On the second (and last) day of my short trip to Washington I got up early, "enjoyed" a rather tasteless coffee made with my room's coffee maker and went for a walk. Here's my hotel, the Radisson National Airport:
Breakfast was not included, so I was hoping to find a fast food restaurant or anything else. In short distance from the hotel I found a 7-Eleven store, got a tasty hot dog and some candy stuff which you can't find in Germany...
Spotting at DCA & IAD
Later in the morning I checked out and waited for my friend and fellow a.net member The777Man. After he picked me up we first went to a parking lot directly under the approach path of Washington National Airport. That's a really nice place, many people around watching planes as well, and no police asking uncomfortable questions.
US Airways B737-400 on short finals:
Departing aircraft could be seen as well:
After some two hours we left the place and drove to Dulles Airport where we spent about an hour on top of a parking structure. Again, no police or any other security guys. Indy Air was still operating back in November, but the highlight was KLM's freshly delivered A332 PH-AOC. Here's a shot with a part of the terminal buildings in the background:
Time was just flying by and we had to leave so that I could check in at least two hours in advance. Back at DCA I said good bye to Lars and went straight to the US counters.
Sunday, 27. November 2005
Washington National (DCA) - Philadelphia (PHL)
US Airways US 246
Flying time: 00:36 (hrs)
N170US (c/n 1462), first delivered 05/2001
Economy, seat 31A
Short hop, volume II
Arriving at the mostly empty counters, I was asked by a ground assistant where I would be going. "Munich", I said and the man immediately started telling about his military service in Germany, emphasizing how often he had visited Bavaria. Some ten minutes later I showed my reservation to a friendly lady at the counter and within minutes I had my boarding passes.
Passing security was not a big deal this time and I took a seat at the glass front of US's gate area. The sun was already about to disappear but I still got some more registrations, and again nobody seemed to care about my binoculars. Though I admit, I was discrete with writing down the numbers.
US flight 246 from Charlotte arrived some minutes late and it turned out to be operated by N170US. Here's a shot through the window:
Only few people hung around at the gate shortly prior to boarding and my impression was confirmed later, the A321 was truly over-sized for that Sunday evening load of some 50-60 passengers. Though, First Class seemed to be full. I went down to row 31 and almost the whole section remained empty. Perfect conditions to take pictures.
Seat pitch on the A321 appeared to be slightly better than on the B733, but still not a real pleasure:
The cabin appeared to be in good shape, video screens overhead:
And finally a shot of DCA's modern terminal building:
N170US was pushed back at 17.40 and took to the skies eleven minutes later. The maximum cruise altitude was stated to be only 11,000 feet. We flew just above the clouds, quite a shaky, turbulent ride which I definitely enjoyed. Of course no drink was served on that 36-minutes hop and at 18.27 we touched down at PHL.
Sunday, 27. November 2005
Philadelphia (PHL) - München (MUC)
US Airways US 014
Flying time: 08:08 (hrs)
N650US (c/n 217), first delivered 05/1988 (to Piedmont Als)
Economy, seat 28A
After disembarking I immediately walked over to the international concourse - no registration hunting possible in the darkness! I found out that the gate for MUC was at the front end of the concourse, so I checked all the others on the way in order to see which aircraft I wouldn't get for sure. There was a small chance to catch N656US, not only the first B762 in new colors, but also the one which had had an engine failure at AMS one week ago. However, my hope was suddenly destroyed when I passed the first gate - N656US was being prepared to fly to Amsterdam.
While I continued my walk I saw two other B762s, but not the one I had on the MUC-PHL service, and I feared I would probably end up with the same plane (N648US) again. My gate turned out to be the most unfavorable one because almost nothing was visible. I was only able to identify a part of a wing, but nothing else thanks to the shape of the building, the position of the jetways and ground equipment and the extreme light-reflecting on the windows.
So I had a hamburger at McDonald's first and decided to start a second attempt later. Meanwhile the ground equipment had been removed and I could identify an engine. But surprisingly that engine didn't look grey, but seemed to be dark, blue somehow. What? Until that point of time I had thought only one B762 (N656US) would carry the new colors - and it seemed I had been wrong. I went into the gate area for the FRA flight and discovered a small corner from where I could have a better view.
And indeed, the plane - N650US - was painted in new colors. I'm not sure when it was painted, but the first picture was taken on the day of my departure, 27th November at San Juan (see the left picture in the first row above), - so chances are not bad that evening's service to MUC was the plane's first long-haul flight in new colors.
Boarding & T/O
Boarding was started on time and only few passengers lined up. When I entered the Eco cabin, one male F/A from the other day's flight waved to me, one female F/A said "Welcome back, how was your short trip?"
I took my seat in the last row and only some minutes later the male F/A came by, telling me "you can stretch out, we have a very light load today!" My estimate is a load of some 40-50%.
We were pushed back at 20.12 and some minutes later found ourselves at the runway, with two other B762 just behind. Take-off was powerful and quite short, followed by a steep climb. A half-loaded B762 is a true pleasure!
Amenity kit & headsets
Later, a female F/A who I hadn't seen before passed my row and asked: "Are you X's friend?" ("X" = an F/A which I had met the day before, see my first report) I said "Yes" - and got an Envoy Class amenity kit again. Another F/A - never seen before either - sold headsets just moments later and gave me a package for free. So "X" had indeed told the new crew about me, as he had promised.
