MSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6531 posts, RR: 51 Posted (1 year 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6315 times:
When I was a kid my grandparents used to take me out to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport to go have lunch. There was a great restaurant in the terminal that was very popular with the lunch crowd. Good food and, since it was literally right on the tarmac with floor to ceiling windows, great views. We used to always pick NEW over MSY for lunch because the quality of the food was no comparison. Now, of course, we still went to MSY so that I could do proper spotting and pester the ticket agents for new flight schedules. Since all airline service in New Orleans had switched to MSY in 1946, the only people needing to go to NEW were those taking flight training lessons or those who owned/had access to a private plane (or going to have lunch). Over the years I heard rumors of new airlines flying out of NEW, but, perhaps not surprisingly, nothing ever materialized.
Low and behold, a few months ago I stumbled upon an outfit called Southern Airways Express, a Memphis-based regional airline that planned on connecting cities throughout the south with a fleet of Cessna Caravans. Initially I suspected this was just one more paper airline in a long line of paper airlines. These guys had other ideas, however. And so, with considerable fanfare, SAX (that’s what I’ll call them in this report) took to the skies for the first time in late May. Its New Orleans service, to be operated out of NEW at the FlightLine First FBO, was to begin in late June. And let me tell you, that news brought me right back to childhood. I recall watching those Cessnas taxi out to the runway and thinking to myself how neat it would be to fly out of Lakefront one day. Now I had the chance to make that dream a reality by supporting a small, local service carrier which is filling a niche in the south, and one that will, hopefully, be around for many years to come. Incidentally, SAX is the first carrier to operate prop planes out of the New Orleans market ever since US Airways Express closed up shop here around 2002.
When looking at flights to take on the well designed and user friendly SAX website, I initially was going to select a roundtrip to ECP, which would have included a one night layover there. But then, I got to thinking…as I usually do. “MSYtristar“, I told myself, “..you are a person who flew to London and back just to say you had breakfast in London…to Honolulu and back just for drinks…and to Melbourne Australia just for one night for the sake of flying on an A380. You need to do better than that!” And so, I did. I conjured up a NEW-UOX-DTS-NEW routing on Monday July 8th, featuring 30 minute connections in both UOX and DTS. I can safely say I was probably the first person EVER to have scheduled a connection at both of those airports. Diving deeper into the flight schedule, it appeared that the same aircraft would be operating these flights…and indeed, it was the case, although things didn't go exactly as planned, and in fact I didn't fly from UOX to DTS at all…which I’ll explain later on.
So on the day of departure, I left my house at 11:10 and arrived at the FlightLine First FBO parking lot by 11:25. How can you beat free airport parking these days? After a quick walk to the terminal, one of the nice FlightLine emoloyees said hello, and I told her I was flying on Southern. She walked outside and got the pilot, who proceeded to check me in. This consisted of matching my I.D to the passenger manifest. Talk about quick and easy. Boarding began at roughly 11:50.
Southern Airways Express
NEW-UOX (New Orleans/Lakefront - Oxford MS)
July 8, 2013
Here are the pictures from the flight to Oxford. It was a great flight. Smooth mostly, just a few bumps while going through some clouds. It was really neat taking off from Lakefront. The landing in Oxford was smooth. Walking to the terminal I got to meet the COO of the company, Keith Sisson, who was on the same flight. Very nice man, and he represents his company well.
All passengers get BOSE headphones to use. IPADs coming soon apparently.
Over the Rainbow.
So as it turned out, one of the C208’s in the fleet was down for MX today, and that sort of threw the operation into disarray. Routes and times were adjusted, as to be expected. So I received a call while in Oxford informing me that the Oxford-Destin flight would not be operating, but they could get me to Olive Branch via a car service to catch the evening flight from there to Destin…and that plane would continue to New Orleans. So I’d still get home, it’d just be late. It all seemed reasonable enough. The nice people at the HDQ who called me apologized profusely, but I told them no apology needed, I understood. Heck I remember those days when I worked with the airlines. It’s amazing how much a mechanical can screw things up. So I just went with the flow. One huge benefit of the change of plans? I now had time to go find some good BBQ for lunch. And boy did I ever. If you’re ever in Oxford, you need to go to Handy Dandy. It was a near religious experience.
