Past reports in this trip report series:
1. US Airways A332s, A Step Forward In The Fleet? (by MSS658 Apr 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
NOTE: This trip report has been posted a few weeks ago as well, Unafortunaly due to some technical errors on A.net my report has been vanished. Here is a new edition of it. For the ones who already had commented, please feel free to re-comment as well
October 2011, time to look at the Christmas vacation coming up end December. As usual my destination would be Anderson, SC. The first thing to do was searching various airlines, prices and itineraries. After quite a bit of a search 3 itineraries came up, all of them heading to Atlanta. An airport I have not been in since 2009. On the menu today was:
1. Delta Air Lines: Paris CDG-Atlanta direct A330-300
Delta is my most flewn airline, I’ve been on the A330-300 before and a direct flight was not so interesting
2. United Airlines: Brussels-Chicago-Atlanta-Washington/Newark-Brussels B767-300/B777-200 on the TATL
Would have been my preferred connection as I’m always had wanted to try the old United. However, a 6hour layover in Chicago and going thru IAD/EWR in December did not look that inviting.
3. US Airways: Paris CDG-Charlotte-Atlanta A330-200 on the TATL
A bit more on this one here, as It’s not a secret here anymore. US Airways is not the most favourite carrier for anyone of us, including me. Back in 2010 I flew Brussels-Frankfurt-Charlotte and back with them on their Airbus A330-300s having one of the worst inflight experiences I can remember. Terrible seat pitch, rude F/A’s…. not a trip to remember. Actually you can find the report here.
US Airways A330-300's. Are They Really That Bad? (by MSS658 Oct 16 2010 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A333's.Are They Really That Bad? Part 2 (by MSS658 Oct 23 2010 in Trip Reports)
However all the bad said in here, US Airways acquired a few A330-200’s back in 2009, mainly to have the range to fly to Tel Aviv from Philadephia. Besides these routes the newer A330’s have been active on flights to London, Paris, Rome and Madrid as well as the route from Charlotte to Paris. Since these planes are quite new, US promoted the new and improved amenities in both classes. Knowing this, I always promised to give US another chance longhaul if I had the chance to catch the A330-200. So it was a done deal. The flight on to Atlanta would be on a CRJ 900, a fairly new type for me.
When looking for return options, US Airways gave me an equally priced choice via Charlotte or Philadelphia, both options had an A319 aircraft on the shorthaul and an A330-200 on the longhaul Since I’m not a huge fan of the rushed 6hour redeye from the Northeast to Paris I decided to opt for transferring in Charlotte again.
After arriving on Christmas day in mild Anderson and the usual family visits. Off course I could take some pictures to show you guys a bit around Anderson,SC. For all the American readers, just a small town like another. For the others maybe a bit exotic .
Christmas day itself, a recreational park full of Christmas lights.
Lights of hope
And of course, no USA visit without some great chocolate pie
And a juicy rib-eye steak…
Enough about the food now, let’s take a look in town. Here is a short picture of downtown Anderson, SC (picture taken from a crosswalk, so no worries here).
And here, the old Sullivan building.
And the court house
Soon the 28th of December had arrived and I noticed again that there was no check in reminder in my mailbox for the next days flights, not a big deal but still not the habit of US Airways. But before flying, let’s go eat some Japanese at an ‘American’ Hibachi steak house.
Soon December the 29th came, and at a bit past 8:00 I was ready to hit the road. First a quick stop to get some breakfast at my grandmothers. After some goodbye’s it was time to hit the road on I-85 towards Atlanta. Afer an uneventfull drive I made it in the capital of the Southeast by 11:15. First stop to drop off my rental car. Here is my last pic of the Dodge Avenger which transported me the last week!
Leaving Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International airport
After dropping of my car it was on to the rental car terminal. This is a separate terminal off-airport where all rental car offices are located in.
The next stop is the automated train for a 5 minute ride to the main terminal.
Atlanta haves 2 terminals, North and South. Most airlines are located in terminal North except for Delta, KLM and Air France which dominate the South Terminal. For one or other reason Koreanair is in North as well, even being Skyteam. In my case, the North terminal will be used as well for my flight towards Charlotte, a quick overview of all the airlines serving the North Terminal.
Outside you can locate the precise location of your airline’s check in counter. US Airways is right over here.
