Cactus739 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2457 posts, RR: 28 Posted (9 years 3 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 6977 times:
This is my first trip report, so be nice.
The beginning of October I was looking at my November / December schedule at work and it didn't look good for me to be able to get away for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. So I figured the first weekend of November was just as good for an early Thanksgiving in Kansas City wth my sister, her husband and their four children. I spent more time trying to find a good fare than I think I ever had. US Airways and Southwest were both $319, about $100 more than I've ever paid in 12 years of flying that route. Continental wanted $230 and I was about to buy that when I remembered I had a $200 voucher from American. A quick check of their website and got a price of $229. Sold. I made the reservation and held it. I called AA reservations and was told I could mail in the voucher, or I could take it to the airport and get ticketed that way. Not trusting my voucher in the mail, I decided to go to Sky Harbor on my way to work the next day.
I drove to Sky Harbor and parked at the Terminal 3 garage. This is by far the darkest most confusing parking garage I've ever been in. One slightly wrong turn and you're on your way back out of the garage. Yes, I've done it twice now. I found the American ticket counter had 2 agents and no customers. Yay! I went up to one slightly older lady who I later learned has worked for American for 22 years. As she was processing my ticket and voucher she told me I would have to pay a $15 ticketing fee for doing it at the airport. The line "well I'm using a voucher that you guys gave me when I helped you guys out once" didn't work. I didn't say it like a smart ass, just with a smile on my face. She laughed and said she agreed, but she had to charge me anyway. I'm sure she could have waived it if she tried. But still, $44 out of my own pocket instead of $229. I can handle the $15 fee. All in all I spent about 32 minutes in the airport from the time I parked till I left. On my way out, I had to pay $2. PHX parking rates suck.
On the night of the first I tried to check myself in online, but I got a message that it was unable to check me in online. I double checked to make sure I had the dates right, which they were, so I figured I was selected for security. I finished packing and went to bed.
The roommate and I were going to eat before he droppd me off, but after we left the house we both realized we weren't all that hungry, so he dropped me off at Terminal 3 at about 1140 for my 155pm flight. I went to the self check in and got the same error message I got last night. An agent came over, said I was selected for security screening. She printed up my boarding passes, and told me no exit row seats available on either flight. I dropped my bag off at the TSA and went up to security. Now I"m curious about something here. She told me I couldn't check in because i'd been selected for screening, but at no piont in my journey was my bag searched, asked any sort of questions or felt up, sorry frisked; and my boarding pass didn't have the "SSSSSS" on it. No additional screening was done to me with my knowledge. Where was the extra security I was supposed to go through?
WShen I got to security there were two lines to show your boarding pass and ID; one for elites and flight crews, and one for everyone else; , then you all merged into one line for the metal detector. I was the non elite person in line to show my ID and the lady working the Elite podium waved me over. Woohoo...she was very friendly. Said my name like 4 times and told me to enjoy my trip to Dallas. She sent me to the elite line to get throught the metal detector, but they were still running the one. They asked all the passengers to step aside so a very attractive pilot could get through, then they opened up the second metal detector. I was the first person through it. Score. All in all security took me less than 5 minutes. Because of the shortcuts I was allowed, I got through security a lot faster than people that got in line before me. Sorry guys.
I found gate 4 and the flight was listed on time. I decided to wander around. I saw a Midwest MD80 about to pushback, and a jetBlue 320 from JFK waiting patiently for that gate. Not much else to see on the south side of T3. I sat at the far end and watched some traffic. I saw Southwest's Marylond One, and one of their Shamus. I saw the new style HP retrojet from US. There was also an ATA 757 parked between terminals 2 and 3. I guess its there all the time I'm told. There was an AA 757 to ORD, and a bunch of empty gates. I made a couple phone calls then decided to make use of Sky Harbor's free wireless. I found that you can't really get a signal at the far end of the terminal, but if you're in the main area you get a really good one.
Our beautiful shiny 757 arrived from Dallas as flight 567 (why do I never get cute flight numbers) at 104pm. The gate agents showed up right as the plane did, good timing on their part. They seem moody. The door opened pretty quickly and barely a minute after th eplane stopped at the gate people were on their way off.
