Sponsor Message:
Aviation Trip Reports Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
A Journey To Spain: BWI-JFK-MAD-ALC On AA/VY  
User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 582 posts, RR: 2
Posted (3 years 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 8110 times:

Hey all, this is my first trip report. I've been reading the forums for a long time now, and I finally thought I'd join. Since I was going to a camp, I didn't bring my big camera. All these pictures are taken with my iPhone, so apologies in advance for any poor quality shots. I really let the pics speak for themselves, but there's plenty of commentary mixed on. Any constructive comments / suggestions are always appreciated. Hope y'all enjoy!

Introduction

I was headed to Spain for two weeks in the sun. I'd be heading to Alicante (via Madrid) for three days, then back to Madrid, then to Salamanca to teach Spaniards about English culture, then back to Madrid, and back to the United States. I chose to fly American because they were (a) the most cost-effective, (b) would be able to send me all the way to ALC because of Iberia and the OneWorld alliance, and (c) because my mom is an ex-employee, unlocking some possibilities (to be detailed later).

As I was writing my Morocco trip report (which I'll be posting a bit later), I found myself wishing that I took more pictures on the flights, creating more detail. I was sure to document almost every inch of this trip.


First Leg
Baltimore (BWI) - New York (JFK)
Operated by AmericanEagle
AA3964 ERJ145 NXXXAE


I arrived at the airport quite early, almost three hours, and checked in with the agent there. For those unfamiliar with BWI, there's almost never any lines at the check in desks, save for those pax flying WN or DL, so it is usually not necessary to be there so early.

After checking my docs and printing my boarding passes for the BWI-JFK-MAD legs, she advised me to stay landside because the inbound aircraft had not yet left Chicago due to weather. She said that there was a possibility of the flight being cancelled, as it was already running a half-hour behind schedule and had not yet taken off due to thunderstorms.

This wasn't really what I wanted to hear, because a cancelled flight here meant that the first part of my trip was basically screwed. AA flies one daily flight from New York to Madrid, which I was booked on. There isn't another American Eagle flight to JFK after the one that I was booked on, so a cancelled flight meant a drive to DCA to catch a flight to JFK, or that I would miss my JFK departure and have to transit through Miami or Dallas.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of waiting, I went back to check with the agent and she said that the inbound aircraft was in the air, and that I could proceed to the gate. She wished me a pleasant trip, and did everything with a smile. What excellent service!



Once onboard, the doors were closed promptly after all had boarded, and we pushed back about 45 minutes behind schedule. Today's Eagle flight was at 100% load.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1877/web.jpg?ver=13115603280001

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1881/web.jpg?ver=13115603300001
Legroom is passable, but, hey, it's an RJ!

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1885/web.jpg?ver=13115603320001
Takeoff from Baltimore's Runway 15R.

The flight attendant advised us of a 40 minute flight time to JFK, and commenced a small drinks service almost as soon as we were at 10,000 feet.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1887/web.jpg?ver=13115603330001
Climbing out of Baltimore.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1894/web.jpg?ver=13115603360001
Descending already? On final approach to JFK.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1895/web.jpg?ver=13115603370001
Wheels down after just 184 miles. Welcome to New York!

My flight to Madrid was just an hour away from departure by the time we landed. It was departing from AA's T8 main, and my Eagle flight landed in T8 satellite, so that meant about a 15 minute walk over to my gate. The flight attendant read out the connecting flight gates after landing. Our Eagle flight pax were quite a well-travelled group! In addition to me and four other people on AA94 to Madrid, there were pax destined for London, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, and Paris.

Not wanting to miss the initial boarding call, I was ready to start walking to Gate 7. However, I had to wait for my gate-checked bags. I try to avoid checking bags through on flights whenever possible. Planning to only take carry-on bags means that I don't have to worry about things getting lost, and it helps me streamline my packing to make sure that I take only what I need and not a whole bunch of other stuff.

