This is my first trip report, so be nice.
The beginning of October I was looking at my November / December schedule at work and it didn't look good for me to be able to get away for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. So I figured the first weekend of November was just as good for an early Thanksgiving in Kansas City wth my sister, her husband and their four children. I spent more time trying to find a good fare than I think I ever had. US Airways and Southwest were both $319, about $100 more than I've ever paid in 12 years of flying that route. Continental wanted $230 and I was about to buy that when I remembered I had a $200 voucher from American. A quick check of their website and got a price of $229. Sold. I made the reservation and held it. I called AA reservations and was told I could mail in the voucher, or I could take it to the airport and get ticketed that way. Not trusting my voucher in the mail, I decided to go to Sky Harbor on my way to work the next day.
I drove to Sky Harbor and parked at the Terminal 3 garage. This is by far the darkest most confusing parking garage I've ever been in. One slightly wrong turn and you're on your way back out of the garage. Yes, I've done it twice now. I found the American ticket counter had 2 agents and no customers. Yay! I went up to one slightly older lady who I later learned has worked for American for 22 years. As she was processing my ticket and voucher she told me I would have to pay a $15 ticketing fee for doing it at the airport. The line "well I'm using a voucher that you guys gave me when I helped you guys out once" didn't work. I didn't say it like a smart ass, just with a smile on my face. She laughed and said she agreed, but she had to charge me anyway. I'm sure she could have waived it if she tried. But still, $44 out of my own pocket instead of $229. I can handle the $15 fee. All in all I spent about 32 minutes in the airport from the time I parked till I left. On my way out, I had to pay $2. PHX parking rates suck.
On the night of the first I tried to check myself in online, but I got a message that it was unable to check me in online. I double checked to make sure I had the dates right, which they were, so I figured I was selected for security. I finished packing and went to bed.
The roommate and I were going to eat before he droppd me off, but after we left the house we both realized we weren't all that hungry, so he dropped me off at Terminal 3 at about 1140 for my 155pm flight. I went to the self check in and got the same error message I got last night. An agent came over, said I was selected for security screening. She printed up my boarding passes, and told me no exit row seats available on either flight. I dropped my bag off at the TSA and went up to security. Now I"m curious about something here. She told me I couldn't check in because i'd been selected for screening, but at no piont in my journey was my bag searched, asked any sort of questions or felt up, sorry frisked; and my boarding pass didn't have the "SSSSSS" on it. No additional screening was done to me with my knowledge. Where was the extra security I was supposed to go through?
WShen I got to security there were two lines to show your boarding pass and ID; one for elites and flight crews, and one for everyone else; , then you all merged into one line for the metal detector. I was the non elite person in line to show my ID and the lady working the Elite podium waved me over. Woohoo...she was very friendly. Said my name like 4 times and told me to enjoy my trip to Dallas. She sent me to the elite line to get throught the metal detector, but they were still running the one. They asked all the passengers to step aside so a very attractive pilot could get through, then they opened up the second metal detector. I was the first person through it. Score. All in all security took me less than 5 minutes. Because of the shortcuts I was allowed, I got through security a lot faster than people that got in line before me. Sorry guys.
I found gate 4 and the flight was listed on time. I decided to wander around. I saw a Midwest MD80 about to pushback, and a jetBlue 320 from JFK waiting patiently for that gate. Not much else to see on the south side of T3. I sat at the far end and watched some traffic. I saw Southwest's Marylond One, and one of their Shamus. I saw the new style HP retrojet from US. There was also an ATA 757 parked between terminals 2 and 3. I guess its there all the time I'm told. There was an AA 757 to ORD, and a bunch of empty gates. I made a couple phone calls then decided to make use of Sky Harbor's free wireless. I found that you can't really get a signal at the far end of the terminal, but if you're in the main area you get a really good one.
Our beautiful shiny 757 arrived from Dallas as flight 567 (why do I never get cute flight numbers) at 104pm. The gate agents showed up right as the plane did, good timing on their part. They seem moody. The door opened pretty quickly and barely a minute after th eplane stopped at the gate people were on their way off.
American Airlines 348
Phoenix - Dallas Ft Worth
Depart: sched 155pm, actual 148pm
Arrive: sched 510pm, actual 440pm, no gate so actual deplane at 510pm (on time)
Boarding began at 125pm. There seemed to be an unusually large number of AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members, more than I remember on any flight in recent memory. Group 1 started shortly after that. I'm not sure how group numbers were assigned, but groups 1 through 4 seemed relatively small, maybe 10-15 people per group. But then group 5 seemed like most everyone else, guess which one I was in. . For the first time in memory though I was able to go all the way down the jetway and onto the plane without stopping. Maybe there is something to this small group thing. I boarded and was greeted by a very friendly female flight attendant who greeted me with a very Texs "howdy" as she welcomed me on board. As I made my way through first class the last row of it had 4 small children in it. I was curious about that, but more jealous than anything. As I made my way down the aisles towards my seat I noticed these weren't normal AA seats. They were dark blue but had red and gold squiggles in them. Was I on an ex TWA aircraft? People were scattered all throughout the cabin so I got really curious about the group assignments. If anyone from AA can shed some light on how they assign groups I'd be thankful. I got to row 18, found a rather nice looking guy in the aisle, and empty middle seat. I stepped out of the aisle and took my iPiod, book and Gummi bears out of my bag. I leaned over the attractive guy to put my bag in the bin. On the way back down to my seat I got a slight headrush. This was going to be a fun flight.
