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Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Sun Dec 18, 2005 7:29 pm

Date: December 17, 2005
Airline: Horizon Air
Aircraft: Bombardier Dash 8-Q400
Route: Flight 2446 LAX-RNO
Time: 515pm-645pm

Note: All pictures were taken with my camera phone as I am too lazy to bring a real camera and I want to be discreet while taking photos.

I normally fly this route on United with a connection in SFO to make this otherwise routine trip a little more exciting. But since I am enrolled with a Gold Challenge with AA I went with the Horizon codeshare to help me get the Q-points I need. I was a little hesitant about flying Horizon as I hate their terminal at LAX, and kinda wanted to fly a mainline jet. But I had heard that if you ever get the chance to fly on the Q400 you should take the chance, so I did and I have to say I was very pleased.

I checked in at 215pm about 3 hours early at the almost empty Alaska checkin area. The ceiling is very low and there is very little sense of space. It seems you are forced to check in with a kiosk and check your bags with an agent. I didn't see a place for normal agent checkin. No big deal the machine was easy enough and there was no line at all. I hate the boarding passes the machine gives you though, they are flimsy and I prefer a real boarding card like on AA or UA. Bag check was extremely quick, the agent was not very friendly but got the job done quickly, so I guess nothing really to complain about. I walked up to the second level and got in the short line for security which took about 5min. I made my way down to Burger King and got my first meal of the day. I walked around and took some pictures of the abysmal terminal. I am convinced this is the worst terminal at LAX with close runner ups T2 and T6.

Main hallway after security

Entrance to the non Alaska side of the terminal

Red stripes I believe left over from the TWA days

Main Alaska waiting area

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 450pm, but there was no real organisation. A crowd began to gather at this time to board and no announcement was made as to when the flight would board or if it had started boarding already. It was pretty disorganised as to what was going on. Any anouncement they made was difficult to hear. Main boarding began at about 500pm and I was led down the jetway down to stairs onto the apron. There is something special about being down on the apron and see the planes up close from a different view I really enjoy.

Alaska MD-80 waiting for its next flight

Getting ready to climb aboard

I only have been on one other regional aircraft so I don't have much to compare to but the aircraft had a more spacious feel than the CRJ-200. I was suprised how bright and modern the cabin looked, and also the length of the aircraft. It had a nice almost mainline feel to it. I overheard a poor passenger complaining to the captain "Why can't they use jets on this route? They are so much nicer. American Eagle flies their nice jets faster." To which the captain responded "Those jets can fly almost the speed of sound, but we don't for economical reasons. This aircraft only has a 3 minute longer flying time on this route opposed to a jet." I understand the main benefit of the Q400s over RJ's is its lighter for these short missions. Anyway I made my way down to the back of the aircraft and sat down in my aisle seat. The leather seat was suprisingly comfortable.

Picture of the cabin during boarding

We pushed back and a nice buzz was created as the props roared to life. We sped down to 24L and took off rather quickly. It was a little bumpy but the acceleration was powerful. We got up to cruising altitude which I believe was 24,000 feet. Multiple rounds of drinks were served with a light snack. The FAs were very friendly and real professional. Flying time was about 1hour 15min and we touched town on time at 645pm. I walked off glad I chose Horizon and had a positive experience. The Q400 is an amazing aircraft that feels like a jet more than anything. The service was very friendly and I think I will take Horizon on this route from now on. The only bad side was the poor check in experience and the abysmal terminal. Thanks for reading, comments welcome.

[Edited 2005-12-18 11:34:48]
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Sun Dec 18, 2005 10:21 pm

Yeah I much prefer Turbo Props to jets, it's not as often nowadays that you get to go on a propellor driven aircraft. Earlier this year I flew from Manchester to London City with VLM on a Fokker 50, great experience. I don't know the differences of how a Fokker 50 and a Dash 8 feel like to fly in, but Turboprops are far more interesting to fly on than Jets. Nice Trip Report by the way!

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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Mon Dec 19, 2005 2:57 am

Thanks for the trip report. I always wondered about why AS operated RNO-LAX. It seems kind of odd.

Anyways your pictures turned out quite well especially for a camera phone. Terminal 3 in LAX is really horrible. There is never enough seating in the AS area since AS has so many flights. Also I can't say I am a fan of that style of architecture. You would think that a terminal like that would have great views, but it doesn't compared to other LAX terminals.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Mon Dec 19, 2005 4:31 am

Quoting Planecrazy2 (Thread starter):
I hate the boarding passes the machine gives you though, they are flimsy and I prefer a real boarding card like on AA or UA.

