I spent four days with family and had a good time, but on the sunday after the Thanksgiving holiday, it was time to go back to the real world. It was a cold morning and I got up at 5:45am for my 8:20am flight. I left the house at 6:15am for the drive to SEA. Usually it takes about 15 minutes with no traffic, but this morning it was 34 degrees and wet. There was ice out there and as we went up and down on I-405 it changed between snow and rain a few times. Ultimately as we neared the airport, it was all snow and there was a massive delay holding back the highway. Since my father was driving me, he got agitated and jumped off the road and got on to Highway 99 to get in to the secondary airport enterance. We got to the airport, but there was construction and the enterances to baggage claim and ticketing levels were closed off. We circled around the airport again and eventually just went in to the parking lot since time was moving on and this was supposed to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. I got in to the airport at 7:00am. I was stunned to see very few people around. I went to the first class desk of the US Airways/America West counter and an agent motioned me over and checked me in very quickly as I had no baggage to check. I asked her if there was priority security and she said there was, but didn't tell me where it was when I asked her. It was nice to see adequate staffing, although a little more personable service could be good.
With my boarding pass for seat 2D in hand, I walk over to security. I had paid for first class on this flight. It wasn't that expensive and was the only seat available on any airline with a morning departure from SEA to STL for under $1000 when I booked. I found the priority security. It said nothing about US Airways first class, but that didn't matter. I walked through and was through security by 7:15am. This was working well. I was wondering where all the crowds were this morning as it was snowing outside, which is a very rare thing for Seattle. I walked by gate A2 and saw a plane, a few people waiting around and no check in agents.
Knowing from my past experiences with US Airways on STL-PHX-LAS-SEA getting no food, I went over and stopped by Wendys to pick up a biscuit in the central terminal area. The Central Terminal Area opened up just over a year ago and is a beautiful terminal. It feels like a beautiful mall food court. It is hardly and airport with the exception fo the fourty foot wall of windows looking out on the center of the runways and the Horizon ramp area.
After watching some planes take off, I was ready to get up. There were planes moving, but things seemed to be going slowly. Seattle obviously does not have the equipment to easily handle snow. Fortunately it wasn't accumulating on the runways or taxiways, but deicing is a slow process.
With 50 minutes to go before my flight, I decided to take a walk. I walk past my gate and then spontaneously walk downstairs and catch the train to the South Satellite which I hadn't visited in a while. I hopped the new train and walked around to see how dead it was. Northwest seems nothing like it used to with only a flight to MSP and HNL. There was an A332 waiting at a gate ready to go to AMS later that day. There were also DL and AA planes overnighting at the South Satellite gates. AA and DL both use concourse A, but DL handles HA and has heavy use of its gates. There was a 757 in the song livery that I was guessing would be flying to JFK.
US Airways operated by America West
Sunday November 26th
Departs: 8:20am (Actual: 9:00am)
Arrives: 12:02pm (actual: 12:30 pm)
First Class Seat 2D
Load Factor: 100%
Photo © Dave Budd - Las Vegas Spotters
Photo © Chris Coduto
I walk back to my gate and catch a train and get there just as they open the door to the jetbridge. I am the first person aboard and take my seat after stowing my rollaboard bag in the overhead bin. I relax and snooze a bit. The flight attendant offers drinks and I have apple juice. One plus of US Airways is that you can have any drink before departure rather than being restricted to Orange Juice or water like United does. I relaxed and time kept moving on. At 8:15am boarding was complete and we seemed like we were ready to go, but the captain comes out of the cockpit and speaks with a maintenance worker. The two go outside and inspect the wings and they decide that we need to be deiced. He comes on the PA and welcomes aboard and delivers the bad news that we need deicing. I would guess that this pilot rarely gets his planes deiced especially with an airline with hubs in LAS and PHX. The 737 next to us was being deiced that would be heading to LAS, so we had a while to wait. I close my eyes and rest while this happens. After about half an hour I see the wing covered in green ooze and they shut the door so that we can leave. We push back at 9amm which is 40 minutes late.
