Today on this Inauguration Day Friday January 20th, I flew from Philadelphia back to Orlando as our 45th President, Donald Trump was being sworn in. I saw some of the pre-Inauguration ceremonies on TV while waiting for my flight in the Admiral’s Club ‘A’ Terminal in Philadelphia, but had to leave around 9:45, so I missed the actual ‘swearing-in’ and speech. I did see a Qatar Airlines 787 out the window which was preparing for the long trip to DOA. My flight to Orlando was on a nice Airbus 330-200 series wide body jet, but with no internet available to watch it.
I surprisingly did not get upgraded on this flight which was a bit disappointing as it has the international sleep seat configuration. I settled for a decent exit row seat towards the back of the plane in row 23. It was ok for the two hour flight, but for international flights, I would definitely want to be ‘up front’ on this nice aircraft.
Steve (DOS) met me at the Orlando airport when I landed around 12:45pm. We got my luggage and then exchanged for the Santa Barbara luggage I had already packed and left in his car. As our flight to Phoenix left at 5:30, we hung around the airport instead of going home for a couple hours, and then turning around and heading right back to the Orlando Airport. We had a leisurely lunch at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, and I caught up a bit with some admin work and emails from this busy week in Philadelphia.
Now just waiting for our flight to board; we are on an American Airlines Airbus 321, and as this flight is always full purchased First Class seats rather than hope for an upgrade. Anymore domestically, the price difference really isn’t that great like it used to be, or as it still is on international flights.
. . . Later, we had a good pair of flights to Santa Barbara. Our first flight from Orlando to Phoenix was around 4 hours on an older model Airbus 321, meaning no inflight entertainment TVs like the newer planes, so we brought are own. The service was good, and surprisingly the meal was actually good too; a Mediterranean style Chicken dish. We even got ice cream for dessert!
Our layover in Phoenix was less than an hour so we went to the A21 Admiral’s Club, after first walking all the way to the B gates only to find the ‘B’ Admiral’s Club was closed. I thought that was a bit crummy, as it was only 8:30pm local time, and there were still quite a few flights to depart. I guess AA is trying to consolidate the clubs to save money, but that’s not a reasonable thing to do considering the distance between the concourses and the flights still to depart. Note to self: ‘Suggestion’ to American on their web page.
The flight from Phoenix to Santa Barbara was on an CRJ900, a regional jet configured with three rows in First (probably old US Airways), vs the newer CRJ900’s with four rows. The seats had been refurbished however, so it had a fresh look of leather, however the overhead ‘no smoking’ sign gave the aircraft away as one of a bygone era. (The newer ones saw No electronic devices or similar).
After the quick hour flight, we took a cab to the Fess Parker Doubletree which was perhaps a half hour drive or less. The hotel has a free shuttle, but it only runs until 9pm, and we got to Santa Barbara around 9:45pm. Once at the hotel, we discovered just how large it was; a sprawling complex of low lying buildings set among some 14 acres, just across the street from the Pacific Ocean. We walked by the pool on the way to our room in search of the Dalia building, which at night felt like we were walking thru a maze with the clusters of buildings spread out. Our room 620 was a standard room, but quite large in size, with a partial view of the ocean; an upgrade from the standard Mountain View room. So this Fess Parker Hotel will be our home for the next two nights, on this whirlwind wine-tasting tour of Santa Barbara vineyard.