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Originally posted at: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/Forum81/HTML/002687.html
 

This Report contains pictures, UA EWR-ORD in F on an A320, ORD-SEA in F on a 777, SEA-BOI-PDX-SEA on QX a number of encounters w/ FlyerTalkers and much more random nothingness in two weeks of chexfan's life. So be warned!
This is the fourth installment in chexfan’s “All I Wanted…” series. Feel free to peruse November 2001’s All I Wanted Was a Singapore Sling, January’s All I Wanted Was Real French Toast Trip Reports and March's All I Wanted Was To Drive On The Left Side... epics if you're bored.

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Well I had found out on the 21st that this was going to be my last week on the project in New Jersey. Where would I be heading next for work? I don’t know…

22March
Well, after a night in New York City, which included doing cartwheels in the snow in the middle of Times Square, I was off to EWR for a 6:15 flight. Although I feel this requires awaking at an ungodly time, I do arrive into SEA at 10:30a, which is a respectable time to get chores done for the rest of the day.

At the 1K Check-in Counter I asked if my upgrade had cleared. I guess when I changed my flights to leave earlier I neglected to ask for an upgrade because I was sitting in E+. The agent was very pleasant and was able to confirm me all the way through to SEA via ORD. She asks if 2A to ORD 1A to SEA was ok all the way through. I said, “Sure”. As the boarding passes were being spit out, I realised that ORD-SEA was the positioning flight for the 777 that continues on to NRT and my eyes lit up… or so I thought. So chexfan stayed quiet and anxiously awaited to get those Boarding passes in hand on hope of obtaining the coveted Double Upgrade. The agent then looks at the ORD-SEA segment and says, “Ah… you don’t want a bulkhead seat on that plane” and begins printing out another BP. “But… but… but... I DO want 1A on that plane…” I began to mumble to myself. I mean, who would turn down any seat in F when you should be in C? She hands me my two boarding passes for 2A and I make my way through the short security lines and down the concourse to A12 where my A320 would take me to ORD.

It was easily noticeable that many folks in the Terminal were not your average business travelers. As it was Spring Break season there were many families with small children and groups of college-aged kids going places.

By the time I make it to my gate, they are boarding all rows so I hop into line smiling at the UA gate agents but trying desperately to avoid eye contact w/ the dreaded Argenbright Security folks. I successfully avoid eye contact with the security screeners and make my way down the jetway.

I stowe my laptop and carryon in the overhead and notice a boy about the age of 5 in 2B (his mom and sister were in 2C&D). Oh Man! Just my luck. All I wanted was to get some sleep on this flight and I had a feeling it just wasn’t going to happen as “Tyler” was already asking his mother across the aisle if he could have his GameBoy back two minutes after trading with his sister for the WalkMan.

All of the gates at EWR were filled w/ UA jets (an assortment of B737, 757, & A320) and A10 had J-41. 4 more jets were parked away from the terminal. It was a UAL Parking Lot.

Our taxi was short as we took off from the runway heading north rather than south and I began to drift off to sleep-land. It didn’t last long as “Tyler” so kindly woke me up to let me know that breakfast was being served. It was nothing special. Your standard, banana, bowl of cereal, yogurt w/ granola, and choice of croisant, muffin or bagel. I went with the bagel and just nibbled at it while polishing off the yogurt/granola mix. It was about this time that I noticed that “Tyler” and his mother were looking me, or should I say my cereal. She asks if Tyler can have the cereal since that is all he enjoys to eat. I thought about telling her the origins of the handle ‘chexfan’ but I think better of it and hand Tyler my Corn Flakes that he was forever grateful.

Sleep really never came my way that flight and arrival and taxi to our gate at ORD is just a minute or two ahead of schedule. Now of course with my luck I have to truck from the C Concourse over to B. On the way, I stop at the 1K Center b/c I had promised Gaucho100K that I would have some luggage tags made for him. Our Argentinian friend had asked for 4 luggage tags but I only ask the sweeties in the ORD 1K Room for two which they have no problem making. As I’m waiting for gaucho’s tags to be made I am approached by a gentleman. “I’ve seen your picture on the internet” he exclaims. I start thinking about the home videos that we’ve made in the commune and I immediately begin having suspicions about which commune member broke our confidentiality agreement and leaked the videos and pictures to the outside. But it was not to be as he introduced himself as a FlyerTalker! Whew! We discussed his upcoming run to SIN and gaucho’s luggage tags were done.

