Los Angeles Revisited in 2007

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Day Five, Wednesday, 5 September 2007

 Then the bottom dropped out under me, thanks to another Tampa bound passenger!

Finally - On The Way Home to Tampa via Nashville

Pictures from Day Five

Day Five, Wednesday, 5 September 2007

After spending the past few days enjoying the southern California lifestyle it was time to begin the trip to head back home to Tampa and the land of Interstate 275.  I practically had everything all pre-planned out for the trip back home including returning the rental car the night before.

After breakfast it was final preparations and then check out of the Hilton LAX Airport, which was my temporary home away from home for the past few days.  (Not to mention expensive!)  However, the service was superb for what you would pay for a hotel.  After checkout it was onto the shuttle for the short trip to LAX and Terminal One, which houses Southwest.  Once there it was baggage check in time and mandatory passenger security screening by TSA and on to Gate 11 to await Flight 2147, the return flight to Tampa with a stop in Austin on the way.  Once there I chatted with a couple from Tampa who was ahead of me in the Boarding Group A line; they were headed back home like myself.

Then the bottom dropped out under me, thanks to another Tampa bound passenger!

Like the extreme incivility I experienced a few days earlier in San Ysidro, this time it happened again except on a much smaller scale.

While the Tampa bound couple and I were waiting in line in the Boarding Group A line another individual, this time a young middle aged woman headed to Tampa (and believed to be her home) intentionally and recklessly cut the Boarding Group A line by standing in front when, in fact, there was a line already started.

After the pre-board group for Flight 2147 (which consisted of a sizeable number of disabled persons and families with children), it was time for general boarding beginning with Boarding Group A.  After I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent I proceeded on my way down the jet bridge to Flight 2147.  To make things more impolite, the woman who cut the line earlier intentionally and recklessly held up the line going down the jet bridge.  Next, the woman took the last good available seat towards the front of the plane, which meant I had to either sit in an aisle row elsewhere or sit towards the back or over the wing in the center of the plane.

I was extremely infuriated by what happened; I decided that I do not want to fly back to Tampa with someone who acted extremely impolite.  So, I went back up the jet bridge and back to Gate 11 and I explained my plight to the gate agent.  The gate agent went ahead and rescanned my boarding pass to prove that I did not go on Flight 2147.

Next, I went over to the check in desk adjacent to Gate 11 and told the gate agent what happened.  The gate agent went ahead and re-booked me on a later flight to Tampa which would involve me changing planes in Nashville.  After all, I stopped in Nashville back in 2003 when I flew to Los Angeles.  So, that meant a trip on Flight 1336 from Los Angeles to Nashville and connecting to Flight 1721 from Nashville to Tampa.  Fair enough.

With the change of flight also came a change in boarding groups.  I was initially assigned to Boarding Group C for Flight 1336 and Boarding Group B for Flight 1721 and I proceeded to wait in the proper boarding group line at a different gate.  However, I explained to the gate agent on duty at the gate where Flight 1336 was departing from of the encounter I had boarding Flight 2147 and that I was originally assigned to Boarding Group A; the gate agent went ahead and changed my boarding group assignments from C and B to A for both Flights 1336 and 1721.

This time, I had better fellow passengers on Flight 1336 than what I had earlier on Flight 2147. I kept asking myself why did the woman who acted rudely by cutting the line and deliberately holding up the line so that I could not get a good seat. Unfortunately, that question will never be answered, as I do not have any idea the reasoning for the woman on Flight 2147 being so impolite.

Finally - On The Way Home to Tampa via Nashville

It was 12:50 PM, Pacific Time that is, and it was time to leave Los Angeles and Interstate 5 behind for the long haul back to Tampa by way of Nashville.  Once we took off we had to go west over the Pacific Ocean and make the gradual 180 degree turn to the east which would take us towards Nashville.  After all, all airplanes taking off from LAX in a westbound fashion may not make any turn until well over the open water apparently due to noise abatement procedures in effect.

After the numerous freeway interchanges the Los Angeles metropolis gave way to the desert and mountainous terrain of southern California.  In due time and several states later the landscape changes from mountainous and desert to the green fields and trees starting in the nation's midsection.  Later we ended up encountering nothing but an impressive cloud deck even as we started our descent into Nashville.  I did not see anything until we finally broke free of the lower level of the cloud deck and seeing Interstate 40 as we touched down in Nashville.

