Friday, December 30, 2005

Restaurant: City Lights of China

City: Bethesda, MD
Location: 4820 Bethesda Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone: 301-913-9501

I'm a regular here now because of proximity to work, and they have some of the consistently best Chinese food. It's in a nice area of Bethesda with a lot of shops, service is quick, and its a pleasant place to sit. The sauteed sesame chicken is a favorite.

Update Feb 25, 2006 Had dinner there 10 PM on a Saturday night. Nice to see a few places in Montgomery County that realize not everyone eats dinner by 8 PM.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Restaurant: Nova Europa

City: Wheaton, MD
Location: 1311 Lamberton Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20902
Phone: 301.649.6690

Went there for a birthday dinner, tucked away in an off-the-beaten-path shopping center not far off University Blvd. Portugese style cooking. Not real expensive (15-20 an entree), not a large place, but good food and exceptional service. If every neighborhood had a little place like this in it the world's diners would be much happier.

I had an orange roughy special (very good), tried the grilled salmon (pretty good) and someone's duck (first time I had it - interesting but don't have any comparison reference). Great desserts, good strong coffee.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Flight: United #1244 ORD-IAD

Departing From: Chicago, IL (ORD)
Traveling To: Washington, DC (DCA)
ETD: 09:00PM November 28, 2005 CDT (Actual 10:15 PM CDT)
ETA: 11:40PM November 28, 2005 EDT (Actual 12:30 AM EDT Nov 29)
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min (actual 1 hr 35 min)
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 12C

Flight: United #309 IAD-ORD

Departing From: Washington, DC (IAD)
Traveling To: Chicago, IL (ORD)
ETD: 07:48AM November 28, 2005 CDT
ETA: 9:00AM November 28, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min
Departure Gate: C14
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 10A

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Restaurant: The Green Papaya

City: Bethesda, MD
Location: 4922 Elm Street, Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301.654.8986

Nice place, near work. Sit down, good service, full bar vietnamese cooking. Different from Chinese, sweeter, different spices, but rice based dishes mostly. Went there with a collegue from work, and it was a nice place for a business lunch. Waterfall behind the bar.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Flight: United #601 DCA-ORD

Departing From: Washington, DC (DCA)
Traveling To: Chicago, IL (ORD)
ETD: 06:00AM Sept 7, 2005 EDT
ETA: 06:55PM Sept 7, 2005 CDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min (actual 1 hr 35 min)
Departure Gate: 29
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 8D
Equipment: Airbus 319

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hotel: Holiday Inn Charlottesville-Monticello

City: Charlottesville, VA
Chain: Holiday Inn
Address: I-64 & 631 (5TH ST), Charlottesville, VA 22902
View Larger Map
Phone Number: 434-977-5100

Check Out: August 17, 2005

5 stars out of 10

An older property in an unintersting part of town in need of redecoration. Ventilation on top floor not working which influenced the experience.

Not much to talk about, but the staff was helpful.


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1, but not tested
  • Bar: 1, empty - except for my brother-in-law
  • Internet: 1 - untested
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 0
  • Shower: .5 (weak)
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: .5 (weak)
  • Common Areas: 0 (uninteresting)
Total: 5


Last Visit: August 17, 2005 ($)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Flight: United #8070 PVD-IAD

Departing From: Providence, RI (PVD)
Traveling To: Washington, DC (IAD)
ETD: 04:34pM July 12, 2005 EDT
ETA: 06:27PM July 12, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 34 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:

Flight: United #8024 IAD-PVD

Departing From: Washington, DC (IAD)
Traveling To: Providence, RI (PVD)
ETD: 08:15AM July 12, 2005 EDT
ETA: 09:49PM July 12, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 34 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Flight: United #628 ORD-DCA

Departing From: Chicago, IL (ORD)
Traveling To: Washington, DC (DCA)
ETD: 08:55 PM June 9, 2005 CDT (Actual departure 10:10 PM)
ETA: 01:05 AM June 10, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min
Departure Gate: B11
Arrival Gate: 33
Seat: 7D
Equipment: Airbus 319

Flight late due to equipment delays. Thunderstorms in the east slowed down air traffic to most northeast airports. Made for an incredibly long day...

Congestion caused a lot of ear pain on approach, took a few days for my head to clear from that.

Very lucky in that the Red Carpet club was able to change seats in the middle way in the back for economy plus aisle seat. Plus, one of the few rows with no one in the middle seat - sweet! Was on the wait list for a 1st class upgrade, but didn't make it. Added some lottery type action to the boarding process.

Ohare has lots of places to eat, but few with a place to sit down. We were beat, but ended up sitting in the Red Carpet Club because there was no where else.

Flight: United #5326 MKE-ORD

Departing From: Milwaukee, WI (MKE)
Traveling To: Chicago, IL (ORD)
ETD: 06:04PM June 9, 2005 CDT
ETA: 06:55PM June 9, 2005 CDT
Est. Duration: 40 min
Departure Gate:D33
Arrival Gate: F12
Seat: 9C
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet CL-65

Slight delay on departure due to late equipment.

