01. Introduction: My 90-year-old grandfather’s first flight in 48 years
02. Sun Country 737-700 economy class San Diego to Minneapolis
03. Sun Country 737-700 economy class Minneapolis to San Diego
This trip to Minnesota ended up being really nice. It was really fun to hang out with grandpa again, together with the entire family at my sister’s house enjoying beautiful midwestern US summer weather. I’d like to point out that although he may be 90 years old, he wore me out. We golfed, we cut down trees, and we played billiards and ping-pong. The entire time. Where the hell does this guy get so much energy? As I said before, if I have half the amount of strength and energy that he does when I’m that age (if I make it that long), I’d be thrilled. The guy is a machine.
Now completely worn out and exhausted, it was time to head back home to San Diego.
Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Duration: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Seat: 6F (economy class)
Although my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 10 AM from MSP, I still had to get up at the crack of dawn to make the hour and a half drive from my sister’s house. Yeah, she lives out in the sticks. Well, technically there are more corn fields than forests where she lives, but you know what I mean.
There was a rumble of thunder in the distance as I rolled out of bed and into my rental car, but otherwise the mood was calm and still. It’s been along time since I’ve experienced a stormy midwest summer morning like that, and I was totally having flashbacks to my boyhood in Michigan. Why can’t we ever get storms like that in San Diego? I love being in Southern California more than anything else, but a little variety in the weather would be nice from time to time!
Remember how I said in my last post that the Humphrey terminal (terminal 2) at MSP feels like a small regional facility? I was getting that vibe tenfold this morning after dropping off the rental car and walking through the front door. Terminal 2 is nothing like terminal 1 (Delta’s home) and it feels like a completely different airport. As a matter fact, if you would’ve dropped me there blindfolded and asked me to tell you where I was standing, all I would’ve been able to mutter would have been something like, “uuuuhhhhh…”
I’m not at all complaining about this feeling like a regional airport though. As a matter fact, I quite like the Humphrey terminal and I think that it fits the spirit of Sun Country Airlines perfectly. It’s hard to explain exactly, but Sun Country feels like a down-home / modest regional airline to me, and I get the sense that they like to stay low-key. The Humphrey terminal matches this feeling spot on. It’s an older facility, and you can tell that it’s been there a while, but it was still clean and simple, and it was very easy to navigate through. There are no fancy shops or restaurants here like there is over in terminal one, and that’s not a bad thing. Just a clean simple airport without the fluff.
The gate agents were offering first class upgrades on this flight for $199, and while it did sound tempting, I wasn’t really sure it would’ve been worth it. I had already eaten breakfast, and I wasn’t feeling any burning desire to sit in a slightly bigger seat for a few hours. Not for $200 at least. Those upgrades didn’t last long, however. There were plenty of other people with burning desires of their own who scooped them up right quick.
The weather was still a bit gray and gloomy as we pushed back and taxied around the airport for a bit, and I was quite looking forward to getting above that cloud layer and seeing a bit of sunshine. It was a bit of a wait though, as there seemed to be a lot of congestion around the airport this morning and all we were doing was moving ahead 20 feet and then stopping for several minutes. Over and over again.
We eventually got out of MSP and climbed above the clouds, and that’s where this turned into one of my least-eventful flights in a long time. The first thing I did was stuff my earbuds into my ears and tried to start catching up on some podcasts. I say “tried” because I fell asleep within 20 minutes of departure and it was all a blur from there. Economy class sleep sucks, as I can never stay asleep longer than five minutes due to my head falling straight down into my lap. I’ve tried neck pillows in the past, but they don’t help. I actually find them to be more uncomfortable then having my face fall into my lap every five minutes, and to this day I’ve yet to find a comfortable way to sleep in economy.
Also making sleep difficult was the fact that the Podcasts we’re still playing, and they were causing me to have some really trippy dreams between head bobs. You have no idea how bad I was yearning for Asiana A380 business class right about then…
I eventually gave up on trying to sleep just as we were crossing the Grand Canyon, which was actually a good thing because the weather was clear and I got it awesome look at the entire thing. I’ve flown over the Grand Canyon many times in the past (too many times to count) but this was the first time since my family trip to Arizona last spring. It was pretty awesome to look down on the Grand Canyon this time and be able to recognize all the roads that we drove on and all the spots we stopped at during that trip!
San Diego rolled out the red carpet for us with a beautiful clear and bright morning with awesome views of the entire region during the approach. I’ve had some pretty bad luck this year flying into San Diego in gray and gloomy conditions, but not today. They don’t call it Sun Diego for nothing!
It was right about lunchtime when we arrived, so instead of going home right away I opted to grab a quick (and obnoxiously expensive) lunch from the food court. It was either that or struggling to create something edible with stale bread at home. It’s hard to justify the cost of such an expensive lunch sometimes, especially when there is food at home, but it had been a long trip and I was tired…so what the heck. Special occasion, right?
I walked out of the airport that afternoon feeling like I finally had a pretty good understanding of what Sun Country is all about. I already tried their first class product back in December 2015, and with these two economy class segments on this trip, I can confidently say that they run a pretty good operation. Now let’s just hope that the new CEO doesn’t screw things up with his plan to switch to a low-cost business model. It would be a real shame to see such a good airline join the others in the race to the bottom.