A 3 Day Flying Adventure!

Sun Dec 16, 2001 4:58 pm

This is a recent non-rev trip I took with my co worker. The trip report was written by my co-worker and edited by me as the original was super long.

UA*5206 SAN-LAX N234SW EMB-120 (Op by OO)
We were seated in 9B and 9C emergency row and boy talk about the leg room.
Service on the short flight was limited to the famous snack tray, and bottles of water, due to turbulence.

SkyWest no longer uses the T6 gates, so we landed on 25R and blocked into the remote terminal (Gate 71, spot 2G). The T6 gates date back to the Delta days, and all the old DL markets went out of that terminal, with the old WestAir markets going out of the remote.

DL1998 LAX-ATL N812DE MD-11 Interim colors
The BusinessElite seats on the MD-11 are huge - you can stretch out and not touch the seat in front of you, without standing up (60" pitch). Personal TV screens are standard, and the electically operated seat reclines to a 160 degree angle. I am spoiled now.

Dinner was a choice of Steak or Chicken, and I chose Steak. It wasn't too big, but not too small either. Only a 2 course meal was offered (Salad, Dinner, and Dessert). I had a bit of wine with dinner, but Justin didn't.

The in-flight movie was Rat Race, which was funnier than I thought it would be. It was shown (with other choices) on the personal video screen, with Airshow being played on the large cabin screen. We came in on runway 8L in the rain and blocked into E-17 (and took off on 25R at LAX).

The MD-11 handles well in the turbulence found throughout the flight, and has huge windows (same ones as the DC-10) - it was quite fun to ride in. I'm glad I have it in the logbook now.

After wandering around ATL a bit (and picking up junk food for later), we headed to the shuttle curb to wait for the Days Inn shuttle. This is THE WORST shuttle curb I have ever seen - shuttles pull in and park at the curb, then back out into one lane of traffic (along with the rental car shuttles). There's not enough room for all the hotle shuttles either - talk about dangerous! And you can't see where your particular shuttle is...and it was 40 degrees out there!

I had reserved a room w/ 2 doubles at the Days Inn ATL airport, but after checking in, found the room they gave us was a King. The meeting of the minds was instant, and we walked right back to the front desk to get an appropriate room. The clerk realized it, and had the new key ready for us. (If it's not a hot babe, I don't sleep with someone!)

US1248 ATL-CLT N827US MD-82 USAir colors
There was no line at the counter, so we checked in there. Alas, we were not cleared at the counter (SAN usually clears you if you check in there) and were told to check at the gate. Sigh...

Going through the Uber-security checkpoint at ATL, the Delta employee (go fig) checking tickets mentioned the employee lines to us, so we went over to them. I breezed through, but Justin was flagged as a random. Breakfast was at the D-concourse Burger King - French Toast Sticks, at street prices (no airline discount).

All of USAir's MD-80 fleet are ex-PSA, and they are being retired rapidly, hence the trip on this bird. The interior had been re-habbed in USAirways colors, with the new cabin sidewalls and seat covers. The seats were still the original PSA "slimline" seats (old slimlines) and the overheads are still old-school PSA...and so are the galleys! In fact, the galley still had the PSA data plates inside it!

We took off on runway 9L, and climbed to FL270. "Service" consisted of a choice of Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite on this hour flight. In defense, though, the galley was extremely limited in size. It didn't matter much though, as all too soon, we were on approach for Runway 36L at CLT.

"Passengers with connections will arrive at Gate A5." Shortly after, "Passengers without connections will also arrive at Gate A5." Must have been an ex-PSA FA in F - I forgot to ask, though.

After getting off, we trekked over to gate C19 (stopping to empty ourselves on the way). I saw something I missed in CLT last trip - a small historical display of the airport, with lots of PI and EA. Neat!

US519 CLT-IND N442US 737-400 USAirways C/S
Yet another new type for me (not Justin) and a new airport. This was basically a flight to reposition ourselves for the next leg. It was wide open, and boarding was finished early. The cockpit door had been "reinforced" with 2 metal strips on the outside of the door.

We took off on 36L again, passing an ex-Eagle and Trans States Jetstream in new USAirways Express colors. This flight was uneventful, and we had a full beverage service. 1 1/2 hours later, we landed on runway 5R and taxxied to D2.

TZ403 IND-LAS N553TZ 757-300 N/C
ATA for their 1450 LAS departure (we arrived at 1350). There was one agent at the counter, but 2 more soon appeared and checked us in. While I had an itinerary (pulled up through ATA's website, even though we were non-revs), ATA requires ticket counter check-in for NRSAs. (GEEZ!) At least they seated us there.

