Pardon my delay. Yes I know two whole years. But my annual Easter Time retreat is quickly approaching so to jog my memory a bit I decided to post my very first trip report about my 2003 Trip from BUF-SRQ and back via PIT, CLT and LGA. You'll have to excuse me as I don't recall the flight numbers however much of the trip is still very vivid and I am excited about posting it as my next US trip is quickly approaching.
Departure: Early Morning
Arrival: Early Morning
Eqt: Boeing 737-300
My Seat: 9F as I recall
When booking this trip I jumped on the opportunity to fly US to multiple destinations each way. I figured it would be fun to take my time getting down and back.
I arrived at BUF about an hour and a half early, courtesy of my girlfriend. Check-in was a breeze and I walked right through security. I wandered over to Gate 6 at BUF and our plane, coming in from LGA was yet to arrive so I went down to this smoothie and fruitdrink type shop between gates 4 and 5 and got orange juice and a banana for breakfast. I watched some of the early departures before taking a walk down the strech of the terminal. I enjoy this walk as I get to watch the morning rush board AM flights on all different airlines to all different destinations. By time I got back to the gate it was almost time to board. The 737-300 arrived from LGA on time and we boarded rather quickly on this full flight. Taxi was quick as we departed on 5, turned to the east and then to the south. We broke through the clouds within a minute or two and then it was sunshine the rest of the day! Landing in Pittsburgh was early. We came in on 28L on an absolutely gorgeous Pennsylvania morning. Pulled up to Gate A2 and deplaned no more than 35 minutes after wheels up.
Departure: Late Morning
Arrival: Early Afternoon
After about an hour or so of wandering around all arms of the X at PIT and exploring the Sky Mall, I grabbed some juice from Au Bon Pain and headed over to gate B38. Our flight to CLT was full and they were taking volunteers, but I didnt want to lose my seat to SRQ on my next leg so I passed. We boarded and pushed back about 15 minutes late, and then made a taxi over to 28C. We were about 4th or 5th for takeoff. I assume we got into some wake turbulance on climbout because things got a little bumpy before smoothing out a minute or two later. This was my first time on an A321 and I was really impressed, Its a comfortable cabin with a larger and more spacious feeling than the 320 or 319 in my opinion. Flight time to CLT was just under an hour. We arrived on 18R on a 75 degree CLT spring day. Taxi to gate B7 was quick. We deplaned and I headed right to the gate for my SRQ flight as boarding was beginning in just a few minutes.
Departure: Early Afternoon
Arrival: Mid Afternoon
We pushed back right on schedule and made a quick taxi to 18L. Take off roll was quite lengthy as this plane was packed with tourists, however we finally roatated and off I was to Florida. This was my longest flight of the day, just a little over an hour and ten minutes. The whole ride was smooth and I was treated to the classic pretzels and soda. We began our descent into SRQ northeast of Tampa and basically followed Interstate 75 south. We came in on 32, something which I dont really think I did much in all the years I've been going there with my family. We turned northwest and I was treated to a lovely view of tin roofed homes and palm treed neighborhoods. Landing was uneventful and we made a quick turnoff and taxi to gate B3. I enjoy SRQ as it is essentially a nice hastle free airport that is just minutes to the beaches, something that the drive from TPA is not.
Departure: Early Afternoon
Arrival: Mid Afternoon
I got to SRQ about 1 hr 45 min before the flight since the drive from Siesta is so unpredictable with tourism traffic at its peak this time of the year. I checked in and had to wait in line for TSA to do the little bag screening thing. (Is this a Florida procedure? in BUF they just check your bags on your behalf It happened to me last year in FLL as well) I grabbed a little ice cream since I had some time to kill, and I knew that when I got back to BUF ice cream wouldnt be desireable for a few more months. I walked the brief length of the SRQ concourse, with no real excitement going on in this airport, just a DL departure to ATL and a CO departure to EWR. I walked over to the gate and waited around for the boarding process on this full but not oversold flight. We pushed back on schedule once again, I really would like to commend US for their timeliness. We waited for an ATA departure and a NW arrival before we took off. Departure was on 32 today, so the noise abatement procedure was takeoff, left to 290 and throttle back until over the gulf of mexico, where power up and continued climb are resumed. Just north of Tampa it was cloudy all the way to CLT. Our descent in was rather bumpy as CLT was experiencing some weather. We broke through the clouds and the colors on the ground were spectacular with all the rain. The greens were quite vivid and the color of some of the water, almost an orangy hue brings back memories of AA days in RDU when my family would stopover there, and the NC spring would produce these same earthly greens and browns. We taxied to a gate in the B terminal, I dont remember which one, and I was free to mosey about CLT for my 3 hour layover.
