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Old 12-29-2001, 12:15 PM   #1
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AUS-IAH-IND-EWR-AUS Holiday Trip and Mileage Run

I'd set my alarm clock for 03:30 in anticipation of my 06:00 flight out of Austin but somehow managed to wake up on my own just a few minutes past 03:00. Deciding to take advantage of my unusual state of coherency for such an early hour, I decided to go head and get up. This afforded me a somewhat relaxed pace as I tidied up the apartment and packed for the my trip.

I headed out the door at 05:00 on the nose, a bit later than I might have preferred, but with enough time to just make my flight. Unfortunately, about five minutes down the road I realized that I'd left my coat back at home. I knew that the Indianapolis weather wouldn't be nearly as accommodating as the temperate Austin climate and that I'd have to turn back to go get my coat. By the time I'd gone back, fetched my coat, and headed back towards the airport I'd lost over ten minutes of time. I didn't arrive at AUS until just after 5:30 and didn't get to the ticket counter until just 10 minutes before my flight. Eep!

I got a bit of a verbal dressing-down from the continental ticketing agent for not arriving early enough for my flight, but managed to get checked in in fairly short order. Thank goodness for First Class/Elite check-in lines, the airport was packed with holiday travelers. I got held up at the security checkpoint as the Argenbright agent dug through my headphones case and the flight to IAH was out of gate 22, not the usual gate 16, meaning I had much farther to walk (well, run). Even with everything going against me, I was settled into seat 2A with a generous 5 or 6 minutes to spare before we pushed back from the gate.

The flight was full, as most morning or evening AUS->IAH flights tend to be. Only six empty seats in coach and none in first class. I was napping and managed to sleep through takeoff. The flight was a rapid 35 minutes affording me just barely enough time to finish a glass of orange juice before we landed in Houston.

Anyone who travels between AUS and IAH is surely familiar with Continental's game of padding the flights with an extra ten minutes (presumably to maintain their "early arrival" reputation). I can't recall the last AUS/IAH flight I had where we didn't arrive between five and ten minutes prior to the scheduled touchdown time. The pilot is always eager to mention this during the taxi-to-the-gate speech. What's odd is that about 30% of the time the plane ends up getting stuck just short of the gate while the ground crew "move equipment" or while we await another plane's departure. You'd think they'd know by now to get the gate ready in time for the plane's actual expected arrival and not the official scheduled arrival. In any event, it would be silly to complain about arriving someplace early. It was a calm and quick flight.

I walked across the C terminal to the North President's Club and relaxed for the duration of my 1 hour layover in IAH.

I strolled casually over to the gate to board my IND flight, timing it just perfectly. They announced first class and onepass boarding just as I walked up to the gate and I was able to board quickly and settle in to my seat. I was seated next to a very nice guy from Houston and we spent most of the flight talking and chatting. Although no meal was served in coach, first class pax enjoyed a tasty swiss-colby omelette with mixed fruit and your choice of cinnamon roll or biscuit. It was quite tasty.

Our landing approach took us right over the south side of Indianapolis, and I got to see from the air the gaping dirt hole where Market Square Arena had been the last time I was in Indianapolis. We landed on time, and (thank god) my checked bag was there and waiting for me on the carrousel. Having arrived at AUS as late as I did, I had some legitimate concern that my bag might be arriving on the next flight, and not mine.

(I was munching on a frisco melt at steak 'n shake within an hour of landing)

In a really bizarre turn of events, the car I rented from IND turned out to be a green mustang with Texas plates. There's some speculation that dbaker rented the very same car in Austin, so I took a picture of the license plate so we could compare against his rental receipts.

Mid-week during the holiday I received my EUA email for my EWR-AUS segment of the return flight. It wasn't until I arrived at IND and checked in that I knew for sure if I'd gotten an upgrade for the IND-EWR segment. I arrived at the airport two hours early, anticipating significant delays and it was good that I did. IND had consolidated the security checking for both the C and D terminals into a single point and the line was always ~100 pax long. It took all of 40 minutes to get cleared to the gate area. I found a comfy seat behind the gate agent's desk and napped for an hour or so prior to boarding.

All 10 first class seats on the 737 to EWR were full, although 3A contained a continental employee (looked like a pilot). There was some interesting commotion right after takeoff when the cabin crew all posed for pictures with the guy in seat 2A. I didn't recognize who he was, but he was managing to generate some excitement. (I asked as we de-planed, it turns out he was the model in some recent Ralph Lauren advertisement).

I'd taken some tylenol cold & flu medicine to stave off the congestion that had been bothering me all week and slept for just about the entire flight. Between my plugged up ears and my bose headphones, it was a quiet and peaceful ride to Newark from my vantage in 3F.

This was my first flight to the New York area since 11-Sep, and I found the view of the altered NYC skyline to be a sobering and reflective thing to see. Our landing approach took us right past, and the whole plane just stared for a minute as we flew by, lost in thought.