When I realized that my gate was behind Customer Service, I realized that it was definitely a widebody and therefore the coveted 777. As I made my way to the gate, I notice a number of college aged lasses heading the same way. They were heading to SEA as well but had to board the doorway to the right while I went to the one on the left. I had a Suite to get to!

Only two other suites up front had someone in them so my seat was apparent and storage was abundant. After I stowed my stuff in the overhead and was taking my seat, an FA came over to “assist” me. Well it was more like, “you’re not an employee and you’re not dressed in a suit so this can’t be your seat” type of assistance. She asks me if everything is alright and if I found my seat ok. She then inquires, “Mr. XXX what would you like for a predeparture drink?” I reply that I would love some champagne… but that I’m NOT Mr. XXX and this deflated her excitement of moving me back to business or coach.

Everything on this flight was prety normal. The breakfast was the same as the EWR-ORD flight with the exception of the added breakfast sandwich that was still presented to me on my plate in its aluminum foil. C’mon United… can’t you take the darn foil off for a little better presentation? Oh well.

I played and tinkered with the seat some more and get a good rest in on the 3h 40m flight to SEA. As I awoke, I realized that I had my camera and knew I had to take some pictures of me in the suite.

My legroom

A Happy chexfan going home

another one of me

The captain made the announcement for initial approach and I threw the Southern Rock selection on. With perfect timing, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “What’s Your Name?” came on. It’s opening lyrics of, “Well it’s 8 o’clock in Boise… Idaho” reminded me that I need to stop in and visit Geri in the 1K Room upon my arrival at SEA.

We got into SEA early and I trudged over to say hello to my favorite United Airlines employee. I needed to validate two award tickets for my college coach and his wife to fly from PHL to BOI on the 23rd and this would be my only chance to do so. As Geri was pulling up their itin, she warmed up the luggage tag machine so she could finish Gaucho100K’s tags.

After a wonderful conversation and time spent in the 1K room I walk out and head home!

One good thing about living at Paradise Ranch is that you never know which members of the commune will be there when you arrive. When I got home I was surprised to see a packed house of about 9 Oregon Duck fans getting ready for the NCAA Regional Semifinal game against Texas.

Well… being the type of guy I am I head to my room to dig out a University of Texas Rowing shirt I had won some years back in a race. I make my way back upstairs into the sea of green and yellow with my Longhorn Crew shirt just in time for tipoff. Well, I thought it was funny that I was cheering for Texas, but no one else did. One person even jokingly asked me to leave if I was going to root for Texas. I had to remind him that I paid rent and I was staying… I was then hoping he didn’t inform me that he paid rent too.

23March
Today I was going to get to use my Alaska Airlines MVP Gold card for the first time. So excited was I. I left Paradise Ranch around 9:30a for my 11am flight. Being a Saturday morning, there was no traffic and parking at Ajax was a breeze. Now heading across the sky way every week to go to my UA flights I always got to pass those AS Check-in machines. Now, I finally got to use them! Plus… think of the extra miles!!!!

Being unfamiliar with the Check-in, I fumble around almost declaring that I have firearms, explosives and the like in my carry-on. My second try proved to be the charmer and this magical machine spit me out a piece of paper showing my seat in 1A on the F28 to BOI. But a piece of paper??? I mean, that just wouldn’t look right on my wall of boarding passes, would it? I’d get this taken car somehow I’m sure!

I entered the usual security area at the D/N gates as if I were taking a UA flight but I was honored to whip out my Alaska Airlines GoldMVP card to access the unnecessary shortened line! For the first time in a while, I didn’t have to pull out my laptop for the x-ray machine b/c I didn’t bring one. I made my way to my gate at C10. I ask the agent if she could put my AA# in and she does with the result being an actual boarding pass- whew!