The safety video plays as we push back. One thing that I noticed about America West/US Airways is that the IFE is controlled in the rear galley and the flight attendant working in the rear galley makes announcements. Well after the same video is played, we start our taxi to the north end of the airport. Things didn't seem to be too overly busy on this busy travel day. I notice an Air Canada EMB 190 at the North Satellite, which is the first time that I had seen that plane. I find it pretty crazy that Air Canada is operating that plane on a 4+ hour flight to YYZ.
We get to the north end of the airport as it is foggy and snowy and rainy. The weather was miserable with 1000ft of visibility. A UA 733 follows us and we take to the runway behind a Horizon Dash 8. We wait a few seconds before the engines spool up and we power down runway 16L. We rotate and climb almost immediately in to the clouds, but I could see some snow had accumulated on roofs and grass. The climb was a bit turbulent, but we had been warned that it would be a bit rough until we got to Oregon. Most of the people on the plane were sleeping, but I was awake and started working a Sudoku puzzle in the airplane magazine. I had never done one before, so that took a good hour of our 2hour 40minute flight to the valley of the sun.
The flight attendant offered drinks and I had some coffee. She also passed out food from the snack basket. I think that a meal should be offered on this flight. It is over 1000 miles and breakfast time, but the new requirement on US Airways is 3.5 hours, which is a bit ridiculous, but I whined a lot about that on my previous trip report. So I just snacked and realized that we were looking to be about 30 to 40 minutes late. This was a concern since I was supposed to have a 43 minute connection in PHX.
I kept my window open and eventually the skies cleared up and the weather looked a bit nicer outside. I pulled out my laptop and began writing a trip report for my journey to SEA. I had about an hour before we started our descent. Overall the flight seemed pretty short. The seats were the older America West seats, but I felt that they were perfectly adequate comfort wise. They were nice and the cabin was spotless. There were no stains on the carpet or walls, no lights out, and nothing that appeared broken. That is good,e specially when compared to some of the planes operated by United and American.
We passed near the grand canyon and got a good view as we were descending. I look at my watch and note that it is noon which means that I have 45 minutes before my next flight. The flight attendants make their announcements as we make get closer. The captain comes on the PA say that we are about 60 miles away and that we should be on the ground in 20 minutes. I'm getting stressed about my connection at this point. I was telling myself that I could argue some compensation if I needed to since it wasn't the weather's fault that we were late, but rather the slow deicers in SEA and the lack of equipment which is US Airways' fault.
After a few turns the cabin is secure and we make our final approach. We have a little less than smooth touchdown. We landed on the side of the airport with the America West tails and have a very short taxi to the gate. There were lots of of US Airways painted A320s hanging around. I look at my watch and see that I have 18 minutes before my next departure. That should be enough I hope.
We pull in to the gate and I am quick to get my belongings once the seatbelt sign is out. I am glad that I have my suitcase with me since there is a good risk that the bag would miss this connection. I rush out of the plane with 15 minutes before my departure. I find a television monitor and find out that I have to make my way to get B2. That is a good walk, but at least it is just one councourse away. I rush through the airport where most people were dressed in shorts and tshirts while I had a heavy leather jacket on. Obviously I don't actually have anything to do with PHX or the 80 degree weather outside.
US Airways operated by America West
Sunday November 26th
Departs: 12:45pm (Actual: 12:43pm)
Arrives: 4:31pm (Actual: 4:15pm)
First Class Seat 2D
100% Load Factor
Photo © John R. Beckman
I make a few phone calls as I am rushing and finally make it to my flight to STL 9 minutes before departure time. Everyone was already on the plane, but they let me on as the door was still open. I get on the plane and of course there is no space in first class for my rollaboard. So I make a walk to the back of the plane. I keep moving and eventually I find a space in row 14. At least my bag is on this plane. I make my way back to my seat and am offered a quick drink from a male flight attendant wearing a Christmas themed tie. I have some ice water as I was hot from my speedy walking.