American Airlines 348
Phoenix - Dallas Ft Worth
Depart: sched 155pm, actual 148pm
Arrive: sched 510pm, actual 440pm, no gate so actual deplane at 510pm (on time)
Boarding began at 125pm. There seemed to be an unusually large number of AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members, more than I remember on any flight in recent memory. Group 1 started shortly after that. I'm not sure how group numbers were assigned, but groups 1 through 4 seemed relatively small, maybe 10-15 people per group. But then group 5 seemed like most everyone else, guess which one I was in. . For the first time in memory though I was able to go all the way down the jetway and onto the plane without stopping. Maybe there is something to this small group thing. I boarded and was greeted by a very friendly female flight attendant who greeted me with a very Texs "howdy" as she welcomed me on board. As I made my way through first class the last row of it had 4 small children in it. I was curious about that, but more jealous than anything. As I made my way down the aisles towards my seat I noticed these weren't normal AA seats. They were dark blue but had red and gold squiggles in them. Was I on an ex TWA aircraft? People were scattered all throughout the cabin so I got really curious about the group assignments. If anyone from AA can shed some light on how they assign groups I'd be thankful. I got to row 18, found a rather nice looking guy in the aisle, and empty middle seat. I stepped out of the aisle and took my iPiod, book and Gummi bears out of my bag. I leaned over the attractive guy to put my bag in the bin. On the way back down to my seat I got a slight headrush. This was going to be a fun flight.
As boarding continued I noticed a lot of empty middle seats. Would attractive aisle guy and I be lucky? Flight attendants came down the aisle closing bins. I think we were gonna make it with an empty seat! I started joking with the guy about the empty seat. He put a blanket on it. We agreed if anyone showed up for the middle seat we'd tell them that 18B was across the aisle. Finally....the flight attendants called for their cross check and I knew we were safe. Score. The LCD screens came down and they started the safety video while we were at the gate. They played it in English and in Spanish. I realized as we were taxiing that I was in probably the most comfortable airplane seat I've been in in quite a while. I had more than adaquate legroom and the seat was just downright comfy. I don't think the plane had been reconfigured into SRTC (standard room throughout coach). We pushed back and headed out to runway 7L without much of a delay. As we were approaching the end of the runway we passed another AA 757 sitting off to the side of the runway. I'm guessing it was the 1pm to ORD going through some sort of delay. We rolled onto the runway, stopped for a second then we were off.
Having only had 737's, MD80's and ERJ's for the past couple of years.... the 757 takeoff brough back fond memories. This aircraft is a rocket. We had a relatively short roll then we were lifting up and climbing pretty quickly to the east. The 757 is by far my favorite plane to fly on, and it ws much quieter than the MD80 I was to take next. I was hoping for a westerly take off though. Usually when we take off to the west and have to turn back towards the east, we seem to make the turn back to the east over my house almost every time. I've seen my backyard from the air several times. As we continued climbing out our pilot came on and gave us his rundown. Unlike most flights, I was actually able to hear the pilots. We would be cruisng at 39,000 feet. Heading slightly northeast and passing south of Albuqueuque, Lubbock then into Dallas. Weather in Dallas was a pleasant (?) 58 degrees and pretty clear. He expected flight time to be 1 hour and 48 minutes. During this time I was enjoying a nice chat with the guy in the aisle, who was on his way to Puerto Vallarta after visiting his parents in Phoenix. They turned on the overhead LCD screens with CBS Eye on American, but I didn't pay attention at all.