Afterwards, we looked in the shops briefly before reaching the new and unimproved B/C checkpoint. The airport tore out a few shops to build a new combined checkpoint for both concourses. Unfortunately, this was the worst experience of my trip - not only did I beep, but they insisted I take off my belt (even after I flipped it over) and even questioned my necklace. Come on! After this checkpoint, Justin started taking his shoes off because they kept beeping.

I picked up a burger (overpriced but more convenient than McDoogles outside jail) at Fox Sports bar to take on, and we boarded. Unfortunately, they gave us 34E&F, next to the lav, but the FAs offered us the no-recline forward exit row. We took that, strictly for legroom (the other row was appaling!)

We closed the door on-time (ATA would not push early) and taxxied to runway 32. Liftoff was just like a 757-200, even though this bird was longer. All of the 247 seats are leather, with 5 FAs. No movie was offered, but short subjects were played along with audio (headset cords were $2). Two rounds of drinks were offered, as well as peanuts (even smaller than HP's bags!) and Biscoff biscuits. Good thing I had the burger.

This flight seemed incredibly long, and was turbulent all the way. We started to really get tired on this leg, and fell asleep a few times. Eventually, the flight was over, and we descended into LAS, crossing over the airport paralell to runways 1L & R. We were vectored into the pattern for 1R and a hard landing, with departures using 7 - too bad we didn't land there, but ATA's terminal is closer to 1L/R. We blocked into gate 4 of the Charter International terminal (Terminal 2), PSA's original home at LAS.

Justin felt like getting a hotel room, and with the other option spending 9 hours at McCarran, the hotel was the best option. We went to T1 and called the hotel to see if there were any cheap rooms - $49 for one night at the Excalibur, in the "De-Luxe" room (Rack rate $850, according to the in-room posting).

It was here that we decided to change the itinerary. The original trip had us going LAS-BOS-CMH-DCA-PHX-SAN, but we decided that we didn't want to spend that much time on airplanes.we agreed to go LAS-CMH-DCA and spend a few hours in DC.

After showering and changing (into my Hawaiian shirt), we checked out, dropped $1 into the slots, and headed back to McCarran for

HP741 LAS-CMH N656AW A320 New Int
We checked in at the counter with absolutely no line. In defense, the CMH flight is the last to leave LAS, and we missed the big 11:50 wave of departures. We entered jail, checked in at B17 to ensure we were listed for 'F', and then wandered the terminal. Everything except Burger King was closed in our terminal for the night - since the hub is basically one wave at night arriving around 2215.

After wandering a bit, we came back and were cleared for 3C and 3D. The agents started boarding at 0018, and we had the door closed with the plane out by 0038 (5 minutes early, the max allowable - the agents wanted to go home!) Our CSRs were wearing western clothes, in honor of the Rodeo in town - most were not in HP uniform.

We taxxied to runway 25R and took off, with both of us attempting to sleep immediately. Justin faded in and out, and I struggled for a bit, before taking some of his knock-out pills. They worked, because I was out until final approach, missing Rat Race (the second time). (He said the flight was really turbulent all the way).

The only part of final I remember is the approach - I was fading in and out all the way, and I think we touched down on 10R. We blocked into B3 with a 757 (905AW, 'Ohio' - how convenient!) next door at B5, the old TW gate.

Due to arriving early, we wandered the AWA terminal Justin thought they did a good job rehabbing it - remembering it under rehab, I have to agree, but it's still incredibly lacking for a hub operation in terms of concessions inside jail). I was still fading in and out of sleep, and we sat down at B7, next door to our departure gate.

HP*6598 CMH-DCA N27191 CRJ Op by Mesa, little titles
B9 was roped off as the DCA gate, but we didn't want to sit inside it. (A19 is roped off at PHX - one of the new DCA rules is to have dedicated gates for the airport). At 0750, everyone was cleared out of the gate, and Military Police searched the gate (by picking up seats). The airport brought a bomb-sniffing dog onboard as well.

Agents were warning people that they could not get up during the flight, and to use the restroom now. We were cleared just before the 0815 boarding (0835 departure) with split seats - myself in 1D, Justin in 3A. The flight was fairly full - 40 out of 50 taken including NRSAs. CMH uses jetways to board the RJs, for those who don't know.

I fell asleep almost immediately, a good thing on a flight where you can't get up (30 min after T/O and 30 before landing, on a 53 minute block). The FA did not leave her seat. In all honesty, I was afraid to do anything, lest risking a diversion to IAD! We landed on Runway 1 and blocked into gate 16 at DCA a bit early, where the agent oversteered the Jetway, causing it to freeze. The pilot would not allow the platform to be put out, so they had to back the jetway up and correct it.

