AirTran Flight 369 LGA-ATL, total flight time 1 hour 45 min
AirTran Flight 70 ATL-MEM total flight time 50 min
Biz Class seat 1F
Overall Experience- Excellent
AirTran Flight 524 MEM-ATL, total flight time 58 min
AirTran Flight 352 ATL-LGA, total flight time 1 hour 52 min.
Seat 2A and 1F
Overall Experience- Excellent
I chose to fly AirTran for a few reasons, one they had a great fare, two I've never flown AirTran, and three I never flew on a B717. Overall I was very happy with AirTran and would fly them again. I had a 6:00 AM flight out of LGA forcing me to get to the airport by 4:00Am. Thinking I would be the first person on line I was surprised to see eight people waiting before me. The AirTran ticket counter didn't open until 4:45 so we had to wait around for about 40 minutes. At the same time the Spirit and ATA counters were open which first made me think AirTran's customer service my be a little askew but once the counter opened they moved though the line very quickly and they were very friendly. We proceeded to the gate after going through security rather quickly. Being so early in the morning taking pictures were out of the question since the lighting was nil. There was a great Frontier 319 with the rabbit tail, I got a picture but it's not upload quality.
We boarded the plane around 5:45AM and since I was seated in Biz class they offered us a drink before pushback and take off, I had some OJ. The flight itself had 60 people total so the boarding process was speedy and we pushed back 5 minutes ahead of schedule. By this time the airport was coming alive with planes taxing to the active and many planes parked at the hangars were being towed to the gate. It was interesting passing by the AA gates and hangars; there were 4 ex TWA 757's. We quickly taxied to the runway and were ready for takeoff when the Captain came on and said we would have to get back in line because of delays in ATL. So we taxied down the runway to the first off ramp and got back in line. We were wheels up by 6:30 and the takeoff was smooth and I got some great pics of Shea Stadium as we passed by. We reached flight level 35,000 about 20 minutes into the flight. Sitting in Biz class you still don't get any kind of meal on AirTran but they give you a selection of morning pastries. Biz class on AirTran was worth the extra $70, the seats were comfortable with plenty of legroom and a good recline, plus you get to board first which is worth the extra cost to me.
We arrived in ATL on schedule but had to wait for our gate to free up. After we got off I didn't have allot of time to look around so I proceeded to the other gate and waited to board. Our flight to MEM was similar to the flight to ATL. While taxing I was able to get some decent shots of what only can be called Delta's Atlanta fortress. If it weren’t for AirTran the only planes you would see would be Delta. We took of on time and the flight to MEM was smooth and short, only 50 min. Landing in MEM I waited for everybody to get off and got some great cabin shots and flight deck shots. Special thanks to Emily and David two of the FA's onboard for letting me take pictures of the cabin and flight deck. One of the FA's David and I got into a great conversation regarding his years at TWA. It turns out that a number of ex TWAers have landed at AirTran so I expect nothing but great things from AirTran. It was also interesting to note that I observed very similar cabin practices used on TWA by AirTran.
On the return trip I arrived at the airport early to get some pictures and to walk around Memphis Intl since I've never been there. The airport itself is very old; it’s clean but very old. I don't think they've ever updated it since it was built. I was able to walk all the concourses once clearing security. There was good variety of Northwest birds from DC-9's in new and old colors, to Avro jets, A320's, 752's and 753's. Besides Northwest and AirTran, American was the only other airline with a mainline jet; everybody else was using CRJ's and ERJ's. Upon boarding I noticed that the Biz class seats on this 717 were different from my other flights, it turned out I was on an ex TWA 717, which I was thrilled over. We left Memphis about 20 minutes late but we made it up in flight. The flight was smooth to ATL but the landing was rough as hell we bounced a few times before setting down.
Upon our arrival in ATL I had a 3-hour layover so I decided to explore ATL. I got some good pictures but the airport itself isn't conducive for good picture taking. The windows are dirty, small, and most of the jet ways block your view. Overall I wasn't impressed with ATL, the shops aren't that great, it could be cleaner, its dark inside, the waiting area seats are uncomfortable, and its to dam big. I was able to get to three of the concourses and snapped some pictures and just watched the planes taxi out and take off. We left ATL on time and had a very smooth flight to LGA.
Overall I'd say I was very happy with AirTran and would look to fly them again over other low fare and mainline carriers. The 717 was a great plane to fly on, it feels like a much larger aircraft then it really is. It was also one of the quietest planes I've flown on and at the same time really powerful. On takeoff she really pushes you into the seat and the departure angle was incredible, really steep. Great airline and a great plane!