I am still trying to create the perfect trip report, but alas again I have had some picure troubles and as a result only have a few. I will try to give some good description so that the words speak louder then pictures (if only!). So, if you're still excited to take a read, it'd be my pleasure to guide you through my flights on AirTran from Buffalo to Los Angeles.
Last year, I took a similar trip on AirTran but in the opposite direction from LAX to BUF through ATL. This year, myself and my dad decided to go and ride the Amtrak train again but on a different route connecting the west coast to the east coast. This year it was Amtrak's Texas Eagle which departs from LAX (Union Station) travels along the southern border of the United States through California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas until you follow the tracks north to Chicago through Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. The train departed from Los Angeles this time so we had to take a late flight from BUF to LAX and this is the result!
AirTran Airways (FL)
BUF - ATL
I have always been a fan of AirTran and their service. They are by definition a low cost carrier but at the same time they don't stoop down to a level where the service is you get what you pay for. Their fares are very low, but seeing as I come from Canada I think I am just amazed to see fares in the $99/one way when you compare directly to Air Canada and WestJet who have a market monopoly.
Originally, I payed the low fare and the fee to select my seat before the crowd placing myself in 12A, not too far from the front, not too close to the party at the back. From my last journey on the opposite direction route I upgraded the long haul from LAX to ATL to AirTran's business class which was such a good decision I decided to do so again. When I was offered the upgrade using the online check-in I noticed that the upgrade fees had increased, substantially. What was once $99 for the LAX - ATL run was now $149 while the BUF - ATL run remained at the $49 level. The price is still not bad, you get the comfy large seats, premium beverages, and good snacks for the flight. I decided it was worth it and upgraded the whole way moving myself to seats 1F and 1A, respectively.
When I got to BUF, I decided that I wanted to get a paper ticket from the E-FlyBye ticket kiosk. The ground agent at the ticket was so friendly, greeting me with a big smile and insisting that if I need any assistance that she is right there for me. I did my checking in, got my tickets and a receipt. The receipt had a little surprise on it, however. The "upgrade fee" which was printed on the receipt was double what I had payed only the night before jumping from $258 to $516! I stood there for a moment, got very worried and then talked to the same ground agent behind the desk. After some keystrokes she determined that it must be a "computer error" and that it wouldn't be a worry as her computer only shows the $258.00 in upgrades charged to my credit card. What a relief!
Passing through security was a breeze, except that I lost my toothpaste because it was much too big (my bad!). After getting some great wings at the Anchor Bar airside we went to the gate to get settled before the flight arrived. BUF is a very busy airport with a dominance from JB, US, and DL. Very interesting birds were hooked up to the jetways for sure! After seeing the few people at the gate, I thought: "there must be a ton of open J-class seats", so I went to the counter and asked a different gate agent what the story was about that. She said that there were 6 open, and at this time I had not upgraded this leg (I only did the LAX run on the computer). I decided to go for it (I like to buy on impulse) and upgrade for the $49. When I went to pay, my credit card got declined, twice. Angered that there may be an extra $258 charged to the card from FL, I began to call their reservation line and my credit card company to see what the story was. The rude agent from FL's call centre assured me in the time she hurried me off the phone that no extra charge was filed, while my agent at RBC said that they were just "concerned" seeing so many charges from AirTran in a few hours. All was rectified, I got upgraded to 1F.
Onboard the Boeing 717, it was magnificent. Boarding in zone 1 I made my way to Seat 1F, put my stuff away and prepared for the ride ahead. This is where I took a few pictures with my BlackBerry. The seat was very wide, made of very comfortable blue leather and had a great view out of both sides. I am going to be that person who says that the first row of the aircraft isn't in fact one of the worst seats but instead the best. I hate it when people in front of me keep moving their chair to readjust themselves and also trying to cram my feet under the forward seat. It was fantastic!
Business class passengers always board first on FL and are greeted by the crew upon boarding. The gate agents delay boarding for a few minutes while the crew come around to all of the J passengers and take drink orders. All drinks are complimentary on the flight, including alcohol. I didn't dip into that pool but instead enjoyed some delicious Fuze juice and TGI Friday Potato Skins. Absolutely fantastic so far!
