Just one pilot's attempt at taking an interesting picture every trip, often with a story to go with it. Come along for the ride.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

SJU Two Day "Minibar Mayhem"

Combined with the lack of flying on reserve at the end of October and some days off at the beginning of November, I was starting to feel ready to go back to work. My wife, Linda, had thrown out her back, so it was lucky I was around to help out around the house. Let me tell you. Being as I call the 'captain' of the house, responsible for everything that goes on such as the laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping not to mention the diaper changes and feeding everyone, well, it's enough to make you RUN back to work when the chance comes. Linda is feeling much better and I'm so glad to have her back to help out! She's pretty amazing.

I managed to get a line for November, which was quite a surprise since we had reduced our flying this month significantly and I was just sure I'd be flying another reserve schedule. But when you throw in a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, if you're willing to work over those two days, you just might have a good chance of holding a line.

I traded almost every trip around and I've made up a nice enough schedule, I think.

My first trip back was with Captain John R. who is a wicked smart political junkie. I always enjoy flying with him to get the latest scoop on what's going on in the world of politics. He has certainly changed my mind on a few important topics.

While this trip involved an early get up (3:30 a.m) for our 6:30 a.m. flight to San Juan from Boston, at least we were done when we got there and could (in theory) spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach. We zipped on down to San Juan along those Atlantic routes that president Bush plans to open up for the Thanksgiving rush. They are often 'cold' anyway, so we did take advantage of the shortcut this time.

John was nice enough to give me the first leg down there. After being off from work for a bit of time, I think I would prefer to fly the airplane rather than talk to ATC. You never forget how to fly, but talking is easily a forgotten skill. (And writing in a blog, for that matter!)

We arrived at San Juan before noon and went to my favorite hotel, where, if you'll remember from this trip, I discovered from Captain Mike that if you are staying in one of the suites, the minibar is complimentary! I was sure to let Captain John know this wonderful gouge (Gouge: military speak for a tip that will help get you through a task). I arrived in the beautiful room that had it's own walk out terrace and immediately dove into the minibar. The Oreos and the Pringles were the first casualty, followed by a soda or two. I mean, really, why let these things go to waste?

Later in the afternoon, while video chatting on the complimentary high speed internet with Ruthann in dreary Ireland, I opened up a Medalla beer. Ruthann was ready to throw her macbook in the rain with frustration. But don't feel sorry for her, it wasn't but a few months ago that she was happily snapping these pictures to send back to her friends soaking back home in the old country.

I had to hang up with Ruthann and her mom to meet up with John for the free appetizers and beer at the hotels small lobby for those staying in the suites. After a false start, (who knew long pants were required at this lounge?) I was enjoying the visit with John and one of Boston's best flight attendants, Elaine. Cheese, fruit, chips and salsa at no cost. Ahh, this was the life. (insert mental image of wife changing a diaper back home here).

Karma has a way of catching up to me quickly. I went back to the room to get ready for our dinner at a Mexican restaurant and I got a knock at the door. And then "Minibar," was the call out. Oh, no! I opened the door and meekly asked if the minibar was in fact free to crewmembers. "No." He said. "I'm here because you are short a water."

"Well I'm short a heck of a lot more than water!" I laughed. After explaining that I was set up by a certain captain who's pictured here the Minibar guy said not to worry about it. He wouldn't charge me. But I really didn't do this to scam anyone. I honestly believed it was complementary. And now I had to tell Captain John before he cleaned out his fridge!

Fortunatly John had only managed to work his way through the Oreo cookies. I tallied up the bill that the minibar guy left for me to see. I would have owed $17.

Of course I had to get back online to tell Ruthann. She felt vindicated. Served me right, she claimed, for sitting in paradise while she was in some leaking thatched roof home with only a peat burning fireplace in Western Ireland sharing a room with her 8 other siblings. (well, OK, she just has one brother, but I'm sure the rest of that is true-in my mind).

John and I met back up and ate at the Mexican restaurant down the street. Here's a nice blurry picture of the place.

The next day John went to pay for his Oreo's. The lady at the front desk said, "Don't worry, there's no charge. We don't track those closely." So maybe this was the lady that Mike talked to who told him there was no charge. I love this hotel.

For the flight home, we were completely full. Even the extra 2 flight attendant jumpseats were filled in the back as were the cockpit jumpseats. It was my leg, and since we had 4 Boston based deadheading pilots on board, the pressure was on for a good approach and landing of course. I think any pilot wants to do his best when his peers are in the back. PIlot nature, I guess. Of course, the landing was so good that after the tears cleared from their eyes, they took down my address to send me roses. At least that's how the landing was - in my mind.

As you know, the original purpose of this blog was to take a nice picture from each trip and write about it. But I typically exceed my self imposed word count and photo count for most trips. Here are a couple of pictures I shot on this two day trip. The highly polished 757 in Miami is an example of one of our oldest (#7) 757's that recently came out of a "C" check in Tulsa. They really do an amazing job of bringing them back to near new condition. I still love how they look in the sun.

And if you want to make it look like you're flying very high, just use a wide angle lens for your horizon shots:

And finally a little advertising on the airplane:


Neil said...

Great report Kent! You had me laughing when you were talking about the minibar.


Anonymous said...

Nice 757 shinny photo ( the one in Miami).

Eddie said...

Awesome report Kent. So how are you liking the new ground ops now that Concourse J is open at MIA?

Ruthann said...

It's been cold 'round these parts since we lost the auld thatch.. ( http://farm1.static.flickr.com/182/458155640_6172bde176_b.jpg )

Thank God for peat and a big Catholic clan to keep me warm.

As long as you advertise my flickr, you may say pretty much anything!

Ruthann said...

Oh, and nice tie!

Alex said...

Great post Kent! Keep up the good flying!

Jamie D said...

Ah, nice to have you back Kent!

$4 for a coke and $3 for M&M's??? Looks like a pricey hotel you stayed at there!

I finally got hold of my camera too! Canon 350D with standard lens, 1GB card, spare battery, tripod and camera bag all for around £250 and also got the Sigma AF 70-300mm APO Macro for around £100. So expect some better pics next time you come to Manchester!


Joseph S said...

Nice to see you back blogging, Kent. I am curious though, if you're flying this week, are the ridiculous delays that CNN is saying so much about really so bad, or are they just blowing it out of proportion? Thanks.

Kent Wien said...

Hi Joseph S,

As with almost everything on the news in the U.S., it might be blown out of proportion. So far things are going smoothly on my latest flight (to be blogged soon). Six legs on time and two legs were late due to a late arriving airplane. I just do an Aruba turn this week, but I'll let you know how it goes, naturally.

Spencer said...

Thanks for sharing, Kent! Great that you and Cingari finally got to fly together. In a great machine :)

Brian "Phoenix" Hankey said...

been reading your reports for a while now and I love em all as a frequest AA flyer. I know that this is a late response but which hotel do you stay at in SJU? I am there every three months or so and based on the pics it looks like you're in Condado - take a stab and say the Marriott Stellaris :)

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Exeter, New Hampshire, United States
Grew up in Alaska, went to high school and college in Washington State. Commercial pilot since 1990.

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