Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5153 posts, RR: 54 Posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 28506 times:
Feedback always appreciated.
Trip Report: 019
Flight Category: Y-IMR (See Report End)
Dep.Arr.Time: 1150/1445/03:55hrs (Arrived early by 00:43hrs)
Flight: USA 3000 U5 116, 1630 miles
Seat: Economy, 11F
I > Background:
It was time for a close group of friends to meet up for the annual NY eve trip. We decided on Dominican Republic (a big mistake as its WAY too touristy for me and I am not an all-inclusive person; even Las Galleras - off the beaten path was touristy - though, few package tourists as of now) this time around and since I had to be in NYC for work, decided to try USA 3000 on their PUJ-BDL routing ... followed by a drive to NYC. Complete trip route was CCS-MIA-PUJ-BDL//EWR-CCS.
II > Pre-Flight:
a) Before Airport:
Booking for the entire trip was made using USA 3000s website at www.usa3000.com. The website is primitive (but worked well) and you have no ability to view/edit/modify or chose your seats ... let alone change them. I dont think being a small airline is an excuse for a crappish site as several small airlines I have flown have excellent front-end IT products.
b) At Airport:
PUJ airport is nice and open. It is a small airport and I think depending on the airline, check-in could be good or bad. Check-in was haphazard on many accounts. We reached the airport 90minutes prior to departure and were the last to check-in since we were the only passengers who were not part of an Apple Vacation. This would create more problems later on. The counter was unmarked and the lady manning it (hmm, does a lady "man" a counter or "woman" a counter ... hmm) had a lot of difficulties. First, she could not find the country code for Liechtenstein in the US Visit software, then she inputted my name incorrectly which would lead to an additional delay at BDL. Interestingly, we were told to write down our emergency contact info on a sheet of paper affixed to the check-in desk and all non-U.S. citizens had to write basic info on another page ... it seemed, I was the only "alien" on board.
Check-in completed, my friend and I proceeded to immigrations and then security screening. As I was emerging from the screening, the U5 staff yelled, "Hurry Hurry ... you are holding up the plane and causing a delay." My boarding pass indicated a boarding time of 1120 and the time was now 1109! Anyways, we were frantically rushed through the small terminal, then underwent a very lax security screening at the gate, and finally walked to the apron. The entire staff were frowning upon us and during my run to the aircraft, one ground personnel yelled for taking a picture!
Anyways, after embarking on the aircraft, we were greeted to a round of applause by the passengers ... weird. Later I found out that U5 has apparently extremely few non Apple vacation passengers and they dont like to wait for their regular air only customers. Apparently, people have missed their flight due to early pushback. Is this even legal? I intend to write to their management as the flight push-backed around 20 minutes prior to departure. I mean, 20 minutes = one last drink + shopping that I had forgotten!
The cabin of the A-320 was clean and the crew greeted us with a warm smile. Given high-season, I was surprised to find Y class load at around 45%.
Airport - External:
(Punta Cana Airport)
(Notice how the counter is unmarked)
Airport - Internal:
(All flights show DEPARTED)
(Post security area)
Scenes of the tarmac:
(Interesting collection of liveries ... my U5 320 is further down)
(German crowd ... Condor and LTU)
a) Service Schedule + Impressions:
Post-take off, there was a juice service, followed by a sandwich, then a round of water, and finally a round of coffee.
b) Aircraft + Seats:
USA 3000s Airbus A-320 aircraft had clean interiors with super clean Y-cabin bathrooms; however, the seat material felt cheap and was NOT comfortable. Our exit row did not recline, but was compensated for by decent legroom. Non-exit row had a standard 31-32 pitch.