The flight attendants came through offering beverages. I really wanted a Crown Royal and Coke, but opted for just Coke. I remembered there was a bar at DFW Terminal D that I wanted to look into. Something with the word Mojito in the name of it. The flight attendands were friendly and I had the "howdy" FA serve my drink. She was friendly and efficient. Anyway, they gave us a small snack mix pack and a cup of Coke, filled with ice. After 4 sips, it was gone. The snack mix was ok, mostly pretzels though. Last year on America West I had a really good snack mix that they only served in First that was tons better. I had a bottle of water I'd purchased at Sky Harbor that kept my nicely hydrated. After a reasonable amount of time the flight attendants returned to pick up the rubbish. During the flight the pilots came on a few times to keep us posted on our progress, we were making good time. The guy in the aisle and I kept talking and before long we were starting out descent into Dallas. Question here too....is it possible for people that work for American to say "Dallas", or do they always have to say "Dallas Fort Worth"? While we were on approach they gave connecting gate information. They skipped over Kansas City, also Puerto Vallarta. Coincidence? We'd be arriving into Terminal D; by far the best Terminal and also where the bar I wanted to look at was. We made a nice smooth landing and taxied way past Terminal D. We got to the southwest hold pad, and turned around, and stopped. I heard the engine by me shut down. The pilot came on and told us that because of the tailwinds we were a half hour early and our gate wasn't empty yet. We sat there for about 15 minutes then started up again. Still talking with the Aisle Guy this whole time. We rolled up towards the terminal, and stopped again for another 15 minutes. While we were waiting they announced that this aircraft had a short ground time before continuing on to Orlando and asked for our assistance in cleaning up. I then learned that the flight was due to depart at 635pm, so even if we were exacly on time they'd have more than ample time to clean the plane. I guess they just wanted some help. We finally pulled into the gate and started deplaning. Peoplereally are bringing less on with them because that was the fastest I've ever gotten off a plane from that far back before; at a prompt 510pm. So much for that half hour early arrivals. We walked into a very airy terminal D and Mark (aisle guy) and I found monitors to find our flights. His flight was also from Terminal D at 700, mine from Terminal A at 710pm. We had two hours. I'm normally a pretty shy person and I don't think I've asked someone out for a drink in a really long time, , but I asked if he wanted to grab a beer (or two) since we both had some time. We went to the Tigrin Irish pub. We had a good talk; along with some really crunchy fish and chips and some REALLY good beer. He was great to talk to and it made me realize how long it had been since I'd actually enjoyed talking to someone and not being nervous at all. Before I realized it, unfortunately it was 635 and we had to get going. He walked me to the SkyTrain station and we said goodbye. We exchanged numbers and made plans to get together when he got back to Phoenix. I got on the SkyTrain and made a couple phone calls as I cruised over to Terminal A. I stopped to use the water closet before I got to gate A23, to find them boarding in progress. (I would later find out that they were offering $300 vouchers for anyone willing to go later.)
American Airlines 832
Dallas Ft Worth - Kansas City
Depart: sched 710pm, actual 708pm
Arrive: sched 840pm, actual 836pm
Boeing MD 80
Boarded in group four for this flight. Again there was no jam at the end of the jetway and I boarded the MD80. The flight attendant was inside the galley as they always are, but was leaning on the counter playing with his cell phone, I'm guessing sending a text. First class seemed full and again the main cabin seemed random as to where people were sitting. I'm really curious about this grouping method. Anyway, I made my way back towards the back and when I got close to row 18 there was a guy standing in my seat trying to cram an overly large bag in the overhead, so I stepped into 18B to wait patiently. He tried for a good couple minutes to get it in and I was starting to get impatient. I wanted to sit and I had a feeling I was holding someone up. I suggested he take the bag forward and have them gate check it, but he didn't hear me. (He was about 124 years old). After some shoving he got the bag stowed and the woman in 18F thanked him. He then proceeded to row 20. Wasn't even his bag, he was being a gentleman and that bit him in the ass, I bet he wasn't expecting it to take long. I put my bag in the bin (again removing the iPod - with plans to use it this time). The middle seat stayed empty until the end when it was taken by a young man who turned out to be on his way to MCI for a job interview. He placed his bag under the seat then squeezed in. I didn't know until we got to Kansas City that my bag was the only one in the bin or else I might have shared that with him to make his experience a bit more pleasurable.
We started out pushback and the FA's started their safety routine. The FA reading the script (the guy at the door with his cell phone) sounded as bored as anyone I've ever met, and he probably could have fallen asleep while he was reading. The ones doing the demo were just as uninspired. I understand that they do that routine day in and day out, but a *little* bit of emotion might have made people pay attention. I noticed that this cabin wasn't as comfy as the last. I had been in this seat for about 15 minutes and already my upper back was irritated. The legroom was AA standard, my tray table was quite loose, and the carpet seemed a bit worn, with some tears in it. (I was bored during the safety routine so started looking around). We drove around DFW for about 15 minutes then finally took to the air, with quite a loud, lengthy roll down the runway. The pilots announced our route to be 1 hour and 7 minutes at an altitude of 27,000 feet, with the current temperature in Kansas City at 48 degrees. At that point I started to shiver, as it was 70 when I took off from Phoenix that afternoon.
