For months now I have been traveling the world through other members trip reports, nearly always in First Class. Now, I suppose I shall provide my own journey (this one far shorter than most reported on). I am an Embry-Riddle student in Prescott, Arizona, and wanted to fly home to see my family in DFW for spring break.
Choosing the flights:
There are few options for Prescott (PRC) residents. Horizon Airlines offers non-stop service on Q400s to LAX. (The flight stops in FLG.) In addition, Great Lakes Aviation offers EAS (Essential Air Service) flights to ONT and DEN (Via Farmington, NM). If these destinations are no good, then a nearly two hour drive to PHX is in order to fly around the world. From, PHX, I had the option of US nonstop or AA nonstop. In addition, I could fly WN to DAL with a stop in ABQ.
I had flown Great Lakes several times to ONT, and have always enjoyed their Beech 1900D service. Their DEN service also allowed me an opportunity to connect on to Frontier, my favorite domestic airline, and one I rarely have the opportunity to fly. Plus, the Great Lakes/Frontier itinerary afforded me free luggage, a nice 2-hour layover in DEN and free parking at PRC. The only real downside, the only spotting to do at PRC is all the Riddle fleet, which I am quite familiar with
It was settled, I would select the Great Lakes/Frontier itinerary. The flight was easily booked on Frontier's website. Of the F9 3 fare-tier system, I selected the economy fare for a few key reasons:
--It was $100 cheaper
--My bags were already free, as Great Lakes was the originating carrier.
--I wouldn't be needing the LiveTV for the short DEN-DFW flight.
The one downside of the Economy fare, is I was required to wait until check-in to select my seat. 24 hours before the flight, I completed the online check-in which was a breeze, and selected an empty row at the back of the A319.
Day of Flight:
I woke up bright and early, well, not quite bright, the sun was not out yet. I was at the airport at 4:55 am, for my 5:30 am flight. (The PRC terminal does not open until 5am). The agent had some trouble getting me checked in due to a computer glitch, and with the 7 people behind me all having the same issue, I was certain we would depart late. Security is a breeze, and is located within the departures area, a temporary building attached to the original terminal. There were 8 passengers and 4 TSA agents. The pilots got out to the aircraft at 5:15, and started up the engines to get the heat flowing in the aircraft, which had already been de-iced. (It was a cool 25 degrees outside) At about 5:50, we began to board the aircraft. Soon they started up the engines once again, and got us taxiing to runway 21L, and by 6:05, we were wheels up.
For anyone who has not flown Great Lakes or the Beech 1900D, it is by no means a luxury affair. Their are 19 small seats, but they do have average seat pitch. There are however, no flight attendants, and just as importantly, no restroom.
The first leg was DEN-FMN. The flight only lasted about an hour, sped up by a nice tailwind. After a quick stop on runway 7 at FMN, we pulled up to the terminal. The aircraft onloaded some fuel (I believe they said 40gal on each side) and 11 passengers. This is the first full Great Lakes flight I have ever flown on, but no matter, the seating config on the Beech is still roomy enough (unless you are in the last row).
After about 15 min on the ground, we were wheels up again, on our way to DEN. After a quick sleep, I realized we were nearing the Denver area and about an hour 15 minutes after FMN, we landed at DEN, and had a quick taxi to the Lakes Air ramp.
We arrived about 25 minutes late, but I was not worried, I still had over an hour before boarding was to commence. My first mission was to walk through the F9 terminal airside, to examine how the F9/YX branding is coming along. I was very pleased with the results, and hopefully a lot of the confusion passengers were having will start to disappear. On the ramp were about 3 Lynx Q400s, 10 Beech 1900Ds (Lakes Air) and about 5 EMB-120s (Lakes Air). In addition, there were several F9 Airbuses, and a Midwest liveried E190. (Operated by Republic crews)
After walking the terminal, I found a Quizno's with a great view of the ramp, and paid too much for the smallest Quizno's sandwich I have ever eaten . Soon, it was well worth it, as N202FR and N203FR (two of the F9 A320s) both parked right in front of the window. After about an hour of eating my small sandwich, getting Diet Coke refills, and spotting, it was time to head to my gate, which was nearby.
Right as I arrived at the gate, so did my aircraft, N918FR, with Jake the White-tailed Deer taking a ride on the back. During the entirety of my time at the gate, the agents were advertising for the new STRETCH seating, and seems like there were some takers. The price for me was $25 (due to the Economy ticket, it is less for the other fare classes, perhaps even included). Because I am only 5 ft 10 inches tall, I declined.
Boarding was quick and easy, and people seemed to understand the boarding process quite well, except for the guy in front of me, convinced his bag would fit in the overhead, despite the fact it was far too large. Once on the plane, I checked my ticket to double check my row, and realized I had accidentally booked the aisle, instead of the window.
Anyways, the boarding was very fast, and the flight was completely full. After the customary safety briefings, and previews of the LiveTV, we were off. I do wish the map was available for free, I seem to recall it was a few years ago. The taxi to the runway was very fast, due to DENs incredibly well designed layout. The takeoff seemed a bit long for an A319, compared to my previous experiences, undoubtedly due to the altitude. (It was that point I realized I had been to 3 airports in one day, all of which were a mile high)
The seats are very comfortable on F9, and the pitch is very generous. On the aisle seats, the IFE box does take up some of your legroom though. The food service (BOB) was limited on the DEN-DFW flight, because it is only about 1 hour 45 minutes. The FAs were great as usual on F9, and of course lived up to my previous flights with them. After about 1 hour 40 minutes in the air, we touched down at DFW and had a remarkably short taxi to gate E32. After 5 minutes, I was off the aircraft to claim my bag, and meet my family.
Neither of these airlines were new to me, so I knew what to expect, and they both lived up to it. I am very interested to see what Bryan Bedford and the Republic Airways team do with regards to the F9/YX branding. One thing is for sure there, F9 is "A Whole Different Animal" and always a great joy to fly.
Thank you for reading my TR, all questions/Comments welcome.