Flight: United #5439 ORD-MKE

Departing From: Chicago, IL (ORD)
Traveling To: Milwaukee, WI (MKE)
ETD: 08:05AM June 9, 2005 CDT
ETA: 8:48AM June 9, 2005 CDT
Est. Duration: 40 min
Departure Gate:F2
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 6B
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet CL-65
Other: Actual carrier Wisconsin Air.

Flight: United #601 DCA-ORD

Departing From: Washington, DC (DCA)
Traveling To: Chicago, IL (ORD)
ETD: 06:00AM June 9, 2005 EDT
ETA: 06:55PM June 9, 2005 CDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min (actual 1 hr 35 min)
Departure Gate: 31
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 11E (Exit)
Equipment: Airbus 319

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Flight: United #7128 IAD-BNA

Departing From: Nashville, TN (BNA)
Traveling To: Washington, DC (IAD)
ETD: 07:30 PM May 26, 2005 CDT
ETA: 01:05 AM June 10, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 58 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 1C
Equipment: Canadaire Regional Jet
Other: Actually serviced by Mesa Airlines

Hotel: Gaylord Opryland

City: Nashville, TN
Chain: Gaylord Hotels
Property: Gaylord Nashville Resort & Convention Center
Address: 2800 Opryland Drive; Nashville, Tennessee 37214-1297
Phone Number: (615) 889-1000

Check Out: May 26, 2005

8 stars out of 10

Second one of these I've been too, as I was at the one near DFW last year for a meeting (but didn't stay). The gimmick seems to be an overly large facility with large enclosed atrium/greenhouse areas for year round outside experiences. Billed as a "resort", but always more "conference" to me because of the non-resort city locations (except for Orlando, I guess). They are the ones developing the Washington Harbor project in PG County, apparently.

The interior areas are very nice because of the tropical plants and things, although I can honestly say I've never been in a place harder to find quiet. There is a contant noise level from all the fountains, pumps, and flowing water being pumped through the inside of the place. Very pretty, but makes cell phone calls difficult, and given the business nature of the place a little funny.

The rooms were nice a comfortable, the convention space was very nice. It was pretty easy to get a bite to eat, although some of the venues seemed overpriced which is not unusual for any "resort" facility. I think there might have been other places with more of what I was looking for, but the place was so big and I was only there three days that it was possible that I never came across them. I'm glad my room was somewhat close to the convention space, as it could have been a very long walk.


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1, some good, room service overpriced
  • Bar: 1, several
  • Internet: 1 - included in room fee
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1 OK
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1 Exceptionally cool.
Total: 8


Last Visit: May 26, 2005 ($)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Restaurant: Santa Fe Cattle Co., Nashville TN

City: Nashville, TN
Location: Near Gaylords Opryland complex

Looking for a break from the hotel food (see other review), we wondered up the road to the Santa Fe Cattle Co. Felt kind of like a chain, but I had never seen one before so it might have been a local item. Googling indicates a chain, but no official site found.

One of those "trying hard to be casual" kind of places. They give you peanuts in a shell to make a mess with, the decor is "rustic Roy Rogers", and the menu is obviously meat-eater friendly but not too expensive. Lots of things a large group would like, assuming they like barbeque and aren't militant vegitarian. Had the ribs, which were how I like them - wet, sweet, hint of spice. Everyone else seemed to be happy with their food also.

View Resturant in a larger map

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Flight: United #7103 BNA-IAD

Departing From: Washington, DC (IAD)
Traveling To: Nashville, TN (BNA)
ETD: 09:15 AM May 26, 2005 EDT
ETA: 10:10 AM May 26, 2005 EDT
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 4D
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet
Other: Actually serviced by Mesa Airlines

Monday, March 14, 2005

Image: MKE on a Snowy Day

Winter weather at MKE airport. A dreary, snowy day where your only wish is that your plane can get in and out on time. The snow plow equipment is spraying a liquid de-icing solution instead of the normal salt/sand us car operators are used to seeing. Posted by Hello

Image: MKE Airport Central Area

Non-secure area of MKE airport, showing food court and skylights.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Flight: United #5334 MKE-IAD

Departing From: Milwaukee, WI (MKE)
Traveling To: Washington Dulles (IAD)
ETD: 06:00PM March 10, 2005 CST
ETA: 8:55PM March 10, 2005 EST
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min (actual 1 hr)
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate: G2
Seat: 7C
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet CL-65

There was a ton to worry about with this flight. It was snowing like mad all day in Milwaukee, and while I kept telling myself that it would be OK because they can deal with snow, after the flight on Tuesday I kept thinking about how other airports can screw you up. Upon arriving at the airport, early enough to deal with changes, the United counter agent also booked me on a US Air flight through Charlotte, "just in case". By the time I left the ticket area, the US Air flight was already marked "delayed", making that effort worthless.

But, the snow started to let up around 4, and the equipment was coming in from Ohare which much be about a 15 minute flight from Milwaukee. There are worse places to have to wait than MKE, and the plane left on time.

