Posts: 7588
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

The Trip That Almost Wasn't. CHO-IAD-SYR And Back

Wed Jan 28, 2004 5:15 am

Let me just begin with that yesterday (Monday January 26th) was not the day to be traveling by airplane. It began, innocently enough, with a day-trip to upstate New York for a job interview. In the end it became a day and a half trip.

The first setback happened Sunday morning when the local van service cancelled my 5:30 AM pickup for Monday. With the impending snow storm forecasted to drop 4-8 inches of snow they were not going to chance it. Upon waking up at the pre-butt crack of dawn I discovered that not that much had fallen and the roads were at least passable. Which meant that the cabs would run. Luckily the cab driver safely gets me to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport @ 6:00 AM and makes me part with 40 bucks.

United Express Flight # 7776
BAe Jetstream 41.

This was my first time flying out of CHO and let me say I was pretty impressed. It is a very nice little terminal. From curbside to walking through security was < 5 minutes. And no crowds to boot.

Since I had nearly an hour before board time I plopped myself down on the comfy couches, watching the local morning news, and watching the rampers de-ice and prep the first few morning departures... including a very snowy and icy looking J41 that I was going to be on.

We finally boarded the plane about 10 minutes late. The poor little J41 was freezing inside. Unfortunately the GPU was stuck in the snow so we had to bear the cold inside the cabin until the engines were lit. Soon enough we got underway and the FA made a quick run through of the cabin with small bottles of water.

This flight was going to end up being the most uneventful one of the day. The only thing of note was a super sweet landing on Dulles' runway 1R.

United Express 7857
Canadair Regional Jet.

This is where things began to get messy. First the plane for my Syracuse flight was late arriving into Dulles. However once it was in the ground crew at ACA did a remarkable job turning the aircraft... getting us on board within 15 minutes of the plane's arrival. I suppose it didn't hurt that there were only 15 of us on the flight that morning.

Now many on this forum bitch and moan about spending long flights on a CRJ. Try this on for size. We waited a good hour to hour and a half before we pushed from the gate. The best explanation given was that they were understaffed that morning due to the weather. After pushing we then had to wait to de-ice. All-in-all we were 2 hours behind schedule when the wheels went up.

In-flight everything went very well. I really like the interior fitted out on ACA's CRJs. Much nicer than the bland grey leather and older style overhead units that Mesa's CRJs have. Our scheduled flight time was a little under 80 minutes. The in flight service was given by our flight attendent Stan. It consisted of a drink service (orange juice for me) and a snack.... which were fruit and nut breakfast bars. My only peeve about this flight is that the lav in the CRJ is pretty cramped. One cannot standup and take a piss in it... and I am only 5'9".

United Express 7867
BAe Jetstream 41.

I had made excellent time coming back from Oswego to the airport... doing a normally hour long drive in about 40 minutes. Thanks to the super fast Dodge Stratus that Alamo-rent-a-car had given me. I was also pretty impressed with the terminal facility at Syracuse. Very nice and modern feeling for a mid-sized town airport. Certainly nicer than Tucson... which isn't all that bad.

I wisely grabbed dinner at the Au Bon Pain just outside of the north security checkpoint. My success at getting places on-time was going from bad to worse. The weather was just brutal that day... messing with flights coming from as far away as Chicago and Atlanta. When the gate agent called over the Dulles passengers making connection at 6:45 (flight time was supposed to be 7:03) I knew it wasn't good news. Well the good bit was that the plane was currently inbound to Syracuse. The bad news was that we were going to still have a big delay. The worse news is that there really wasn't any other available flights to put us on... USAirway's Pittsburgh flight had been canceled for the night. The even worse news was that we might not make our connections. Not overly bad for me as I have family in Northern Virginia, and Dulles is only 2 hours from my home.

