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To Spain With AA & IB: FAT-LAX-JFK-MAD-AGP (Pics)  
User currently offlineCentralCA From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 22 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12131 times:

My second post on A.net and first Trip Report!

When our friends from Germany invited us to take a trip with them to southern Spain, we just couldn't refuse an opportunity to go to europe. We booked the tickets on AA.com for FAT-LAX-JFK on AA and JFK-MAD-AGP on IB, a very long itinerary indeed!

After many long months, it finally came to pack up and leave Fresno.

July 30, 2005
AA 3014
N934AE Saab 340B
Departure: 7:05
Arrival: 8:14

The turboprops have been in Fresno for years and years, and most flights to LAX or FAT are served with UA's EMB-120's and AE's Saab 340B's. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to get on a UA CRJ to LAX, they operate just a few flights in the morning and late at night.

In my opinion, the noise from the Saabs is much greater than that of the EM2's, although neither is generally pleasant. After walking around Fresno's new terminal (whose windows have horrible glare, none of my pictures came out well), it was time to board.

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Photo © AirNikon

Downtown Fresno visible after takeoff
Ascending to our cruising altitude of 16,000 feet

After a short flight, during which I read a book and not very good OJ was passed out, we descended toward LAX.


Qantas 747 Parking

A WN 737 Landing on the runway we just vacated.

An American Eagle RJ, not sure where they fly to in California

Pulling in to the AE remote terminal

The AE remote terminal is one of the nicest looking and comfortable terminals to be in. Conversely, the one for United looks like a trailer and isn't very comfortable.

The AE bus to AA's T4 is a good place for spotting planes. Just some of the ones I saw:

CO 757 with winglets!

An old colors UA CRJ (I've submitted an edited version for the screeners)

AA's T4 is hands down the nicest terminal at LAX. AA really did a good job of remodeling it a few years ago. It's always a pleasure to wait in this terminal. We got out from the bus and sat down for a fairly short wait for our next flight to JFK. I walked to the Qantas gates and took some pictures.

VH-OEG pushing back, presumably for JFK, then she will return at night to operate the flight to SYD

VH-OEG and sister VH-OEI at the next gate.

After a short while, It was time to board our 767 for the second morning transcon for AA.

July 30, 2005
AA 2
N329AA B767-200
Departure: 9:34 PDT
Arrival: 5:54 EST

You could tell this was a business-oriented flight as they asked everyone to turn off their pagers and Blackberry's. I knew that AA's 767-200's were some of the oldest in the AA fleet, but the interior seemed well kept for. It was showing it's age, but I'd say it was aging gracefully.

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Photo © Walter Sobchak
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Photo © Ralph Duenas - Airplanespotters

As we passed business class, I saw my first celebrity on an airplane! It was Will Arnett, from the TV show Arrested Development. He had the same look that his character does, and was buried in a newspaper, so I let him have his privacy. Now I believe it, that you can see the more famous people on transcons.

Passing the LAX trademark on our way for takeoff. LAX is truly a one of a kind airport.

There was no drink service on this flight, but with a book, it went by very fast. The 767 is much more spacious and a perfect fit for transcons. I think AA should keep them on, even as they age, because you can really feel the difference between the 767 and the cramped 757.

After a fast 4hr46min flight, we landed in JFK and taxied to T9.

The old TWA terminal, soon to be jetBlue's?

Parking right next to the new AA terminal, which should be open in a few weeks.

After disembarking into a fairly cramped T9, we made the walk down to security, where an AE gate agent showed us how to get to the Iberia terminal using the AirTrain. My dad said Iberia's terminal was very small and unpleasant, so we stayed in T9 and had dinner at TGI Fridays. After dinner, we stepped outside and loaded our luggage on the AirTrain for the short ride to T7.

JFK didn't impress me all that much with all the construction around the AA terminals, but the AirTrain is a great way to get from one terminal to the other. A good alternative to all the LAX shuttle buses! It was easy and effortless. Since we already had our boarding passes for the IB flight, we went right through security at T7 and into the gate area. Turns out my dad was wrong, this terminal wasn't the one they passed through when they flew with Iberia last year, and much more spacious and comfortable. Oh well. We had a seat and the gate agent called us up to make sure we had made it from FAT! Then he printed us new tickets on IB stock instead of AA.

We started boarding, and had to wait a long while on the hot jetbridge to board. Our ride to Madrid this evening was A343 "Rosa Chacel"

July 30, 2005
IB 6252
A340-300 EC-GJT "Rosa Chacel"
Departure: 9:14 EST
Arrival: Unknown

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Photo © Nacho Piédrola - Iberian Spotters
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Photo © Ismael Jorda

No pictures for this flight as it was at night. One thing that caught me right away was how big the A343 wing was. Also, the wing flex on the A340 is much more than I've seen in any other aircraft, even the 747! Most of the people on this flight were either tourists like ourselves, about 25%, and the rest were Spaniards heading home, about 75%. Our pushback was so fast, people were still loading their luggage while we were moving! A short line and we took off into the night of JFK, behind a UA 757 new colors and a jetBlue 320. This was my first experience with the A343's sloooow climb. It wasn't much of a nuisance, but because we climbed up to our cruising altitude very slowly it was about an hour before we were served any drinks!

