So after a night relaxing weekend in Gilbert, AZ consuming more than one turkey and more trimmings than I can really disclose, Devon and I headed home to Seattle this evening via US Airlines Flight 73. Now this is my first flight in a long time, possibly ever, on US Airways as I opt for Alaska Airlines as much as possible and according to the in-flight magazine of our Boeing 737-300, US Airways recently was awarded 1st place in overall on-time performance so that’s something. But somehow this didn’t help us today.
First problem we encountered was the $15 charge for each checked bag. But we were prepared for that since we each had only one carry-on. But wait, as we boarded the plane all of the carry-on space was full and they forced the remaining passengers to check their bags right there at the gate. Fortunately we didn’t have to pay the $15 fee. I managed to grab my wallet and car keys out of the bag before they took it. This becomes important later.
Second problem, the plane boarded late due to some mechanical issue…
Third problem, $2 drinks on the plane.. oh but if you want alcoholic drinks, that’s $7. This $2 charge includes coffee as well. What a crock. I’m not sure if they ever even mentioned food.
Fourth problem, horribly uncomfortable seats… It could be the age of the plane, but for some reason my back was hurting and I felt like I was sitting in an awkward position the entire time. Devon felt the same way.
Then there was the landing… Well we sat in a holding pattern around Sea-Tac for a while, then began our approach. We dropped into the fog which was blanketing the whole area and extended flaps, lowered landing gear, then suddenly powered up and climbed out of the fog again. We couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds from landing. More holding pattern and finally, an announcement… “Sorry folks, we’re having a problem with minimum weather at Sea-Tac and there will be a delay in landing”
More holding pattern time passes, it’s close to an hour after our scheduled arrival by now and a new announcement. “We are unable to land at Sea-Tac so we are being diverted to Boeing Field”. What?!? Since when do planes divert there? So we land at Boeing Field (aka King County International Airport) about 20 minutes later and sit on the taxi-way for a while. The captain tells us that they are working with their dispatch and will tell us something once they know something. We taxi further in and finally park the plane near the main Terminal.
New announcements tell us that they are working on getting some busses to take us to Sea-Tac from Boeing Field but not sure how long that will be. Suddenly the $2 drinks are free..!! At 9:30pm (100 minutes after our scheduled landing at Sea-Tac) we disembark from the plane via the “sky-stairs”… (or “air-stairs”, I forget) which are slippery due to the misting fog. We get off the plane and head into the Terminal which has been unlocked and lit up in the last few minutes since the airfield was closed for the evening.
We congregated as a group and waited for more information when finally an off-duty pilot gave us his best guess. Busses will be here sometime, but it could be a while. Our bags will have to be securely transported to Sea-Tac which will definitely take a long time. The baggage handlers still have to come from Sea-Tac to work on that. We probably won’t get our bags until tomorrow. The first bus showed up shortly after that and took a whole load of people to Sea-Tac. In talking with the crew I found out that the fog blanketed the whole area, Sea-Tac, Vancouver BC, Portland, OR, and Spokane, WA were all diverting flights. We were actually supposed to go to Boise, ID as the closest clear airport but we didn’t have enough fuel to make it there. We got on the second bus about 10:10pm. Just before we left we heard that the fog wasn’t lifting any time soon, there were 13 other planes circling Sea-Tac before we landed and some of them will likely have to land here too. Boeing field only had enough parking room for two 737’s like ours so only 1 more plane could land and park. A third could land in an emergency but it would have to park on the runway rendering any further landings impossible.
Since we were forced to check our carry-ons at the gate in Phoenix, we left the airport with nothing except our wallets and cell phones (I’m really glad I grabbed my car keys and wallet when they checked my carry-on). I did have my laptop since I don’t trust it being put in checked bags. I did not have the parking card to pay on the way out. Apparently they pay parking attendants to walk every stall every night and get the license plates of every car so if you are there overnight they know how many nights you stayed. This made leaving relatively painless (except for the $130 parking fee at $26/day). We made it home at 11:15pm just in time to go to sleep.
Tomorrow we have to figure out how to get our bags from US Airways, then pick up 2 dogs and a cat from 3 different places, and somehow work a full day. Not sure how that’s all going to work out….