Having about 30 minutes to kill I start my tour of the D Terminal. It was nice and a pleasant change from the North Satellite I know by heart and the South Satellite I know from my US flights. Walking through the crowded concourse of leisure travelers I take in the sites.

The boarding for my F-28 was at one of the C10 gates. Boarding started promptly at 10:30 when Alaska MVP members were invited for preboarding. Pulling out my MVP Gold, Driver’s License and boarding pass, I make my way to the doorway curiously noting that the lone security person was already going through someone’s bag. I am the first to head outside and down the steps where a Horizon FA is there greeting me with a smile.

I stowed my gear above my seat in 1A and take in the view of watching people board. The plane turned out to be pleasantly packed with a mix of unacompanied minors, kids, teens, college folk, adults and older. Shoving back from the gate was on time or a minute late and the takeoff was on 16L.

I took a gander through the Horizon in flight magazine which entertained me for about 4 minutes when I pulled out the crossword puzzle I had snagged from a Seattle Times that was laying around in the gate area. The two flight attendants were very cordial in their service of the Hale’s Ales Moss Bay Extra to me. Along w/ a sour cherry biscotti, I was enjoying the trip.

Before the clean up came through, one of the fas asked me if I could help them out by finishing off a bottle of the Hale’s Ales. Being the responsible passenger that I am, I obliged and followed the crewmember instruction. Following the cleanup, the FA started taping up some Horizon Jet coloring sheets that some of the youngsters had colored on the Bulkhead wall. (Before you even ask, I did think about inquiring for a coloring sheet and set of crayons for myself, but I withstood the urges.)

Arrvial into BOI was a bit on early and I followed the gentleman from the opposite side of the aisle into the terminal b/c I couldn’t figure out which door I should heads toward. I made my way through the Horizon Terminal and make my way towards the Terminal that is served by UA, NW, DL, WN and AA to wait for my coach and his wife to arrive.

Having about an hour to kill I decide to go explore by taking a walk to the end of the concourse to kill time. After that was accomplished I had about 57 minutes until they arrived. I decide to buy some postcards and write some quick notes to friends and family across the U.S. I couldn’t find a postal box to mail them from and no employee at the airport even knew if one existed so I just stashed the completed postcards in my book and trudged off to the Video Game Arcade. Wow! It was pinball central. With the exception of an occasional game of Ms Pac-Man I will play pinball over a video game any day of the week. This arcade has no less than 6 pinball machines to choose from. And man, was it a tough choice. I cash in 3 $1 bills and start feeding the machines in hopes of being like “Tommy’s” Pinball Wizard. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked but the money- spent- to- time killed- ratio was quite low.

My friends arrive on time on their flight from DEN and we head down to the Hertz counter. My coach was armed with coupons and upgrades up the wazoo, but the lady working explained they were “independent” and don’t accept them. HUH? Anyways, I let him do the inquisition and we end up walking out with a Ford Escape.

We hopped on I84 and went to the Doubletree-Riverside. In the short drive, I came to the realization, that there wasn’t anything exciting to see in Idaho from the highway. Some other Stanford parents and boosters were checking in at the same time and mass confusion had set in over the rate each room was being booked at. Somehow our room was booked at a rate about $30 more than everyone elses and it couldn’t be changed. I stepped outside and made a quick phone call to Hilton. The rates the phone rez agent were quoting were about $50 cheaper than expected and I book the room under my name and DiamondVIP number. We then canceled our original rez and checked in to the utter confusion of the girl at the desk. The second time was a charm and we were given a suite and amentity backet due to my Diamond status.

It wasn’t the infamous “Disco Suite” but it was a fairly nice suite with more than enough room. Actually too much room as it would turn out to be the central meeting and drinking location.

As we headed over to Boise State to catch the NCAA Women’s Basketball regional semifinals, I remembered one of my roommates getting excited about the blue turf at the Boise State football stadium. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go exploring too far, as the Blue Turf of Bronco Stadium was right next to where we parked. Unfortunately Stanford lost to the Buffs from Colorado and everyone was in a somber mood for the rest of the evening.