A little bumpy at times, and wasn't able to open my laptop to work because it was too crowded. Flight ended up getting into IAD about 10 minutes early. They we're very generous with the "snacks" this time on the flight, bringing a big tray with a choice of the pretzels or the "snack mix". Everyone was grabbing the snack mix, and she encouraged me to take it over the pretzels. I told her that I was heading home and I know the snack mix is loaded with garlic. Some people put the snack mix back - kind of funny. If you're headed away from home, take the snack mix. It is good...

Even though we landed at the always to be avoided Concourse G, my bag came out about the time I made it to the baggage area so ended up being a long day with lots of worrying but an easy flight.

Hotel: Radisson Hotel Milwaukee West

City: Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (outside Milwaukee)
Chain: Radisson
Property: Radisson Milwaukee West
Address: 2303 North Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa, WI 53226
Phone Number: 414-257-3400

Check Out: March 10, 2005
6 stars out of 10

"Milwaukee's West Business District"

Nicer than the usual hotel I stay in, although not tremendously interesting. But, clean, comfortable, quiet. Very close to business meetings.

The hotel was equipped with the "Select Comfort" matresses with the dial control for firmness. I know my "sleep number" is neither 60 nor 40. 98 more to try.

  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1, a real resturaunt, good food.
  • Bar: 1, although not used.
  • Internet: 2 - Wireless, free!
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0, I think. Not tried.
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 0 - Way too low, on the wall just above the 5 foot mark.
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 0 Not a great place to hang out. No view.
Total: 7

Last Visit: March 10, 2005 ($129)

Image: CL-65 Unloading at Night

CL-65 unloading at night. Ground grew is unloading baggage in the back, passengers disembarking. I was trying to capture the probes that poke out the plane to measure airspeed, etc., but they only show up here as weird shadow marks (look on the nose just above the red line that divides the color on the bottom and the grey on top). Too dark for my little camera anyway.Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Flight: United #5473 IAD-MKE

Departing From: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Traveling To: Milwaukee Wisconsin (MKE)
ETD: 06:40PM March 8, 2005 EST (actual 10:10 PM EST)
ETA: 09:00PM March 8, 2005 CST (actual 11:10 PM CST)
Est. Duration: 1 hr 55 min (actual 1 hr 45 min plus delays)
Departure Gate: G10
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 8C (exit row, aisle)
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet CL-65

In my experience, the primary reason a flight is delayed is because of a problem with the equipment. Sometimes, there is a mechanical problem with the plane, and its just the luck of the draw whether they can get things going in time or not. Mostly, the problem is that the plane isn't there at all due to some delay in the flying schedule somewhere on its way to this airport. Logistics in the airline business seems to be a constant ballet of equipment moving its way from airport to airport, usually in some back and forth path between two or more airports. There really aren't spare planes sitting around to be swapped in at a moments notice, especially from the perspective of a single airport. I guess the planes are so expensive that if they aren't in the air moving people or cargo around, you're losing money. So, the first thing to do is to check out the window and see if the equipment is at your gate, particularly around an hour before departure assuming that its coming in, passengers get off, they get the plane ready, and you load and go.

Today I learned that the crew are an important part of this equation also.

There was a bit of weather around the northeast as we're getting those last few snowstorms before spring gets here. But, the plane was out the window so I figured we were OK. We then found out that the crew for this plane was coming in from Albany NY, and they hadn't left the ground yet because of snow. So, a 3 hours wait before the crew could get here. I didn't realize that the crew were as tightly scheduled as well. Of course, this is a regional carrier operating under the United Express banner, so they really don't have the whole United army behind them.

A couple hours to kill is horrible at Dulles any time, but Concourse G... -shudder-. Went on the bus shuttle over to Concourse C to wait in the Red Carpet club. Ended up not being so bad, except for getting to Milwaukee so darn late with a meeting early the next morning. Rough.

Flight was half full, so had the two seats to myself with no one in front or back. Not too bad, able to get the computer out and get some work done during the flight. When we landed in Milwaukee it was kind of empty, so we cruised through there pretty fast.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Menu: Hotels by City

View Larger Map


Laguna Beach

Montage Spa

Los Angeles

Courtyard by Marriott - Foothill Ranch
DoubleTree Anaheim/Orange County
Marriott Norwalk - Norwalk
Marriott Residence Inn - Long Beach
Millennium Biltmore Hotel - Los Angeles
Sheraton Cerritos Hotel - Cerritos

Palm Springs

Westin Mission Hills Resort

San Diego

Courtyard by Marriott - Sorrento Mesa
Hawthorn Suites - San Diego
Marriott Resort & Marina (Convention Center)
Paradise Point Resort & Spa

San Francisco

The Fairmont
Marriott - San Francisco Downtown
Hampton Inn & Suites San Francisco Airport South-Burlingame



Fairfield Inn, Denver
Hyatt Regency Convention Center


Quality Suites Oceanfront


Four Seasons


Courtyard by Marriott (International Drive)
Walt Disney World - Hilton (Downtown/Pleasure Island)
Walt Disney World - Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World - Port Orleans

Tampa Bay

Hilton North Reddington Beach



Hyatt Regency, Downtown
Suissotel, Downtown


Marriott Courtyard, Urbana


Holiday Inn - Peoria City Center



Hilton Garden Inn South


Ocean City

Hilton Suites Ocean City Oceanfront



Courtyard by Marriott - Norwood
Hampton Inn - Cambridge
Hilton - Boston Back Bay
Midtown Hotel
Sheraton - Convention Center
Marriott - Convention Center