After looking for a place to eat breakfast (unsuccessfully), we skipped it and hopped the Metro to the Smithsonian.
Upon arriving at the Mall, we beelined for the National Air & Space Museum. Our bags were searched there (I miss lockers!) before entering, and we spent some time at the displays (mostly air, not space) before leaving. Hey, it's free!

Justin wanted to see the National Aquarium, so we went searching for that. It's located in the basement of the Dept of Commerce building, requiring an X-ray before entering. We started to do the full airport X-ray experience, but they stopped us. The aquarium is not federally funded, charging $3 to enter. It "looks like a fish store" with aquariums along the walls, and information above.

Our final stop on the DC tour was the White House. You could still walk up to the fence. By now, we were hungry, but could not find a restaurant to save our lives (go fig! Talk about hiding). With no desire to get X-rayed again, we hopped the Metro back to DCA to eat at TGI Fridays, outside jail.

DCA was dead compared to my March trip, with no crowds and few people there. Several stores had closed outside jail as well. We checked back in at the TC and shopped a bit. We also headed down to the old terminal to check it out, before entering jail.

HP189 DCA-PHX N825AW A319
HP shares the concourse with DL (who does our ramp service) but has an exclusive gate. CO uses the 4 gates located in the old terminal, but accessed via the DL checkpoint. Entering jail was no different from any other airport, unlike the "increased security" at airports serving DCA. Neither of us beeped.

Once cleared, we were cleared all the way to SAN in F. HP had just started hawking the upgrades at the gate - $50 0-500 mi, $100 501-1000 mi, $150 1001+ miles. We pushed back onto the taxiway, and performed the short taxi to Runway 1. We turned onto the runway and accelerated normally (no short field technique), climbing rapidly.

The entire left side of F turned to see the Pentagon after climbout, but I was on the right, having performed seat swaps to sit with Justin. Before takeoff, the pilot gave an extended briefing on the 30 minute rule, which was not followed by the crew - they started with the headsets about 20 minutes out of DCA, the normal time.

Dinner was a choice of Steak or a Pasta Plate, but being the lowest NRSAs on the list, we were served last (the first time I've had that happen on HP). We both ended up with the Bow Tie Pasta in Olive Oil, joined with Tomato Basil Pasta in a Marinara sauce. It was OK but not that good - it felt reheated. The salad that preceded tasted almost dirty, and about half the cabin didn't eat all of theirs. Dessert, the Ice Cream cake, was the best part!

Our IFE started with Shorts, followed by Shrek (the movie), in reverse order from normal. I started dozing just after dinner, and was out cold for the last 40 minutes of Shrek (with help from the Margaritas we have aboard). Justin tried to wake me so he could go to the lav, but he failed - I'm usually out cold when I sleep. This was yet another turbulent transcon, just above rain for most of the trip. Snacks followed the movie, with a choice of Oreos, Cheese & Crackers, Fruit, and Chocolate, with mints offered just before landing.

The first FA never left the forward galley, except to serve food, and when he left, the second FA came up from Y to guard the galley. We assume this was another DCA security procedure. We came in to Runway 8 about 20 minutes early, and held shortly for gate A30. Upon reaching PHX, we decided to walk around as both of our legs were cramping up, and trekked down to the International concourse (high B).

HP189 PHX-SAN N825AW A319
Reboarding commenced, with a new flight crew aboard, and we stopped by the podium to see if our seats had changed. They hadn't, and we kept the original seats (2D and 3A, as opposed to 2C and 2D. 2C was open but I didn't move).Boarding was done early (for a mostly empty flight), and we pushed 5 minutes early to taxi to Runway 7L.

The seatbelt sign was never turned off on this flight, but people got up anyways to use the lav. The only unusual event of this trip was a sudden arrest of our descent into SAN Runway 27, followed by an extreme change in power (almost to takeoff thrust). The Captain came on after landing and said that they had a TCAS alarm go off - it must have been really close to cause an arrest of the descent like that. Both Justin and I looked at each other from across the plane - being veterans of SAN-PHX, we have never had that happen. We blocked into Gate 33 slightly early and called it a night.

Final tallies:
Searches at gate - 1, SAN-LAX
Miles flown (DOT) - 8,653
Block times in air - 23:10
Would I do this again? Not likely. Two transcon R/Ts in 3 days is a bit much.
Total flight cost - $27.75, ATA only - all others were fee-waived.

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