Soon I approached the check in kiosk where I was able to check in for my flights to Charlotte and on to Paris .Soon an agent approached and was amazed that I found it out how to work the computer system. Apparently not so much seasoned travels that check in on US Airways from Atlanta. I asked what prize I got and I was offered the (standard) 600 dollar fee for an upgrade to Envoy on my longhaul flight. We both laughed and I went on. When dropping of my bag there was a discussion going on between the agent and the supervisor. Not very professional to have this in earshot of customers. When showing my American passport the check-in agent she got confused since I was using my return segment. When showing my Belgian one she told me to use this one for the remainder of my journey. Quite strange since I usually use my USA passport for the journey unless arriving in the E.U when I show my Belgian one.
When I finally got rid of my bag I went trough security. Passengers coming from each terminal has it’s checkpoint and one main checkpoint. I opted for the North terminal security checkpoint and was trough in a jiffy. I ended in the T-concourse. This concourse is used by United and American airlines, as well as some Delta flights. Some longhaul departures use this place as well when the International concourse is overcrowded. Here is a quick view of the neighbouring A-concourse. Solely used for Delta flights
Next stop to the underground train connecting all the concourses with eachother. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International has 6 concourses. T, A, B, C, D and E.
For our readers who are not so familiar with the Atlanta airport, here is a small directory. After talking about concourse T I’ll tell you a bit about the rest of the concourses.
Concourse A&B are solely used for Delta Air Lines mainline flights.
Concourse C is used for Delta Connection and Airtran
Concourse D will be used for US Airways, Continental Airlines (at the time this trip was taken), Spirit and Delta as well
Concourse E is used for all international arrivals and most departures as well. Air France, KLM, British Airways and Lufthansa house here as well. Even with my flight leaving in the D-concourse, I took the train all the way to the E-concourse. It is 12:30, and my stomach is telling me it is lunchtime. And as routine tells me, McDonalds is the place to go for my last meal.
The E-concourse is actually one of the nicer ones in Atlanta, with an automated piano player in the foud court for example.
Let’s quickly take a look at the FIDS. As said earlier the Atlanta-Charlotte route is pretty wel flewn since US Airways, Airtran and Delta Air Lines has flights between these cities. US1480 to Charlotte is still running nicely on time. Great so far
Before heading towards gate D21, I made a stroll down the E-concourse. Giving me quite a bit of memories from my childhood and younger teenage years when I exclusively flew to and from this concourse to Paris CDG, Brussels and Amsterdam. On the as today well known Skyteam trio Air France-KLM-Delta. Operated on various types, I flewn 767s, 747s, 777s, A340s and even L1011s from this airport.
Back to December 2011 now and times have changed. Nice to see this caravan buzzing around between the heavies out here. In the background some Delta Air Lines planes. Off course, Delta’s home is Atlanta. Right?
And some familiar visitors as well, like N155DL. An ex-gulf air Boeing 767-300 from Delta, she took me from Atlanta to Brussels back in February 2007
The Atlanta skyline is in sight as well.
The waiting area of gate E12, this gate is the gate used for inaugural long-haul departures. Ceremonies are kept here as well, a bit chaotic in my opinon
I must admit, I will never quite get used to an A330 (N820NW) in Delta colors waiting for her departure to Europe later this afternoon
This Boeing 777-200LR is going a bit further than me today. N707DN is almost ready to go to Tokyo-Narita and Singapore as DL281.
Here is the new F-concourse that is still under construction, this will handle the longhaul flights once it opens.
By now it was 13:15 and decided to head back to the D-concourse. On the way back I discovered Lufthansa has it’s own Senator lounge here in Atlanta. Quite a waste of money in my opinion since Lufthansa only has 1 daily flight to Frankfurt from here. British Airways has it’s own Terraces Lounge as well.
Once in the D-concourse there was another ex-Northwest bird parked at one of the gates. Those DC9s look pretty nice in the new Delta colors. Maybe a mission in a next USA adventure.
The D-concourse is clearly more crowded than the E-concourse
In the meanwhile our inbound had arrived as US1429 from New York Laguardia with an intermediate stop in Charlotte. The scheduled aircraft is an A319. US Airways has quite a bit of special liveries on their A319s, my fingers where crossed since booking this trip that one of these would be dispatched. When I arrived at the gate I was disappointed when I found N764US. A normal painted US Airways A319 has been sent in from Charlotte.