But now, this was the time where I was kind of regretting that decision. Had I checked a bag, I'd be able to head over to my gate immediately, but now I ended up having to wait for my gate-checked bag. Mercifully, it was the first one off.

AA has a great terminal in JFK. It is bright, spacious, and clean. It is laid out more traditionally, with gates and stores/restaurants laid out on either side of the wide middle walkway, as opposed to say, DL's T3, which is laid out ... I don't even know ... I was in such a rush that I didn't take any pictures of the terminal, but here's one from Flickr.



After about a 15 minute walk to my next gate, Gate 7, I arrived just as the gate agent was clearing upgrades and was about to make the first boarding call. This gate agent was really efficient, but friendly too. It is all too common these days for a gate agent to either be inefficient or unfriendly, or both. But this one was really doing a great job, even when some passengers gave her a hard time about their seating assignments, or the fact that the checkin agent made them check six of their seven bags, leaving them only one to bring onboard.

Second Leg
New York (JFK) - Madrid (MAD)
AA94 B757-200 N18XAN


Boarding was orderly, and started with Business class passengers, as well as AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum, and Gold members. Next came the traditional zone boarding, beginning with zone 1. Once in the jetway, it took a good 5 minutes to get to the door. The jetway was the longest one I've ever walked in, and I think that I walked through five or six hallways before I actually got to the door of the aircraft.


Boarding pass for AA94.

I was one of the first ones onboard, and found my seat 10A. It was a little bit surreal flying TATL without IFE of any sort, but I was thankful to have at least AC power so I could use my iPhone the whole flight and still have a full battery when we land in Madrid. I had looked at Seatguru to find the best seats, and saw that 10A and 10F had no seat in front of them, which would allow for great legroom and aisle access by walking forward instead of to the side and therefore bothering my seat mates. Keep in mind, that's just the theory, and theories don't always pan out.

As boarding wound down to the final stages, I was happy to see that somehow I had ended up with both seats next to me free on a pretty full flight. Of course, the last minute passenger that boarded had the aisle seat, 10C, but that was pretty much a non-issue because I could still raise the armrest and stretch out abit. Since the seat in the middle was unoccupied, I asked my seatmate if it was alright if I put my backpack under seat 10B, since he had stowed both his bags in the overhead. He said that it would be fine, so I got out into the aisle and searched for my backpack in the locker....where was it? It's a red neoprene backpack from PUMA Ocean Racing, with a huge puma on the back, so I knew I couldn't be missing it.. After some searching, I finally found it. The passengers that boarded after me had rudely pushed it into the back of the overhead bin, then stowed their bags in front of it, basically crushing it into the back of the overhead. I was flabbergasted. I know this is coach and not everyone is polite, but I've never seen such rudeness. Oh, well.

Anyway, moving on, I finally got it and stowed it under 10B. We moved to the active for a takeoff about 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time, a first for me at JFK.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1903/web.jpg?ver=13115603410001



Something to mention about seat 10A/10F is that there isn't actually the whole space of a seat in front of you. The emergency slide cover takes up pretty much all space gained by having a missing seat; so while it's great for legroom, it would be a pretty tight squeeze impossible to try to get out into the aisle there.

I tried plugging my iPhone into the AC power after we reached 10,000 feet. Of course, the power wasn't working. Great. I needed my iPhone in Madrid, so this forced me to have to minimize my use and keep a close eye on the battery. But, in hindsight, it was probably a good excuse to sleep.

Soon after, the flight attendants came around for the first F&B service.


Apologies for the bad photo quality. First snack and drink served on tonight's flight.

At cruise over Rhode Island, the American Airlines "Flagship Meal Service" started. I'm not sure why they call it this, because the food isn't terrible, but it's not spectacular either. It's not worth touting it as your crowning jewel ... but I appreciate the effort that AA has made to make us coach passengers feel special  
Tonight's dinner.

