American Eagle 3916
Got to the airport pretty early anticipating long lines full of Spring Breakers. However, I found only a few people at the American Airlines counter and I just walked right up and used a Self-Service machine. There were a few friendly agents who were around that pretty much walked everyone through the process, so it’s good to know that they still have agents in addition to the machines. Went through security quickly without a hitch. Had some time to kill so I just looked around the terminal. I had a sentimental moment when I passed the Northwest gate where I arrived and departed on my past trips to Japan years back. I noticed that the carpet seems to have been redone and they have cubicles on the side of the concourses with laptop powerports for anyone needing to catch up on some business which I thought was nice. Restrooms still look unchanged from the 70s. I noticed the dedication plaque on the wall of the terminal near security dated 1972. The place still looks really old but I’m beginning to like it a little more and more when I fly through it.
Boarding began shortly thereafter and they finally called my group up to board for an on-time departure. I took my seat in 6A, which was a nice solo seat. It was a full flight and I noticed that nearly everyone on board seemed to look like professionals or people on business. After a fairly long taxi to the active, we stopped and we were told that we were going to hold on for about 10 minutes due to a ground hold in ORD. Not exactly on-time I guess but from what I hear, it can get a worse on flights to ORD. The takeoff on the Embraer was disappointingly quiet for me but it seemed powerful with a steep takeoff and a sharp bank.
After departing ICT, somewhere near Colwich, KS
From there, it was a comfortable and pleasant flight. We weren’t offered anything to eat which was surprising but not a big deal for me but we were offered beverages, which I took some water (no ice). The seats American Eagle has on the Embraers were very comfortable with adjustable headrests. I listened to some music for the rest of the way and took some more water when a second round of beverage service went through the cabin. I had a cold but it didn’t bother me too much until descent. My sinuses were starting to really be a pain (literally) as we descended. The breathtaking approach to O’Hare took my mind off of my sinuses as we passed by O’Hare and made a sharp bank over Lake Michigan. I got an amazing view of the Chicago skyline as well as Wrigley Field before a smooth landing in ORD.
As we taxied to our gate in Concourse G, I noticed the constant stream of Eagle jets coming in and out of the apron. Planes were taxiing by everywhere and constantly taking off and landing. We deplaned at a ground level gate at Concourse G. Concourse G was a very nice concourse, a first-rate regional facility. Very clean and modern-looking. Over to Concourses H and K, we passed a pretty run-down looking main terminal area and into the Hall of Flags, which was a lot nicer, then past the food court where the gate area looked like a dark cave with AA banners hanging from the ceiling. The interesting traffic made up for the terminal with lots of European traffic and the constant movement of United and American jets. After passing the generic, overpriced airport food stands, I picked up a burrito from this stand which was very filling and good, at a decent price.
Boarding for the flight to Fort Myers/Southwest Florida began shortly. Being in 11A, I expected to be one of the last to board with their Group boarding system. However, it came quick and I got on board. I noticed that a walkway was placed to connect to door to the jetway which I found odd, but noticed that at DFW later as well so it must be some AA thing. I took my seat and noticed the extra legroom which was very nice. The seats are great as well. We pushed back and taxied past the International Terminal 5 with many European airlines parked there and held short at the active while an Air China Cargo 747 landed. We got a great view of the Chicago skyline
Throughout the flight, the captain kept us updated periodically. We got a small bag of pretzels and beverages offered but after that, I didn’t see the FAs through the cabin for most of the flight. I kicked back, relaxed and listened to some music. It’s not very difficult at all to get comfortable with these seats and with the extra legroom. The 2 hour, 20 minute flight went by quickly and despite the $10 I spent on the Contac in the airport, I still had really bad sinus pains on descent. We got a great view of the Florida coast, including the Tampa Bay Area and the Port Charlotte area before flying over Fort Myers and landing.
We had a rough landing with a bounce but soon enough we pulled into Southwest Florida International’s Concourse A. We deplaned at gate A4. The airport’s fairly small but it gets some big jets, lots of 757s, some Delta 767s, and an Air Canada A320. The airport is pretty nice and easy to use although it’s starting to get crowded. My bags were soon out on the belt and I enjoyed the next few days in sunny Florida.
