Friday, 9 October 2015
09.10.2015 - 09.10.2015
Started the day with a 06:00 breakfast which was an interesting event. The choice of food was typical of a large chain hotel and everything is disposable. A selection of sweet rolls, still chilled from the refrigerator, likewise the croissants and the bagels. Two toasters working overtime, butter, jam and peanut butter. Range of cereals and two choices of milk. Coffee in abundance, some yogurt and containers of 'canned' fruit. A waffle making machine and a huge dispenser of syrup. Slices of ham rolled up with a slice of cheese, warmed but not hot. Scrambled eggs made I suspect from a powdered product and some diced baked potatoes. With over 50 determined diners milling about and waitresses attempting to restock it was quite a circus.
The 09:00 shuttle took us to the airport where we found that only one piece of luggage per person was carried free, the third piece cost me US $ 100.00. I had wrongly assumed as our flight was part of an overseas journey we'd have that extra allowance. It was all part of a day full of 'interesting' experiences flying with 'United' for the first time. The airport concourse was bright and provided plenty of seating. No problems passing through 'security' except that innocent looking Jenny was subjected to a test for drugs, again.
Our boarding pass was endorsed with the letters TSA PRE. Discovered later that this was granted to select passengers and reduced the level of scrutiny by 'security'. No idea why we were so blessed. Another unusual entry on the pass was a 'Boarding Group' number, we had a 4, it appears that United actually looks at these when you board. At one of the gates we found that the scanner alarms if you try to jump the queue. While we waited for the boarding time there were frequent announcements requesting they offer their carry-on for placement in the baggage hold for FREE. The offer was made because the aircraft was fully booked and overhead locker space would quickly fill up.
One policy, although announced was not enforced. One piece plus some personal items. We observed numerous passengers walking on with four and five separate roll-ons strapped together. This resulted in 'hand luggage' being stored 8 to 10 seat rows away from the allocated seats. We were lucky and managed to keep our single pieces fairly close.
We boarded at 11:20 for an 11:50 departure. Our first leg was aboard an A319 from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Houston (IAH). As predicted there were no spare seats and the hand luggage problems caused some significant delays. Even without this delay there was little time between our Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) and the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) at IAH. Once aboard the aircraft we found that all forms of in-flight entertainment is through your Mobile Electronic Device (MED) and additional to that you have to have the correct App installed. Next surprise, there are complimentary beverages aboard but you need to buy any snacks or more substantial foods. Arrival was a little late and we made our first Time Zone Change.
The change-over time was mere minutes and fortunately our departure gate was right next to our arrival gate The B737 that flew us from IAH to Los Angeles (LAX) was also fully booked, there was an announcement that 'Stand By' passengers could not be accommodated. No surprise that the offer for free check-through was again announced. Boarding by group number was once again strictly enforced with one individual sent back to join the correct queue. This aircraft had the old style screens in the back of the seat in front but you needed to swipe your credit card to get that to work. Complementary beverage and purchased meals/snacks as previously mentioned. Boarding time for the next leg was before our scheduled ETA and we were running late. There were a number of other passengers with the same connection problems. In a surprising show of courtesy a number of people ahead of us stood aside to let us off.
Again good fortune had our departure gate only two removed from our arrival gate. Boarding for our Group had already started when we arrived so we made it, but it put paid to our plans to buy some food to take with us onto the next flight. The flight from LAX to Honolulu (HNL) was aboard a B757, not an aircraft we've previously flown. The flight was scheduled for five and a half hours, the captain's announcement reduced that to five hours fifteen. There were a number of spare seats and considerable shuffling of seats as people swapped to be near friends or family. Like the A319 the only means of viewing the on-board entertainment was though your MED. Complementary beverages and when the opportunity presented we both ordered a meal. At US$ 9.95 each it worked out somewhat more expensive than Wendy's 8-) The flight was smooth and uneventful touching down ahead of time. Local time is 19:15 with another time zone adjustment.
Luggage collection was painless and we connected with the guys from Speedi Shuttle. With a full bus we set off to deliver four other couples to their hotels before dropping us off last at the Holiday Surf Hotel. We were surprised at the amount of traffic on the road and the hordes of pedestrians walking around. May have been due to a Public Holiday on Monday. The very 'nice' chap at the desk helped us carry our bags to the room and took great pride in showing us all the 'upgraded' features of the studio. Once he left we stripped off a bit and changed to go to the supermarket for some provisions. One of the best buys was a 2.5 Kg pineapple
That ended a very full day and I've selected an image of a Ft Lauderdale sunrise at the start of it for today's image. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony