Seats 7A, 10A
Photo © PolishAir42 - Chicago Aviation Photography
(A/C in UAX livery now)
Never knowing what security will be like at IAD-especially on the day before Thanksgving, we arrived at the airport at 7pm for our 10pm flight. And, naturally, it was a fast 20 min from the time we parked in the economy lot to the time we got on the people-eater to Terminal A. So we popped over to Gate A6 to check our flight status, and then decided to grab dinner. For whatever reason, the Five Guys in Terminal A decided to close over 3 hours early that night, and my wife was really craving a cheeseburger, so with plenty of time to kill we wandered over to Terminal B to see what options there were. After a leisurely dinner at the Fuddruckers there we went back to our gate and waited until our flight was called at 930. We were among the first on the plane, and to our surprise, the Flight Attendant said "oh- it's an empty flight- sit anywhere row 7 or behind." So, I snagged 7A, the single exit-row seat, while my wife just went to her assigned seat- 10A (I had 9A booked, but at 6'5", legroom is always needed). A few more people got on, but there were only about 12 of us total- a fairly light load. Naturally, the last guy to board was pretty drunk, and settled in 11A. The guy promptly announced "I dunno man, I see the engine- that's not good. I don't think we'll make it..." Once onboard, we sat for a few minutes before pushing back and taxiing to RWY30 where we made a rolling departure. The flight was nice and smooth, and inflight service consisted of drinks, with everyone getting the full can. Our route took us over eastern Pennsylvania, so there was nothing to really see out the window, so I spent the flight reading. Our approach to HPN took us right over the Tappan Zee bridge, into the downwind for RWY34, where we made a decidedly firm landing, followed by hard braking to turn off in front of the Avitat hangar. After a quick taxi, we were on stand, where we picked up our gate-checked bags, and went out to meet my in-laws, who were waiting for us, despite our arriving almost 30 min early.
Seats 9A, 11F
Photo © Mutzair
We spent the afternoon doing some errands before heading to the in-laws house to check our flight status, which, not surprisingly was showing a 70 min delay- with an 830pm departure instead of at 720. So I kept an eye on the status, and we settled in to a quick dinner together of Thanksgiving leftovers. One final check of the status before leaving showed a further delay, to 850. Traffic to the airport went quickly, and we arrived around 730. As we were getting out of the car, the Westchester County police were dragging a woman out of the terminal who was screaming "I've waited 3 hours and those #$%&ers won't tell me anything!" Yeah, and with that attitude, they sure as hell won't now... It's been a while since I've flown out of HPN, but I was surprised by how they wouldn't let you clear security until your plane was about to land, which makes sense, as the gate area there is kinda small, but there is NOWHERE to sit landside, and there were 7 flights still to depart, so the area was packed. At about 845, we still hadn't been called through security, so my wife called the United flight status number, and was told we were now due to leave at 950! Around 9pm, the FIDS finally changed to reflect this. Finally, at 920, we were allowed through security. Where we sat for about 20 min until boarding was called. Again, boarding was quick with an equally light load as the flight up. I had been assigned 10A, but moved back to 11F as those 2 seats were empty. The interior of this plane was in pretty poor shape- some of the overhead bins were missing doors, there were burned out lights all over the cabin, and none of the reading lights worked either. Also, the interior layout was a bit different- the plane on the flight up was ex-American Eagle/Chicago Express, and had the lav at the front of the cabin, while this one was ex-Express I/Mesaba, and had the lav at the rear, with the final row being 1-2, not 4 abreast. Legroom was also nonexistant- I was glad to have had the exit on the trip up. The final paperwork seemed to take a while, as we didn't taxi out until after 10pm. A short taxi to RWY16, followed by 1 arrival, and we were off. We entered clouds right away, and appeared to stay in them until just before landing. This flight was pretty bumpy the whole way, and I was surprised the flight attendant did a drink service. We initially got just the cup, but if we wanted more, she returned with the remainder of the can. The bumps, combined with the lack of light made reading too difficult, so I gave up, and spent the majority of the flight staring out the window, which made for a long flight. Eventually, we made a straight-in arrival on RWY19C, and quickly made our way to Gate A6. Naturally, my bag was the last to arrive from the gate-checked bags, and while the majority of the other passengers went to the customer service desk to deal with their missed connections, we began the long trek back to our car.
Apart from the weather delays on the trip home, this was a decent trip overall- nothing too special, but we did get there and back fine, and we'd definately keep this as an option in the future. Thanks for reading, and comments are always welcome!