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Bruce
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Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:15 am

This was a quick weekend trip over to kansas city for a job fair. I got a good low price fare on southwest for a non stop flight.

7/11 flt 660 n/s BNA-MCI

Well, on this flight I did something that I haven't done before, or at least it was so long that I forgot: I did not get a window seat! That's like one of my rules of flying, but I got up just a little late to make it in time. I have to drive 100 miles to the airport and then all over the long term park lot to find a space and walk up to the terminal. I checked in 50 minutes before the flight and was given a "C" card (#94, BTW) and went thru security with no problems. The plane was N313SW, and it arrived full from RDU at 11:00 and was ready for pushback, full again, 25 minutes later. Its that legendary Southwest service at work! I knew my chances of getting a window seat were slim.... there were only a few people after me. As I walked back in the aisle I wondered if I'd even find a seat at all! I did find a middle seat about 3 or 4 rows up from the back and there was a very large black man (think of the McDonalds character called "the Grimace") sitting by the window. The interior of the plane was the old tan colors and just looked very old and drab. Passenger load was nearly full.

We pushed back on time and made the very short ride over to runway 31 and without stopping we were hurling down the runway and into the clear blue sky. Service consisted of a small cup of coke (geez....why cant they just give us the whole CAN?) and both peanuts and Nabisco Air Crisps (pretty good, IMO). We flew at 35,000 ft across southern Missouri and the flight was very smooth..1 hr 17 minutes. There was some great scenery as we descended toward MCI including an airport which would have made a great photo overview if it weren't for The Grimace sitting next to me. I also saw the big Kansas Speedway. We made our approach from the south to runway 1L and were soon at the gate.

If you have not been to Kansas City let me describe it for you. This airport was designed in the 60s and it does appear that they were smoking some kind of 60s drugs when they drew up the blueprints. Each of the 3 terminals is shaped like a "C"; everything is on ONE level. baggage claim, car rental phones, ticket counters, gates, and door to the outside. when we exited the jetway the baggage claim carousel was immediately to my left and the door to the curbside was right in front of me. Each group of 2 or 3 gates has its own security checkpoint too. Think of a giant letter "C" and the gates/baggage are all around the outside diameter, and restaurants & phones on the inside diameter, and a 2-story parking deck in the middle of the "C". There are no windows to watch any action, unless you are inside your gate area. and once you go thru security into your gate area you cannot go out to go to the bathroom or the restaurant without checking thru security again or go wander to another gate. And if you smoke, you must go OUTSIDE which can suck in the winter and if you leave your gate area you need to go thru security again. If I was rating airports this one would get a Zero. MCI sucks. Avoid connecting flights at MCI.

7/13 flt 2312 n/s MCI-BNA

This time I was determined to get a window seat, so I got to the airport early, checked in my case, and got the "A" card (#23). I bought a hot dog - oh yeah, I forgot to mention the food choices suck and are expensive as hell. I went thru security for gates 28, 28A, and 29 and then found a seat to eat and wait. My plane was N414WN a new -700 in the blue colors. After eating I looked at the security line and there were like 200 people in line because all 3 gates had flights that were boarding soon. Cant go to the bathroom. This airport sucks. The Ops Agent announced a delay due to storms in BNA and power outage at the airport - but that only lasted 10 minutes or so. My flight had a long line of pre-boards and quite a number of "A" cardholders ahead of me - i hoped to get a seat in the forward section but upon boarding most of the front half was full. The back was empty at this point in the boarding process so I snagged a good seat behind the wing. I like the leather seats. Really comfortable.

I knew that traffic was using 19R going toward the south and looking at a map of KC i knew that if I sit on the right side I'd get a good view of downtown, so I chose a seat on the right. This flight was nearly full. We pushed back and headed up to rwy 19R and were on our way. Left turn heading 90 degrees at the outer marker and I could see downtown kansas city. Got some nice pics - the sky was very clear. We climbed thru 20k and flew parallel to I-70; got a nice shot of the stadium where the Royals play. Our cruising altitude was FL350, and we made a slight tutn to head southeasterly across missouri. Service again consisted of a cup of coke, peanuts, and Air Crisps. not bad. I do not expect more for this fare price, but I would like the whole can of coke.

