Tuesday, June 29, 2006
US Airways 559
Pittsburgh (PIT) – Fort Myers (RSW)
Airbus A319 – N754UW (old colors)
Departure Gate: B36
Arrival Gate: D3
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:00 a.m.
Actual Departure Time: 9:20 a.m.
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:24 a.m.
Actual Arrival Time: 11:36 a.m.
Flight Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
I haven’t posted one of these in a while, so here goes. I was meeting some of my family in RSW for some time off, staying at Marco Island, about an hour from RSW. My family had flown in on DL the day earlier.
After taking the shuttle bus from the parking lot, I arrived in the terminal just after 7 a.m. for the 9 a.m. flight, to find a sizeable line at the US Airways check-in. The line moved rather quickly and shortly after a male ticket agent instructed me to use “Position 13.” Not seeing any numbered signs, I assumed the open check-in kiosk that some lady was blocking was the one. The woman grudgingly moved, like it was her right to stand there or something.
The kiosk, while slow, retained my reservation and I was checked-in and ready to go, confirmed in seat 15A in economy. The same agent who shuffled me to ‘Position 13’ grabbed some baggage tags for a group going to Spokane and then noticed me. “Fort Myers?” “Yes.” “How many ya got?” “Just one.” “Okay, you gotta take ‘em over there to get ‘em screened.”
After dropping my bag off with the screeners, I proceeded down a level to the checkpoint. The line was long, but the screeners were moving passengers through efficiently. It wasn’t much more than a five-minute wait. I completely forgot about the new checkpoint in the old commuter terminal. I guess there was no line there at all.
I squeezed into the crowded transit to the X-terminal, and did some looking through the AirMall stores to kill some extra time. I casually walked down the B concourse – it was one of the two or three busy times of the day here. Flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, New York-LGA, and Boston seemed to all be boarding around the same time. There was a crowded-looking 757 going to Charlotte at B38.
I found B36, where the Star Alliance A319 going to LGA was just pushing back as I watched some 28L departures from the boarding area. Minutes later, N754UW, an old-colors A319, pulled in from the hangar. No heritage livery today.
The jetway just pulled back from this 737-300, parked at B34, going to BOS as US 380.
A Star Alliance A319, N702UW, pushing back from B36. Off to LGA as US 404.
The LGA and BOS flights both pushed back, ready to taxi.
N754UW pulls into Gate B36.
The gate agent finished up her knitting (of all things) in the boarding area and joined another agent at the podium. I guess when you have to pass time between flights…
Boarding was about on time, I was in Zone 4. As I boarded, a female flight attendant greeted everyone onboard. The airplane was noticeably clean and fresh looking.
A 737-300 loading up for West Palm Beach.
I took my seat at 15A and looked out the window to see a 737-300 parked next to us. Two other male flight attendants were closing the overhead bins and checking for seatbelts. The captain was friendly, welcoming us onboard, giving our routing, cruising altitude, and some weather information. A few minutes later, the captain informed us there was an indicator in the flight deck that said the emergency doors weren’t armed for flight, but that it was just a computer error. A maintenance worker then came onboard, asked the people in the exit row to move while he removed a panel from the exit door and reset something. He did the same with the other exit door, and quickly left.
Minutes later we pushed back and the engines started (along with the safety video), just a few minutes behind schedule. We gave way to a Delta MD-88 and a Beech 1900, then taxied past the hangars, crossed runway 28C, and down Taxiway F to runway 28L.
Quick cabin shot during the safety video.
Taxiing past the US Airways hangar.
The line for departure was short. After the Beechcraft departed, we were in position on Runway 28L and the engines were taken to full power. The A319 didn’t seem very powerful, and the takeoff roll seemed long, but we were in the air soon enough only to start a long left turn towards Clarksburg, West Virginia, our first waypoint.
Here's the video of the takeoff from Rwy 28L at Papa:
The climb away from Pittsburgh was a bumpy ride, but we seemed to reach our altitude, FL380, fairly quickly and things smoothed out.
The service began about 45 minutes into the flight. The one female F/A served First, while the two male flight attendants served Economy. Beverages and honey-roasted peanuts were served. Even though there were probably all of five or six peanuts in the bag (not kidding), they were good. I’m a big honey roasted fan.
The ride was smooth as we traveled down the spine of the Appalachians, through the Carolinas, over eastern Georgia, and down along Florida’s Gulf Coast. There wasn’t much to see, the eastern U.S. was hazy today, but it really cleared out over Florida. We began to descend north of the Tampa Bay area. Along the way, there was a clear view of TPA and all its terminals and runways, plus Macdill Air Force Base. The captain gave us the weather in Fort Myers, scattered clouds and 90F, and thanked everyone for flying US Airways.
Left turn over the Gulf of Mexico, just a few more miles to RSW.
We traveled briefly over the Gulf of Mexico, which was beautiful – the waters were a clear blue. The flight attendants collected service items and prepared for arrival. We continued our descent, gear and flaps were lowered and before long we were on final approach. The touchdown was a good one, though I think there was a brief bounce. The F/A’s welcomed the passengers to Fort Myers during the short taxi to the gate, D3. We pulled in to the gate adjacent to another US A319, this one loading for DCA.
Here's the video of the landing in RSW, passing over I-75. Someone seems to have a loud cell phone.
The crews were very friendly, particularly the captain. The US crews do an excellent job. It’s a shame they don’t have more to work with.
Thank you for reading. I’ll try to post the return when I get the chance.