Friday, February 08, 2008

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX)

I realized that I left the battery for my camera when I tried to take a picture of a Delta Connection ERJ-145 that was pushing back; this is a bummer as the airport in Montego Bay has some really great landings. :-(. So only movies on this trip, luckily my travel companion has a camera.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX)

Los Angeles International, Los Angeles CA (LAX)

It was really a smooth and quiet landing. I could see a Philippines Airlines (PA) Boeing 747-400 as well as a Thia Airways (TG) Boeing 747-400 at the Bradley International terminal. A Boeing 747-400 from Cathay Pacific was being towed into its gate.

We continued our taxi over to terminal 6. I looked over at Terminal 5 to see if the Air Jamaica (JM) flight was there, but it was not. I called Air Jamaica and the automated system said the departure was at 10:15p, so that was a good sign, the arrival time was 6:59a now instead of 6:25a, which is fine since the car rental places don't open up until 8a. The arrival time of the flight from Jamaica was 9:06p.

It was a tow in gate and while we waited the pilot came on the PA and said that he had forgotten to tell us that the airplane was brand new; it arrived last week and that it lands well; he sounded pretty satisfied with its handling.

We waited quite a while to get off the plane; having landed at 7:43p and off the plane at 8:05p.

In the terminal I headed for the Presidents Club and an agent told me that I can walk between Terminal 5 and 6 and another told my traveling companion that it was not possible. We checked and it was possible. So we hang out in the Presidents Club for a bit since the Delta Crown Room uses T-Mobile and charges for the Internet. We still need to book a hotel.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Houston Intercontinental (IAH) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

CO295 08FEB08 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston, TX (IAH) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) 6:05p 7:57p 73E N??414

Flight Time: 3:08

As I passed through the doorway, I was looking for any indication of the date of manufacture, but all I saw was a serial number as well as a “Boeing 737-924ER” on a plate at the top of the door well. I greeted the flight attendant in the galley who said hello back.

I turned right and walked through the 2-2 configured First Class leather seat clad cabin of twenty seats and then continued on to the main cabin with its 153 3-3 configured cloth seats. There is also a lavatory behind row 5 in the Economy Cabin. I thought the interior would smell new, but it did not, it certainly looked new though.

All the overheads were now full as I was the third of the last seven passengers to board the plane. I had to back up a few times and once passed a roller board bag to the gate agent as passengers tried to find a place for their bags. Three bags had to be checked. As I only had a back, I was able to store it at my feet; thanks Heavens.

Finally I was able to make my way to the back of the plane and take my middle seat. As I settled in, I realized that this seat was a bit comfy; a little like that of the Boeing 757-300 that Continental also flies. Like those, these also have those cute little wings to stop your head from flopping in the aisle or on the passenger next to you; pity passengers don’t use these more often.

I looked around and noticed that there was no squares in the overheads where video screens would be and there were no headset holes nor controls in the armrest. This tells me that entertainment system is not yet installed. I did reach down and feel the electric plugs to the left and right of my seat. I had also noticed them in First class between each seat, one for each seat. I’ll have to check if these were turned on. I am thinking no, since the entertainment system is not on and the controls are usually built into that system. I’ll check later when I have more time I thought.

The doors were closed at 6:07p and an announcement was made to turn off the electronic devices. Since the entertainment system is not installed as yet, the five flight attendants had to give the safety demo manually. This was done as we were pushing back from the gate at 6:10p.

I fell asleep as we taxied out and awoke at 6:33p when we commenced our takeoff roll on runway 15L.

After takeoff, the flight attendant said that there would be a light dinner for the flight; no mention was made about the entertainment system or lack there of.

At 6:50p, the Captain came on the PA and said we were cruising at 32,000’ and that we should touch down at 7:43p and get to the gate shortly after. He also added that the winds were from the West at 10mph under partly cloudy skies and the temperature was 62F.

The flight attendants were busy in the galley getting our meal ready and I saw them go by with a stack of what looks like a burger of some kind. I wonder if it is beef or chicken?

Cheeseburgers arrived at 7:32p accompanied with a salad and Peppercorn dressing and a Milky Way bar. Drinks came shortly after as we were rocking in turbulence. Of course being in the back of the plane I felt the effect even more. The meal was actually quite good and I ate it all, but ½ of the chocolate bar as it was a bit melted. The guy on my right offered me his burger, but I declined as one was already more than I should eat.

