American Airlines 767-300
MAN > ORD
For a change of pace this year (and to save some money) I took a flight with AA from Manchester to Cleveland connecting through Chicago.
I was travelling to Cleveland to see my girl friend who lives within driving distance of CLE even though there is a small town airport near her at Erie.
I arrived at MAN's Terminal 3 nice and early as check-in opened, as I'd arranged to meet my friend who works for FCA for breakfast.
I had the usual questions at check-in and was given the once over by the secuity staff about my visits to the States and why I was taking them.
I met my friend and we sat and ate in terminal 1's cafe as it provides a great view over the apron and part of the runway.
Time was ticking on and I proceeded to the Security check point in T3 and went through without queuing or any problems. This was the first time I had ever departed from T3 and was expecting a small terminal and that’s what I got but in all fairness it was functional but just a bit crowed around the shops and bar area.
The departure area around the gate was much better suited to handing the number of international passengers you would expect on a wide body aircraft and we were certainly a full flight today!!
I was in Group 5 for boarding so I stayed seated while everyone else, even those people in my group were all crowding round the doors and blocking the first groups from boarding, it makes me smile because everyone has a seat its not Ryanair!
Once I was seated I took in everything the cabin had to offer and on this older AA 767 and that wasn't really much, no personal IFE and I did feel that I had less leg room and space than compared to the 777 CO flight I took the year before, maybe I should cut down on the Pizza!
I also noted that the cabin crew were all middle aged not a young one among them unless they were all hiding in First Class, the cabin crew were professional and helpful but I got the feeling that they wouldn't take any crap from difficult passengers but I'm not one of them so I was ok
Push back was on time and we made our way to 24L with a few commuter BA's in front the wait was short for take off.
Once airborne we made our way on the usual track across the Atlantic going just past the bottom tip of Greenland and down through Canada approaching ORD from the North (from what I could make out)
Its quite usual to not have any moving map or information about speed and height but this was the case on this flight and the flight deck only talked to the passengers twice so I could only guess where I was using flight time as a guide.
The cabin service was very good and there were many drink runs made by the cabin crew (about 4 as I remember) so I was well watered and fed through out the flight and it was nice to have an little fresh Pizza snack before landing.
We seemed to make an fairly direct approach to ORD with no holding as far as I could tell and landing was fairly soft with steady breaking, we seemed to have left the runway just to the left of Terminal 5 at ORD so taxing was short.
Making my way through Terminal 5 (where all international arrivals terminate) I was under the impression I was in some sort of race to reach immigration as people were pushing past the slow plodders, I also noticed the distance from the gate to immigration as it was immense! but it got the old blood flowing in the legs after a 7 hour flight.
I was photographed and finger scanned in what I would say was a 10 min wait which wasn't too bad and I was happy to find my case was already on the belt!
Just as you leave Terminal 5 customs area to the left is a separate channel for AA transfer passengers so I made use of that and left my case with them as I was now entering the second leg of my journey.
American Eagle CRJ
ORD > CLE
I took the speedy transit system to Terminal 3 where my Cleveland fight would depart from in about 4 hours time. Entering Terminal 3 I was face with what I can only call a sea of people all hustling for the security checkpoint queue and check-in desks, I looked around and noticed that the terminal was perhaps a little dated and there seemed to be modernisation work taking place around the checkpoints. The que I joined was long and unorganised and thanks to an AA employee I was told there was a quieter line at the other end of the Check-in hall (down near the Alaskan desks) and she was right!
As I had a long wait I took a walk down the different piers in the AA terminal and was amazed by how busy this place was, I certainly had never seen this many people in an airport at anyone time, it was certainly not for the agoraphobic but a paradise for a spotter like me
Departure time rolled around at gate H3a (I think!) and there was a CRJ sat outside ready for us to board or so I thought! *crackle muffle* "ladies and gentlemen, we apologise for the delay of this flight but this is due to the aircraft being......'broken'" I sat there smiling to myself at this highly detailed description of the aircrafts problem and all the regular American passengers started to walk up to the gate agent to complain about the situation.
About 30 mins later they informed us that an delayed aircraft to Atlanta would be used for our flight instead and told us to proceed round the corner to the next gate.
Once boarding had completed there was another short delay due to slots for take off but after that a strange incident occurred.
While sat at the gate there were a few electrical noises and the lights flickered and then went out and the a/c also shut down. A few mins later the captain explained that the APU has malfunctioned and they can not start the aircraft and we would have to wait for an engineer! Ground power was restored soon after this.
Another hour past, still in our seats on the CRJ which was now getting too small for these aggravated passengers, one particular passenger sat behind me was beginning to mouth off at staff, not particularly helpful I thought but she was saying "this happens all the time at Chicago!" but I was content to sit and watch the aircraft go by
Shortly after the door was closed and push back began and one engine crackled into life. Once we were on our way to the runway the other engine was started and we were shortly CLE bound.
I joked to the guy next to me that the AA staff at CLE had probably all gone home, he said "most likely" and that the service domestically on American Eagle wasn't always the best.
To recap I was impressed by the staff on the transatlantic flight but the interior of the 763's could do with updating the only negative was with the ORD > CLE flight and hopefully if I take this service again it will be just a one off!
My next flight is booked with US Airways flying MAN > PHL > ERI next March.