As boarding continued I noticed a lot of empty middle seats. Would attractive aisle guy and I be lucky? Flight attendants came down the aisle closing bins. I think we were gonna make it with an empty seat! I started joking with the guy about the empty seat. He put a blanket on it. We agreed if anyone showed up for the middle seat we'd tell them that 18B was across the aisle. Finally....the flight attendants called for their cross check and I knew we were safe. Score. The LCD screens came down and they started the safety video while we were at the gate. They played it in English and in Spanish. I realized as we were taxiing that I was in probably the most comfortable airplane seat I've been in in quite a while. I had more than adaquate legroom and the seat was just downright comfy. I don't think the plane had been reconfigured into SRTC (standard room throughout coach). We pushed back and headed out to runway 7L without much of a delay. As we were approaching the end of the runway we passed another AA 757 sitting off to the side of the runway. I'm guessing it was the 1pm to ORD going through some sort of delay. We rolled onto the runway, stopped for a second then we were off.
Having only had 737's, MD80's and ERJ's for the past couple of years.... the 757 takeoff brough back fond memories. This aircraft is a rocket. We had a relatively short roll then we were lifting up and climbing pretty quickly to the east. The 757 is by far my favorite plane to fly on, and it ws much quieter than the MD80 I was to take next. I was hoping for a westerly take off though. Usually when we take off to the west and have to turn back towards the east, we seem to make the turn back to the east over my house almost every time. I've seen my backyard from the air several times. As we continued climbing out our pilot came on and gave us his rundown. Unlike most flights, I was actually able to hear the pilots. We would be cruisng at 39,000 feet. Heading slightly northeast and passing south of Albuqueuque, Lubbock then into Dallas. Weather in Dallas was a pleasant (?) 58 degrees and pretty clear. He expected flight time to be 1 hour and 48 minutes. During this time I was enjoying a nice chat with the guy in the aisle, who was on his way to Puerto Vallarta after visiting his parents in Phoenix. They turned on the overhead LCD screens with CBS Eye on American, but I didn't pay attention at all.
The flight attendants came through offering beverages. I really wanted a Crown Royal and Coke, but opted for just Coke. I remembered there was a bar at DFW Terminal D that I wanted to look into. Something with the word Mojito in the name of it. The flight attendands were friendly and I had the "howdy" FA serve my drink. She was friendly and efficient. Anyway, they gave us a small snack mix pack and a cup of Coke, filled with ice. After 4 sips, it was gone. The snack mix was ok, mostly pretzels though. Last year on America West I had a really good snack mix that they only served in First that was tons better. I had a bottle of water I'd purchased at Sky Harbor that kept my nicely hydrated. After a reasonable amount of time the flight attendants returned to pick up the rubbish. During the flight the pilots came on a few times to keep us posted on our progress, we were making good time. The guy in the aisle and I kept talking and before long we were starting out descent into Dallas. Question here too....is it possible for people that work for American to say "Dallas", or do they always have to say "Dallas Fort Worth"? While we were on approach they gave connecting gate information. They skipped over Kansas City, also Puerto Vallarta. Coincidence? We'd be arriving into Terminal D; by far the best Terminal and also where the bar I wanted to look at was. We made a nice smooth landing and taxied way past Terminal D. We got to the southwest hold pad, and turned around, and stopped. I heard the engine by me shut down. The pilot came on and told us that because of the tailwinds we were a half hour early and our gate wasn't empty yet. We sat there for about 15 minutes then started up again. Still talking with the Aisle Guy this whole time. We rolled up towards the terminal, and stopped again for another 15 minutes. While we were waiting they announced that this aircraft had a short ground time before continuing on to Orlando and asked for our assistance in cleaning up. I then learned that the flight was due to depart at 635pm, so even if we were exacly on time they'd have more than ample time to clean the plane. I guess they just wanted some help. We finally pulled into the gate and started deplaning. Peoplereally are bringing less on with them because that was the fastest I've ever gotten off a plane from that far back before; at a prompt 510pm. So much for that half hour early arrivals. We walked into a very airy terminal D and Mark (aisle guy) and I found monitors to find our flights. His flight was also from Terminal D at 700, mine from Terminal A at 710pm. We had two hours. I'm normally a pretty shy person and I don't think I've asked someone out for a drink in a really long time, , but I asked if he wanted to grab a beer (or two) since we both had some time. We went to the Tigrin Irish pub. We had a good talk; along with some really crunchy fish and chips and some REALLY good beer. He was great to talk to and it made me realize how long it had been since I'd actually enjoyed talking to someone and not being nervous at all. Before I realized it, unfortunately it was 635 and we had to get going. He walked me to the SkyTrain station and we said goodbye. We exchanged numbers and made plans to get together when he got back to Phoenix. I got on the SkyTrain and made a couple phone calls as I cruised over to Terminal A. I stopped to use the water closet before I got to gate A23, to find them boarding in progress. (I would later find out that they were offering $300 vouchers for anyone willing to go later.)
