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Old 06-15-2002, 09:58 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: London
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Continental: TYS-CLE-IAH-ABQ-CVN-HOB 6/14

Hi all,
Sorry for not posting this earlier but I had some trouble with my Treo.
Without further ado..
We got to the airport about an hour and a half ahead of time and checked in with only a slight wait. We breezed through security, ate a quick lunch, and proceeded to the gate, where the agent began boarding all rows, as the flight was only about a third full. I had managed to secure seats 2B and C, so we were right at the bulkhead.
The flight took off exactly at 1:00 PM, and we were off to Cleveland. Inflight, there was a short drink service and pretzels. The flight landed in Cleveland around 2:15 PM, where we headed over to the next gate.
Continental Flight 1545
While the boarding passes showed this flight as from CLE to ABQ without any stop, the gate display showed only a (very full) flight from CLE to IAH. Trusting in the ticket, we proceeded to board (boarding was a zoo; at least a third of the flight was elite and first class was completely full) and take our exit row seats, 21E and F.
The flight lasted about two and a half hours, with another beverage and pretzel service (evidently, the flight's having a stop in between means they don't serve meals. :<). When we landed in IAH, we got off the plane, leaving most of our carryons (big mistake!) and the little Seat Occupied placards.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat from Wendy's and waited for reboarding. Once we got back onboard, however, an unpleasant surprise awaited us--our bags were gone! A quick chat with the FA, and she was able to call the cleaners and get them back; however, the cleaning staff should know the meaning of the Occupied placard and not remove passengers' bags!
The ABQ flight was about the same length, with the now-familiar beverage and pretzel service. We landed, deplaned, and walked through ABQ. The Mesa gates are outside security, so we were able to leave the airport and sample the fresh air for a minute. I also bought earplugs for myself and my mother for the upcoming flight (the plane we were on, I believe, actually used piston-driven engines; however, I am only inferring this due to the unusual placement of the tailpipes, right behind the props and sticking out from the side of the cowlings). After about a 20-minute delay, Mesa Airlines (actually operated by Air Midwest) 796 began boarding in a completely unmarked (except for registration number) white Beech 1900D. The plane was ancient and most of the reading lights were burnt out; the seats were old, ripped leather and were notable in that, instead of reclining, they folded *forward*. The air vents, similarly, were set right below the windows and, I believe, actually opened to the outside.
The pilot got on, closed the door, and presented a "safety briefing" consisting of telling us how to open the door again. After that, we were off. The 1900 is the loudest and second-smallest (after the Fairchild Metro III) commercial aircraft I have been on. The flight was blessedly short (about 45 minutes) to Clovis. Once the door opened, the lovely smell of manure greeted us; Clovis is surrounded on five sides by dairies, apparently.
Since so many people got off at Clovis, I moved to the back of the plane and stretched out across the bench-style seat. After that got uncomfortable, I folded the seat in front of me down and used it as a legrest for the rest of the 25-minute flight. Before we took off, the pilot passed around a garbage bag containing warm Coke and pretzels "I hijacked off our Dash-8 in Albuquerque." Better than nothing, I suppose. Finally, the plane landed in Hobbs, land of sideways traffic lights, the one-gate airport, and the everpresent smell of natural gas.

More to come next Thursday, after I fly back...
Charlie, in exile in the Land of Enchantment
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Old 06-21-2002, 01:47 PM   #2
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Well, the trip back was hell. I got up at 4 to catch the 5:45 out of Hobbs. The Mesa agent refused to check my bag anywhere further than ABQ, so I endured the flight to CVN, where the plane landed, spun down one prop, then started it again and took off without opening the door. Odd. Anyway, the flight on to ABQ was a bit bumpy, but not too bad, and we landed without a hitch. I collected my bags and headed on over to the CO counter. There was a line but not much of one, so our bags got checked through to TYS (play evil music here). The flight to IAH, while crowded, wasn't that bad (it was on a 733; drink service only). Once we got to IAH, we settled in for the 3.5 hour wait, only to watch it turn into 4.5 hours. There was a little rain that faded about an hour before our scheduled takeoff time (before the plane even arrived). The official delay reason was listed as "late equipment". Finally, we boarded, and sat another hour on the tarmac. As I watched, our CLE layover eroded. Once we took off, we had a (such as it is) meal while I fretted about the flight to TYS. Upon landing (we had 5 minutes left) a redcoat met us at the gate to inform us we wouldn't make it. We were carted to the service center, where an agent informed us that due to the earlier weather in IAH, they would not pay for our hotel. At this point, we just wanted to sleep, so we went to baggage claim, where we had been told we would find our bags, only to be told by the baggage office they had been sent on to TYS. :< Angry and frustrated, we waited an hour and a half for the Comfort Inn shuttle, and finally crashed. We took the 7:30 shuttle in the morning back to CLE, where we bypassed the long check-in lines (having no bags) and went through security. We ate a meager breakfast, checked in at the gate, and finally flew back to TYS (I slept from when I fastened my belt until we landed).
Ah, well. Yet another fun reason multiple connections are bad.
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