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SEA-PHX-STL America West/US Airways First Class  
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9490 posts, RR: 52
Posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 8190 times:

Here's the return trip from this trip report:
http://www1.airliners.net/discussions/trip_reports/read.main/90356/

I spent four days with family and had a good time, but on the sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, it was time to go back to the real world. It was a cold morning and I got up at 5:45am for my 8:20am flight. I left the house at 6:15am for the drive to SEA. Usually it takes about 15 minutes with no traffic, but this morning it was 34 degrees and wet. There was ice out there and as we went up and down on I-405 it changed between snow and rain a few times. Ultimately as we neared the airport, it was all snow and there was a massive delay holding back the highway. Since my father was driving me, he got agitated and jumped off the road and got on to Highway 99 to get in to the secondary airport enterance. We got to the airport, but there was construction and the enterances to baggage claim and ticketing levels were closed off. We circled around the airport again and eventually just went in to the parking lot since time was moving on and this was supposed to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. I got in to the airport at 7:00am. I was stunned to see very few people around. I went to the first class desk of the US Airways/America West counter and an agent motioned me over and checked me in very quickly as I had no baggage to check. I asked her if there was priority security and she said there was, but didn't tell me where it was when I asked her. It was nice to see adequate staffing, although a little more personable service could be good.

Airport

With my boarding pass for seat 2D in hand, I walk over to security. I had paid for first class on this flight. It wasn't that expensive and was the only seat available on any airline with a morning departure from SEA to STL for under $1000 when I booked. I found the priority security. It said nothing about US Airways first class, but that didn't matter. I walked through and was through security by 7:15am. This was working well. I was wondering where all the crowds were this morning as it was snowing outside, which is a very rare thing for Seattle. I walked by gate A2 and saw a plane, a few people waiting around and no check in agents.



Knowing from my past experiences with US Airways on STL-PHX-LAS-SEA getting no food, I went over and stopped by Wendys to pick up a biscuit in the central terminal area. The Central Terminal Area opened up just over a year ago and is a beautiful terminal. It feels like a beautiful mall food court. It is hardly and airport with the exception fo the fourty foot wall of windows looking out on the center of the runways and the Horizon ramp area.











After watching some planes take off, I was ready to get up. There were planes moving, but things seemed to be going slowly. Seattle obviously does not have the equipment to easily handle snow. Fortunately it wasn't accumulating on the runways or taxiways, but deicing is a slow process.

With 50 minutes to go before my flight, I decided to take a walk. I walk past my gate and then spontaneously walk downstairs and catch the train to the South Satellite which I hadn't visited in a while. I hopped the new train and walked around to see how dead it was. Northwest seems nothing like it used to with only a flight to MSP and HNL. There was an A332 waiting at a gate ready to go to AMS later that day. There were also DL and AA planes overnighting at the South Satellite gates. AA and DL both use concourse A, but DL handles HA and has heavy use of its gates. There was a 757 in the song livery that I was guessing would be flying to JFK.

US Airways operated by America West
Sunday November 26th
Seattle-Phoenix
Departs: 8:20am (Actual: 9:00am)
Arrives: 12:02pm (actual: 12:30 pm)
A320
First Class Seat 2D
Load Factor: 100%


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Photo © Dave Budd - Las Vegas Spotters
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Photo © Chris Coduto



Boarding
I walk back to my gate and catch a train and get there just as they open the door to the jetbridge. I am the first person aboard and take my seat after stowing my rollaboard bag in the overhead bin. I relax and snooze a bit. The flight attendant offers drinks and I have apple juice. One plus of US Airways is that you can have any drink before departure rather than being restricted to Orange Juice or water like United does. I relaxed and time kept moving on. At 8:15am boarding was complete and we seemed like we were ready to go, but the captain comes out of the cockpit and speaks with a maintenance worker. The two go outside and inspect the wings and they decide that we need to be deiced. He comes on the PA and welcomes aboard and delivers the bad news that we need deicing. I would guess that this pilot rarely gets his planes deiced especially with an airline with hubs in LAS and PHX. The 737 next to us was being deiced that would be heading to LAS, so we had a while to wait. I close my eyes and rest while this happens. After about half an hour I see the wing covered in green ooze and they shut the door so that we can leave. We push back at 9amm which is 40 minutes late.