The scattered clouds became more numerous as we crossed Jefferson City, MO and then Cape Girardeau, MO, and the Mississippi river, and began our descent over Kentucky. We were flying around some realy big puffy rain-producing clouds and I got some incredible wing shots that should make the upload. The cloudscape was beautiful. However, it was too cloudy for me to recognize what our approach to BNA would be until the end, when I realized we'd be landing on 2C. I was hoping to get an overview of the city but it was too cloudy. We touched down on 2C and headed for the terminal where we sat for at least 15 minutes because someone else was in our gate and we waited till they pushed back. with all the gates available at BNA I would think they could have deplaned us at another gate. This plane was due to continue on the BWI, but nearly everyone got off and a fresh load of pax got on for that segment. The F/A announced that the BWI segment would be full so for any of the people staying on to find a seat now if they wanted to change. I got off, checked out some of the action at the other gates and then headed downstairs to baggage claim.

overall, good experience with southwest. I had 2 trips on them from BNA now, and both times departed rwy 31 and returned to rwy 2C. Hmmmmmmmmm........luck I guess. It was my own fault for not getting to the airport early enough to get a window seat on the way out....I hate that and the 100 mile ride to get a southwest flight. The fare was $150 more at my local airport, BTW. I wish they'd just give the whole can of coke!!!!!! Oh and did i mention that kansas city airport sucks.

bruce

[Edited 2003-07-15 02:16:18]

[Edited 2003-07-15 02:20:59]
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
paulinbna
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Jul 15, 2003 2:40 pm

sounds like you had a fun flight even though you did not get the full can of coke.
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Jul 15, 2003 10:17 pm

N313SW
That a/c seems familiar, maybe from another TR?
-UN
What now?
 
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Bruce
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 16, 2003 12:19 am

no, I never flew on N313SW before. I never photographed it either.


bruce
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
Mizzou65201
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Fri Jul 18, 2003 3:02 am

let me just say in defense of MCI, it was never ever ever designed to be a connecting airport. It is wonderful to never have to run down a mile long concourse to get to your gate when you're running late. That is really the best thing MCI has going for it.

But for SWA's purposes (which involve connections) it's no good. And, yes, it does suck to have no food/restroom options once you're airside. BUT the terminal renovation project (SWA's area has not been renovated yet) is spiffing up the place and the food/retail options are improving.
 
kevin752
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Jul 22, 2003 12:32 pm

I have not ever been in MCI. I am going to fly South West for the first time in 3 weeks. Sounds like and interesting airport there.
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Bruce
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:57 pm

No, not an interesting airport. I hated it.

by the way, all........... I shall have another Trip Report to post by Sunday probably. Hint: its a non-rev trip!  Nuts  Nuts


bruce
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:15 am

I am a Kansas City resident. I'll tell you right now, as Mizzou stated, MCI was not designed to be a connecting airport. Although I think it should've been, and could've been made one with the renovations. Second, you were probably in the old part of the terminal, the new, renovated portions are very modern, airy, and it's easier to watch planes (they now have windows by the baggage claims so you can have a good view of most traffic depending on where you're baggage claim is). There are new restaurants, and I'll agree, previously we didn't have ANYTHING for restaurants, just a KFC, Burger King and a couple other places. But, in the renovated portion of the airport there are plenty of new restaurants and shops. In the portion of the airport I was in, (terminal A, where the USAirways, & United gates are) alone there were Arthur Bryant's BBQ (complete with a bar with a commanding view out over the ramp, and a nice place to have a drink & watch the runway action, or do the same while eating famous Arthur Bryant's BBQ), Cinnabon, Starbucks Coffee, MSNBC store, and a Kansas City store (I believe there was another restaurant but I can't think of what it was). The new waiting areas are very nice, although the security situation is the same, and at the check in desks most airlines have added automated check-in computers. Digital screens advertise isntead of old paper posters, and everything has a much different, more modern feel to it. Come back sometime and go through part that has been renovated, you'll like it much better. I guarantee it. It's alot nicer than Nashville's airport, I'll tell you that (and don't worry, I've been to BNA).
 
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Bruce
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 23, 2003 5:34 pm

Ohhhhh...... I did not go to Terminal A. Perhaps there is hope for MCI!
Nashville is kind of drab. The concourse which houses Southwest is basically empty at the other gates (American, Eagle, smaller commuters). I would agree, BNA isnt that great inside.


bruce
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
catholic2006
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Thu Jul 24, 2003 7:32 am

WOW!!!! Southwest Airlines did a good job compared to the flights I've had with them. That airline just sucks if you ask me. What is up with not getting the whole can????? We are paying customers (can I get an Amen?). They need to remodel those nasty traditional planes. The spirit planes, I hear, are MUST BETTER and from what I see on Airliners.net they definitely look the part (but same employees though).

MCI SUX!!!!! Never been there, but obviously you've experienced it first hand. Whoever tried to defend that airport has got ISSUES!!!!

You are going to fly Southwest Airlines in 3 weeks for the first time??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! don't do it. Save your self now!! It's horrible, I tell you!!!! You'll go mad!! Please..............!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, good luck (you'll need lots).

Nice report and thanx for informing me about MCI (what's the airport's name?). God Bless!!!

