For this and the next post, both of the Steve’s will be co-writing our weekend experience in San Juan. I’m trying to get Steve (DOS) to write more of the blog, and too my surprise he was already writing some notes on the plane home! As I write this, we are flying back from San Juan and I, (Steve UNO) started the post detailing our flights down, while Steve (DOS) is writing from San Juan onward.)
DOS and I had a quick overnight getaway from Orlando to San Juan this weekend. Although ffthere are several nonstop flights out of Orlando, we flew American Airlines to Charlotte and connected to San Juan, for two reasons: one as it was an inexpensive First Class flight, and two we got double EQMs. While I already have Executive Platinum with American, Steve (DOS) is looking to make it this year, so this sounded like a fun trip to rake up an extra 8,000 EQMs, and relax a bit as well.
Our flight from Orlando to Charlotte was on a wide body Airbus 330-300 series, which is used mostly for international European service, and has the individual ‘suite-seats’. We’ve taken this plane several times to Europe when it was US Airways, and always like getting the individual window seat, with me in the forward seat, and DOS in the seat behind me. These ‘suites’ are awesome and offer full-flat seating, individual TVs, comfortable seating, and all seats in First Class are aisle accessible. The window seats offer both a window seat and aisle seat in one. While the flight from MCO to CLT was only an hour and 20 minutes, it was still a nice treat to have such a nice plane.
We had a quick layover in Charlotte, and briefly popped by the Admiral’s Club in ‘B’ concourse, which was the concourse we arrived in and were departing from. The ‘B’ club is the smaller of the two Charlotte club’s but it was close and convenient for a quick cup of coffee. The Concierge lady that I checked in with asked if she could use my drivers license for a photo to attach electronically to my file, thereby eliminating showing a photo ID each time (a new policy AA just started enforcing), which was fine with me. Maybe this will speed up queue lines in Charlotte, although today was not busy as it was a Saturday.
Our next and longer flight to San Juan was on an old and weathered Airbus 320. The plane was really quite old looking, and DOS’s seat-back pouch was ripped and dangling open, and his seat tray was missing a bracket so it sagged in the middle and was not very stable; normally wouldn’t matter but this was a lunch flight. The seat pitch in First also felt a bit cramped, of course not even trying to compare it to the first flight we were on.
Fortunately what lacked in seat comfort, the lead Flight Attendant, Brad, made up for in service. Brad was really outstanding and was very service oriented. We had the mixed nuts first with drinks, and Brad offered us not one, but two refills on the nuts! I don’t think I’ve ever had a Flight Attendant do that without having to request a refill first. We also had a lunch of grilled chicken and salad, followed by a separate course of cheese cake. I had red wine with lunch which was nice, and the 3 1/2 hour flight literally ‘flew’ by!
When we got to San Juan, we took a taxi to our hotel, the Caribe Hilton. San Juan has flat rate taxis from the airport to area hotels, and for $24 one way, it was very inexpensive and provided quick service. We rounded it up to $30 with tip, and with no traffic we were at the Caribe Hilton in 15-20 minutes.
We checked in at the Caribe Hilton, and got a 10th floor room (top floor) in the original tower. As a Diamond member they also gave us vouchers for a continental breakfast, or for $14 we could upgrade to the full breakfast, which we did in the morning. After dropping our bags off in the room, we took a couple photos from the balcony before exploring the resort. We overlooked the historic Normandie Hotel next to us, which unfortunately has seen better days and is now closed. We asked about it while we were there, and hopefully they can restore this famous property.
Later . . .
I’ll post a couple photos now, and Steve (DOS) can continue this on the next blog. (We’re on our way home now, and just landed in Charlotte, so I can now download a couple SJU photos. Don’t want the post to be too long either, so will break it up in a couple parts.)
Bienvenido a San Juan!