The safety video plays as we push back. One thing that I noticed about America West/US Airways is that the IFE is controlled in the rear galley and the flight attendant working in the rear galley makes announcements. Well after the same video is played, we start our taxi to the north end of the airport. Things didn't seem to be too overly busy on this busy travel day. I notice an Air Canada EMB 190 at the North Satellite, which is the first time that I had seen that plane. I find it pretty crazy that Air Canada is operating that plane on a 4+ hour flight to YYZ.

Takeoff
We get to the north end of the airport as it is foggy and snowy and rainy. The weather was miserable with 1000ft of visibility. A UA 733 follows us and we take to the runway behind a Horizon Dash 8. We wait a few seconds before the engines spool up and we power down runway 16L. We rotate and climb almost immediately in to the clouds, but I could see some snow had accumulated on roofs and grass. The climb was a bit turbulent, but we had been warned that it would be a bit rough until we got to Oregon. Most of the people on the plane were sleeping, but I was awake and started working a Sudoku puzzle in the airplane magazine. I had never done one before, so that took a good hour of our 2hour 40minute flight to the valley of the sun.

In Flight
The flight attendant offered drinks and I had some coffee. She also passed out food from the snack basket. I think that a meal should be offered on this flight. It is over 1000 miles and breakfast time, but the new requirement on US Airways is 3.5 hours, which is a bit ridiculous, but I whined a lot about that on my previous trip report. So I just snacked and realized that we were looking to be about 30 to 40 minutes late. This was a concern since I was supposed to have a 43 minute connection in PHX.

I kept my window open and eventually the skies cleared up and the weather looked a bit nicer outside. I pulled out my laptop and began writing a trip report for my journey to SEA. I had about an hour before we started our descent. Overall the flight seemed pretty short. The seats were the older America West seats, but I felt that they were perfectly adequate comfort wise. They were nice and the cabin was spotless. There were no stains on the carpet or walls, no lights out, and nothing that appeared broken. That is good,e specially when compared to some of the planes operated by United and American.

Descent
We passed near the grand canyon and got a good view as we were descending. I look at my watch and note that it is noon which means that I have 45 minutes before my next flight. The flight attendants make their announcements as we make get closer. The captain comes on the PA say that we are about 60 miles away and that we should be on the ground in 20 minutes. I'm getting stressed about my connection at this point. I was telling myself that I could argue some compensation if I needed to since it wasn't the weather's fault that we were late, but rather the slow deicers in SEA and the lack of equipment which is US Airways' fault.

Arrival
After a few turns the cabin is secure and we make our final approach. We have a little less than smooth touchdown. We landed on the side of the airport with the America West tails and have a very short taxi to the gate. There were lots of of US Airways painted A320s hanging around. I look at my watch and see that I have 18 minutes before my next departure. That should be enough I hope.

Phoenix
We pull in to the gate and I am quick to get my belongings once the seatbelt sign is out. I am glad that I have my suitcase with me since there is a good risk that the bag would miss this connection. I rush out of the plane with 15 minutes before my departure. I find a television monitor and find out that I have to make my way to get B2. That is a good walk, but at least it is just one councourse away. I rush through the airport where most people were dressed in shorts and tshirts while I had a heavy leather jacket on. Obviously I don't actually have anything to do with PHX or the 80 degree weather outside.