A few hours later they served a dinner of beef or chicken. I had the beef, and it came with noodles that were spongy, however the sauce covered it nicely. The service was very good, the FA's came through the cabin very often with more bread, coffee, or tea. IFE was virtually nonexistent, there are only 4 LCD's for about 30 rows of seats. One thing about long flights is that I can't sleep a wink. Even sleeping pills didn't help. I got throught the night by listening to Bill Clinton's "My Life" on my iPod, read by the author. A very good read, or a good listen.

Morning dawned, and we were served a small omlette for breakfast. The strawberry dessert that was on the breakfast tray was especially good. Our descent into Madrid Barajas was very fast, and we touched down at a now forgotten time. The landing was very smooth, and everyone clapped, a European thing. We taxiied slowly around Barajas, where I saw the two new terminals. Anyone know when they will be open?

We pulled into Terminal 1 and I took a picture of "Rosa".

Extremely groggy and tired, we passed through the passport control, and headed down to the transfer buses. Madrid is truly a scattered mess, with very few gates and very many airplanes. There are dozens of transfer buses to every terminal and remote stand. Organized chaos, if you will. Our bus arrived at the "D" gates for our next flight to Malaga, and had to go through a long line for one security checkpoint. We had about a 2 hr wait, a TAP A319 was at our gate. After it left, we went downstairs to another bus ready to take us to our waiting A320.

July 31, 2005
IB 220
EC-ICR A320 "Isla de la Cartuja"

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Photo © Javier Guerrero
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Photo © Miguel Cláudio

We waited about 20 mins on the transfer bus for our plane to be ready. Once it was, we boarded and promptly fell asleep. One hour later, I woke up just as we made a rough landing and short stop in Malaga and taxiied to the gate. We went to the baggage claim, and waited about 20 mins when we learned that baggage from non-EU countries was in a different area. We headed over there, picked up our bags, and met our friends from Germany outside, who had taken an Air Berlin flight from HAJ the day before. Our vacation was about to begin.

Overall, the trip was exhausting but worth it. Many people have complained about IB's recent service, but apparently we got the good end of the deal, as drinks (alcohol) was free and FA's came around constantly. JFK-MAD was very well served, food was normal, and service was fairly attentive. My complaints about IB are in another department, which I'll write about in Part 2. The return via SVQ is much more exciting, so stay tuned for that. Comments are greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12095 times:

Hi CentralCA.

Excelent report!!! I was very curious to read your report because I also lived in Fresno during all year of 2003. So when I saw your photo of downtown Fresno some nostalgia came to me!
But when I flew from Portugal the far I got was LAX, it was extremely expensive to add FAT flight so we flew LIS/ZRH/LAX ( SWISS A320 HB-IJN and then MD11 HB-IWM... ) and one year latter LAX/ZRH/LIS ( SWISS A340-300 HB-JMC and A320 HB-IJS ). During my stay there I had the chance to fly from FAT to YYZ with America West, I left FAT to PHX in the CRJ200 and when I came from PHX to FAT I flew at that time the brand new CRJ700, an excelent airplane no doubt. In 2003 only America West and Horizon Air flew the CRJ700, but I still saw for the last time in January 2003 Horizon Air Fokker F-28!
Now I would like to share with you also the fact that in 1998 when I was in California, Fresno was our last place to visit so when we returned to FAO ( at that time we were living in the south of Portugal ) we flew most the same route you did but with UA and BA. Just for your curiosity here it goes the registrations and the flights we did:

FAT-LAX: Skywest EMB120 Brasilia N216SW
LAX-JFK: UA 767-222 N601UA ( the first airline 767... )
LGW-FAO - GB Airways 737-400 G- BNNL

Has you can see a lot of differences from today!

User currently offlineJetboyTWA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 392 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 12076 times:

Do you mean to tell me that on a 5-hour flight, AA didn't even have a drink service? Can you clerify a little please, because I would expect a lot more than a drink on a transcontiental flight.


User currently offlineCentralCA From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 12060 times:

Sorry, my mistake. Yes, there was one drink service during which they sold the snack boxes. I don't believe they give out anything more than the drinks on transcons anymore.

User currently offlineZRHnerd From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 11968 times:

interesting report. About the applause after landing, it is NOT a european thing, or not as far as I am concerned. During my years of travelling, it never occured that there was applause after landing on any flight, neither long nor short haul. It might be different depending on what airline you fly on, though.

CV990: interesting that you chose LX to fly with, could you give a brief summary about your experiences? It's always nice to hear any statements about the airline my dad works for  Smile


User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 11772 times:

Hi ZRHnerd.

Well I think you should be proud that your dad works with SWISS. Those guys are excelent and I never really understood why a lot of people started to blame and say bad wording about SWISS when we know quite well that SWISS came out of Swissair and I couldn't infact find any specific differences between Swissair and SWISS ( and I say this with some fundaments, I flew 9 times with SR and 6 times with LX... )!
But I must say that it was my first time flying SWISS long-haul services so I was quite curious, the reason why I flew with SWISS was mainly economic at that time, and I tell you why. When I got the ok from my school in USA to go ahead I had to find the best fares I could for a 1 year round-trip ( and my wife and kids.. ) so the best one at that time was infact BA. But because I work with a swiss social organization I asked by director in Switzerland if he could check out any special prices, specially taking in mind that they had a protocol with SWISS, and after that he came with a 20% cheaper price.... well I didn't turned back, I went for SWISS! I was very excited to fly the MD11 and the service was has good has any other classic airline! The MD11 was getting a bit outdated mainly with the IFE but has an airplane..... well the MD11 was an incredible powerfull machine! That's why I think a lot of swiss really miss that airplane! On the way back I got the brand new A340-300 and it was again an excelent flight, the plane was merely 3 months old and I still remember that when the F/A's were serving us dinner a bottle of coke was spilled in the floor and one of the F/A's just used everything she could to clean out the spill, and I remember she saying that the plane was so new that it should be a shame..... truly swiss spirit. I had a great fun flying with SWISS and I still have a feeling that I'll fly them again soon, maybe in the A330-200, I'll be going to Colombia via USA and on the way back I might fly via MIA or JFK with SWISS so we'll see..... if I get SWISS it will be just EXCELENT!!!
Regards and say your dad that SWISS is going in the right path!!!

User currently offlineCentralCA From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 11680 times:


Thank you for your kind comments. I hope your time in Fresno was enjoyable. I know mine has. A few years ago I also got the opportunity to fly on Horizon's Fokker, I believe it was an F100 though, straight from FAT to SEA. They have been phased out now (I think). America West's CRJ700's are very nice planes, and comfortable for an RJ. They now fly to LAS as well as PHX. Very interesting about your experience with SWISS. They sound like a great airline. I'll have to try them from LAX sometime. Now that I've been on an A340, time to try an A330.

User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 11640 times:

Hi CentralCA.

Thanks for your message. I think you probably flew the F-28 either the 4000 ( bigger ) or the 1000 ( smaller ) model, and that is really great!!!! I never had the chance to fly that model, I flew the F100 from TAM and I was impressed by this dutch jet, amazing and great airplane. I didn't knew that America west was now flying from FAT to LAS...... so they might be competing with Allegiant Air right? And how about cargo flights? Still the good old FedEx 727-100, UPS 757 and ABEX 767-200?
How about fire-fighting airplanes? Still the OV-10 Bronco, the Tracker and the old airliners like C-54's, DC-6's, DC-7's, P2-V5 Neptunes and P-3A Orions? I tell you in the summer of 2003 I had one of the best times in my spotting life seeing all those planes comming and going out of FAT!
And I had the great joy to see also Air Force 1 taking-off from FAT!!!! Big huge cloud of red dust came out when the plane keft unbelievable!

User currently offlineCentralCA From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 22 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 11435 times:


Yes, America West started flying to LAS earlier in the year, and I believe Skywest also has EMB-120's on that route. The CRJ700 is by far the most comfortable plane to take on that route. I took the FAT-LAS flight in February to connect to a red-eye LAS-FLL. It's really a shame Allegiant had to pull most of their flights from Fresno, I believe the LAS flight are all thats left. They used to have flights to LGB and a few other airports. The cargo A/C are all still flying here, the FedEx 727's make a procedure turn over my house as they climb out from FAT. A few times a week I can also hear the F-16's from the Air National Guard pass over, and their sonic boom can get pretty loud. The VC-25 must have been a sight to see! I haven't seen the firefighting aircraft, so unfortunately can't say anything about that. Interesting information though, I'll keep my eyes out for those! Thanks.

User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 11416 times:

Hi CentralCA.

Yes, I almost forgot the regulary Fresno F-16's, they were a common sight there, also the F-18's from Lemore. Talking about military airplanes at FAT, I also saw there a ANG C-130J, a Navy Hawk once and a F-5's/T-38 Talons too. Another highlight during my stay there was a day when a B-24J and a B-17G landed and parked on the biz-jet area. Me and my kinds had the chance to visit a photograph these 2 old WWII bombers, wonderfull time! Here goes the pictures of both planes.

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Photo © Jerry Search

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Photo © Ted Quackenbush


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