73G From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 128 posts, RR: 1 Posted (8 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5302 times:
As an airline employee, there is no better perk than being able to travel for free anywhere your airline flies. I've been all over the country and haven't spent a dime. However, my airline doesn't fly everywhere so there are only so many places I can visit...until recently. I was promoted to Aircraft Dispatcher not too long ago. Through various reciprocal agreements, I am able to 'jumpseat' on nearly every carrier in the United States, free of charge. I put the jumpseat in quotes because in reality I am occupying a cabin seat. Well, yesterday I decided to put this new benefit to the test and head down to EYW for some good food, good drinks, and a little sun. My original routing was to be MCO-EYW on CO and EYW-FLL-MCO on US and WN. Mother nature had different plans for me.
I checked the seat map of my flight on Continental.com the day before my departure and it revealed 16 of 19 seats were occupied. I wasn't too worried about it and sure enough when I arrived at the ticket counter at 0930, it was booked to 16 with 0 non-revs listed...perfect. I made my way through security using my airline ID and proceeded to Gate 2 on Airside 1. An extremely friendly Continental agent greeted me and handed me a jumpseat form to fill out. After verifying that my ID and FAA ticket were valid, she issued me a boarding pass for Seat 1A, success! Around 0955 or so, my aircraft arrived from TLH. At 1015, boarding began for my flight along with another departure to MIA. As I boarded, I introduced myself to the FO and Captain which is standard procedure for a jumpseater. He took a copy of my jumpseat form and told me to make myself comfortable. I took my seat in 1A which is a good and bad location. Its good because you have an excellent view of the cockpit as their is no cockpit door. However, there is no window in the first row so you cannot see out to the side. Having sat in the cockpit before, I would have preferred a window seat. The FO informed that boarding had been completed and we would only have 14. I asked if I could sit in Row 9, which he had no problem with. Perfect! Row 9 on the Beech is 3 seats across, all of which were empty. I slid to the back just in time for #2 engine startup. As the aircraft powered up, the captain made an announcment about our route of flight and proceeded to play a taped safety briefing. #1 fired up next and we taxied away from the gate. After a 5 minute taxi, we held short of RWY 18L briefly while a Spirit A321 departed. Next it was our turn. I must say the Beech has a good bit of power behind it. We did a no flaps takeoff and were airborne in about 2,000 feet at 1038. We made a slight turn to the right and proceeded direct to RSW. I settled in and took a look at Gulfstream's in flight magazine, which really is nothing more than an advertisement for every jewelry store in Nassau. Since I was able to slide from one side of the aircraft to the other, I was able to make out Winter Haven, Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island, and Marco Island on the way down. Passing over top RSW, we turned due south direct to KEYW. About 50 miles south of the mainland, the Keys appeared and we made a turn to the southwest to deviate around some weather. At 1120, we started a robust descent into KEYW. The island was visible off the left side of the aircraft. Flaps 17 was introduced as we leveled off around 2,000 feet. Gear down on the base leg for RWY 09 about 5 miles out. Flaps 35 and we started our turn to final giving those on the left side an outstanding view of the island. We touched down at 1138 and made the second to last turn off and proceeded to the ramp. We blocked in at 1140 making the total time 1h07m.
My bird is on the left having just arrived from TLH
The spacious Beechcraft 1900 cabin
Climbing out of MCO
Marco Island from 17,000 feet
Beautiful waters of The Gulf of Mexico
Base leg with the airport visible at the top of the image
Gear down, Flaps 35, cleared to land RWY 09
Resting before heading up to MIA
I took a cab into town and decided the first thing I needed to do was grab some lunch. If you ever have the chance to visit Key West, Schooner Wharf has probably the best Conch Fritters I have ever tasted. I washed them down with a Rum Runner and walked over to Duval St. to do a little sightseeing (barhopping). Hot and tired, I found my way to an unnamed hotel and explained that I was an airline crewmember and asked if I could use the pool for an hour or so. They obliged and I enjoyed the sun for a bit. Around 1430, I noticed very large thudnerstorms had developed northeast of the Keys back toward to mainland. I assumed they were impacting the south Florida airports and opted to head back to EYW to catch the 1610 DL nonstop to MCO.
After getting back to the airport, I changed into suitable non-rev attire and approached the DL ticket counter. A nice, young Comair agent greeted me and we chit-chatted for a few minutes while she verified my information and put me in the computer. She explained that she was on TDY from DSM. Not a bad gig if you ask me. An all-expense paid vacation for a week to work a handful of daily flights. It strikes me as odd that EYW is a Comair station however Comair doesn't even fly there anymore. These days, its all ASA and Chautauqua. In any event, Seat Request coupon in hand, I proceeded through security into the extremely cramped departure lounge which serves DL, US, and AA. Making things very crowded today was the fact that MIA was ground stopped due to TSTMS (my assumption was right) and there were two AT7's stuck in EYW along with an ASA CR7 to ATL and our aircraft bound for MCO. Boarding began at 1545 and I was issued seat 12B. After boarding, and talking with the captain for a few minutes, I noticed seat 7A was open and boarding had been completed. I opted to take that seat instead as it was both a window and aisle seat. Paperwork complete and door closed, we were off the blocks on time. After a brief hold at the end of RWY9 for some landing traffic, we were cleared into position. As is standard for EYW departures, takeoff thrust was applied with the brakes engaged. After about 5 seconds, the brakes were released and we lurched forward. Airborne with about 1,000 feet remaining, we made a right turn to the south for about 5 miles before a right 180 brought back over the island heading north. Passing through 10,000 feet, the captain came over the PA and told us of a reroute issued by ATC that would add a few minutes to our flight time. Drink and snack service commenced and I opted for a glass of Coke and some cheese and wheat crackers. It hit the spot and lets be honest...how much do you really need on an hour flight? After picking our way around the storms, we started our descent just northeast of Sebring, FL. We passed over Florida's Turnpike and I was able to make out the Disney complex and downtown Orlando as we lined for RWY 35R. We touched down at 1710 and made the long taxi around to the gate. All three Virgin 744's along with the British 777 were there making MCO look rather impressive. We blocked in at Gate 60F at 1715 and disembarked. The boarding sign indicated the MCO and IND based crew would be continuing on to MCI. I bid them farewell and thanks and made my way to parking for a total trip time of 8 hours and 7 minutes.
My ride home getting a little wet
Final approach to 35R with MCO tower and Downtown Orlando visible
A few observations about my trip. Number one, the Beech 1900 is what flying is all about. I love being able to feel every roll and yaw. And theres just something about about the sound of those props being feathered. My Beech had seen better days but both Captain and FO were very friendly. EYW is in major need of expansion. There is a certain historical charm to the terminal building with its old neon signage and one-carousel bag claim. However, with the rising popularity of the Keys, the current facility has become overcrowded and rather run down. I found the ERJ to be a quiet, fast, and very comfortable airplane. The Chautauqua crew was also quite friendly. I hope you all find this report to be informative. Feel free to ask questions.
Mke717spotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 2491 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (8 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4815 times:
Nice report & pictures! EYW has always been a favorite little airport of mine and I hope to go there someday. In your first pic, I actually flew N190YV a little over a year ago FLL-TPA. That flight didn't really go to well ...the flight was 2 hours delayed and I almost missed my connecting flight,the seats were all torn, there was constantly cold air being blow on me fron the side which I couldn't stop, and it was bumpy the whole ride. Anyways, maybe next time I'll try the ERJ out.
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