Aviation- The View From Fresno; the AAC Meets Today.

This item was forwarded to us by a Friend of the Blog and , while we don’t know what exactly to make of it, it’s definitely good reading.  After you’ve sampled it, you’ll find yourself wondering if it’s really from Fresno or from here, except that we don’t have a shuttle.  Incidentally, the County’s Aviation Advisory Committee has its monthly meeting today, Tuesday, at 6pm at the Prosperity Center, 520 E Street, Eureka.

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Planes flying to and from Fresno these days are bigger – but that means fewer flights. Special to The Bee

BY DONALD MUNRO

dmunro@fresnobee.com

SAN FRANCISCO

When it rains at the airport here, it’s hard to find a passenger more pathetic than someone trying to get to Fresno.

I trudged up to the designated baggage carousel at San Francisco International Airport last Sunday night, less than eager to join the bedraggled looking group of travelers gathered for a promised shuttle bus to Fresno. The 30 or so people looked tired and defeated, as if they were about to join a chain gang. Once again, a flight to Fresno wasn’t going anywhere.

 

The reason: the dreaded “Canceled due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations.”

 

The cynical among us interpret that as: When the weather gets a little unsettled at SFO – notorious for delays even when the rain isn’t heavy (as it was this night) or the fog barely there – the smaller regional flights get canceled first so that larger (and more lucrative) national and international planes can fly.

 

The even more cynical whisper: This flight probably didn’t have a large enough percentage of seats filled, so it was more economical to cancel it.

And when a flight such as this one, which was supposed to depart at 6:52 p.m., is canceled because of weather, the customer service agent merely sighs and says: No hotel, no meal vouchers, no nothing. Oh, and the next Fresno flight isn’t until 2:15 p.m. the next day.

SFO doesn’t just pick on Fresno, of course. (On this night, the Sacramento flight was canceled as well.) And other cities manage to get their licks in, too. Cancellations and delays can plague Fresno-bound travelers in Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas and Phoenix, all of which are Fresno connections for United and American flights. I’ve been stranded in all these cities at one time or another. (I don’t fly Delta, so I can’t speak personally for Salt Lake City, but I’ve talked to others who’ve been stuck there.)

But for whatever reason, SFO seems the best opportunity for a stopover in Traveler Hell. According to flightaware.com, the afternoon San Francisco-Fresno flight was canceled four times between Dec. 8 and Jan. 19. During that same period, it was more than an hour and a half late 15 times.

 

Here’s the frustrating thing: The potential for disruption has only gotten worse with the recent retirement of the smaller turboprop planes used by SkyWest, which serves Fresno under contracts with United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines and provides the lion’s share of flights to and from Fresno. Now it’s an all-jet fleet. As my colleague Tim Sheehan reported in December, that has meant a tradeoff for passengers: fewer options on the schedule but faster, more comfortable aircraft.

 

Before I go on, let me say that I am a fierce proponent for Fresno Yosemite International Airport. When flight schedules work, it is much easier to fly in and out of Fresno than drive to Los Angeles or the Bay Area. Yes, sometimes it costs more to do so, especially on some domestic flights, but I’ve also discovered that a Fresno fare is often in the same ballpark as flights out of the Bay Area or L.A. And not having to drive three hours each way and pay more for parking can be priceless.

IT USED TO BE THAT IF A FLIGHT WAS CANCELED OR SIGNIFICANTLY DELAYED AT LAX OR SFO, SAY, YOU HAD A CHANCE OF BEING ABLE TO GET ONTO A LATER FLIGHT. NOW THAT CHANCE IS GREATLY REDUCED.

I also think it’s important to support our airport. Good air service is a quality of life issue. If I had the ear of the aviation gods, I’d ask for even more flights – and the entrance of Southwest Airlines to the market.

But I’m very frustrated about the recent all-jet changes. It used to be that if a flight was canceled or significantly delayed at LAX or SFO, say, you had a chance of being able to get onto a later flight.

Now that chance is greatly reduced. With smaller planes, for example, there were usually three to four San Francisco-Fresno flights a day, for example. Now there are only two, at least this time of year.

And consider what it’s like now to try to book a flight out of Fresno through Los Angeles on United. There’s only one flight a day in this season at the not-so-convenient time of 1:15 p.m. So much for going through LAX to New York and arriving at a reasonable hour, or trying to get an international flight without a lengthy layover.

There are two United flights a day going from Los Angeles back to Fresno, but they’re both in the evening. If one gets canceled, guess what: You might have to wait another day to get home, unless you want to rent a car. (On a more optimistic note, United seems to be offering good options to Denver, with three daily flights from Fresno in winter and four on the timetable for summer.)

