related e-mail.

In about four or so minutes, we made it to the gate. I got off the plane and headed for the Presidents Club. I hung outside for a bit as it was closed, sent my e-mail and then headed outside.

There is massive construction going on so the pickup area is way off from the terminal now. I saw my friend almost immediately, greeted him, got in the car and started talking Android almost immediately.

The Google Android G1 Phone: Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT)

CO479 21OCT08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to San Antonio International, San Antonio TX (SAT) 7:20p 8:24p 738 N??267

Flight Time: 0:36
Seat Map

I went to the seat I was assigned, but there was someone sitting there so I took the open window seat; the middle was empty. This flight was pretty light so there were many empty seats.

I had just enough time to make a call to my friend in San Antonio advising him that I was on my way.

I looked to my left and saw a Boeing 777-200 there. Odd, one of the flights to Europe must be late. It is either the Paris-bound or the London-Heathrow-bound flight, I was not sure which.

The door closed at 7:18p and by 7:22p we pushed back with the safety video playing as we did so. The Captain had come on the PA and advised that we were held up due to congestion behind.

It was 7:45p when we took to the skies from runway 15L.

Immediately after takeoff, we were offered a pack of stadium style peanut and then a beverage; I opted for some water and apple juice. I was trying to get down the tray table that was in the middle and it would not budge; what I did not realize was that the guy at the aisle knee was blocking it; I apologized profusely and he laughed. Geez, how silly could I be? I felt like a real dingbat.

At 7:59p we were level at 24,000', the Capt. came on and said we will go into gate 30 or 31 and we should be in just shy of the 73F and clear skies. Have a good night on this short flight.

At 8:05p, we started our descent into San Antonio, soon after the flight attendants came by and cleaned up before we landed.

The Google Android G1 Phone: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

It was 7:07p when the #102 arrived at Terminal C. I bolted off the bus, holding my top pocket and my backpack as I headed for the departure level. I went up one more level up and followed the signs to Terminal E. I was hoping that the parking lot entrance was not closed as that would have ended this run.

I was in luck it was still open and there was onyl one guy going through. I showed my documents to the TSA office noting for future reference that it is closed from 8:30p to 5:30a. I cleared security as fast as I could and then darted for the closed doors at the end of the corridor.

I almost ran into the stationary doors as I was not sure which ones would open. Quick thinking avoided certain disaster. It was now 7:10p and I had to make it to E-19, the last gate in Terminal E. At one point, I thought I should just stop for fear of just passing out, but I continued as fast as my legs could take me.

I rounded the corner at gate E-24 and saw a red coat all the way at the end. I had a feeling he was looking out for runners; me. I tried to move faster, but my legs were low on oxygen so I just kept my already quickened pace. As I neared him, he shouted nicely "San Antonio?' I said an out of breath "yes" and nodded.

The agent then gave me my boarding pass and sent me down the jetway.

I can't believe it, I made it.

The Google Android G1 Phone: Leaving Downtown TX.

I have a friend in San Antonio, TX who is a techno geek. He was the one that told me when the Android was going to be available. I had told him that when I get it I will come see him so we can play with it. Well, here goes.

I left my house at about 5:35p and headed for the bus stop. It was 5:45p when the bus showed up and 6:05p when we arrived downtown. I had no idea whether or not a bus was in the vicinity, but I just hoped. I saw one coming in the distance and as it drew nearer, it was the 102.

Houston is an odd city, people who live in the suburbs actually line up for the bus one behind each other neatly. I have not see that in any other city I've visited, perhaps except for Japan where commuters queue for the trains. It is interesting to see. The folks for the 102 did not queue, there was maybe 5 or 6 of us.

While on the bus, I continued to figure out the new G1 Android phone. I had expected to see all my phone numbers in the Contact section, but that was not the case. So I called T-Mobile and asked them what was up with it. It was painful. The lady who answered the phone transferred me to the PDA Blackberry desk; odd I thought since they just launched the G1.

The guy then asked me for my phone number, which I though was ridiculous; annoyed I asked him if the lady had not told him what was up; he said no. I told him my issue and he advised me that it is necessary to download my contacts to the phone. You would think when I touched Contacts for the first time, there would have been an intuitive message giving me some direction?

We had a bad connection and eventually, I lost him as I was on the bus. I then figured it out myself and just downloaded the contacts, which I think doubled up for some weird reason.