I was quite excited to arrive at EWR, looking forward to seeing and taking some pictures of the new continental terminal there. The new facility is bright, open, and very inviting. Although many of the stores aren't built out and open yet, there's still an ample array of merchants and restaurants for connecting pax. I grabbed a root beer float from the A+W and walked the whole area taking pictures for the gallery. I didn't, however, tour the new president's club. Since my flight to Austin was departing from gate 70, the president's club in that terminal was more conveniently located for me. I settled in for my hour or so layover and typed up this trip report when I got home. I took lots of pics for the gallery.

The flight to AUS felt long, and was full of kids and confusion. I was settled in my assigned seat 1A until the very last minute when a family boarded and explained that seat 1B was to be their infant in a child seat. I was offered the choice of caring for their infant or relocating to 3E (the last row of first class). I hurriedly transferred my bags from the overhead above 1A and popped into 3E. My seatmate (3F) was nowhere in sight, but when he returned he indicated that I was in his seat. I explained the mixup with 1A and hopped over to 3F (I prefer the window) and then he told me that he thought the aisle was 3F and that he didn't fly first class enough to be familiar with how it all worked. I thought about mentioning that when he flies first class in the future that it would be considered appropriate to bathe before the flight but held my tongue (and nose) instead.

Once in the air I became quite familiar with 3E's two year-old daughter who was apparently seated with his wife in coach. She ran up to visit and jump in his lap dozens of times throughout the flight.

The meal was a choice between a pasta and sausage dish and turkey wrapped in bacon. Everyone chose the pasta dish which of course meant that by the time the flight attendant reached 3F the only option was the bacon-wrapped turkey which I declined. I did eat the salad and dessert (some warm oatmeal/apple thing which was quite tasty).

About 45 minutes prior to landing, the stewardesses announced that the fasten-seatbelt light would be engaged for the duration of the flight because of turbulence. I thought it odd that the pilot didn't make the announcement as is customary and when we never actually encountered any turbulence I began to suspect that they'd simply done it in an effort to protect us all from 3E's two year-old.

We landed a few minutes late, I de-planed grabbed my bag and headed home. It was a draining trip but I got to see my family and earned Platinum Elite with this flight. Worthwhile, to say the least.
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Old 12-29-2001, 12:15 PM   #2
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AUS-IAH-IND-EWR-AUS Holiday Trip and Mileage Run

I'd set my alarm clock for 03:30 in anticipation of my 06:00 flight out of Austin but somehow managed to wake up on my own just a few minutes past 03:00. Deciding to take advantage of my unusual state of coherency for such an early hour, I decided to go head and get up. This afforded me a somewhat relaxed pace as I tidied up the apartment and packed for the my trip.

I headed out the door at 05:00 on the nose, a bit later than I might have preferred, but with enough time to just make my flight. Unfortunately, about five minutes down the road I realized that I'd left my coat back at home. I knew that the Indianapolis weather wouldn't be nearly as accommodating as the temperate Austin climate and that I'd have to turn back to go get my coat. By the time I'd gone back, fetched my coat, and headed back towards the airport I'd lost over ten minutes of time. I didn't arrive at AUS until just after 5:30 and didn't get to the ticket counter until just 10 minutes before my flight. Eep!

I got a bit of a verbal dressing-down from the continental ticketing agent for not arriving early enough for my flight, but managed to get checked in in fairly short order. Thank goodness for First Class/Elite check-in lines, the airport was packed with holiday travelers. I got held up at the security checkpoint as the Argenbright agent dug through my headphones case and the flight to IAH was out of gate 22, not the usual gate 16, meaning I had much farther to walk (well, run). Even with everything going against me, I was settled into seat 2A with a generous 5 or 6 minutes to spare before we pushed back from the gate.

The flight was full, as most morning or evening AUS->IAH flights tend to be. Only six empty seats in coach and none in first class. I was napping and managed to sleep through takeoff. The flight was a rapid 35 minutes affording me just barely enough time to finish a glass of orange juice before we landed in Houston.

Anyone who travels between AUS and IAH is surely familiar with Continental's game of padding the flights with an extra ten minutes (presumably to maintain their "early arrival" reputation). I can't recall the last AUS/IAH flight I had where we didn't arrive between five and ten minutes prior to the scheduled touchdown time. The pilot is always eager to mention this during the taxi-to-the-gate speech. What's odd is that about 30% of the time the plane ends up getting stuck just short of the gate while the ground crew "move equipment" or while we await another plane's departure. You'd think they'd know by now to get the gate ready in time for the plane's actual expected arrival and not the official scheduled arrival. In any event, it would be silly to complain about arriving someplace early. It was a calm and quick flight.

I walked across the C terminal to the North President's Club and relaxed for the duration of my 1 hour layover in IAH.