For my canceled flight last Sunday, I admit I was already a little cranky. I’d started in Athens, Greece, about 20 hours before, and after one of those slowly-dribbled-out four-hour flight delays dues to mechanical problems on my Frankfurt-San Francisco leg, thelast thing I wanted to see was my Fresno flight canceled.

Because I was connecting from an international flight, I didn’t hear about the shuttle at the gate, and the first customer rep I talked to didn’t inform me. It wasn’t until I’d asked to speak to her supervisor that I learned a Fresno ride was possible. (The lesson: Always ask about options.)

My fellow travelers were cranky, too. When the United employee showed up with a beleaguered-looking sign that said “Fresno,” asking us to follow her to one of the shuttle buses, she wasn’t exactly going to win a popularity contest.

The 12 other passengers who squeezed with me into the shuttle, one of two, weren’t in a mood to bond. The three-hour ride was sullenly quiet, except for the guy who complained about the crying baby.

All this said, I don’t want to be a total whiner. With airlines today cutting flights to boost passenger loads, air travel can be rough no matter what airport you fly from. On the plus side, I got home safely, which was the important thing. And I was thankful, actually, that the airline provided a shuttle bus for a canceled flight – something I’d never experienced before.

I don’t know if there’s an easy solution to any of this, either, unless all the people who drive from Fresno to bigger airports changed their ways, thus filling up those bigger jets and requiring more flights each day. Oh, and perhaps throwing in a new runway at SFO, too?

Still, I’m going public with my frustrations. If nothing else, it makes me feel a little better to vent. By the way, if you’re so inclined, share with me your own Fresno air travel woes by email or at www.fresnobeehive.com. I can collect them in one place – and maybe even pass them on to someone who might make a difference. And, at the very least, I’ll commiserate. Sometimes all you want to do is just get home.

Donald Munro: 559-441-6373, @donaldbeearts

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/performing-arts/donald-munro/article55899150.html#storylink=cpy

http://www.fresnobee.com/entertainment/performing-arts/donald-munro/article55899150.html

http://lostcoastoutpost.com/2014/nov/17/breaking-about-airport-rumor/

“When you have bigger airplanes, it’s so much easier to get rebooked.”

 

United Flight 5555

Operated by Skywest Airlines dba United Express

Status: Canceled due to air traffic control conditions impacting our flight operations

DEPARTS

 

ARRIVES

City: San Francisco, CA, US (SFO)
Gate: 73A
Check-in Terminal: Terminal 3, Concourse F
Scheduled Time: 4:11 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Estimated Time: Canceled
Estimated Date:

City: Eureka, CA, US (ACV)
Gate: 2
Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 5:21 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Estimated Time: Canceled
Estimated Date:

Aircraft and weather

Aircraft: Canadair Regional Jet 700 aircraft #N773SK

Weather conditions: SFO, ACV

 

United Flight 2519

Operated by Skywest Airlines dba United Express

Status: Delayed due to severe weather conditions in our route network (Arrived Gate 51 Minutes Late – Diverted to Medford, OR, US (MFR))

DEPARTS

 

ARRIVES

City: Medford, OR, US (MFR)
Gate:
Check-in Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 2:49 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Actual Time: 2:51 p.m.
Actual Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016

City: Eureka, CA, US (ACV)
Gate:
Terminal:
Scheduled Time: 2:40 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016
Actual Time: 3:31 p.m.
Actual Date: Fri., Jan. 22, 2016

Aircraft and weather

Aircraft: Canadair Regional Jet 700 aircraft #N773SK

Weather conditions: MFR, ACV

 

FERNDALE NOTES: A great lunch and the Shaw House is for sale.

I don’t get to Ferndale very often.  It’s awfully cutesy and I’m not a shopper.  Still, we went down Monday dodging the rain drops and had a very refreshing interlude. The Lost Coast Cafe and Bakery is right on Main Street but is at the end of a courtyard and it’s easy to miss.  The owner does the cooking and the fare is vegetarian with some vegan choices, but I, who am neither, enjoyed the food, which is excellent.

There were half a dozen choices on the blackboard menu. I had the grilled cheese with jalapeño and my friend had the burrito du jour. Both were excellent but the accompanying salad was just remarkable. Perfectly composed and with an Asian touch to the dressing- was that sake?- it was outstanding and indicative of the care these people  take with their food.  There were hand-lettered signs around inviting us to their Monday night Italian dinner, which sounds like a winner. Anyway, next time you’re down that way, give the LCC a try.  There IS life beyond the Ferndale Meat Market.  No website.

Also in Ferndale, just a few blocks down Main Street, one of our best-known B&B’s, the Shaw House, is for sale,  details  HERE.

