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)