On September 27, I flew to Florida to meet my friend to go to Portland. This was the final change for this segment. But far from the first (or 2nd or 3rd or ...) change I made!
Originally, this segment was booked to go from Albany to Chicago to Ft Lauderdale to Tampa. (With the implementation of AGR 2.0, I can not take the short way by train anymore without paying oodles of points, so I do it by air instead!) But then, UA cancelled the ORD-FLL segment, so I was changed to ALB-EWR-FLL-TPA. Later, UA cancelled the FLL-TPA segment, so I changed to ALB-EWR-(nonstop)TPA. But then within a few days of departure, Hurricane Maria could not make up her mind. Not wanting to face possible delays at EWR, I took advantage of the exemption from Hurricane Irma at TPA to change my flight to ALB-ORD-TPA. This exemption save me a change fee!
I left ALB at 9:45 AM aboard UA 5200, an E175. The flight flew at 38,000 feet I would rather fly Amtrak at 3.8 feet! This flight did not have IFE, but it did have DPE (Digital Personal Entertainment) so I viewed it on my iPad! UA 5200 arrived at ORD early at 11:35 AM..
My connecting flight was UA 397, which was scheduled to depart from Gate B14. I received transport from my arrival Gate to B14. Without much advance notice, departure was changed to Gate B6! I walked down to B6, but what would happen to other disabled passengers during a gate change?
This flight departed a few minutes early at 2:05 PM. It was a 737-900 with a 31 pitch in Economy. Many complain about the pitch, but I did not find it all that bad. (I am 6 foot 0 inches BTW.) The only issue is if you do not have an aisle seat, it is impossible to get out unless the other seats get out first. This flight was 99% full. The only open seat I saw was the middle seat next to me! UA 397 arrived in TPA 20 minutes early at 5:40 PM.
I got the shuttle to the SpringHill Suites and checked in. I then visited with my cousin who lives in TPA for a little while.
My friend who joined me lives in Florida a few hours away. She could not join me until about 4:30 AM at the hotel for our flight that morning.
Delta previously informed us that our 7:00 AM flight had a scheduled time change. The new departure time was 6:55 AM - or 5 minutes earlier! We left her car at the hotel for the weekend and left on the shuttle at 5:30 to the airport. At the check-in counter, because I had requested wheelchair assistance, we received it right from the counter to the Gate.
DL 1888 was a 737-800 and departed 5 minutes early. We had E+ seats 10-D & 10-E, with 35 pitch. However, being bulkhead seats and with only a curtain separating FC and Economy, there was more! DL 1888 arrived LAX at 8:34 (PT) or 20 minutes early!
We were met by a DL representative with a wheelchair. However, DL arrived at Terminal 3 and our connecting flight was on AS from Terminal 6! Those who know LAX know it is not a small airport! The DL representative took us from the gate to the curb, where a shuttle bus was called. The shuttle bus took us to Terminal 6, and waited until the AS representative came out. (We were the only ones on the shuttle.) We were then escorted to the AS gate. Good job by all! Then we had a 2nd breakfast of the day while waiting. (We bought breakfast on the flight from Tampa also.)
We left the gate at 12:40, but because LAX is so large and busy, we did not leave the ground until 1 PM. AS 419 was a 737-800, and had economy seats with a 31 pitch. We arrived into PDX at 3 PM. We claimed our baggage and took the hotel shuttle to the Residence Inn. (I have the UA Mileage Plus and DL Sky Miles credit cards, so we can check bags free and get priority boarding.) After checking in, we walked to the Target right next door to get groceries. (At RI, your room had a full kitchen, including a stove!) We then prepared dinner and rested.
On Friday, we intended to meet the group. The Red Line stop was essentially in the parking lot, not more than 150 yards from the hotels front door. (An interesting note is that the hotel is called the Residence Inn at Cascade Station, yet the station outside the door is Mt Hood! Cascade is the next station down the line.) We rode MAX to Interstate to meet up with the AU Gang. Somehow, we missed the group again, but we still rode the Yellow Line to Expo Center. Not finding them again, we took MAX back and got off and did some necessary shopping at Fred Myers. (I forgot to bring my cane, and had to get one.) We then had lunch at Panda Express in that strip mall. After shopping, we rode MAX wanting to ride the Orange Line to Milwaukie. (It opened since I was last in PDX 7 years ago.) Interestingly, the Yellow Line MAX that we were on became an Orange Line train thus we did not have to change.
We sent a text and notified the Gang that we would meet them at Gateway that afternoon. However, we missed them again! So we boarded the Blue Line as arranged, and did a short turn to meet up with the group. Again we missed them, so we stayed on MAX and went to our planned dinner at Blossoming Lotus (near the Lloyd Center). I recommend this restaurant! After dinner, we took MAX back to the hotel.