(Any guesses on the hybrid (?) livery)
Views from Aircraft:
Seat Recline + Angle View:
(Drum Roll ... taken by a friend ... guess who is making his A.Net visual debut )
c) Meal + Beverage:
I must say that U5s overall service schedule was notches about the main domestic U.S. carriers. It wasnt that the sandwich (options being Turkey or Ham) was particularly tasteful; it was more that the crew went up and down the aisle with 4 distinct service items. Juice run, sandwich run, water+beverage run, and finally a coffee run. It showed how active they were compared to some pure lazy FAs who do not even bother to serve any drinks on hour long domestic flights (hmmm ... mostly thinking US here.) The sandwich was pretty stale and I didnt quite understand the salad it came with. The coffee was excellent though for an U.S. carrier. Beverage choice was limited; alcoholic drinks could be purchased for USD 5,00.
d) Inflight Entertainment:
U5 showed one movie "THE ILLUSIONIST" and this was followed by a TV run of "SIENFIELD". Headphones were available for purchase for USD 3,00; however, I noticed that not a single passenger purchased a headset!
(In-flight magazines, Boarding Passes, etc. ¡V featured here with the first juice service)
Absolutely fantastic! While I have had particular individuals at UAL and Delta stand out of late, I have never encountered an entire flight crew to be so cheery. Perhaps they were over-nighting at the beach, but they were always friendly, courteous, responsive, and responded to my request with a smile. For example, I was the ONLY non-American passenger on the flight and needed the green I-94 form for immigration; they didnt have it onboard ... this resulted in all 3 members of the crew coming and apologizing and the captain radioing BDL for the form.
Oh My God! Bradleys "international" "terminal" is a complete joke. You basically have 2 immigration guys who are not familiar with foreign passports ... I can only imagine what the Americans were thinking as I was being finger printed and pictured, then one carousel, and then a waiting area more akin to bus terminals in Africa! We had a rental car and there was no way to call the rental car company or the hotel. Thankfully, the weather was 80F; I would not have been a happy trooper lugging my luggage to another terminal to pick a courtesy van. Perhaps things will change with NWs link to AMS? I CANNOT see immigration being able to handle a "proper" international flight.
(They call this an airport?! Hartford/BDL International)
V> Impressions + Scores:
Despite the ground crew snafu at PUJ, I was pleasantly surprised with U5. Their crew was definitely one of the best I have encountered on North American flights, and their service standard was significantly better than many mainstream American carriers. While a limited route network and lack of FFP benefits means that I will probably not be flying them soon, it is a perfectly good airline suited for the niche markets it serves. Better service than many of its bigger counterparts in the U.S., I'd recommend U5 over most U.S. carriers in a heartbeat.
(Note on Codes: Y ¡V Economy, J ¡V Business, F ¡V First :: I/D ¡V International/Domestic :: SR/MR/LR ¡V Short/Medium/Long Haul :: I have designed these codes so people don¡¦t believe my scores are comparing apples and oranges)
VII> Other Pictures:
(Prized picture of an IL-62 parked @ Santo Domingo airport. My road trip friends were annoyed as I interrupted a long drive to take several shots)
Cory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2733 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 28473 times:
Loved your report - you take great pics and make pretty insightful remarks about your flight experiences. PUJ airport reminds me of KOA in some ways, although it's a little more enclosed than KOA is (if you can believe it!).
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8714 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 28159 times:
Great report & photo's. USA 3000 really shine in this report, excellent!
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Anyways, after embarking on the aircraft, we were greeted to a round of applause by the passengers ... weird. Later I found out that U5 has apparently extremely few non Apple vacation passengers and they dont like to wait for their regular air only customers. Apparently, people have missed their flight due to early pushback.
Well.. IDK where to start... Im a BDL local. For starters. The international terminal is only manned when there are flights needing it. Which is one or two times a week. That is only the INTERNATIONAL terminal. If you looked behind you there were TWO more terminals to serve you.
Thanks, we appreciate the sentiment Sorry we couldent handle you in the same manner as JFK or LHR... USA3000 is our only Int'l operator besides AC which preclears.. Hopefully it will work out before NW arrives.
Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
AA757BOY From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 28023 times:
Oh My God! Bradleys "international" "terminal" is a complete joke.
