I had been wanting to fly out of Dallas Love on American to see the "new" gates for months, and hadn't gotten around to doing it. Finally I decided I would make a daytrip to Austin for a bit of spotting and checking out the terminal.
Unfortunately I picked a stormy day, but that didn't delay the Eagle DAL-AUS shuttle at all.
10/25/2006 AA 3391 DAL-AUS EMB 145 N918AE Seat 17C. Pax load: 9 people
First..the parking garage. I parked in the cheaper of the two parking garage areas at Love field, which have been massively renovated and enlarged. Now there's a $7 a day parking garage that has indoor, air conditioned moving sidewalks to the terminal, with artwork on the way. The parking garage allows the use of the Tolltag as well, which I have, so that's nice. Terminal D at DFW also has indoor air conditioned moving sidewalks in the main garage at levels 5 and -2.
I knew it was going to be an empty flight, but when I got to the checkin area, it was professional and clean, but not very busy at all.
I chose my seat from the self-service ticket machine and picked 17C, which is a seat I often take, because it is in the back of the plane and you usually don't have someone sit next to you. If the flight is fuller I'll take an A side seat.
The security area is pretty bad for a small airport like Love Field. Southwest, Continental Express AA and AE are all in one secure area, so you have to deal with the Southwest cattle car traffic getting through security. They handed me a slip to time their progress, and, with this slip visible, they sent me to a lane that they were closing. I walked up to the end of a lane, and they roped it off with those Tensabarriers. Then someone who didn't seem to care too much said just to wait there, while they did a shift change, and the new TSA agent had to approve the next lane. I waited about 10 minutes and finally a guy who acted like he was in charge, noticing the huge backlog of people behind me, and maybe my timing slip, came up and said "Hey let's get these people moving. Why are we waiting here. Open up this line" etc. And then all the sudden they were clearing me through security.
It's a really long walk down to the American gates, but the halway is lined with old aviation photographs that I recommend to anyone with a few minutes to spare at Love field. If you are down at Southwest it still might be worth the effort, though I'm sure it is a 10-15 minute walk from some of the more distant Southwest gates.
After passing by Continental's gates the area all the sudden looks new and clean. Though it is a long walk, the building area is very nice.
American has 3 gates there, and lots of empty space. There's a newsstand and a coffe shop/deli/bar all in one. I got a $10 Italian sandwich with a Pepsi.
It was an early afternoon departure, and my aircraft landed on 13L and turned off the runway basically right at the gate. I saw it come in, and it was arriving from SAT. It was about 15 minutes before departure to AUS when it opened the door.
When it was time for boarding, because there were fewer than 10 people, the agent said, "this is a very empty flight. We are opening up all groups for boarding. All aboard for Austin." We boarded quickly and left on time. It was nasty weather in Texas.
Here's the video from the takeoff at DAL:
It was about a 30 minute flight and was quite bumpy at times. The flight attendant made some announcement about how short the flight was and the weather was bumpy, so she was unable to serve beverages.
Here is the landing at AUS:
At AUS I saw some cool stuff. One was Jet Blue's E 190. N228JB
While at AUS I also saw something I wasn't expecting. I walked down to the end by Gates 1 and 2 and noticed quite a bit of commotion. There was also an airline logo at Gate 2 that I didn't recognize, but there was also scaffolding, lots of roped off areas, lots of people who didn't look like travelers, and lots of bright lights. Quentin Tarantio was filming a movie there, and the airline was Osaka Airways or Air Osaka or something. Above the gate's doorway to the jetbridge it said Osaka Airways Arrivals: New Zealand (AKL) New York (JFK).
I thought about offering him my services as an airline consultant, but declined. He was filming the movie "Grindhouse" due out 2007 and I saw Rosario Dawson and some other girls, a couple who I recognized, and they were filming a greeting at the gate scene. They were very excited and a couple were dressed up as cheerleaders!
People were all watching in awe, as the Northwest gate was somewhat disrupted by this. There were police there as well.
Finally I got bored of watching this, and decided to go use my Priority Pass at the Continental President's Club. I had a 3-4 hour layover, so I had plenty of time, so I got a tea, and walked around hoping for a good airport view, which they do not have here. It's basically a closed in club. It is big but was also very busy. I had some hot tea and read a book in a comfy chair for a while before I set out again into the terminal among the pedestrians.
American also has an Admiral's club there, which my Priority Pass doesn't have a contract with. Those are the only two clubs from what I could see.
Austin has about 15 gates and about half of them are Southwest. I was surprised that all the Delta flights that I saw were regional jets. You'd think an important city like Austin could get better service from Delta than that. Continental was all mainline, and I know they used to have a 757, but it is all 737 now I believe. American is mostly mainline, with the only RJ service to RDU and DAL. All DFW flights on AA are MD80, and I heard that the SJC flights have been upgraded to 757 lately, though the one I saw was a MD80 and LAX was an MD80.
Also I saw America West and Northwest with a CRJ and then a DC9.
They have a good selection of restaurants in AUS, and looking down at the baggage claim area reminded me of SNA.
Finally I went back to my gate and waited for boarding. I was worried it might get delayed or canceled, due to it being a probably empty RJ, but it was right on time. I had noticed that Southwest, American, and Continental all had at least minimal delays posted to their various Texas cities, as the remnants of Hurricaine Paul (the one that hit the Cabo area) was churning up storms in Texas.
Oh, I left security to check in for my flight and it looked pretty full with not many open seats, so I picked 13A. I like sitting toward the back so I can take a video with my camera and I like to watch the flaps.
AA 3443 AUS-DAL 10/25/2006 EMB 145 N918AE seat 17C.
When the aircraft pulled up, it was of course arriving from DAL, and it happened to be the aircraft that I flew to AUS on. N918AE. When I sat down in 13A, I was sitting at the gate, and some really obnoxious guys were talking very loudly in 12BC 13BC, and I was trying to read a book but was unable. The flight attendant, I noticed, was asking some people up front to move to the very back, so I got up too and moved to the back. As luck would have it, 17BC was open so I sat in 17C, the very same seat on the very same plane that I flew to AUS on. Now my vidoes look uniform, so here's the takeoff:
We had a friendly flight attendant, who served everyone with their choice of beverage (a different crew from my earlier flight) and it was quite bumpy as we cruised over I-35. The captain came on the PA and gave a very long explanation as to why he was unable to climb higher (ATC wouldn't let him due to all the traffic headed for DFW) and the weather was from Hurricaine Paul that hit Mexico a couple days earlier.
I had to hang on to my drink, and she even gave me the can of soda, which I had to hold on to, as the turbulence got somewhat bad.
As we approached DAL at about 6:00pm, the sun was going down and looking across the aisle to 17A out the left window, this is what I saw:
We landed to the south at Love Field, which is always complicated because DFW's nearest runway is only 7 miles away. As we turned in I took a longer video than normal, because of the color of the light, plus the fact that you can see DFW here, Cowboy VOR, and Texas stadium as we land at Love. I wish at times like this that I used a proper video camera, and not this small Sony still camera that has video capability. Anyway, it's still quite a nice video with the sunset and all. The reflections you see, which are hard to make out, at the very beginning, are reflections off the runways and terminals at DFW. Here it is:
When I landed at Love field, I took this shot of the AA gates:
Then I wandered down to the Southwest gates to see if anything was any different.
It's strange to write a report this long for such a short meaningless flight. My last big trip reports were AA First class LGW-DFW and BA IAH-ORD-LHR. Now I'm doing just a simple RJ to AUS. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
See, I knew American Eagle was first class all along!