There was a lot that went wrong with this trip before I got any where near an airport so let me first provide you with some background. View Large View Medium
I had originally been booked on US round trip ATL-PHL-SYR-PIT-ATL. I was excited because all legs of this trip were to be on US's new E-170's and the times of my flights fit perfectly into my schedule. Well my original flight was to leave ATL at 655pm and get to SYR at 1130. The 655pm ATL-PHL flight was "discontinued" so I was re-booked on a 420pm. That would not have worked for me because I am in class until 320pm at the University of Georgia and hour and half away. I called and got re-booked on a 605pm via CLT that would get me to SYR and hour earlier and 1030pm. Why I was not put on this after my flight was discontinue I do not know. Anyway I wasn't trilled with that option because I knew that traffic was going to be a nightmare through Atlanta at the start of labor Day weekend and the fact that thousands of people were on their way up from Florida to escape Hurricane Frances (which will come into play for me later).
So, that was that...I thought. Now the Sunday prior to my departure I woke up to find yet another email from US saying there was a change in my schedule. Now I'm all of twenty years old, but I do remember the days when the airlines were nice enough to call you when there was a change in your flights, but that's another issue. My return flights were now changed. I was supposed to leave SYR at 615pm, but that flight was "discontinued" and I was re-booked on the last US flight out of SYR that day at 320pm!!!
So now I have been re-booked twice within 4 days to times that really inconvenient for me. I called the airline multiple times. I asked to be re-booked on another airline at a later time out of ATL, but it was explained to me that since the flights were "discontinued" and not cancelled they could not do anything. That is just a bunch of legal B/S I think. So I was given the two options, fly or refund and go with another carrier. I would have gladly gone with another carrier, except that with it being less than a week before I needed to leave, the cheapest price was almost $650, well over double what I paid. I had to take this trip, so I had no choice...Now for the actual trip, and some more stuff that went wrong...
I left Athens GA at 300pm, skipped out 20 mins early on my class and headed down GA-316 to ATL. Well I hit a ton of traffic on the way as expected had got to airport really late. I got to ATL at 500pm and found that the economy parking lot was full. I did not have the time to go to park and ride so I had to suck it up and spend the $4 and day more for the daily lot. I went running through the parking deck and to the terminal. There was not much of a wait at the US desk. Oh by the way I was not allowed to check-in online either, which would have saved me some time. US has maybe 8-10 self service kiosks and 2-3 cs agents helping out. So started to use the kiosk but it denied me and said to talked to a cs agent. Fine so I waited, and waited and waited. I happened to check my voice mail while I was waiting for the cs agent and saw that it was 515pm. Finally after 5 more minutes a women walked out of the back room and came over to help me. After she typed for a while she told me that I had missed check in!!! I was stunned. She told me that you have to check in 45 mins prior to departure (which would have been 520pm), the time was now 525pm. I was amazed, I tried to explain to her that I was here and you were not, but that was not getting through at all. Yes I was later than I would have wanted to be getting to ATL, but I was still there 45 mins prior, she was not, nor was there anyone there who was free to help me. The manager came over after a while and told her to print me a boarding pass and that if I "make the flight I make it I don't I don't." OK, so now its all on me. At least I didn't get the SSSS treatment at security, then I would not have made it at all. I raced to the trains, of course US has to be at concourse D, up the stairs and to the gate. Well I made it in plenty of time, my group had not even been called yet. I went to the gate agent and asked if I was all set and he said yes. He even offered to check my bag to SYR for me, so I did that, then boarded...Now here is the actual flight, yeeeeeaaa!!!
ATL-CLT depart 605pm
Photo © Mario Aurich
The 737-300's that US has are really run down IMO. There is just something about them, I can't describe it, they just are not as comfortable as say a DL MD-88, FL-717 or UA-737-300/500. I had seat 4F (bulkhead), which was given to me after my flight was re-booked. I have a real love-hate relationship with this seat. I love the extra knee room and the fact that no one reclines into you. But I do find the seat to be a tight squeeze width wise, due to the tray table in the arm rest, and the fact that there is no cut out to slide your feet under. The armrest next to the window did not go up on this flight, that would have helped.