Dinner was a choice between chicken and pasta. I chose the chicken, which was some kind of barbecue-type chicken with mashed potatoes and chopped up green beans. Not too bad, but again, nothing I'd want to eat on the ground. Also included was bread and butter, cheese and crackers, a small salad, and a "blondie," also known as a golden brownie. Very similar to the setup on my Delta flight just a week earlier.

One thing I did really like about AA's service was that they gave the whole can when pouring soda (without being asked), as well as giving a bottled water with dinner (in addition to whatever drink you'd already been served). These were small things, but nice touches in my opinion. This saves me the trouble of having to ask for (a) the whole can, or (b) another drink after dinner.

After the dinner and another drinks service, I reclined my seat and tried to sleep a little. I had learned my lesson from not getting sleep on my Delta flights the past few weeks, so I immediately tried to get comfortable. I fell asleep for a good two hours or so, and woke up over the pitch-black Atlantic.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1911/web.jpg?ver=13115603460001
One final Atlantic shot before heading off to sleep.

I woke up with about 3 hours to go before we landed in Madrid. The cabin was darkened, and most people were still sleeping or doing something quiet.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1916/web.jpg?ver=13115603490001
Darkened cabin.

About 1.5 hours out of Madrid, the flight attendants came around with breakfast boxes before our estimated 6 a.m. arrival into Madrid-Barajas.


Breakfast box.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1920/web.jpg?ver=13115603510001
Opened up.

The box contained a banana muffin, a banana, raspberry yogurt, and some sort of dried fruits. The banana products were good, but everything else was awful. The yogurt was disgusting (but I'm not a yogurt guy anyway), and instead of big chunks of dried fruit, the packet contained little mini bits of fruit matter.

At about 05:40 local time, we began our final approach to MAD, and we were parked at the gate around 06:10 local, nearly an hour ahead of schedule. I love early flights, but this one meant about a four hour layover for me.


After deplaning, I made my way to the Iberia transfer desk to get my boarding pass for IB5329. After a docs check, I got my boarding pass and made my way through the first round of passport control, then onward to T4-HJK. For those unfamiliar with Madrid-Barajas, T4 is divided into two concourses, a main terminal and a satellite terminal. The airport uses a series of letter codes which can be confusing at first, but once you figure them out, it's no big deal.

My American flight landed in T4-MRSU, which is the satellite building. The RSU gates are the Non-Schengen space, so a transfer to T4-HJK is required if the connecting flight is intra-Spain or follows the Schengen agreement. Even though the airport can be slightly confusing at first glance, there is a ton of signage, which is more than adequate. As long as you know your gate, you can follow the signs and have no problem. There are even lines on the floor that literally lead you from escalators to trains to gates, et cetera.

The only problem is the airport's size. It's not really a problem, but a consideration. From the time I stepped off AA94, it took me about 35 minutes to get airside at T4-HJK .. this included initial passport control, a 5 minute underground train ride (like the AirTrain at IAD) and going through security again. Finally, I arrived in T4-HJK.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1930/web.jpg?ver=13115603550001
The common area of T4-HJK.

After security, you are dumped into the common area of T4-HJK, which is basically duty free. There are many duty free shops and several restaurants and cafes. It's a nice area, and at barely 7:00 am, you can imagine that it was basically empty aside from a handful of business travelers and others who had arrived on overnight long-hauls.

This is where I kind of have problems. Many European airports aren't like the US, where you can head to your gate six hours ahead of time if you want and just camp out until boarding. In MAD, gates don't get posted until 90 minutes or so before departure, which left me with a lot of time to kill. But oh well. I ended up sitting down at a cafe and had my first Spanish pastry.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1928/web.jpg?ver=13115603550001
Awesome food.

At around 8:15 am, my gate was posted and I headed over to the H concourse of the terminal.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1935/web.jpg?ver=13115603570001
Here you can see all the different lettered concourses. It was helpful, though, that they posted estimated transit times above each letter.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1937/web.jpg?ver=13115603580001
Beautiful gate H14.

The architecture at MAD is absolutely stunning. It is a beautiful airport, and I highly recommend it for transit.