Grand Rapids

Hampton Inn - Grand Rapids


Twin Cities

Hilton Garden Inn, St. PaulOakdale
Holiday Inn Select, Bloomington
Holiday Inn St. Paul NE


Marriott Mayo Clinic

St. Cloud

Holiday Inn Express


St. Louis

Holiday Inn - St. Louis/Riverside
Sheraton St. Louis

New Jersey


Hampton Inn Flemington


Hampton Inn - Newark Airport

New Mexico


Crown Plaza Pyramid
Hampton Inn Airport

New York


Adams Mark Hotel - Buffalo

New York City

W Hotel 541 Lexington Avenue
Waldorf Astoria



Courtyard by Marriott - Independence


Homewood Suites, Hilliard


Hampton Inn & Suites Dayton-Airport



Mill Creek Inn



Comfort Inn University (Lehigh)


Courtyard by Marriott Collegeville
Hampton Inn Downingtown-Exton
Hampton Inn Limerick
Hampton Inn Phoenixville
Marriott Philadelphia West (Conshohoken)
Ritz Carlton Philadelphia
Radisson Valley Forge
Sheraton Great Valley
SpringHill Suites, Plymouth Meeting
Wyndham Valley Forge Suites


Residence Inn by Marriott Pittsburgh University/Medical Center



Holiday Inn - Nashville Brentwood



Hilton - Convention Center
Marriott Austin at the Capitol
Radison Inn - Austin


Courtyard Dallas Market Center
Gaylord Texan Resort Hotel and Convention Center (Grapevine)
Hilton Lincoln Center
Hyatt Regency DFW (Grapevine)
Stoneleigh Hotel
Westin DFW Airport (Irving)


Comfort Suites - Houston



Roosevelt Hotel




Radison Inn - Madison


Best Western Mequon
DoubleTree Milwaukee Downtown
Hampton Inn Milwaukee Airport
Radisson Hotel Milwaukee West, Wauwatosa



Holiday Inn - Monticello
Sleep Inn

Outside US



Icelandair Hotel Akureyri


Hilton Nordica

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Flight: United #1270 DEN-IAD

Departing From: Denver International (DEN)
Traveling To: Washington Dulles (IAD)
ETD: 06:40PM March 3, 2005 MST
ETA: 11:55PM March 3, 2005 EST
Est. Duration: 3 hr 15 min
Departure Gate: B32
Arrival Gate: C8
Seat: 26C
Equipment: Boeing 757

Completely full with too much carry on luggage. I'm way in the back, past the acceptable land of Economy Plus. These are the inhuman seats that keep a million bad comedians working.

Took off a little late. Too long for everyone to get on board. Couldn't really work (couldn't open up the laptop all the way). The in flight movie was someting with Woody Harrelson and Pierce Brosnan about stealing diamonds. Predictable and forgettable.

I wish United could get its act together as to when they are going to serve meals and when they aren't. This was a "buy for $10 meal flight, although nothing in the itenerary to indicate this and the gate agent suggested I get something before boarding. Tried to upgrade, but I was way down the list. Doesn't seem to be a way to cash in miles either.

Flight: United #976 ABQ-DEN

Departing From: Albuquerque, NM (ABQ)
Traveling To: Denver International (DEN)
ETD: 04:30PM March 3, 2005 MST
ETA: 05:46PM March 3, 2005 MST
Est. Duration: 1 hr 16 min (actual 1 hr)
Departure Gate: A1
Arrival Gate: B16
Equipment: Airbus 319

Easy flight. I think I sat in the same seat on the same plane I came down in.

Flight was much shorter on the way back. Only about 45 minutes in the air. More full though. No empty seats near me. Smooth the whole way.

Hotel: Hampton Inn Albuquerque Airport

City: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Chain: Hampton Inn (part of Hilton)
Property: Hampton Inn Albuquerque-Airport
Address: 2231 Yale Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM  87106
Phone Number: 505-246-2255

Check Out: March 3, 2005
6 stars out of 10

I've stayed here a few times. Your basic Hampton experience (which is not a bad thing). Clean, convenient to the airport, cheap, complimentary breakfast, free in room Internet. A three story building with rooms opening to the outside.

Not an interesting part of town, but not in a bad area. There's a waffle house across the street, along with a Fuddruckers, and a Ruby Tuesday or some other corporate chain about a block away. Close to the University if that's your reason for visiting, but I've mostly used it because its real close to the airport. Head down University until it ends, then a left on Yale and you're there.