I didn't get much of a chance to spot before leaving, but I was able to see an F9-A319 pull in. As I watched it taxi to the gate I realized that this was the first frontier Airbus that I have ever seen, so that was cool. I also saw 2 FL/Ryan Air A-320's, 2 DL-767-400's and of course the FL and DL T-Tails (717 and MD-88's respectively). I thought to myself that ATL must be the T-Tail capital of the world, maybe ORD or DFW would have it beat...Any one want to venture a guess?
The flight itself was really smooth. I would say that the flight was 90-100% full. I could not see all the way back, but the first 15 rows and F/C were full. ATL-CLT is really short, we were in the air may a total of 30-35 mins. There was a quick drink service of coke, diet coke or water. The F/A's just came around with tray's. I had never flown this route during the day, but it seemed to me that they just follow US-85 all the way up to CLT. Landing was easy, I forget what time we landed, maybe 650ish got right off and headed to the food court, since I had not eaten all day.
I think that CLT is a very nice, very clean airport. But I have gotten somewhat bored with it. Every time I stop there, there is never anything interesting. There were all the US Airbi's and Boeing's plus a NW DC-9-30 and an AA-MD-80. However, I always laugh when I see an A-330 in CLT. It just looks so out of place among all the smaller jets. The one A330 I saw was parked next to an A319 or A320, I couldn't quite see, it just dwarfed its baby brother. I didn't even get to see an E-170, I thought for sure that I would see one, oh well. I grabbed a pizza and made my way to the gate.
CLT-SYR Depart 815pm
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Photo © Jason Bisson
I had seat 4F again, but this time the armrest next to the window did go up, so that was a plus. I don't know if it was broken, or its just different from aircraft to aircraft, but it was nice. Boarding was smooth, I'd day about 70% load, but as we waited to push more people came on board. Apparently a flight to ROC had been cancelled and some of those passengers were placed on this flight to SYR. So we waited for them for maybe 10 mins then pushed. Again take off and the flight were very smooth. I fell asleep for about an hour or so and kept nodding on and off until we landed. The flight was uneventful and the service consisted of drink and snack. Landing was a bite rough, the brakes were applied really hard, but we made it there safely. As we taxied I saw a rare sight for me, a TransMeridian MD-80. I remember reading about them here earlier this year, but I had not realized they, TM, were operating the MD-80's.
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Photo © Jeffrey S. DeVore
The SYR airport is about what I expected, nothing too lavish, just a very functional airport. My bag came out quickly, which I was relieved about because I did not know if it was taken at the end of the Jetway in ATL, but it got there.
I had a great weekend in the 'CUSE. However I got another unexpected surprise on Sunday (9/6/04) morning. An automated call from US say that my connection in PHL to ATL that day had been cancelled due to air traffic. This I could understand, the Hurricane was pounding Florida and everything was all screwed up. So I would have had a 3-4 hour lay over in PHL and not gotten into ATL until 1130pm, having left SYR at 320pm, 8+ hours seemed a little crazy to me. But what could I do with the hurricane and all.
So I got to SYR around 230. I waited for no more than 5 mins in line at check-in, again I was not able to check-in online due to the fact one of my flights had been cancelled. The women informed me about the cancellation, and without me even saying a word, she said that she would try to figure something out of me because of my long lay over. So she put me on a non-stop DLconnection flight that left at 520. That worked out great, I got to spend more time with my girlfriend, albeit in and airport, and got to ATL earlier. We sat at their quasi observation area. There was a NW DC-9-30, AAEgale ERJ-140 and an INDY AIR CRJ. My first time seeing INDY AIR was that was neat.
I said goodbye and made my way through security. Of course I got the SSSS, so I spent an extra 10 mins with the good people of TSA. I really don't have a problem with the whole SSSS thing. Yes it is a pain in the neck, but that's what you have to do to fly these days. Either do it, or don't fly, there is no sense in fighting it.
