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

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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)