Charter flight #1 – Houston to Phoenix

StarMegaDo 2010 kicked off at the ungodly early hour of 5am today with the first round of transfers to the airport from the hotel. By 6am the last group was climbing on the shuttle buses and we’d put away a half case of Veuve in celebration of the crazy that we are. The folks unlucky enough to be on the earliest buses were rewarded with the opportunity to visit the flagship Continental Presidents Club in Terminal E while the rest of us barely cleared security in time to get to the plane on time.

IMGP6876Boarding was somewhat chaotic – you’d think a group of 200 frequent flyers would be better at getting their bags in the overheads – but we pushed back on time and cruised west from Houston at 36000 feet through cloudless blue skies. It was a beautiful day for flying. Oh, and we did have the oldest unaccompanied minor ever to fly on Continental with us as well. In case you’re curious, he is a big baby, but also a great guy.

IMGP6879The in-flight service was truly special. One of the flight attendants is an avid participant in the FlyerTalk community and managed to trade to pick up the trip at the last minute. The entire in-flight crew was phenomenal, pouring bottle after bottle of Monopole (and whatever other drinks were ordered) and serving up a hot meal for us as well.

IMGP6891The service was more than I’ve had on just about any flight in the past couple years. I mentioned that to one of the flight attendants and she noted “we haven’t worked this hard on a two hour flight since the MD-80s.” Yeah, that was a long time ago. Still, they were working with smiles on their face and having a blast traveling with us

IMGP6887Wheels down in Phoenix was right on time. We deplaned into buses where most of the group headed to a reception with US Airways while a smaller group headed west to Goodyear Field to visit Airline Training Center Arizona, the Lufthansa flight training facility where all of their pilots learn to fly.

So we’re mostly working on very little sleep and quite a bit of Champagne. Doesn’t seem like all that bad a deal to me at all.

The Presidents Club Pub Crawl

Before we get too deep into today’s charter activities, a quick story: Faced with four hours to kill following the CO presentation Thursday afternoon, 15 of us decided on a pub crawl… through the Presidents Clubs. Exploiting the PC’s unique ability to issue gate passes for members and up to two guests, the group started at Terminal E and progressed through the alphabet in reverse, visiting Terminal C South, C North, B, and A in a state of increasing inebriation. Three of us — Scott, Marty and myself — snuck out to the KLM lounge for a bit, bringing the total group tally to six. By the time we caught up them again, the Clubs had begun calling ahead to warn of our group’s approach. “They’re coming,” the receptionist at C South informed her counterpart at C North. “All they want is a few pictures.”

“And drinks!”

At each stop, there were photos. First, it was a group shot outside the Club in Terminal E; then one in front of the counter at Terminal C South. By C North, we were behind the counter. In B, we were in the front of the bar. Finally, by the time we reached the Club in Terminal A — by which time the first (annual?) Presidents Club Margarita Contest was nearing its conclusion — we were behind the bar. (Photos below). As for the contest results:

1. Dina at Terminal B. The secret of her success? Adding a splash of amaretto to the mix.

2. Keri at Terminal A

3. Charles at Terminal C South

4. Veronica at Terminal E

5. Unknown at Terminal C North. “Definitely the strongest, though,” the judges ruled. “His goal was to get alcohol into you as quickly as possible.”

He succeeded.

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