-Chris

PS: DO you like Southwest Airlines?
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BH346
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Thu Jul 24, 2003 8:19 am

Nice trip report - I've flown on Southwest on MCI-BNA-MCI a few times. I'm happy with Southwest, the fares on that route are usually pretty good and the new 737-700s are really nice. They do skimp on driniks but they seem to give out more snacks than the other airlines I've been on for that long of a flight; a big bag of Air Crisps and some peanuts are better than two Biscoff cookies. The new seats are comfortable and the 33" inches of seat pitch is nice.
I'm going to have to agree with AeroGlobeAir and Mizzou on MCI, I enjoy the convienient terminal design which cuts down on long walks to the gate and the easy access to the parking garages (although getting to satellite parking can be a pain). The terminals are getting old and worn looking but the renovations are going to change that. The renovations look great and I'm looking forward to seeing them. I thought BNA was pretty nice especially in the terminal area with check in and ticketing. I did find the C Concourse to be kinda dull and empty-feeling but it seemed fairly modern and clean.

[Edited 2003-07-24 01:24:47]
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Bruce
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:14 am

I seemed to notice a difference between the old style seats of N313SW and the new leather interior of N414WN - is it just me or is there REALLY a difference in seat pitch on the newer planes?

Chris, I like it enough to want to work there! Their QTR2 '03 profit is 22% higher than '02, they must be doing SOMETHING right?????? Although I would like to see them go "upscale" like F9 & Jetblue it would give them a better image IMO.


bruce
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WNfan
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Sat Jul 26, 2003 2:20 am

Every time I have asked a flight attendant for a whole can of soda, my request has been honored. Just ask.

And you'll want a full cup of ice too to melt the warm soda. You can also ask for a second cup of ice if you really like your pop as cold as can be.

Sometimes I even get a complimentary alcoholic beverage if I'm friendly with the flight attendants, particularly on long runs to the west coast from MDW, and if there are a couple of empty seats near the aft galley. I love to chat with them and I've been told more than once that my being on board made the long run feel shorter. I carry a 1978 WN flight schedule in my travel bag and love to show it to the FAs (they were only within Texas back in the pre-deregulation days).

Also when I help passengers put their bags into the overhead bins, the FAs (particularly smaller women) are really grateful and will sometimes take care of me with a bonus drink. I fly Southwest like I'm part of the family (which I am, I guess, as I do own some stock) and most FAs treat me as a brother.

But the real reasons I fly WN are low fares, friendly personnel, on-time performance, and non-stop flights from MDW. Not to mention that my wife flies free with my Companion Pass whenever I fly, and the company is making money, growing, and will be adding more runs from MDW in the near future as new gates are built.

As for MCI, it's a neat and unique airport, but in this day and age, unfortunately it's quite dysfunctional. I used to change planes there on the way to LAS and the west coast, but now WN has seven daily MDW-LAS non-stops and multiple non-stops to SAN, LAX, OAK, and SEA from MDW. No need to change at MCI anymore, and I don't miss it.
 
catholic2006
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 30, 2003 12:50 am

Okay, I guess you're right. Southwest Airlines isn't that bad. But this airport is still making me mad. Grrrrrr............!

Low fares are good these days and I will soon learn that when I grow up and start college and have to pay for my own stuff. Until then.....I'll just fly what I have to.

God Bless!!!

-Chris
Ne vous inquietez pas. Je ne vous hais pas . . . . encore, mais faites attention !
 
WNfan
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 30, 2003 2:37 pm

Personally, I think low fares are good on any day. And when the money comes out of your own pocket, you'll learn to pinch pennies a bit more. I know I did.

As for MCI, well, the airport was designed and built in a different age. It's an inconvenience for some, at times, to be sure. But when I stand in the gate area and can see the drop-off curb but a few hundred feet away, I think, this must be darned handy for some travelers -- their spouse or friend can drop them off with a pre-printed boarding card or security document, and the flier can be on the plane in a matter of a under five minutes if the security line isn't long. That might not be the case all the time, but when it is, I envy that passenger.
 
catholic2006
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Jul 30, 2003 11:39 pm

I take it this is a small airport. yes, that can be handy!

-Chris

PS: God bless!!!!!!
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goingboeing
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Tue Aug 05, 2003 7:00 am

WNfan - here's a couple of "pluses" for MCI.

1. If you are dropping off or picking up a person, you can meet them at the gate.

2. If you aren't checking bags, you can zip right thru security

But there are minuses - If you checked bags, the walk from the gate to the baggage claim takes less than a minute....which makes it seem like an eternity before your bags come up the carousel.

If you have to pee and you've cleared security...you'll have to either hold it until you get on the plane or reclear security...there aren't any restrooms in the secured parts of the airport.

Perhaps the biggest negative of this airport is security OUTSIDE of the building. The police there will tell you to move along, even if you are just getting bags out of the trunk and (heaven forbid) kissing them goodbye. You can't wait (even if you remain in your car) for someone to come out of the baggage claim, you can't stop to do curbside checkin (somebody has to move the car). I dropped my 78 year old mother off and was going to get her bags to the skycap. I was away from my car for less than one minute (about 10 feet away), when a cop starts to write a ticket. MCI used to be one of the most "user friendly" airports in the USA, but now security has made it nothing but a joke.

