Here's a trip report that I really hoped would have ended with a more glorious view of the A380, but alas, I only just barely got to see it, due to where it was parked.
I was in Shreveport, which is where I spend my days off. My new niece had just been born, and Shreveport was in full bloom with the azaleas and hawthorne. My allergies were going crazy due to all the pollen from all the trees, but just look how pretty Shreveport is for this brief two week period each year. This is a closeup of an azalea bush in front of my parents house.
OK. On with the trip. It was American Eagle SHV-DFW on a Saab 340B and an AA 777 flight 66 DFW-ORD.
Date: March 20th, 2007
Flight AA 3234 Saab 340B
19 Pax on board, so about half full.
No pictures of the Saab, as I didn't really think I was going to be doing a trip report and I fly SHV-DFW weekly. But I did take the takeoff and landing videos. I'm really glad I took the takeoff video at SHV, because we took off on the short runway 23, which is quite rare. The main runway was closed temporarily for some maintenance. I do enjoy flying the Saab. American Eagle, in March, sent 1 Saab and 10 Embraer jets each day to Shreveport. Originally, the schedule in March was to be all jet in SHV for the month, which was the case until March 11th. There was a complication in the jet routing due to the time change that happened in the US but not Mexico. This caused a crew rest issue on the AGU overnight, so the kickoff got retimed an hour later, creating a schedule problem. To fix the problem, a morning DFW-SHV-DFW turn was downgraded to a Saab.
Here's the takeoff video, with a view in the cabin at the end:
You can see the only scheduled heavy jet to SHV on the takeoff roll. The UPS A300-600. Its routing is SHV-LIT-SDF.
It was a nice, quiet, normal flight. There was a beverage service. Snack boxes and such for sale, but I just had some coffee. The coffee was OK. Soon enough we were landing at DFW. The flight is like 45 minutes in the Saab. Shorter in the jet.
Here's the landing at DFW, runway 17C:
OK, now for the good part. The 777. Here's what happened. I knew I was going to be doing this, but I had a big huge bag I carried to SHV, due to a function I attended there. I didn't want to carry this bag with me in Chicago, so I planned a 2 hour connection so I could get my bag to my car between flights. I had my laptop with me as well, and I used it to check the flights, etc. I was listed (as a non-rev ) for the 1pm 777 flight 66. There were slightly less than a million AAdvantage Gold/Plat/Exec Plats requesting upgrades to first class. I knew I didn't have a chance, but tried for it anyway. Then they cancelled the 12:50 MD80 to ORD. It only had about 50 people booked on it and the 777 had only about 120 people booked on it, so everyone could be rebooked to the 777 some 15 minutes later with no problem. I considered going on the 1pm United A320 to listen to channel 9, but I made the right decision and stuck with the 777.
AA 66 DFW-ORD (continues to LHR)
Ship 7BD (Flagship Suite up front)
It was at gate A23 at DFW, which means I couldn't get a decent picture of it, but I'll make up for it with another picture in a minute. This was my first time to be seated in the coach cabin on an American 777. Yes, that's a ridiculous statement, but I am spoiled. I have flown 10-12 times on AA 777s, but always in business or first--in fact I have two trip reports on AA 777 first class flights to London. I think AA's coach is quite comfortable. It's roomier than BA's World Traveller cabin (and I flew DFW-LGW on the last row window on them last summer, here I was in the last row window on AA), if you ask me--though I'd still take BA over AA any time!
Here are some pictures:
Here we are on stand at A23. I took this shot to show just how high up the cabin is on the 777. Look way down there at that MD80! It's interesting, when boarding, that you walk up rather than down a slope.
I was seated in the last row of coach, seat 43A and the adjacent seat was empty, so I was in good shape. Even with the pax from the cancelled flight, there were lots of empty seats, mostly in the very middle of the cabin.
