Los Angeles to Denver

Rocky MountainsSo, I was on my way to Denver at last!

Once in the departure terminal, I had a quick change of clothes and some McDonald’s chicken nuggets (they taste the same everywhere). I also indulged in a little email at the Internet kiosk there. I love email.

I then got my boarding ticket (Seat 26C), sat down in the departure “lounge” and soaked in the ambiance. Some people may have told you stories about Los Angeles airport, well, I can say that most of them are probably true. On the whole, it just feels kind of grotty.

Little things like the fact that the toilets don’t have hooks on the backs of the doors (for hanging up jackets or bags) just mean that it feels kind of dated, kind of unfriendly, kind of grotty. Compared to large international airports like Singapore, Johannesburg and Frankfurt, it sucks. Then again, I guess Terminal 7 must be a domestic terminal, in which case, the grotty-ness is in keeping with the quality of New Zealand’s domestic terminal, which has next to nothing in the way of amenities.

As I waited for my plane, a strange thing started to happen, very soon after I got my seat confirmed, the attendant went over the PA system and said something like this:

“Flight UA 448, LA to Denver is a very full flight and we would like to ask for volunteers to get off this flight and take the later flight at 9:55pm this evening. United Airlines apologises for the inconvenience and will give you a free ticket to anywhere in the continental United States if you agree to fly later.”

I must say I was a little bemused if not a little worried. What if we didn’t get any brave volunteers? Would they kick me off my flight because they had too many passengers and not enough seats? Would I be sitting on someone’s lap? Would they be attractive? Couls I take them with me?

I tried to look inconspicuous as the attendant repeated her plea:

“We need two volunteers, we will reimburse you by providing a free ticket to anywhere in the continental Unites States.”

I didn’t give a continental about her problems, I had a connecting flight and I wasn’t about to miss that for all the tea in China. This shameful begging continued for the next half hour. What surprised me though is they never upped the anti. They never threw in an upgrade to business class or a night to Fiji. They just kept repeating the same offer until someone became annoyed enough to take them up on that offer to shut them up.

Someone must have acquiesced, because I was allowed onto the plane. Row 26 was the very last row so I boarded (and exited) last. That should also give you an idea of the size of this little plane: quite small. I was in the isle but it didn’t matter, the plane trip would only be 2 hours, I could do that without needing to go to the toilet.

Farm landThis picture is of the area just outside of Denver, it’s mostly farm land and reminded me vividly of a place called Nongoma in South Africa where you could have farmland for miles with little townships nestled among the farms to support them.

As we approached Denver we were met by a great deal of turbulence. So much so in fact that it felt like a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I quite enjoyed that, it kept me alert for the next (and final) leg of my journey.

Since I got off the plane last, I was a little frantic to get my connecting flight, which left in less than an hour. I ran along the travellators (horizontal escalators). There was no need for customs (having already been through customs on my way there). I also assumed I wouldn’t need to pick up my bags. Something I checked with every flight attendant I passed on the way out.

I made a point of taking my boarding pass up to the attendant behind the counter and getting her to check it. Yes, she said, my bags had come with me to Denver and would be sent on to Dallas without my intervention.
Once inside the terminal at Denver (smaller yet slightly more comfortable than Los Angeles) I got my first sight of the Rockies (see the first image) they were very beautiful, and quite striking with the rays of light shining down through the clouds, the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I hope to travel there someday and have a closer look. “Rocky Mountain High” started playing on my MP3 player while flying half way between Dallas and Denver. 🙂
I barely had time to go to the toilet and they were calling my seat up. Good thing I already had my boarding pass and seat allocated: 20F.