Sunday, January 25, 2009

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Arriving in Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) from Mineta San Jose

25JAN09 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We touched down about 5:53p and had a long taxi into gate C19.  The bus was at 6:11p so I was hoping I caught it.  I was off the plane at 6:00p and walked briskly towards the bus stop.

If I missed it, I would just hang out in the Presidents Club until the next one at 6:51p.  I was in luck, it had not passed as yet, so I was able to take it.  At this rate, I will make it home in time for "The Unit."

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Mineta San Jose International, San Jose, CA (SJC) to Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

CO160 25JAN09 Mineta San Jose, San Jose CA (SJC) to Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 12:19p 6:00p 73G N21723

Flight Time: 3:16

Seat Map

I boarded when it was my turn and immediately headed for the back of the plane once I cleared the temporary tunnel.

The temporary tunnel to the plane.

It was very windy and really cold.  There was a Frontier Airbus A318 pulling away as we made our way up the rear stairs.  It was really noisy but cool to see it all.

I greeted the shivering flight attendant and boarded.  FInding my seat in no time and settling in.

It was fun to see passengers boarding from both entrances and you see the ones who did not check their boarding passes as they go beyond the rows that were earmarked for each stairs.

Overhead space vanished quickly, but the flight attendants were very good about finding room, for every bag.  Kudos.

Soon, the doors closed and we started our pushback along with the safety announcement.  Soon, we were airborne making an extremely steep climb into the cold midday skies.  I think San Jose airport is a noise abatement airport.  This means that the planes has to maintain a particular angle of attack on takeoff which minimizes the amount of noise they make.

Soon after take off, there was a offer for headsets for 1 USD to watch the movie "The Longshots" which was about the first black girl quarterback for the Little League Super Bowl.

After that, while the movie played, lunch was served. It was a charboiled burger with cheese as well as a salad and a Twix for desert.  Both was actually very good.

Drinks came soon after.

I was really tired so I fell asleep.  Added to the fact that I could not move my elbows much so I did not even bother to use the MacBook.  I did read my book for a bit though before falling asleep.

I awoke for the second drink offering, but passed on it and also awoke for a water offering, but passed on that too.

The next time I awoke was to put my tray table up as well as my seat back.  I awoke again once we touched down gently in Houston.

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Arriving in Mineta San Jose International, San Jose CA (SJC) from San Jose, CA

25JAN09 Mineta San Jose International, San Jose CA (SJC)

Mineta San Jose is set up so that you have to drive by the other Terminal (A) to get to B.  A is in much better shape than B.  You can also see the new construction that is being done to improve the airport.  They are really building a totally new terminal that will serve all airlines.  They seem to have at least another year in my opinion though.

I alighted at the dingy terminal and headed to the kiosks to check-in.  The airport was really light; even the shuttle drive was commenting on how bad its been with the economy the way it is.

I walked around the airport picking up some local transportation brochures first before heading through security.

This was an easy process and before long, I was at the Burger King ordering a chicken salad.  After which I then found a seat that had a power plug nearby.

One thing I have to give this airport credit for, well two things, are: free wifi and that they've placed electrical outlets right behind the seats.  Thank you.

I ate, then got online.  There were many others doing the same thing as well as talking too loudly on their phones.  I think people forget they are in a public space.  Some of the conversations are indeed funny though, but I could do without having to hear them.

I got online for a bit and just goofed off and twittered a few tweets.  Soon, I heard my name called and I got a middle seat about 2/3rds way down the plane.

Boarding commenced shortly after.  It was neat as if you had 18-25 you boarded from the rear stairs otherwise you did the front.  It was awesome.  The also started boarding with row 18 and higher.

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Leaving San Jose, CA

25JAN09 San Jose, CA

I was up at 9:00a courtesy of my alarm clock.  I got ready and left the hotel so that I could catch the 10:30a airport shuttle bus.

While I waited, I started to take some more pictures and noticed that they were now purple :-(.  Well, that's bummer.  The camera is at it again I guess.  I'll have to check to see if it is the fault of the viewer or that of the camera.

I've been considering getting a Nikon D90, so I have to think closer about that now I guess.  Good grief.  I did play with one this weekend and wow, it is click and rather cool.  I also really like the built in video capability.  It weighs about the same as my current D70S too.

I did see the #10 heading back to the airport from the Light Rail stop, but as I ran to get it, I missed it.  It had stopped for two passengers.

Anyways, dejected, I got on the shuttle to the airport.  