I strolled casually over to the gate to board my IND flight, timing it just perfectly. They announced first class and onepass boarding just as I walked up to the gate and I was able to board quickly and settle in to my seat. I was seated next to a very nice guy from Houston and we spent most of the flight talking and chatting. Although no meal was served in coach, first class pax enjoyed a tasty swiss-colby omelette with mixed fruit and your choice of cinnamon roll or biscuit. It was quite tasty.

Our landing approach took us right over the south side of Indianapolis, and I got to see from the air the gaping dirt hole where Market Square Arena had been the last time I was in Indianapolis. We landed on time, and (thank god) my checked bag was there and waiting for me on the carrousel. Having arrived at AUS as late as I did, I had some legitimate concern that my bag might be arriving on the next flight, and not mine.

(I was munching on a frisco melt at steak 'n shake within an hour of landing)

In a really bizarre turn of events, the car I rented from IND turned out to be a green mustang with Texas plates. There's some speculation that dbaker rented the very same car in Austin, so I took a picture of the license plate so we could compare against his rental receipts.

Mid-week during the holiday I received my EUA email for my EWR-AUS segment of the return flight. It wasn't until I arrived at IND and checked in that I knew for sure if I'd gotten an upgrade for the IND-EWR segment. I arrived at the airport two hours early, anticipating significant delays and it was good that I did. IND had consolidated the security checking for both the C and D terminals into a single point and the line was always ~100 pax long. It took all of 40 minutes to get cleared to the gate area. I found a comfy seat behind the gate agent's desk and napped for an hour or so prior to boarding.

All 10 first class seats on the 737 to EWR were full, although 3A contained a continental employee (looked like a pilot). There was some interesting commotion right after takeoff when the cabin crew all posed for pictures with the guy in seat 2A. I didn't recognize who he was, but he was managing to generate some excitement. (I asked as we de-planed, it turns out he was the model in some recent Ralph Lauren advertisement).

I'd taken some tylenol cold & flu medicine to stave off the congestion that had been bothering me all week and slept for just about the entire flight. Between my plugged up ears and my bose headphones, it was a quiet and peaceful ride to Newark from my vantage in 3F.

This was my first flight to the New York area since 11-Sep, and I found the view of the altered NYC skyline to be a sobering and reflective thing to see. Our landing approach took us right past, and the whole plane just stared for a minute as we flew by, lost in thought.

I was quite excited to arrive at EWR, looking forward to seeing and taking some pictures of the new continental terminal there. The new facility is bright, open, and very inviting. Although many of the stores aren't built out and open yet, there's still an ample array of merchants and restaurants for connecting pax. I grabbed a root beer float from the A+W and walked the whole area taking pictures for the gallery. I didn't, however, tour the new president's club. Since my flight to Austin was departing from gate 70, the president's club in that terminal was more conveniently located for me. I settled in for my hour or so layover and typed up this trip report when I got home. I took lots of pics for the gallery.

The flight to AUS felt long, and was full of kids and confusion. I was settled in my assigned seat 1A until the very last minute when a family boarded and explained that seat 1B was to be their infant in a child seat. I was offered the choice of caring for their infant or relocating to 3E (the last row of first class). I hurriedly transferred my bags from the overhead above 1A and popped into 3E. My seatmate (3F) was nowhere in sight, but when he returned he indicated that I was in his seat. I explained the mixup with 1A and hopped over to 3F (I prefer the window) and then he told me that he thought the aisle was 3F and that he didn't fly first class enough to be familiar with how it all worked. I thought about mentioning that when he flies first class in the future that it would be considered appropriate to bathe before the flight but held my tongue (and nose) instead.

Once in the air I became quite familiar with 3E's two year-old daughter who was apparently seated with his wife in coach. She ran up to visit and jump in his lap dozens of times throughout the flight.

The meal was a choice between a pasta and sausage dish and turkey wrapped in bacon. Everyone chose the pasta dish which of course meant that by the time the flight attendant reached 3F the only option was the bacon-wrapped turkey which I declined. I did eat the salad and dessert (some warm oatmeal/apple thing which was quite tasty).

About 45 minutes prior to landing, the stewardesses announced that the fasten-seatbelt light would be engaged for the duration of the flight because of turbulence. I thought it odd that the pilot didn't make the announcement as is customary and when we never actually encountered any turbulence I began to suspect that they'd simply done it in an effort to protect us all from 3E's two year-old.

We landed a few minutes late, I de-planed grabbed my bag and headed home. It was a draining trip but I got to see my family and earned Platinum Elite with this flight. Worthwhile, to say the least.
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Old 12-31-2001, 11:14 AM   #3
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Great trip report and very nice pics. C3 looks absolutely beautiful.
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Old 12-31-2001, 11:14 AM   #4
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Great trip report and very nice pics. C3 looks absolutely beautiful.
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