I booked these flights in early Feb. with the hope that my favorite team, the UNC Tarheels basketball team would be participating in the Final Four. Oh well, it didn't happen, but I have friends and family in Minnesota.
Saturday 3-31-01 Continental Airlines 1419
BWI-CLE MD-80 Ship#876
We(myself and my wife) arrived at the long term 'blue' parking lot at BWI at 5:30am for the 6:45am flight to Cleveland,OH. We entered the terminal at BWI and there was only one person in line ahead of us at the CO check-in line. This was the shortest line I have ever seen at BWI. There must have been at least 500 passengers in the line over at SWA.(I guess we know who is the king at BWI). We grabbed a quick bite at BK and stood in a very long security line that moved quickly and proceeded to gate C2. The flight boarded very quickly and all the CO employees were very friendly. There was only one 'interesting' plane on the ramp. I suppose it was SWA's New Mexico One. It was yellow with a red emblem on the fuselage. Pushback was right on time at 6:45am just as it started to rain and we had no wait to take off. The flight, which was about half full, was airbourne after a very short take-off roll from runway 28 at 6:54.
The climb out was a little bumby and it was overcast all the way to Cleveland. The cabin crew was non-existent the whole flight, but did manage a cup of O.J. After a very uneventful flight we landed on runway 5R at 7:50am and pulled into gate C3 at 7:55 about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
Saturday 3-31-01 Continental Express 4059
CLE-MSP ERJ-135 Ship#515
After a long walk thru the undergound tunnel over to the COExpress terminal we headed to Gate D25. I was excited about my first flight on an ERJ, but shortly after arriving at the gate an announcement was made that the flight was severly over-booked and they needed at least 5 volunteers to give up seats for compensation. Usually we jump at the chance for vouchers, but not having slept the previous night we were very tired. The decision was made to turn down the offer. About 10 minutes later another announcement was made, so I went up to the counter and asked about the compensation and alternate flights. They offered $250.00 vouchers to each of us and re-accomadation on TWA connecting in STL arriving at MSP around 1PM. We decided No. Even after everyone was on board the flight attendant made an announcement that one volunteer was still needed. However nobody departed the aircraft?
My first impressions of the ERJ were not good. The headroom was very poor walking down the aisle, and the legroom was poor. Not to be too negative, the windows were very large and the leather seats were very comfortable. The boarding delays caused us to leave the gate about 15 minutes late at 9:04am. We taxied to runway 23L behind a Delta MD-80 and after what seemed like a very long takeoff run for such a small jet we lifted off at 9:16am.
We turned westward and climbed up to FL350. The single flight attendant was Yolanda, and she provided excellent service. The breakfast/snack consisted of Total cereal, a tasty blueberry muffin, and a near rotten banana. This aircraft was very clean but there was a foul smell at times during the flight(Maybe one of the passengers forgot to bath!). I did manage some brief views of ground through the clouds during the flight, but it was overcast most of the way. We began our descent into the Twin-Cities and made our approach from the SE over Mendota Heights landing on runway 30R at 9:49am and were at the gate at 9:55am(10 minutes early). We pulled up right next to TWA 717(I'm not sure what gate we pulled into) Overall I definately prefer the CRJ over the ERJ.
Tuesday 4-3-01 Northwest Airlines 604
MSP-CLE DC-9-31 N602NW
Needless to say the morning after the NCAA tournament ended MSP was a zoo. Even though we possesed CO tickets we had to check-in at the NWA ticket counter. The line at the check-in counter actually was not very long. The line at security was a whole different story. There must have been at least 50 people in line ahead of us. Thank god it moved quickly! Our gate was F15 at the very end of what used to be called the red concourse. This flight was oversold, but they only needed seats from passengers connecting to destinations in Florida.
We pushed back from the gate about 8 minutes behind schedule at 7:38am. I noticed 3 America West planes on the ramp. These must have been chartered for University of Arizona players/fans. There was also an A320 in JMCAir's colors with TransGlobal painted on the side. I thought it was a bit interesting seeing how the original 'Airport' was filmed at MSP and the fake airline in that movie was TransGlobal. Anyway, we taxied to runway 12L and were 8th in line for departure (behind a USAirways A319) and aircraft were also using this runway for arrivals so we didn't take off until 7:55am. An NWA 757 took off and climbed out at the exact same moment as us from 12R. It would have been a great shot, but no camera!
After a smooth cloud-freeclimb to FL310 the captain explained we were just east of Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Our flight path would take us over Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin then crossing Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan and south of Detroit arriving in Cleveland a couple minutes late.The interior on this plane was fairly clean, but the seats were very 'worn' looking. I found it interesting that the Continental ticket showed a snack service on this flight, but none was served. And I was hungry! I seetled for a cup of O.J..
We once again landed on runway 5R at CLE actually almost on time at 10:16am and pulled into gate C6 at 10:20am. We had to scurry back thru the tunnel to the D terminal to make our flight to BWI.
Tuesday 4-3-01 Continental Express 3042
CLE-BWI ATR-42 Ship#818
This flight had just started boarding when we arrived at gate D17. This was yet another full flight. As soon as we boarded I noticed how poor the interior of this aircaft was. The walls were dirty and seats looked old. We pushed back at 11:04am(9 minutes late) and taxied out to runway 5L. We were number 5 in line and took off behind a CO 737-300 at 11:24am. The climb out and virtually the entire flight were very bumpy. The cruising altitude was FL190. There was very little cloudiness, but the turbulence continued and began quite severe at times as we approached BWI. The snack service was some kind of a chocalate energy bar, which actually was quite tasty. I also had can of coke. After the previously mentioned rough approach into BWI we landed on runway 10 at 12:38pm and pulled up to gate C4 at 12:41. This is when the only really negative part of the trip happened...After the props were turned off and the door was opened for the rear departure from the ATR was about to occur a CO employee boarded the aircraft screaming a passengers name and when she located him in seat 7C told him very firmly two times "I need to see your ticket jacket sir". Everyone was already standing and this employee bulldozed her way onto the plane and was very rude to this man. After a few minutes of this poor passenger searching for his ticket the employee seemed very irritated. He finally found it she looked at for about 2 seconds, radioed to someone "it's okay" and then exited the plane quickly. The poor man seemed a bit stunned. I wondered what that was all about??
Overall the travel experience on these flights was good. The NWA and CO services seem to compliment each other nicely. The one thing I always notice when I'm flying NWA is the fact that their pilots always communicate the route of flight, altitude, etc. with great detail. The other carriers never seem to do that nearly as well. Also, looking back I wish we had taken those vouchers. The $250.00 each plus maybe the last chance for me to fly TWA before they are absorbed into AA would have been nice.
I know this trip report has been long, but I haven't had time to do reports on my last couple trips.