This is my first trip report, so please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Thank you for reading!
US Airways, Flight #6
SEA – PHL
Dep: 8:30 Arr: 4:23
This is my first trip report, and I will attempt to describe a recent business trip from Seattle, to a 2-day training seminar in Philadelphia. I have never flown US before, as the schedule out of SEA is not the most convenient: 3 daily to PHL, but only one a day each to PIT and CLT, both redeyes (I believe that there are more daytime flights during the summer). Anyway, this seminar gave me a good opportunity to try out US, as I wanted to, and the non-stop fit perfectly with my schedule (I always prefer non-stops, if available). Anyway, here goes!
I was checking no baggage, so I completed the online check-in on Saturday afternoon, the day before the flight. I planned on sleeping in until the last second, and didn’t want to have to get online and mess with doing it in the morning, or even worse, standing in line to check in! Anyways, I was previously assigned to seat 24D and wanted to see if any windows or better seats could be found. To my delight, US lets all passengers using online check-in select exit rows (not just the elites, like other airlines). Happily, I selected 10F after consulting with seatguru, keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t lose the exit row to some elite later on. The next day, I arrived at Sea-Tac around 7:15. Lines at security were approximately 5 minutes, and I noticed that the temporary C checkpoint was open for the Christmas holidays. I actually used the line, which was much shorter than the line for the N gates. Then I took the train to the N Satellite, grabbed a Cinnabon, and waited for boarding to begin. Boarding commenced promptly at 8:00, by zone. First was the preboards in zone 1, then first class in zone 2, etc. I was in zone 5 given the exit rows. I settled into my seat, enjoying the extra legroom (I’m 6’3”). The A320 was clean and ready to go. I’ve always enjoyed the Airbus narrowbodies – they seem a little roomier than the 737/757 and very quiet. The seats on US were comfortable, although I missed the winged headrests that are available on UA and AA. The flight was completely full, with every seat taken.
The captain welcomed us onboard, and was very friendly. He announced the time in PHL, the weather there, the flight time, etc. Soon we were underway, and the safety video was shown on the monitors. At first, it started but was about halfway through. Then, the tape was rewound and it started from the beginning; however it still cut out about 2/3 of the way through, the screens went back up into the ceiling, and the FA’s had to finish it on their own. We took off from the East runway (don’t know the #), and were soon high above the clouds. At this point, the previews for the movie began, which was “Elf”. I’d just seen it so I wasn’t very excited. After about 15 minutes or so in the air, the FA’s announced the buy-on-board meals. There were two breakfast items for $7, or a snack box with a ham/cheese croissant and some prepackaged items for $5. I was on expenses, so I figured now was as good a time as any to finally try a BOB item. I liked it – I thought the $5 was reasonable and even though much of the stuff was prepackaged, I could hold onto some of it for later in the flight. The BOB appeared very popular, and I witnessed many sales. No one by me took advantage, so I don’t know what others’ reactions were. Next was the drink service, which was a cup only (no can). About the same time, the movie started, which was followed by the US Airways “Overture” programming, such as sitcoms and news.
In terms of service on the flight, the FA’s were ok. They weren’t necessarily unfriendly, and did smile on occasion, but weren’t overly friendly either. I’d say they were definitely a step above WN or AA’s in terms of friendliness (I think AA is the worst in this area, btw), and below UA or DL (I’ve found UA the most friendly). The pilot was a different story, as he was probably one of the friendliest I’ve ever had. He announced many sights out the windows, such as when we went by Toledo, OH, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago.
Eventually we landed on time in PHL. The pilot came on the speaker and thanked the whole flight. It was nice to hear him, and he genuinely seemed to appreciate our business. Next, we waiting for approximately 10 minutes for groundscrew to bring a jetway to the aircraft. The pilot came on about every 3-4 minutes apologizing profusely for the delay, and letting us know he had called approximately 4 times to get someone to come bring out the jetway. I overheard other passengers remarking how refreshing it was for someone to actually seem like they cared, instead of just keeping everyone in the dark (like we’ve all experienced in the past). Then finally when the jetway arrived, we were all personally thanked by the pilot on the way out.
Overall, this flight was an A. The service was great, especially enhanced by the pilot. The flight was only 10 minutes late, which was attributed to the ground crew at PHL, as outlined above. I appreciated the in-flight entertainment which was offered, even though I didn’t use it.
I had a nice time in Philly – only two days though and it was extremely cold (9 degrees, -10 with the wind chill). I’d love to go back in the spring and check out the city a bit more…
After our two day conference, I headed back to PHL at approximately 4:00 for my 6:15 flight. Check-in lines were long, however there was an entire wall of kiosks (are people too dumb to see them?). I’d already checked in online (and once again secured my new favorite coach seat – 10F, exit row) so I wasn’t worried. Security was one of the fastest ever – no wait at all – just stepped right up to the front – and this on the Tuesday afternoon the week of Christmas! My co-worker and I got dinner at one of the airport restaurants (forgot the name) and waited for our flight.
US Airways, Flight #115
PHL - SEA
Dep: 6:15 Arr 9:30
The flight began boarding approximately 15 minutes late, as “the cabin crew had to replace some seat cushions”. Boarding was orderly and proceeded uneventfully. I settled into my exit row seat again, and noticed that there were 10-15 middle seats empty towards the rear of the plane. I also overheard many people saying that they were re-booked onto this flight by other airlines, so I take it that the flight was only about 60% sold before considering all the re-accommodated people.
Once backing away from the gate, we taxied and seemed to sit on the tarmac for 20+ minutes due to ATC delays. The pilot made no mention as to the nature of the delays. Finally we were airborne, and the flight attendants announced the movie (this time it would be Shark Tale) and the buy on board food. Next they came through the cabin selling headsets, followed by the BOB meals – I didn’t try one this time because I had eaten in the airport, but again they sold well, and the passengers around me seemed to like them. In fact, the lady next to me offered me the second half of her Chicken Wrap because it was too big just for her. In my row alone – 4 meals were sold, so I’m wondering if the people in the back were left hungry?
The flight attendants this time were friendlier than on the inbound leg. They were smiling and chatting with customers, offering the whole cans of soda as well as coming back through several times with water and coffee. The flight was a little bumpy, but nothing too eventful otherwise. The pilots made some announcements of cities again, but I was trying to sleep and wasn’t paying much attention. Overall, this flight got into SEA about 20 minutes late, but I wasn’t working the next day so it didn’t bother me much. I’d give this flight an A-, just because of the short delays and the fact that the pilots weren’t as cordial as the first flight.
For both flights, I’d give US an A based on my experiences. The planes were clean, flights generally on time, flight crews professional, and I loved being able to sit in the exit rows without having elite status. The only complaint I’d offer is that I think a hot meal should be served free of charge on a 6-hour transcon at dinner time. Yes, this is the case on most airlines, and yes, the BOB was very popular, but I guess I don’t think it’s unreasonable considering that I was served a meal on a flight of one hour from LHR to FRA this summer. I guess that’s the state of the industry, however.
I wouldn’t hesitate to use US again, especially if their flights to CLT and PIT were more convenient to my schedule. I hope that the airline stays put for a long time, and that I’ll have more chances to use them in the future.