Third Leg
Madrid-Barajas(MAD) – Alicante (ALC)
VY9829 / IB 5329 A320 EC-KJD


Today I was flying Vueling (pronounced like swelling), which operates flights for Iberia, which is a Oneworld partner along with American. After just two flights, they are one of my favorite airlines. Think Virgin America - colorful, young, hip - but there was a certain degree of elegance that came along with it. Even though they are an extreme LCC and employee Ryanair-like duty free and F&B sales onboard, Vueling F/As are much less obnoxious than Ryanair ever was.

About 30 minutes before departure, organized boarding began by row numbers. I was seated in an emergency exit row, which left me with a lot of legroom.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1940/web.jpg?ver=13115603600001
Boarding EC-KJD for the short hop to Alicante.

Onboard, I was greeted with a "Buenos dias," and proceeded to find my seat. The safety demo was done manually (completely in Spanish), but for that I have my six years of Spanish to thank for being able to understand completely.

http://gallery.me.com/wmichie/100220/IMG_1944/web.jpg?ver=13115603620001
Legroom.

I didn't take many pictures, because I basically fell asleep as soon as we took off. Takeoff was powerful, and we leveled off at about 20,000 feet for the 221-mile hop to the Mediterranean coast.

There was a BOB-type food and beverage service offered, but for an hour flight I declined paying EUR5 for anything. After an uneventful flight, we landed early at Alicante. I made my way landside, and was on my way into Alicante.

[Edited 2011-08-18 19:31:05]


Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDavidCA From Canada, joined Jun 2009, 69 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7815 times:

Great report! Sounds as if AA did a very decent job, and your enjoyment of the trip over comes through in your writing style.

User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 7769 times:

Barajas is truly a beautiful airport. I've made 3 trips out there in the past 4 months on Delta and loved every one of them. Security and customs is always a breeze and I always enjoy the "open" feel of the pax terminal.

Very nice TR.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 7372 times:

Hi guys,

Quoting DavidCA (Reply 1):
Great report! Sounds as if AA did a very decent job, and your enjoyment of the trip over comes through in your writing style.

Thanks! Yes, I was very pleased with AA overall, and connecting through MAD could not be any easier.

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 2):
Barajas is truly a beautiful airport. I've made 3 trips out there in the past 4 months on Delta and loved every one of them. Security and customs is always a breeze and I always enjoy the "open" feel of the pax terminal.

I agree, it's such a bright and airy airport, and the architecture is so beautiful as well. Really makes an impressions when you land.



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
User currently offlineFLLspoter From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 314 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (3 years 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 7332 times:

Great TR!

Does the Puma bag happen to be coincidence or are you crew aboard Mar Mostro?

Joe



FLL justs gets better and better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1687 posts, RR: 31
Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7138 times:

Welcome to the club, William !!!

Enjoyed reading the report and browsing thru the pictures...

It seems AA serves mediocre meals on their longhaul flights; I mean, the hotmeal is a 'two bite' affair and do you call this a breakfast ? cake-banana-yoghurt...VERY disappointing, to say the least !!! Thought, Americans were big eaters, but this beats everything; thanks for sharing...



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (3 years 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7033 times:

Quoting FLLspoter (Reply 4):
Does the Puma bag happen to be coincidence or are you crew aboard Mar Mostro?

No, not crew onboard, but I work with the Volvo Ocean Race, so I am connected that way. Cheers!

Quoting MH017 (Reply 5):
It seems AA serves mediocre meals on their longhaul flights; I mean, the hotmeal is a 'two bite' affair and do you call this a breakfast ? cake-banana-yoghurt...VERY disappointing, to say the least !!! Thought, Americans were big eaters, but this beats everything; thanks for sharing...

Hi MH017,
Yes, the meal choices are not great. The hot meal is comparable to what I had on my Delta TATL flight a week or so before, so it's not just an AA problem ... the breakfast is more like a snack than a real breakfast. Needless to say, I immediately ate something at MAD when I landed.

