Long Day’s Journey into Night

After a long airport flight, I’m back in Northridge. It’s great to be in a real city again. It is far too green out there on the East Coast. I don’t know how they live with all those tall green things every. Cities were meant to be vast stretches of concrete, and it always feels good to see that as I flew back into Los Angeles.

Takeoff for the return flight was eventful. We were on a 777, and left the gate early. However, we had a significant ground hold while a thunderstorm passed over us. I was listening to cockpit communications, and was really impressed by the professionalism and hard work of the IAD ground tower. They were routing planes hither and yon, parking them, giving them taxi directions to their parking areas, moving them to 19R, doing a full ground stop, then rerouting everything to 30 because of wind shear alerts. It was also interesting listening to how they referred to the planes: United Blue and White, American Old Paint Job (which referred to one AA jet that was pained in the old livery–neat!). That is also one impressive taxiway system at IAD. It was also weird being on the plane as an intense thunderstorm passes directly over over. Once we made it into the air, the flight was good (the 777 is a real nice aircraft).

It is amazing the amount of work they are doing at Dulles. They have a large number of major projects going on, including expansion of Concourse B, changes and expansion of the main historic structure, a new tower, and a new Airport Train System. They seem to have a full master plan for the airport, including a series of mid-field concourses (and rebuilding C concourse and perhaps D into permanent structures) and a south terminal. This is good to see; it is something LAX has been trying to do for years.

However, the main terminal at Dulles still seems dated, even after the extensive renovations. I remember the old Dulles, with the clickity-clackity signs, mobile lounges to the planes, and the occasional lounge to mid-field. You can still see the vestiges in the terminal design. But now the upper end seems mostly security. LAX is no better: most satellite terminals are dated structures, and you can still see vestiges of the tunnel system that used to be used for returning passengers (as well as the direct connections between Terminals 4-5-6-7).

We drove to Dulles via US 29 and I-495. I was impressed by how fast US 29 was… they have upgraded it to expressway for most of the distance between Columbia MD and I-495.

My meetings went good. It sounds like some of the suggestions I made will have significant impact, and that’s always a good thing.