April 11, 2004:
AirTran flight 7 (Operated by Ryan Int'l)
I picked one hell of an airline to fly my first Airbus flight on. If I never have to fly on a Ryan Int'l flight again, I'll be happy.
Got to the airport about 3 hours early, mainly to try to get a business class upgrade, but business class was already booked full. Check in was a breeze, took less than 5 minutes from the time I got in line to me heading towards security. Security was not that bad of a wait, less than 5 mintues. I ended up getting my carryon bag opened because of a "suspicious item". Note to self, next time pack the rolls of nickels and quarters in my checked bag. Got over to C, double checked the gate, and grabbed a newspaper and some breakfast. Fast forward about 2 hours to boarding. I get onboard and have trouble finding my seat, as the seat numbers are on the PSAs, not on the overhead bins like most a/c. This is where the fun starts. I sit down, and the seat pitch is awful, I've got maybe an inch between my knees and the seat in front of me, and when the guy infront of me reclines his seat, I'll have no room at all. In fact the coach seat pitch left a lot to be desired. It was as though when Ryan Int'l converted these A320s for the FL services, they took out the first few rows so they could put in the business class, and left the rest in a high density charter layout. Window seat had a nice view of.....most of the wing. We end up leaving about 15 minutes late because of some seating assignment issues with a few passengers. This in turn caused us to leave about 30 minutes late because we ending up spending 15 minutes in line to take off (had we left on time from the gate, we would have avoided this mess). Skipping ahead to the inflight service. The particular inflight crew was not exactly personality plus. They seemed as though they didn't want to be there and treated everyone onboard as such. I've had waitresses at Denny's and Waffle House with better attitudes than these F/As. Service with a smirk. First round of inflight service was drinks and Biscoff cookies (I had forgotten how addictive those things are), and the second round about 90 minutes later, was drinks and pretzels (I wish AirTran would bring the old snack mix back!). We get into Vegas about 10 minutes late (good job of making up the time by the pilots), and I was very happy to be off what could be the worst flight I've ever had.
April 15, 2004
AirTran flight 102
I ended up getting to the airport about 4 and half hours early for my originally booked flight (Flight 8), mainly because I overpadded my schedule on the amount of time it would take me to return my rental car, take the shuttle bus to the terminal, check in, and clear security (That and I knew that if I stayed in Vegas any longer, I'd end up losing all the money I had won the night before). I got to the ticket counter to check in, and the agent asked if I wanted to take an earlier flight back to ATL (I had remembered that they had a flight that went Vegas to Atlanta via DFW, but I didn't remember what time it left); after my flight to Vegas on Ryan Int'l, I was more than happy to take a regular AirTran flight. They put me on standby for the flight, and about 10 mintues prior to boarding, they call my name for my seat assignment. They put me in 31C as this was the only seat that was available for both legs of the flight, I told the gate agent it still beat flying on the Ryan Int'l A320, to which the agent agreed (probably gets a number of complaints on those A320s weekly). Got onboard, sat down, Row 31 is a bulkhead row with no windows, and even if they did, you'd see nothing but engine. I was happy to have some decent seat pitch, and did not mind not being able to recline my seat. Plus I was happy to be back on a 717 after nearly 4 years. We pushed back on time and make the long taxi to the runway (All I have to say is that I hadn't taxiied that long at an airport since JFK). Took off for the flight to DFW. Skipping ahead to the inflight service. Ryan International's inflight service pales in comparison to AirTran's, a total night and day experience. Full can service (which surprised me) with some Biscoffs. Flight was pretty uneventful except for a pocket of CAT we hit around the TX/NM border. Got to DFW, got off the plane to grab something to eat and stretch my legs. Back onboard (there were probably a dozen or so pax that were through pax) and they started boarding the a/c. The plane was pretty full, with only 2 seats being empty. Another ontime departure, and a long taxi (I knew things were big in TX, but this was crazy.) to takeoff. Another good round of inflight service by the F/As, another full can service and some pretzels (Bring back the snack mix!). Pretty uneventful flight to ATL, we arrived about 10 minutes early into ATL, and thus ended my flight home. One thing that I did notice on both legs was that a lot people were not really willing to use AirTran's new cashless system for alcoholic beverage purchases. I honestly did not feel secure about having them make an imprint of my card, and I wasn't even planning on drinking anyway. Hopefully AirTran can come up with a better way of doing cashless inflight service (maybe they ought to offer drink vouchers for purchase when you buy your ticket of check in or in machines at the gates).