  • Safety: 1 - OK -- not a great part of town, but not much going on there.
  • Dining: .5 - OK, the breakfast buffet is the normal Hampton perk.
  • Bar: 0 - Fuddruckers across the street, though.
  • Internet: 2 - Wired and wireless access, with bonus for free!
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: .5 OK, but needs more outlets.
  • Shower: 0 - Too low, low flow.
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 0 Not a great place to hang out. No view.
Total: 6


Last Visit: March 3, 2005 ($82)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Flight: United #761 DEN-ABQ

Departing From: Denver International (DEN)
Traveling To: Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ)
ETD: 08:00PM March 2, 2005 MST
ETA: 9:12PM March 2, 2005 MST
Est. Duration: 1 hr 12 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 6C
Equipment: Airbus 320

Flight: United #6771 PSP-DEV

Departing From: Palm Springs, California (PSP)
Traveling To: Denver International (DEN)
ETD: 04:20PM March 2, 2005 PST
Est. Duration:
Departure Gate: 3
Arrival Gate:
Equipment: CRJ-700

Hotel: The Westin Mission Hills Resort

City: Palm Springs, California (Rancho Mirage)
Chain: Starwood/Westin
Property: The Westin Mission Hills Resort
Address: 71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
Phone Number: 760-328-5955

Check Out: March 1, 2005
10 stars out of 10

Stayed here during InterSystems Developers' Conference 2005. A premier location for a premier event.

Obviously, much nicer than what's usually done for business travel. However, when you're attending a conference not staying in the facility is a major distraction and often doesn't save you money with additional parking or cab fees. So, you stay where the thing is.

The weather was a major release from the end of Feb blues around DC. Cool at night, around 60, but unnoticed with the radiant heaters used all over the place. Sunny during the day mid to high 70's. Palm trees, hummingbirds, golf, mountains. It's hard to get a nicer destination.

The hotel is a very spread out affair, with the rooms being in two story separated buildings spread out along the edge of a golf course. Much of the facility seems to be a private gated community of mostly small bungalow type houses. Probably cool for the retired set, the second place crowd, and rental properties for winter relief.

Room was very nice, although not much of a view. My room was facing inward to a pool area on the ground floor. There was a little fountain outside my window which was a little annoying in the morning because of mating season for ducks. But it was a nice room.

Most of the meals were associated with the convention. However, service and food was all top notch. Bar area was fun.

  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 2, bonus, unbelievably good.
  • Bar: 1, cool outside firepit to sit around
  • Internet: 1 (about $10 a day)
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 2 It's a Westin Resort, for cryin' out loud, bonus for snow capped mountains.
Total: 10

Last Visit: March 10, 2005 ($129)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Flight: United #6717 DEN-PSP

Departing From: Denver International (DEN)
Traveling To: Palm Springs, California (PSP)
ETD: 08:30PM February 26, 2005 MST
ETA: 09:38 PM February 26, 2005 PST
Est. Duration: 2 hr 8 min
Departure Gate:
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 6A
Equipment: CRJ 700

Flight: United #903 IAD-DEN

Departing From: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Traveling To: Denver International (DEN)
ETD: 05:20PM February 26, 2005 EST
ETA: 07:19 PM February 26, 2005 MST
Est. Duration: 3 hr 59 min
Departure Gate: D8
Arrival Gate:
Seat: 17C
Equipment: Boeing 777

Friday, February 18, 2005

Airport: Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)

Airport Name: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Location: Dallas, Texas USA
Airport Web Site:

Created 2/18/05

I've been through this airport a few times, only through United.

The airport doesn't feel too crowded, as the configuration doesn't have a large, central area. Instead, the terminals are arranged in small semi-circles, with separate baggage claim areas every few gates. This kind of arranges the terminals in "shells", where you walk in to the ticket agents, pass through security, and your gate is kind of right there without much walking. On the way out, you pass out through security, there is a belt nearby for your gate, then grab a cab outside. This creates the convenience and feel of a smaller regional airport even though its a very large one.

The down side is that the terminals are extremely spread out. I assume its a major hassle if your changing planes here, especially if hopping between carriers. Driving in and out is difficult for those not familiar with the airport, as there are ramps splitting out all over the place. And, the rental car area is miles away from the terminal area. It takes forever to get over to their, as you have to drive past the runways to get to the road that takes you there.

They seem to be addressing this through the creation of a small light rail system. I saw the elevated railway heading over toward the rental car area (I think), and there are new escalators that aren't operational yet that seem to be part of this expansion.

The terminals, at least terminal "B" where United is, recently went through a major overhaul, and is very spacious, clean looking, and nice to wait in. There are excellent views of the airport operations and runways. Food and concessions are limited and spread out due to the configuration, however, all the typical things are here as you would expect (nothing special to say, nothing bad to say).

The airport is in a great location for the two cities - I've had to go to both towns on business and you're in the downtown areas pretty quickly.

United Red Carpet Club is located near gate B29.

Equipment: Embraer 170/175

Had my first ride on an Embraer 170 last night on a United Express flight back from DFW (regional carrier Chatauqua Airlines). I don't have any pictures of it yet, but the product web site is below which has some.

(The 175 variant seems to be a slightly more passenger version, 100 nm shorter range)

This is an extended range regional jet, able to go 2,100 nautical miles on a flight. These regional jets in their extended range versions are showing up more and more with longer flights, as I've been on this one and also an extended range Canadaire to DFW.

Unlike the Embraer 135/145 I've been on which has a rear engine configuration, the 170 has a wing engine configuration. The plane seemed very new, the seats were very comfortable with good legroom (although toward the end of the flight I was itching to stretch my legs), and good overhead storage if you get on early enough to grab it. There is only overhead storage on the right side of the aircraft facing forward.

