Wifi and condensation on US Airways!
Other reports related to this trip.
1. A Ride With A Rare Blue Bird! (by MSS658 Oct 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
2. Air Canada, North America's Hidden Jewel? (by MSS658 Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
The summer season of 2010 was getting closer and closer and it was time to travel again. I had more time to travel this time so I would be combing Florida, South Carolina and another US city (will leave it a surprise for the moment). On this trip I wanted to add an aircraft that was on my must-fly list which consists of the MD11, A310 and the B753. I finally decided to fly KLM’s MD11 between Amsterdam and Montreal (covered in the first part of this series trip reports.). After a one night stopover I flew down to Fort Lauderdale via Toronto on Air Canada (covered in the second part of the series).
My next stop after a week in Florida was Anderson, South Carolina. I wanted to combine this segment and my next segment (from Anderson to the surprise US-city, will announce it in my next report.) on the same ticket. My choices were limited to US Airways, Delta and Airtran whose fares where equal, for mileage purposes and the choice of airport (Charlotte vs Atlanta) I have chosen US Airways. The first segment would take me from Fort Lauderdale to Charlotte on an A321 aircraft. When booking my flight I noticed a Internet connectivity sign, notifying me that there would be wifi-Internet available on board. US Airways has recently installed wifi on all their A321’s. However, after a recent long-haul trip from Frankfurt to Charlotte that did not work out that well. I had some mixed feelings about flying US again, but being a Continental Onepass member you get the miles.
24 hours before departure I received an email inviting me to check in online, with another notice that wifi would be available on my flight. Having my seat assigned I did not worry about the online check in. The next day I woke up in plenty of time, after eating a nice breakfast and packing my bags I turned on my computer. I found out that my plane would be flying from Chicago to Ft Lauderdale with a short stopover in Charlotte. While I still had time, I decided to do the online check in anyway and found out that the checked baggage fees had increased to 23 dollars, if I waited until I arrived the airport I would have paid 25 dollars. At the end of the online check-in I was notified again about the wifi on my flight. The flight would be full as expected, shorty after 1230 Approached and it was time to leave to Fort Lauderdale.
@ the airport
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale at about 1315, about on hour and 45 minutes prior to departure, a quick FIDS scan would learn me that my flight would be on time but the 1305 flight to Charlotte would be delayed for about an hour and a half. There would be a flight to Philadelphia that would be delayed as well. After check-in I went to explore the terminal, US Airways uses terminal 3 in Fort Lauderdale, this was my first time here. My previous flights departed and arrived in terminal 2 (Delta and Air Canada). I personally liked how Terminal 3 has been set up, giving you an impression that you are walking down main street instead of Terminal 3. US Airways, Airtran, jetBlue, American and Westjet uses the terminal. However, only US and Airtran would be using concourse E. All others would be using concourse F. At around 1400 I passed thru security using the body scan machine for the first time. Traffic in the terminal was limited to our flight (US1630), the previous delayed flight to Charlotte (US1610) and the flight to Philadelphia (US742). US1630 would be operated by an A321, US 1610 by an B734 and US742 by an A320. When I glared over to terminal 2 I could see something very special at terminal 2, something I tought that did not existed anymore. There was a 757 parked at gate D8
in the Northwest colorsheme. When I approached gate E9 our plane had already arrived from Chicago and Charlotte and was being prepared for it’s flight to New York LaGuardia via Charlotte, the flight would be operated by N196UW a brand new A321 that was delivered about a year prior. Next to us at gate E8
, US1610 was boarding already. Most of the passengers on our flight were vacationers heading back home. When I reached my boarding pass I noticed that I was seated in zone 4, normally this would have been in zone 2, when asking the gate agent I got the famous ‘I don’t know what this is’ reply. Just when I was about to leave the lead flight attendant came thru the jetway, as the sky was starting to turn grey she went up to the gate agent and litteraly yelled in a big southern accent “You see that out there, We’ve got weather approaching in Charlotte as well. You see, we are on our last leg and we don’t feel like being delayed, so this is the deal we’ll be ready in about 5 minutes. We want everybody on as soon as possible that we leave before the weather.” I was really not wanting to know at this time what to expect on board if the Flight Attendants were yelling to the gate agents already. At 1425 boarding started and about 20 minutes later it was my turn to board
Sunday, 25 July 2010
Fort Lauderdale (FLL
/KFLL) – Charlotte (CLT
US Airways 1630 (Codeshare: United Airlines 1881)
Airbus A321-211 N196UW. Economy 26A
15h00-14h54 (Gate E9; wheels up on runway 9L
17h03-16h56 (Gate C15; wheels down on runway 23 at 16h56)
Est flying time: 1hr 37mins.
Cruising Altitude: FL
Load factor: 100% in Y
Routing: Route: KFLL-ARKES1-ARKES-J113-CRJ-J51-SAV
126th registered flight.
7th flight in 2010
7th flight on US Airways
9th flight on the A320 aircraft series.
2nd flight on the A321.
1st flight on N196UW
Boarding happened thru the 1L door. When I boarded I was greeted by the same flight attendant who shouted at the gate agent a few minutes before. When I entered the F-cabin it smelled fresh. Passing thru the cabin I was greeted at each doorway by a F/A, all of them which had a thick southern accent. My seat was located after the 3L/3R doors. When I arrived at my seat the aisle was taken and the middle seat stayed open, knowing that it would be a full flight, I was still hoping that the middle seat would remain open. The flight attendants were rushing to get everyone on board and seated as quickly as possible, making announcements on the intercom where to stow carry-ons, at the end of the boarding process they mentioned that they were trying to beat the weather. In the mean time there was smoke filling the cabin, thankfully I knew that this was just the air conditioning, but it was quite something to see this for the first time. By now the boarding process was almost done and the middle seat was still open. I became quite optimistic, but just before the doors closed the middle seat was occupied. We pushed back about 5 minutes prior to schedule, after push back the safety announcement was made by the F/A in the rear galley, she was the only one that did not have a southern accent (nothing against it, but found it worth mentioning). We taxied along to runway 9L
, on our way I spotted a jetBlue A320 and a Southwest 737 standing next to each other, did not make the best picture but was worth posting. At 1507 we lifted off towards the Atlantic ocean. After take off the flight attendant at the 2L/2R doors made an announcement of the smoke in the cabin.
N196UW was delivered just a little more than a year prior, and you could see and smell it. The walls had the US airways swoosh theme on it. The new seats were a bit firm but what surprised me was the amount of legroom, definite more than on the A330 I took back in February between Frankfurt and Charlotte. This plane had no IFE drop down screens or audio programming, not that I minded about that on a hour and a half flight to Charlotte, but knowing that these planes fly a lot of transcons, I would like to have some kind of IFE on a 4-hour flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles. When I opened my tray table I noticed, just as on my A330 flight in February there were advertisements on the tray-tables. This time promoting the wifi service (for 4,5 dollars), I guess that this would compensate the lack of IFE on longer flights. The snack service consisted of small snacks sold for 3 dollars. I opted for the oreo bites and some orange juice. On this flight the crew was very nice and attentive, much better than the infamous crew I had before between Frankfurt and Charlotte in Feb. One of the F/A’s noticed my European accent and asked from where I was from. When I responded that I was from Belgium the F/A told me how she loved Brussels. She had worked PHL
quite a few times. On our way another F/A made an announcement that we where flying over Cape Canaveral, Unafortunaly I was on the wrong side of the plane, but I did get a good view of the MCO
At 1620 the descent started towards Charlotte, the weather was announced to be 101 Fahrenheit, on our way down we had quite a few hard bumps. On our final approach you had a view of downtown Charlotte before touching down on runway 23 at 1644. After touchdown the cabin condensation started again, this time (because it was much hotter than in Fort Lauderdale) it was much tenser than in Ft Lauderdale. As you can hear we were told to open our air vents and close the windows as soon as we reached the gate. On our way we had a hold next to another US Airways A321 registered N534US. Before reaching our gate at the end of the C-concourse we where passed by an A330-300 registered N273AY. N273AY was performing US Airways flight 704 to Frankfurt. The same flight I took back in February, I did feel sorry for the people who were going to be cramped for the next 8 hours to Frankfurt. Finally at 1655 we parked at the gate, after making the traditional cockpit shot I was on my way out.
The first stop was back at the gate to get a decent exterior shot. After that a quick peek to where it was going, it was going to fly the continuation leg of US1630 to New York LGA
. I proceeded to the baggage claim where my luggage was awaiting me. By 1730 we were out of the airport and ready to leave from Charlotte airport, still in sunny condition. But 20 minutes later a huge storm passed thru closing the airport, so we where lucky we DID beat the weather. I arrived at home in Anderson, South Carolina by 1930.
Despite the 23 dollar bribe for my checked bag and all other costs they added for everything I was quite satisfied about this flight, US Airways promotes to be an airline that gets you from A to B, and they have succeeded that. I have yet to have my first delayed US Airways arrival. What does surprises me is that the inflight service on shorter domestic flights are much better then their longer flights. The A321 had a decent amount of legroom and friendly, caring flight attendants. While the longer flights operated on the A330-300 have a cramped coach seat and you will have a good chance on being barked by the flight attendants. It’s quite strange since on most domestic routes ex-CLT
they will be the only carrier. While on longer flights you face the competition of airlines such as Lufthansa (which is miles ahead, trip report to follow on that). Flying between Florida and South Carolina you would have the choice between Delta thru Atlanta and US Airways thru Charlotte. Even being critical about US Airways I would still opt for US because of the mileage and preferring CLT
in any aspect. I also found the US A321 to be more tidy than the Delta 757 I flew a year prior between Ft Lauderdale and Atlanta. I would rate US on par with Air Tran who I flew with in 2008.
US Airways 1630: (Total 81%)
Departure: 70% (Terminal 3 is a nice terminal, with basic stuff to do)
Aircraft cleanliness : 80% (Aircraft was clean and cool)
Seat Comfort: 60% (seats where on the firm side)
Crew: 80% (Friendly and attentive crew)
Catering: 60% (quite expensive for just some oreo small bites)
Arrival: 80% (Smooth as always in Charlotte)
As a bonus I would like to give a list of regs I spotted in YUL
My Total travel time was about 6 hours.
Total facts on this trip
1 New registration (N196UW)
Thank you for viewing comments and feedback are appreciated.
Next trip report:
A West Side Flight On The East Side. (+ I will finally reveal the surprise city)
Past trip reports (related and not-related to this trip)
Air Canada, North America's Hidden Jewel? (by MSS658 Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Ride With A Rare Blue Bird! (by MSS658 Oct 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A333's.Are They Really That Bad? Part 2 (by MSS658 Oct 23 2010 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A330-300's. Are They Really That Bad? (by MSS658 Oct 16 2010 in Trip Reports)