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Topic: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2007-06-25 00:43:33 and read 8373 times.

While this flight is admittedly no where near as eventful as my saga to Seattle last summer ( PWM-EWR-SEA-IAD-PWM On CO/UA (by KPWMSpotter Dec 25 2006 in Trip Reports) ) I hope some of you will find it noteworthy, as it documents the third ever flight scheduled between Portland, Maine and Orlando.

AirTran Airways began service to Portland just three weeks ago (on the 7th of June) with three daily flights to Baltimore, and a long awaited weekly non-stop to Orlando. After the mess I went through last year connecting in Newark, it was a simple choice to jump on the nonstop for my trip down to Florida. Thanks to some inside information here at Airliners.net, tipping me off to the new route, I was able to jump on AirTran's low fares the day they were announced, allowing me to get tickets at $99 each way (compared to the $250+ each way that JetBlue was offering at the time.) Even though I sacrificed the chance of spotting in JFK, and checking out JetBlue's in flight TV, I wasn't complaining at all, getting the chance to check out the newest carrier at PWM and saving a load of money in doing so.

KPWM - KMCO
Flight # TRS798
Equipment:
B717-200 (N998AT)
Scheduled Departure: 14:00 Actual Departure: 14:03
Scheduled Arrival: 17:20 Actual Arrival: 17:05

I arrived at the jetport with a good two and a half hours to spare...not expecting any delays or lines, but simply so that I could get a glimpse at the planes on the tarmac for the noon rush. As I pulled into the parking garage, my one planned objective took off over my head, as JetBlue's A320 departed a few minutes ahead of schedule. I would have missed it if it had been on schedule though, as the parking garage was surprisingly full. All of the less expensive surface spots were taken, so I was forced to snake my way through the newer of the garages to find one of the scarce open spaces. (and I had always doubted the "need" for a new garage. That was before I ever had to park in long-term parking. It shouldn't be a problem after next spring though, as a new garage of double the size is in the works)
After a brief elevator ride and a jog across the street, I was in the terminal with two hours to spare. Check in was quick and painless. Since I had reserved my seat weeks ago for a $5 charge, and I had checked in online the night before, all I had to do was get my bags in the system and get a receipt-style boarding pass. The check in agents were quite cheerful, albeit a little inexperienced (only having been on the job for three weeks now) but they got me on my way in no time at all.

The apparently over-staffed Check-In counter (three agents, with only me checking in...)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798001.jpg

Security also had no line whatsoever. All three lanes were staffed, so I was simply directed to the empty one. After depositing my laptop, shoes, wallet, camera, change, pens, pencils, and immortal soul into the plastic bins to be X-Rayed, I was through the metal detector and right into the crowded gate area. The one thing I dislike about the Jetport's current setup is the gate 2 and 3 area. Security spits everyone right into this rather small space, which often seats people waiting for 4-5 different flights. Continental, Northwest, United Express, and AirTran all use gates 2 and 3, and in the two hours that I was waiting I watched 6 departures from that one area. This mess of a crowd can be easily avoided though, just by side-stepping down a few gates. Delta, US Airways, and JetBlue all provide ample seating at the opposite end of the terminal, and also the easiest views of the aircraft. (thus, this is where I quickly headed)

Delta had a pair of departures that quickly cleared some seats in the terminal, A CRJ-7 to ATL, and a CRJ-1 to New York JFK
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWM623_N589SW_1.jpg

As I photographed the above Delta aircraft, I heard a stern voice from behind me utter something about "what kind of person takes pictures of airplanes anyways?" Afraid I was about to have a run in with a 'concerned citizen' of some kind, I turned around, relieved to see that it was just a former History teacher of mine, waiting for a delayed flight to DCA. After chatting for a while, I continued on my way down towards the empty end of the terminal.

JetBlue's painfully empty gate...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798010.jpg

A US Airways lawn dart getting ready for a run to PHL from gate 11
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798028.jpg

After grabbing a quick (yet quite expensive) lunch at the airside restaurant, I noticed that my teacher's E-170 had finally come in from DCA.