Sun March 24th
My wakeup call was for 8:15. I figured since I was in BOI, I’d be able to shower and hitch a ride to the airport in plenty of time for my 9:45 flight to PDX. My arrival to Boise Airport was shortly after 9 and I made my way to the self check-in kiosk. Being a professional after one use, I cruise through the touchscreens with ease and make my way to security.

Shockingly, there was no elite security line but the line was only 2 people deep. Everyone’s shoes were asked to be scanned and the security professionals were polite and courteous… a definite shock in the US.

Having remembered a tip that 1A on the RJ wasn’t too comfortable, I make my way to the agent and ask for a new seat assignment on my CRJ to PDX. She pleasantly spits out two boarding passes (I really don’t like those pieces of paper) including the exit row for the hop over to the Rose City and informed me of the current 25 minute delay.

To kill the time I made my way over to the Magazine stand and bought a copy of the Sunday Idaho Statesman and a Idaho magnet for my collection.

Boarding took place with MVPs and those needing extra assistance first. I was one of the first to board and take my seat on the nearly full plane in the exit row 13D. I pulled out my recent issue of Maxim and watch everyone fill the plane. Slightly excited at the notion of having the row to myself, the last passenger boarded wearing his QX uniform and took the aisle seat next to me.

What a wonderful experience! Somehow my slight knowledge of Horizon/Alaska routes along with other airlines was enough to impress this RJ pilot that he was willing to “talk shop” on his deadheading flight to PDX. I explained to him that I was so very impressed with how Horizon runs everything, and he took the compliment to heart. Having only a 25 minute scheduled connection in PDX to begin with, he informed me that making my scheduled flight to SEA would be “tight” to say the least.

Having flown the BOI-PDX route a number of times, he gave me approximate landing times (barring delays into PDX). I knew this pilot knew his stuff when he said “Hmm we should be around 10,000 feet now” and within 2 seconds the DING went off alerting the FAs. Begrudgingly he assured me that since QX didn’t have a policy that everyone needs to be boarded and the doors were to close 10 minutes before departure that making the run down to the SEA flight was becoming more and more a reality… Unfortunately we were in row 13. I made my way into the PDX and terminal, locate exactly which gate was heading to SEA and quickly jog there was I was greeted w/ a “Final call for Passenger chexfan to Seattle” I smile, throw my driver’s license up and am given instructions where to board the Dash8.

I took my seat in 1A and my knees were greeted with the bulkhead wall. The lady in 1B offered to change which I graciously accepted. The quick jaunt up to SEA was uneventful except for the uneasy feeling in my stomach from having too much of a good time in Boise the night before. We landed and getting the fresh Seattle air in my lungs had never felt better calming the restlessness in my tummy and head. But then I realized that I didn’t have a potato while I was in Boise.

AS/QX Summary
All in all, I will report that I was very impressed with every detail of the Alaska/Horizon operation. From the electronic check-in kiosk. The Customer service and gate agents. The way the flight attendants greeted everyone with a smile and seemed to mean it. How the gate agents in BOI dealt with the delay. All in all a very positive experience and a confirmation that I will try to move all of my west coast flying to QX/AS!!!
 

Monday March 25th
This was the first time I was home on a Monday and didn’t have to go fly somewhere in a long time. I really don’t think I did anything on this day except revel in the fact that all I had to do was check my email

Tuesday March 26th
Being bored and already completely wasting one day. I decided that I had to do something. So, Qip and I agreed to go check out the Tour at the Pyramid Brewery across from Safeco Field.

Yes, we all know my passion for the Red Hook Brewery and it’s tour, but I was very happy to have my expectations met and exceeded by the Thomas Kemper folks. This tour usually keeps their groups small and we were lucky to hop on the tour with a choir of Pastors from Wisconsin. Being a kind of dry bunch of folks, I think Qip and I did a good job of keeping them entertained for the 50 minute tour.

