Sunday, July 13, 2008

Atlanta, GA July 2008: Arriving in Houston, TX (IAH) from Atlanta, GA (ATL)

13JUL08 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down about 4:30p and taxied to the gate in the C Concourse, or is it Terminal at this airport? We were almost 5 hours late.

The lead flight attendant announced that the gate agent would have connecting flight information so it was necessary to contact them once we deplane.

Deplaning was easy, no one seemed to be in a hurry, which was quite funny. We headed out and checked on the flight information displays. All the flights to and from Atlanta, GA were delayed. Oddly enough, the 1:10p departure had also arrived at about the same time as our flight did.

Our plane was due to do a flight to Miami, FL (MIA) which was showing about a 0:45 minute delay.

We then headed to the parking shuttle bus stop and headed out.

Atlanta, GA July 2008: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Atlanta GA (ATL) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

CO1587 13JUL08 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Atlanta GA (ATL) to Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 10:45a 11:53a 735 N??649

Flight Time:
Seat Map

I greeted the two flight attendants at the door and made my way past the two rows of 2-2 leather seats in First Class to the rows of 3-3- configuration in Economy class. As I was really tired, I snagged two pillows from the overhead as I made my way to my seat.

I found a place for my bag and then settled in, getting up twice to allow the window seat and middle seat passengers to pass. The guy in the middle was having issues finding a place for his bag and actually had to check it as there was no more room. There were also other bag space issues as the space came to a premium.

I looked through the window on the left and saw a massive storm building; I was hoping that we would get out of here before that engulfed the airport. The lady at the window and I commented on it.

It was a minute past departure time and the Captain came on the PA and announced that the airport had a ground stop due to the storm coming in and we had to wait until it cleared up. He thinks it would be 30-45 minutes. Bummer, I thought. As I was really tired, I fell asleep right away.

Later, I awoke and heard the Captain say that we were going to leave the gate and head out to the taxiways, but we would still have to wait. I think it was like 12:20p now.

[My traveling companion later told me that there was a lady who wanted to go to McDonald's to get something to eat, but no one was allowed off the plane. In situations like these, everyone has to stay put as no one knows when it will be time to go. You let one person off the plane and ATC rings back and say you have to go now and you can't then you may be delayed longer. Also, one person gets to go to McDonald's, then another wants to go to Starbucks, etc. I'm also told that some passengers had asked for drinks and were served in the back galley, which is fair as the wait was a bit long]

I fell asleep again and I kept waking up to announcements. One said that we were #10 for departure but the west departures were curtailed and another said we were #4 and the departures were curtailed again. Finally, we were #1 and the departures were curtailed again. Each time, passengers were allowed to use their cell phones and also the restroom. I know that at one time water and juice were offered. I was so out of it though…

It was interesting to hear some of the conversations when I was awake, almost all the phone calls blamed the airline. I guess the big storm sitting at the airport had nothing to do with our wait. I'm not sure why an airline would want to disrupt their tight schedule and keep passengers on a plane longer than they need to, especially with fuel so high these days. Do you?

Eventually, it was out time to take to the runway at 3:34p local time, nearly 5 hours since we boarded the plane.

The climb out was a little rough as there was turbulence from the storm. On our left you could see the gray clouds full of moisture. It was impressive to see, but was quite annoying as it was the culprit for our delay.

After takeoff, we were given a beverage service with one pack of peanuts each. I thought that the flight information had said Light Snack, but I guess I was mistaken as I think that was for the original flight we wanted to take at about 2:30p. Luckily I had some crackers and cheese in my bag, so I supplemented the meal.

With 50 minutes of flying to go, the Captain came on the PA and announced that the current weather in Houston was 95F, the winds were calm and visibility of 10 miles. We were also at 36,000’. He apologized for the delay and advised that he had asked for and received an alternate Northerly routing to avoid the storms. This accounted for an extra 15 minutes of flying though. He said we would arrive at about 4:50p or so.

I was surprised that there was only one drink service for the entire flight, but I guess they probably ran out of drinks as they were serving stuff in the galley during the lengthy delay.

The seatbelt sign came on at 4:06p local time, so that meant we were heading in.

Atlanta, GA July 2008: Airplanes in Hartsfield (ATL)

Atlanta, GA July 2008: Arriving at Hartsfield (ATL)

13JUL08 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Atlanta GA (ATL)

It was about 8:45a when we arrived at the airport. It was not too crowded and we had no issues checking in at the airport kiosk and received our stand by boarding passes. Security was not an issue either and soon we were on the trains to Concourse D.

The trains in this airport are weird as they don’t tell you which airlines serve which terminal neither audibly or visually. I think you have to wait for the doors to open to see which airlines are at which terminal and then the doors are only open for a short time. But I digress.

We arrived at Concourse D in a few minutes and headed up the long escalator to the departure level. I did notice two guys all sweaty and panting on the left escalator. It seems like they ran from the main terminal building. I hope they caught their flight.

We headed for the Presidents Club where we showed our credentials and were granted access. Eventually, we found two comfy seats in the crowded lounge across from a couple. I searched for an electric outlet, but to no avail. It is weird that they actually have workstation at the windows and no electrical outlets. I did see one or two on the floor, but they were really in the walkway, so not really usable.

I eventually had a bagel with 50% fat free cream cheese and some mini muffins, while my travel companion had some juice and coffee. The coffee was not good, so we went to use a Starbucks free coffee coupon at the Starbucks across from Gate 8A, our departure gate. I thought that no outside food was allowed, but the agent advised that drinks were fine.

Once at the Starbucks, I showed her the card and she said they don’t accept it. I inquired why and she said she was joking. She then tried to upsell me to other beverages and eats, which I declined. She then poured me a steaming hot cup of coffee to the brim and directed me to the condiments section.

I returned to the Club and presented the coffee to my traveling companion. I did notice some Delta Connection CRJs (200s and 700s) outside the window with a flurry of activities. There was also a few airTran Boeing 737-700s with winglets as well as some Boeing 717s.

It was soon time to head to the gate. As we departed the Club, I checked and saw that we were given seats; lucky aisles across.

At the gate, I inquired for our boarding passes and after waiting a bit, received the. Boarding had already commenced, so we just waited for our row to be called and then boarded the Boeing 737-500 with winglets.