This is a trip report about my spring break trip non-reving to Seattle for a graduate school interview and Easter with my uncle in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. It was a very exciting and nerve-wracking experience. This is my first tip report, so be gentle.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
My mother and I decided to get to the airport very early as all of US Airways’ flights to the major cities and hubs were overbooked that day. We arrived at the airport at 5:35AM and were promptly greeted by a queue out of the door. However the line moved quickly (part of the line was Vanguard passengers who had gotten in the wrong line) and we able to be checked in after about a one-half hour wait. We had initially planned on standing by for the 7:15AM flight to Pittsburgh however this flight had already checked-in full by the time we checked-in so we decided to stand-by for the 7:40AM to Philadelphia. My mother and I went to Burger King for a breakfast of sausage croissant’wiches and orange juice and stopped by the business centre to mail a few letters. At 7:05, we went through the surprisingly non-existent line at security, cleared through with no problems and proceeded to gate 7 for to wait for our flight. Boarding started at 7:05AM and was completed by 7:30AM. At 7:35, we were called up to the podium and told that the flight was full and we would not be able to get on it. Shocked by this news, (the flight was only overbooked by three) I quickly went to the pay phone and called the US Airways Employee Travel Service to find and alternate routing. After, 30 minutes on the touch-tone system, I was finally able to find a routing that had seats available through Hartford (BDL) and Charlotte (CLT) that left at 11:05, but out of Charlotte only had ten seats in first class available.. That meant that we had three hours to waste in the Buffalo Airport, which is very hard to do. I went back out to the ticket counter and had our tickets reissued to reflect our new routing. I spotted a few planes; Jet Blue A320, a few Delta 727-200’s, American MD-80’s and F-100’s, Continental ERJ-135’s, Commutair Beech 1900’s, and a Northwest DC-9-30 (no big deal since I go to college in MSP). I saw a few family friends; a high school friends mom that was going to Boston to visit him and have Seder with her sister, a friend who is the head women’s basketball coach at Buffalo State College and a member of my church going to Boston to recruit, and former coworker of mine who know works for security (ICS) in the airport. (On a side note: the food at the Buffalo Airport is abhorrently expensive, $5.50 for a whopper value meal!!!). At 10:00AM, We went to gate 2, to wait for the flight to BDL. Gate 2 and 4 were zoos, because they had 4 flights going out of 2 gates within 20 minutes of one another. At Gate 4 there was a Chautauqua ERJ to New York LaGuardia, and at Gate 2 there was my flight, another Allegheny Dash-8 to Albany, and another Chautauqua ERJ to Boston.
US Airways Express Flight #3581 operated by Allegheny
Buffalo (BUF) to Hartford/Springfield (BDL)
Seat 7A window
My flight to Hartford began boarding at 10:50AM. The Dash-8 was very old and ratty looking with blue leather seats and grey sidewalls. The flight attendant was Angela, she was very nice, even though she had on the old USAir Express uniform (so did the ground crew), even though the name was changed more than 5 years ago. The flight had 23 people on it). This flight was uneventful with a drink service. The only annoying thing was the three very obnoxious University at Buffalo students in front of me. Two of them were in 6AB and the other was in 8D, and the kept throwing things at/to one another, like CDs and candy bars and the one in 8D has his discman turned up so loud that everyone on the plane could hear it and Dash-8-100’s are not exactly quiet. But other than that, it was a good flight.
Bradley International Airport (Windsor Locks, CT)
My flight from Buffalo arrived at Gate A7 and my connecting flight to Charlotte left from gate A10. There was nor much to see or do in this airport, it seemed very outdated, straight from the 1980’s. Bought some gum and waited.
US Airways Flight #816
Hartford/Springfield (BDL) to Charlotte (CLT)
Seat 4F bulkhead window
This flight was on a very clean, almost new A319. This flight began boarding at 1:05 and it turned out that 17 of the 23 people on the BUF-BDL flight were connecting on to this flight to Charlotte, but luckily the annoying UB students were far way from me. I c’ant comment much on this fight because as soon as drinks were served (that was the only service), I fell asleep and woke up when we touched down in Charlotte. I assume it was uneventful, because my mother did not say anything to me about it.
Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
I have always liked the Charlotte Airport, it is bright, clean, has rocking chairs and has a Krispy Kreme!!! Charlotte also had very nice weather, in the 70s and sunny. (A nice change from BUF and MSP). I had one hour and twenty minutes to waste in this airport, so I got myself some Krispy Kreme’s, some milk, and went to the gate to be put on the standby list. Flight 101 to Seattle began boarding at 4:20PM. At 4:45PM they began clearing standbys, when they got to my mother and I, they only had one seat left, which we had to decline and another very happy standby traveler was able to board. This threw another wrench into my plans. There were no other flights to Seattle that day, so my mother and I had resigned ourselves to spending the night in Charlotte. I, I however looked at the flight information screen, and noticed that there were 7:15PM flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. I decided to inquire at the Special Services desk as to whether either of these flights were available (at least I’d be on the right side of the country). I found success, the flight to San Francisco was undersold by ten. So my mother and I split up, she went to the ticket counter to Make ID-90 passes form San Francisco to Seattle and Tri-Cities on Alaska and I went to make a hotel reservation in San Francisco. Within the hour we had all of this done and headed to the gate for the flight at 6:20P.
US Airways Flight #57
Charlotte to San Francisco
Seat 1F, first class bulkhead window
Being dog-tired (I didn’t sleep the night before), We decided to spend the thirty-dollars apiece and Upgrade ourselves to first class. This would be my first transcontinental flight in 4 years and my mothers first in 12 years. We board the aircraft with the first class preboarding at 6:35PM. On board we were greeted by a brand-new aircraft and smiling, friendly first class flight attendants. The attendants hung up our coats and quickly poured my mother a cup of mineral water and myself a cup of cranberry juice. The seats were wide grey leather, but I actually found them somewhat uncomfortable because of the bulge at the top. At 7:10 the doors were closed (and then reopened again to let on a woman and her cat). The flight had 127/143 seats in coach filled and 25/26 in first class filled. Take off was on-time and the flight followed the following flight path: CLT-BNA-XNA-ICT-COS-TVL-SFO. The announced flying time was 5:15. The service consisted of the following:
1)Overture, the inflight entertainment program consisting of the movie K-Pac, an episode of Frasier, documentaries from the discovery channel and national geographic. In economy class there was a five dollar headseat fee.
2)Dinner, in first class it was a an appetizer of shrimp cocktail with assorted breads, followed by a choice of hickory-grilled chicken, beef with Portobello mushrooms, or shrimp salad, follwed by a dessert of chocolate cheesecake and tea/coffee. In economy, Dinner consisted of a small Caesar salad, a choice of chicken stir-fry or a beef fajita, with a side of rice, and two choclate chip cookies for dessert.
3)The FA’s came around 5 times in first and three in economy for drinks.
4)In First, we received a pre-arrival hot towel service.
At 9:35PM (pacific) we began our descent into San Francisco, wile over Lake Tahoe. The pilot gave a little speech about how the runways in San Francisco are very close together, and not to be alarmed if another plane is close to us when landing. We touched down at 9:50PM and taxied to gate 14, in the US Airways terminal. We deplaned and headed to the Quality-Inn San Francisco Airport for the night.
TO BE CONTINUED