I had to take a quick trip down to Dallas for a meeting, and while the trip was nothing special, it was my first time on one of the larger E-Jets, so I figured I'd share my impressions/ experiences from this trip.
UAL 7645 (opb Shuttle America)
For starters, I had no influence on the itinerary for this trip- I did the outbound flight with my boss, and she prefers United and only likes flying out of IAD, and tries to avoid DCA and especially BWI at all costs. This didn't bother me at all as IAD is my airport of choice as well, and it allowed me to finally add an ERJ-170 to my list. I had checked in the day before at work, but I still wanted to check my bag, so I arrived at Dulles before 6am, parked the car in the Daily 2 garage, and immediately swore quite loudly- as anyone who's familiar with Dulles knows, I'd just given myself the longest possible walk to the United ticket counters! Fortunately, the terminal wasn't crowded and I had dropped off my bag by 615. This was my first trip through the new security check at Dulles, and while nice, the TSA still managed to foul it up. While there were two separate entrances to the security lines, one for elites, one for everyone else, they both led to the same line, with only one person checking IDs/boarding passes. Also, the elite entrance was right at the bottom of the escalator, while the other one was at the far end of the hall, so I had to backtrack, enter the line, and then walk all the way back to the bottom of the escalator, where they were checking IDs. Fortunately, the line moved quickly, and there was only a short wait to get through the metal detector. Once through security, I made the scenic trip on the people-eater to Terminal D and our gate, D16, was directly opposite from where the mobile lounges dock at the terminal. The gate was full, as there was a flight to LAX getting ready to board. Once that flight had begun boarding, I grabbed a seat by the window, and was met shortly thereafter by my boss. We chatted for 90 minutes or so until our flight began boarding shortly after 8am. We were in different rows, but didn't make any efforts to swap seats. I did manage to snag the last overhead bin space over my row for my laptop, so I didn't have to worry about kicking it if it were under my seat. We departed the gate on-time, and made a quick taxi over to RWY 19L for departure. I was amazed at how loud the plane was on departure, but once we got to altitude, it got much quieter. Service was just a drink pass, and I spent the flight reading. Comfort-wise, it was average- the flight was pretty full- 62 of 70 seats taken (including the one next to me), but for a 'regional jet' it was pretty good- much better than the CRJs or even the Avro RJ100s I've flown on. The flight got bumpier as we approached Dallas, so the last part was done with the seat belt sign on, and I couldn't see anything out the window until right before we touched down on RWY 31R at DFW. Taxi to the gate took a while, as we had to wait for a few departures crossing RWY 17C and RWY 17R, but we eventually made our way over to Gate B30. While taxiing in, the F/A in the back got on the intercom, and began welcoming us to Houston, and giving us all sorts of information about the Houston airport, going on and on about Houston, until the F/A up front yelled the length of the plane "We're in Dallas!" (pretty good lungs on that guy IMHO) to which the other F/A said "Oh. Welcome to Dallas." and promptly got off the intercom. Once off the plane, it was a pleasantly short walk to the baggage claim, and it was off to get the rental car and find the hotel in foggy, rainy Dallas.
UAL 7645 (opb Shuttle America)
My boss was continuing on to other meetings, so I'd be returing to DC alone. During the lunch break in our meetings on the 14th, I jumped on the United website and checked in for the return flight. When I confirmed my itinerary, it offered me an upgrade, and I figured why the hell not? So I shelled out the $200 and snagged the last seat in First- 1F. My boss had flown out the night before, so I didn't have to wait for her to go to the airport, which was nice, since I woke up at my usual time of 6am, DC-time, which is 5am in Dallas. Not having anything better to do, I said the hell with it, got up, had breakfast in the hotel, and went to the airport, gettting there at 730 for my 1130 flight. So I took my sweet time returning the rental car and getting to the terminal. Once at Terminal B, I checked in my bag, picked up my ticket, and went through security where I got to listen to the deep philosophical musings of the guy behind me in line wondering "Why do I get to Sacramento before I leave Dallas?" and "What the am I going to do in the Denver airport for 40 minutes?" Once through security, I wandered through Terminal B before getting a cup of coffee and settling in at Gate B29 to watch what felt like half of AA's MD-80 fleet taxi past over the next several hours. Due to nasty headwinds, our plane didn't arrive at the gate until our scheduled departure time, but they did a very quick turn, starting boarding pretty much as soon as the last inbound passengers had gotten off. I was the first on the plane, and put my laptop in the overhead bin before settling into my seat. Despite what Seat Guru says, 1F is perfectly fine- I am 6ft 5in and had no issues at all with the legroom. The F/A passed around waters to those of us in F, and we pushed back around 40 min late, at 1211. Despite the late push, we still taxiied all the way over to RWY 35L, even though they were using RWY 36R for departures as well. Once airborne, we were offered drinks and snack boxes. The boxes were pretty good- they had crackers and cheese spread, some dried fruit, pepperoni slices, a 100-calorie pack of mini rice cakes, and a chocolate chip cookie. I was disappointed that we didn't get the full can of coke though. Thanks to the promised tailwinds, we had a somewhat bumpy flight, but nothing terrible. I finished my book, and then spent the remainder of the trip staring out the window at the clouds. Also, thanks to the tailwind, we were almost on-time when we arrived back on RWY 1L. However, it was a slow, halting, taxi over to Gate D4. By the time I had made my way off the plane, and over to the main terminal, our bags were just starting to come off the carousel. Mine was one of the first off, and I was back to my car within 40 minutes of landing.
On the whole, it was a solid trip by Shuttle America- the flight crews were all nice, the planes were clean, and they got me my first E-170 trip. Again, the E-170 was equally average, nothing special, but I wouldn't go out of my way to avoid/not avoid flying one. Thanks for getting this far, and comments are always welcome!