Well, since business must go on, I did too, to Tampa last week. I had bought tix on aa.com that would take me out on 1115 to MIA, connecting to 428. Both flights were on 738's, and both were cancelled due to schedule cutbacks. Since I really didn't like anything else they offered schedule-wise, Wendy, the very nice AA phone rep wound up putting me on DLX 2511, and was able to snag seat 10F for me. She also told me to call daily to check on my return flights, which were still up and running at the time, but may change.Click for large version
So, the day of travel came, and thanks to the ticket situation, I had to go to the AA counter first, and then on to the DL counter. Well, I got lucky as I arrived during the lull between banks of flights. There were only 2 people in front of me at AA, and they both wound up going over to the Eagle counter, and no one at the DL line! However, because I had a non-standard ticket, DL required that my bags get manually searched, which wound up taking almost an hour.
After that was through, I walked down to the security checkpoint where I had to show my id and ticket. As I made my way to my gate, C33, the first thing that struck me was that all the different food service places were closed. My plane wasn't in yet, but an old 767 was parked at C32, due for Atlanta about 15 minutes after our flight left. At about 11:30, they announced boarding for both flights. I had taken a head count in the local seating area, and there were about 60-65 people present. Of these, 38 wound up on my flight, so all I can think of is that must have been one empty, quiet 767 run to Atlanta. Anyway, this was my first ride on DLX, and it actually wasn't too bad. The gentleman on the aisle said that he takes this flight about 4 times a year, and this was the first time he had ever seen it not sold out. We took N323DL, one of the newly repainted models.
Photo © John Sweeney
The flight down was relatively uneventful. After departing rwy 9, we curved back around and took an inland route, putting NYC to our left and behind some clouds. The first hour or so was a little choppy whenever we went through some clouds, and then the rest of the flight was smooth until we were on final to 18L in TPA, when we had a couple of good stomach-droppers! On the ground in TPA, U had a 3 Metrojets parked at a hangar off to the side, and things all around looked very quiet. But, nothing like renting a Mustang convertible in Florida, so that's what I did!!
Anyway, for the trip back, I arrived 2 hours early again, only to make it through the check-in line in about 10 minutes. I made my way over to the airside area, where my flight on AA, which had not been cancelled after all (5380, connecting to 1908), was still scheduled on-time. After grabbing a couple of beers at Chili's, I headed to the gate. Still no sign of our plane, an ATR-42, which arrived 5 minutes later, and turned out to be this one, N141AE.
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Photo © Michael F. McLaughlin
So naturally, as the plane is pulling up, the gate agent asks everyone for this flight to come to the counter. Mechanical problem, your flight is cancelled! Since they couldn't get me to MIA in time for my flight to BOS, which was the last one of the day, they put me on a Metrojunk, I mean Metrojet, flight. That wasn't leaving for another 2 hours. Great. And wouldn't you know it, the plane that showed up is probably the last silver one in the fleet. I didn't catch the number, but I'm guessing it was N232US.
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Photo © James Reppucci
I was able to talk the U gate agent into seat 11F, and this flight wound up having around 50 or so on it. Spotting at TPA, I caught among other things the DLX Powerpuff Girls, WN's California One, and a Jet Blue A320 that took off like a bat outta hell!
Well, the flight home turned out to be not so bad after all. The fa's were nice, we passed a few t'storms after dark, which is always fun, and the skies over NYC were clear--we tracked right over Queens, with an excellent view of lower Manhattan. I couldn't get over what a large area the site covers. Arrival at BOS was quick, we were 30 minutes early, and the terminal was completely empty. All in all, a good trip, even though none of it was on AA!