Origin Airport: Phoenix/Sky Harbor Airport
Destination Airport: Rochester International Airport MINNESOTA
Flight Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Livery: Sun Country “Tide Pod”
Where is Rochester?
When you think of Rochester, it probably conjures up an image of the Upstate New York city, nestled on the southern coast of Lake Ontario. The Rochester I flew into today is in Minnesota, about 2 hours drive southeast of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro. The city of around 121,000 is home to something you’ve most likely heard of: Mayo Clinic.
As the head of gastroenterology at Arizona’s largest hospital, I’m constantly jetting across the country, going to various conferences in places like Boston, Burbank, and Miami. But, for the first time, I’m heading up North, all the way to Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. As an avgeek, this is going to be an exciting moment: my first Sun Country flight.
My flight left around noon, so I got to the airport around 9:45, to account for the lengthy security lines. I just got TSA Precheck after years of putting it off, so was pleasantly suprised at how quickly I was ushered through he checkpoint. After security, I went and bought some food for the plane.
I took my seat, right in front of the wing. There were tons of people in fluorescent vests loading the plane up for this flight. The chair itself is nicely padded, with supple amounts of legroom for a low cost carrier, plenty good for this relatively short flight up to Rochester.
Up, up, and away! After a long takeoff roll, we lumbered into the sky. We were a completely full flight, and it was near MTOW. The midday heat created a fair amount of turbulence as we made our initial climb.
Just after passing the New Mexico-Colorado border, the snack and drink service started. Though I had some Subway from the airport, I decided to try the food. After selecting the “Hearty Flightbites,” I was impressed at the wide offering of snacks available for this trip.
As I was scrolling through Twitter after the flight, I found this picture taken from another plane, higher than us, by someone who happened to have a telephoto lens for their camera! This is us, south of Denver.
As we were cruising above Colorado, near Nebraska, a commotion began in the forward galley. The seatbelt sign was on, because of the potential for turbulence coming up, and a passenger began stretching in the aisle. The flight attendants politely asked her to sit down, which she refused to do. We started getting bounced around, the the FAs were getting pretty annoyed. Another passenger, seated near the action, grabbed the offender and pulled them into their seat, at the request of the cabin crew. It turns out, they were an off duty Arizona State Patrol officer.
We descended down to 32,000 feet as we crossed the Iowa-Minnesota border, then made a sharp right town to fly parallel to the border. The pilot made an announcement that there was a large line of storms to the northwest of Rochester. They were rapidly getting closer to the airport, and we were going to have to do a convoluted, looping appproach. He thought we could make it in time, but warned us that diverting to Des Moines was a distinct possibility.
Another doctor, traveling to the same conference, sent me this picture of the approach when we landed.
We passed through the low cloud cover, encountering severe turbulence as we made our way down to the runway.
Touchdown! Welcome to Rochester! Despite the super low visibility, we buttered onto the runway, right on the touchdown zone. The clouds broke just as we slowed down, and within seconds everything was drenched in rain.
We taxied the short distance over to our gate, and disembarked. The pilots were supposed to fly the aircraft down to Fort Myers, but that flight was cancelled due to the poor weather. I picked up my bag, got my rental car, and headed into town.
Customer Service and User Friendly Booking Process: 9/10