But everyone decided it was best to get on this flight and chance the connection at Dulles than stay the night in Syracuse. I think we finally left the gate around 8:30 pm, with a promise from the Captain to "pedal as fast as he can" to try to get us into Washington as soon as possible. Most of us knew it was a lost cause. To make up for it our flight attendent, Eric, comped the alcohol on this flight (there were only 10 of us onboard). So after two beers I didn't much care about missing my connection. For the last half of the flight me and a few passengers socialized with Eric and made the most of a somewhat bad situation. I think we finally touched down (rather firmly I may add) at 10 till 10. All we could hope for is that our connecting flights were delayed. No such luck.

My outgoing connection was cancelled for the night. Though at the time we were told it had already left. So off to the customer service desk to see what United was going to do. Unfortunately because the delay was caused by the weather United would not put us up for the night. So I was rebooked on the first flight for the next morning. So now a rather motely foursome emerged. Myself and a girl named Liz both missed our connection to CHO. Kristie, who had been trying to get home on standby for a day or two, missed her last chance to fly out to LA for the night. And lastly Sondra who missed her connection to Frankfurt. After much wandering through the bowels of Dulles... we find courtesy phones and get a room for the night. For spending the night in a strange bed with a stranger I slept very well.

Tuesday, January 27.
United Express 7738
BAe Jetstream 41.

Rode to the airport with the flight and cabin crew for that mornings TACA departure. And let me tell you something, those flight attendents were VERY VERY VERY good looking. Too bad my Spanish sucks.

We arrive at Dulles a little before 7:30, quickly check-in, and work our way through security. Now the fun starts. About 20 minutes before departure the gate agent informs us that our plane has a mechanical issue and we will be delayed. We manage to get onboard by 9:30 and start up. Now our plane looked like an iciscle. Because of the ice the prop on the number one engine was a little out of balance. To say that the plane shook and vibrated would be putting it mildly. I now know what it is like to be my laundry.

However there is another problem... the plane has a battery fault indicator. To further complicate things this battery is on the MEL. Which means we don't leave until it is fixed. They managed to sort out that problem. Engines are fired up in full spin cycle vibration inducing glory, and we wait. And we wait. And we wait. We must have sat at the gate for almost 20-30 minutes before we taxied to wait to de-ice. And then we waited some more. Needless to say by the time we left the ground it was 2 hours after when we were supposed to board.

Inflight our flight attendent, Angelia, came around offering more breakfast bars and little bottles of water for this short flight. We finally touched down into the fog at CHO at 11 am. A good 12 hours later than I had wanted to.

Needless to say I am quite drained from this trip and in bad need of a shower. Though I did actually enjoy my time on the J41. I thought I was going to dislike it. The cabin did not make me feel clausterphoic at all. I believe it has to do with the lack of people on board. Plus there is more personal interaction between the crew and the passengers, which I really enjoyed. That is something that you do not get flying in coach on a mainline jet.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
Posts: 2179
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 1999 11:05 pm

RE: The Trip That Almost Wasn't. CHO-IAD-SYR And Back

Thu Jan 29, 2004 3:16 am

Man, we've all been there. Thanks for sharing.

Let me get this straight -- you spent the night with three women?
Free-thinking, left-leaning secularist
Posts: 246
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2001 10:02 am

RE: The Trip That Almost Wasn't. CHO-IAD-SYR And Back

Thu Jan 29, 2004 9:17 am

Great report! Yes, please elaborate on the hotel "situation."
Posts: 7588
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2000 3:12 pm

RE: The Trip That Almost Wasn't. CHO-IAD-SYR And Back

Thu Jan 29, 2004 10:50 am

What this trip taught me was that I do not want to be a road warrior. Dealing with 2 hr delays on 3 of 4 flights sucks major ass.

As for the hotel situation. All 4 of us were fairly social during our flight and were all in the same predicament. All of us are about the same age... ranging from 21 to 23. Basically b/c our missed connections were b/c of weather United wasn't going to put any of us up, not even the one with the missed international connection. So we decided to just find a hotel and split it 4 ways... which ended up being a little under 20 bucks. It was completely like a hostel situation. Plus all of us were pretty tired to begin with, and two of them are getting married in a few weeks to boot.

I suppose it is a strange arrangement, but my dad didn't bat an eye at it. He asked if I liked any of the girls I stayed with.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia

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