Twenty five minutes or so into the flight I started to wonder if the flight attendants were going to do any service or not. I wasn't hungry, but I was a tad thirsty and feeling a bit dehydrated from that beer. I really wanted another beer like that last one, but would settle for something free. I peeked up the aisle and noticed the cart slowly making its way down. When the still unsmiling attendants got to our row, the older one just looked at me and said "Drink?" I asked for a Ginger Ale, an old time favorite. While she was handing it to me I asked how her day was going and she just looked at me. About 15 minutes later the first flight attendant came by with a garbage bag. I noticed that his tie was loosened and his top collar button was undone, what a professional appearance! They passed through several times with garbage bags and also collecting cans for recycling. I always like to see recycling in action. By now my back was really starting to bother me so I stood up for a minute. The lady across the aisle looked at me like I was weird, but I get used to that.
It was a pretty smooth, short flight and before long the pilots announced our decent into Kansas City. This was the first time I've flown into Kansas City from the south and I was impressed at the size of the city. Usually since I fly America West or Southwest nonstop from Phoenix we approach from the West so I never really see the city. The temperature had continued to drop during the flight and MCI was reporting 43 degrees. I wondered why i alays went to Kansas in the winter. The unhappy flight attendants made a couple more passes and when we were about five minutes out and I heard a few beeps, and I saw the woman one row up across the aisle...ON HER CELL PHONE. She was checking voicemail. I wasn't sure what to do since I didn't think there was anything that coule be done, so I just started at the back of her head. We had a smooth landing, and the landing rollout went on and on and on and on, probably the longest rollout I've ever had. We made the journey back to the terminal and parked at the gate at 835, another on time arrival. As much as I hate people that do this, as soon as the seat belt sign went off I stood up. My back was really bothering me by now. I deplaned and entered the terminal. There was a sign saying "Exit" with an arrow pointing to the right, but I'm guessing that was a practical joke as there was a woman on the door waaaaay down to the left saying "over here please, over here please.". I exited the secure area and my sister was there waiting for me. I hugged her, handed her my laptop bag and bolted for the restroom. After doing my business I went back out and we went to baggage claim, where I was pleasantly surprised to see bags already flowing off. Mine appeared shortly and we were off to try to figure out where my sister had parked.
Cactus739 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 2457 posts, RR: 28
Reply 1, posted (9 years 3 months 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 6977 times:
November 6th, 2006
American Airlines 607
Kansas City - Chicago O'Hare
Depart: sched 515pm, actual 514pm
Arrive: sched 645pm, actual 639pm
Boeing MD 80
Seat 21A (Exit row, yeah!)
I checked in online the night before and printed my boarding passes with no problems. I had a leisurely morning then had a late lunch with my sister and her husband before heading to the airport. A quick check of AA's web shows flights 602 and 1707 both on time. I got to the airport at 330pm and went to check my bag. I asked the agent about exit rows and windows were available for both my flights. Quick stop at the restroom and I headed for security. Again a very painless experience as I was through in less than 5 minutes again. I like the layout of Kansas City where there's one security area for 3 or 4 gates, but with the new rules its impossible to have a bottle of water; and there's no where inside security to purchase that. Oh well. I found a seat with a window view at gate 77 and waited for them to start boarding, even though I was very early. I made a couple phone calls and made use of MCI's free wireless. I really think all airports should get on the free wireless band wagon, but they need to install more power outlets. While I was on the phone I noticed that on my boarding pass for my ORD-PHX fliht had a departure time of 831pm instead of 755pm, but still showed boarding at 725pm. It looks like if you check in when there's a new estimated departure time, it'll print that one for you. Our plane arrived from Chicago at 420pm and began de-boarding. I glanced around the gate and ddn't appear to be too many people heading to Chicago this evening.