My water was shortly taken and the door is shut for an ontime departure. I was happy to make my flight, but of course I did not have time to grab any food in the airport. The safety video is played again, which makes it the fifth time that I have seen the US Airways safety demo in as many days. We push back and I look at the screen above the gate and notice that it shows time until departure. That might be useuful for ground crew. It switches to show OUT at (-2). I wonder if they would have waited for me if my flight was 10 minutes later. I kind of doubt they would even though I am Star Gold and was in a paid first class ticket, but $1000 is probably not enough to buy some extra consideration in todays world.
We taxi back out ot the runway so I can complete my 18 minute stay in the beautiful warm valley of the sun. I try to make the best of it and stare out the window at the sun and rocks and desert. It was pretty. It is a nicer airport to look at than ORD or DEN.
We pull on to the runway and make a rolling takeoff. We quickly lift in to the air and make a slow turn. I get to see some of the airport as we continue to make a smooth climb. I'm happy to be relaxing and on my way to St. Louis at this point.
Headsets are passed out. They are cheap nasty ones that clip on to your ears. But they are free in first class. The flight attendant without a smile on his face offers drinks and I have some more water. I have some more snacks from the basket. I wish they served food. Oh I wish they did. I had no opportunity for fresh food between 7:30am and 4:30pm, which is a long time. I know I could bring on food, but when I pay $1000 I think I deserve some fresh food. Yes I could normally buy it at the airport, but wiht short connections and delays, that can't happen. I like the comfort of knowing I'll get to eat. I'm not the type to happily skip meals as are most males in their 20s. I had some bread in my bag, so I snacked on that.
The movie was Talledega Nights. I'm a Nascar fan, but absolutely hate Will Ferrell. He's so annoying, so I half watch the movie and work on a trip report. Eventually I just fall asleep.
I wake up and we are already on descent. This was fortunately a rather short flight of 1300 miles. There were some good favourable winds. I relax as we make a slow descent in to the St. Louis area. There was fortunately no snow on the ground. The captain makes an announcement and I'm surprised to hear that it is 67 degrees outside and sunny. That's nice.
We make a few turns and since I'm not actually from the St. Louis area, I have no idea where we actually are. Some people are remarking that this must be the Illinois side since they didn't recognize it. All I hoped was that I was in the correct city. I don't know what would have happend if I had missed my connection.
We make a very smooth landing on a slightly hazy day and make a slow stop. We are finally in STL and taxi by a flock of AA planes on our way to the other end of the airport. There was a ERJ in the United Express livery, but with Transtates titles and then a DL 763ER at a hard stand with the door open. I was guessing it was a diversion or charter. We make it to the terminal and I hop off the plane, and stop by the bathroom before making my way to the terminal to meet my friend who was picking me up. We make our way out of the airport. It is confusing how to get in to the parking garage, but once you are out, it is a straight shot to I-70.
US Airways is ok. I wish they served food. First class is reasonable. The seats were comfortable, but the pitch was on the low end of the scale. The staff didn't really smile anywhere which isn't that good. They didn't seem to be very happy. There were no Happy Holidays or anything like that from any staff members. PHX is an easy airport to navigate and is nice because it isn't delay prone like many other hubs like ORD which I frequently traverse (as is evident from my many pervious trip reports).
I'll fly US Airways again if there is a benefit and it is logical or the fare is good, but I prefer United. Their service in my opinion is better as I like the more professional staff and food service. ORD sucks, but I guess that I can live with it.
Please leave any comments about what you liked or didn't like. I threw a few canned pictures in the top of the report as I thought you might want to see them. I apologize for forgetting my camera on this trip. That was not my intention.