PanAm330 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2734 posts, RR: 8 Posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 8574 times:
Note: All times are by my watch. Departure times were times of take off, not boarding or pushback. Arrival times were taken at the time of landing, not arrival at the gate. I took this little trip in order to up my Dividend Miles status. The total air ticket price after taxes was a not-so-low, yet not quite expensive $205.80.
I awoke around 4:45 for a quick shower before making the 20-minute drive to Hancock for my long-awaited trip to Fort Lauderdale. As I walked into the airport, I realized that me, being myself, left my printed boarding passes on my desk at home. Nearly two hours before the flight was scheduled to take off, the counter was virtually deserted, and the friendly check-in agent greeted me with a smile.
“How may I help you this morning, Sir?”
“Well, I left my boarding passes at home,” I said, being mildly embarrassed.
“No problem. Your last name, and destination, please.”
I told her, and she made a comment about my trip being so short. “Shit,” I thought. “Here comes the SSSS.”
I was wrong. She handed me the freshly printed boarding passes, without a ticket jacket. This is a peeve of mine; I hate not having a ticket jacket. I forgot to grab one, of course.
The security line was fairly short, as there were only a handful of flights on this Saturday morning. A young couple, evidently from Cornell (judging by their sweatshirts) were all over each other from the second I saw them in the security line, until we landed in Philadelphia. I understand a little bit of affection here and there won’t hurt, but come on! I snapped a photo of the dilapidated US Airways concourse quickly, and went to the gate to board. This concourse also holds one Northwest gate, along with a B6 gate, and is in dire need to either be demolished, or completely remodeled.
The seemingly abandoned South Concourse at Syracuse’s Hancock International.
SYR - PHL
Seat 11A?- Exit Row
Departure Time, Scheduled 7:30am / Actual 7:49am
Departure Gate: 9
Arrival Time, Scheduled 8:36am / Actual 8:47am
Arrival Gate: A18
We boarded five minutes late, at around 7:20. Everybody took their seats rather quickly, and the flight was almost full. I snagged the exit row when I checked in the day before, and was lucky enough to have the B seat empty for the short hop to PHL.
The flight itself was rather uneventful. A few bumps on ascent, with a brief, smooth cruise. On descent, we encountered a slight bit of turbulence, as usual on a day with such dreary weather. There was a standard beverage and pretzel service. To my surprise, the flight attendant actually announced the connecting information for all aboard. She seemed to be fairly new at this gig, and kept pausing to make corrections. Oh well- you have to learn sometime!
The captain announced shortly before landing that we would be arriving at Gate A18, which excited me, but not with the even shorter connection I now had.
A shot of the shoddy ‘bird at the gate in PHL.
A closer-up shot of ‘445 at Gate A18.
I made the semi-lengthy walk to B15, and still had ten minutes until boarding was scheduled to begin. At this point, I was quite hungry, because I hadn’t eaten before I left that morning. So I walked- briskly, may I add- to the Terminal D to grab a coronary… err, a croissant, and then bolted back to the B gates, just as boarding was coming to a close. I was the second-to-last one on board. And there was still, remarkably, overhead space for my bag!
PHL - FLL
Reg: N620AU – STAR Alliance Scheme
Seat 26A – Exit Row
Departure Time, Scheduled 9:50am / Actual 10:13am
Departure Gate: B15
Arrival Time, Scheduled 12:39pm / Actual 12:32pm
Arrival Gate: E3
We pushed just a few minutes late, and scooted to the runway at what is thought of as a break-neck speed at Filthadelphia. Only third in line for take off, the delay was symbolic. Behind a United 757, and Darth Vader US Airways 757, we turned onto the runway. As the rain droplets on my window were wiped off by the high speeds of the trademark 757 takeoff, the captain hurled us like a football into the sky. A bit windy upon take off, we swerved from side to side with the crosswinds. Some minor bumps followed, but that’s inevitable when you fly through a storm. My beautifully private exit row space was invaded by a warrior from the bowels a few rows back, who unfortunately noticed a friend that occupied the C seat. The second he sat down, I felt squashed. I’m not a big guy- just 5’9 and 130 pounds, and this guy had to be 6’5 and 200+ pounds, like a football player. Squashed like a bug, I say. I had the opportunity to snap a couple window-view photos, which I think came out pretty well.
A little over halfway through my PHL-FLL leg, presumably over the Carolinas.
Another southbound jet, high above the left side of the 757.
The southern-accented flight attendants handed out pretzels with your choice of beverage; I chose Ginger Ale, which the football player handed me with a smile. We chatted a bit on why we were going to Fort Lauderdale. I told him it was for mileage, and he gave me a weird, but somewhat understanding look. He was going down with some friends to watch the Miami v. Buffalo game, and joked about how his friends stretch out a three hour game into a 4 day ordeal. He was a nice guy, though. A nice seatmate, size aside .
