Monday, January 27, 2014

Spirit of travel

I had a great week at Disney World with my family. One would assume Florida would be warm. One would be wrong. During the week the high was 71 while the average was 50. Cold.

Still had fun. It was really neat to take my daughter on the same rides I rode as a kid. She didn't care much, but it was special for me.

Getting there was pretty easy as my wife and daughter had "real" tickets while I non-rev'd. I took the early morning flights to and from as they were the most open.

Beyond flying and computers...another passion I have is automobiles. One of the many perks of the job is being able to travel on my free time.

I've been making the trek to the North American Autoshow in Detroit, Michigan every January that I've been at my airline. January is not the best time to visit Michigan as it is winter.

My vacation this year overlapped with the autoshow except for the last weekend.

My family had "real" tickets on an 11 AM flight Saturday morning returning from Orlando. My plan was to make it to Detroit by that afternoon.

Disney hotels offer a "Disney Magical Express" bus transport from the on site hotels. The require a 3 hour lead time before the flight...this meant a 4AM bus for me. Early.  I checked all of our luggage. This would make it easier on my wife as she only had to manage our daughter and not the luggage and our daughter.

The 7 AM flight was full of nonrevs as is typical. I snagged a seat in First Class. Smooth flight. I took the employee bus to my car and then drove back to the terminal for our luggage.

A quick drive home to shower and pack a backpack for the overnight trip to Detroit. I normally just make day trips to the show, but due to flights, times and load factors I had to overnight it. I decided to pack my jump seat documents just in case I needed a plan B.

I parked our car in short term parking near the their expected arrival gate.  A few minutes later I was in a nice aisle seat headed to Detroit.

Detroit was cold...snowy cold. Normally my drive is 24 minutes from National rental car to the Cobo center. I normally go on weekdays. This trip took over an hour as there was heavy traffic near the Cobo center.

I spent two glorious hours drooling over cars, trucks and SUVs.

Since my family travels for free, my wife and I have been big on hotel points. Our program of choice is Starwood Preferred. I mentioned that because I stayed at the Detroit Airport Four Points by Sheraton...for free...well 2,000 points free.

It was a little odd staying at an airport hotel not on a trip. There were quite a few flight crews there.


Sunday morning I had the option of taking a 6:20AM flight or a 8:00AM flight. Both direct flights.  I decided to sleep in and take the 8:00AM flight. I was at the gate by 7:15AM......then it happened. Delayed due to a mechanical until 8:15AM. Seemed a little odd. I began looking for a plan B and C. There were no other direct flights on my mainline partner for hours. I could take  a two legger on my own airline or look offline.

I noticed there was a Spirit flight leaving at 8:35AM. The current time was 8:05AM. At 8:09AM the gate agent announced the plane had gone "out of service". The flight wasn't cancelled, but there was no time posted on when it might be fixed.

Not wanting to stay in Detroit, I left the gate area headed to Spirit. I didn't have much hope of getting on as it was less than 20 minutes prior to departure.

I approached the gate and noticed both agents busy. I calmly waited and when one was done asked, "I know it's almost departure time, but is there any chance I can jumpseat on this flight?"

She said no problem and I handed over the required items (which I normally don't carry and only brought with me on a whim). At 8:25AM I had a boarding pass for a seat in the back. I knocked on the flight deck wall and asked the Captain for a ride. He greeted me with a big handshake and welcomed me aboard.

The seating on Spirit is very tight. Thankfully it wasn't a full flight. Still the most uncomfortable seat on the plane beats the most comfortable seat sitting in the terminal watching a flight you want to be on leave.

Another succuessful trip to the North American International Auto show. Hopefully next year my family can come along. My wife went to Michigan State University. Every year she wants to come along with me....and every year something comes up.


  1. I love that tradition/courtesy of introducing yourself to the flight crew - glad you had a good trip - did you take any pics of the cars??

    D from the UK

  2. So they were able to get you a seat in the back and not on the jumpseat? I'm waiting for the Philly (I live here) auto show Feb 8-16 myself! Not as good as Detroit I'm sure, but still a great time.

  3. Yep I had a seat in the back for the Spirit flight. This was the first year I didn't take photos. The main point of the trip was to checkout the BMW I3 (which may be my next car...2 years from now). I wasn't happy to find it all locked up...and no one around to answer questions.

  4. It was a lovely Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, and throngs of cheerful explorers filled O'Hare International Airport - the busiest air terminal on the planet. In the blink of an eye before 3 pm toward the evening of Friday May 25, 1979, the travelers of Flight 191 loaded up the McDonnell-Douglas DC 10 on their approach to Los Angeles. Letters on O'Hare-bound luggage


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