Atlantic Southeast's new commercial service into Hilton Head, SC, started on 17 March 2007, and I got to fly it about a week later. The little Hilton Head airport, with dual codes KHHH and KHXD (one's commercial, one's private, don't ask me why, my baggage tag said HHH, but with FlightAware you still have to put KHXD), recently started commercial service with US Airways on DHC-8's to CLT, followed by ASA on ATR-72's to ATL. There's a single 4000' runway surrounded by tall trees...very dramatic when coming in on a 66-seat aircraft! It's also one of the rare instances I've made a connecting flight but stayed on the same regional airline for the whole trip...kinda neat.
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on the morning I left...shame on me!
Check-in was uneventful at 05:20 at MSN, with a friendly Delta Connection agent, and quick security, thanks to a second security line at the commuter gates (the main security was packed with the people getting on NW's morning A320 departures to DTW and MSP, which can back up a small operation like MSN). I then walked past the backed-up main security line up to the DL gates. The newly-rennovated airport is gorgeous, and there are photos in posts by myself, and more recently by user MSNYX. Boarding was on-time, as was departure. For some reason, the seats in the ASA CRJ weren't as cramped as I'd remembered CRJ's being. They're leather and quite comfortable. The low-set window was annoying...my neck is still stiff. The flight was 100% full, and there were a fair number of kids, but the solo flight attendant kept her cool and was very courteous. Beverages and a selection of snacks were served. Flying time was 2 hours, which is the full block time, due to diverting southwest around thunderstorms before turning southeast toward ATL. Usually, the flight is 1:30. The downwind approach to ATL gave us a fantastic view of downtown Atlanta, Midtown and Buckhead. The taxi was mercifully brief, and we were at the gate on-time for a 1-hour connection.
We came into concourse C, and my connection was one stop on the train away, at concourse D.
The first thing that stood out to me about the ATR-72 was the sheer size. It's a big bird. I'd flown on one years ago on Alitalia but forgot how big they are, inside and out. The second is how fat the propeller blades are. Again, sorry there are no photos, but there are lots of great ones in the database. The engine cowlings were open, and some work was being done, but there was no delay in our departure time.
Once again, once inside, I couldn't believe the size. No comparison to the much-smaller CRJ, even for the same 2-2 seat configuration. The flight was about 2/3 full. The leather seats were a bit worn but comfortable, with plenty of seat pitch for a 6' guy like me. We departed on time and had a smooth takeoff. It was clear weather, so we had a very smooth, scenic flight across eastern Georgia to the coast, with the nice vibration and low rumble from the props all the way. Beverages and snacks (peanuts and crackers) were distributed on the 55-min flight. The descent into HHH provided scenic views of the Savannah River and SC/GA coast. We approached from the northwest and nearly clipped the trees on the way in; it was a spectacular, low approach. We used most of the runway. I thought I was going to have to go fetch my baggage out of the treetops...just kidding.
My first experience on ASA was definitely a good one, and it was nice to fly them as an airline from origin to destination, rather than as a feeder for someone else.