Flying Stories
Crazy trips, crazy hotels, and the Chicago launch
May 31, 2011
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Once again, I need to apologize for the long delay between posts.  The blog always seems to be the first thing to take a back seat to life’s other priorities.

After I blogged about the weight loss competition, I had ten days off.  Well rested, I embarked on a very challenging four day trip.

On paper, the trip looked easy.  It was a four day trip with only five legs of flying.  I love efficient trips, but that one was a little too efficient.  The first leg was a red-eye to Washington Dulles.  We arrived at 8:30 in the morning and departed eleven hours later for LAX.  After only eleven hours in LAX, we returned to Washington Dulles for another eleven hour layover.  On the last day, we flew back to LAX, then to San Francisco before commuting home to Denver.

I was so exhausted I actually slept a bit during the commute home.  When I emptied my suitcase, I realized I never wore my layover clothes (jeans and a polo shirt) during the entire trip.  I then realized I never ate a meal off the aircraft.  Aside from a few quick workouts in the hotel gyms, it was fly-sleep-fly for four days.

The next trip was exponentially more enjoyable.  Four flights in four days.  The layovers were eleven, twenty, and fourteen hours in Fort Lauderdale, LAX, and Boston respectively.

Saturdays at the LAX hotel are always crowded.  As we walked into the hotel, the captain said, “I wonder who will be holding a conference this weekend?  There’s always something going on here.”

Walking through the door, his question was answered.  (Actually, it was half answered…. I’ll get to that in a minute.)  The signs directed guests to the “Millionaire Mind” convention just down the hallway.  How do you make a million dollars?  Convince a thousand people to pay you $1000 to learn how to make a million dollars, right?  Surrounded by aspiring millionaires, we checked into our rooms.

I quickly changed my clothes and headed for the elevator to go down to the gym.  I’ve learned that if I delay the workout, it usually doesn’t happen.  So, no matter how unmotivated I feel, I throw on the gym clothes and avoid laying on the bed.

The elevator stopped a few floors below mine.  When the doors opened, a woman dressed in a short skirt, fishnet stalkings, and leather coat joined me in the elevator. (I never thought I’d type those words in pilot blog….)  A little odd, I thought… but, certainly not that odd for LA.

Reaching the lobby, I followed her to the escalator down to the lower level.  When we turned the corner, I saw the registration booth tucked away discretely in the lowest level of the hotel:  “Welcome to DomCon 2011.”  I thought I’d seen every type of convention in hotels all across North America.  This was new for me:  trying to get to the gym, I found myself in a room full of dominatrix women.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

As the day progressed, the women outnumbered the aspiring millionaires.  (Well, come to think of it, do you think there’s any possibility some attended both conventions?  I hate to stereotype.)  By the time we returned from our dinner on Manhattan Beach, it was a full takeover of leather, fishnet, and spiked collars.  Many participants posed for professional photographs on the main lobby level.  I joined the dozens of miffed onlookers and snapped a few photos.  Here you go:

Posing for photos at hotel

Photo shoot complete

The next Friday, I flew a similar trip.  There was another long Saturday layover in LAX.  On the flight there, I shared the story from seven days earlier.  Then, we started sharing all kinds of crazy stories about odd things that have happened to us in hotels.

I recalled a story from Reno a few years ago that I’ll share with you.  On a long weekend layover, I ventured out myself to grab a late lunch.  When I arrived at restaurant in the Circus Circus resort, I grabbed a seat at the lunch counter.

Although there were about twenty seats at the counter, and I was the only one there, a guy came in and sat right next to me.  He immediately started the conversation.

“Hey Buddy, how are you?” was the opening line.

“I’m great, thanks, you?”

“You in town for the bowling tournament?”  At least now I knew why he was wearing a multi-colored shirt with his name written in cursive on the back.

“No.”

“Then, whachya doin’ here all by yourself?”

“Business trip.” I answered hoping that would satisfy him.

“What kind of work you in?”  Ugh.

“I’m a pilot.”

Then, after telling me about a few nightmare flying experiences, he told me all about he bowling tournament.  I learned how many games he bowled and his scores for each.  I heard about the strikes, shoulda-been-strikes, and spares.  There were even a few bowling tournament conspiracy theories thrown into the discussion.

I ate quickly.  I didn’t want to be rude, but, I was ready to leave.  I paid, stood up, and shook his hand.

“I bowl again in a few hours.  Do you want to come over and watch?”  The poor guy had no fan club.

“No, but thanks for the offer.  I need to get some rest.”

Awkward? Yes… But, if I had to receive an invitation to participate, I’m glad it was years ago in Reno and not last week in LAX.

—-

When we arrived at the LAX hotel, there were no conventions or conferences.  Instead, a family was celebrating a young man’s Bah Mitzvah.  Ironic to me that the same hotel could host such dramatically different events just seven days apart.  I was thankful the family’s celebration wasn’t scheduled for the same weekend as the other convention.

Chicago Launch

Last week, Virgin America added a very important destination to our growing list of cities: Chicago.  Entering that market is a little bitter sweet for me.  Being based there with United, I’ve flown in and out of O’Hare hundreds of times.  Although the airport can be a bit of a pain when it gets busy, it will be nice to go back to the Windy City.

Here are photos from the inaugural flights and Launch Party in Chicago:

Click Here – Chicago Launch Photos – May 25, 2011

By the way… those silver ties look nice, but, let’s not get any crazy ideas.  Especially coming into the warmer months, I love my open collar.

Here’s some random photos from the last few weeks:

The hotel van was “standing room only.” Not for him… he settled nicely into the luggage rack. Oh, the glamour of it all…

About author

Renewed Pilot

I've endured a roller coaster career in the U.S. Aviation Industry. Currently flying the 737 on my third try with the same legacy carrier, I have also flown for a regional, fractional and start-up carrier. My piloting experience includes the 737, A320, 727, Citation Excel, Citation Bravo, Saab 340 and many light singles and twin engine aircraft. I reside in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee.

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