The crew came back and cleared all the thrash at about 8:05p. At about the same time, the Captain came on the PA and announced that were flying over El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico. It was a crystal clear night and you had an excellent view of the city and its lights below. Myself and the passenger next to me at the window was just saying that we think it was El Paso on our left. Thanks to the pilot for confirming that. He said we had about 1:45 to go. Our flight continued in silence.

Oh, I did try the power outlet and they are indeed not turned on; bummer, the pains of flying a totally new plane.

I fell asleep for a short time and then i heard the Captain say that we were 200 miles out and we will start our descent shortly, so if you have to go now is the time. We then started our descent shortly and landed very smoothly.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Houston-Intercontinental, Houston, TX (IAH)

Houston-Intercontinental, Houston, TX (IAH)

We got off at Terminal E and had no issues clearing security, except that I have this really metallic pen I got from the hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel that beeped. In order to avoid having to go through secondary screening, I took off my belt as well and was through the second time without a sound.

Next stop was the Presidents Club for a quick snack and some online time. As we walked towards the Club, my computer was freaking out with a loud beeping sound. I forced turned it off and it stopped; I then turned it on again and it came up in Safe mode. Crap, I will have to send it in now; once I get back home, I will have to back it up again and send it in.

I showed my credentials and entered the Club. It was pretty packed as usual and it was quite difficult to find a place to sit. We did find a table, but there were no electrical outlets nearby, sadly. I got some drinks and snacks, did a little time on the computer as it finally came up and then realized that we have to get to E22. I wanted to do a blog entry, but the malfunctioned denied me that opportunity.

As we exited, my traveling companion did an ATM transaction while I continued to the gate to listen for our names. When he caught up with me, I was still waiting. We waited for a bit longer and were both eventually cleared into middle seats close to the back of the airplane. We immediately made our way to the gate agent and boarded. As we walked, I commented that this was a brand new plane as I confirmed that it was aircraft 414, a Boeing 737-900ER with winglets; the second one of its kind in the Continental fleet.

As we made our way down the jet way, we were stopped with about ¾ the way to go as there was a back up. Soon, we got to the aircraft.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Houston, TX

Houston, TX

I got a call that my ride would be about three minutes late as I was getting ready to leave and meet him downstairs. I continued my actions and ended up arriving downstairs as he was just pulling up. We made our way to the highway and headed for US59 via I-45 North and I-10 West. The traffic c was not too bad, but not knowing what it looked like further up the road and since there were two of us in the car, we took the HOV lane.

This proved useful as there was a bit of traffic once we passed the loop 610. We made our way up the HOV and got off before Beltway 8 as the genius who designed the systems did not think it made sense to exit an HOV lane onto another highway beit US59 or Beltway 8. So sometimes the time you saved by using the HOV is squandered by having to use local roads to get to the airport. I don’t really like Civil Engineers as I do not think they use the systems they build. If one of the designers are reading this, leave a comment please.

Despite the cranky design, we did make it to the airport in good time, parked and took the shuttle bus to Terminal E.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Preparations


This weekend’s journey will take me to Montego Bay, Jamaica after which I will take a three hour drive to a small town called Carisbrook, Jamaica where I grew up to see my 98 year old grand aunt and my 60 something year old aunt. The roads are not fun at all, so if I were in the U.S., the drive would be just about an hour. I also have to keep reminding myself to drive on the right hand side of the street.

Getting to Jamaica at a decent time is not easy from Houston, but I devised a routing that would get me there by 6:25a. But I had to go West first and then East.

After looking at a few different car options, Budget proved to be the best one. I also needed to check a few of the local companies, but never got around to it. In terms of a hotel, we would have to wait to book one once we knew for sure we were going as the cancellation policy is for 24 hours before.

The funky thing is that when you call, they say that you can cancel anytime, but they blame the hotels for having 24 hour cancellation policies; I think this is very lame. I looked at several choices and they ranges from 80 USD for a Guest house to 479 USD for a Resort with all you can eat. The Caribbean is so expensive; what a rip I thought.