Photo © Bob Logan
As anyone who lives in DC knows, I-66 in rush hour is a royal pain in the ass, and as I was flying out of DCA, I had to take this route to get there from my house, so I left VERY early. And got to the airport VERY early. Check-in was a breeze- a nice and helpful AA agent checked me in using the kiosks, and I was able to move my seats for both legs further up from 19B/27F to 7B/17D. Then it was off to leave my bags with the oh-so-helpful TSA guys at the baggage dropoff- note to TSA- when you say "Stand There" indicate WHERE 'THERE' IS- don't yell at us for standing in the wrong place! Morons. Otherwise, security was a breeze, and an hour after leaving home, I was at the gate. With 2 1/2 hours to kill... Boarding began on-time at 8, and this was a full flight. Still, the flight attendants did an amazing job, offering several drink and Nutri-Grain Bar passes. Before arrival, connecting gates were read out, and the inflight magazine was duly swiped for navigational purposes through ORD (yeah, right ) We arrived on-time at gate K6B and I was off to my connecting flight at Gate H11A
Photo © Jonathan Derden - Spot This!
Photo © Paul Robbins
After a quick detour to McGrease for 'food' I arrived at my gate in time to see an ex-TWA MD-83 pull up to our gate, and much to my relief, this jet still had the MRTC configuration, which was nice, as it was another full flight. My seatmate in 17E was a rather interesting fellow- part of a group of ship construction workers off to the naval base in San Diego to replace the shaft/propeller of a submarine there. He spent the flight drinking rum-and-cokes and talking about how they were going to go to Tijuana and get themselves 'one of them $20 hookers'. In-flight service consisted of 2 drink and pretzel services, and one pass-through with the $3 snack boxes- which actually had a decent amount of food in it. This was my first time in SAN, so the landing was exciting- you really do feel like you are going to land in the middle of some neighborhood. As with my previous flight, we arrived on-time at gate 23, and my bags were waiting for me when I got down to the baggage claim.
Photo © Art Brett
Checking in was chaos- it was snowing at ORD, so there were delays galore, and the lines at check-in were enormous. After a good 45-min wait, I had my tickets, and breezed through security as (strangely) there was no line there. Since I had a long wait, I grabbed one of the rocking chairs over by gates 21/20 and watched the traffic as I played AIRLINE 5 on my laptop. After a while, I went down to Bloody Mary's for a beer and a burger, and from there proceeded back to gate 23 to wait. About 30 min before boarding, a NW flight arrived, and shortly thereafter, a very urgently-made message began to repeat over the pa system, asking for a NW employee to go to the check-in counter for customer assistance. This was followed by the most bizarre sight I have ever seen in an airport- a NW employee went running past holding a styrofoam box with a neon green sticker that read "Hand Carry- Human Eyeballs". Kudos to NW for doing these urgent courier duties, but NOT what you expect to see in an airport! Boarding began a bit late, at 1045, and among the pre-boards were 5 babies. Again, it was a full flight, and this aircraft was already in the LRTC configuration. Service was one drink/ pretzel pass, and just about everyone (except the babies) fell asleep. The flight actually flew by, as I spent most of it chatting with my seatmate in 8A. It was mostly clear out for most of the flight, and we kept trying to guess what city we were over. Our arrival to ORD was delayed by 30-40 min due to weaker tailwinds than normal on the route, and we pulled into K18 around 530 and spilled out into a surprisingly busy ORD.
Photo © Shaun Edelstein
Once again, I made my way to gate H11A, where I only had to wait an hour for our flight to begin boarding. It looked like it would be a fairly full flight sitting at the gate, but surprisingly, it was not. I had the whole exit row to myself! Which was nice, since it appears as if this was also a LRTC-Configured jet. Before push-back, we were de-iced, which blurred my view out the window for the entire flight, which was unfortunate, since we landed on RWY 19 at DCA, which normally affords a magnificent view of Washington DC. Service was just a drink pass, no snacks, and we had a continual countdown of how much longer we had until the 30-min rule took effect for us. I spent the trip reading and looking out the window. After arrival, we had to wait for about 5 minutes for our gate to open up, and after another 5 minutes by the baggage claim, I was back on the road, heading back to the office.
Overall, this was a great trip on American, and much to my surprise, AA charged half of what other airlines wanted, and was even 1/4 of what Alaska wanted (despite my flights having AS flight numbers!) I don't think I met a single surly employee, and the service was great. Thank you AA, and I hope you all enjoyed my report.