Topic Author
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:25 pm


Sun Jul 02, 2006 7:39 am

As an airline employee, there is no better perk than being able to travel for free anywhere your airline flies. I've been all over the country and haven't spent a dime. However, my airline doesn't fly everywhere so there are only so many places I can visit...until recently. I was promoted to Aircraft Dispatcher not too long ago. Through various reciprocal agreements, I am able to 'jumpseat' on nearly every carrier in the United States, free of charge. I put the jumpseat in quotes because in reality I am occupying a cabin seat. Well, yesterday I decided to put this new benefit to the test and head down to EYW for some good food, good drinks, and a little sun. My original routing was to be MCO-EYW on CO and EYW-FLL-MCO on US and WN. Mother nature had different plans for me.

Continental Flight 9239
Operated by Gulfstream International Airlines
Beechcraft 1900D
STD: 1035 STA: 1155
ATD: 1033 ATA: 1140
Cruise Alt: 17000

I checked the seat map of my flight on Continental.com the day before my departure and it revealed 16 of 19 seats were occupied. I wasn't too worried about it and sure enough when I arrived at the ticket counter at 0930, it was booked to 16 with 0 non-revs listed...perfect. I made my way through security using my airline ID and proceeded to Gate 2 on Airside 1. An extremely friendly Continental agent greeted me and handed me a jumpseat form to fill out. After verifying that my ID and FAA ticket were valid, she issued me a boarding pass for Seat 1A, success! Around 0955 or so, my aircraft arrived from TLH. At 1015, boarding began for my flight along with another departure to MIA. As I boarded, I introduced myself to the FO and Captain which is standard procedure for a jumpseater. He took a copy of my jumpseat form and told me to make myself comfortable. I took my seat in 1A which is a good and bad location. Its good because you have an excellent view of the cockpit as their is no cockpit door. However, there is no window in the first row so you cannot see out to the side. Having sat in the cockpit before, I would have preferred a window seat. The FO informed that boarding had been completed and we would only have 14. I asked if I could sit in Row 9, which he had no problem with. Perfect! Row 9 on the Beech is 3 seats across, all of which were empty. I slid to the back just in time for #2 engine startup. As the aircraft powered up, the captain made an announcment about our route of flight and proceeded to play a taped safety briefing. #1 fired up next and we taxied away from the gate. After a 5 minute taxi, we held short of RWY 18L briefly while a Spirit A321 departed. Next it was our turn. I must say the Beech has a good bit of power behind it. We did a no flaps takeoff and were airborne in about 2,000 feet at 1038. We made a slight turn to the right and proceeded direct to RSW. I settled in and took a look at Gulfstream's in flight magazine, which really is nothing more than an advertisement for every jewelry store in Nassau. Since I was able to slide from one side of the aircraft to the other, I was able to make out Winter Haven, Ft. Myers, Sanibel Island, and Marco Island on the way down. Passing over top RSW, we turned due south direct to KEYW. About 50 miles south of the mainland, the Keys appeared and we made a turn to the southwest to deviate around some weather. At 1120, we started a robust descent into KEYW. The island was visible off the left side of the aircraft. Flaps 17 was introduced as we leveled off around 2,000 feet. Gear down on the base leg for RWY 09 about 5 miles out. Flaps 35 and we started our turn to final giving those on the left side an outstanding view of the island. We touched down at 1138 and made the second to last turn off and proceeded to the ramp. We blocked in at 1140 making the total time 1h07m.

My bird is on the left having just arrived from TLH

The spacious Beechcraft 1900 cabin

Climbing out of MCO

Marco Island from 17,000 feet

Beautiful waters of The Gulf of Mexico

Base leg with the airport visible at the top of the image

Gear down, Flaps 35, cleared to land RWY 09


Resting before heading up to MIA

I took a cab into town and decided the first thing I needed to do was grab some lunch. If you ever have the chance to visit Key West, Schooner Wharf has probably the best Conch Fritters I have ever tasted. I washed them down with a Rum Runner and walked over to Duval St. to do a little sightseeing (barhopping). Hot and tired, I found my way to an unnamed hotel and explained that I was an airline crewmember and asked if I could use the pool for an hour or so. They obliged and I enjoyed the sun for a bit. Around 1430, I noticed very large thudnerstorms had developed northeast of the Keys back toward to mainland. I assumed they were impacting the south Florida airports and opted to head back to EYW to catch the 1610 DL nonstop to MCO.

