Given that Dartmouth is a 4.5 hour drive from where I live in NJ, my parents aren't exactly too keen on driving back and forth, so for the Thanksgiving break, I took the Dartmouth Coach from Hanover down to Logan airport (probably the nicest bus I've ever been on -- movies, snacks, and headphone ports with music at each seat) and then flew CO down to EWR from BOS.
Nov. 19, 2007
Schedule Departure: 3:30 PM
Actual Departure: 4:53 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 5:20 PM
Actual Arrival: ~6:00 PM
I had two classes that morning, from 8:45 AM until 11:05 AM, and when I quickly stopped by my room after my second class to check on my flight status, it had already been delayed until 6:45 PM due to "air traffic control". I was originally booked on CO1197, departing at 5:45 PM, but given that it was only 11:15 AM and it was delayed an hour, I was expecting that it would only get worse as the day went on. According to my parents, the weather at home in NJ had been extremely windy, so I wasn't terribly surprised that EWR was already backed up. I called CO reservations to see if they could rebook me on an earlier flight that had been delayed until my original time. The agent, Tim, was particularly helpful, and recommended that I be reaccomodated on the 3:30 PM flight, which had been delayed until 5:30 PM -- 15 minutes earlier than my original flight time. The bus would be arriving into Logan at 3:50 PM, so 5:30 was perfect. He unchecked me in from my scheduled flight, and I went online and printed out a new boarding pass for my new flight. I packed up my stuff, got food for lunch, and then I boarded the Dartmouth Coach at 1:00 PM. We arrived into Logan right on time at 3:50 PM, and I got off at Terminal A.
Wow -- what an improvement for CO over where they used to be located over in Terminal C. The terminal is really nice, modern, and spacious -- although given that it was recently opened, I wasn't terribly surprised. I quickly checked the departure monitors to see if the flight was still delayed until 5:30 PM, but it wasn't listed, so I briefly panicked, expecting that it had received an early release time and had already departed. I went over to the CO counter, where there was almost no line, and the agent told me not to worry; it was still sitting at the gate. I headed to security, which only had a ~10 minute wait, at most. The TSA was fine -- not overly friendly, but not rude either, and they were pretty quick and efficient. I walked over to the gate, where my flight was still showing a delay until 5:30 PM, which was fine with me -- it was earlier than my original flight anyway, so I wasn't complaining. I asked the gate agent, Cristina, if she expected that we'd have any further delay, and she said that as of right now, the time had stayed the same for a while, but anything was possible with EWR delays. She was really friendly, as were the other two gate agents for the flight.
By this point, it was about 4:20 PM, and the gate agents made an announcement that we'd begin boarding in approximately a half hour, but not to go too far from the gate, etc., but before she could even put down the mic, the delay time on the screen jumped from 5:30 to 4:43 PM. So then she said, "Wait a second, scratch that, we're going to start boarding right now. We have a new wheels-up time of 4:55, and if everyone isn't on board and seated by 4:43, we're going to take another 45 minute delay." They immediately started boarding the plane -- F, eliteAccess, then by rows in coach -- the standard CO process. I got in line when they called my row, and the gate agent was scanning BPs as fast as she could. However, half the time, she was so impatient in waving them around under the scanner that they didn't scan, and she ended up having to type them in manually anyway. It was kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, I walked down the jetway, but when I got to the plane, there were no F/A's at the door; instead, all three of them were in the aisles trying to get everyone's bags in the overhead bins as fast as they could. Literally, one of the two male F/A's was literally chucking people's luggage in the bins, telling everyone to sit down ASAP. They kept making announcements for everyone to get seated and stowed as quickly as possible, and the F/A's were running around to try and get everyone situated. It was a little chaotic, but it was certainly the fastest boarding I've ever seen on CO. Typical for CO, the cabin was immaculate, and there were pillows and blankets in each row. Now, while I understand that CO is trying to market itself as a full-service carrier, but blankets and pillows on an afternoon BOS-EWR flight? If you're trying to cut costs, that would seem like the first place where you could cut them and nobody would mind... But then again, I'm sure that they have their reasons (brand consistency, maybe?).
We managed to push back from the gate at 4:42 PM, and we immediately taxiied over to the runway and took off less than 10 minutes later -- the captain (a female, actually), was speeding along on the taxiway, WN-style. Shortly after we took off, the lead F/A did the usual "welcome OnePass members, flying time, etc." spiel, and they started doing the beverage service shortly after that. The flying time was only 32 minutes, short even by BOS-EWR standards, so the F/A's were going through the cabin as quickly as they could with the drink cart. I think that the best way to describe CO F/A's is "professional" -- they were all polite and efficient, but none of them were overly gushing or fawning, which honestly, was fine with me.
There isn't much else to comment about on the flight -- it was so short, we landed only a few minutes after they came through to pick up garbage from the service. We landed on 22L, and we were literally at the gate within 90 seconds of landing -- we pulled right up, and they had the jetway attached and cabin door opened within 20 seconds, at most. I headed out to the arrivals roadway, where my dad picked me up and we headed home to northern NJ.
Excellent job by CO, as usual, and thanks to the helpful reservations agent, the delay was no big deal -- I ended up arriving home earlier than my original flight would have arrived -- and I live 40 minutes away from EWR.
I'll write the return when I have some free time later...
[Edited 2007-12-12 11:36:06]