Wednesday afternoon around 5:00 I received a phone call from a friend in the aviation business who needed to have a small N-registered airplane ferried the next day from Culiacan (in NW
Mexico) to the Toluca Airport near Mexico City. I was excited about the idea of flying in that unknown area for me, and also because I was going to be able to see with my very own eyes whether it is true or not that Sinaloa's girls are among the most beautiful in the country.
I checked and checked all the available connections in the major airlines and none gave me a connection that would fit my needs. I was running out of time and it was very important that I make it CUL promptly as we had an expiring authorization from the Aviation Agencies to do the ferry flight. I decided to make my very own set of connections and travel arrangements via internet, the phone and a friends' SABRE terminal. After many efforts my best deal (for fare and schedule convenience) was getting a Magnicharters flight from CUN
(where I live) to GDL
and once there catch an either Aerolitoral or Aerocalifornia flight to CUL. Later on on my trip I discovered that GDL
-CUL it is a heavily used route with oftenly overbooked flights that made me take a rather uncomfortable several-hours bus trip to my final destination. But that's another story that I should post on Travel Reports at busliners.net
Back where we were.... I called Magnicharters and got a convenient departure time of 12:30 and an affordable price of 145.00 USD one way CUN
WITH TAXES !!! Having Mexico one of the most expensive aerial transport systems in the world I just babbled "Book me on it". The agent said she couldn't as they do NOT reserve spaces on the flights. Either you buy the whole air-hotel-transfer packages they do (they claim to be "Mexico's turistic airline" and they pretty much are on my surprise) or you just show to the airport and buy a ticket there. Clearly is that, the next day I showed up to the airport early with 145.00 bucks (well... I had pesos) and my luggage.
Bought my ticket. Joined a long check-in line. Skipped the long check-in line (benefits of knowing the Traffic Lead Agent). Got checked and assigned a bulkhead seat. Got directed to gate B9. Sweet.
Went through the hassle of the security line and the x-ray machine in a breeze. Actually it was no hassle this time. I had enough time to buy a discounted employee drink at one of the local vendors inside the gate area (one of the advantages of holding a current airport badge), sat in one of the comfortable seats of the food concourse, make a couple of phone calls and literally just watch people passing by. CUN
airport is very nice (Terminal 2 is fantastic); recently refurbished and with LOTS of restaurants and shopping attractions. It is very easy to to lose spare time shopping or having a few last tequilas in the wonderful Mexico. After a little chit-chat with some people I didn't know but that were quiet familiar with me I headed to the boarding gate where a few ladies in bright yellow uniforms were calling for my flight. It was 12:00 sharp.
Flight Number: 585
A/C Type: 737-200
A/C Reg: XA-MAF
Seat number: 1A
As the airplane was parked in a remote spot in the busy airport, we were taken there via buses or "Aerocares" -wide long air conditioned units that go back and forth the terminals and the planes-. My first impression of the plane when I saw it was "that is one shiny SOB" The aircraft was very clean in the outside (and so in the inside). When the bus stopped in the forward entrance of the aircraft one of the F/A was down there, greeting everyone (something I haven't seen in a loooong time and that I think is a very nice detail as they make you feel like home). After climbing the integral airstairs another F/A is welcoming you right next to the galley (you know where), while a third (I didn't see what the fourth was doing if there was a fourth) was helping everyone down the aisle finding their seats and getting their stuff secured.
We had music and the regular welcome onboard announcements. As mentioned before, the cabin was clean and was definitely not showing its age. The walls, ceiling and panels are not yellowish as found in many old airplanes. The best were the seats. Ohhh Lord! Those are really comfy ergonomic leather seats with adjustable head rest. They have embroidered the bright Magnicharters logo and looked nothing but AWESOME ! Although they recline pretty much the same as others, the seat pitch was okay and wasn't hard to stay put for a reasonable amount of time.
After a few minutes, having everyone on (around 12:25) the doors closed, push back started and the roar of those big long P&W engines started. The flaps were deployed in the take off configuration and soon after that the fastest taxi ever be possible to perform without reaching V1 was done. Magnicharters pilots must be trained in the Southwest Airlines fast-taxiing school !!!