Of the countless number of flights I’ve been on, this was undoubtedly the smoothest flight I’ve ever experienced. Excluding the initial few bumps, it was smooth from takeoff to touchdown. The captain set us down some seven minutes early in FLL, landing from the East.
I wanted to check out the airport a bit, and after walking off the plane, I left the secured area after making a call to my mother, to reassure her that I was fine. The shops at Terminal 3 were neat, and the terminal itself is quite nice. I wanted to go outside for a little bit, but not too long, as I wore pants that day. I walked up to the top floor of the parking garage, to a crappy view of the Delta Connection ramp. It was a piping hot 86°F, and I was dying in my pants. Silly me, I should’ve worn shorts, and enjoyed an hour in the sun . I quickly took one photo, and went back into the terminal to check in.
Two ERJ-145’s of Delta Connection at the ramp in FLL.
I walked up to the self check-in kiosk at the US Airways counter, where the employees seemed to be having a pow-wow between the rush of flights checking in. There was literally one other person checking in. I asked one of the women for the number of my flight; she replied 1220. I promptly thanked her, and grabbed two ticket jackets- one for this round of flights, and the other for my first round.
I decided to grab lunch at Chili’s Too Go, as I didn’t feel like sitting in the restaurant. Some little shit kept running into me, and I nearly snapped at him. I would’ve if his very intimidating father weren’t towering above me. I waited fifteen minutes to be overcharged for a Chicken Fajita wrap with a soda, which was accompanied by chips with enough salt to induce a heart attack, and some crappy salsa. I still ate them though. After that, I went to The Paradies Shop and bought a t-shirt for my sister, along with an interesting issue of Time. This would come in handy later.
As I walked through security, which had literally one other person going through, the agent had to scan my backpack again. My guess was the digital camera that was inside it sent up a red flag. Once again, I thought I was to be subjected to the dreaded Super Slow Silly Search, but once again managed to elude the authorities .
Once I returned to the brightly lit E-gates, I decided to kill some time by taking a few photos.
PanAm330 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2734 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 8565 times:
A US Airways 757 heading for, if I remember correctly, PHL.
A somewhat blurred photo of the same US 757, this time heading for the runway accompanied by a landing DL Connection ERJ-135, and a spiffy Ford Aerostar.
Another blurred photo, this time of a landing AirTran 717-200 in the new colors.
“My” STAR Alliance 757 pushing back from E3. This was the bird that flew me down to FLL.
N620AU, an Air Canada A321, and a jetbridge.
An AA 737-800, heading off to destination unknown.
A CanJet 737-500, C-FCGG, resting at gate E6 before a flight back home to Canada.
C-FCGG, viewed from the other side of E6, just before the jetbridge retracted, and it pushed back.
A view from the end of the E gates, at Fort Lauderdale’s Terminal 3.
After taking these pictures, I made my way to my gate, and sat for awhile before boarding. I looked over to the left, and noticed water dripping through one of the lights, which was out. I assume that this was an air conditioner leaking, but I don’t know much about things like this.
FLL – PHL
Seat 9F – Exit Row
Departure Time, Scheduled 3:40pm / Actual 4:07pm
Departure Gate: E7
Arrival Time, Scheduled 6:23pm / Actual 6:49pm
Arrival Gate: B5
We quickly boarded the A321, which seemed to be in good shape compared to the other ones I’ve been in. I snatched the best coach seat on the aircraft. The seat in front of 9F is missing, because of the exit door and flight attendant rest seat. I had the seat to the left of mine vacant, and a full window view. It was simply glorious.
No sooner after pushback did the captain announce that due to the wonderful weather up in PHL, we were to be held for no less than twenty minutes on the ground here. We lazily scooted towards the runway, and sat in the penalty box. I watched out my window for a bit, spotting a Song 757 land, another take off, and a DL 767 (-200, I believe. But not positive on that one.) take off as well. It was at this point I whipped out my issue of Time, and enjoyed a few articles. At around 4:05, the pilot announced that he was to start the other engine once again. After a quick warm up, we crept onto the runway, and leapt into the blue Florida sky.
I finished off my magazine fairly quickly, around the time the flight attendants started their drink and pretzel service. I was reading the last article, as the flight attendant asked the couple in front of me what kind of beverage they’d prefer. Then the people across from them, and then behind those people. Lastly, the people in the row behind me. The b*tch skipped my row! I didn’t care enough to ask her for a drink. I’d had enough soda as it was.
A view from 9F of the clouds below.
Shortly after the rogue flight attendant passed by my row, the air became quite rough, and the scantily appearing clouds turned into one giant mass, concealing the ground below and obstructing my view. We started to descend after only 90 minutes in flight, and as expected, the flight attendants were told to go to their seats due to rough air ahead. The flight attendant had a nice chat, where I bet him (jokingly, of course) that we’d have to circle Philly, and he agreed. I said 25 minutes at least; he said fifteen. We leveled off in the clouds, and the captain announced we’d be in the air around PHL for another half hour. Looks like I was closest .