Dinner was served soon and the choice was between pasta and a meat option (can't remember what exactly). I decided to take the lighter meal and went for pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, served with dark bread, carrot sticks & ranch dressing, cheddar cheese, cream crackers and a mini moon-pie. It was quite tasty and definitely enough for a night flight. Again, the side dishes were served in a meal box:
Though the cabin was in better condition than N648US's the IFE options were the same. As I was tired anyway I tried to get some sleep. In contrast to all my long-haul flights before, I remained asleep for at least four hours. Having two seats for my own was an advantage for sure. When I woke up we had only some two and a half hours left, sunrise just ahead:
I went for a short walk and grabbed some glasses of tasty Florida orange juice which the crew had placed in the galley area. Besides, bags with pretzels were also available. The F/A who had waved to me earlier came by and we talked a bit about my trip.
The maximum cruise altitude was 38,000 feet, btw. Clouds meet sun:
Some one and a half hours prior to arrival a small breakfast was served. It consisted of a buttermilk bar, orange juice and coffee or tea, but I wasn't really hungry anyway.
The remaining flight was uneventful and we dived into foggy skies over Germany:
Approach was started early and it seemed we would arrive on time, but then we had to circle around MUC for a while, I guess some 15 minutes.
Finally, we were cleared for landing, all the snow coming closer...
We touched down at 10.38 and could taxi to our gate without interruption. When I was about to leave the female F/A from the flight two days ago asked me: "So are you flying back with us today again?" I said: "No, I'll wait a bit!"
Well visible in daylight: N650US in new colors:
Since I had only traveled with hand luggage I could immediately leave the terminal and head for the parking service shuttle bus. This time it was another driver, but he asked: "You're the one who flew out only two days ago, right?" As we had to wait for another PHL passenger we could talk for a while and I explained my hobby to him. "Isn't that expensive?", he asked. Well, he was quite surprised then to hear about the 339 Euro-fare I had paid...
The trip was a total success, I finally got the B767-200ER as well as the A321-200 and 107 new registrations. Thanks to the special treatment on both long-haul sectors I can't complain about the service. Regular food and drink service was absolutely ok, staff were friendly, both in the air and on the ground. Of course, the B762's interiors need to be refurbished and the IFE needs an update. PHL is not the most beautiful gateway for a plane change, but clearly arranged and functional. I would definitely fly US Airways again, no doubt about that.
Vega From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 13531 times:
It's always nice to read an unemotional, factual report.
PHL was not designed as a major International gateway and it's evolution into that has been unfortunately done in a hodge podge way, adding on bridges and expanding existing terminals into what is now a difficult airport to transit. It needs to be completely rebuilt if PHL is to grow further - and that is the current plan. The International Terminal (A) however, is quite nice - too bad you didn't take any photos of it.
AdamTStarFlyer From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 64 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 13246 times:
Really enjoyed your report! 339 Euros return is ridiculously cheap!!!
I flew into Munich last year, it's such a clean and friendly airport. Im off to PHL later this week with US on one of their A333's so hopefully the IFE selection will be slightly better than yours, although i don't think my flight will be as empty as yours. In your report you said that yours was one of the last flights into PHL from the transatlantic destinations @16.10 in your first report. What time does the 'chaos' start in the immigration halls? My flight gets in @14.00, and i have a connecting flight at 17.00. I was just wondering if it will take me more than 2hours to get through immigration as i was hoping to get a chat with the flight crew up front when we get to PHL.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 12894 times:
Thanks a lot for posting part #2, I was already waiting for it! Again, a great report, I enjoyed reading and watching!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): In short distance from the hotel I found a 7-Eleven store, got a tasty hot dog and some candy stuff which you can't find in Germany...
That's kickin' ass, eh? I really love stuff like hot-dogs, burritos or burgers for breakfast. I always gain weight when I am in the USA because I really like fast food. Breakfast at IHOP, lunch at In 'N Out, dinner at Carl's Jr. and midnight snack at Wendy's would be on my agenda every day when I would live in the States.
AirxLiban From Lebanon, joined Oct 2003, 4519 posts, RR: 53
Reply 10, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 12696 times:
PH - nice report, glad to hear that you had a good trip and managed to snag the 762. That breakfast on the eastbound was really awful! Why can't they give a sandwich or something at least. Though other than that it sounded like the crew was pretty good.
I have booked several intra-European trips for the months ahead (AB, DE, SN) and a trip to Australia in September (EK, QF + ???). I'm also planning a one-week trip in July, destination not determined yet.
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 8): This is utterly ridiculous, the food on the westbound flight was definitely better!
Well, I agree.
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 8): And how many miles did you actually get since you paid such a low fare?
I got a total of 5120 miles for that trip on my M&M account. Still better than nothing - you don't get any more miles for the lowest AF/KL fares.
Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 10): That breakfast on the eastbound was really awful! Why can't they give a sandwich or something at least.
True - but I didn't mind so much because I still felt full.
Usair320 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 991 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 10605 times:
Great report. I love those buttermilk bars US serves on there Trans atlantics. Next time try to get a flight with an A330 out of FRA as the cabins are less worn and not to mention AVOD. But I do like the 762. Sounds like you had a great crew. I love uS's Transatlantic crews especially the bunch on the FCO run.
Honcircle From Austria, joined Apr 2006, 62 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 9751 times:
Good trip report, but weren´t you tired. Didn´t you have any Jetlag in Y. If you were flown F or C ok maybe you didn´t have any jetlag but in Y for so a short time. Did you sleep immedietly after ariving?
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 20, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 9586 times:
Quoting Honcircle (Reply 19): Good trip report, but weren´t you tired. Didn´t you have any Jetlag in Y. If you were flown F or C ok maybe you didn´t have any jetlag but in Y for so a short time. Did you sleep immedietly after ariving?
I didn't face any problems with jetlag, got some sleep at my Washington hotel and slept some hours on the return flight.