Friday, January 23, 2009

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Arriving in Mineta San Jose International, San Jose, CA (SJC)

23JAN09 Mineta San Jose, San Jose, CA (SJC)

We landed and hit the brakes before exiting the runway.  I texted my friend and advise that I had landed.

Once we got to the tarmac, we deplaned using stairs.  Unbelievable that all these years this airport still has stairs and a tarp over the long walkway into the terminal.  This airport is really rotten.  Well, this terminal.  The good thing is that they are fixing it.

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Mineta San Jose, San Jose, CA (SJC)

CO421 23JAN09 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to San Jose, CA (SJC) 6:37p 8:58p 738 N??218

Flight Time: 3:41

Seat Map

I boarded the airplane making my way through the 2-2 First class with leather seats into the 3-3 Economy class cabin with its cloth seats.

The overhead space was filling up, so I quickly too the next available overhead space, then made my way to my seat.  As it turns out, the lady I was talking to out by the gate was siting at the aisle.

The door soon closed and we pushed back at about 6:38p.  The engines then started and we made our way out to the runway.  The traffic was light so we were on the active runway at 6:58p.

I fell asleep when started our takeoff roll and when I awoke, we were being served dinner.  This was a hot pizza with a salad and a Kitkat bar.  By now the movie "City of Ember" with Bill Murray, although I think it should have been the "Rocker." 

After cleaning up the thrash, we were served a second drink service. All this time, I was reading the "Financial Times" I had picked up from the Presidents Club earlier.  I then got out the trust MacBook and started to do some writing.

As I was at an exit row seat, I had no issues with space.  I looked across from me and the lady at the aisle also had a similar MacBook.

I continued working which was great as I got to finish editing a document that I had forever.  The flight attendants came around with some water and I took a cup.  By now, the movie was finished and some other programs were on.

It was 10:04p (8:04p local), when the Captain came on the PA and announced that we should be starting our descent into California shortly.  So we should buckle up as it will be a bit turbulent.  He also added that it was low ceilings, temperature at 55F and the winds from the NW.  Great, I thought, no mention of rain.

We descended into the dark night.  It was hard to see outside.  The airport became visible barely before landing.

San Jose, CA Jan 2008: Boarding the flight

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Arriving in Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

23JAN09 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We parked off airport and made our way to the terminal.  There was hardly a line at Terminal E, so it was pretty easy getting into the airport.  The whole taking off your shoes thing is so annoying as the floor is dirty and I am wearing white socks.  I hope all this will stop soon.

We made our way to the Presidents Club, where we settled in over two glasses of white wine.

Soon, it was 6:00p so we both exited the Club.  Me to the right and my colleague to the left.

By the time I made it to my gate, I had secured a window seat.  As I saw that the Exit row window was still empty I asked the agent to change seats and she obliged.

While I waited, a lady was asking me about the boarding process.  this was her first time traveling on Continental.  She usually flies on Southwest and AirTran who does not have seat assignments and have a different boarding process.  I explained the process to her and she nodded in acknowledgement.  Boarding soon commenced.

San Jose, CA Jan 2009: Leaving Downtown Houston, TX

4:30p Houston, TX

I got a ride with a colleague who was on his way to London, England.  Traffic was pretty light so we made good time getting to the airport.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

London Jan 16, 2009: Qantas A380 at London-Heathrow (LHR)

QF32 sits at the gate on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.  The flight makes a stop in Singapore providing competition for the Singapore Airlines which travels on the same route.  The London to Singapore route is currently the only route in the world which is flown by two A380 aircraft.

Which tail do you think belongs to the A380?

London Jan 16, 2009: Leaving London-Heathrow (LHR) for Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)

18JAN09 Central London

I was up an atom really early at 5:00a.  By 5:36a, I was on my way arriving at the train station by 5:45a.  he next Heathrow Express was at 5:55a, great, but it said "BUS" next to it.

I inquired and was advised that due to Engineering works on the tracks, there was no trains between 5:15a and 7:40a.  Wow, I thought, it was a good thing I got up really early this morning.

I got my ticket and headed to the bus bay for the now 40 minutes journey.  The guy behind me was upset as he now has to take a cab since there was no sign by the kiosk where he got his ticket.  The agent assured him that there was; he demanded a refund anyways.

I thought about sharing a cab with him, but knew it would be substantially more than the bus, so declined to even go entertain that thought with him.

I would have to take the bus to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 stop and then take the shuttle train over to Terminal 4.  I think I should be fine in terms of time.

At 5:56a, we departed into the cold morning.

The bus really sucks as the lights don't work so I could not read the magazines I had planned to read had I been on the train.  Instead I used my computer using the glow of the screen and the backlit keyboard to work.