Oh well, not much we can do about it. My eyes fell soon on the gate display still decorated for the holidays. Now I’m sure US1480 to Charlotte and on to Detroit will leave from gate D21 today. Unlike my previous flight in April 2007 when my flight to Philadelphia got cancelled from here.
At gate D23 US754 to Philadelphia was listed, this flight would have the same destination as mine today as US754 terminates in Paris CDG as well. There is an aircraft change in Philadelphia. The A319 was scheduled on the Atlanta-Philadelphia leg and the A330-200 on the Philadelphia-Paris CDG leg. At 13:25 boarding was called for our flight. Since I’m seated in zone 5 I still had to wait a bit. During the boarding process there was an older couple trying to figure out in which zone they where and when It was there turn. They where sure that nobody from a higher zone would get in front of them as well. Soon zone 5 was called at 13:40 and I started making my way in the jetway to board:
US Airways flight US 1480 from Atlanta to Charlotte
Thursday, December 29 2011
Atlanta (ATL/KATL)- Charlotte (CLT/KCLT)
US Airways 1480 (United Airlines 2230, Lufthansa German Air Lines 5143)
Airbus A319-112 N764US Economy 14A.
Built and delivered to US Airways on 20 November 2000
14.00-13.58 (Gate D21; wheels up on runway 27R at 14.18)
15.13-15.13 (Gate B16; wheels down on runway 18C at 15.06)
Est flying time: 38minutes
Cruising Altitude: FL 270
Load factor: 100% in Y
154th flight registered
17th flight in 2011
12th flight on US Airways
14th flight on the Airbus A320 family
5th flight on the Airbus A319
1st flight on N764US
Passing trough the jetway a flight attendant quickly went out direction the elderly couple who where right behind me to tell them and the gate agent that they where not taking any more carryon bags. Well, it seems like I was lucky on that one, oeff!!!. When boarding I noticed the logo’s of the different carriers that makes up today’s US Airways. Piedmont, PSA, America West and the 4th one I can’t come up with… I was really wanting to see one of those special A319 liveries..
When entering the cabin the chocolate box appeared immediately. The Flight Attendant thanked me herefore. As soon as I stept inside the First class cabin I realised that the flight was going to be full. When entering Economy I stowed my baggage in the first available overhead bin. I usually don’t do this and do not support this behaviour at all. But given that I was the last one allowed with carryon luggage on board I knew it was rather senseless to try to find some space closer to my seat. A few moments later I found my seat 14A. At the moment seat 14B and 14C where still unoccupied. But that would not take long, a few minutes later the ‘confused’ couple came and where occupied these seats. After asking me and others various times if this was indeed row 14. After everyone finally got settled it’s time to explore the view. Just another Delta Air lines DC9 waiting it’s departure over here.
Legroom was ok for this short flight to North Carolina. I suddenly noticed a boarding pass of a previous flight in the seat pocket. This plane already had an early start between Charlotte and New York Laguardia this morning I learned and cleaning crews in New York, Charlotte and Atlanta have overseen this. Oh well, not a big drama and quite interesting to see some history of N764US’s mission today.
As on the vast majority of US Airways’ aircraft the No smoking sign has been replaced by the ‘turn of all electronic devices’ sign. This extinguishes automatically above 10 000feet.
Soon the door closed and our pusback commenced a few minutes before schedule, in the meanwhile Concourse E has already became more busy as the first bank of the European longhaul flights have arrived.
When we left the ramp we came to a halt on the taxiway, soon the captain came on to tell us that we would be waiting here for 10 minutes due to air traffic restrictions. At least we had a good view of Deltaland. Each aircraft coming from somewhere in Europe.
At 14:14 our taxi continued to runway 27R, first another shot of the new F-concourse due to open very shortly
Soon we turned onto the active and we started to roll at 14:18
Soon we where over I-285, or the Atlanta ring!!
Shortly afterwards over the Atlanta suburbs, bound for Charlotte
I noticed the seat was equipped with an audio control panel from back in the days where audio and video where offered on domestic narrowbody flights as well. All forms of inflight entertainment where abandoned on US Airways back in the early 2000s as another cost cutting measure.