A 2 x 2 seat configuration with a small first class section up in front. The seats are pretty spacious, although the padding makes it hard to stay seated more than an hour. Quiet, comfortable for the most part.

The overhead bins are large enough to handle a roll-aboard piece of luggage, although there aren’t enough of them if a lot of the passengers bring them on. Be prepared to have to do a bit of juggling and negotiating with dorks placing their small bags up top on a full flight.

The space under the seat in front accommodates fairly large bags and still leaves space for your feet. Most amazing, a regional jet of this configuration allowing me to stand up without banging my head.

No entertainment, but the seat back pocket is roomier than most small planes.

Plane is very quiet in the cabin, most likely from the wing configuration.

Cockpit is modern glass cockpit.

Product Web Site

(Updated 8/28/09 after United Express flight to Indianapolis)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hotel: Hilton Dallas Lincoln Center

City: Dallas, Texas
Chain: Hilton
Property: Hilton Dallas Lincoln Center
Address: 5410 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, TX 75240
Phone Number: 972-934-8400

Check Out: February 17, 2005
8 stars out of 10

Very nice, very large hotel on the north side of Dallas. Not real close to downtown or the convention center, but in a nice area near a large shopping center (ice skating rink in the shopping center - nice touch).

  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1
  • Bar: 1
  • Internet: 1
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1
Total: 8

Last Visit: February 17, 2005 ($96)

United #7688 DFW-IAD

Departing From: Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW)
Traveling To: Washington Dulles (IAD)
ETD: 4:45 PM CST
ETA: 8:50 PM EST
Est. Duration: 2 hr 25 min (actual 2 hr 10 min)
Departure Gate: B28
Arrival Gate: G something
Equipment: Embraer 170
Other: United Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines

Left gate 28. Embraer 170, which seems to be a newer, larger version of the 145 I flew in the other week, The configuration is 2 seats-aisle-2 seats, making the interior wider and taller. There is more overhead storage space, and the seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room.

The plane also seems a bit quieter than the one I rode on the week before. I think the engine under wing configuration must help out with the noise level inside the cabin.

Flight left about on time, taxi took little time, little turbulence, and now we're up around 36,000 for what should be a 2 hour ride to Dulles. The itinerary for the flight lists flight time at 2 hours and 30 minutes, which seems conservative, but maybe based on the usual issues getting into Dulles.

Light overhead in seat 4C is out by the way.

Landed at the nightmare Dulles affectionately calls "Concourse G".

Sunday, February 13, 2005

United #521 IAD-DFW

Departing From: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Traveling To: Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW)
ETD: 5:30 PM EST
ETA: 8:08 PM CST
Est. Duration: 2 hr 25 min
Departure Gate: D14
Arrival Gate: B29
Equipment: Boeing 737-300

Full flight. Had a exit row seat on the aisle, so it wasn't too bad. Like many flights to a trade show, most of the people on flight are probably headed the same place, judging from the number of people reading the same types of materials.

737-300 for the equuipment, nothing interesting to say about that. United seems to only have two rows for 1st class on these planes now, which probably upsets everyone wanting to upgrade on the fight.

Very cloudy on take off and into the flight with a little turbulance. Not a nice night for flying. Probably just as well, need to read and work on some things this flight anyway.

At the airport I saw a plane painted for "Hooters Air". There's something absurd about seeing this as a real thing at an airport, since it looks like something out of a low budget comedy movie. Kind of like seeing a corporate jet marked "Van De Lay Industries" or a building for "Spacely Sprockets".

Silly waste of money.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Airport: Washington Dulles (IAD)

Airport Name: Washington Dulles International Airport
Location: Herndon, Virginia USA
Airport Web Site:

Created 2/3/05

(See Rant on Concourse G elsewhere)

The Washington DC area has three major airports convenient to it. DCA, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport; BWI, Baltimore Washington International Airport; and IAD, Washington Dulles International Airport.

DCA is the smallest, yet the most amazingly downtown major airport you'll likely use. Right across the river from the national capital federal buildings, the fact that they still use it in a post-9/11 era is amazing.

BWI is really Baltimore's airport, and has grown well past its useful size and its management team's ability to run it. It went through monstrous growth when Southwest moved into town, and is now mostly the airport for the low-budget tourist airlines.

IAD is the largest of the three, both in terms of passengers as well as physical presence as you go through it. Like most airports, it seems like it has gone through major construction since the beginning of time, with no end in sight. Recently there has been a major expansion of the primary terminal building, addition of new concourses for boarding, and the creation of two new parking decks. Still coming are still expanding concourses, the typically expansion in the new era of airport security, and huge disruption from the creation of a new subway system that ties the concourses to the main terminal. So, the airport is different every time you use it. On the plus side, you get to see some of the largest construction equipment ever when you use it.

Dulles was originally conceived in the 60's, and they brilliantly placed it 30 miles outside the city with its own interstate to get there quickly. Brilliant, since no one wants to live near the airport. Of course, since then there a whole giant suburb built right next to the airport, so you can frequently get trapped in DC Metro rush hour trying to catch a plane. You're OK once you're on the access road, as long as you can get over to the left quickly and get in the airport express lanes.

