This report is for a trip I took recently to Salt Lake City on Southwest Airlines for DECA's 2012 International Career Development Conference. This trip was special to me, because it was my final trip of my high school DECA career.
I am currently swamped with make up work, AP Exams, finals, and graduation events (less than 2 weeks until I graduate!), so this report will be done in segments of free time/when I'm supposed to be sleeping.
For those of you who don't know what DECA is, it is a 66 year old international organization of students interested in careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and entrepreneurship. Students compete in various events by analyzing case study situations, writing business reports, or managing virtual businesses and presenting their solutions to judges who come from real-world organizations. (including Southwest Airlines! But I've never been lucky enough to have a WN employee as a judge).
Southwest Airlines was previously a National Advisory Board member of DECA until this year, and my freshman year I was lucky enough to do a blog post on Nuts About Southwest
about my experience at my first DECA ICDC. http://www.blogsouthwest.com/blog/making-my-mark-icdc
Anyways, the International Career Development Conference (ICDC) is the pinnacle of the DECA membership year, where members of DECA get to compete on the international level. I have been lucky enough to qualify for this conference all four years of high school, and have been able to travel to Anaheim, Louisville, Orlando and now Salt Lake City. I've also been lucky enough to serve two terms on the Kansas DECA State Officer Team. Once as the Reporter, and another time as President.
I was able to attend this year's conference by winning 1st place in the Entrepreneurship Written event, which required me to write a business plan and present it to an investor. Something exciting that came out of this plan was that I actually started the company! My company is Window View Marketing, LLC and it is a social media consulting firm that aims to help smaller hospitality-based service businesses utilize social media to help increase brand engagement, brand loyalty and ultimately revenue.
Now that you know a little bit about why I'm taking this trip, I'll get to the good stuff!
The flights I took were:
WN782 MCI-LAS 4/28
WN879 LAS-SLC 4/28
WN1619 SLC-OAK 5/2
WN103 OAK-MCI 5/2
After not being able to sleep from excitement about flying to Salt Lake City on Southwest, I woke up around 3:30 am to begin the trip to the airport. I left my house around 4:30 after picking up a friend, and arrived at the airport around 5:15 where I met my DECA advisor and her husband, and the other individuals from my school traveling to the conference.
We got to the check in desk and noticed it was closed, and waited until it opened at 5:45.
The staff working the desk were very cheerful and efficient and got all 8 of us processed in a timely manner, and we were on our way through security.
Getting through the TSA took me just over 3 minutes! (I timed it!) How many other airports can you say that in? (granted, it was early morning)
After getting through security I saw the aircraft that would take me to LAS to connect for my flight to SLC. N347SW
Soon boarding started, and it moved at a good pace. People say WN has a "cattle car" boarding style, but I like having the numbers better than flying with other carriers, because I remember boarding on my last AA flight was like trying to walk through a mosh-pit at a concert.
Just before I got in line to board, I saw this surprise taxi by. A Delta SkyTeam 767 logo jet that I would never expect to see at MCI. After tweeting @kciairport, I found out that it was a sports charter headed to Miami.
At this time I was kind of excited to see a Delta jet. About a week earlier I applied for a seasonal CSA job with Delta and got through the interview process, and made it through to scheduling a face-to-face interview. But they were looking for someone to start before my earliest availability, and found someone else for the position. Although I am very disappointed about not getting the position, I am going to actively pursue an internship with WN or DL during college, and stay on the look out for any part time job openings at MCI.
Flight Aware Info
We were soon on our way out to 1L for takeoff. Looking back at the terminal it seemed like there were almost 2 WN jets on the ground for every gate!
Lifting off of 1L
Soon the flight attendants came through to start a beverage and snack service. The crew members had a positive vibe throughout the flight. Many people were pleasantly surprised when they came through with vanilla wafers, and did multiple beverage services on a 2 and a half hour flight.
Here is a shot of the cabin. One of the items I noticed that I have not seen before is that on the overhead bin near row 13 it says "L/G Viewer". I'm assuming these are landing gear viewers, but can anyone describe an "L/G viewer" better to me? (I've never heard of it before)
Throughout the flight a few classmates and I had our own IFE going on by playing a game of chewing mints and taking a sip of ice water. This was a trick I learned at DECA state to cool down faster when running on stage and between events, and it has since turned into an addiction.
Shortly, we were beginning our descent into the LAS area.
We came in on the 1's, and soon taxied to our gate.
After getting off of the aircraft and stepping into LAS, it appeared to be a bit dated to me, but I do know there is a new terminal opening up soon. Here is a picture of some of the slot machines in the airport
Our flight to SLC departed out of C7. We had only a 50 minute connection, so we made our way to the gate area. Here is a pic of gate C5. One of the interesting things I noticed was that almost every -700 I saw in LAS had the WiFi hump
Pretty soon my aircraft, N202WN arrived at the gate and boarding began.