18JAN09 London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR)

We arrived at the airport at 6:27a much ahead of the 40 minutes promised.  I disembarked and headed downstairs and followed the directions to Terminal 4.  Eventually, I made it to the Heathrow Express shuttle beneath the airport.  In a bout 10 minutes a shuttle showed up and I arrived at Terminal 4 at about 6:45a.

I picked up my boarding pass and cleared the very light security lines and headed for the Holideck Lounge.  It was still dark out so it made for an interesting time seeing the landings.

Kenya Airways (KQ) Boeing 777-200 at the gate

Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 taxiing to the gate.  You can see the beautifully lit Terminal 5 in the background.

A British Airways (BA) Boeing 747-400 is landing.

Another Boeing 747-400 taxies to the gate.

At about 8:00a, I made my way to gate 3 for my 8:40a departure. So I am walking down to the my gate and I see two agents coming off the jetway.  I continue my walk and when I look right, lo and behold it is the Qantas A380!


This is the first of three aircraft received by Qantas.

I chatted with them for a bit and they advise that it came in yesterday for the first time and now does thrice weekly service to Sydney, so guess where I'm going pretty soon :-).

I took some pictures, but as they were calling my flight as a last call, I had to go.  I got a window seat, so hopefully I will be able to take some pictures from the plane on taxi out to the runway.

I went to my gate, got my boarding pass and boarded after being asked some security questions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

London Jan 16, 2009: Arriving at Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

16JAN09 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

There was a massive line at Terminal E as it looked like a school group had just arrived.  We were able to navigate the line expeditiously as there were four lanes open.  Still wondering why the fifth was not open due to the long lines.

I saw another colleague who was heading to Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) to celebrate her 50th birthday with other work colleagues.  These are great times.

I headed for the Presidents Club where I stayed until about 6:00p.  

While I waited, I was excited to use my new MacBook for the first time in public.  It worked well and picked up the WiFi signal without any issues or any intervention from me.  I intrigued to see how it works on the chair table in the plane.  I don't think I should have any issues in BusinessFirst class, but Economy will be interesting.  You can see a pic of the MacBook.


By the time I made it to the gate, boarding was in full swing.  I inquired about my boarding pass and I was lucky today as I'd scored the upgrade.

I then boarded as soon as I could.

London Jan 16, 2009: Leaving downtown Houston, TX

16JAN09 Houston, TX

I got a ride from my colleague who was heading to the airport for a 5:25a flight to Seattle, WA (SEA).  Traffic was really light, so we had no issues making it to the airport.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CES 2009 in pictures - Las, Vegas NV (LAS)

CES 2009

I had missed the Consumer Electronics Show last year and had to remind myself to attend this year. The flights going out there were looking really good, but coming back not so good as I would have to do some back flying to make it all happen.

I awoke really early on Saturday morning and by 6:05a, I was at the rental car facility. I dropped off the car and then headed for the terminal via the shuttle bus. My departure gate was E20, but the Terminal E buses runs really bad, so I just took a Terminal C bus and walked over to the E and then cleared security.

I actually had just enough time to get a bagel and two mini muffins from the Presidents Club before heading down to the gate at about 6:44a. As I was tired I boarded and waited for the flight to depart.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Calgary Dec. 2008: Departing downtown Calgary

Downtown Calgary, AB Canada

I departed the hotel room at 9:30a and by the time I got downstairs and outside, the train was at the station. I ran as fast as I could and caught it. Knowing that it would leave quickly, I got on without buying a ticket. This is O.K. as I am within the free zone. There is an area from 10th Avenue to 1st. Ave where taking the train is free of charge.

When I got a little further, actually at the last stop in the free zone, I got out of the train, bought the 2.50 CAD ticket at the kiosk and ran back into the train.

The rest of the journey to the airport was incident free and I took photos all the way back. There was a guy on the train that kept coughing, I thought he was going to die or something. There was quite a sigh of relief when he got off the train.

At the Whitehorn stop, I disembarked and went upstairs to wait for the #57 to the airport. The next bus was not until 10:25. It was 9:57a and the bus before the 10:25a was at 9:55a; we had just missed it.

I started talking with two guys who were immigrants to the area. One was from Mexico City, Mexico, the other from the Middle East. We chatted about the weather, etc. until 10:20a, when we spotted the bus coming.

Once on the bus, I showed my ticket and then took a seat. At 10:50a, we pulled into Bay 20 at the airport. Other travelers were waiting to take the same journey I had taken the day before.