I booked this flight 13 days before travel for $285. The main reason I chose HP
was price alone. I was fine with flying America West, and gladly chose them over the only competitive alternative- Northwest. Midwest was my first choice, but their prices were out of the park. So, without further a due, here is my trip report to Los Angeles on America West.
I made the mistake to have my friends over to hang out the night before my flight, figuring I could very easily pack afterward. I was wrong, and I didn’t finish until 2:30. 5:00 came way too quickly, and I was running around the house like a madman until I was ready to leave at just after 6 A.M.
Traffic wasn’t bad and we arrived at the airport at 6:30, despite my father’s best efforts to maintain the speed limit (flipping off a truck driver on his tail in the process).
I had already printed my boarding pass online, so all I needed to do was check my bag. After being dropped off, I went to the curbside check in attendant who directed me to the ticket counter for some reason. No big deal, as the line was very short. After putting my bag through screening, I headed upstairs to the Concourse C security checkpoint. The line was also quite short. When I went through, my belt buckle kept setting things off, so I got significantly wanded…another lovely experience.
Concourse C is in the process of a very needed and extensive renovation. The middle portion is completely torn up, but as you can see it will look very nice when all is said and done. You must walk through this construction area to get to the HP
/F9/DL gate areas. Later in the project, the tip of the concourse will be transformed into a hammer-head with much more space and gates.
The waiting areas at the 4 end gates were pretty busy. I took this opportunity to take some pics.
My plane, almost ready to board. HP
could do some housecleaning at MKE
. They have 4 baggage trains for 2 daily flights
. Also, this is really gate C26, contrasting with the jetway sign.
A Comair CRJ-700 ready to depart for CVG
The single international gate on the right, and 1 of a trio of new American Eagle gates on the left.
-80s during the morning rush.
Boarding began on time, and I was in group 2. The crew was very nice and warmly welcomed me aboard. The 737-300 was in pretty decent shape. It was a let down when HP
all 737, but they are still a very nice and capable airplane. The drawback is the lack of video screens and the hot buy on board options. Oh well, I’ll live.
Delta 732 bound for ATL
We pushed back on time at 7:35, with nearly every seat occupied. When we passed by Concourse D, I was surprised to see a US A319. I later found out that it is scheduled on the first morning flight to CLT
. Most of the mornings traffic was using runway 7R, but we would be taking off of 1L. We had a lengthy hold short of 7R, then taxied to the threshold of 1L were we waited nearly 10 minutes as 5 or so YX
aircraft departed 7R. I guess that’s what you get when you’re the hometown airline. HP
621 finally took to the sky around 7:55 after a short takeoff roll.
440th airlift wing in the background.
Climbing over Milwaukee’s south side
Some lake near the IL
After takeoff we made our swooping turn to the southwest. After climbing to 33,000, the beverage service was started. Though I could have greatly used some caffeine, I felt like 7-up, which was served with 3 biscoffs. After the beverage service, the flight attendants did another round with the buy on board options. Without the hot options, that just leaves the $2 muffin and $5 snack pack. I wasn’t very hungry yet and was content with my 3 cookies.
To pass the time, I read through the in-flight magazine about Las Vegas news and dining reviews. When we were over the Rockies, I zoned out and drifted off for 45 minutes until we started descent into the Phoenix area.
Definitely into the west..
Over a cloudy desert, beginning descent into the valley of the sun.
We descended north of PHX
, then turned around to land on runway 8.
America West Arena
The BOB: Bank One Ballpark
I experimented with taking a video of landing during final approach. I set the quality levels as high as I could and hoped for the best. It turned out really well. For memory reasons, I saved the file on my friend’s computer in L.A. Hopefully I’ll get it sent and hosted in the near future.
After landing, we turned off to the left (not where the terminal is) and came to a stop. The captain made an announcement that there was a ‘traffic jam’ in the terminal area, and that we would wait a few minutes for things to clear up. Finally, we got moving again and taxied into gate A17 at 10:40.
Upon exiting the aircraft, I checked the monitors that said my flight to LAX
would be leaving from A27- right down this same finger of T4
. My 757 was just about ready to begin boarding. I was in group 4, so I walked around a bit and embraced my first 45 minutes of Phoenix in 10 years.
Finally, it was time to board group 4. This 757 was in the normal color scheme. I joined a line in the sweltering jetway, and took my seat in 6B
. Boarding music and a video of landscapes was being played. The seat was decent, although there may have been more legroom on the 737.
Boarding went smoothly, and we had an on time pushback. We taxied to runway 7L
where we joined a line up of about 8 other aircraft. This line went fast enough and soon I could hear the powerful RR
engines spooling up.
Tried to get all the Ted’s. Definitely a better shot of the lovely D8
Feel the power!
Flight time was going to be an announced 50 minutes with a quick cruise of 33,000. Shortly after we reached 10,000 feet, Cranium was put on the video screens. Its not interactive at all, but I guess it did partially entertain me for a bit. All I remember is most of the questions being ridiculously easy. A quick beverage service followed. I like many others didn’t get anything on this quick hop. The woman seated behind me asked the f/a if there was a meal. He kindly joked about serving lunch to 190 people in 50 minutes. The flight was smooth and we began to descend while entering the inland empire.