Boarding took a bit longer than usual, because a majority of the flight were elderly leisure pax who took their time doing everything. I also counted at least 5 wheelchair pax. Another interesting note while boarding, was the COO of Mens Wearhouse was on our flight and was right after me in boarding. I had a short discussion with him on his involvement with DECA.
Flight Aware Info
When I eventually made it onto the aircraft, I found a huge surprise. This aircraft had the new Evolve interior! This surprise was almost better than Christmas, because I'm usually never lucky enough to see any new airline product shortly after it's rolled out.
Forward looking shot
Rear looking shot.
Even though I've geeked out and read about the Evolve interior, I wasn't entirely sure if everything I read was true at first. But stepping on board changed my mind. Our flight was completely full, but did not seem cramped at all! The leg room seemed roomier than normal, and it wasn't noticeable that there was an extra row on the aircraft. I appreciated the netted pockets, and winged headrests. I can't wait to see this interior on more WN jets in the future!
I soon got settled in my favorite seat, 17F and prepared for the ride to SLC. Notice Arizona One.
We soon departed and made our way to SLC!
The flight was short, but the crew was memorable. They were not humorous, but I remember their positive and energetic attitude throughout the flight. (which I guess was needed, because they were able to do drink/snack/trash runs in a flight that was only 50 mins long!)
We began our descent into SLC, which was one of the more scenic approaches I've been on in a while!
This photo showcases our hotel that we stayed at (circled in yellow). DECA attracted about 16,000 people to Salt Lake City for this convention, and there was not enough room to put everyone downtown so hotels in neighboring towns were used. We stayed in Sandy, at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Almost in SLC!
It can't be SLC without seeing a few Delta jets!
After the flight I went and chatted with the first officer and got my picture taken in the flight deck. We had a pretty good, but short, discussion on the state of the airline industry and where we think the future of it will go. One of the great items I noticed was he had a great understanding of the industry and where Southwest stands in it. I also enjoyed seeing his passion for the industry, and how enthusiastic he was when talking about Southwest.
Getting our bags and finding a taxi to our hotel was not too difficult. We eventually made our way to the hotel, and had this amazing view!
The conference started later that evening, and was really exciting. The opening session began with Chinese acrobats, a keynote by George Zimmer the founder of Men's Wearhouse, and a performance by the Jabbawockeez.
The conference was held in the Energy Solutions Arena, where the NBA team the Utah Jazz plays.
A picture inside the arena
The next morning I had to turn in a copy of my business plan to be graded. This was a photo of the line of people who also had to turn in their business plans and written reports!
After turning it in, I walked around the exhibit hall and picked up a $250 gift card I won in an essay contest. The essay contest was about "achieving your dreams" and I wrote an essay about an ULCC idea I want to start. I then headed back to the hotel.
I heard there was an In-N-Out burger in SLC, and despite being Hindu I had to go there!
Competition time soon rolled around, and I had to go and present my plan to my judge.
After presenting I waited for the next day, where the "mini-awards" session would tell me if I made it to the final round. Unfortunately I did not make it, which was very upsetting at the time. I have taken 4 different business plans to the international conference, and have not come back with a 1st place trophy. I got upset at the time, but was cheered up by remembering that I have been lucky enough to qualify for this conference by getting first place at state all 4 years in multiple events, when a majority of members do not even have a chance to attend this conference even one year.
I also remembered the fact, that unlike a good portion of my competitors, I actually went through and started my company and have real clients. I was also cheered up, because shortly after finding out I did not make it, a magazine in my community came out which featured a profile on me and my company.
A copy of the article can be seen here: http://www.435southmag.com/May-2012/...aspreet-Singh/
Even though I was still a little bit upset about not making it on stage, my best friend decided to cheer me up by going on adventures throughout SLC with me.
We used the Utah TRAX system, which was a very efficient and fun way of getting around the city. I wish Kansas City had a public transit system/light rail system as efficient as this!
One of the places we went to was Temple Square, where we saw the Mormon Church and Tabernacle Choir.
We found a really neat Brazilian restaurant and had lunch there. There were a lot of good sea foods, salads and meats. One of my favorite items was a fried banana!
We also visited the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Park, and see the ski jumps and luge tracks.
After what seemed like a short blur, it was already time to head back to Kansas City! I was shocked at how fast my last DECA ICDC went by!
My classmates and I had to wake up at 4:30 to leave for the airport at 5:15. We got there around 6, to turn in the rental van. When we got to the airport, we saw the check in line for almost every airline stretching out the door, so we decided to use the Skycap for WN. They were the friendliest, most efficient individuals I have met at an airport, and deserve recognition for it. I'm not sure if Skycaps are employed by WN, but they demonstrated the Southwest Spirit very well.
Security was long, but only took about 15 minutes to get through. Almost everyone was a DECA student returning home. Some were carrying trophies and wearing medals.
After getting through security I tried to get breakfast. I knew there was a Krispy Kreme when I visited SLC in the summer, but I think they closed it down, because it was not where I remember it being or on any of the maps. I decided to go to Cinnebon and find my way to the gate instead.