The airport main terminal is a wonderful swooping roof enclosed in glass, reminiscent of the TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport. Probably would be as renowned from an architecture standpoint if the TWA building wasn't built first. However, the cantilevered, cable hung roof is a wonderful combination of engineering and art, and I'm sure architecture students consider it an important work. Outside, its vaguely 60's tacky, yet inspiring and beautiful in a timeless way. The recent expansion extended it on both sides to probably twice its original width, and it ultimately makes it more impressive than the original size. The impact as you drive up to the airport is lessened by the gimoungous parking lot in front of it, the perennial construction signs, and by being surrounded by some of the most hideous support buildings. They're clearly on loan from some now defunct communist military.

The large parking lot out front is "hourly" and "valet". Too expensive to use for anything, especially since you're not really able to drop people off and accompany them in airports anymore. The fact that its always full is a testament to the salaries (or expense accounts) of DC based travelers. Expect about 30 a day in this bad boy.

There are two new "daily" parking structures. Daily 1 is directly across from the terminal and connected through an underground walkway with conveyor belts, as well as a frequent above ground shuttle. The Daily 2 lot is on your right as you approach, and connects with a bridge to the north end of the terminal. Use Daily 1 if you're on United, the other airlines its probably a shorter walk if you use Daily 2. About $15 a day.

Long term parking is above ground and removed from the terminal area, although still on Dulles ground. Generally about $6 a day, with shuttles running through the parking lots constantly. Prior to the construction of the daily lots, the shuttles came through so frequently that it was faster and cheaper than other airports "daily" lots. Since the Daily parking decks were built it seems that the shuttles come through less frequently now. However, your wait is usually less than 15 minutes, and the ride to the terminal is 5 or 10 minutes depending where in the lot you are. Not too bad if you arrive early enough.

The main terminal is a large expansive area, filled with airline agents for checking in. The security screening is behind for getting through. Generally, it is well staffed and well run, and the security wait time is rarely more than 15 minutes. There is little in the way of concession in the main terminal, but there's also little point to it these days when you get dropped off and want to get through security.

One unusual feature of Dulles, and one that's on its way out, are the shuttles that connect you from the main terminal to the concourses. These are specialty vehicles that pull head long and park attached to the terminal, with double doors that open to let passengers in. About 5 minutes after they open up, they close the doors and pull away with the driver now on the other side (a "push me pull you" kind of effect). These vehicles are somewhat a relic of the 60s, when the idea was to replace the outdoor steps with a covered transport to the plane out on the tarmac (you can see some of the older transports which can raise & lower to match the height of the aircraft for international flights). These were quickly replaced with the jetway concept which replaced transports like these everywhere but Dulles.

Most of the concourses have been redone recently, and contain typical food & shopping diversions.

United Red Carpet Club is located near gate D-6.

Airport: Portland, Maine (PWM)

Airport Name: The Portland International Jetport
Location: Portland, Maine USA
Airport Web Site:

A somewhat small airport, serviced by most major carriers. I saw counters for Northwest, Continental, US Air, and United, at least in their "express" varities. Like most small airports, its easy to get in and out of, with a basic configuration of a long terminal building with a multi-deck parking garage across the street.

There's a single security area to get to the gates, and there seems to be about 20 of them. There aren't a whole lot of food and shopping areas, but there is a nice little sit down resturant area in the gate area, and a Starbucks area also. The little gift and sundries shop is actually fairly large and well stocked.

Some of the building design is very bad. The parking deck (and rental car section below) are detached from the terminal building and exposed to the weather. I thought this should have been a little more enclosed, since I imagine that Maine gets somewhat harsh winters. And, you have to be careful which door you walk into. The ticket counters and baggage claim area are below grade from the entrance, and the door into the building across from the rental car area did not have any ramps down to this level!! An amazing cascade of tumbling luggage as I tried to get everything down the steps. Really surprising to have an airport entrance with only steps.

This terminal also is a little cruel to the business traveler. Hardly any electrical outlets to sneak in some battery recharges, no Internet access except for a "business center" that you have to swipe your credit card to get 35 cents a minute for ethernet access. And, no cables available! Surprising, since its so simple to set up a wireless LAN in a building this size.

On the plus side, like most small airports its is incredibly easy to get into town and back to the airport. The terminal is only about three miles away from Portland proper, and it seems somewhat impossible to get lost there (I tried).

Portland is a very nice town to visit, by the way.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Flight: United #7774 CMH-IAD

Departing From: Columbus, OH (CMH)
Traveling To: Washington Dulles (IAD)
ETD: 2:30 PM EST
ETA: 3:40 PM EST
Est. Duration: 1 hr (actual 1hr 10 min)
Departure Gate: B29
Arrival Gate: G something
Equipment: Embraer 135/145

Got to the airport sooner than expected, and there was a 2:30 flight out instead of 7776 at 4:50 which is what I was booked on. Was able to standby onto this flight, gaining two hours in my life. :-)

All the United's between IAD and CMH are regional jets, and I had the single seat side of the plane. Uneventful flight -- waited on the ground about 15 minutes due to air traffic hold from the DC area (which is typical now). They had beverage service (which we didn't on the way up), landed as expected. The only down was we landed at the dreaded Concourse G, but it wasn't real crowded this time and was able to get on the bus right away. Coming in this way isn't as confusing now, as some of the construction has finished in the main terminal, but it was a huge hassle getting to baggage claim since the security area was wrapping around the down escalator.

