|Canyonlands Field Airport- CNY- Adorable.|
You see why this gets more than one entry now?
So here's the set-up- I had need to be in Green River, Utah for work. Now, Green River is about an hour north of Moab, and that puts it 25 mins or so away from the Moab (CNY) airport. It's also about 4 hours South of Salt Lake, give or take. So, a bit of a drive. However, I came to learn that there's an airline that operates a couple flights a day from Salt Lake and Moab. It's an independent airline called Boutique Air that flies 8 seat PC-12s in the 'executive' configuration. I was intrigued.
|The screengrab I kept proudly showing people about my cute little plane I had booked|
So I booked my ticket with AA to Salt Lake, and then another round trip from Salt Lake to Moab with Boutique Air. I figured this was either the best idea I ever had, or the worst. As we'll see, it's a little of both.
For accommodations, I booked the first night at the Holiday Inn Express in town, and the second night I branched out and tried an indepedant place called the "Skyfall Guestrooms." Skyfall wasn't available for the first night, but it was worth it to make the move to save a little, it was literally across the street. As a general FYI, everything in Green River could be said to be "just across the street" as it isn't much of a town overall.
Plans in hand, I set out for the airport bright and early on Monday. My flight wasn't until 11am, but this is LA, and you have a choice between going painfully early, or just spending the morning on the 405.
Since the lounge in Terminal 4 is down for updates, I checked in at Terminal 5. Wow. Just wow. It was an absolute zoo. I'm not exaggerating here- the line for security wrapped down the stairs, across to the other side of the ticketing hall, and down the wall as far as the eye could see.
This is the morning I learned the meaning of CLEAR. I've posted about this service before, and while it's been 'nice' to have, this was the first time it saved me some serious wait time. Initially, I didn't know how to even find the CLEAR line, because they wouldn't let me up the stairs to where the kiosks are. When I asked, I got told "get line and they'll find you."
At this point I was debating walking over to Terminal 4's security to try my luck there when I indeed was 'found' by a CLEAR attendant. Well not so much found, as I saw him and started a frantic arm flailing and yelping 'clear? clear?' mantra. In no time flat, I was rescued, and taken right to the front of the pre-check line. I was through the chaos and into the Club and ordering my custom salmon on toast in 10 minutes or less.
|Someone even left a premium drink 'chit' for me. VERY THOUGHTFUL.|
After that, I headed on the bus over to the Gate 52 'Eagle's Next' to catch my flight. The wonder did not end- I boarded to find I was the only, yes only, elite on the flight. For the next 2 hours I had 6 first class seats to myself, and when I took a walk to the back to use the restroom, found that all the exit row seats were also empty. Unicorn. Absolute unicorn.
|This is my face when I know something's too good to be true...and then it isn't and I have 6 seats and a flight attendant to myself.|
We touched down on time into Salt Lake, and since there's no lounge there (aside from the Delta SkyClub) I set up shop at a restaurant on the 2nd floor with a great view of the runways and hills behind. I had a few hours, so I got lunch and did some work.
Part way through the wait, as I was getting organized to call for the shuttle over to Boutique Air, which they recommend you do about an hour to 30 minutes before your flight time, I got an email from Boutique saying my flight was delayed 50 minutes. Okay, no big deal, except that the car rental at CNY was going to close on me. Called them, they amazingly said they'd be waiting since I wasn't the only one. Called Boutique to check on the reason for the delay- 'rolling delay from earlier issues in Denver.' Okay, fair enough.
|I was here for a long time. They let me run my computer cord through into the pool room to plug in after awhile.|
About the flight- unfortunately I couldn't get any good pictures because it was, well, dark by this point. Here are some things to know- They don't assign seats, so when you board you just pick one. The 4 in the front are set up in an "executive" configuration, so row 1 faces row 2. Rows 3 and 4 face forward behind.
|My boarding pass- note the lack of a seat assignment, but they do participate in precheck (though at SLC they're not within a TSA area.|
They check your luggage for free, and there's really only room in the passenger area for one small item you're comfortable with on your lap. They'll weigh your luggage, and ask your weight before boarding for weight and balance purposes.
This plane carries 10 people, including crew. It is small- you have to lean over to walk to your seat, but the seats themselves are bigger than standard airline seats.
They do have a bathroom, but it was inoperable on my flight. Go before you board.
That all said, once I actually got onboard, we had a short taxi and then a very smooth flight for a small aircraft. It was a full moon, and so even though it was dark, it was still a beautiful flight. These planes fly lower than you're used to flying commercial, so you can see more detail. There's no separation between the cabin and cockpit, so you can also watch the pilots and the flight controls to see the altitude and such, which is fun if you're an avgeek.
We landed a short 45 minutes later, and waited a few minutes to have our luggage returned. Here's the long awaited end to the car rental saga- after waiting after hours for far too long, the Enterprise staff amazingly just left everyone's keys in the unlocked rental cars in the parking lot and went home for the night. Unorthodox, but awesome. I signed the papers, put them in a drop box, and headed out into the-completely dark, and completely quiet- night, bound for Green River.
Adventure, thy name is Canyonlands.
Up next- Off-roading by mistake in a Dodge Charger, more adventures with Boutique Air, road trips with perfect strangers, and dinosaurs in a deposition. Yes, dinosaurs.