I got to the gate and talked to the agent. I got her to look up my FF #, as I only had my US one with me. She also informed me that the flight was 40 mins delayed due to ATC. The only time that we could leave was 619pm, so I took a seat and waited. A UA express BAE 146 came in right next to our gate. I watched as the an INDY AIR departed and another came in. I also saw a B6 A320 take off. There was a TransMeridian MD-80 parked just across from the DL gates because the flight to Orlando had been cancelled, due to the hurricane.
DL 5249 (operated by COMAIR)
SYR-ATL Depart 520pm Actual 19pm
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Photo © Shawn Byers
We boarded around 545pm and pushed right at 619pm. This was my first time on a CRJ-700. I was really impressed with the cleanliness and how modern the cabin was. The window placement on the 700's are much better that the 200's you don't have to look down as much. The seats were pretty comfortable, but the pitch left something to be desired, but it was an RJ.
As we taxied I saw a US express BE1900 a COexpress ERJ, FedEX A300 and a UPS 757 in old c/s. I also saw another TransMeridian MD-80 as we turned onto the runway in addition to a New York Air National Guard F-16 as we rolled. Take off was easy as was our climb to 39,000ft. I was a beautiful, clear day in upstate NY, quite a rarity. As we turned south I saw that it was getting cloudy, the first parts of the hurricane. I saw the Ithaca Airport, Cornell University and Ithaca College before it became all cloud cover.
The two F/A's came through with drink service and biscoff cookies. They were efficient and friendly with their service. The person in front of me put his seat back which really made the ride uncomfortable. But I leaned back and was able to fall asleep for a 45 mins or so. I woke up at the announcement that we were starting our decent. As I looked out the window I saw the most ominous dark clouds ever. It went from sunny to dark in 5 mins. It was an extremely bumpy ride on our decent, the captain said that winds were 25-30 mph with gusts even higher. He said that the winds were right down the runway once we lined up, it would not be that bad. Well it was not THAT bad, but still bumpy. We landed in torrential rains, but landed fairly smoothly. I noticed a lot of fire trucks at both ends of the runway and over at the south cargo area. Does anyone know what that was about? Would they have been out there has it not been for the bad weather? Was it a worst case scenario thing?
Anyway, we taxied to the C gates, where I saw two new FL 737-700's. I have to say that I really like the new c/s. The old c/s looks really bad I think on the A-320's, so I think that it would have been the same on the -700s. I got off and made my way to baggage claim, where my bag was waiting. I have always found that DL gets the bags out at ATL much quicker than any other airlines. I really like FL, but they are so slow with bags, I've waited as long as 30 mins.
My over all inflight experience was good. US and DL have good, professional service on board their aircraft. However, US has some very big gaps in there customer service. I talked on the phone to three cs agent and one supervisor. Two cs agents were very helpful, they tried to do everything they could for me. One had never heard of two flights being rescheduled with in a week. Then the other cs agent I talked to was not that helpful, he told me I could go or get a refund, thanks a lot. The supervisor was the worst by far, she was totally unhelpful, rude and just unprofessional.
I had a lot go wrong with my flight before I even took off and I did get very upset initially. But I realized that if having a flight get screwed up is the worst thing that has happened to me, then life is pretty good. I realized this when I was sitting in SYR. A family next to me was on the phone to relatives down in Florida. They had been on vacation in NY when the hurricane hit. They had no idea what if anything had happened to their house or to their neighbors. They had flight after flight cancelled, got the only flight to Florida they could find and renting a car to drive hours to their house not knowing if it would be there. All I had was an inconvienenced of a few hours, big deal. I now can not see how people get so upset when flying. Unless there is a relative dying, or a situation like this family was having, there is no reason for being upset, yelling and making a fool of yourself because of an inconvenience of a few hours. If you are flying then things must be pretty good for you, things could always be worse. I hope that this family made out okay.
sorry that it was so long, but I hope you all like it...