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.

The French Caribbean Connection: Arriving in San Juan, PR (SJU) from Point a Pitre, Guadeloupe (PTP)

29NOV08 San Juan, PR (SJU)

We touched down at 10:30a and made our way to the terminal. We all deplaned walked across the tarmac to the main terminal.

Once inside, we followed the directions to the Immigration area. I presented my documents as there is no Global Entry here.

I then cleared Customs downstairs and made my way through the maze to the exit. I found the Continental ticket counter and got our tickets for the next leg of our journey. Meanwhile I was on the phone with American making a listing for the San Juan, PR (SJU) to Miami, FL (MIA) segment.

With tickets in hand, we made our way over to the American ticket counter to check in. It was now about 11:05. We thought we could make the 11:25a, but the check-in line was pretty long and there was a lady re-packing her stuff so that would not work.

We got checked in for the 2:10p, checked the loads and realized that we would not make it as the standby list was way too long.

We then decided to go buy a JetBlue ticket on the 2:25p to Orlando, FL (MCO) instead as our chances of making it to Houston, TX (IAH) today were better from Orlando, FL.

We got in line and after waiting for a bit, we were able to purchase the ticket and got exit row seating.

We then cleared security after I asked the TSA guy why he had to check my ticket before I went into the Expert lane just to have another TSA guy check my ticket. It is really so stupid since there is only one guy there and you have to wait behind the other passengers who are not in the expert category just to have someoen check my ticket. oh well.

The gate was close by, so we strolled over there. The flight had just arrived and passengers were deplaining. At about 11:50p, boarding started.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The French Caribbean Connection: Leaving Trios Islet for the Fort de France airport

28 NOV08 Trois Islet, Martinique

It was 5:15a, when the alarm clock rang and we started getting ready. My colleague took a picture from our window for you to see.

We were shooting for a 6:00a departure, but we did a 6:15a departure which was still fine. Here are some pictures as we made our way towards the airport.

Golf anyone?

snarled by traffic

After two bouts with the morning traffic, we arrived at the airport at 7:20a after only driving about 18km or less. The traffic was horrendous.

The airport was now in sight.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The French Caribbean Connection: Miami International, Miami FL (MIA)

Outside the new Concourse H

The French Caribbean Connection

Its been a while since I've wanted to do the Caribbean flight to the French islands (territories). Well, that time is here, so I'm off to Miami, FL (MIA), then to Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique and then to French Guiana. Oh, and there is a side trip to Monaco.

Come on, you knew there had to be a twist :-)...

The French Caribbean Connection: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) from Downtown Houston, TX

26NOV08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We did not have a long wait for the parking shuttle to show and we were in luck as we were taken directly to Terminal E. Once there, we had no issues clearing the security area after which we headed for the ticket office. We needed to get tickets for our Paris-Orly, Paris France (ORY) to Nice, France (NCE) to Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) trip. This is our side trip for this journey.

This journey will be Houston to Miami to Haiti to Guadeloupe to Martinique to French Guiana to Paris to Nice to Amsterdam and back to Houston.

Once that was accomplished, we headed to the Presidents Club where we relaxed for a bit. I checked the flights and it did not look so good for the Miami, FL (MIA) flight. Our backup was Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL), but it left only five minutes after the Miami flight and was at gate E-14. The Miami flight was at c-37, which was a world away. I started to look at other options just in cacs we missed that flight. I noticed that Fort Myers, FL (RSW) was at 7:50p and had room. It would be a little drive down to Miami, but at least we were in the same state.

There was also a flight to West Palm Beach, FL (PBI), but I think it was at the same time as the Fort Lauderdale and Miami flights, so I did not bother to check it. We had come up with a cut off time to make a decision and that was at 6:30p.

So once 6:30p rolled around, we headed for the gate for the Miami flight. On my way there, I noticed that the West Palm Beach flight was at 7:50p; relief we can try the Miami flight and not worry as it was open.

It was 6:45p when we both got middle seats on the flight to Miami. It was time to board. I was calling Avis to check on the price of cars from West Palm and the guy on the phone booked it although I told him not to, geez...

The French Caribbean Connection: Leaving downtown Houston, TX (IAH)

26NOV08 Leaving Downtown Houston, TX

It was 4:07p when I met my colleague downstairs in the lobby area. We headed for the parking facility and got in the car. Before long, we were on I-45 heading to the airport via I-10 and US59. The traffic was pretty light for a Thanksgiving Eve, so before you know it, we had arrived at the airport.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mokulele Airlines: Arriving in Houston Intercontinental., Houston TX (IAH) from Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX)

23NOV08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down on the runway closest to Terminal D and then taxied back to gate E9. Using I looked up the gate for the lady next to me and then got her on a cart to her gate.

I then made my way to the ticket office, picked up another few tickets, then made my way to the Presidents Club for a snack. I had about 30 minutes to the next bus.

Mokulele Airlines: Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

CO194 23NOV08 Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 6:30a 11:46a 752 N57111

Flight Time: 2:47
Seat Map

As I boarded, I said hello to the flight attendant who I had just left behind. I guess it is the same flight attendants from my Honolulu flight.

I made my way to my seat, saying hello to my seatmate as I did so. The flight attendant asked what I wanted to drink and I chose water. She then came back and asked if I wanted an omelet breakfast after takeoff; I said sure. I also put in my drink order.

This aircraft has a 2-2 configuration in this cabin with power at each seat plus audio/video on demand entertainment system.

The door soon closed and we pushed back. On our way out to runway 25L, I saw a slew of planes as you can see below:

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300

Frontier Airlines (F9) Airbus A319

MasAir Boeing 767-300

JAL Cargo Boeing 747-400

Cargo planes

Skywest EM2

American Airlines (AA) Boeing 757-200

Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200

American Airlines Boeing 737-800

United Express CRJ-200

Delta Air Lines (DL) Boeing 757-200

ExpressJet Airlines Embraer ERJ-145

Cargo DC-10

As we took off, you could see the mountains in the background as the clouds rolled right out to them. It was amazing that below all this was not quite pretty.

Soon after takeoff, hot towels were handed out. This was followed by a breakfast which was:

Fresh seasonal fruit and yogurt, biscuits and cinnamon rolls with butter and strawberry preserve, omelette with broccoli potato gratin, grilled smoked pork loin and turkey sausage patty.

The lady next to me was having trouble with her TV, so I pulled up the movie on mine so she should watch it. I then did some work, reading and a little sleep. I was able to keep my phone and computer charged as I had a plug at my seat.

I took some more pictures as we passed over Phoenix, AZ.

Soon, we started our descent. As we got closer to the airport, we flew right by it.