Wednesday March 27th
Now something I had been meaning to do for the longest time is to stop by and visit Jimi Hendrix’s grave in Renton and Bruce & Brandon Lee’s grave.

Having had the directions from dudemon for about 9 months, Qip and I trekked out to Renton around 11am to find the burial site for Jimi Hendrix. After meandering around, we came across it and paid our due respects to the great guitarist.

From here we drove up 405 and crossed the I90 bridge and made our way to the Burial Site for Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee on Capital Hill. This cemetary actually has many famous Seattlites burried here such as the Denny Family, Ballard, and others. We stopped in and got a map and made our way to the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee.

Thursday March 28th
Pretty uneventful day with the exception that D6 made a Thai Food fiesta for a bunch of folks at dinner and it was quite tasty!

This of course, was followed up with Survivor. I got out of washing the dishes and made my way directly into the den with a beer to see who the latest castaway was going to be.

Friday March 29th
Just another day of not doing too much. A little after noon I was able to rangle up a bunch of folks to go play tennis. A good time was had, however good tennis could not be found there.

Lakota
Qip's Tennis Helmet
chex and K2

Saturday March30th
One of the things, I’ve been meaning to do for a while was to get my Gary Fischer tuned up. I had dropped my bike off earlier in the week and picked it up today. The sun was out so I went for a quick little ride from Fremont up the Burke Gilman trail. Quick calculations would log the trip around 18-20 miles.

Easter
I awake to log onto FlyerTalk and see miles2go’s offer of tickets to the Mariner’s Home Opener game on Monday. I send him a quick email and the tickets were mine and MissyDarlin’s.

Being the CAPE catholic that I am, I decide on hitting the 10am mass at St. James Cathderal. After stopping at Starbucks and chatting w/ MissyD the chexmobile arrived around 9:45 unable to find a parking spot within a 6 block radius. I guess everyone else had the same idea that I did! About to give up a hope and head home, my phone rang and I was invited to go to 12pm mass. It was an offer that I accepted, so I went back to Paradise Ranch.

Following mass, I went for a quick hour and half workout around GreenLake then went downtown to meet miles2go and MissyD for the ticket rendezvous. Somehow the beautiful day dissappeared and the wind picked up, but a wonderful conversation was had and my orders for delivering Wednesday’s tickets were obtained.

Monday April 1st
MissyD and I made plans for meeting up at the Pyraimd Brewery at 12noon for the 2pm game. Qip, D6 and I planned our attack of getting to Safeco. Should we park on Capital Hill and ride our bikes from there? Should we just drive down and hope for a spot? We went with the latter and found a spot on Alaskan Way under the Viaduct and a short 8 minute walk from Pyramid.

Qip bought the first round at 11:50a of Pyrimd Heiffeiweisen and the day had begun. MissyD showed up during the second round as I introduce her to two members of the commune. About 1:20 we decide to head over to The Safe for our seats. Qip and D6 were in centerfield while MissyD and I were in 115. On the way in, I made everyone stop so we could appreciate the Barbershop Quartet that was singing outside the Northwest corner of The Safe. I requested “Hello My Baby,” but they didn’t know all the parts. Oh well.

We entered Safeco and went to our seats. They had some Opening Day festivities and they were a yawn. I went and got some garlic fries and a mike’s Hard Lemonade for Missy. And the game began.

After 5 innings we decided to move up to Center Field where Qip and D6 were. The sun was directly on those seats and it was much warmer.

Following the game, we bid adieu to MissyD and took off for the car.

***Safeco Driving Tip***
Having the need to head north through the city and facing tons of traffic, we came up with the brilliant notion of heading south on 99 and then doing a U-Turn. This turned out to be an excellent choice to avoid traffic, and I highly recommend anyone to do this if they are leaving The Safe.

We made it back to the commune just in time for the NCAA Championship and everyone watched an enjoyable game!

Tuesday April 2nd
Dallas’s techgirl and peachesBB had a scheduled layover at SEA coming in from BOI today before heading on to LAS.