Finally, there's no good places to watch planes. You can see runway 1R/19L from the long term lot, and for 30 minutes it's free. After that, it's five stinking bucks. I was meeting a friend last Saturday and parked in long term to watch and listen for her plane on my scanner, and I pulled up to the booth...I had been there 31 minutes and they wanted to charge me $5. I argued the point...pointing out that there was only one toll booth open and I had been in line for 2 minutes. The guy finally let me go, but this has to go down as one of the most "spotter unfriendly" airports in the country.
 
WNfan
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Aug 06, 2003 12:43 am

Goingboeing,

Thanks for the MCI information. On my first visit there, I remember deplaning to change to a flight to LAS, and looking at the outside doors, and asking my wife "did we just leave the secured area?!" Sure enough we had. I walked around in awe of the layout. There was one checkpoint for two gates, and we were on the first of the upcoming departures, so they had all of us LAS passengers move to the front of the line.

Here at MDW, the parking garage is free for the first 30 minutes, and it's connected to the terminal. So when checking bags, I now park in the garage and check in, then go back to the car and park in the outer lot and ride the shuttle back to the airport with only my little carry-on bag. It's nice having the first half-hour free, and the airport should advertise it, because the pick-up lanes are just awful at MDW. They hassle you and there are zillions of people sometimes. If you go over 30 minutes the next hour is $3, a little more reasonable than your situation.

Spotting is pretty good at MDW, and when picking someone up I'll hang out at the White Castle at 63rd and Cicero if they are using runway 31C for arrivals. I listen to the tower on the scanner, and when the plane actually lands, I'll mosey to the garage and park and meet at the designated spot in baggage claim (the row of chairs by the WN baggage service desk). Again, 30 minutes free is pretty sweet, they just changed that policy last year.

Is spotting poor at MCI just because of the layout of the airport? I'm guessing so. At MDW they have put up screens along the fences and it's not nearly as good as it used to be.
 
Northwesta319
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Aug 06, 2003 1:47 am

Just recently, I was going from MDW-PHX, but I had to stop in MCI and change planes. I was lucky, we landed in gate B28 and the flight to PHX was in the gate next to it, so I did not have to back through security.

But, I did have to go to the bathroom. And I Also Forgot To Take My CD Player Out Of My Pocket...Stupid Me.

Northwesta319
 
goingboeing
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:19 am

WNFan - there used to be a great spot to watch planes at the post office parking area. You had a perfect view of 1L/19R. I was eating lunch there one day and Air Force one landed. But they have since put up no parking signs and they WILL call the police if you are spotting out there. I moved over to the fire station parking lot, but I was approached by 2 police cars and a paddy wagon and detained for about 20 minutes, trying to explain that yes indeed, air band scanners were available at your local radio shack. The rest of the runway views are blocked by the freight areas, so I tried watching from inside the Executive Beechcraft terminal - until they put a "customers only" sign at the door. There used to be parking on the perimeter roads, but the police are cracking down on that. For spotting, 1L/19R has about double the movements than the other side does. And long term rates changed this year...up until then, long term used to be 30 minutes free, after that it was a dollar an hour, up to $5.

MCI is (used to be) great for those of us who live here - you can be dropped off just a few feet from your gate, security usually covers no more than 4 gates, although the Southwest terminal on a Friday night can be wild...I dropped TxAgKuwait off there one evening and found it was easier for him to get out at the outside lanes than try to navigate the inside lanes.
 
AeroGlobeAir7
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:50 am

Dude, how can you say I have issues when I'm defending my hometown airport? Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.
 
Chi-town
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Fri Aug 08, 2003 4:16 am

WNFan,

I am a chicagoland resident also. I know that spot on 63rd and Cicero Ave. too. I went there last week. It was awesome! I hope to go back this week sometime and take some pictures. The white castle isnt bad either! Yum! Sliders!


Steve
 
MCIB757
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RE: Trip Report - BNA-MCI Southwest

Fri Aug 08, 2003 1:10 pm

MCI IS A GREAT AIRPORT, as long as you don't have to connect, which there aren't very many people who do. But MCI is the most convient airport there is when you aren't connecting. But as a couple people before me have said, the renovations are making the food and retail better. Also when WN gets there gates and area renovated, they want all there gates to be in one secured area so u wont have to go through security again if u have to connect. And I think the city will build there area like that for them b/c they are by far the biggest airline at MCI. Even though you have to go through security if you need to use the restrooms, there is rarely long lines to get through security because each position serves only 3 or 4 gates. It does have some problems and will never serve as a major hub because of them, but it really is a great airport.
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