Walking through the SLC airport brought back many memories of times when I've connected here as a child, and of this summer.
A DL 752
The gate area was packed with DECA kids returning home, which was pretty neat. Before boarding my flight to Oakland there was an announcement that the flight was oversold and they were seeking volunteers. I've never had an oversold flight in the past, and was excited at the opportunity. My advisor was fine with letting me take the compensation if my parents were fine with it, which they weren't.
I was hoping to take a later flight to OAK and spend the rest of the day with my family in Oakland, before heading out to KC the next day, but unfortunately that did not happen.
Flight Aware info
Eventually I made my way to seat 17F.
Boarding was a bit difficult, due to the fact that nearly everyone on this plane was a high school student. The people in the 4 rows behind us were all Texas DECA members, and 100 other people on the plane were from Monta Vista HS DECA in CA. I'm not sure how the FA's felt about a plane load of high school students, but they didn't show any negative signs. It was kind of loud at the beginning, but many people fell asleep and calmed down as the flight went on.
Getting ready to leave SLC
The Great Salt Lake. It isn't as cool as it looks. In our time there we visited it, and after 30 seconds outside of the car I ended up with 3 mosquito bites on my arm, despite wearing a long sleeve shirt and sweater. (but somehow none on my legs, despite wearing shorts)
The flight was short, and was soon coming to an end
The very familiar approach into Oakland!
The landing was a lot of fun with a lot of nice braking action
After getting off of the aircraft I ran into Diane Keng, the founder and CEO of MyWeboo Inc, and the former president of California DECA. She was one of my inspirations for me starting my company, because I remember a few years ago hearing about her company and thinking that "if she could do it, so could I".
We had just over an hour for our connection in Oakland, and I had fun walking around the airport where I have so many memories flying in to.
I love the newer part of Terminal 2, especially this nice piece of artwork.
I noticed some interesting things with SWA's arrival/departure patterns. One second all the gates would be full, and then within about 10 minutes all of the aircraft that were on the ground when I landed were being pushed, and then 10 minutes after that all the gates were filled again with new aircraft.
I knew the flight to KC would be lengthy. It was about 9am CA time, and I wouldn't get into KC until 4 CST. My school mates and I decided to get lunch at a Burger King near our gate, that wasn't as unreasonably priced as I expected.
At the Burger King I stood in line next to two flight attendants, who were discussing working the flight to KC. Usually when you overhear airline employees talking, it is usually negative, but what I heard was very different. They were both talking about how much they loved the flexibility they were given in their schedules, and how Southwest worked around their needs.
Right as I was finishing up eating, boarding for the flight began.
Here is the flight aware info
The flight was full, but boarded fairly quickly. Right after pushing back, I saw this ambulance go by with its sirens on and it stopped at this gate.
A hazy picture of downtown SF
Almost on Runway 29
The Oracle Arena, and the stadium where the Oakland A's play
Headed back in the direction we came from!
The cabin crew was really cheerful and radiated lots of positive energy. The nabisco snack products surprised everyone once again, and multiple beverage and snack runs were done on this flight.
One of the things that annoyed me, was during the 2nd snack run I was handed a yellow bag of peanuts. I was very surprised and excited, because I thought they were the super-amazing SWA honey roasted peanuts that I have not had since my freshman year...but they weren't
. The salted ones are okay, but honey roasted are the best!
Making our way towards Kansas City
After what felt like no time at all, we began making our way down. The approach and landing had a lot of light turbulence
Pretty much the only aircraft at Terminal C when I landed
Terminal B on the other hand was filled with various WN, DL and even an AS jet! Every time I will see an AS bird in KC I will thank Justin Meyer (our manager of air service development, and voice of @kciairport) who is moving to TPA and will be greatly missed!
I was surprised to see this bird at MCI! This is the best shot I could get of it.
Deplaning did not take too long. I did not chat with the flight crew on this flight, and quickly made my way to the baggage claim area.
After a while our bags eventually came out, and we got one last group pic of our DECA chapter before we all headed our separate ways.
I am sad that my last DECA trip is over with. DECA has helped make me who I am today, and will forever be a part of me. Without DECA I would not have had as many amazing experiences, trips, memories, friends and businesses that I have today.
In my time there I bought a pair of DECA graduation cords that I will wear at my graduation, despite the fact that my school does not allow DECA to have cords.
To remember my time in DECA I also was allowed to take this year's membership poster from my advisor's classroom, and it is now on display in my room. Along with some of my trophies, and plaques to signify my two terms on the Kansas DECA state officer team. I feel like this wall represents where I've been throughout HS, and another wall in my room represents where I am going. On that wall I have a giant poster of Spirit One signed by Gary Kelly, a picture signed by Colleen Barrett, a copy of NUTS!, a few WN model aircraft, and a collection of paintings of special WN aircraft.
Thank you, I hope you enjoyed this report. Comments would be appreciated!