Delta Connection Flight 6350
Operated by Chautauqua Airlines
Embraer ERJ-135
STD: 1610 STA: 1706
ATD: 1610 ATA: 1715
Cruise Alt: 23000

After getting back to the airport, I changed into suitable non-rev attire and approached the DL ticket counter. A nice, young Comair agent greeted me and we chit-chatted for a few minutes while she verified my information and put me in the computer. She explained that she was on TDY from DSM. Not a bad gig if you ask me. An all-expense paid vacation for a week to work a handful of daily flights. It strikes me as odd that EYW is a Comair station however Comair doesn't even fly there anymore. These days, its all ASA and Chautauqua. In any event, Seat Request coupon in hand, I proceeded through security into the extremely cramped departure lounge which serves DL, US, and AA. Making things very crowded today was the fact that MIA was ground stopped due to TSTMS (my assumption was right) and there were two AT7's stuck in EYW along with an ASA CR7 to ATL and our aircraft bound for MCO. Boarding began at 1545 and I was issued seat 12B. After boarding, and talking with the captain for a few minutes, I noticed seat 7A was open and boarding had been completed. I opted to take that seat instead as it was both a window and aisle seat. Paperwork complete and door closed, we were off the blocks on time. After a brief hold at the end of RWY9 for some landing traffic, we were cleared into position. As is standard for EYW departures, takeoff thrust was applied with the brakes engaged. After about 5 seconds, the brakes were released and we lurched forward. Airborne with about 1,000 feet remaining, we made a right turn to the south for about 5 miles before a right 180 brought back over the island heading north. Passing through 10,000 feet, the captain came over the PA and told us of a reroute issued by ATC that would add a few minutes to our flight time. Drink and snack service commenced and I opted for a glass of Coke and some cheese and wheat crackers. It hit the spot and lets be honest...how much do you really need on an hour flight? After picking our way around the storms, we started our descent just northeast of Sebring, FL. We passed over Florida's Turnpike and I was able to make out the Disney complex and downtown Orlando as we lined for RWY 35R. We touched down at 1710 and made the long taxi around to the gate. All three Virgin 744's along with the British 777 were there making MCO look rather impressive. We blocked in at Gate 60F at 1715 and disembarked. The boarding sign indicated the MCO and IND based crew would be continuing on to MCI. I bid them farewell and thanks and made my way to parking for a total trip time of 8 hours and 7 minutes.

My ride home getting a little wet

Final approach to 35R with MCO tower and Downtown Orlando visible


A few observations about my trip. Number one, the Beech 1900 is what flying is all about. I love being able to feel every roll and yaw. And theres just something about about the sound of those props being feathered. My Beech had seen better days but both Captain and FO were very friendly. EYW is in major need of expansion. There is a certain historical charm to the terminal building with its old neon signage and one-carousel bag claim. However, with the rising popularity of the Keys, the current facility has become overcrowded and rather run down. I found the ERJ to be a quiet, fast, and very comfortable airplane. The Chautauqua crew was also quite friendly. I hope you all find this report to be informative. Feel free to ask questions.

[Edited 2006-07-02 00:44:47]
Posts: 852
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:15 am


Sun Jul 02, 2006 8:08 am

Sounds like a great trip! Is the Beech louder than say the DHC-8 or EMB 120 Brasilia?
Not all of us can be heroes, some of us can only stand on the sidewalk and clap as they go by.
Posts: 361
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2002 1:15 am


Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:52 am

EYW is nice... Even nicer than go on an airline, is going by GA and follow the beach. Last year I did that, including following Miami Beach at 500 ft, and then the Keys all the way out to EYW.

I'm probably going to do the same later this summer, so I might write a short trip report and include som pictures.

Nice report by the way
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:13 am


Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:30 am

Nice report! I wish I had Jumpseating privilages!

Posts: 28
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 1:41 am


Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:46 pm

Nice report ! pleasure to read
Posts: 1244
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 5:57 pm


Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:06 am

Great report and pictures !!

I had great time in Key West too. We drove there from Miami and it was a spectacular drive too....

One question: That Marco island is a bit odd.. Its like every inch of the island is occupied by houses. Is it so or am I hallucinating?  Smile
Coffee - Tea or Me?
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Posts: 2021
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 9:32 am


Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:30 am

Nice report & pictures!  Cool EYW has always been a favorite little airport of mine and I hope to go there someday. In your first pic, I actually flew N190YV a little over a year ago FLL-TPA. That flight didn't really go to well melting ...the flight was 2 hours delayed and I almost missed my connecting flight,the seats were all torn, there was constantly cold air being blow on me fron the side which I couldn't stop, and it was bumpy the whole ride. Anyways, maybe next time I'll try the ERJ out.
Will you watch the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions on Sunday? Only if coach Eric Mangini resigned after a loss.
Topic Author
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:25 pm


Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:54 pm

Quoting JetBlueAUS (Reply 1):

I can't speak to the Brasilia but the Beech is most definitely louder than the Dash. I think a lot of that lends to the Noise Suppression System found on the Dash 8.

Quoting TurkishWings (Reply 5):

Yep. Houses, condos, and a handful of resorts. Its a shame really because it used to not be that way.

Quoting Mke717spotter (Reply 6):

I can definitely attest to the cold air. And the funny thing is, I have never been able to figure out where it comes from.

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