Greetings from ALB. I was able to cash-in some miles for my annual trip to LAS. I fly US and WN out of ALB almost exclusively. I could have flown WN non-stop ALB-LAS, but chose to fly first class on US with connections.
Check-in was a breeze at ALB. What a great airport. I noticed the new gate, B-6, is open with a jet bridge. It's in temporary use by DL. But, as I understand it, this gate being used to lure JetBlue to ALB. B6 is an appropriate gate for JetBlue. I believe ALB now has 21 gates plus the gates that were in use during the Commutair hub days.
737-400 (old colors)
departure: 835am EDT
arrival: 1007am EDT
This 734 was definitely showing its age, both inside and out. Pre-departure drink consisted of warm (room-temperature) bottled water. After takeoff, the snack basket was passed around once and there was one additional drink service. The flight was smooth and uneventful, followed by a quick taxi to the gate at CLT.
CLT was very busy this Sunday morning. My flight to LAS was delayed almost 90 minutes, with two gate changes. Our CLT-LAS aircraft was arriving from FLL (I believe) and sat on the tarmac waiting for a gate for nearly 40 minutes. I noticed several delays on the board.
757-200 (old colors)
departure: 1240pm EDT
arrival: 129pm PDT
This bird needs some TLC. It's the worst first class cabin I've seen in a long time. The seats were decent, but the armrests, tray tables and bulkhead wall were in bad shape.
Predeparture drink consisted of room-temperature bottled water. After take off, the FA took lunch orders. We had a choice of seafood cannelloni or chicken citrus salad. The thought of re-heated seafood didn't sound too appetizing, so I chose the the salad. I was pleasantly surprised: the meal was delicious. It was served on china, but with plastic cutlery and a large paper napkin. Warm rolls were distributed and strawberry cheesecake was served for dessert. The drinks were frequent. No other snacks were offered during the flight, although the guy sitting next to me snagged some potato chips from the galley. Overall, I think the US first class product has really improved, but the cabin needs a facelift.
IFE consisted of a movie and some TV shows. The audio at my seat did not work...same story for the guy seated next to me. Oh well...I had my mp3 player to keep me entertained.
There was continuous light chop most of the way, with a few pockets of moderate turbulence. Landing at LAS was beautiful, with a nice view of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. It was a typical rough ride on approach. We deplaned from the forward door, which seemed odd. Usually the 757s use the second door at row 9.
It seems all of the US transcons (CLT, PHL and PIT) use gates A21 and A22 at LAS. This area is undergoing construction...it's a long walk from these two lone gates to baggage claim.
I met family in LAS and we enjoyed a great week of gambling, shows, food and sites beyond the strip and downtown (I highly recommend renting a car in Las Vegas...there's much to see off the beaten path.) Accommodations at the Flamingo were nice.
757-200 (old colors)
departure: 206pm PDT
arrival: 937pm EDT
Check-in was quick at the US/America West counter. I noticed the early morning flight to PHL (645a) was delayed almost six hours...not sure why.
After boarding, I was greeted by a VERY friendly FA named Barb. She was one of the best FAs I've ever encountered. Most US FAs are friendly, but she went out of her way to make everyone comfortable...she really made the flight enjoyable. Predeparture was bottled water and drink of choice. After pushback, Barb took our lunch orders. We had a choice of salad (similar to the CLT-LAS flight) or Chicken Parmesan. I selected the chicken parm.
After a short taxi, we were on our way to Philly. After reaching our cruising altitude, we hit some moderate turbulence for a while. The captain apologized and informed us he was looking for a smoother ride. After a while, we settled into continuous light chop until we crossed the Rockies. After that, the flight was fairly smooth into PHL. Again, the meal was surprisingly good and this time was served with chocolate cheesecake. Although we were on US metal, the dinner plates had the America West logo. No other snacks were offered. Drinks were plentiful and the IFE audio was working at my seat. I skipped the movie, but watched an episode of King of Queens and Biography.
After arriving into PHL, I headed for C-16 to catch the shuttle to the F terminal for my US Airways Express flight back to ALB. I prefer mainline to ALB, but the only flight available this time of night was express.
US 3888 (operated by Air Wisconsin)
CRJ-200 (new colors)
departure: 1106pm EDT
arrival: 1145pm EDT
Let me preface this leg of the trip by saying: I hate CRJs. I love to fly and do so often, but I try to avoid the CRJ-200 like the plague. This flight was only 40 minutes, so I could tolerate it. My worst CRJ experience was CLT-ALB a few months back in seat 1F...ugh. I'll happily fly an ERJ, E70 or Dash 8, but the CRJ-200 is, by far, my least favorite aircraft. One saving grace: I had an aisle seat. The only thing worse than flying the CRJ is sitting in a window seat on a CRJ.
Not much to say about this flight. It was full and cramped, but at least it was quick. The flight was smooth the whole way and we were offered pretzels and ice water. We passed just west of NYC and had fantastic views of Manhattan. After a quick taxi, we deplaned using a jet bridge. Baggage was delivered quickly and I was on my way.
Overall, US is showing some signs of improvement. The first class product is much better than a year ago, but some of their planes are in sorry shape.
Thanks for reading my first trip report. I look forward to your feedback.
[Edited 2006-07-09 00:59:10]
[Edited 2006-07-09 01:02:21]