The Google Android G1 Phone

My Motorola flip phone died a few months back. One of colleagues, Dave lent me his RAZR until I could get the next best thing. Thanks Dave!

As it turns out it is the new Android G1 made by HTC, which arrived by UPS today at about 3:30p. Now I can be a true techno road warrior or can I?

The UPS guy said I was his 112th delivery of the phone for the day and he had 70 more to go and he can't wait to get rid of them :-)...

Here are first look. It is charging now, so no screen shots as yet.


It is really nicely packaged.



















Compared to the Motorola RAZR

Monday, October 20, 2008

Qantas flies the A380

Qantas flew the A380 for the first time from Melbourne, Australia (MEL) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) on October 20, 2008. Here is a schedule for other flights of the A380 the next few months. Go to http://www.qantas.com.au/info/flying/A380/schedule

Sunday, October 19, 2008

London October 17, 2008: Arriving at Gatwick from Central London

19OCT08 Gatwick International, London England (LGW)

I detrained and followed the signs to the North Terminal where I arrived via train a few minutes later. This was my first time departing from gatwick since Continental started their Heathrow service back in March. Many of the check-in areas were now replaced by Emirates check-in counters. By October 26, I think it will be all gone as there will no longer be service to Gatwick from Houston or Newark.

I used the kiosk and received my boarding pass and took an aisle seat with the window currently open. I then did my security checks and headed for the security lines. Good, there were no lines so it was smooth sailing which was a plus.

Once inside, I found the IRIS office and as it turned out it was not open until 7:30a and it was now 7:23a. I did not see any activity inside, so I am assuming that it will be opened late. The drawback is that the Lounges are on the other side of the airport and I don't really want to be going back and forth today.

Hopefully the wait won't be too long.

At 7:30a, the two agents showed up. After a few minutes of back and forth, they re-registered me and I was on my way. Hopefully, it will all work when I return.

I then headed over to the Emirates Lounge and relaxed until it was time for the flight.

London October 17, 2008: departing London

19OCT08 Canary Wharf, London England

The alarm clock went off at 5:00a, aarghhhhh. I had only crawled into bed 2.5 hours earlier. I got my act together, then went and checked on the Journey Planner Web site at http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk where exactly was the bus located. It was in the same area that I was the previous afternoon.

At 5:44a, I headed out and was at the bus stop in no time. There were two others behind me as well. At about 5:50a, the N550 appeared and I was on my way. I somehow think that this bus was a little late, but I am not complaining at all.

I spoke with the driver and told him my intentions and he said he would let me know when to get off. In about 12 minutes or so, he called me forward. There was also another guy who was catching the same bus as well.

Unfortunately, the #11 passed before us as we were held at the traffic light. The driver was really good though and said that we can catch up with it at Trafalgar Square so stay on the bus. We did and sure enough at Trafalgar Square we caught up with it.

In the brief time I spent at the bus stop waiting, I heard two girls talking about the relationship that the other had with a guy. Apparently, they had just broken up and she was not taking it well. I could not help but overhear them talking about. The one who had broken up wanted sympathy and the other was just not having it. How insensitive, I thought...

It was 6:24a when the #11 deposited us just outside Victoria Station. This gave us six minutes to make the 6:30a Gatwick Express train. This was going to be close.

We hastened our steps and made it to the station by 6:25a and noticed that the train was on track 14. We both started to make a run for it and was onboard the train by 6:27a. At exactly 6:30a, it pulled out, 35 minutes later we will be in Gatwick Airport.

At about 6:45a or so, the trolley buffet came by. I thought this was odd as the announcement had said that there was no service this morning and had even apologized for it. I brought that to the attention of the guy and he smiled.

At 6:51a, the conductor came by and I purchased my ticket. It has been a while since I rode the Gatwick Express and the price had gone up considerably, it was now 16.90 GBP for the one way fare. The Heathrow express fare is 16.80 GBP.

We pulled into the station at 7:04a.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

London October 17, 2008: Canary Wharf



London October 17, 2008: Arriving in London Heathrow (LHR) from Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

18OCT08 London-Heathrow International, London Heathrow (LHR)

It was 9:04a when we touched down with ease. We taxied across towards Terminal 4 and as we did, it was great to see a number of aircraft making their way around the airport.

