I reached Terminal B of Logan airport about three hours before
departure. I was planning to take the Logan Express bus, which would
have taken longer, but a friendly taxi driver offered me a good deal
and took me directly to the airport (instead of the Logan express bus
I checked in quickly, thanks to my AA Gold card, which allowed me to
use the fast check-in line. Unfortunately, the first class cabin was
totally full (as well as the economy cabin for that matter!) and the
upgrade that I had requested didn't go through. Oh well.
Given that I had lots and lots of time before boarding I walked to
Terminal C (it only took a few minutes) and had a quick dinner at
Legal Seafood's, my favourite airport restaurant (the restaurants in
Terminal B didn't look that attractive I have to say). The place was
packed and I say at the bar. But the food (a squid salad) was, as
I eventually walked back to Terminal B and went through security. This
was a frustrating process as the x-ray machine on our line broke down
and we had to merge with the line on our right. It was pretty chaotic
but we eventually made it through.
AA1543, BOS to MIA, A300B4-605R, Economy Class
The terminal was very busy, very noisy, and resembled a zoo. When
boarding of my flight was called, I was actually relieved. I hadn't
been on an AA A300 before and, I have to say, it was not an
overwhelming experience. The interior was old-fashioned:
Photo © Justin Cederholm
The economy cabin was a single compartment with no major separators.
With AA's new LRTC concept it really resembled sardine can. I had
seat 27A which, at least, was on a bulkhead. So I did have more
legroom than most other seats.
We took off on time. The flight was uneventful. In economy there was
only pretzels and drinks service. I hadn't been on an A300 for some
time but, given that my seat was located just behind the left engine,
it was pretty noisy (despite that I had my noise-cancelling headphones
on). It reminded me a bit of my last flight on a B737-200!
During our descent we got a gorgeous view of the Miami area lit up. We
landed more or less on time. MIA was an even more noisy zoo than
BOS. My luggage arrived OK, but the luggage reclaim belt had actually
the wrong flight number for our flight. Not very professional, I thought.
Sunday, June 6, 2004
For reasons I will not go into here, I arrived at MIA over three hours
before the flight. It was, again, very busy. When I checked in I asked
about the status of the upgrade request I had put in and, this time,
it had gone through! Yes! First class here I come!
I would like to comment on the way luggage screening is done at
MIA. You are not actually required to hand in your luggage unlocked,
if you do not want to. Instead, they do pass it through the screening
machine in front of you and you are notified whether it's cleared or
whether you need to open it so that they can search it. In theory,
this is a huge improvement over the offensive and fascist
"leave your luggage unlocked or we can destroy the locks"
approach. However, at MIA, it is implemented in the most stupid
way. You first stand in line to check-in and to get your luggage
tagged. Then you stand in another (and almost equally long) line to
get your luggage screened. So, this doubles the waiting time and the
length of the lines around the airport, increasing congestion. The
best way to do this is to just screen the luggage on the way to the
check-in desks. I've seen this at FRA and CDG and it works really
well. So, whoever came up with the double waiting line scheme is a
I passed security and walked towards the gate that was indicated on my
boarding pass: D48 on concourse D. It tooks me 15min or so to reach
it. The terminal looked new (I assume it opened recently) and it was
very nice looking. When I reached the gate I took a look at one of the
boards to see whether the flight was on time and I noticed that the
gate on the board was shown as A7. I went to one of the gates and
asked an AA employee about the discrepancy. She confirmed that there
had been a gate change and the new gate was, indeed, A7 in concourse A.
It took me another 15-20 mins to reach gate A7 and I was a bit
frustrated with all the walking (and due to the fact that concourse A
was a bit of a dump compared to the new concourse D). On the way, I
grabbed a quick bite to eat from a chinese place and generally killed
some time. When I reached gate A7 there was an announcement that the
gate for my flight had, again, changed to gate A14. At least it was
next door and I didn't have to walk to another concourse. At gate A14
it was announced that an AA flight to Montego Bay had been moved from
A14 to A7; go figure...
