After staying overnight in the Hyatt Orlando Airport, Steve (DOS) and I both had the same 10:20am flight to Dallas. He was going on to Las Vegas (for fun of course) while I was going on to Sioux Falls, and ultimately driving to Wilmar, Minnesota, so it was to be a long day for both of us. You’re probably wondering about the title to this post ‘Flight with a Princess’, but you’ll have to read to the end, as it happened at the end of the week on my return flight.
We started our Monday morning with the breakfast buffet at McCoy’s in the Hyatt, which is always nice and filling, and as we go there so often, the servers remember us and our preferences.
We then went to our gate 39 for our flight to DFW. I felt a bit guilty as there was only 1 First Class seat left, and I got it, while poor DOS had to fly in an exit row seat in coach. I kept thinking about that funny Seinfeld episode where Jerry got upgraded to First and Elaine was stuck in coach hell, trying to sneak up to First Class – truly a classic show! Fortunately DOS was only a little sad, and I tried not to act very happy! LOL!
He even waved with a half-fake smile as he marched back to coach! Sorry DOS!
The two and a half hour flight to Dallas was a lunch flight for me, and fortunately DOS got a snack in coach for being an Executive Platinum member. After landing, we each went our separate ways to our gates in different terminals.
My next flight to Sioux Falls left out of B5, while DOS’s left out of A25, and we came into the C concourse gates. My connecting flight to Sioux Falls was a new Embraer 175 jet operated by American Eagle. I was in First Class 4A, which was a single seat to itself offering both a window and aisle view. Shortly before the aircraft door was closed, a manager made an announcement and presented the Flight Attendant with a pin and an award for 5 years of service, while everyone clapped.
The two hour flight to Sioux Falls went quickly, and once landed I proceeded to the rental car area. They are still doing renovations in this airport, and part of the lobby area was roped off. They were pouring tile (as opposed to laying out individual tiles) which will be nice when they are finished. I have never seen tile being poured, and I guess I never thought about it, but it was interesting to watch while I waited on my luggage.
I got to my hotel in Wilmar, the Holiday Inn Conference Center, and was a bit tired from the 12 hour travel day. I had stayed at this Holiday Inn a couple weeks ago, and it’s very nice; definitely the best place in this small city. I had a one bedroom suite, which was quite sweet!
The summer weather was nice all week, and while hot, it was not very humid unlike Florida. I had about an hour drive each day to my job site in Granite Falls, as the area I was staying in was very rural. It was a nice drive though, not having to face the hordes of commuters racing to work like in a big city.
While I was busy with work during the day, I did enjoy my meals at the hotel’s two restaurants, Ruff’s Sports bar and restaurant, and the Green Mill Restaurant.
By Thursday afternoon my work was finished up, and I headed back to Sioux Falls around 4pm, where I was spending the night at the Sheraton Hotel Sioux Falls Airport, as I had an early flight home on Friday. I was fortunate to meet up with a friend, (Phil) DOS and I had met on a New Year’s Eve cruise a few years back, and he picked me up at the hotel and took me to dinner. We first met Phil and Judy, and their grown daughter Allison on the Celebrity Constellation and had such as wonderful time, we have stayed in touch since. While Judy was out of town visiting Allison in Phoenix this week, Phil took me to dinner at their Country Club in Sioux Falls, and we had a wonderful dinner and time catching up. As I told Phil, when I’m traveling for work I don’t often get to eat ‘right’ due to the busy schedule, so this was quite a nice treat. Thanks again Phil! Here are a couple pics from the evening.
On Friday morning, I checked out of my hotel around 5:45am and drove the couple miles to the airport, returning my car via the ‘drop box’ key location as National wasn’t open yet. I did this last time, and they emailed me a receipt as soon as they opened for the day. On my first flight to Dallas I slept most of the way, and had the same seat as my flight out here; 4A.
As I had the single aisle/window seat in First Class, I had a great view as we circled around DFW Airport before landing.
I had an hour layover in DFW, so I walked from my B gate over to my C39 gate – literally all the way at the end of C-concourse. When I have time, I like to walk to the gates (which can be quite a distance) to get some exercise, even though DFW has a good transportation system with the intra-terminal tram system.
I also stopped briefly by the B concourse Admiral’s Club, and took a silly photo with some ‘cow mannequins’ at a shop along the way.
My flight from DFW to MCO was on a ‘US Airways’ Airbus 321 plane, which is the older model version without the ‘sharkettes’ on the wings, nor entertainment screens. How could I tell it was the old US Airways plane? Well for one it hadn’t been painted yet; possibly the last time I’ll see a US Airways painted plane now that American has finished painting nearly all of them with their new color scheme.
I was in the last row of First, 4D, and until right before the door was closed, First Class was only half empty – very unusual these days, especially from a hub airport. Sure enough, right as they were about to close the door, a group of a dozen or so Japanese passengers boarded and took up the remaining First Class seats, as well as 4 in coach. I figured they had a tight connection from the Tokyo flight, and American was holding the flight for them which was nice.
Other than the inflight meal of teriyaki chicken and salad, the flight was uneventful. As we were landing however, two of the Flight Attendants asked us to remain seated until several passengers could get off the plane. I figured someone was sick or had a tight connection in Orlando, but neither was the case. Instead, the Japanese group all deplaned (including those four from coach).
As one of the ladies deplaned, the lead Flight Attendant said ‘Thank you for flying with us Your Highness!’. That remark got a few stares for sure! A quick google search showed it was the Princess of Japan traveling with her entourage – and on a commercial flight that needed an update; i.e. entertainment and a good cleaning too!
As I got off the plane, I noticed they were being escorted to the terminal tram in MCO, and as I also had to go that way, I made sure I caught up with them and rode in the same tram!
There were a couple undercover police meeting them, as well as their own security staff. While I didn’t get a good look at her as she was surrounded by so many people, I did get a couple snapshots as they exited the tram for the baggage claim.
Had I only known, I could have taken more photos on the plane! In any event, that was my excitement for the day – my flight home with a Princess!