We had to wait for a British Airways Airbus A320 to take off before, then we crossed the active runway behind a Sri Lankan Airbus A340, I think it was. We were at the gate at about 9:10a.

I deplaned and walked to the Immigraton area with my colleague and his friends. After about a twenty minute wait in the Immigration line, we cleared customs and then exited. I got them settled with the ground transportation to the city, then I headed to the Underground, missing the train by about a minute. Not to worry, the next one was in 15 minutes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

London October 17, 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental from downtown Houston

17OCT08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

The security lines were a breeze at Terminal C. We then took the train to Terminal E. Sadly, there was no time for the Presidents Club, so I stood outside and checked some flight details for my colleague who was heading to Seattle on the 7:25p.

It was now 5:57p, so we made our way to E-18 as he was meeting a friend at E-21 and my flight was leaving from E-18. When I got there, I noticed that they had not yet started boarded, bummer, I could have hung out a bit longer at the Presidents Club, oh well.

I went over to the gate and collected my boarding pass for my upgraded window seat on the right side of the plane. Boarding started at about 6:08p, so after saying hello to another colleague who was on that flight and goodbye to my colleague who was heading for Seattle, WA, I boarded.

London October 17, 2008: Leaving downtown Houston

Downtown Houston, TX

I had to finish a last minute report just before leaving work. Friday afternoons are always so hectic for some idiotic reason.

It was 5:05p when we pulled out of the garage and headed north on I-45 to I-10 and then to US59. There was quite a bit of traffic as usual, but we made it to the airport without incident by 5:45p.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where?

It's Wednesday, so where to this weekend? I think it will be London.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston, TX (IAH) from Killeen, TX (GRK)

Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down smoothly on runway 8L at 5:31p. We took the first available high speed exit, then turned around on the taxiway and headed in the direction opposite to which we landed. I looked across the way and there was a Boeing 737-800 w/winglets landing on 8R. There were also Emirates' Boeing 777-200LR, Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-300ER and British Airways' Boeing 777-200 all at Terminal D.



We continued our taxi making it to Terminal A at 5:38p.
We deplaned and then headed to the waiting bus which would take us first to Terminal A, B and finally C/D/E.

This is our plane.

I deplaned at C and invited the gentleman I met in Killeen to the Presidents Club as his flight was now delayed until 8:00p. I cautioned him about getting too comfortable and advised him to ask the agent about his flight's status at 6:30p.

Killeen, TX Oct. 2008: Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

CO09550 11OCT08 Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 4:55p 6:05p SF3 N356CJ

Flight Time: 0:40
Seat Map

I walked down the jetway and greeted the flight attendant as I boarded. She asked us to sit in row 9 and after for weight and balance purposes, so we all did.

This aircraft has a single entry door with one lavatory behind the cockpit and holds 38 passengers in a 1-2 leather seat configuration. I headed for the four seats across the back of the plane in row 12.

Later, the Captain came on the PA and announced that he was thankful for our being so helpful with sitting in rows 9 and aft. He then advised that it would be a 0:40 flight today.

At 4:43p, we pulled forward after the jetway was pulled back to clear the wing of the airplane.
We taxied out to runway 15 passing some military helicopters on the right, then took off at 4:47p or so.

The control tower can be seen just before takeoff.

It was a great takeoff and you could see the entire airport below.


At 4:54p, the flight attendant came around and asked if we wanted anything to drink. I asked for some water and Ginger Ale and she came back with a 16.9 Fl oz (500ml) bottle of water and a can of Ginger Ale accompanied by a pack of Honey Roasted Peanuts. I was happily surprised.

At 5:16p, the Captain came on the PA and said that we were beginning our sequencing for IAH now and it was 83F and the winds were form the SE at 6 miles per hour. We were 40 miles from the airport and will be touching down in about 15 minutes. He then asked the lone flight attendant to prepare the cabin for landing which she did.

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Departing Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional (GRK)

Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK)

It was 4:04p when I arrived at the airport. I bade my sister and my nephew goodbye and headed into the terminal. At the check-in counter, there was a sign that read something like "We've gone to the gate and will be back after the flight has departed." So I went up to the gate to see if I could get beyond security. The TSA agent said no so I went back downstairs and waited.