I'm not much of a fan of them either, but it doesn't really matter, as long as it gets me on the plane. Every time I've used a kiosk with AA, it's been the flimsy paper boarding passes, as have HA, DL, US, and HP. The only time I've seen a kiosk print on regular boarding cards is at UA, and not always. At both ABQ and CHS, when I used a kiosk, the boarding pass was printed on the flimsy paper.
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Mon Dec 19, 2005 5:52 am

Nice report thanks, and the pic's from your phone are pretty good!

I've not flown the Q400, only the -200 & -300, hopefully Air Nostrum will get some as they are my most likely chance of getting a flight on one.

Thanks, Mark
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:29 pm

yeah, i agree, the dash8-400 would be my choice over a crj any day on any flight. if you look at block times on most routes that qx/as fly the planes, the dash-8-400 doesnt lose much time on longer routes. a loss of 10 minutes would gladly be accepted if i could fly on a comfortable dash rather than be crammed into the tin can of a crj. i as well have wondered how well qx does on the lax-rno leg, but then again, since swa doesnt publish schedules/fares, i am sure qx picks up a chunk of intl traffic through the lax flights.

what was the load on the flights above, i dont see that mentioned?
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:55 pm

Quoting Flyboy7974 (Reply 5):
the dash8-400 would be my choice over a crj any day on any flight

I agree. I'd pay more to have that flight over, say, and erj too. QX service is great too. Free beer  Smile
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:22 am

The load was totaly full, every seat seemed to be filled. Alaska used to fly this route with md-80s a couple times a day but I believe there was no demand for first class so they went with more frequency, and all coach.
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Sun Jan 01, 2006 1:34 am

My wife and I took a LAX-RNO-LAX post-Christmas round trip a this week on the Alaska/Horizon Dash 8 Q400 and the trip from a pilot-passengers standpoint could not have been more fun. It took me back to my Saab 340 days though this 340-350 knot bird blows the tail feathers off the Saab.

I completely agree regarding the time-warp one experiences in LAX terminal 3. As one in his early forties, the place dates back to my infancy and looking around at the ghost of TWA one can tell all the architectural mastery of Eero Saarinen definitely went to the other coast at JFK.

As for the trip, the canned clearance is for FL 240 northbound, FL250 southbound, the maximum certificated altitude for the Q400 unless the passenger O2 system is modified (whereupon it's 27,000.) This is where the turboprop can't compete with a FL410 Boeing 737-700. And that's half the fun!

On our northbound trip a fairly strong cold front off the Pacific packed up against the Sierra Nevada mountains extending tops at or above our aircrafts ceiling, and moderate to severe Rime ice was forecast to 16,000 according to my computer weather briefing prior to driving to LAX. I love bad weather! The little 61,000 lb.Canadian bird bounced around a little in the buildups but shrugged it off. We were deliberately sitting in front of the leading edge so I could take a gander if any ice was building on the boots during decent. (My wife knows she's married to a grown kid.) There was just a faintest white line of Rime as the aircraft broke out of the high ceiling above Washoe Valley with the Reno airport on our 10 o'clock position on a high downwind. A fun flying experience through weather over the tallest mountains in the contiguous United States.

For aircraft enthusiasts I highly recommend this trip. The De Havilland accelerates on T/O like a 2006 Corvette ZO-6 off the blocks, those big prop blades provide plenty of static thrust. The Q400 is a fine a/c and it is a shame airline companies and the flying public are so obsessed with pure turbine aircraft.
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Fri Jan 06, 2006 6:09 am

Great report. Horizon is the only Q400 operator in the states and I am on the right coast so I hope to fly them sometime. I just wish they would offer a SAN-RNO nonstop (do they?). I agree, flying on props is much more fun for people like us...flew on an E120 a few times SAN-LAX and it was pretty interesting.

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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:54 pm

Quoting IRelayer (Reply 9):
I just wish they would offer a SAN-RNO nonstop (do they?).

Horizon doesn't fly to SAN at all.
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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Fri Jan 06, 2006 1:27 pm

That was a fantastic report. I have been on Dash 8s only twice and both times they were with Air Canada, and as such they were the older models. I have a question tho, how did you get a picture of the plane while you were boarding? Last time I attempted to take a photo in the jetway area in DEN I got into trouble by the flight attendants for national security concerns. Was it just the attendant being overprotective or is that an actual violation of United States law. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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RE: Horizon Q400 LAX-RNO W/ Pics

Fri Jan 06, 2006 2:40 pm

Well nobody really saw me since I just held up my cell phone to take the picture. There was a backup boarding the plane as people were stowing things so there was just a line of people standing on the tarmac waiting to board. I'm not an expert with the law so I can't comment, but I try to remain discreet. I would not want to risk being questioned.

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