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Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 5:47 pm

USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pics!]

Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:26 pm

Part Two. Enjoy!  Big thumbs up


After a few days with relatives in Johnstown, we returned to the airport for the first flight (back to PIT) in a long chain of flights which would get us back to Los Angeles. We woke up around 4 or 5AM, drove to the airport, checked in, and soon boarded the waiting Saab 340 (a nice change from the B1900!), at around 0605. Of interest was the flight attendant asking a few people to move to rows further back for weight/balance issues.
As you might expect there was absolutely no other traffic (due to both the time and the fact that JST is one of the smallest airports around  Big grin), however we taxied out and held short of the runway. We sat there for a bit, until the props spooled up and I expected we would turn onto the runway to begin our takeoff roll. However, the brakes remained applied, and the pilots spooled the engines right up, then spooled them down again, to what I thought was pretty much idle. The plane kind of shuddered, and the props made a weird chopping noise as they spooled down. It was kind of like the sound of the props/engines shutting down. However, they didn’t, and this spooling up and down continued about five times before we finally turned onto the runway and took-off. Does anybody have any idea as to what this weird behaviour was?  Confused

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Johnstown (JST/KJST)
Gate: n/a (the “gates” weren’t numbered and I think the one we used was the only one, anyway)
Airline: USAirways Express - Colgan Air (9L/CJC)
Aircraft: Saab 340B
Registration: N346CJ
C/n: 346
L/n: n/a
Delivered: 05/11/1993 (to American Eagle - 15/03/2004 to Colgan Air)
Flight: US4900
Destination: PIT/KPIT
Seat: 5F
Class: Y (economy)
Takeoff time: 0635 local
Runway: 15

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Photo © Erik Hodges

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Photo © Rob Kablau

^Obviously not a specifically USAirways cabin, but a close enough approximation...

The short flight was very comfortable; out of a few different turboprops I have flown on, the SF340 is by far the quietest and most comfortable. As we neared Pittsburgh the sun began to rise, and I took a few (very bad) shots of the wonderful view:

The sunrise was just as nice when we had landed (with small bounce!) in Pittsburgh, and I took this photo:

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Photo © G.P.K.S.

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Pittsburgh International (PIT/KPIT)
Landing time: 0700 local
Runway: 28R
Total flight time: 0 hr 25 min

Out of 10:
Service - 6 (the one f/a that there was did a good job, though for such a short trip service isn’t of much importance at all)
Food - 4 (preztels again, I think)
Seats - 6 (for small economy seats, they were very comfortable - leather is nice, too)


We ran over to our connecting flight to Philadelphia, which boarded just past 0715. After boarding and taxiing over to 28R, we actually ended up sitting in “the penalty box” (an apron area over by the runway) for around 45 minutes, waiting for the ground fog at PHL to clear. As we sat there with the engines off, I finally had my first experience hearing the trademark Airbus ‘barking’ hydraulics.  Big grin Finally, when the fog in Philly cleared, we departed.

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Pittsburgh International (PIT/KPIT)
Gate: B36
Airline: USAirways (US/USA)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-211
Registration: N169UW
C/n: 1455
L/n: n/a
Delivered: 19/03/2001
Flight: US300
Destination: PHL/KPHL
Seat: 19A (I moved to a window seat further back, though, as the flight was pretty empty)
Class: Y (economy)
Takeoff time: 0828 local
Runway: 28R

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Photo © Justin Idle

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Photo © Robert Maturski

As we climbed out there were some wonderful views of downtown Pittsburgh, beautiful fog, and what I think is the Limerick nuclear power plant (note the airport to the right of the plant):

^Downtown Pittsburgh


The flight was uneventful and we soon landed in Philadelphia.

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Philadelphia International (PHL/KPHL)
Landing time: 0916 local
Runway: 27R
Total flight time: 0 hr 48 min

Out of 10:
Service - 6
Food - 4 (preztels)
Seats - 6 (the aircraft’s interior was in good condition, and the seats were quite comfortable)


We had a couple-hour layover until our flight to LAX boarded at 1130, during which time we had a bite to eat (Philly soft pretzels!) and watched traffic before heading over to the gate and boarding. Without much delay we pushed back, taxied to 27L, and waited in a queue of 10 (!) aircraft, before finally departing.

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Philadelphia International (PHL/KPHL)
Gate: D5
Airline: United Airlines (UA/UAL)
Aircraft: Airbus A319-131
Registration: N829UA
C/n: 1211
L/n: n/a
Delivered: 28/04/2000
Flight: UA97
Destination: LAX/KLAX
Seat: 15B (takeoff)/15A (landing)
Class: Y (economy - no upgrade to Y-plus this time)
Takeoff time: 1213 local
Runway: 27L

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Photo © Jerry Search

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Photo © Justin Cederholm

There was lots to look at (and listen to - yep, I’m a “Channel 9" addict!  Big grin) during our cruise at FL350. After a pretty horrible lunch of some sort of meat, mashed potato, green stuff very vaguely resembling spinach, iceberg-lettuce salad, and a “Milano” biscuit to finish it off...

...there were excellent views of the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, various airports, and passing aircraft:

^The Rockies

^A passing USAirways A320-family aircraft...

^The Grand Canyon!

^The Grand Canyon, continued...

^...and one more... Big grin

^Anyone know what airport this is?