The portions are very un-American like, but to tell you the truth, the hot meal was very filling once it was all said and done.



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1186 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (3 years 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6822 times:

What I can't stand with the AA dinners is the measly cookie they serve. They are too cheap to serve a decent desert.

Next time I will order a Kosher or Muslim meal instead. They must be better.


User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (3 years 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 6779 times:

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 7):

What I can't stand with the AA dinners is the measly cookie they serve. They are too cheap to serve a decent desert.

I agree, but it's not only AA. I've had an almost identical meal on DL right down to the brands.



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (3 years 9 hours ago) and read 6024 times:

Hey AA94

Thanks for sharing your AA longhaul experience with us. It's a nicely written report!
AA longhaul service seems to be a really minimum. Based on your experience I would take CO, DL, .... anyday above AA. Glad you got the exit row on the MAD-ALC sector. That's always wonderful after a long flight from the US.


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineaajfksjubklyn From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 904 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5696 times:

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 7):
What I can't stand with the AA dinners is the measly cookie they serve. They are too cheap to serve a decent desert.

Next time I will order a Kosher or Muslim meal instead. They must be better.

Actually the Brownie they serve is better than the cake they used to serve. Love and Quiches is who makes them and they are pretty sought after here in NYC.


User currently offlineAA94 From United States of America, joined Aug 2011, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5599 times:

Thanks for the comments.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 9):
AA longhaul service seems to be a really minimum. Based on your experience I would take CO, DL, .... anyday above AA. Glad you got the exit row on the MAD-ALC sector. That's always wonderful after a long flight from the US.

Hi MSS658,
The AA service is minimal, but comparable with DL's on TATL routes. I had just flown JFK-BRU-JFK on DL a week or so before taking this trip. The service is nearly identical, but DL's hard product is definitely much better.



Choose a challenge over competence / Eleanor Roosevelt
Top Of Page
Forum Index

Reply To This Topic A Journey To Spain: BWI-JFK-MAD-ALC On AA/VY
Username:
No username? Sign up now!
Password: 


Forgot Password? Be reminded.
Remember me on this computer (uses cookies)
  • Trip reports only! Other topics here
  • If criticizing an airline, express yourself in a dignified manner.
  • No adverts of any kind. This includes web pages.
  • No hostile language or criticizing of others.
  • Do not post copyright protected material.
  • Use relevant and describing topics.
  • Check if your post already been discussed.
  • Check your spelling!
  • DETAILED RULES
Add Images Add SmiliesPosting Help

Please check your spelling (press "Check Spelling" above)


Similar topics:More similar topics...
JFK-MAD-ALC With Iberia posted Tue Jan 2 2007 23:29:33 by B707Stu
JFK-EZE Nonstop, On AA posted Sat Nov 26 2005 13:16:18 by ContinentalEWR
My First 747 Trip: Spain (IND-JFK-MAD 1994) posted Sat Feb 26 2005 23:31:52 by SmithAir747
Journey To Black Sea : GOT-BOJ-GOT On BLX posted Mon Jul 5 2004 17:49:06 by MerC
A Wonderful Trip To Spain-Part 2, AGP-MAD-YYZ-YOW posted Sat Apr 5 2003 05:24:47 by SafeFlyer
JFK-CDG-DFW On AA, J And F (Flagship Suite) - Long posted Tue Jan 29 2002 03:09:54 by Purdue Arrow
Upcoming JFK-MIA-SCL On AA posted Mon Jul 23 2001 20:00:05 by Madmax
To Spain With AA & IB: FAT-LAX-JFK-MAD-AGP (Pics) posted Mon Aug 15 2005 23:14:29 by CentralCA
JFK-MAD-BUD-SOF And VAR-BUD-ZRH-JFK On IB MA AA posted Sun Mar 7 2010 08:45:53 by ydmine03
2004 Journey From DEN To HNL On AA Part 2 (pics) posted Mon Mar 20 2006 06:50:52 by Yanksn4

Sponsor Message:
Printer friendly format