I parked at my usual ramp — QuikPark, just behind the Hyatt Regency — and walked to LAX.
A group of volunteers greeted people using the rideshare and taxi lot, folks walking to/from LAX. They distributed free water and mini-footballs.
Awesome! I wasn’t even inside the airport and already I had a present for my daughter! (Which she loved, by the way. She’s got a strong arm and foot, which she displayed playing football that night. Just ask our dog. And picture frames that once stood atop our bedroom dressers.)
Signage throughout the airport welcomed fans to the big weekend.
Security was a breeze, thanks to CLEAR and TSA Pre√. I headed up to the Delta Sky Club for some lunch, work, and views of the Terminal 3 reconstruction.
My flight departed from gate 24B — which is a bus gate.
Our plane’s auxiliary power unit (APU) didn’t work. That meant no air conditioning. Which normally wouldn’t be a big deal — except a fairly major heatwave is blanketing Southern. California right now. So it was hot inside the plane until we taxied and started the engines.
The sky was clear — which provided some great views during our flight.
And we flew over a stadium that’s hosted a few professional and college football championships: the Rose Bowl in beautiful Pasadena.
Some endorphin rushes kicked in a couple of times during the flight. There was sort of the “We’re going to Vegas!” energy around me. People traded plans about their trip: hotels they booked, restaurant tips, and all that. I was excited for them and that made me excited for my next Vegas visit.
But I also looked forward to going home in a few hours. As much work as it can be traveling with a young child, I still miss her when I hit the road. Some of our favorite memories involve travel.
On final approach, I saw Allegiant Stadium — which hosts the big game in 2024.
Upon deplaning, I went to directly to baggage claim.
He checked a bag for a day trip?!
Sure did. Why?
René offered an interesting suggestion when I told him about my trip.
“Check a bag,” he said.
“Sorry, what?” I said.
“Yeah! Delta’s Bags on Time guarantee!”
So I checked a carryon in Los Angeles. I threw my leather jacket and a pair of jeans in there just so it had some weight — which made it easier to roll.
Sure enough, my bag was more than 20 minutes late from the plane to carousel 14 in LAS. I submitted a Bags on Time claim — and was instantly rewarded with 2,500 SkyMiles!
I grabbed my rollaboard and took a crosswalk to the departures side. Ten minutes later, I was inside the American Express Centurion Lounge.
I sipped an Old Fashioned. (It was made with Evan Williams and concocted in a backwards manner: bourbon, then fruit, then bitters, then simple syrup. Then soda water. No.) One of those was plenty. I stuck to water the rest of the afternoon.
For dinner, I ate salad, a tasty pasta primavera, excellent chicken curry, and fantastic peach cobbler.
A deadheading A320-A321 captain sat next to me on the ride back to LAX. He also flew F-15s and F-16s in the Air Force before transitioning into the airline world. He graciously answered the 5 million questions I asked him about aviation and the airline industry. He, in turn, asked about blogging, points and miles, credit cards, and working as a photo editor.
He asked if I was going home or going to work. I told him the purpose of my trip: to take pictures of SoFi Stadium. (It wasn’t the strangest thing he’d ever heard.) He was impressed I chose the left side of the aircraft because Delta frequently lands on the north side of LAX.
I opened my window shade. And that’s when my mission started going downhill.
The engine and wing would make the SoFi pictures rather difficult. But I remained hopeful.
The Strip was bright enough once we were actually over it.
We sped our way to LAX. I wrote on my iPad while monitoring our progress so I’d be ready to get the SoFi Stadium pictures. And, of course, the landing lights just outside my window would present another obstacle.
But I remained slightly positive.
SoFi Stadium and all its glorious illumination would soon greet us! And it went a little something like this:
It was a total Griswold.
Hawthorne Airport and the nearby Tesla plant appeared much closer to my window than I remembered them being to LAX’s North Complex.
Then the “ooohs!” and “aaaahs!” from passengers on the plane’s right side confirmed my worry: we were landing on the South Complex. And I was on the wrong side of the plane.
(My feelings aren’t hurt if you’re reacting like the late, great Doris Roberts and E.G. Marshall in the Christmas Vacation clip above. I deserve it. 🙂 In fact, I hope they name a waypoint at that exact spot where it hit me: GRSWD.)
My new friend, the airline captain, patted my shoulder in sympathy. I put my head down and chuckled.
“Ah, well,” I said. “What can you do?”
We touched down a few minutes later. I still smirked at myself. The best-laid plans of mice and geeks…
I checked other airlines to see if I could make any trips there and back the same night. No dice.
But I still had something to look forward to: going home to my wife and daughter.
Do I regret taking the trip? Not really. I got some blog post ideas out of it. I met an Air Force veteran-airline pilot who graciously chatted with me.
The trip didn’t cost much money ($30 for parking, $5.60 for booking fees, and some cash for tipping for the bartender at the Centurion Lounge). After my Bags on Time claim in Vegas, the trip ultimately ran me 9,500 SkyMiles. (Delta was on time with my bag at LAX. They have some nerve.) I got work done, enjoyed a couple of flights, savored some good airport lounge time and amenities, and appreciated how lucky I am to do what I do.
So I didn’t get “the shot.” But the day was still mostly well worth it.
But I’m still bitter ATC routed us to the South Complex. 😉
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.