Even with technical problems, it's still a beautiful plane
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWM623_N514MD_2.jpg

Heading out, framed in the tail of AirTran's mid-day flight to Baltimore
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWM623_N514MD_1.jpg

With about an hour left until my scheduled departure, I noticed movement down at AirTran's end of the terminal. The flight to Baltimore (N940AT, an old color scheme 717) was finally on its way. With less than a minute passed after it's push back, an identical 717 came cruising down the taxiway to take its place. My aircraft, N998AT, had arrived.

I was a little disappointed to see the old color scheme on it, but a sharp looking plane nonetheless
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWM623_N998AT_2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798037.jpg

I was called to board in boarding zone 5 (although it didn't seem like many people were paying attention to the boarding zones) and took my seat in 15F. A window seat, 5 rows back from the bulkhead, it was the best seat that I could get on my cheap ticket. The overhead bin was surprisingly spacious, easily accepting my large laptop case, although the seat itself was certainly not very spacious. Leg room through all economy was a little bit cramped, and the seats were surprisingly short, providing no real head rest, and the cabin also had a generally worn feel to it, but it certainly beat a CRJ. There weren't many empty seats to be found, I would estimate at least a 90% load factor, but the aircraft didn't seem any more cramped than any other flight I've been on.
The view out the window was clear, since the wing is located quite aft on the 717, but I was still able to get glimpses of te control surfaces by twisting my neck a bit.

The view from the gate, showing a Continental Express flight just in from Cleveland
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798045.jpg

Taxi out was quick, pausing briefly short of Runway 29 to allow another Continental ERJ to land. The captain took the engines gently up to takeoff thrust as we made the turn down the runway. After a rather long seeming takeoff roll, we were in the air. Climbout seemed surprisingly steep compared to past aircraft type I have flown, and looking at video of other AirTran flights out of PWM, this seems to be a common practice. I don't know if it is because of the runway length, or just a characteristic of the aircraft type, but it certainly does make the initial climbout very interesting.

The control tower and gates 2 and 3 rush past on our takeoff roll.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798049.jpg

Climb to cruising altitude took quite a while, near 20 minutes. When we finally hit 34,000 feet the Captain announced that we were passing over Hartford on the right, and Boston to the left. Cabin service began shortly after that. The cabin crew for this flight consisted of two men and a woman. The lead flight attendant was a very energetic male, who seemed to to a very good job of entertaining the children on the flight, as well as calming a number of frightened older passengers on board. No matter how good the service was, the food they had to offer was scarce. Simply small pretzel packets and soda, with no further options even for sale. Even though I got a stern look for it, I was able to get the whole can of Sprite when I asked.

The pretzel packet gave instructions on how to properly eat the pretzels, insisting that we remind ourselves of the low-low fares with every bite.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798055.jpg

After the initial service, the flight attendants only came around once more, asking for trash and accepting requests for further food or drink. This left me with about two hours remaining to enjoy the view out the window, and the XM radio. I didn't find the XM service all that spectacular, so I simply reverted to my iPod to kill the rest of the time.
The flight was calm for the majority of the flight, with a little bit of sporradic chop. The next real event of note was descent into Orlando. The descent was quicker than the ascent, taking a little over 15 minutes, with occasional deployment of the spoilers to slow us down.

Our route along the Atlantic coast
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/Flightawaremap.jpg

Spoilers up...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798058.jpg

We flew a straight in approach to Runway 17L, as a 737 made a distant paralel approach to 18R. Roll out was quick and we taxied to the terminal without delay. The flight attendant made a lengthy announcement as we taxied, explaining that AirTran is still located at "Airside A" at MCO, and that they will not be moving for another few days. We pulled in to a gate at "A" next to another 717, and were asked to close our window shades so that the plane wouldn't heat up.

The gate area
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798071.jpg

As we deplaned, I the copilot was in the cockpit filling out some paperwork. I asked if he had the time to let me look around, and he welcomed me in to the flight deck. As I snapped some photos I commented that I hadn't ever seen the 717's flight deck before. Hearing this, he pointed out Airliners.net as a good source for flight deck photos. As he said that, I laughed a little and commented that I "had heard of A.net before..."

Thanks to the co-pilot for letting me take some shots of the 717's beautiful glass cockpit
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWM623_N998AT_3.jpg

Leaving the plane, I was surprised by the open-ness of Orlando's terminal. It certainly is a very nice airport. Baggage claim took a while, but that certainly isn't anything to spoil my good impression of the airport facilities.

