It was high time to get out of upstate New York for a trip down to DC to visit family for the holiday weekend. This is my first, of probably many, flights with Independence Air.
Friday July 2nd, 2004.
Independence Air 1547, Syracuse to Washington-Dulles.
As usual check-in and security at Hancock International was painless and quick. No lines at either place. Indy uses gate 20 on the north concourse at SYR, the former United Express gate.... in fact the jetway is still sporting United's color from the early 80's. The gate area itself was decorated with a giant ballon arrangement with the new Flyi logo.
My first impressions of the cabin were very good. While the seats are in a shockingly blue leather, the seats themselves are very comfortable. They are significantly more padded that your run of the mill CRJ seats.
My flight that afternoon was about 50 minutes in the air, with a westbound departure from Syracuse, heading soutwest towards Elmira, then direct to Dulles. In comparison to my return leg, the in-flight service was not as good. With roughly 25 passengers on board, Priscilla, seemed to be a little slow with the drink service. It seemed like she was just barely able to finish serving the cabin as we began the initial descent into Dulles. Other than that the service was fine and our flight attendent was friendly. Heck they even got us into Dulles a few minutes early. Cannot complain about that.
Monday July 5th, 2004
Independence Air flight 1556, Washington-Dulles to Syracuse.
I was dropped off at Dulles at 5:30pm for my 7:05pm departure to Syracuse. Though once I got to the gate area and settled in I began to sense that all was not going well. Numerous Flyi flights up and down the east coast were cancelled or delayed because of the thunderstorms flaring up all along the eastern seaboard. Flights to Boston, Chicago, Newark, and White Plains were significantly delayed. By 6:30 I got news that my flight to Syracuse would be delayed until at least 8:00pm, as the plane was inbound from Boston which was experiencing massive delays that evening. So given that I had a lot more time on my hands I decided to go walk the concourse to kill time. Needless to say I was very impressed with the B concourse. Nice and wide with high ceilings and large waiting areas and plenty of concessions. Too bad by 7pm it was pretty much a ghost town. The Virgin Atlantic flight had already boarded and the Air France flight had already arrived. Just a handful of Northwest DC-9s and a USAirways 737 were parked on the B concourse. After my stroll I had another half hour to kill, so I just parked my butt in the A2/A4 boarding area to wait for my flight.
We finally boarded around 8:15pm and left terra firma around 8:30pm. Steve was our flight attendent for this leg. He provided much better service than on my outbound flight. With a fuller plane he was able to quickly get all of us drinks and still had time for the refresher towel service before landing.
Overall I was generally pleased with the Independence Air experience. I am more excited about having genuienly low fares and frequent service though. But I found both the ground staff and in-flight crew on both ends to be warm, friendly, and excited about their new airline. During my delay at Dulles, the gate staff had regular, around every 15 minutes or so, updated on the status of the delayed flights. Certainly something that I appreciated.
In the future I plan to choose Independence Air when my travel plans permit.