US Airways operated by America West
Sunday November 26th
Phoenix-St. Louis
Departs: 12:45pm (Actual: 12:43pm)
Arrives: 4:31pm (Actual: 4:15pm)
A320
First Class Seat 2D
100% Load Factor


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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © John R. Beckman



Boarding
I make a few phone calls as I am rushing and finally make it to my flight to STL 9 minutes before departure time. Everyone was already on the plane, but they let me on as the door was still open. I get on the plane and of course there is no space in first class for my rollaboard. So I make a walk to the back of the plane. I keep moving and eventually I find a space in row 14. At least my bag is on this plane. I make my way back to my seat and am offered a quick drink from a male flight attendant wearing a Christmas themed tie. I have some ice water as I was hot from my speedy walking.

Departure
My water was shortly taken and the door is shut for an ontime departure. I was happy to make my flight, but of course I did not have time to grab any food in the airport. The safety video is played again, which makes it the fifth time that I have seen the US Airways safety demo in as many days. We push back and I look at the screen above the gate and notice that it shows time until departure. That might be useuful for ground crew. It switches to show OUT at (-2). I wonder if they would have waited for me if my flight was 10 minutes later. I kind of doubt they would even though I am Star Gold and was in a paid first class ticket, but $1000 is probably not enough to buy some extra consideration in todays world.

We taxi back out ot the runway so I can complete my 18 minute stay in the beautiful warm valley of the sun. I try to make the best of it and stare out the window at the sun and rocks and desert. It was pretty. It is a nicer airport to look at than ORD or DEN.

Takeoff
We pull on to the runway and make a rolling takeoff. We quickly lift in to the air and make a slow turn. I get to see some of the airport as we continue to make a smooth climb. I'm happy to be relaxing and on my way to St. Louis at this point.

In Flight
Headsets are passed out. They are cheap nasty ones that clip on to your ears. But they are free in first class. The flight attendant without a smile on his face offers drinks and I have some more water. I have some more snacks from the basket. I wish they served food. Oh I wish they did. I had no opportunity for fresh food between 7:30am and 4:30pm, which is a long time. I know I could bring on food, but when I pay $1000 I think I deserve some fresh food. Yes I could normally buy it at the airport, but wiht short connections and delays, that can't happen. I like the comfort of knowing I'll get to eat. I'm not the type to happily skip meals as are most males in their 20s. I had some bread in my bag, so I snacked on that.

The movie was Talledega Nights. I'm a Nascar fan, but absolutely hate Will Ferrell. He's so annoying, so I half watch the movie and work on a trip report. Eventually I just fall asleep.

Descent
I wake up and we are already on descent. This was fortunately a rather short flight of 1300 miles. There were some good favourable winds. I relax as we make a slow descent in to the St. Louis area. There was fortunately no snow on the ground. The captain makes an announcement and I'm surprised to hear that it is 67 degrees outside and sunny. That's nice.

We make a few turns and since I'm not actually from the St. Louis area, I have no idea where we actually are. Some people are remarking that this must be the Illinois side since they didn't recognize it. All I hoped was that I was in the correct city. I don't know what would have happend if I had missed my connection.

Arrival
We make a very smooth landing on a slightly hazy day and make a slow stop. We are finally in STL and taxi by a flock of AA planes on our way to the other end of the airport. There was a ERJ in the United Express livery, but with Transtates titles and then a DL 763ER at a hard stand with the door open. I was guessing it was a diversion or charter. We make it to the terminal and I hop off the plane, and stop by the bathroom before making my way to the terminal to meet my friend who was picking me up. We make our way out of the airport. It is confusing how to get in to the parking garage, but once you are out, it is a straight shot to I-70.

Summary
US Airways is ok. I wish they served food. First class is reasonable. The seats were comfortable, but the pitch was on the low end of the scale. The staff didn't really smile anywhere which isn't that good. They didn't seem to be very happy. There were no Happy Holidays or anything like that from any staff members. PHX is an easy airport to navigate and is nice because it isn't delay prone like many other hubs like ORD which I frequently traverse (as is evident from my many pervious trip reports).