Boarding started right on time at 445pm. I was in group number 4 and boarded when called. Again, i had no delays on the jetway. There was a smiling flight attendant in the front galley and she welcomed me on board. We went through the usual pleasantries and I was on my way to my seat. There was a guy seated in the aisle seat on his phone, who ignored me twice when I said excuse me. Finally I waved my hand and pointed to the window seat. He rolled his eyes and stood up and let me in, such a gentleman. Boarding continued and I'm guessing we were about 75% full. After the door was closed the guy moved across the aisle to take that window seat. Good, I didn't like him anyway. This gave me the whole mini-row all to myself.
We pushed back at 510pm and made our way out to the runway. We held for a second while a Continental ERJ landed and then we made a rolling start take off. It was a fast powerful take off and we launched into the air. A quick climb and we were in the clouds for about 15 seconds. We came out of the clouds into one of the most beautiful sights I've seen in quite a while. The entire sky below was covered in clouds and there was a nice blue evening sky. Our pilot came on after we cleared 10,000 feet to let us know we'd be looking at an hour and 3 minute flight, temperature in Chicago in the 50's and he was expecting an on time arrival. After we leveled off at 31,000 feet the flight attendants began their service. They were friendly and I asked for a glass of water and some OJ, both without ice. I had developed a slight cold in Kansas and my throat was killing me. She gave me the oj but did manage to put some ice cubes in the water, oh well. I sipped on those until we started out descent. As we descended they gave connecting gate information. I was to be arriving at L2, and departing out of H8. It had been about 7 years since the last time I was in Chicago and I'd forgotten how big this city was. I could see several other planes lining up on the opposite runway.. We headed out over the lake during our descent and for a minute I saw nothing at all, kinda creepy flying at night over a pitch black lake. We made our final turn towards O'hare and made a smooth landing. As soon as we were on the ground the pilots hit the reverse thrust and the brakes pretty hard, I heard my bag in the overhead bin slide forward. We made a quick exit and starting our long drive over to Concourse L. I saw a LOT 767, an Alaska 737 with winglets (not sure if it was a 7 or 800), a Royal Jordanian Airbus, and the usual plethra of United and American planes. We arrived at Gate L2 at 640pm, another on time arrival.
I had just over an hour to kill here and I was starving. I located some flight information monitors (not as easy as I thouht it would be to find them) and found flight 1707 was to be at gate H8, now showing departure time of 816pm. II went over towards the H and K councourses to be completely confused. One side of the terminal was H, the other side was K, until you got to a point where they split off on their own. I missed the simplicity of Kansas City, well every other airport compared to this I guess. I paid $7 for a tiny cheese pizza from somewhere in the food court. My throat was really bothering me now so I spent another $2 on a cup of tea from one of the Starbucks. Quick stop for a bottle of water and a book and I headed over to H8 and sat down by the window and waiting for them to start boarding. There were no seats so I just parked myself on the floor, getting a glare or two from a woman on the end seat. Not sure why she felt it necessary to glare at me. Oh well. At 732pm our 757 arrived from some unkown destiation and they deplaned. I tried to use the wireless connection O'Hare offers, but found it was $7 for the day, no thanks!
American Airlines 1707
Chicago O'Hare - Phoenix Sky Harbor
Depart: sched 755pm, actual 824pm
Arrive: sched 1035pm, actual 1030pm, gate not open so at gate 1037pm
Seat 18A (exit again!)
For the first time on this trip when I got on the jetway I had to stop and wait. After a few minutes the bottleneck cleared up and we all flowed onto the plane. The flight attendant in the alley said hi and I made my way back. This 757 was no where near as clean or nice as the one I had the other day. It had the really old blue seats in coach, the ones from prior to the ones that have the movable headrests. I made my way to row 18 and sat down. It would turn out again that I was the only person in the row. Unfortunately though since the armrests didn't move up or down, it made no difference to me. There was wrappers on the floor and in the seat pocket and a used napkin too, lovely. We appeared to be pretty lightly loaded today, probably less than 75% full. Lots of empty middle seats, and the row ahead of me was empty.