I felt really odd being at SEA w/o any bags and no intention of going anywhere. Waiting for MissyD, I was able to help no less than 4 people out with the layout of the airport. I felt kind of odd, but heck, I think I found a new job prospect as a Airport Welcoming person if this unstaffed thing goes on for a long time!

Coincedentally, MissyD and I were ticketed to go to LAS as well  and we met up with them in the C Concourse. Having the desire to get some wonderful Seattle air, we left the airport and went to the RedRobin at SouthCenter for lunch. Techgirl did a wonderful job of making us all jealous telling us her plans for her trip to Bali through the meal, but I only pretended to listen b/c I was enjoying my Mirrorpond Pale Ale too much.

Unfortunately all good times had to end, and I drove MissyD, techgirl and peaches back to Sea-Tac so they could go on their way. No LAS for me.

Later on in the day I decided that I wanted to remind everyone on FlyerTalk that they should mark their calendars for the Hilton Profile Update for 2000 points in July.

Wednesday April 3rd
Part of the deal in accepting the Opening Day tickets from miles2go was to drop off the tickets to Wednesday’s night game. I emailed mikey and we agree to meet up for lunch and to drop off the tickets in Belltown.

Feeling the need to stay outside, Qip, D6 and I went to Green Lake for a game of frisbee golf. Playing in Skins format, we were able to get about 14 holes in before the sun went down.

I also attempted to wash the dishes in the commune today.

Thursday April 4th
It was the third day in a row of beautiful weather and Qip and I decided to go for a hike in the Cascades. However, we were not the Rolling Stones and time was not on our side. We just did a quick 2.9 miles roundtrip up Rattlesnake Ridge and enjoyed the peacefulness on the glorious day.

Being the first Thursday of the month, the galleries were open until 9. Before heading down to Pioneer Square, thumbgirl, Qip and I drop off a tape so our friend could do the glorious job of recording Survivor for me.

After a little difficulty in finding a parking spot, I was honestly surprised to see the large number of folks who were out for the evening. I contemplated buying a Chagall or Chihully but decided against it… for now.

Around 9p, I got a call from kokonutz saying that he arrived at the Hilton. The three of us make our way to the Hilton where koko had some problems checking in. Nonetheless, baraboodish, kokonutz and the 3 of us had some enjoyable drinks and snacks in the bar before heading out at 10:30.

Friday April 5th
Well, the sun had dissappeared today and there was no one around to play with. It was a good day to get some errands done and that was accomplished.

Around 4, I made my way down to Pacific Place to meet up with some FlyerTalkers for din din and drinks. After some wonderful drinks and garlic fries with the Linders, Punki, Smooth, Sea-Flyer, lalala and Hunki, Rudi and Marc showed up for a quick hello passing out the infamous Swiss Chocolates before they went to the Knicks-Sonics game. Shortly thereafter, kokonutz and baraboodish showed up.

We disperse with intentions of meeting up later. I drive home to the commune and figure out what some of the other commune members are up to. Lo and behold, their plans are to head to Kell’s. Trying to decide if this was a good thing or not, we made our way to Kell’s about 10p or so.

At kell’s I was able to meet up with a bunch of the FTers which included the lovely FlyerWife straight from New York, and I was happy that I was able to split time between the commune and the FT group. So I apologize for the those FTers who I didn’t get a chance to chat with as other covert operations were taking place that night.

Saturday April 6th
I awoke at 8:20 with intentions of picking koko up to head down for the breaky w/ Rudi at the airport. After waking koko, he decides not to head down to the breaky and I head down the Secret Freeway to arrive at the same time as GregSeattle and TravelWeary and Mr. Travel Weary. Finally everyone was there and Hunki, Punki, Peregrine, GregSeattle, ScottC, ldsant, TW and Mr. TW, Rudi and Marc enjoyed a great breakfast. This breakfast included many FTers first sidecar and rudi’s first breakfast sidecar. Thanks Rudi!

From here, goodbyes were said and I was off to Paradise Ranch, for some much needed sleep ending two weeks in the life of chexfan.

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