We were slammed down some 30 minutes later onto some slick pavement, and swerved from side to side in the winds and rain as the roaring thrust reversers brought us to a slow taxiing speed.
After eating a slice of pizza at Sbarro, I headed over to the A terminal, since I had the time to waste, and wasn’t able to really see it earlier in the day. I looked around at the shops that were offered, and resisted the temptation to spend money. As I walked past the many gates on my return to the dilapidated and leaking B gates, I saw the bank of European flights getting ready for boarding. I glared with envy at those who were heading off to the likes of Paris, Madrid, and Frankfurt. I only wished my ticket would change from SYR to CDG. But I can’t afford Europe right now. After realizing that I won’t be doing that until March or April, I headed back to B to await boarding.
PHL – SYR
Seat 12A – Exit Row
Departure Time, Scheduled 8:45pm / Actual 8:56pm
Departure Gate: B10
Arrival Time, Scheduled 10:03pm / Actual 9:36pm
Arrival Gate: 10
I boarded the half-filled flight with low expectations. I was heading to Syracuse, after all. We pushed on time, and got to the runway to wait for what seemed like two seconds, and then we were off. To be honest, this was the steepest take off I’ve ever experience. The pilot had to be ex-military, judging by the way he handled this old clunker. Full power (or at least it seemed that way), and the same angle as departure almost all the way up. I thought we were going to stall, to be frank.
After a quick 40 minute jaunt back to Syracuse, the pilot dumped us onto the runway, with full thrust reversers, brakes and anything else he could use to stop us quicker than you could imagine. We were off the runway before the end (or the beginning, depending on the way you look at it) of the terminal, and the pilot high-tailed it to the gate, squeaking the brakes loudly as we stopped at the gate, as if to confirm our arrival. This guy really wanted to get home.
After I deplaned, I walked to my car in a half-asleep stupor, and headed down the Interstate for the 20 minute drive home. I slept for 14 hours that night.
Thank you all for reading this, if you got this far. I didn’t realize it would be this long, but I hope you enjoyed it !
Bridogger6 From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 718 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8238 times:
Great trip report, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Working for HP (I guess US now) I haven't actually flown US yet, so this gave me a rough idea of what they're like, AND I read it all the way through, very well written, thanks for sharing!
Atrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5717 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7744 times:
Quoting SmAlbany (Reply 4): I am not a frequent flier. Can you explain this to me? How does flying just for the sake of earning miles pay off?
You eventually earn so much miles that the miles pay yuo back in a way with frequent upgrades to first class or free tickets in coach. i do this alot with American Airlines and Southwest (altho WN goes by Points/Credits)
Great report, enjoyed the pics, and the 757 is a great one to fly in. I always enjoy flying the 757.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
SmAlbany From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 287 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7728 times:
Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 5): You eventually earn so much miles that the miles pay yuo back in a way with frequent upgrades to first class or free tickets in coach.
Thanks. I do understand how a frequent flier program works. What I was wondering was how flying just for the sake of earning FF miles (he went SYR - FLL - SYR in one day) pays off. The cost of the ticket is much more than what you can get with those miles. Unless I'm missing something.
PanAm330 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2734 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 7703 times:
Thanks for all of the comments guys ! I appreciate the feedback.
Quoting Vega (Reply 3): Immature and not funny comment.
Oh grow up. It was a joke, and if you didn't find it funny, I apologize for your lack of a sense of humor.
Quoting SmAlbany (Reply 6): Thanks. I do understand how a frequent flier program works. What I was wondering was how flying just for the sake of earning FF miles (he went SYR - FLL - SYR in one day) pays off. The cost of the ticket is much more than what you can get with those miles. Unless I'm missing something.
I only paid $206 for the ticket, which isn't bad for a one-day roundtrip. Not terribly awesome, but hey. Eventually, when I get upgraded to a higher tier in the Dividend Miles program again, it will pay off. Free upgrades to First, preferred boarding, etc. Just all around a nicer experience. It's worth it to me, but it may not be to others.
DeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 8988 posts, RR: 11
Reply 11, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 7682 times:
Quoting SmAlbany (Reply 9): Okay, thanks for the explanation. It sounds like your trip was as much to take in a day of flying as it was to earn mileage - I totally understand. For the right price, I would consider that too.
At this time of year, many travellers are getting an idea of how much they will actually travel that year, and as such, might be just a few thousand miles short of the next tier. I personally don't really care for the FF miles as much - yes, it is nice when I need to book a 3 day advance flight and don't feel like paying $1000, but in general, they just sit there until I need to urgently use them.
For me, the reason I do day-trips like this are for the Elite Qualifying mileage. I travel exclusively carry-on, so it's nice to be able to not have to worry about fighting for overhead space with everyone. It's also nice to get the best seats in coach as well, and of course the auto-upgrades. The elite phone number is quite beneficial, and short lines at security and check-in make it easily worth the $300 I spend to make it to the next level. The mileage (and applicable bonus) is just icing on the cake for me. All the aforementioned perks are what I'm really after, as it really cuts down on some of the travel stress.