Unfortunately we departed BUF about 10 minutes late due to some late passengers (who seem to follow me everywhere I go, this is always the reason for my delays). Once we closed the doors we rocketed from the gate to the active where we took off to the west and began the journey to ATL. The flight was fantastic absolutely with no turbulence, snacks and drinks coming from every direction and a very early arrival time even though we had left late. We touched down to a dark ATL about 20 minutes early, but as someone behind me said it best: "everytime you land in Atlanta early there is no available gate for the plane". This time was no different, we taxied from the runway to a remote taxiway where the plane sat for 25 minutes until our gate was cleared by the departing flight on the C concourse.
AirTran Airways (FL)
ATL - BUF
After a brief hustle from one of the farthest gates on the C concourse to the Air Train, we connected to our waiting plane at the D concourse. Unfortunately, they arrived late from some destination in Texas and were just beginning to unload passengers. The gate area for the flight was very busy, it looked like almost more people then the 737 could handle! After my speculation, a gate agent came over the local PA system to inform everyone that the flight was at capacity today with standby's and that we will need to be patient.
A few minutes later, the capitan came up the jetway, stood in the middle of the waiting area and made an started talking above everyone (without the microphone) about what he wanted to say. After introducing himself and thanking the passengers for flying AirTran he dropped the bombshell: "the aircraft came in from [enter city] and upon my own personal inspection is too dirty to fly all the way to LAX. I have requested the cleaning staff to do an entire clean of the aircraft before departure so that it isn't too dirty for the 4 and a half hours ahead of us". Fair enough, I like a clean space, but the problem was that if you don't book this service to meet the plane they come on their own time. About 30 minutes later, they arrived.
Now being delayed about 30 minutes for the cleaning the gate agent called for business class boarding. Everyone made their way down the jetway to be stopped by a flight attendant who wanted us to wait it out to ensure that everything was cleaned without any obstruction. We stood on the jetway for another 10 minutes until the cleaners slowly left through the propped jetway door down to their trucks. Boarding could begin. Everyone settled to their seats and ordered their drinks, and then "he" showed up. A man, claiming to be on some tattoo-based reality show took his seat at 1D and promptly ordered a Bloody Mary. His request was granted, and he began the drunken behaviour. He gulped back the drink and asked for more. The female flight attendant noticed that his behaviour was unacceptable and refused any more alcohol for him, which he wasn't too pleased with. After a small altercation, the capitan stepped in and pulled him off of the aircraft for a discussion which wasn't too discreet. His behaviour was awful, not acceptable to be flying on but the Captain said: "i'll give you one chance". With all due respect, if someone becomes disorderly in the air due to intoxication I don't think that a chance was the right answer in this situation. He continued to mouth off asking everyone around him: "do you think i'm drunk?" and showing off his tattoos.
Push back occurred about an 50 minutes late after all of the commotion from across the walkway, cleaning, and the requirement for 2 new seat cushions. After pushback we rocketed towards the runway. My neighbour at 1D decided that he wasn't effected by the rules (although AirTran clearly states that it is federal law to comply with all illuminated signs and crew instructions). Still using his phone and trying to get up and walk around while taxiing provided more tension in the cabin. The head flight attendant got him to sit down, turn off the phone and shut up. It was a conclusion to alot of drama which didn't need to happen.
Take-off to the south and we were on the way to LAX. The same service was offered on this run which was offered on the BUF flight. Drinks and snacks were coming from every direction, the cabin was dark for people to sleep and the GoGo internet was working great. All in all, that was about it for the flight portion.
We landed at LAX only 10 minutes late, amazing I know. Once again, another FL plane was still at the gate when we pulled upto the terminal. We had a 10 minute wait before we saw the Atlanta bound 737 taxing beside us for the active. All in all a great flight and a quick transfer to the Crowne Plaza LAX.
I love AirTran, everything about it is just fantastic and this trip didn't change my mind at all. Sure I would have been happier to have the drunk man relocated to another aircraft but if that's the decision of the Captain, that's the way it is. The flights were both great, made good time, and were very comfortable. You can never go wrong when flying FL in my opinion. The only think I am not a fan of is the expiring A+ Reward Miles, that needs some rethinking...
I hope you enjoyed my TR! Your feedback and comments are appreciated .