More music during the short taxi. F/A's managed to give the whole security announcements in Spanish and something I still hardly believe was English. Having such nice interiors I found valid the announcement requesting us passengers to care about the leather seats.
At 12:30 we were airborne (more music over the PA), commencing a 2:20 flight to Guadalajara. After passing through 10,000 patas (that is feet in improper Spanish), swoosh! the curtain closed and the F/A's started their service duties in the galley. Some 5 minutes after that they announced that they will be passing by the cabin offering hot towels. I think Magnicharters realize they do not transport top executives or frequent travelers very often, as it was necessary for the crew to remark during their speech that the towels were intended to be used to clean up the hands prior to the meal service, something that for many people is quiet obvious. I find more effective to use alcohol in a gel whenever you can't wash them so I took some out of my flight bag. (And I'm not a freak carrying it everywhere; I just have one in my flite bag 'cause it is plainly disgusting to touch a yoke that only God knows who and what that "who" touched before). Well., maybe I'm a little freak.
Exactly 30 minutes after take off I was being given a tray with beef fajitas?, broccoli and bell peppers and white rice on the side. it was okay, a little overcooked and plain but still good. I could have added salt but I'm trying to keep my blood pressure low (if you care to know). It came with a fresh lettuce, cucumber and parsley salad with a slice of lime (limon para nosotros los que vivimos sin complejos). Bread roll, prepackaged butter, salt and a delicious corn flakes chocolate treat which was the best of the meal. I had a Coca Cola Light (yeah, fightin' weight also)
I couldn't see the full bar trolley as I was kind of busy with my tiny piece of bread (by the way, this roll was harder than Hamlet), but I know they serve Absolut Vodka, Chivas Reagal, and in general good booze. I don't drink while flying so I only had DCoke and water. One of the things that have made this airline so famous about their service is precisely the good quality -always complimentary- bar they do offer. As a matter of fact, Mexico is one of the few places where booze is served for free on most (if not all) flights after 10:00 am. Something you just do not see everywhere.
While still in the middle of my meal, fighting a piece of meat which wasn't willing to die, one of the F/A's gave me a refill AND two packages of peanuts; something I liked but found a little odd as those are better to be offered before the meal as a snack. But what the heck!. They cleaned up the cabin really quickly and then AGAIN passed with drinks and more peanuts. Damn! I like this airline.
After that excellent service they disappeared for a little while (I guess they were eating or something) but I do not doubt they would deny any request for extra beer or soda (or pop or coke or softdrink depending where you're reading me from). We got no announcements whatsoever from the flight deck during the entire flight. It doesn't bother me, as a matter of fact, when flying in the airline one tends to forget about the folks in the back; but I know that people like to hear from the guys up front, despite they have no idea of what a "scattered" or "broken" cloud is. For the passengers, listening to the captain is half the fun, pretending to know what the fudge they're talking about is the other half.
We started our descent (it was more like a controlled stall, as we got down from 37,000 to 10,000 in no time)
and soon we landed in GDL
. Again, we taxied to terminal as if there would be no tomorrow and disembarked via a jetway. As we were getting off the airplane we were offered candy. Damn ! I thought they were going to forget about that.
This was a wonderful experience with them. Some of our airlines have to pay attention in these folks as the job they do is outstanding. I have no idea about maintenance and stuff as I haven't take a close look in their aircraft nor I'm an engineer, but service-wise, they are doing an amazing job at a very affordable price. Kuddos for them!
I got to GDL
and found no available flights to CUL, so I had to get there in a bus. CUL is a nice city with yeah, some of the most beautiful ladies around.... About my ferry flights from CUL to TLC? I didn't leave until two days after (Sunday) because the metal wasn't ready to go. It was an uneventful and smooth flight with a short stop in PVR
. I paid some Gasavion (AVGas) for the C-210 and some Marlin Burritos for me. God !! Can't wait to do it again !.
I returned to CUN
yesterday in a MX
flight. Nice aircraft, but servicewise, waaaay under the standards of the Aerolinea Turistica de Mexico.
There are no stupid questions... just stupid people!