It all started with a Super 80 flight only two days after returning home from school. I was to fly overnight to Chicago, where I would meet my friend and head off on vacation. This was a very uneventful flight... There were about 30 people on the plane, and it was a redeye, so there wasn't really any service to speak of. I stretched out across my three seats and took a nap, knowing that I faced a long day.
After meeting up with Jon, who flew American Eagle in from Indianapolis, we headed for our first vacation destination, New York City. We tried to go First, but it was totally full, so we flew coach. While it seemed disappointing at the time, it was actually a good thing because we really got to experience the changes American is making. For the first time in a long time, I was on a Super 80 that didn't have the new seats. This was a lunch flight, and the service was typical. We were served Turkey calzones and beverages, along with Sun Chips and a cookie. After the meal, flight attendants were through again to offer beverages. We flew a different than normal approach into La Guardia, so we didn't get the great view of Manhattan that is typical on this flight.
We had two great days in New York, where we saw some sights and attended a taping at the MTV studios in Times Square, but the time came to press on. We had planned on a non-stop flight from Kennedy to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. However, due to some horrible weather on the 10th that caused a lot of air traffic problems, the non-stops were full. So too, were all of the flight from JFK to Miami and San Juan, American's other gateway cities to SDQ. As such, my friend and I went to the airport for the earliest flight we could, just to get on the stand-by list. Much to our surprise, we got on the very first flight! While First Class was full, we did get opposing aisle seats in the main cabin. This aircraft had the great new interiors, and made for a very nice flight. It amazing what a difference the new seats and blankets make in comfort! We were served breakfast on this roughly four hour flight; a choice between cereal and a muffin or a sandwich. I had the sandwich, which was good. Beverages were served on several occassions, but after only about 3 hours of sleep (we left for the airport at 4 am), all I wanted to do was sleep, which I did on and off. This flight was full (I think there was actually one open seat in the Business Class section of the main cabin), so there was no room to stretch out. Even so, I managed to get a little rest before arriving in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Finally, we got into First Class (which, for future reference, is actually business class on AA's Carribean flights. It is a downgraded, albeit less expensive, version of American's domestic First Class product). It's not as grand as it seems, though... This flight was delayed a whopping three hours! Our aircraft, scheduled to arrive from Boston in time for our 12:40 departure, was held in Boston on an ATC delay (verifiable by looking at the ATC System Command Center advisories) for about an hour. After launching, the A-300 flew to SJU, where bad weather prevented it from landing. After trying an approach to no avail, the plane held over San Juan in hopes that conditions would improve. When they didn't, it diverted to St. Croix for fuel, then came back to San Juan. We finally boarded around 4 pm, and were on our way by 4:15 or so. Because this was a short flight (200 someting miles, 59 minutes gate to gate), there was only a beverage service. It's amazing how much Coke you can drink in an hour, though, if you try.
As much as I hate to say this, I had a horrible experience on this flight. I was so excited about flying on the A-300, the only plane in American's fleet on which I had never been a passenger, that when I realized what a piece of crap the plane is, I was devastated. Unlike the more graceful 767, which I expected the A-300s interior to resemble, the A-300 has overhead bins in the center of the plane that hang way down, making the aircraft seem much smaller that it actually is. The normal effect you get from a wide-bodied aircraft was all but non-existant. Further, the cabin walls sloped in so steeply where I was seated that I felt very crowded in by the wall. I can now say this... I am glad that I didn't fly non-stop from New York to SDQ, because I wouldn't want to spend four hours on that plane. Further, I will make a point of avoiding the A-300 onb future flights when possible, as I did on my flight out of the Dominican Republic.
This was my first international flight, and I was surprised by the ease of getting through customs. First, I had to buy a "Tourist Card" from the Dominican Government for US$10. Then, an inspector checked it and the passport, and stamped the passport. After claiming bags, my friend and I went to the customs line, where an inspector asked us a question in Spanish. We had no idea what he said and asked if he spoke English. Knowing then that we were American, he laughed and waved us through the line.
My second international flight, and we got Business Class again. Not wanting to deal with the A-300 again, my friend and I chose this flight over the earlier one that we had planned on. This flight was about three hours long, and lunch was served. We had an option between a Dominican beef dish and a chicken and rice dish, and I chose the beef. It was served with red beans and rice, as well as fried plantains. For dessert, we had a great orange cake of some sort. The flight attendants were very attentive, and kept my glass full of Coke for the whole flight. This being my first visit to the Carribean, I was in complete awe over the beautiful colors in the water as we flew the route from the island to Miami. Upon arrival, our landing was so smooth that you couldn't even tell we were on the ground when we turned off the runway... the pilots did a great job! After getting off of the plane, we walked through a great glass maze to customs, and got through just as quickly as we had in Santo Domingo.
This, like my flight to Chicago, was very uneventful. The flight is only scheduled at 45 minutes gate to gate, so there was no time for a beverage service, though the flight attendant did offer to serve anyone who asked him for a drink. This was my first time to Florida, so I stared at the scenic Everglades as we over flew them. Really nothing else to say on this flight.
I've been writing for quite a while now, so I'll finish up with my trip from Fort Myers to San Diego later on tonight. When I do, you'll see why I'm so tired now!