Booked to go home for Christmas break with Dividend miles, figured use them in case the end of US comes. Originally booked to fly on Dec 16 CLT-BDL on US1198, with the return on January 9 on US344. However as I am a college student and things change faster than I can keep up most of the time, part of this changed. Finals ended and Dec 16 came. I figured instead of waiting for a 4pm flight, I would head out to the airport early and hopefully catch a 10am connection through PHL, or switch over to UA and catch a 9:45am connection through IAD.
US1198 change to US872
4:15pm-6:06pm change to 12:30pm-2:22pm
A321 change to B737-300
Seat 16F change to 7A
B733 reg N387US (I believe, didn't get the best look at it).
A friend of mine was flying home to PWM on a 10:45am on DH through IAD, so we drove out to CLT together, she likes to leave pretty early for flights, so we left campus at 7:30am. Got to Satellite lot 1 around 8am, hopped the shuttle bus, and was at the terminal by 8:15. For whatever reason the US CSAs were not in good moods today whatsoever, I attempted to use the First Class check-in, as is one of the perks of my US Visa Signature card, got a kiosk quickly and attempted to check in, attempted to "change flights" and although options came up, I couldn't pick any of them, with an error message coming up saying "please see agent to continue check in". So I waited for an agent, he looked at my reservation and made some comment about how I'm in coach, but I showed him my Visa card, and he conceded. As we discussed flight options, he made it clear that as it was a reward ticket, I could only change flight for flight, nonstop for another nonstop only. So realizing that I was too late for the 8:15am nonstop to BDL, I realized that the next nonstop was not until 12:30pm; which was the option this agent then gave me. I looked at my watch and thought "oi, 4 hours..." I decided that as my car was parked out in the satellite lot, and that I had already checked out of campus for break, that I might as well take the 12:30pm, I rationalized "hey I'm an aviation buff, and being in a busy hub airport, isn't that bad". Got my boarding pass 7A, close to the front, not bad for a flight change, checked my bag, and headed to security. Security wasn't very long of a wait today, was actually hoping it was busy, to waste a little bit of time. Got through without being selected yet again (knock on wood). The TSA agent manning the xray saw I was wearing my Starbucks hat and thought I was going through to work at one of the Starbucks in the terminal, asking me "have your ID on you?", not being in a good mood already I mumbled something like "oh I don't work here" and moved on to collect my laptop and carryon. Headed to the aforementioned Starbucks and ordered my usual, today wasn't the best day for me and as things are destined to be...it was made wrong, but the line was long so I took it and didn't bother trying to have it remade, I work for Starbucks and I'll admit we make mistakes so it was understandable, and I didn't want to seem pretentious. Checked the departure monitor and, well my flight wasn't even listed yet. The boarding pass said C17, so I wandered down there and sat for a while by a window, read a magazine, and did some photography, that passed about an hour, so only 2 1/2hrs till boarding; kind of ironic, but out of all the US gates at CLT the 10am flight to PHL that had wanted to take departed from C15, right next door! Wandered back up the concourse back out to the main area and over to the bookstore by concourse B, spent a little while in there and settled on a good read "Farenheit 9/11: The Official Reader". Wandered slowly back by the windows near the rocking chairs, whipped out my camera and shot a nice photo looking down the odd numbered C gates, and called my mom to tell her my new flight arrangements. Headed back down the concourse to Nathan's Hot Dogs, and got a large order of fries and a bottle of water to eat during my now 2 hour wait, finally some light at the end of the tunnel (my dad likes to arrive at an airport about 2 hours before a flight... so I was used to this). Noted that my flight was now listed on the departure screen! Headed back down to the end of C, sat down read and ate, in the while seeing my friend's DH flight taxi by and takeoff. That took up about another 1 1/2hr of the wait, and finally it was a 1/2hr till boarding. The gate agents for the BDL flight showed up and finally the wait was coming to an end. Listened to some music on my iPod for the final 1/2hr and boarding was then called. I attempted to board during zone 2, another perk of the Visa card, although my boarding passes never reflect it, I've never had a problem flashing my card and boarding in 2. However the agent today wasn't having it, finally after showing him the card a couple of times and trying my best not to seem rude, he reluctantly let me board; it's not that I would have minded waiting till zone 5, as per my boarding pass; but if I haven't had a problem in all the flights I've taken since I've had the card, I wouldn't think that it would all of a sudden matter. With the 4+ hour wait over, agents in bad moods, wrong drink at Starbucks; I thought with my luck today, the flight will be delayed; but in the end we pushed 10 minutes early! Main cabin load was about 85% and First was full. Finally I was on my way home, part of taxiway Mike was closed for repaving, so we taxied on 5/23 for a bit of the taxi to 18L. We were part of a nice line of aircraft waiting for takeoff, so it took about 15 minutes before it was our turn. We got underway, the takeoff took a while, with a quick turn east and then northeast we were under way to BDL. Routing took us on the usual route out over ORF, skirting the coast of MD and NJ just out over the Atlantic making landfall just over JFK, up over New Haven and into Hartford from the South. During flight we had the usual beverage service, I had my usual Diet Coke served with the Snyders pretzel Snaps. Read the Attache for a bit, and listened to my iPod. The FAs today weren't in the best moods, they were efficient but not too happy, being a aviation nut, I figured it was definitely influenced by the contract negotiations and financial troubles. As we descended past Hartford we didn't make a turn to 33, I realized we were overflying BDL to make a 180 degree turn to land on 24. Came down seemingly high and fast, but landing was smooth, but we broke kind of hard, the fun way Pulling off I saw a Midwest Connect FRJ in the new colors, I really don't like the "Midwest Connect" on the rear of the plane, but the new logo looks good; also spotted a Northwest CRJ in the old colors, departing for IND, I've heard these flights are doing well. Taxied into gate 30, which seems to be devoted for CLT flights, and deboarded pretty quickly. Exiting the plane I wished the FAs the best which they seemed to be thankful for. Met up with my mom, got my bag from the baggage claim and headed home.