I'll fly US Airways again if there is a benefit and it is logical or the fare is good, but I prefer United. Their service in my opinion is better as I like the more professional staff and food service. ORD sucks, but I guess that I can live with it.


Please leave any comments about what you liked or didn't like. I threw a few canned pictures in the top of the report as I thought you might want to see them. I apologize for forgetting my camera on this trip. That was not my intention.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePHLstudent From United States of America, joined May 2006, 498 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8073 times:

great report. I always enjoying reading about your trips. Keep them coming.

User currently offlineJmy007 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 598 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8064 times:

Quoting RoseFlyer (Thread starter):
There was a ERJ in the United Express livery, but with Transtates titles and then a DL 763ER at a hard stand with the door open.

I was in St Louis that Sunday, and happened to see that DL 767 on final from the St Charles river front (which is 6 miles from the end of the runway) I had speculated that it was a charter for the SF 49rs home, as they where playing the Rams that afternoon in downtown. It was nice to see a heavy on approach.

I too saw a bunch on Transstate ERJ's in new UAL livery at the C concours on my trip back to St Louis.I'd assume they'll be in American Connection colors at some point.

[Edited 2006-12-03 22:58:31]


Cookies are the Gateway pastry. They lead to Éclairs and Bear Claws.
User currently offlineCOERJ145 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1421 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 8057 times:

Nice Report. I agree with you about the lack of food. US should at least serve food over 2.5hrs. 3.5 is unacceptable for a legacy.

Quoting RoseFlyer (Thread starter):
my belongings once the seatbelt sign is out. I am glad that I have my suitcase with me since there is a good risk that the bag would miss this connection. I rush out of the plane with 15 minutes before my departure. I find a television monitor and find out that I have to make my way to get B2

I had a 10 minute connection in PHX once (late from LAS) and my bags made it, I didn't(got sent back through LAS on an overnight to BOS).

Quoting RoseFlyer (Thread starter):
I make a few phone calls as I am rushing and finally make it to my flight to STL 9 minutes before departure time. Everyone was already on the plane, but they let me on as the door was still open. I

Wow, I thought HP shut the door 10 minutes prior.


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9490 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 7962 times:

Quoting PHLstudent (Reply 1):
I always enjoying reading about your trips. Keep them coming

Thanks. I'm going to Bangalore India at the end of the month in British Airways Club World (have never flown BA Club World before), so I'll try to write a good report about that.

Quoting Jmy007 (Reply 2):
I was in St Louis that Sunday, and happened to see that DL 767 on final from the St Charles river front (which is 6 miles from the end of the runway) I had speculated that it was a charter for the SF 49rs home, as they where playing the Rams that afternoon in downtown. It was nice to see a heavy on approach.

I guess that would have been the reason.

Quoting COERJ145 (Reply 3):
Wow, I thought HP shut the door 10 minutes prior.

I'm glad they didn't in my case. That would have sucked since the next flight didn't leave for 7 hours and there probably wouldn't have been space on that. I'd probably be like any other passenger and unleash my wrath on a poor innocent gate agent if that had happened.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1912 posts, RR: 24
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 7905 times:
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Great report!!!

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 4):
Thanks. I'm going to Bangalore India at the end of the month in British Airways Club World (have never flown BA Club World before), so I'll try to write a good report about that.

Looking forward to the next report!

767747


User currently offlineBridogger6 From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 710 posts, RR: 10
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 7754 times:

Quoting COERJ145 (Reply 3):
Wow, I thought HP shut the door 10 minutes prior.

Generally if we know we have tight connecting passengers and we think there's a decent chance of them making it, the door is held until 5 minutes prior to departure... all signage DOES say ten minutes prior though.

Nice trip report, hopefully we'll start serving meals some day on flights of 2.5 hours! But...

Quoting COERJ145 (Reply 3):
I agree with you about the lack of food. US should at least serve food over 2.5hrs. 3.5 is unacceptable for a legacy.