Boarding wrapped up quickly and they played the safety video on the overhead monitors. We pushed back and taxiied out for takeoff. About this time I realized I was in the most unfortable seat I'd ever sat in. It felt like I was sitting on plywood with a blue cover. We waited for takeoff behind someone's cargo 747, a couple Ted 320's, an Eagle ERJ and an AA MD80. We blasted off quickly and were on our way. Our pilot came on again after 10,000 feet. Even though we were about 40 minutes behind schedule he expected an on time arrival. We'd be at 36,000 feet for most of the flight and the weather in Phoenix was a wonderful 82 degrees. Tonight's movie was Taledaga Nights, but I bought a book at ORD so planned some quality time with my iPod and the book, The Devil Wears Prada. I hadn't seen the movie so it made it easy for me to read the book. About 45 minutes after take-off the flight attendants came through with drinks. I got another water and OJ and sipped them for some time. My cough had settled down a bit but I was still hacking some. After a half hour later I realized the flight attendants never came through with the buy on board. My email itinerary from American and my itinerary they printed for me when I bought my tickets both said this was a "Food for purchase" flight. It turned out things had changed. I wasn't hungry but was curious about their buy on board. Oh well.
The bumps continued as we made our way to Phoenix. My back was again starting to bother me from this seat. It did not get more comfortable so I was starting to hurt. About two hours into the flight the seat belt sign was still on. I had the urge to use the restroom but didn't want to get in trouble. What to do? It had semeed to be smoothish for a while so I made a run for it. The restroom was clean but I noticed little blue pieces of tape scattered around hatches with the AA logo saying "Secured" I returned to my seat right as the bumps started again. I think I bumped every person on the aisle seats all the way up to my row. Sorry I retuend to my book and was thirsty. Checked the time and it was 10 in Phoenix. We'd been airborne about 2 and a half hours and the flight attendants had onely done one drink run. I kept on reading and soon felt us start to descend. My cold finally got to me on descent and my ears closed up. Yawning, chewing, holding my nose and blowing did nothing to relieve the pressure and make them pop. It didn't hurt too bad thankfully. The flight attendants did one last run for garbage and our pilots came on and asked them to prepare for landing. No updates from the flight deck about weather or anything. Quite a quiet crew up front tonight. We made a nice smooth approach over Mesa and Tempe and made a nice smooth landing on 25L. We braked pretty hard again and made our way back to Terminal 3. It was 1025. We had made up some time in the air it seems, but like every other early flight we had to stop by the terminal and shut down an engine. Our pilot came on and told us our gate was in use and we'd have to wait a couple minutes. The DFW flight was still deplaning and would be pushed back to its parking spot for the night. After a few minutes we taxiied into the gate. Not sure why but it took about 5 minutes or so before anyone started to get off the plane. My ride home worked for US Airways and met me at my gate, thanks Brian. We went to baggage claim, picked up my bag and were out of there.
- For the most part all the cabins were clean.
- Every flight was on time, if not early. Drawback to that was when we were early, we lost the early advantage because we had to wait for our gate.
- Flight crews were for the most part professional.
- Customer service agents friendly and helpful.
- The price was right.
- DFW's Terminal D is a pleasure to connect in.
- On 3 of the 4 planes, the seats were very uncomfortable.
- Only one drink run from Chicago to Phoenix. (Yes I know I could have used the call bell, but they really could have done another one without being asked).
- Flight marked as food for purchase, but no food available.
- O'Hare was not my favorite airport to connect in.
- Flight crew on AA 832 had the personality of wet paper. The lead FA was not greeting passengers, but was text message on his cell phone.
Overall an incredibly average trip. Nothing about this trip would make me go out of my way to fly American again, but nothing about it would prevent me from flying them again. Flights were on time, bags arrived with no issues and the flight crews did their job. I'll be flying American again later this month actually, PHX-DFW-GRK and back, so we'll see how that compares.
Atrude777 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 5717 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (9 years 3 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6800 times:
Quoting Cactus739 (Thread starter): As I made my way down the aisles towards my seat I noticed these weren't normal AA seats. They were dark blue but had red and gold squiggles in them. Was I on an ex TWA aircraft?
You were indeed on an ex TWA 757. I much prefer them over the regular AA 757's.
Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!