By now there were four people there, only one of which was traveling. The lady said hello and apparently from my accent she realized I was from Jamaica as well. We struck up a little conversation as we waited. Her dad was the one traveling and she told me that she missed the first bag fee by three days. I also noted to her that his bag was 6lbs. overweight and that there would be a charge.

The agent then arrived and started checking them in. He collected the $15 first bag fee and advised them that the bag was overweight and would cost $50. They then proceeded to take some stuff out, placing the extra 6lbs in their carry on bag.

After he was done with her, he printed my boarding pass and I went upstairs and cleared the security area without issues. I continued to talk to the lady's dad about random stuff. You could see out plane from the gate area.

Also, the back of the podium was a Laptop Station; wireless access is actually paid at this airport.


At 4:37p, boarding started for all rows for the five us that were going to Houston this afternoon.

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Departing Killeen, TX

11OCT08 Killeen, TX

We left my mom's house at about 3:45p with my sister behind the wheel. It seemed like everyone was out doing something as it was such a picture perfect day. We pretty much hugged the perimeter of the Fort Hood military base as we made our way to the airport making fun of a picture of my nephew as we progressed. He's only 13, almost 14, but he looks like a 19 year old.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Arriving in Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK)

Killeen/ Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK)

We touched down with a jolt and then taxied up to the terminal. To our left was a Delta Connection CRJ at the gate.

I deplaned when it was my turn and walked across the tarmac and then up to the long jetway to the terminal building. I then made a small pit stop before heading out to meet my sister who was waiting with my nephew and my dad. I greeted them all and then we headed out.

Killeen, TX Oct. 2008: Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Killeen/Ft. Hood Regional, Killeen TX (GRK)

CO9498 10OCT08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Killeen/Ft. Hood, Killeen TX (GRK) SF3 N352CJ

Flight Time: 0:45
Seat Map

It was 7:17p when I made it on board and last passenger arrived at 7:23p. This aircraft has a 1-2 configuration and the last row has four seats.

I tried to sit in my assigned seat, but there was a guy's bag strapped into the seat. I then headed for the open Exit row and the guy sitting in the single seat had both his bags under the seats in front of that row. I tried again and found a single seat further back.

At 7:24p the flight attendant closed the door. We pulled forward at 7:27p as she did the safety demo. As we taxied out, at 7:37p Captain said we were #3 for takeoff. It was 7:40p when we departed 33L-15R.

After takeoff, at 7:51p, an offer of mini pretzels and beverage of choice were made. I requested some Sprite and a few minutes later the flight attendant returned with a can of Sprite and a glass of ice.

I could not tell the last time I got a whole can of soda on an airplane flight.

The captain came on the PA at 7:57p to advise that we were at our cruising altitude of 12,000' and then turned off the seat belt signs.

All during the flight, I kept smelling a stinky smell, it was quite horrible actually.

The Captain came on the PA and said that the temp was 77F and that we had started our descent at about 8:13p.

The Captain also advised that it would be an early arrival and told the lone flight attendant to prepare the cabin for arrival which she did. I actually fell asleep a little bit and awoke when we touched the runway.

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston, TX

10OCT 08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

The check-in lines at Terminal B were not too bad and in about 8 minutes, we had cleared. I walked her down to her gate, chatted for a bit and then headed to my gate. I had to take a shuttle bus to Terminal A.

It did not take too long to arrive and in no time I was at gate A2. I made my way across to the relatively new Presidents Club across from gate A7, which is actually my gate. When I got there, there was no one at the front desk. I did see a lady, but it looked like she was cleaning up stuff. As it turns out, it was 6:29p and the Club closes at 6:30p :-(. There was one other guy there who was protesting as apparently a sign on the bar says they closed later. The agent advised him that the sign was for the old hours.

As I left, I noticed that the sign outside said 5:15a to 6:30p daily. Bummer as the last Killeen flight is at 9:25p and there are other flights still leaving after 6:30p.

I decided to head for Terminal B so I could use the Presidents Club there. Here are some sights as I headed that way.





I arrived there via a shuttle bus at 6:40p, knowing that I would only have about 10 minutes there. I had a beverage and some crackers and cheese and then hurried back to the shuttle bay, barely missing one.

At 7:09p one showed up and I made it to the gate at 7:15p out of breath. Why do I do this to myself?

I identified myself and in a moment, I was given an aisle seat. They actually thought I was another passenger. I took the boarding pass and headed down the unusually long jetway.