Looking back at "Airside A" from the tram.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v506/Tupolev-TU144/Trip%20Report%20MCO/PWMMCO_FL798078.jpg


Overall,
AirTran Airways: The flight was on time, and gave me nothing to complain about. Onboard service wasn't spectacular, but I shouldn't expect much for the $99 I paid for the flight. AirTran certainly made a good choice in connecting MCO and PWM, it's a city pair that's been under served for a long time now. Now we can only hope it goes to daily service later this year.

I shall post my return flight's report in a week...untill then, I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: RKDflier
Posted 2007-06-25 01:56:37 and read 8304 times.

I was hoping someone would post a trip report of this route. Can't wait to read about the return flight.

Glad to see that the loads are high.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: ChrisNH
Posted 2007-06-25 02:04:18 and read 8297 times.

Excellent report! I think it's great that PWM has this Saturday service, and like I've noted on the Portland Jetport Yahoo Group, I would almost guarantee that it'll go Daily...perhaps before the end of this year. There is easily this much demand for a daily circuit PWM-MCO.

Great job!

Chris/MHT Yahoo Group

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: Lu
Posted 2007-06-25 03:12:51 and read 8204 times.

Nearly 3 hours flight, it only offers pretzel and sprint, unbelievable. Low-low-low fare airline. Maybe you may take BurgeKing next time.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: PILOTALLEN
Posted 2007-06-25 04:27:34 and read 8119 times.

cool a trip report from another fellow mainer! good report glad to hear airtran is doing well...finally making the other ones lower their prices!

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: DeltAirlines
Posted 2007-06-25 05:56:39 and read 8023 times.

Quoting Lu (Reply 3):
Nearly 3 hours flight, it only offers pretzel and sprint, unbelievable. Low-low-low fare airline. Maybe you may take BurgeKing next time.

Heck, I flew Delta First Class BOS-FLL a few months back and got about 3 passes of a snack basket and a few sodas (didn't feel like having beer...). Welcome to domestic US service - you don't see much in terms of food even in F except on transcons and some other high-revenue routes.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2007-06-25 16:11:31 and read 7819 times.

Quoting DeltAirlines (Reply 5):
Heck, I flew Delta First Class BOS-FLL a few months back and got about 3 passes of a snack basket and a few sodas (didn't feel like having beer...). Welcome to domestic US service - you don't see much in terms of food even in F except on transcons and some other high-revenue routes.

Yeah, I can't say I was expecting anything more than this. The one thing that surprised me was the lack of buy-on-board items. United, and even Skybus (which I always think of as far below AirTran in terms of customer service) offer more substantial food for sale on their flights of this distance.
Does AirTran offer buy on board on any of their flights, or are the trans continental flights also food-less? If so, I will seriously consider bringing some food on board if I ever fly them on any longer flights.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: MKP1013
Posted 2007-06-25 22:21:58 and read 7644 times.

Nice report! Also glad to see someone report on this new route. The new counters look good in PWM! I really wanted to book them for ATL-BWI-PWM in mid July, but their web special-fares have gone quick! Only fares left are 200-300 one-ways.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 6):

Yeah, I can't say I was expecting anything more than this. The one thing that surprised me was the lack of buy-on-board items. United, and even Skybus (which I always think of as far below AirTran in terms of customer service) offer more substantial food for sale on their flights of this distance.
Does AirTran offer buy on board on any of their flights, or are the trans continental flights also food-less? If so, I will seriously consider bringing some food on board if I ever fly them on any longer flights.

Nope, no meals at all. Purely a LCC thing I suppose. I'm assuming since they don't have it on their website yet that PWM-MCO will be a long range $80 business class upgrade. I'd be willing to pay $40 for their shorter flights, but 80 will be hardly worth it for a little extra legroom and a pre-departure drink. Still, I like the fact there now letting people choose seats at booking for only 5 bucks.

Thanks again for sharing!

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: Zrs70
Posted 2007-06-26 07:06:26 and read 7505 times.

Any one remember when DL had like 10 mainline flights to PWM? 4-5 to BOS, a couple to LGA, and a couple to BGR?

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: PWM2TXLHopper
Posted 2007-06-26 07:47:05 and read 7481 times.

Quoting Zrs70 (Reply 8):
Any one remember when DL had like 10 mainline flights to PWM? 4-5 to BOS, a couple to LGA, and a couple to BGR?

