US 115 June 6th 2003, PHL-SEA, A321 N172US, Seat 9A
Photo © Ben Wang
Not to be confused with
Photo © Dirk Jaeger
I booked this ticket about 2 weeks before the flight and it was whopping $430 r/t. I guess this being the summer season, SEA is a hot destination. This flight also had a special meaning for me , it was going to be my first A321 flight in Norht America. Before I travelled in Lufti A321s between FRA/MUC and IST.
One of the things I do I try to track the flight down as early as possible and thanks to the gate information, etc you can see the routing this airplane goes through before it gets to you. For instance this specific aircraft was making CLT-PHL-MHT-PHL-SEA-PIT that day starting at 10:00 am in CLT and going back to PIT as a redeye from SEA.
At any rate, I leave work at 3:30 pm for the 6:00 pm flight. My usual an hour long drive gets to be much longer due to traffic and accidents. By the time I go to the long term parking, wait for the bus, etc. I got to the SkyCap at 5:15 pm. I tell SkyCap that I have a reservation for a SEA flight that leaves at 6:00 pm, he goes and checks for it and comes back saying that nothing is under my name. Then he tells me to stay put, and shows up 10 mins later with a boarding pass jacket with a luggage sticker on it. I think , fine, then I can use the kiosks, but he tells me to go to the gate right away. This was odd.
I go through the security, with the similar routine like, take shoes off (they have metal they go off) , take the laptop out, etc. and rush to gate C27. When I was leaving work the flight showed leaving from B6, so I get nervous about equipment change.
I got to the gate around 5:45 pm, thinking that they may get some stand-by pax instead, but no one is boarding yet. Of course the F class is full , but I do have one of the best econ seats in the house, so I will save some $$
The first boarding is for F class people. The second announcement comes for Dividend Miles Elite people, but no Milage Plus high status. So I get to board with the Dividend Miles Elite people, and the gate agent gives me hard time because I don't have anything that I belong to the crowd on the boarding pass. I show her my Premier Exec card, and she shuts up.
While we are boarding I take a look at the cockpit as we are boarding from L1 door, our registration is N172US. Such an easy number to remember, to write it down on my little flight log later on. It turns out that the aircraft was going to board B6 but due to some technical problems they moved the aircraft to C27 and that was the reason for the delay/gate change.
We pushed back at 6:12pm , 22:13Z Crossed 27R at K3 . There were regular 6:00 pm push aircraft waiting for take off, a DL737-800 (N3748Y), a UAL 737-300 (6:00 pm ORD flight), AWE319 (I think this is PHX flight) and a NWA DC9 (DTW) . We gave way to two US A330s and F/O came on PA and said that they had to give way to "big guys" due to slot control issues at their destinations.
We took off on runway 27L at 6:34 pm / 2234 Z. It was a long run of 6000 feet immediately followed by "chainsaw" sound of engines.
I checked online before the flight about the movie, it was "About Schimit" (sp?) and I wanted to see it as I heard it was a good one. Interestingly , there were no announcements about the movie on the PA system. They just started to show the trailers right after take off, then a F/A came by saying "headsets, headsets" as if they were for free. As a matter of fact the guy next to me had to return them when he found out that he had to pay $5.
To my luck the screen on that part of the plane is right under the ceiling, very small and the angle was making it really hard to watch it. So I decided not to pay for it.
Major difference between UA and US on this, in UA movie starts after the meal service, on US it is the other way around. Personaly I like UA's way better.
After movie and the "headsets" ordeal they started to serve snacks. It was a bag of ham&cheese sandwich, Cape Cod potato chips and snickerdoodle cookie. I didn't eat ham&cheese as I don't eat pork, and had to content with the rest. I had sparkling water with the meal, if I can call that...
I couldn't catch any ZZs even though I was really tired. I went all the way to the back of the aircraft to have a glass of water after a quick visit on the midcabin restroom. I ended up chatting with this F/A and we talked about mostly airline travel. At one point I was telling her how America West started to use CRJs on PHX-SEA runs and she said "just wait. in couple of years will be mostly CRJs and you will miss the normal narrow bodies" . She also said how she likes A320 family vs. B737 and B757s both from pax perspective and her professional one.
After a normal "Come from northeast, fly the downwind and do a visual to the north" approach, we landed on 34R at 8:43 local / 3:43 Z.
It was a very long flight and I think except the ones that I have already pruchased, I will be using United from now on.
Everything went down hill after this point. I went to the luggage carousel #5 to pick up my bag, but it wasn't there. When I went to the US Airways baggage claim, the CSR was really surprised that I was on the non-stop flight with no connections. She ran the luggage number and told me that it was sent to PIT. She couldn't give me any explanation and I couldn't come up with one also.
I finally got my luggage back today , the following day, with some food items missing. A food jar was open leaving liquid all over my cloths also.. I am guessing the blame falls under TSA on this one, instead of US, but I am very upset about the fact that the luggage was put on the PIT flight that left the same time as the SEA one.
In a nutshell :
- US Airways' customer service is inferior to United.
- A321 doesn't have "stiff seats" I mentioned in the previous report on the A319.
- A321 is quiter compared to B757, but it gets really loud for some reason when the thrust reversers are engaged.
- United should offer better fares , so that I won't miss them too much