Once in Nashville it was time to step off Flight 1336 and await Flight 1721, which was - by coincidence - at the same gate.  The last time I have seen Nashville was back in 1995 when my mother and I took a vacation which involved several southern states; we drove through Nashville from Memphis via Interstates 40 and 24 as we were on our way to Chattanooga to spend the night (after 300+ miles of driving, and believe me, the better Saturns were not being made yet!).  As everyone knows, Nashville is the home of the Grand Ole Opry and I have seen an art mural of the Grand Ole Opry while I was waiting at the gate for Flight 1721.  In the mural I noticed radio station WSM 650 AM inscribed on it which reminded me of the microphone stand with the same inscription; from what I understand the Grand Ole Opry is still on the radio every Saturday night (and by the way, WSM could be picked up in Florida albeit varying degrees of Cuban interference from one of Cuba's super powerful AM stations at night; south of the Tampa Bay area forget trying to listen to the live Grand Ole Opry broadcast on AM 650 due to the Cuban interference; after all, a repeater of one of Cuba's national radio networks, Radio Rebelde, exists on AM 650, just 10 kHz away from AM 640 and another of Cuba's national radio networks transmitting at high power, Radio Progreso).

A few minutes later we left Nashville on Flight 1721 at 8:05 PM as scheduled, Central Time, that is.  After takeoff we climbed out through the cloud deck and it began getting dark shortly thereafter.  Nothing to see below other than the clusters of lights as we flew over several cities on our way south towards Tampa.  An hour or so later it was pitch dark outside as we prepared to go over the Gulf of Mexico (except, of course, the occasional fishing boat out there in the gulf).

After seeing the vast virtual nothingness of the Gulf of Mexico for a while I made my grand entry back into the Tampa Bay region by making our descent over Tarpon Springs and the Sponge Docks (as well as Pinellas County's best kept drawbridge secret, the Beckett Bridge), then we basically followed McMullen-Booth Road (CR 611) and the Bayside Bridge.  Next we were over the Carillon Office Park in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg as well as Interstate 275 at Exit 30 (FL 686/Roosevelt Blvd.) and we partially followed the Gandy Bridge until we made the final turn and final descent towards Runway 36L.  Once over Interstate 275 at the Howard Frankland Bridge we touched down in Tampa and my trip to Los Angeles was over once we taxied up to the gate at Airside C and I walked down the jet bridge into the wide open vastness of Airside C at Tampa International Airport.

That's right, Tampa/St. Petersburg.  The land of Interstate 275.  The land of commuter gridlock and inept public transit.  The land of thirteen drawbridges and the Draw Bridge Ahead warning sign. And we can't forget, the land of the Tampa Bypass Canal and the flood control structure warning sign warning boaters not to boat beyond the safety barriers.

After taking the shuttle to the Landside Terminal it was time to collect my luggage at Baggage Claim.  However, my luggage was on the earlier Flight 2147 and I was concerned.  When I got to Baggage Claim I immediately went to Southwest Airlines Baggage Services and - without any difficulty - my luggage arrived all in one piece.

Finally, it was back to the old Saturn Aura XE and back onto reliable and trusted Interstate 275 for the trip back to St. Petersburg by way of the Howard Frankland Bridge.  I got to admit, Interstate 275 in the Tampa Bay area is well maintained as opposed to sections of Interstate 5 that I have seen in California as far as signage is concerned.

Now to think about my next roadtrip adventure, finances permitting of course...

Pictures from Day Five

Epilogue to Los Angeles Revisited 2007

Since this trip to Los Angeles was taken in 2007, there were a few things that changed as far as Southwest Airlines is concerned. I am very grateful to Southwest Airlines for making the much needed changes to their boarding procedures.

It used to be get there early for the best seat in town, especially if you get Boarding Group A. Today, Southwest gives you not only a boarding group but a place in line for you. That way, you do not have to worry about finding a good seat once you are on board.

At the same time, Southwest revamped their preboarding procedures as it was reported that families with children were somehow abusing the preboarding process. All it took was one child under five (5) years of age and the entire family group gets to board, sometimes taking up the good seats. Today, preboarding is restricted to people who have disabilities or have a special condition requiring extra time to board the aircraft. The practice where families were allowed to preboard has been renamed family boarding and this now takes place after all of the Boarding Group A passengers have boarded but before the Boarding Group B passengers board.

Additionally, with the advent of assigned places in line for your boarding group Southwest has designated slots 1 through 15 in Boarding Group A as slots for their Business Select customers as well as Rapid Rewards members who have A-list status. Today, general boarding starts with slot 16 in Boarding Group A.