At some point, boarding started at gate A14 for an AA flight to St
Thomas that was scheduled to leave before ours. Boarding time for our
flight came and the St Thomas plane (a B757-200) still hadn't pushed
back. An announcement was made that our flight would probably be
delayed by 30 mins. The first reason was that, due to bad weather,
flights at MIA were running a bit late (I noticed a bit of rain but
nothing serious; I had flown out of BOS and GLA with much worse
conditions and no delays). The second, and more serious, reason was
that the plane to St Thomas had broken down and mechanics were still
trying to fix it. Some time later, another announcement was made that
our plane was on the ground but couldn't get to the gate since the St
Thomas plane still hadn't been fixed. Finally, about half an hour
after our flight was supposed to be pushing back, there were two
announcements. First, our flight would be leaving from gate C7 at
concourse C (third gate change and second concourse change of the
day!). Second, since our flight crew were getting very close to their
crew rest time, we were all asked to rush to our new gate.
The flight was full and there was a huge uproar from 180 or so people
full of laughter, sarcasm, and total disappointment. We all rushed
towards concourse C and gate C7. When we reached it, after 12-15 mins,
passangers were disembarking from an AA flight from LGA (if I remember
well)x. It had arrived several hours late and a large number of them
had missed their connections. So, imagine the situation: passangers
for BOS were rushing to the gate, asking the AA staff there when the
flight will start boarding; other passangers from LGA were asking the
AA staff how they will get to their destination, since they had missed
their connection; chaos ruled! The AA staff announced that, since the
plane had just arrived and needed to be cleaned, the BOS flight would
probably be boarding in 20 mins or so. So, why the Hell did they ask
us to rush in the first place? Surely, they must have known that the
plane had just arrived!
AA970, MIA to BOS, B757-200, First Class
Finally (or so we thought), boarding was called an hour after our
flight was supposed to have departed. Boarding was actually very
speedy and it only took 15-20 to get everybody on board. And then...
We waited. And waited. 20 mins or so later the captain said that our
luggage was still being loaded and, given that there were not enough
people on the ground to do this, it was going to take some
time. Finally, 45 mins after boarding was complete, almost exactly two
hours late, and much to everyone's relief, we pushed back.
Now, what I really want to know is the following. We actually pushed
back around an hour and a half after we were told to go to gate
C7. What happened to the crew rest time (remember, they told us to
rush as it was going to be tight)? Did they just tell us that to get
us to the gate quicker? Did our crew actually go over their allowed
time? Or, did they get a new crew (I really don't think they did,
since they were the same crew that I had seen waiting at gate A14; and
they also claimed that they were a Boston-based crew which makes them
most likely to have been the original one)? If somebody knows, please
tell me, since there's definitely something not right in this story.
The interior of the plane had the same old-fashioned style as the A300
on the way to MIA. The first class seats looked like this
Photo © Justin Cederholm
Not great, but they definitely beat the even dodgier-looking economy
ones. I had window seat 2F. Despite the delay, the flight attendants
didn't offer any pre-takeoff drinks. Instead they took meal
orders. The options were barbecue chicken, salmon teryaki, and
mushroom pasta. I chose the salmon. I have to say I was impressed
with the variety of options, given how short the flight was (2h45m).
After takeoff the flight attendants offered drinks and then started
serving the meal. The appetizer was a fresh salad with creamy italian
dressing. The main course, salmon with rice and vegetables, was
exceptionally good. The salmon was, in fact, better cooked than what
I've had in many restaurants. I was very impressed. The meal
was concluded with either a generous portion of ice cream or grapes
with cheese. I had the latter with a small brandy.
The flight was pretty bumpy and the seat belt signs stayed lit
throughout most of the flight. When we started descending we initially
hit more severe bumps but, after that, it was not too bad. We
descended through heavy clouds for ages and we only broke through the
clouds only around 15 seconds before touchdown.
We landed at BOS around 1045pm (two hours late). The terminal was
totally deserted and we seem to be the only passangers in it. Our
luggage made an appearance 20mins later. However, even that didn't go
smoothly, as the belt kept stopping and restarting. Whenever it
stopped, people ran around trying to get to their luggage that had
stopped a bit further away from them. This increased the chaos around
the belt. An appropriate end to a very Fawlty-Towers-like flight.
To AA: Thank you for the upgrade. It was very welcome because, given
all the delays, I would have got home at half past midnight without
having eaten anything for dinner. Your service on board was
exceptional and your flight attendants very polite and
professional. Unfortunately, your ground staff at MIA really lost
their grip of the situation and came through as totally
Full+ marks for the on board service.
Negative marks for forcing me to run around MIA.
[Edited 2004-06-11 20:26:58]