San Bernardino Valley
Lovely clear view of downtown L.A.
Welcome to LAX
We touched down on runway 24R and turned off near Aussie Land. We then taxied to gate 11 about 10 minutes early. After briefly hunting for Yolanda, I succumbed to heading down to the baggage claim. After waiting a good 20 minutes, the bags finally started to come off carousel 4. I saw mine coming, and grabbed it off. Before I knew, it the zipper had broken, and all of my shit was in a heap on the floor. I hurriedly crammed everything back in and jarred the zippers just enough to stay shut. I was then met by my friends Peter (AirVB), Katie, and her mom. After carefully wheeling my suitcase to the parking garage, I learned that we were headed to get my long awaited delicacy…IN-N-OUT!
In-n-out sure is a great burger, not to mention the fact that there were 4 747 arrivals while I was there. Though the burger held too much draw to bother with my camera, I did try my hand when it was time to leave. I think my first attempt speaks for itself.
After a great week in the Los Angeles area, it was time to head back home.
We left Palos Verdes around 2 p.m. for my 3:50 flight to Phoenix. We were in the T1 garage by 2:30 and headed down to check in. The line was pretty short, and the only substantial wait came to check the bag through security screening. As the security line was non-existent, we went up to have a last drink at Encounter Restaurant. Very cool. Between the shagadelic theme and great views, I’d definitely recommend a stop when at LAX
Peter and I…silhouettes at least.
By 3:20 we were saying our goodbyes and I headed up to the gate area. I was again departing out of gate 11, right alongside another simultaneous PHX
flight. I was in group 4, so I had a bit of time to check out the other T1 action.
767 preparing for departure to Fiji.
Afternoon arrival from LHR
Finally, it was time for group 4 to board. The A320 had the standard interior (not new leather) and was in good condition. I found the legroom to be a bit more cramped than the 737 and 757 for some reason. There was a slight delay, and we pushed back 10 minutes late.
We pushed back to a hold position just off the active taxiway to the threshold in order for the safety video to be played. After this was competed, we promptly departed 24L and did a southerly turn taking us between the Palos Verdes peninsula and Catalina Island.
Over the O.C.
The flight was a bit turbulent, keeping the seat belt sign on for most of the short flight. Cranium was shown on the screens again. A quick drink service occurred, and I declined. We soon began descent into Phoenix. This time, approach came from the south with a 180 degree turn to land on 25R.
Note the AA MD
-80 on parallel approach- just above the wing.
Seemed to be a little high.
After a very smooth touchdown, the A320 braked very quickly and we headed to A19.
By the time I was inside the terminal, it was 5:30. I checked the screens which said my flight back home was departing way from B28. That’s about the farthest walk I could possibly have. The reason for this was the 737’s previous flight from Los Cabos. My walk to the international concourse was fast enough with the many moving walkways. I wish I had a bit more time to explore Terminal 4 (especially the new SWA concourse). The international area was pretty vacant except for a few express flights throughout the west. I found it a bit ironic that it was all domestic flights listed on the ‘international departures’ board. Contrary to popular belief, Wisconsin is not a foreign country.
As I was booked in 17E, I approached the ticket counter to see if I could do better. The flight was totally booked and I seemed to be out of luck. Boarding was done by row number and not boarding number for the first time of the trip. Luckily for me, two friends were occupying row 17 when I arrived and asked me if I wanted the window seat. Hell yeah!
We pushed back a few minutes late and the manual safety demonstration was done as we taxied to runway 28. Takeoff was pretty short considering the Phoenix heat, and I was on my way back to Milwaukee.
Still steaming in the early evening
After a smooth and uneventful climb up to 33,000, there was beverage service. I had a 7-up along with 2 packages of peanuts. Immediately following this came the buy on board food service. Pringles and cookies were available for $2, and a snack box for $5. I hadn’t eaten since lunch so the snack pack sounded good. It contained tortilla chips and dip, breadsticks with cheese packets, a fruit bowl, and Nestle’s Buncha’ Crunch. It was pretty good, and hit the spot enough to hold me over. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture.
Before sunset I was treated to some spectacular views.
After this snack, it was time to settle down and relax. I listened to Faith Hill’s new album “Fireflies”, which was kindly given to me by Peter. It is available wherever fine music is sold and I highly recommend it!
After 3 hours of flight, it was time to descend into the Midwestern night. Our approach to MKE
was a first for me. We came in form the southwest and turned directly north. Then came a turn toward the city and a bank onto final directly over downtown Milwaukee. We floated over 19R for a long time and finally touched down near the halfway point. We arrived exactly on time at gate C26, and I trudged out through the construction zone. In a melancholy mood to be home, I was happy and surprised to see that 3 of my best friends were waiting for me in the terminal. We went down to claim my bag (which thankfully didn’t burst open again) which came fast enough. It was off to Denny’s for a late night meal before I could finally hit the sack after a long day.
I had a great time. America West is a nice airline that did pretty much everything I expected of them. With their consistent low fares and solid service, I would not hesitate to fly with them in the future. Best of luck to the new U.S. Airways in this time of transition and excitement!
I hope you found this report suitably entertaining and thank you for reading!