Saturday morning, we planned to meet the group at Union Station for the planned trip to SEA. However, due to a delay, we would have arrived after the train had departed. So as the saying goes, When life serves you lemons, make lemonade! So we stayed on MAX until Washington Park. We spent the morning at the Portland Test Rose Gardens. (For those that do not know it, this is a public gardens where many varieties - more than 600 - of roses are planted. It is 1 of the few test gardens of this type in the US. I had wanted to visit on my many trips to PDX, but never did.) Afterwards, we took MAX and had lunch at Namaste Indian Café (also near the Lloyd Center)
We decided it was long enough trying to avoid the AU Gang, so we went to Union Station to meet them on their abbreviated trip. After meeting and talking with everyone, 6 of us (myself, my guest Serena, Jim, Patti, Betty & Greg) decided to walk down to the food truck pods for dinner. When we got there, most were already closed! (I say one sign saying that food truck closed at 5 PM on Saturday. Yet they stay open during the week until 7 PM?) So we continued walking to Pioneer Square and ate at Potbellys.
After finishing, the other 4 left, but Serena & I stayed. We went next door to Ben & Jerrys for ice cream. There we met friends that Serena knows in PDX. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel via MAX.
Sunday 10/1 was fly away day. We took the hotel shuttle at 10:30 AM for our noon flight. The Security lines at the D/E gates were so long that we were advised to use Security at the A/B/C gates. We tried to see Jim (who was departing that morning), but by the time we got to the gate he had already boarded his flight. There is a secure transit to the E gates (where we departed from), so we walked to our gate.
UA 1888 was a 737-900 with 31 pitch and departed on time. Our flight to Houston was uneventful & arrived about 6 PM. At IAH, we had dinner at Blaze Pizza in Terminal A, while our flight was in Terminal E. How did we get to Terminal A? By (airport) train of course! (IIRC, the last time I was at IAH in the 90s, this interterminal train was underground, but is now above ground.)
UA 397 was a 737-800 and departed at 8:10 PM. We had E+ seats with 35 pitch. During this flight, Serena began not feeling good. We arrived in TPA at 11:04 PM, collected our bags and got the hotel shuttle to the SpringHill Suites.
Naturally, this segment was not without changes either. Originally, we were to fly at 11:30 PM PDX-IAH-JAX-TPA. However. Beforehand UA cancelled the IAH-JAX flight, so we were rescheduled by them to a red-eye PDX-ORD-JAX-TPA flight. Then the cancelled the ORD-JAX flight. So instead of a red-eye, I had them change it to this same day PDX-IAH-TPA flight.
On Monday 10/2, Serena & I had planned to go to Busch Gardens. Because she was not feeling well the night before, we slept in until 10 AM. In the morning she was still not feeling well, so after lunch at the Falafel Inn she decided to return home to rest up to return to work.
Originally, I had planned to return home departing on Tuesday night from Gainesville (via Ambus) on the Star(vation) and eventually ride Ocean View on Thursday. But I decided to return a day early. Thus all 4 of my segments had a change (or 2 or 3)! I stayed overnight at the Hilton in downtown TPA.
On Tuesday 10/3, I used Lyft to get to Union Station. I arrived at 9:10 AM, but discovered (along with many other passengers) that the building does not open until 9:45 AM. The Ambus departure is at 10:20 AM. This is not the required 45 minutes prior to departure in order to check baggage which you can do in TPA for the Ambus.
While checking my bags to NYP, another passenger came up to the counter to check his duffle bag. It was well over the weight limit, so the agent told him and showed him the scale display. The passenger asked how much more is it and the agent said it could not go at all weighing that much. I assume he took some out of that bag, but I left before he was done. Thus, I do not know the final resolution.
Ambus 6098 departed a few minutes late, and after stopping in Lakeland arrived at ORL a few minutes late. My checked bags were automatically transferred to 98 by Amtrak. 98 arrived in ORL a few minutes late at 1:30 PM, but it did not depart until 2 PM. But it did have the new V2 Dining Car Columbia on it.
As soon as I dropped my bags in my room, I went to the DC for lunch and had an Angus Burger. Even though I did not reserve until the afternoon before the train, I got the H-Room! At dinner, I tried the new offering of Land & Sea (Steak & Shrimp). It was good, but a little dry. Also if I were paying, I would not pay the menu price of $39 for it!
During the overnight, 98 was up to 1 hour late. I awoke late at 6:30 and went to breakfast. (I like to get to the DC for 1st call!) By the time I reached the DC, 98 had just pulled into WAS. Due to the engine change, I could not be served until power was restored. I had the 3 egg omelet for breakfast. Having breakfast in the DC while traveling up the NEC at 125 MPH: priceless! 98 arrived NYP at 11:20 AM, 20 minutes late.
I claimed my bags and went to the CA to await my connecting (and last) train. The snacks in the CA are as bad as ever. They only had Goldfish! 291 departed on time at 3:15 PM. The ride up the Hudson River was nice as it always is. I arrived at Ft Edward at 7:13 PM (3 minutes late) and was picked up by my family and was home by 7:45.
I noticed a common theme that all my flights were either on time or early, while my trains and Ambus were late! But I would still rather take a train!
Thus ends this episode of As the_traveler Turns! Tune in for the next episode.
Edited by the_traveler, 26 October 2017 - 09:35 PM.