Traffic was getting a little slow around the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area but I made it to RSW with plenty of time to spare. Check-in was over after a few minutes and I proceeded to security. There was a good-sized line but it was only a five minute wait. The TSA agents in RSW seemed to be friendly and professional. Am I the only one out there who doesn’t have a TSA horror story? I went out and picked up a WSJ at the newsstand and read it until boarding. A JetBlue flight was departing with a couple of US Airways 737-400s on the ramp, a Northwest 757-300 and 757-200, a United 757, and a Delta 767 for starters…not bad a for a smaller airport. Boarding soon began and I took a seat at 17F.
I tossed my carryon into the cavernous (maybe I’m just used to RJs) overhead bin and took a seat. Our pushback put us head-to-head with the Delta 767. I noticed the progress they were making on the new Midfield Terminal at RSW and it’s really starting to look nice. Upon departure, we got a nice view of the Fort Myers area and the Florida coast
The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful and smooth. These AA MD-80s have to be the most comfortable planes I’ve been on, including the ones I’ve been on with ANA. We got the standard drink service and granola bar which was decent. We flew over the Gulf of Mexico until we passed the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans. We made our approach over a cloudy Dallas-Ft. Worth and passed over the airport, swinging over the suburbs and over a lake to the DFW Airport. The taxi seemed really long and we went over the road crossing from one side to the other to get to Concourse C.
American Eagle 3757
Faced with a nearly four hour layover, I went around the airport to kill time. First, I decided to check out Concourse B where my connecting flight to Wichita was set to depart. The airport terminal seemed narrow and rather drab. I did notice the Admiral’s Club that looked really nice from the outside. I took the TrAAin out to Concourse B and the thing just sat there for 5 minutes playing the same “Get seated…The train will depart soon after the doors close” or some announcement sounding like that but it didn’t go. Then we got a message over the PA saying that we’ll be here for a few minutes since it’s not working right. Then we get moving…the thing was shaking the whole way and stopping and going for seemingly no reason. Duct tape was holding together some of the window seal. We finally shimmied our way to Concourse B which wasn’t too bad. I noticed the seating area was neat, it allows every seat to be adjacent to a table. It seems like AA gives the regionals nicer terminals than mainline. I wandered throughout Terminals B and A. After watching the 777 close for departure to Tokyo, I grabbed a sandwich at Au Bon Pain which was okay but rather pricey. I headed back to B6 via the SkywAAlk. Boarding soon began for a 1:44PM departure.
I got on board this plane, N626AE, and noticed that unlike all the other AA/Eagle planes I’ve been on, it was really dirty. The other ones I went on for this trip were spotless. Also, they didn’t have the new seats. The seats in this one were the standard RJ seats, still pretty comfortable. I went to the back of the bus in 18A. Upon pushback and taxi, I noticed a British Airways 777 making its way to Concourse B. We held short while an American 737-800, CoEx ERJ, and ASA CRJ took off and then it was our turn. Being right next to the engine, the takeoff was definitely louder. Before we broke through the cloud layer, I took this pic of the Metroplex area
I notice the crowd on this flight was a lot different with a lot of students looking like they got back from their Spring Break trips. It was cloudy the whole way to Wichita and on the fairly short hour and 15 minute flight we got beverages and some cheddar snack mix. We had a little bit of turbulence before we began our descent and broke through the clouds over downtown Wichita and made a sharp turn over the oil refineries and grain elevators that make up the north central part of town
I got a really good view of downtown Wichita on final. We passed over the Food-4-Less, the library, and Towne West Mall before making a rough landing. During our quick taxi to gate 5, I noticed the massive Cessna service center that was under construction on the other side of the airport and we deplaned. I was expecting it to take half an hour for our luggage to show up at the luggage claim but the bags were out in about 10 minutes. I was out of the airport in about 15 minutes after I deplaned.
This was my first experience on American and American Eagle and I was very pleased with them. The flights were all pretty much on time and the service was overall nice. They made you feel like they genuinely appreciate your business. Most of the planes I was on were very clean and I would happily take the extra legroom and the comfortable seats over IFE. This was a better experience compared to last Spring Break with Delta when I experienced delays and poor customer service. My only gripe with AA is that they don’t have the nicest connecting airports. However, they do a great job in the air. I look forward to taking them to Japan along with JAL.