Continental 1648; Dep. PHX: 10:11 a.m, Arr. IAH: 2:43 p.m.; Coach, 1,009 miles
After a nice 24 hours in Phoenix, and a great free breakfast at the hotel, it was back to Sky Harbor International.
Despite a very sloooooow security line (Yes, the announcements to remove everything from your pockets mean remove everything from your pockets; No, you cannot bring your bottle of water through; Yes, you have to take your shoes off; Yes, you have to take your toiletries out of your bag), I made it through security with plenty of time to spare before boarding, though. As with EWR, Terminal 2 at PHX has no lounges other than the United Club, so no lounge for me. But I had something almost as good (or maybe even better).
At the end of Terminal 2 is an area of gates best described as a ghost town. Though there are doors and seating areas for gates 9 through 15, only two gates are in operation at all (used for Alaska’s service to PDX and SEA). What’s particularly cool about this area is that it has windows on three sides, facing the runways and the mountains. So armed with my Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Iced Coffee (I’ve missed it– though they’re opening a NYC location!), free wifi, and an outlet, I just plane-spotted for a half hour. Not only is the view picturesque, but it really made me realize how much Phoenix is a two-airline town: Southwest and U.S. Airways (formerly America West) both with over 200 daily departures. Southwest has 50 destinations (plus AirTran’s Milwaukee flight). U.S. Airways operates to 70 destinations year-round, and an additional four seasonally. Notably, though, U.S. Airways does not have any European flights out of Phoenix, choosing to route its customers to Philly or Charlotte instead (or via LAX/IAH/SFO/DEN/IAD/EWR/ORD on Star Alliance partners). British Airways’ PHX-LHR remains the only nonstop outside of North and Central America.
Enjoy some pics from my plane-spotting below.
The short flight itself was great, aboard one of Continental’s newer 737s with Direct TV and inseat power. Although the flight was relatively full, the middle seat in my row was empty. And then, just before the boarding door closed, the passenger in the window seat was upgraded — so I had the full row to myself, aka a poor man’s upgrade! I was able to take advantage of the extra space to get a good two hours of work in, and therefore had no need to watch any of the Direct TV after the free preview expired. My only complaint is that I was given Coke Zero when I asked for Diet Coke. Gross!