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008: Leaving downtown Houston, TX

10oct08 Downtown Houston TX

It was about 5:01p when we left the office. My colleague who was driving was a little anxious that she would not get to the airport on time for her 6:30p flight. I reassured her that all was well.

Even after a slight detour, we arrived at the airport parking facility at 5:35p and the terminal at 5:45p.

Killeen, TX (GRK) Oct. 2008

It's the weekend right? So where am I going?

I am off to see family this weekend; my parents and my sister in good old Killeen, TX (GRK). Seeing my family is always so stressful, so it won't be a good two days at all. But this too will pass.

The flights looks good in both directions so I anticipate no issues.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Rotterdam, Netherlands Oct. 2008: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental from London-Heathrow

06OCT08 Houston Intercontinental. Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down quietly and smoothly at 12:45a. I looked across at the Terminal D gates and there was only an AeroMexico Boeing 737-700 with winglets at the gate. Neither the Asia nor the European heavies have arrived as yet. We had a quick taxi into the gate arriving at 12:50p.
It took a few minutes to deplane, then I headed for the Immigration area, following the lines for “Global Entry.” As we were the first European international flight in and we had a light load the normal Immigration lines were almost non-existent.

There were two customers ahead of me, but by the time I made it to the kiosk, one of them was free. I placed my passport under the reader as instructed; it read it, then I placed my right index finger on the reader and nothing. I pressed a little harder and still nothing. Eventually the machine reset itself to the main screen. Well, so much for a pleasant first experience.

I moved to the next machine advising the Officer who was thereof my experience on the other kiosk. He called another Office to take a look. My second attempt worked as it should and I received my Customs form and exited.

Downstairs, I just showed it to the Office there and of course there was no line again, so I did not feel like I gained anything. I know this won’t last forever though…

I headed to the 102 bus stop in Terminal C via the underground train. I was just in time for the arrival of the bus from downtown, so the wait was only about 10 minutes in all. I did notice two passengers who had arrived on that Aeromexico flight from Mexico City at the bus stop. When they boarded, they had no change, but luckily a passenger did so they were fine. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Metro does not have a way for customers to get a Que card or at least change at the airport…

Rotterdam, Netherlands Oct. 2008: BA's downed Boeing 777-200 at Heathrow

As we taxied out to the runway I could see the Boeing 777 that crashed at Heathrow a few months ago. It is now devoid of the airline's markings.


Rotterdam, Netherlands Oct. 2008: Departing Heathrow for Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

06OCT08 Heathrow International, London England (LHR) Terminal 4

It was exactly 7:01a as my friend set me down at Terminal 4.
They are doing a lot of construction so you cannot drive up to the front of the terminal anymore. So, I bade him goodbye and made my way towards the elevators. It was taking forever, so I took the stairs along with another lady.

In the terminal, I was able to check-in rather quickly, well, did the security checks as I'd already checked in. I had not seen that few people in Terminal 4 in a long while and it was a Monday morning.

I got through security with ease and then made it to the Holideck Lounge. I had one purpose, check out the BBC's site for new shows. I did that, got some snacks and then headed out for the gate at about 7:45a.

I needed to check with IRIS so the next time I come back I would have no issues, but I have to wait for a few more weeks to get it all taken care of.

At the gate (1c), I got a window seat, got security checked and then showed my boarding pass and started the long walk down the winding jetway. As the flight was empty, I got the seat next to me vacant.

Rotterdam, Netherlands Oct. 2008: Leaving Central London for Heathrow

06OCT08 Central London, England

It was really early when the alarm clock rang; it was 5:15a :-(. We got up got ready and we were on our way by 5:55a. My friend programmed Heathrow into his GPS and after it found a signal, it told us where to go. The signs in the parking lot were pretty funny as we departed.


It was funny though as every now and then it told us to turn on a street that we could not see. Unfortunately, London is not a grid system, so it is a little difficult to navigate. Like all big cities, it has traffic issues. Luckily there was not to much of that this morning.

Eventually, we got out of the city and made our way to the A4 and found a sign that said "Heathrow."

As we approached the airport, we were in luck! An Airbus A340 in Star Alliance colors bore down upon us as we passed the end of the active runway. The timing could not have been more perfect. My adrenalin was racing as I kept my index finger on the shutter. Below is what it looked like.






As I approached the terminal, I saw my plane at the gate.