Time in CLT:
This was one of my favorite parts of this trip. I have been to CLT before on US but I never had time to explore as layovers are usually 30mins-1 hour. I headed to the duty free where i picked up a pack of Marbs and headed over to Chili's. I took a table in smoking, ordered a chipotle burger and a diet coke and smoked about 5 cigarettes after dinner. It was wonderful to be able to smoke indoors again. After Chili's i still had a good amount of time to kill. I decided to give myself a tour of CLT. I went through A to see what carriers were there, I then walked B and C and between took a break in the rocking chairs which were a nice southern atmosphere, and at this point I concluded that CLT it is my favorite airport. I headed over toward D, where I have never been and was absolutely amazed at the spaciousness of this terminal. It was absolutely gorgeous, it was just an explosion of space and really a nice addition. I also decided to check out E and F, which in my opinion is the nicest commuter terminal in the country. Very nice variety of destinations served by US Express, all the little off the trail type of places where the much of the heart of this country lives eats and sleeps every day. By this time I hiked back to the gate to get ready for the next part of my adventure.
Departure: Evening Rush (5:45)
Arrival: Pulled up to the gate late around 8:00
We left a bit late and by time we hit wheels up we were running a behind schedule, thanks to the weather. Flight was bumpy for about a half hour, then the clouds broke over the Chesepeake and I was treated to a view of the Chesepeake Bay Causeway and Tunnel as well as the Eastern Coasts of Delaware and New Jersey. Our flight path into LGA took us on quite an interesting jaunt. We flew over some sub divisions in New Jersey before turning out over the Atlantic. We then took a turn north westerly and I had a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazzano Narrows bridge. Our descent continued right over midtown, which was absolutely spectacular, getting to see that grid from above is really interesting. We then turned north and followed the Hudson Corridor I would guess before turning north east over the Bronx. we descended over the Bronx and Flushing bay where I had a great view of Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges and eventually of Shea Stadium, way off to my left. We touched down on 22 and hit the brakes to slow us down. We turned off on the second to last taxiway and then spent quite some time returning to the gate. We had to be towed in as space is at a premium in LGA from what i Understand, and deplaned late.
Eqt: ERJ-145 (Operated by Chatauqua)
This was my first time in LGA. There really isnt a whole lot to do there, but I did have a chance to walk around and strech my legs. I headed over to the commuter terminal for US Airways Express and found my gate. The plane arrived from its prior desination and we boarded on time. I love the ERJ's A seats, its the best of both worlds a window and an aisle. When people heard I was going to LGA they thought I was nuts, originally my plans called for me to go to PHL but then US came out with a new schedule and that changed. It was a nice day so maybe in bad weather LGA is a hastle. It was 9:00ish and we were able to taxi right out for a quick departure on 13. Low clouds settled over the city so I really didnt get much of a night view until we flew over the GWB where clouds broke. It seems like no matter what time of day it is the GWB is backed up, and sure enough the cars were at least a mile or two waiting to get on. We flew northwestward from this point. The cabin lights were dimmed and off to our south I was lucky to catch some of natures fireworks as some thunder and lightning action was occuring off our port side. The flight was quick and I got a whole can of beverage from a pretty young flight attendant. We came into BUF from the NE and I saw quite a nice view of the entire metro area as we approached on a cloudless evening. We came in on 23 and took up quite a bit of runway before we touched down. The deceleration was very smooth though and we taxiied right to the gate. I got out of the plane and was greeted to a nice cold Buffalo spring evening. My girlfriend was waiting for me, after she rushed to park the car when she found out our flight was getting out early.
All in all an excellent trip. I commend US Airways and I look foreward to flying them next week once again. I think they are a fine airline and I wish the best of luck to US and all its Employees in these trying times.