After a nice break of about 3 weeks it was time to come back down to Charlotte for second semester. My dad always jokes about that I should go standby for an earlier flight, but leaving home I never would.
Seat 10F (exit row window )
Left home around 1:30pm to get to BDL around 2pm. Got dropped off by my mom and dad at curbside, and after a slighty emotional motherly goodbye, I checked my bags. Having checked in online I was able to select exit row, a nice perk of checking in for US flights online. Got a reprint of my boarding pass on firmer paper than home computer paper, and tipped the agent. Already a better start than when coming home 3 weeks before. Headed through security, and didn't get selected again! This time I was wearing my OCC (Orange County Choppers) hat, so there was no confusion. Made my ritual walk over to the new terminal to do a little bit of photography, some nice action today; a UA735 N915UA still in the Shuttle by United script heading to IAD (looks like its making it's way east, all the photos on a.net are of 915ua on the west coast), United Express EMB170 N636RW heading to ORD, and a WN73G in Canyon Blue no winglets though N432WN, as well as a couple of Song 757s, a DL MD88 in the Ron Allen colors, and a CoEx ERJ145 heading to CLE. Got a bottle of water from the CNBC store and an order of fries to munch on at McDonalds. Headed back over to A and down to the US gates, there were 3 flights leaving around the same time, my flight to CLT, one to PHL, and one to PIT, so the gate area was pretty crowded. Went up the counter to confirm zone 2 for the Visa card, and the agent was very friendly, replying that I could flash it when boarding and there would be no problem. Noted the reg on the 733, I saw someone else heading back down to Queens University, said hi to her, and sat down for the wait. Called my dad to tell him that the flight was on time; by the time I had finished my snack, boarding was called, first those needing extra time, looked like there was a first time UM today, with her parents getting a little emotional; then zone 1. The agent then called Zone 3, to which the lot of zone 2 passengers got kind of noisy, she realized her mistake, and recalled for zone 2 and 3. Today I had no problem boarding, wanting to be very clear I said "Visa Signature for zone 2?" she said "definitely", headed down the jetway and on to the venerable 737. Made my way back to 10F, sat down and settled in. The flight was very full about 95% in coach and first was full; overhead space filled up quick. Little incident, a couple of pax, a middle aged son and mother were assigned seats that had already been assigned, a "double assignment" as the FA said, the son got very agitated and just about started to yell at the FA (Airline! style:P), he got some stares from other pax and calmed down. The pax that were also assigned 10A and B, hung around by the front of the plane; from what I could tell, the mother and son had changed flights, and due to a computer error were assigned 10A and B by mistake. The FA handled the situation very swiftly and efficiently, getting the two reassigned into 7D and F. Despite the full flight, lack of overhead space, and the little incident, we pushed early and were off to CLT. Taxied out to 24 via runway 1 and taxiway Charlie; we pulled off into the penalty box, and sat for a few minutes, meanwhile a NW A320 in the new colors landed; the pilot came over the PA and said that there was an ATC delay and that we'd be off shortly, as soon as he signed off, the engines were revved up and we taxied onto 24. We took off shortly thereafter, and made an immediate turn to the southwest to avoid the residential areas around Bloomfield and Granby. We climbed very quickly today and were through the clouds and into the sunshine, the cloudtops were very flat and it gave a nice impression as to how fast we were climbing, and just the beauty of flight. Got to cruise altitude and the beverage service started, the FAs today were very friendly and they had southern accents so I'm guessing they were CLT based, had my usual diet coke and pretzel snaps, and settled into the Farenheit 9/11 book. We performed some pretty sharp turns along the way, not sure as to why, but it seemed a little out of the ordinary. It was cloudy but the routing took us south-southwest out of BDL appearing to head over PA, VA, and Central NC, overflying Greensboro while descending into CLT. One of the FAs read connecting gate info, she missed reading PBI, the pilot then came over the PA and gave that gate (when I'm flying in FS2004, as pilot I read all the connections ) Descended past Lake Norman and lined up for 23, came in somewhat parallel to a DL732 landing on 18R. Landed hard and broke very hard, so fun! Pulled off on taxiway Bravo, and headed up to gate C9. Deboarded pretty quickly, headed down the baggage claim, CLT always takes forever for baggage, a good 15-20 minutes at least it seems; my two bags were some of the first off the flight though, proceeded outside for the shuttle to satellite 1, got my car, and came back to campus.
So overall what seemed like was going to be a rough trip, was saved by the awesome service I got on the return flight. I'm not going to say the flight up was bad, it was just wasn't as pleasant as most times. This may have been my last trip ever on US depending on what happens with their situation. If it was, today's flight left me with a nice final impression. My next trip is a mini mileage run in March: CLT-IAD-BDL-DFW-TUS-DFW-BDL-IAD-CLT, flying home to meet up with my parents to then fly out to Tucson for spring break.