The driver picked me and one other passenger up at Oxford at 5:00. He made one stop along the way so we could pick up some dinner, and we got to the Olive Branch airport at about 6:15. It was a nice, scenic drive up Hwy 7.
While waiting for our next flight, the CEO of SAX, Stan Little, said hello and apologized to us personally for the delay. He also offered to buy us dinner. Talk about great customer service. He's a very personable man who's determined to run a top notch operation. This just happened to be one of those tough first days in the life of a newborn carrier.
Southern Airways Express
Flight SAX041 (?)
OLV-DTS (Olive Branch MS - Destin FL)
July 8, 2013
The plane pulled in from M01 (Memphis Downtown Airport) and before that ECP at about 8:40p. After a quick refueling, boarding began. I had never flown in a small aircraft at night before, so I was rather looking forward to the views of the lights below. Indeed they were great. This flight was actually smoother than the first one, and the two hours passed by in the flash.
Nice FBO @ DTS.
Southern Airways Express
DTS-NEW (Destin FL - New Orleans/Lakefront)
July 8, 2013
This was the one flight I was really looking forward to flying in the daytime, since the views would have been spectacular. We pretty much hugged the beach the entire way. But, it was again a unique perspective flying at night at 8000ft. And like the last flight…smooth as silk…barely a bump the entire way.
So not even three minutes after I stepped off the plane, I stepped into my car. The day turned out to me much longer than I had anticipated, but like I said, things happen. I feel the airline did the best they could given the circumstances, and they did a good job keeping us informed. I can tell you this…as long as SAX is around (which will hopefully be for a long time), I will fly them, and I’ll recommend them to everyone I know. There’s a huge upside to it. It’s basically like flying on your own plane…convenient, fast, comfortable, hassle free. If the airline can get its name out there, I see no reason why it can’t be successful. It was a fun, old school flying experience…and I’m proud that I can now say “I Fly Southern”.
Widebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4848 times:
I loved your report MSYtristar! I had never heard of SAX before. Also your experience with the cancelled flight out of Oxford is one of those cases where it's actually a blessing in disguise, as it gave you the opportunity to fly out of yet another airport such as Olive Branch.
Quoting MSYtristar (Thread starter): Its New Orleans service, to be operated out of NEW at the FlightLine First FBO, was to begin in late June
I'm bummed that they had not started operations yet when I was in NOLA last November. It would have been really cool to fly out of NEW.
Quoting MSYtristar (Thread starter): While waiting for our next flight, the CEO of SAX, Stan Little, said hello and apologized to us personally for the delay. He also offered to buy us dinner. Talk about great customer service. He's a very personable man who's determined to run a top notch operation. This just happened to be one of those tough first days in the life of a newborn carrier.
What a nice gesture on his behalf. I hope it all works out for him and his company.
Thanks for the great read.
Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
MSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6531 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 4821 times:
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 11): I loved your report MSYtristar! I had never heard of SAX before. Also your experience with the cancelled flight out of Oxford is one of those cases where it's actually a blessing in disguise, as it gave you the opportunity to fly out of yet another airport such as Olive Branch.
Thank you! Yes it was a blessing in disguise. Got to add one more airport...and a unique one at that...to my list.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 11): I'm bummed that they had not started operations yet when I was in NOLA last November. It would have been really cool to fly out of NEW.
It was a neat experience. When I got in my car, out of instinct I guess I started heading towards MSY, but just for a couple of blocks lol. Flying out of NEW definitely had its advantages.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 11): What a nice gesture on his behalf. I hope it all works out for him and his company.
I thought it was very nice. Everyone working at the airline is a class act. I wish them nothing but the best.
jetjeanes From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1430 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 3906 times:
Glad you were able to visit us here in Kolv.. and yes Stan Is a great guy.. there should be more c208,s comeing online next month,,,,, I used to fly the Old Southern Airways Martin 404,s from Mem to Uox and back just for the heck of flying them..