Flight 4402 operated by US airways Express-Mesa airlines
Departure time 8:15am, arrival time: 10:03 August 30, 2003
Arrived early and parked in long term parking lot, the shuttle bus comes late and it’s nearly full. Arrive at the new Terminal F, there are 4 people a head of me and there are 4 agents checking people in. My agent asks the normal security questions and examines my identification then she surprises me by asking the name of an emergency contact and a phone number. She gets upset while I’m fiddling with my cellular phone to find her a number and gives me grief that she has to reset the screen because of this short delay.
I start proceeding toward the gate. I’m not reading any direction signs and start proceeding to the upper level, which is the norm at the other terminals in PHL. Upon reaching the upper deck I realize the F terminal is a single story structure.
I get to the gate F33. The EMB-145 tail number N840MJ is sitting at the gate. Something is mentioned about the Lavatory being out of order and we are requested to take Canadian custom and immigration forms before we board the aircraft. We were also given a SAR pamphlet. We proceed down the jet way and walk down the tarmac where some passengers relinquish items that are too big for the overhead compartments.
I’m sitting at the rear next to the last row before the lavatory. This is a Window/Isle seat. I had to hunch down to walk back there, but the leather chairs are quite comfortable for me(I’m 5’ 11” . There is a sign on the Lavatory indicating that it is out of order. However it turns out the lever shifting from left to right and vise versa is missing and we have to lift a panel and fiddle with a little stub in order to operate the door lock mechanism.
We are pushed back from the gate at 8:22. While we are taxing the flaps are set to 9 degrees. I believe we are at the end of 27L, we lift off and make a left hand climbing turn crossing Delaware River and we fly directly over an airfield with Y shaped intersecting runways. Eventually I cannot see anything because of the clouds. Interestingly When I turn back and look into the engine inlets, I can see rays of light shimmering through and can see a distinctive grid shaped pattern.
A cabin crew of one begins to serve refreshments and snack. I get an apple Juice and a bag of pretzel. I ask if I can claim my luggage at the tarmac with other passengers but since I checked it in, I would have to reclaim it at the luggage carousels. This cabin attendant did not greet passengers, does not smile and is not very enthusiastic
After the snack service the lower ceiling clouds begin to vanish. The engines are throttled back and we begin our decent phase into Toronto area. We fly over some locks and canals, which have ships in them. We also fly over the Niagara Falls and over the lake. There are lots of leisure craft and sailing boats specking the lake and a lonely oceangoing ship sailing east.
The flaps are extended to 22 degrees and we began yanking and banking. Finally more power is added and the flaps are fully extended(no marks in the flap housing indicating how many degrees for the full flap). We fly over a Golf Course and finally land roughly. We whiz by the FedEx facility and begin to slow down. We taxi past the Air Canada maintenance building where several 767 and A320 series are parked. We taxi past a terminal; it appears that the sign Canadian was removed from the side of this building. I was the last person to disembark. We disembark the plane and walk on the apron to gate B-8. When I get to the custom I do a time check. It is 9:47.
YYZ to PHL, Flight 4400
Date: September 1, 2003, Departure: 10:45am scheduled arrival 12:21pm
After 2 days of spending time with family, a wedding and the compulsory trip to Niagara Falls I arrive early for departure back to Philly. There is a long line of passenger waiting to check in. There are no automated check-in machines and I’m told I cannot check-in at the gate. The line actually moves very fast, many people are accompanying their outward bond passengers. Of the three clerks one is dedicated to first class and preferred customers. Luckily he has no pax so he calls me over. He is very nice, smiles and is helpful. He makes sure my dividend miles are logged and confirms emergency information already in the computer.
I check the duty free shop for some Havana Cigars. Since this section is dedicated to preprocessing US passengers, they refrain from selling Cuban cigars! I proceed through the security check and immigration. I realize one reason I’m so excited on this trip is that I’m using my brand new US passport for the very first time. Then I check in my rolling duffle bag.
While climbing down the stairs to gate B-7 I notice passengers sitting on the stairs. The waiting area is quiet small and serves US airways and Continental and apparently several flights are scheduled for charlotte, Philly, DC …
After a short time standing in this cramped area we are called for boarding. The aircraft again is an EMB-145. Tail number N839MJ has had an incident of some sort the uniform. The cowling on the port side engine is scratched and the lime green primer is evident. I say Hello to our flight attendant Lindsay and she greets me back with a smile. When I get to my seat I notice that there is a patch on the silver intake rim of the engine. The patch is double riveted on both ends on the either side of the joints.
Our ground crew has difficulty attaching the tow bar to the nose gear. One of the cockpit crew emerges through the front and explains the reason for the delay. He asks the passengers in the fist 6 rows to briefly leave the plane. While they are waiting on the tarmac the ground crew successfully connects the tow bar at the first try. Pax get back in very quick and we are pushed back. It is now 11:10. For this brief delay we are rewarded to the planes store of wine and beer. Lindsay is constantly moving back and forth. She asks passengers firmly yet courteously to bring forward their seats and stow luggage properly. She also asked every one with a window seat to refrain from closing the shade while we are taxing and for the takeoff phase, She did this at least 4 times. I believe we departed from 24R.
While Lindsay was brining back the refreshment cart back she asked if anyone would care for the complimentary drink, but apparently she did not have many orders. She smiled and made the comment that: “nobody seems to care for drinks when it’s offered for free”! She asked a passenger to refrain from standing in the isle waiting for the bathroom and had her return to her seat and fastening her belt until there was a vacancy.
We came in for landing from the south side, flew by I-95 and the Boeing plant. Landed, used reverse thrusters and lots of brakes and taxied very fast all the way past terminal E made a 90 degree turn for terminal F and yet another 90 very late for the taxiway between the terminal and the maintenance hanger for the regional jets. Disembarked at terminal F-37.
Both of these flights were full. The round trip price for this trip was appox $260.00 American Dollars. US airways offers Double milage on this route for a limited time.
At the regional jet terminal thing seem to operate more smoothly. There is no hustle and bustle of a big terminal. Was not held hostage inside an aircraft waiting for an open gate. Luggage wait is not very long. I prefer to travel like this for domestic or short flights.