US does NOT consider itself a network or legacy carrier now. They are calling themselves an LCC... a full service LCC but all the same an LCC... anyway potato potahdo.  Smile


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9490 posts, RR: 52
Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7586 times:

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 6):
Generally if we know we have tight connecting passengers and we think there's a decent chance of them making it, the door is held until 5 minutes prior to departure... all signage DOES say ten minutes prior though.

Well I'm glad I made the connection. I wonder if they knew I'd be coming from SEA and that my flight was a half hour late.

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 6):
US does NOT consider itself a network or legacy carrier now. They are calling themselves an LCC... a full service LCC but all the same an LCC... anyway potato potahdo.

I would consider US Airways in the same category as Alaska Airlines. It offers first class and perks, a quality frequent flyer program and status levels, but still with low fares and some things that are a little substandard, although the transatlantic operation sets US Airways apart. Overall, that does not negate the desire for food.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineCoolpilot From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7547 times:

Great report and pictures!

User currently offlineEFHK From Finland, joined Nov 2006, 392 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7547 times:

Nice trip report!

It's quite hard for me to understand the missing food on US legacies. Finnair serves a warm meal in ECONOMY class on flights over 2 hours. I know that's quite good even for an European airline though, but it's still what I'm used to!  Wink



One of the best places in the world: McDonald's in T2 at FRA.
User currently offlineBridogger6 From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 710 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 7450 times:

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 7):
Well I'm glad I made the connection. I wonder if they knew I'd be coming from SEA and that my flight was a half hour late.

Yes, as gate agents we know every connection that is coming into our flight, what time it is coming in, and at what gate it is arriving at. As it gets closer to our departure time, we look at the connections and have to start making decisions as to what flights to unseat, if it looks like flights might not make it.

Gate agents do not make the decision to hold an aircraft at a hub. It is usually the airlines operations department. In Phoenix, we have an America West, now US Airways operations tower, from which decisions for holds are made.

They have more access to information then we do as far as aircraft routing, crew's time flying etc. than we do... and only they can authorize a hold of an aircraft. Getting holds is odd and unpredicatibale... sometimes theyll hold for just five passengers, sometimes they'll opt to misonnect 30. When I am down on the floor, I don't know the extenuating circumstances usually as to why we can or cannot hold, also, oftentimes turnaround schedules are tight in out stations and if we don't leave on time it'll come back to Phoenix and have another whole lot of misconnects.

Sooo, there ARE many reasons as to why we hold or why we don't... but generally flights will not be held EVER for one or two passengers.. most commonly flights are held when there are an average of ten or more passengers coming off one specific flight.

Hope this helps you understand when airlines hold and when they don't... but yes, to answer you question, agents do know you're coming and where you're coming from, what time your aircraft got to the gate or what time it's expected to arrive etc.


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9490 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 7424 times:

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 10):
Hope this helps you understand when airlines hold and when they don't... but yes, to answer you question, agents do know you're coming and where you're coming from, what time your aircraft got to the gate or what time it's expected to arrive etc.

Thanks it is good to know. I wouldn't expect them to hold a plane for a single passenger, but I know I would be very mad and demanding compensation in the form of food vouchers or service on another airline if I misconnect for a reason that I see is the fault of America West and get stranded for an extended period of time as it would have been in this case. I hate to say that I'd just be another irate passenger, but I would be polite yet firm. I think me paying for first class earns me the right to have higher expectations and demands. Honestly if an airline doesn't agree with that, then they aren't the ones that I would want to give my business to.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 7266 times:

Your experience with US/HP was a tad more 'relaxed' than the one I encountered in November going to BHM. That was nothing short of THE WORST aviation experience I've had in the several million miles I've flown.

Things will eventually mellow I suppose (I hope  pray  ) when the two res systems are merged . . .

Until then, I'm off US/HP . . . sorry to say, I'll use my Dividend Miles to fly with other Star Alliance carriers . . .


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