My sincere apologies in getting around to writing this, during my time in AZ
, I didn't have enough time near a computer that I could do this out there to.
*WARNING: Long and detailed trip report ahead*
The above mentioned 90 mins till we left the house turned out to only be 60mins, as my grandmother woke up early. After printing out few more resumes (curricular bites (sp?)) to take with me, we left the house at 2:30AM. I was glad we did as the roads were went, and despite, not being freezing, I still felt the car sliding as I drove, so I took my time getting there.
Arriving at the terminal at approx. 3:30, I dropped my grandmother at the terminal with the suitcases while I went and parked. Due to a sign informing that the "C" Lot was full, I went around to the "D" Lot. Thinking that I would be able to walk to the terminal at the far end of "D" Lot, I went all the way down to the southeastern corner. Needless to say my assumptions about walking were wrong, and I found myself lugging both mine, and my Grams carry-on bags all around the Employee parking lot, In the drizzling rain.(I had tried waiting for a parking shuttle bus to come, but after waiting 20mins, figured it was probably to early for them to be running). Fortuenlty, once I made it out to the terminal road way, a shuttle bus pulled out of it's lot, and came and picked me up (I was still quite aways from the terminal, so I was happy).
Going inside the terminal, I found the clean, and brightly lit building practically deserted. My Gram and two other PAX were sitting on the benches. I beckoned my Gram, for here to join me in the US line. We were the 1st in line and the ticket agents weren't there yet, but came out from the back office a few mins later, and informed us that the counter would open in 20mins, not wanting to loose our spot, we opted to stand there till they opened.
When they did, we were checked in by a friendly gentlemen, who like us, was definaly being effected by the early hour. Since I knew this flight was wide open, I had listed us in 1st class (Same with our flight to PHX
), which my Gram paid for both segments of this trip. It was at this time we learned US had recently changed the way they handle non-rev PAX. Previously it had been handled by hiring date (which exception of deadheading crew). Now, they group you into 4 categories (1 being lowest, 4 being highest). Employees/retirees hired 20+ years ago (such as my Gram), come into category 3, with category 4 being dead-heading crew.
Since the seats were obviously open, he gave us our seat assignments for both flights (1st all the way: OH
YEAH!). We went up to proceed through security. As it has been since 2+ years since I'd last flown, this would be my 1st encounter with the TSA
, and I was prepared for anything. As it was that my keys set off the metal detector, I received a very friendly and professional (yet extremely thorough) going over, by a TSA
gentlemen who kindly explained everything he was doing. My Gram made it through without any problems, and I met up with here at Gate A4
Our aircraft today was N746UW (A319), due to the poor wx conditions I couldn't take any real good pics, But I could see a US Express Saab 340 and Dornier 328 (Prop) sitting over on the hardstand. Seeing the dornier surprised me, as I didn't know they were being used in MHT
, a pleasant surprise.
Boarding commenced on time, and was completed very quickly. The numbers for this flight were 5 in First (including my Gram and I), and 10 in Couch for a total of 15 pax! Push back was on time, and we taxied semi-slowly out to RWY 35 (The ONLY runway currently open at MHT
). Needless to say with such a light load, lift off was VERY fast (the tires never made it to were the old theshold of RWY 35 was, before the extension).
The captain was quite nice and kept us updated about the flight, due to heavy turbulence, he did what ever he could to keep us comfortable. He even apologized profusely when ATC made him descend into the heavy muck, well before he wanted to.
During our descent I experienced something I have never had in all my years of flying, and that was the visual sensation of going extremely fast, ie: the whole cloud segments were whipping by at amazing speeds. Now, I'm familiar with the more traditional "fast visuals" such has horizontal rain, contensation over the wings, or descending in to cloud's and seeing the air move over the wing, but this was something completely different.
We landing at PHL
on RWY 9R
at approach. 6:45AM, and docked at gate C21. As our flight to PHX
didn't start boarding till 9:15, I took my Gram to the rocking chairs located at the have way point of the B/C connector, where there is a wonderful view of the US operations and the field. I took a few Pics here, then I went off exploring.
My first PHL
destination was the new Terminal A-West. All I can say is I was amazed and pleased with the architecture of this terminal. However I did notice two odd things:
-1st, the elevator that goes up to the US Club on the 3rd floor (from the departure level), has a stairways built around it. As the 2nd floor is where I believe the INS is, obviously there's no connection to this stairwell/elevator, yet there is an elevator door there just the same (It to small and area, and facing the wrong way to be a viewing platform). I can only assume that this may have been an architect and/or construction mistake?
-2nd. At some of the new gates, they have parking marks for older aircraft, many not in use by US or anyone else for that matter, even charters (ie: BAC 1-11's, L1011's , DC-9's, and I think one or two other odd parking marks). Anyone have any ideas why brand new gates would have these?
I returned to my Gram, who looked lonely, with this mind I decided to spend the remainder of our layover with her.
At 9AM, I signaled an electric cart to help us down to Gate B15, for our flight to PHX
. Our aircraft this time was N619AU (757-200). As once again this was a very light load flight, after doing the preboarding announcement, the gate agent just simply boarded all rows.
The numbers on this flight were 13 in First, and 47 in Coach. Push back again was ontime, and we departed from RWY 6L
, again reaching V1 one quite quickly. There was some mild turbulence, shortly after take off, and a bit more over the plains states due to storms there, but for most part this flight was smooth.
For IFE, the movie "The hours" was shown, however due to my audio outlet, being bit tricky, and the subject matter being hard to follow, I gave up watching it after the first 30 mins. It was then that I noticed that US, has stopped having audio programs on their trans-continental flights. It used to be I would listen to them if I didn't like the movie.
We were served a lunch in First. I had a chicken wrap which was basic, but tasted terrific (It was just chunks of chicken, in what I'm guessing was pesto sauce, wrapped in a soft tortilla). This came with a bowl of mushroom noodle soup, which I really liked, and ate it all (surprising, as I don't care for mushrooms very much).
We arrived at PHX
30 mins ahead of schedule, and landed on RWY 25R. As we descended we were parrellled with an America West A319/A320 (I couldn't really tell), that was landing on RWY 26. We docked at terminal 2's gate 11. withing 25 mins, we had collected our bags, and were to to my aunts house for a week.
*I hoped you enjoyed reading this, and as it is #Am, on the night I returned home, I apologize for any grammatical errors I missed. Be sure to look for my return trip report which I'll post tomorrow.*