Oh quite well! I grew up flying on those flights on trips to visit family down south, usually bound for either MEM or JAN via BOS or LGA and then ATL on a 727. I think it was some of these early DL flights that triggered my facination with aviation in general. Some of my earliest memories go back almost 25 years boarding a DL flight at PWM. I remember before the days of super hubs, when you often had to make 2, or sometimes even 3 connections or stops before you got to your final destination! For example, it use to take the greater part of the day to get from PWM to MEM on DL. These days I can just hop a flight to ATL, make a connection and be down there in about four hours if there are no delays.

Until two or three years ago we still had 2 mainline flights to ATL and 3 to CVG per day. If you go back about seven years, we also had hourly service to BOS and every other hour to LGA with DL Connection-BEX. Starting around 1996, almost all flights out of PWM were on MD-88's with the exception of the PWM-ALB-ATL-RE flights that were ooperated on the 727's. They dropped that one around 1999 and all mainline flights went to MD-88's until the RJ's started invading the scene! However, from the mid-1980's until the mid 90's DL routinely operated 727/737/757/MD-88's between PWM and BOS, LGA,CVG and ALB. A continuing leg to BGR on the CVG-PWM flights existed as well for a few years. Although, never used for passenge flights out of PWM, I can clearly remember seeing DL 767-200's RON on the apron for the night during the late 80's early 90's when I was still quite young, but old enough to clearly remember they were widebody 767's and not a 757 (which DL also use to park next to the 757's at night sometime) Never learned where they were coming from, but I've always assumed BOS,LGA or JFK maybe? Does anybody here that was with DL during these years remember these RON' 767's going to PWM for the night?


By the way, I haven't been into the terminal at PWM for about two months. Where did they end up fitting in the Air Tran Check-In counter?

[Edited 2007-06-26 07:49:20]

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: N801NW
Posted 2007-06-26 14:40:09 and read 7437 times.

I think FL is between DL/Comair and US, by a set of stairs. I was headed to B6 so I didn't get a chance to look closely.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: KPWMSpotter
Posted 2007-06-26 15:26:32 and read 7422 times.

Quoting PWM2TXLHopper (Reply 9):

By the way, I haven't been into the terminal at PWM for about two months. Where did they end up fitting in the Air Tran Check-In counter?

It's at the old American Eagle counter, and as the previous poster said, right by the stairs. (AirTran's counter is one of the few correctly labled things on the Jetport's terminal map if you take a look at it here: http://www.portlandjetport.org/inside-terminal.asp )


As for Delta's mainline service here...well, those were certainly the days. The downside of having multiple LCC's in a small market like PWM is that the legacy carriers really do cut back service. As the low cost carriers come in, Delta punches out. It was two years ago that Delta ended its MD-88 flights in exchange for all CRJs. Last summer we saw the occasional 737-200 to CVG, but nothing more than that. As for this summer, it doesn't look like we'll be seeing anything bigger than CRJ-700s. Even the Atlanta flights, which saw four CRJ-7s last summer, aren't going back past three a day. On the up side, the Dash 8s are upgrading to CRJs, but as far as upgrades go that's about the worst you can get. I was really hoping for at least some CRJ-900s or E-170s from Delta (I maintain my position that those are the best aircraft type for the PWM market overall) but alas, that option seems to have been cut off by the introduction of A320s and 717s to the airport.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: Zrs70
Posted 2007-06-27 01:24:10 and read 7319 times.

Regarding DL: Once upon a time there were the DC-9's up to Presque Isle!

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: N801NW
Posted 2007-06-27 02:31:37 and read 7298 times.

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 11):
I was really hoping for at least some CRJ-900s or E-170s from Delta

XJ (Northwest) will bring their new CR9's to PWM beginning 10/15/207. It replaces NW1015, the afternoon DC-9 to DTW.

Topic: RE: PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics)
Username: PWM2TXLHopper
Posted 2007-06-27 04:20:54 and read 7267 times.

Quoting Zrs70 (Reply 12):
Regarding DL: Once upon a time there were the DC-9's up to Presque Isle!

You're right, that was back in the early to mid 1970's when DL bought out Northeast Airlines (Yellow Bird) I've always wanted to see some pictures of their DC-9's at PQI, but I haven't had any luck finding any at this point!


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