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Summer Vacation Time: USAirways SYR-DCA-SYR

Thu Jul 21, 2005 8:45 am

I finally got to take some time off from work, this time it is off to Washington DC to attend my 6 week old nephew's baptism and spend some quality time with the family.

Outbound: 15 July 2005,
USAirways 3353, SYR-DCA, operated by Chautauqua Airlines
Embraer ERJ 145, seat 3A.

I've said it before and I will say it again, I thoroughly enjoy flying in and out of SYR. Small airport means short walks and short lines. I parked in about the farthest parking spot and hiked my way to the terminal. Where I quickly dodged a bunch of people just standing in line to an empty check-in kiosk. I still wonder why people seem to ignore the kiosks. Even if you are checking luggage you don't need to keep standing in line waiting for an agent, oh well.

Today I would be flying on an ER4 down to National Airport:

The flight was maybe half full, perhaps 60-70% at the most. My plane pushed on-time and we taxied out to runway 10 for departure. Our flight time was scheduled for 51 minutes. Shortly after liftoff we turned south and began climbing up into building cumulus clouds. I've never been that up close to the billowing clouds, but on climb out it looked like you could reach out the window and touch them. Really quite the sight, should have taken a picture of it.

Otherwise the flight was pretty uneventful. The flight attendant came through and did a standard drink/snack service. However I declined for this leg as I was dozing in and out for much of the flight. And with the 30 minute rule in effect for this flight, there wasn't much time for anything.

The only thing of note was the continually building storm clouds on the horizon. Our arrival path took us over downtown Baltimore and down the I-95 corridor into metro Washington. Because of the weather situation ATC had us do one trip through the holding pattern before releasing us onto the River Visual Approach to runway 19.

Upon arrival my plane taxied up to the commuter parking ramp just north of the C concourse. Which also coincided with the start of the rain. Because of the rain and large amount of gate checked baggage they held us on the plane for about 5 minutes as they loaded up the bags onto the shuttle bus. Once they were onboard, and the rain had let up, we deplaned and got onto the bus.

After exiting security I was meet by my 2 and a half year old niece Emma (who was VERY happy to see me) my 5 week old nephew Nathan (who was asleep), and my sister-in-law. Since I had no checked luggage it was off to the car, lead by my niece.

Inbound: 20 July 2005
USAirways 534, DCA-SYR
Boeing 737-300, seat 11D

It was surprisingly busy early afternoon on a Wednesday at National. I was dropped curbside at 1:30 pm to check-in for my 3 pm flight home. Again I am frustrated by people and their inability to use the check-in kiosks. Plenty of open kiosks at the main check-in counter, but it seemed that everyone was queuing up for the agents. Luckily, there are several kiosks away from the ticket counter that were available after a quick wait. And despite the long look of the security line I was through it in ~5 minutes, even stuck behind two people who were too stupid to remove all metal jewelry, watches, etc. Thankfully the TSA agent was wise enough to have them stand aside and let others through before they rescreened them.

Today's flight to Syracuse was mostly full, and there were seats available in first class for purchase ($50). However for a 50 minute flight where you get nothing more than a bigger seat I didn't go for it. And as it turned out it wasn't necessary, as the middle seat was vacant on this flight.

In-flight service consisted of a standard drink/snack service. And my in-flight entertainment consisted of Bob Woodward's new book on Deep Throat.

With mostly clear skies and lower temperatures the flight was smooth all the way up to Syracuse. Arrival was on-time and I quickly made my way out to the parking lot to go bail out my car.

Since it was such a short flight (~50 minutes) there isn't much service. But overall it was satisfactory. This time a year ago most of the DCA flights were operated by Dash-8s. So the upgrade to regional jets and 737s is pretty significant, especially for loyal Dividend Miles members flying upfront.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
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RE: Summer Vacation Time: USAirways SYR-DCA-SYR

Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:54 am

Good report. I fly up to SYR once a year from MIA (usually via PHL) and it's always a pleasure going in and out of SYR - even when it's snowing (I go up end of Feb or early March).

I suppose we'll never see another mainline UA or AA aircraft up there, but at least NW, US and B6 are still flying mainline equipment.
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RE: Summer Vacation Time: USAirways SYR-DCA-SYR

Thu Jul 21, 2005 1:06 pm

Quoting N62NA (Reply 1):
I suppose we'll never see another mainline UA or AA aircraft up there, but at least NW, US and B6 are still flying mainline equipment.

I'm confident that AA will bring it back once their agreement with FAs ends in 2006 (states that AA will only fly Eagle to Upstate NY; no mainline). UA, I feel, we may see back for the summer season in 2006. BUF, ROC and ALB see UA mainline this summer from ORD, and I feel SYR will snag a flight or two as well next summer.

Great t/r, DesertJets! I love flying in and out of SYR as well- gotta love getting off the plane, getting your baggage, and being on the road within 10 minutes after arrival!

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