Bag was right there, and headed home.

The flight was in nice sunny weather, and was able to come in over what I am assuming is the corner of West Virgina, the Pittsburgh area, and over rural Virginia to Dulles. I thought it was interesting to see that all the hilltops as we came across Pennsylvania seemed to have roads and houses on top of them. I guess I expected to see some of the desolate areas you usually see when you fly over the western part of the country, but there really wasn't any land that seemed isolated as we came over. Every hilltop seemed to have a road cut across it with a few houses on top.

We had to fly past the airport and turn around to come in from the south. I wished I had kept my camera out because it was a great view of the whole airport complex from around 3000 feet up, watching the planes taking off and landing. Would have made an interesting picture.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Flight: United #7835 IAD-CMH

Departing From: Washington Dulles (IAD)
Traveling To: Columbus, OH (CMH)
ETD: 5:05 PM EST
ETA: 6:20 PM EST
Est. Duration: 1 hr
Departure Gate: D4X
Arrival Gate:
Equipment: Embraer 135/145

Flight pulled out & boarded on time, but we sat on the taxiway for a long time. Flight ended up being about 45 minutes late.

Mostly an OK flight. Some turbulance from snowy weather coming into the region.

Hotel: Marriott Residence Inn Columbus North

City: Columbus, Ohio
Chain: Marriott
Property: Marriott Residence Inn Columbus North
Address: 6191 Zumstein Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43229
Phone Number: 614-431-1819

Check Out: February 4, 2005
6.5 stars out of 10

A different kind of place. Detached buildings with two floors, like garden apartments with walkways connecting them. Unusual for the weather in Columbus (ice was an issue while I was there) - more like something you might see in California or Florida. The target market for this chain is contractors living in the place for weeks or longer.

The rooms are more like small apartments, with a living area and kitchenette. More than I needed for this trip. A common building had free breakfast in the Hampton Inn style, and they had a happy hour kind of event at night. Real low key.

Hotel is not in an interesting area, next to the interstate highway with a strip mall behind it.

  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 0
  • Bar: 1.5
  • Internet: 1
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 0
Total: 6.5

Last Visit: February 4, 2005 ($85.21 with tax)

Monday, January 24, 2005

United #7875: The Flight That Never Was

What was supposed to be a routine day out and back for a meeting ended up being 6 hours of frustration at Dulles International Airport.

The problem is how they lead you on, giving you hope that your flight might make it out. They delay 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then 30 minutes. If they had told you up front that you would be more than 3 hours late at least you'd get a chance to go to another carrier and see if they had a flight heading out. The end result is that you end up leaving the airport and driving back to your office at a furious rate of speed to make sure you get a chance to get on the phone and hear what's going on, anyway.

The airline industry is making it almost a requirement that you travel the day before if you have an appointment. You have to leave yourself a buffer space of 12 hours or so to make sure you get there ahead of your appointment. Good for the hotel business, bad for everyone else.

On the good side, the agents at the United ticket counter gave me a full refund and were pleasant and helpful. Once I endured the tremendously long "Concourse G" bus ride back to the main terminal, and found the one gate agent who handles this.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Image: Saab 340F

Saab 340 - Photo from United's web site Posted by Hello

Copied here in case United moves the picture from their site. Saab's product page is here.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Equipment: Boeing 717

The Boeing 717 was originally created by McDonnell-Douglas as the MD-95 in 1995. In 1997 MD merged with Boeing, and the plane was renamed the Boeing 717 (more specifically, the Boeing 717-200).

The plane is a twin engine configuration with both engines at the rear of the aircraft on the fuselage. The plane is normally configured for 100 passengers, and was positioned in the market for short-haul/regional flights. The planes were mostly purchased by AirTran Airways, and their recent decision to purchase 100 Boeing 737's probably sealed the 717 line's fate. My observation has been that the Canadaire Regional Jets are everywhere for smaller regional flights (even some longer ones -- United runs a IAD-DFW non-stop on them which is a 1700 mile flight), and the 737's are the workhorse for the low-cost domestic flights.

As a side note, AirTran still promotes the 717 as part of their image.

717 cockpitI've been on a few of these, always AirTran, and they always seem nice because they're usually pretty new. The rear engines are very quiet -- usually when the engines are on the fuselage it seems to transmit noise into the cabin easier. The cockpit is also a modern "glass" cockit with modern avionics.

In January of 2005 Boeing announced that it was halting production of this aircraft. Boeing maintains that this plane continues to offer tremendous value to their customers, but that the market demand for the plane doesn't justify keeping production going.

717 taking off

Product Site:

Image: 717 Cockpit Detail

717 Glass Cockpit. From AirTran Airways web site. See

There is also a huge detail of this picture at Print it up on a large scale printer and hang it over your desk! Posted by Hello