They list it at $1.2 M which is okay for nine bedrooms, nine baths. I think I could manage.

Is it really “the most beautiful home in Ferndale”?  I know some fans of the Gingerbread Mansion who might beg to differ. All I know is I wouldn’t want to be the one guy on the block who didn’t keep up his yard, in Ferndale. The peer pressure must be enormous.

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The Tragedy of Toni’s

Over New Year’s we had occasion to revisit Toni’s 24-Hour Restaurant.  This is a terrific establishment, especially at 2am when I will never see it, but we experienced the same flaw as on our first visit-stale frying oil. This time it was the chicken-fried steak , which otherwise would have been wonderful,  which had been fried in oil that should have been changed.   I brought it home for LouLou but it was really a shame. On the other hand, the onion rings were great. Go figure. The burgers continue to be superb. My companion ordered a triple and almost finished it.

My chicken-fried steak came with a choice of breads including a home-made biscuit, which was delicious  and served with a huge gob of soft butter.

I guess in order to avoid the tragedy and heartbreak of stale oil, you could just order carefully, staying away from  anything  fried.  “I’ll have a blue cheese burger and a biscuit”. Nah, doesn’t work. I’ll keep playing the cooking oil roulette at Toni’s because when they do get it right, it’s glorious.

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The December 2015 Economic Index Is In

The good people on Dr Eschker’s team at HSU have published last month’s economic Index for Humboldt , which can be read HERE.

Mortgage rates are slightly up, from 4.00 to 4.125 ( 30-year rate) and average home values were up a bit, from $255K to $285K and yes, gas is up a little. Unemployment in the County is steady at 5.7%, slightly higher than the national rate of 5%. Enjoy!

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David Bowie 1947-2016

Like a lot of people, I have an empty feeling inside this morning.  Like a lot of people, I had no idea he was ill.  He was a class act, to the end. He left in privacy, not in public like a Kardashian. Ironically, the song that keeps running through my head is not “Fame” or “Let’s Dance” but James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”.  “I always thought that I’d see you ..one more time again”.

When Bowie was doing  The Elephant Man in Denver, I knew a couple who made the round-trip drive from LA four times to see him.  I should have gone with them.

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The Season of Wonder and Light? Bah, humbug.

They call it the Season of Wonder and Light? I call it the dark-ass end of the year. It comes too soon and even with the extended weekend we had this year, it’s over too soon. I love having the Christmas tree up and lights on the house and I don’t feel like taking them down yet. Christmas lights should be left up at least until Chinese/Lunar New Year. Or Easter.  Call me a redneck, that’s how I feel. I’m lovin’ my lights.

JOIN US! Leave your lights up! Turned on!! How long will you last till peer pressure gets the  better of you? Let us know,

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Henderson Center Restaurant Update: Zoë’s ready, Diver’s in the Wings and Is There A Labor Shortage??

 

The long-awaited Zoë had its soft opening by way of a party last Wednesday at which an appreciative crowd gobbled down shrimps, lemon tarts and lots of pizza. The pizza was terrific-light and flavorful- and Zoë’s homemade crackers made their debut. the lemon tarts were the hit of the evening and there were some very interesting snacks made of tiny baked potatoes. Much wine and beer was consumed and everyone had a good time. Among those present were Joel Mielke and Lynn Harvey and former Eureka City Councilperson  Mike Newman.

This week Marsa Jordan,  the proprietor, advised us she’s STILL HIRING so tell any fine-dining-experienced jobseekers you know to send their resumé  to Marsa at http://zoe2850fst@gmail.com.  No firm opening date until she’s staffed, so hurry!

Now, I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but there was an interesting Facebook post the other day (the first in history!) in which someone from the new 6th and Eatery (owned by the same folks who have the Humboldt Soup Company) reported that a couple of days before Christmas,  they had actually had to close down in the afternoon because three of their six kitchen staffers had called in sick.   I KNOW everyone’s has been sick lately and I have NO idea what labor relations are like at the 6th and Eatery but it made me start thinking .  We now have a minimum wage of $10 an hour, which is almost worth showing up to work for. I wonder what the impact of the new wage will be on absenteeism? Eight hours at the old $6.75 wage amounted to a big fat $54 less deductions; that’s a lot less than $80 less deductions. Losing $80 from your paycheck HURTS!! These increases have been tough for the employers but we’re a lot closer to  living wages than we were. I’ll be curious to see how long it takes Marsa to fill her jobs. The last thing we need in Humboldt County is a labor shortage.

Finally, Sean from the Diver Bar- just down the block from Zoë – reports that they are making progress, working on the floors etc. and occasionally post progress reports on their Facebook page.  He’s looking for an opening date NLT the end of February.  Watch this space!!

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