We pushed and taxied out to 17R. One thing about AA that I don't like is that the flight attendants wander around the cabin and do their own thing while the safety video is playing. Two of my last three long-haul 777 flights were on BA, and they stand at attention under the video screens and at the cabin bulkheads during the presentation. I think that is much more professional then having flight attendants quickly scurrying through the cabin while the video is playing. Actually, the video had a problem and cut off after about 30 seconds. It took them a couple minutes to fix it.
Here's the takeoff:
It was a powerful takeoff and we climbed like crazy. The flight was about 2/3 full, but was only fueled for DFW-ORD so was very light and agile. We quickly climbed all the way up to 41,000 feet! I noticed that the beautiful noise of the RR Trent engines isn't easy to hear from the back. If you look up my trip report on AA 51 LGW-DFW it has a takeoff video from the front row of first class and the engine sounds great from up there.
PTV info at cruise. Look at our altitude and ground speed! Making good time to Chicago! When I was on BA 294 IAH-ORD, it also cruised at 41,000 on the IAH-ORD portion.
I saw a contrail way down below us. The sky above us was a deep dark blue. The flight attendants, just as we hit 10,000 feet and were doing their standard after takeoff message, said that they were offering the full lineup of movies and tv shows, but they were starting immediately, because the flight was only 1:45 long and most movies wouldn't finish. The apologized for the quick start, but explained it well and I thought it was a nice touch.
The flight map.
I watched the flight map the whole way. Rather than watching one of the channels, I read a good book that I brought along. "The Last Kingdom" by Bernard Cornwell, if you must know. If you care for historical fiction centered on the Viking invasion of Great Britain, then I highly recommend it! A great read.
They offered the buy on board snacks and had a beverage service quickly after takeoff, which was nice. I'd say the flight attendants did fine for the flight. Nothing lavish, but nothing too bad. Sitting in the back row of coach I did hear the usual FA gossip--what they are bidding (it was the 20th) etc. The only problem I had with them was the safety video, which I explained before, and that's due to AA policy rather than unprofessional flight attendants. And AA's policy is in line with all other US carriers, so I guess I have a problem with all of them!
We descended to 38,000 near Peoria, and then continued on down to our landing in Chicago. Here's what they do on the 777 rather than read out the connecting gate info. They give you the connecting gate info as if your seatback became an airport TV monitor. I've always though this was a nice touch.
The screens scroll through all the cities in alphabetical order and then show the flight map again, if you are unfamiliar.
And here is our landing. I always get confused in Chicago since the runways are all over the place. We didn't fly over the city and the lake like I'm used to. We might have landed on 4L I'm guessing.
Here's the landing vid:
Look at the end, Do you see the airplane with a blue tail? That's the Airbus A380 on display just beyond the international terminal!
And here it is just above our spoilers.
Here are some photos as we taxi in by the International terminal. ORD has a great international lineup.
USA 3000 A320 and Privatair A319 (I think A319) from DUS for LH
The lineup including BMI, SAS, LH, AM, UA
A shot at our gate, K16 showing once again how high the 777 is relative to other aircraft.
When I walked off the aircraft, I turned around at the gate to see where my 777 was going to. It was to be flight 292 to DEL!
This is not the 777 I was on, but this one is ship 7CC, AA's newest aircraft, delivered last year. 7CB and 7CC were both delivered last year, and this is the best picture I've gotten of this one. I saw it in DFW a few months ago. Here it was about to load up as flight 86 to LHR.
I was unable to get close to the A380. I couldn't even see it from the K or L gates, as I imagined I could. I'm an AA employee, so I asked if I could get out to it and they told me that I couldn't and that they had real high security that day. So, disappointed, I was glad that I saw it from the plane, and I enjoyed the ride up there. I then planned my return strategy.
Here's a shot of the A380 that I took last summer at the Farnborough Air Show. Since I didn't get to it up close here in ORD, I'll add these shots that I took previously!
My return strategy was ORD-STL-DFW. I won't do a report on them other than to say, I went via STL due to the nonstops being very full with lots of stanbys. I got coach on the TWA MD80 to STL. I got first class on the AA 757 (Rolls Royce but no winglets) to DFW. That one had a total of 44 pax onboard! No meal though.
Hope you enjoyed my report.