We finally reached California, began our descent into Los Angeles, and landed soon after. I snapped a few pics as we landed and taxied to the gate, and I got a nice shot of the flight deck after we parked (many thanks to the very friendly crew!):

Date: 08/10/2004 local
Airport: Los Angeles International (LAX/KLAX)
Landing time: 1416 local
Runway: 25L
Total flight time: 5 hr 03 min

Out of 10:
Service - 6
Food - 2
Seats - 6 (everything was much the same as the leg to PHL)


After another three days visiting more relatives in L.A., it was finally time to go home to Sydney. We packed everything up, drove to the airport, checked in, relaxed in the Red Carpet Lounge for at least and hour, and then finally boarded our aircraft at around 2220. Our seats were on the upper deck this time, which was quite a treat! After 20 minutes or so we pushed back and taxied to 25R for takeoff.

Date: 11/10/2004 local
Airport: Los Angeles International (LAX/KLAX)
Gate: 77
Airline: United Airlines (UA/UAL)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-422
Registration: N193UA
C/n: 26890
L/n: 1085
Delivered: 07/08/1996
Flight: UA839
Destination: SYD/YSSY
Seat: 13H
Class: C (business)
Takeoff time: 2339 local
Runway: 25R

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Photo © Aaron Mandolesi - Mile High Images

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Photo © Timothy Hannan

We left the glittering, sprawling lights of the California coast behind as we climbed up the an initial flight level at FL290. Since it was completely dark, I didn’t take any pictures.
I relaxed and listened to “Channel 9" for a while until, with the traditional “tablecloth-giving,” we were served dinner. The dinner menu read as follows:

To Begin

Spiced shrimp and Parma ham
Cocktail sauce and fresh lemon

Fresh seasonal greens
Roasted garlic red wine vinaigrette or classic Caesar dressing

Main Course

Filet mignon with applewood smoked bacon demi-glace
roasted red potatoes and green beans with yellow pepper

Coriander-crusted halibut with lemon beurre blanc
Basmati rice with chives, asparagus and carrot batonnets

Potato leek with smoked turkey sausage chowder


International cheese selection
Stilton and Black Diamond Cheddar cheese

Eli’s Apple Crunch pie

I chose filet mignon again, and the apple pie (sorry, no pics!). After dinner I watched a bit of “Around the World in 80 Days” (it was quite horrible), and then slept. It was probably the best I’ve ever slept on a plane - 6+ hours! Like on the trip to the U.S. there was a small tray of snacks to help yourself to during the night, and I got a little chocolate bar and some chips. The F/As kept coming around with water, which was good as well. Through the night, we made our way up to a final cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.
I woke up in time for sunrise, and as it got light outside, breakfast was served. The breakfast menu:

Prior to Arrival

Fresh seasonal fruit appetizer
with breakfast breads, butter and fruit preserves

Baked potato with eggs, cheese and hollandaise sauce
Pork sausage and oven-roasted dried tomatoes

As we neared Sydney I got up to stretch and walk around, and I took a couple of photos:

Finally, just after the curfew lifted, we began our approach into Sydney and landed soon after. After we were parked at the gate I waited around until the pilots came out. They were very nice and let me have a look at the flight deck. I took a few photos of the crew rest area and various control panel and centre pedestal detail:

Date: 13/10/2004 local
Airport: Sydney Kingsford Smith International (SYD/YSSY)
Landing time: 0625 local
Runway: 34L
Total flight time: 13 hr 56 min

Out of 10:
Service - 8 (as on the ‘going’ leg, the crew were very friendly and helpful)
Food - 7 (again, similar to the ‘going’ leg - breakfast was a bit better this time, though)
Seats - 9 (Ahhhh... Big grin)



It was quite a trip, especially in terms of all of the flights we took! I have no complaints about either United or USAirways, though I find that in general, aviation over here in Australia is a bit ‘friendlier’’s hard to describe.

I hope you enjoyed the report!

Posts: 958
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 1:40 pm

RE: USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pics!]

Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:39 pm

How does UA fare in comparison to QF?? Thanks in AAdvance!! Great Report!!
Posts: 5185
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:08 pm

RE: USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pic

Mon Nov 22, 2004 4:46 pm

it's impossible to compare the 2 as he travelled in Economy on QF and Business with UA, so you can't compare the two can you?

good reports, i'm on QF to La next week.
Topic Author
Posts: 1473
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 5:47 pm

RE: USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pic

Mon Nov 22, 2004 6:22 pm

As Montague said, I've only ever flown in economy with Qantas, so I'm not one to really compare the two in terms of business class (though from what I've heard, QF is quite a bit better). I have, however, flown UA economy, so I can tell you that at least as far as Y-class goes, QF is quite a bit better in terms of service, food, and IFE. The only thing QF lacks is a "Channel 9" equivalent.

Glad you guys liked the reports!
Posts: 2604
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 1999 9:09 pm

RE: USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pics!]

Mon Nov 22, 2004 7:26 pm

Impressive report!

(however most impressive of all, you managed to travel on the ONLY day out of the year that the nasty Concrete Jungle wasn't submerged in a thick layer of smog!)
Posts: 2709
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:57 pm

RE: USA Travel (Many Trips) - Part Two [Long W/pics!]

Tue Nov 23, 2004 6:13 pm

Good report-unfortunately in both your reports the bandwith exceeded and i did not get to see any of your other pictures

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