Well I waited months for this trip and the day finally came in October 23rd. We were to head to New York to watch the last JFK-LHR commercial flight with the Concorde with others. Overall this trip was very memorable especially. After finally flying again after a 3 year hiatus and my first ever flight on a Airbus.
America West Flight 592
We arrived at Terminal 1 two hours after we left the Antelope Valley area. With me and all my knowledge I decided to take it up with the queue in regular check-in instead of doing curbside or the new electronic check-in but then again the flight was 3 hours away so I guessed we could just do it the old fashioned way. While waiting in the queue I inspected my binder for all the papers I would need for all my homework and I accidentally brought my compass for math with the sharp end. Thankfully I caught that before I went into security screening. TSA screening was a breeze and my dad and I killed the remainder of the 3 hour wait by doing some spotting while my dad decided to wait it out with his LA Times.
Boarding came at 9:15AM in Gate 11 and our assigned seats 28E and F. Pushback was at 9:55. Taxing to the runway didn't take too long and we were off at 10:03. The aircraft made a left bank and after our brief flyover the Pacific we were over San Diego County. As we passed a wildfire was brimming down there in which we can see but I never knew this one would be severe until we heard about it along with others wreaking Southern California while we were in New York. Right over the Salton Sea they began the beverage service began in which minutes later my dad spilled his 7UP which really hampered the rest of his flight with a wet seat. The rest of the flight was pretty smooth and the crew was helpful.
As we began to make our approach we passed over an airport with stored aircraft, I'm thinking Marana but I'm not sure. I caught my first glimpse of the Phoenix area before landing and of course the landing was fantastic. We taxied to gates and deplaned at around 11:20AM at gate A4. At first we were planning to drag a bite to eat with us on the flight to JFK but we only had a 10 minute stay in wonderful PHX but I have to admit Terminal 4 was very nice.
America West Flight 14
Photo © Kevin Horton
After our short wait we boarded at around 11:30 at Gate A-21. It was pretty exciting for me as this was my first ever flight on an Airbus. We were seated in 4E and F in which I was thankful for its legroom. Pushback was at past noon and there were no delays on taking off. Once we were at cruising altitute they began beverage and snack service. I dunno how I survived a 5 hour flight on peanuts and Mike and Ikes, especially being directly behind First Class and taking a good whim of the aroma of a inflight meal. Decided to not pay the 5 dollars entertainment fee and used my own headphones to hook up with the jack, glad I dragged those tangling hassles with me. The flight was pretty much uneventful except for the fact my SLR camera was not working properly which I regretted as we landed at JFK. Approach to JFK was smooth and we landed in Runway 13L at around 7:40PM. As we taxied to the gate, I saw the one thing we came here to watch..........Concorde. Resting next to a BA 744 ready to depart, it surely brought some tears to my eyes since this was the first time I ever saw her with my own eyes. As we deplaned I got my first whim of autumn as we passed the jetway at 40 Degrees (pretty cold for us that live here in the AV.) As we got off I moved swiftly to go see the Concorde from Gate 2. When I finally looked out that window, I was there in awe that after all these years of seeing pictures of this beauty in books and in websites, that I finally am here to see it up close. Luggage pickup wasn't that hard and we were soon off to our stay in the JFK Ramada.
Spotting British Airways Flight 002
We woke up at 6:00AM to get an early start with the thought that the Concorde would be taking off at around 9:00AM but surely I didn't check well before hand. Thankfully I turned on the TV at 6:30 waiting for any reports of the Concorde when I heard the words "The Concorde will soon be departing in 30 minutes, as we see luggage loading into the aircraft." In my head I was thinking "OH S***!" I told my dad to hustle and we were storming out of the Ramada at 6:45. Thankfully they had a taxi positioned outside the hotel so we were crusing through Belt Parkway then Cross Bay Blvd. in no time. We arrived at the spot and were greeted by a crowd of enthusiasts and locals watching to see her part. I spent that early morning shivering since I was used to warmer weather with temperatures at around 75 degrees back home in California. In a way I was thankful the flight took off more than 30 minutes later than what was said in the news report because I wouldn't have stuck good conversations with fellow spotters. I also talked to a 14 year old who was here under the same accord as me and it was good to see people around my age in Howard Beach to watch see the Concorde go. He is also an avid A.net user and hopes go join the forum this Christmas. Meanwhile I was also trying to find Mirrodie and the rest of the A.net group to no avail but none the less it was surely memorable but it would've been better if I got to meet the group out there as well. Once again my SLR Camera was acting on me so I decided to just use my camcorder for this. I didn't know when the Concorde would take off until I heard people getting ready. I got the camcorder ready and moments later we began watching G-BOAG darting off 31L. Surely those few seconds of seeing OAG go will surely be memorable for years to come and we continued to watch with awe and sadness to see her go. For years I will be surely glad I was there to see it fly for the first, only, and last time.
Photo © Justin Cederholm
Photo © Michal Kuklinski
Photo © Yevgeny Pashnin
America West Flight 55
Photo © Saul Loeb
We left the Ramada at around 5:30AM and arrived to Terminal 7 with no crowds except for the queue in the HP check-in. I tried doing a upgrade to First for the flight but it was already booked so I upgraded for Flight 54 for 50 bucks while my dad vouched to stay in Economy. But the ticket agent was having computer problems (my guess is that she was new since she had a HP LAS badge on her) so she upgraded both of us for free. Screening once again went smooth with no problems and after getting a bite to eat in McDonalds, we proceeded to Gate 2. As we waited I decided to get a few pictures of the Concorde Room entrance and looked on outside the window to the empty space where just 24 hours ago G-BOAG was just there, ready to pushback Gate 1 one final time. We boarded at around 7:40AM and were seated in 26B and C. Departed at 8:05 and I looked on as we saw the New York skyline one more time. The flight was uneventful and again I forgot to buy something at McDonalds and survived with 7UP, beef jerky, and biscottis for the 5 hour flight.
Approach seemed to be a bit odd since we were approaching from the south to 01R instead of normal by approaching from the north or east. Maybe the wildfires in California had something to deal with this? Landing went smoothly and caught a quick glimpse of the famous Janet 737s as we left the runway. We deplaned at 10:45 and were welcomed by a crowded B Gates. This was the first time I ever set foot in McCarran even though I've been to Vegas many times so it was a pretty interesting experience.
America West Flight 104
Photo © Jeff Miller
After our short stay in McCarran, we boarded 628 and were seated in 1C and D. This was the first First/Business Class experience I ever had but even if it was for a very short flight, it was memorable to say at the least. We departed on 07L (it seemed to be a backward day since I never really seen LAS have a/c landing and taking off opposite ways than usual), took a left bank above Henderson, and we were flying almost parallel to the I-15 below us. They began beverage and snack service to First Class passengers (first time I ever had one for a 30 minute flight ) and one of the F/As noticed my Concorde shirt I was wearing and mentioned about the last commercial flight the day before, so we had a short chat about it before he had to get back to tending to the other passengers but it surely made the 30 minutes fly by. We soon were over the Victor Valley when we can already see the Grand Prix wildfire burning and covering up neighboring cities with smoke. The Airbus made the move through the smoke cloud and surely was an eerie experience, the windows began casting a orange-ish glow with little visibility outside while the aroma of smoke can be smelled throughout the cabin.
We landed in LAX at around 12:30PM and taxied around the terminals to get to Terminal 1. We deplaned in Gate 11 (same gate we boarded for flight 592 2 days before ) and received our luggage in the claim with no problems. Again it was a memorable experience especially being there to watch the Concorde. Well thanks for reading my first attempt at a trip report!