American Airlines 832
Dallas Ft Worth - Kansas City
Depart: sched 710pm, actual 708pm
Arrive: sched 840pm, actual 836pm
Boeing MD 80
Boarded in group four for this flight. Again there was no jam at the end of the jetway and I boarded the MD80. The flight attendant was inside the galley as they always are, but was leaning on the counter playing with his cell phone, I'm guessing sending a text. First class seemed full and again the main cabin seemed random as to where people were sitting. I'm really curious about this grouping method. Anyway, I made my way back towards the back and when I got close to row 18 there was a guy standing in my seat trying to cram an overly large bag in the overhead, so I stepped into 18B to wait patiently. He tried for a good couple minutes to get it in and I was starting to get impatient. I wanted to sit and I had a feeling I was holding someone up. I suggested he take the bag forward and have them gate check it, but he didn't hear me. (He was about 124 years old). After some shoving he got the bag stowed and the woman in 18F thanked him. He then proceeded to row 20. Wasn't even his bag, he was being a gentleman and that bit him in the ass, I bet he wasn't expecting it to take long. I put my bag in the bin (again removing the iPod - with plans to use it this time). The middle seat stayed empty until the end when it was taken by a young man who turned out to be on his way to MCI for a job interview. He placed his bag under the seat then squeezed in. I didn't know until we got to Kansas City that my bag was the only one in the bin or else I might have shared that with him to make his experience a bit more pleasurable.
We started out pushback and the FA's started their safety routine. The FA reading the script (the guy at the door with his cell phone) sounded as bored as anyone I've ever met, and he probably could have fallen asleep while he was reading. The ones doing the demo were just as uninspired. I understand that they do that routine day in and day out, but a *little* bit of emotion might have made people pay attention. I noticed that this cabin wasn't as comfy as the last. I had been in this seat for about 15 minutes and already my upper back was irritated. The legroom was AA standard, my tray table was quite loose, and the carpet seemed a bit worn, with some tears in it. (I was bored during the safety routine so started looking around). We drove around DFW for about 15 minutes then finally took to the air, with quite a loud, lengthy roll down the runway. The pilots announced our route to be 1 hour and 7 minutes at an altitude of 27,000 feet, with the current temperature in Kansas City at 48 degrees. At that point I started to shiver, as it was 70 when I took off from Phoenix that afternoon.
Twenty five minutes or so into the flight I started to wonder if the flight attendants were going to do any service or not. I wasn't hungry, but I was a tad thirsty and feeling a bit dehydrated from that beer. I really wanted another beer like that last one, but would settle for something free. I peeked up the aisle and noticed the cart slowly making its way down. When the still unsmiling attendants got to our row, the older one just looked at me and said "Drink?" I asked for a Ginger Ale, an old time favorite. While she was handing it to me I asked how her day was going and she just looked at me. About 15 minutes later the first flight attendant came by with a garbage bag. I noticed that his tie was loosened and his top collar button was undone, what a professional appearance! They passed through several times with garbage bags and also collecting cans for recycling. I always like to see recycling in action. By now my back was really starting to bother me so I stood up for a minute. The lady across the aisle looked at me like I was weird, but I get used to that.
It was a pretty smooth, short flight and before long the pilots announced our decent into Kansas City. This was the first time I've flown into Kansas City from the south and I was impressed at the size of the city. Usually since I fly America West or Southwest nonstop from Phoenix we approach from the West so I never really see the city. The temperature had continued to drop during the flight and MCI was reporting 43 degrees. I wondered why i alays went to Kansas in the winter. The unhappy flight attendants made a couple more passes and when we were about five minutes out and I heard a few beeps, and I saw the woman one row up across the aisle...ON HER CELL PHONE. She was checking voicemail. I wasn't sure what to do since I didn't think there was anything that coule be done, so I just started at the back of her head. We had a smooth landing, and the landing rollout went on and on and on and on, probably the longest rollout I've ever had. We made the journey back to the terminal and parked at the gate at 835, another on time arrival. As much as I hate people that do this, as soon as the seat belt sign went off I stood up. My back was really bothering me by now. I deplaned and entered the terminal. There was a sign saying "Exit" with an arrow pointing to the right, but I'm guessing that was a practical joke as there was a woman on the door waaaaay down to the left saying "over here please, over here please.". I exited the secure area and my sister was there waiting for me. I hugged her, handed her my laptop bag and bolted for the restroom. After doing my business I went back out and we went to baggage claim, where I was pleasantly surprised to see bags already flowing off. Mine appeared shortly and we were off to try to figure out where my sister had parked.
[Edited 2006-11-10 06:21:54]