Yeah this is my home airport and Cadet57 is right. it is not a JFK. And that picture you took isn't even the real airport. Go look at the nice new terminal A and you will definitely see a difference. You are too picky. What more can you ask for from a small airport with 3-4 international flights a day.
Quoting Cadet57 (Reply 6): If you looked behind you there were TWO more terminals to serve you.
= Oh, and I like the BDL domestic terminals.
Quoting Cadet57 (Reply 6): Sorry we couldent handle you in the same manner as JFK or LHR...
= Now now ... thats not fair. I prefer the efficiency of the BDL shack than LHR .
Seriously though, what are the plans after NWA commences their AMS link? Has it been discussed what connecting passengers would do? AFAIR, the international building is not connected to the other ones?
Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 9): Seriously though, what are the plans after NWA commences their AMS link? Has it been discussed what connecting passengers would do? AFAIR, the international building is not connected to the other ones?
From what I understand about the service. Its not designed to connect to other flights at BDL per se. Its more of a point to point route designed for passangers using BDL as their start and finish. Its not so much for routings such as DTW-BDL-AMS or what have you. But Im sure if passangers have to connect there will be a shuttle of somesort.
Doors open, right hand side, next stop is Springfield.
Chuckles1225 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 160 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 27729 times:
Quoting Abrelosojos (Thread starter): Anyways, after embarking on the aircraft, we were greeted to a round of applause by the passengers
Wow, that is terrible. What a bunch of jerks. You would think they would be a little more patient and freindly, after all, its not like their flying first class to Hong Kong for business or something. No offense at all to you, but if you are flying on U5 you are probably not pulling in 200K a year if you know what I mean. My point is, I can see this behavior out of a bunch of rich snobs in the front of the plane waiting for some coach class passengers to board, but not leisure travelers flying on one of the most discounted LLCs in the US.
ask not what your pilot can do for you, ask what you can do for your pilot
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5153 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (8 years 10 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 27712 times:
Quoting Chuckles1225 (Reply 13): Wow, that is terrible. What a bunch of jerks. You would think they would be a little more patient and freindly, after all, its not like their flying first class to Hong Kong for business or something. No offense at all to you, but if you are flying on U5 you are probably not pulling in 200K a year if you know what I mean. My point is, I can see this behavior out of a bunch of rich snobs in the front of the plane waiting for some coach class passengers to board, but not leisure travelers flying on one of the most discounted LLCs in the US.
= Haha. I actually found it amusing because I am sure many did not know that we were not indeed late and that the flight had non-package passengers.
Ha, that looks like a hanger rather than a terminal. MKE also has a small international terminal and its not the best but it gets the job done. Also that beach shot you have looks very similar to mine.
Will you watch the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions on Sunday? Only if coach Eric Mangini resigned after a loss.
SkyvanMan From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 224 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 27389 times:
BDL is an improving airport. Though I can't say anything for the international terminal I can say that the new terminal is nice (though an additional magazine shop and a food option further down the row of gates would be nice but definitely better than other airports of similiar size. Anyways Great trip report, I'm really surprised to see that that they gave you such great service. In fact your trip report would have convinced me to fly with them, if only they were Star Alliance affiliated .
Great job and keep 'em coming.
The 3 best planes of all time: Shorts Skyvan, 330 and 360
= Yes, I am ... among others . Its actually one of my favorite things when I travel. The look I get from immigration officials ensures no negativity ... though, no such border controls when I zip in your country. You Swiss should come visit us more often. I think only 1 of my closest friends in Zurich has actually crossed the "border" ...
Glad you liked the report. I fly enough ... but still feel akward on a business trip taking pictures within J and F. I mean, I hate getting the ... "oh, is this your first time in J/F ... do you want a picture taken while you are seated" ..... but am also trying to diversity the A.Net TR forum away from already covered flights. Next up, some unflown Latin carriers.
= Oh, trust me ... I usually fall into this Star obsessed category. However, I also like to fly new airlines that I havent done before at least once. Its my philosophy that one cannot have a favourite unless everything is tried .