The cabin itself looked very well-used. However no signs of age where to be seen. Note the panels still had the old grey instead of the swoosh-style colors
In the meanwhile we have reached FL 290, somewhere over the Georgia countryside
Soon the in flight service began, unlike my Mesa flight from Charlotte to Atlanta a few days prior there was an inflight service run. However, it was announced by our crew that we had to have our table down and your decision made by the time the cart arrived. My tray-table down, off course with the advertisement found on 95% of US Airways’ fleet.
Our crew today was Charlotte based. One male and 2 females all three in their late 40s. Quite senior for being a domestic routing such as this one. When I peeked out of the window I noticed a familiar sight. Lake Hartwell dam.
Meaning that we would be soon over Anderson, SC again. 6 hours after leaving here this morning.
At 14:35 the cart reached my aisle and I ordered an Orange juice.
When I started to nip on my orange juice the throttles where pulled back down telling me that the decent into the Charlotte had commenced.
The last view of South Carolina for a long while.
Starting the approach while trash is being collected.
Already lining up, I wonder on which runway we are going to land on?
Overflying lake Norman, meaning a landing on runway 18C
A quick view of downtown Charlotte
15:06, Cactus 1480 touches down on runway 18C and N764US starts to slow down gently
Jup, we are not in Atlanta anymore since all the Delta jets have been replaced by US Airways airplanes indicating we have arrived in Charlotte.
While taxing in there is a familiar friend leaving to somewhere around town. N460UW, the aircraft that took me from Charlotte to West Palm Beach in August 2011.
Chasing The Storm On US Airways! (by MSS658 Jan 24 2012 in Trip Reports)
Soon we docked into gate B16 right on schedule at 15:13 beside a company A320 registred N111US.
Soon the usual rush to get off the plane as soon as possible started, I waited and enjoyed the scene. When it got calmer I got my stuff and proceeded to the front as well. Since the pilots had already left there was no flight deck visit. At 15:20 I was in the B-concourse of Charlotte Douglas International.
Transferring in Charlotte Douglas International Airport
After a short stop and a crew change in Charlotte N764US will continue her journey to Detroit at 16:25. The first stop is the FIDS, US786 to Paris Charles De Gaulle is still on time.
Estimated departure time is 17:30 and the departure gate is still at gate D9.
While I still have 2 hours before my next departure I might as well give you a small walkaround trough the airport. After passing trough the rather crowded concourse B it was time to proceed to the first stop. Concourse A! Concourse A is used for all domestic and Canada flights which are not operated by US Airways or US Airways Express except for jetBlue. There was not to much traffic out there, just this United A319. However, I’m not such a fond of the new United livery I must say it looks pretty nice on the A320 family aircraft. Soon departing for Chicago ORD as UA741.
And a Chataqua Airlines Embrear 145 registred N567RP, bound for Cincinatti as DL6083
Soon it was direction the B and C concourses. These concourses are used for all domestic flights operated by US Airways. US Airways Express carrier Republic airlines uses the C-concourse as well. Here is the various US Airways mix of aircraft.
In the connector between the B and C concourses you have the main atrium where you can find the majority of the stores and restaurants, looks a bit like skycity in Arlanda huh??
What makes Charlotte such an unique airport as well is the huge amount of classical southern ‘rocking chairs” quite nice and relaxing to spend some time in them, but no time today. Our next stop will be the D-concourse. This concourse is used for all International arrivals and most departures as well. Here is a picture taken from the D-concourse. The 3rd plane is the Airbus A330 that will take me back to Paris Charles De Gaulle in an hour and a half from now.
Since Paris is the only longhaul destination that is served by the A330-200 the aircraft gets rotated in from Philadelphia. It leaves the previous evening as US754 to Paris Charles De Gaulle before turning around as US787 to Charlotte where it arrived at 14:32. When I checked the aircraft registration on flightradar24 last night it showed me that N283AY would be the aircraft assigned on the Paris-Charlotte run. I was quite surprised when I zoomed in and found this.
N279AY, that’s a A330-300… for a moment a mini panic attack settled in, just the thought about spending another 8 hours in the back of a non-refurbished -300. After a few seconds my common sense spoke to me reminding that N279AY is the first -200 series delivered to US Airways. I’ve mentioned in previous reports that the B and C concourses can be very crowded sometimes, here is a short picture to show this.
Our next and final stop will be the E-concourse where all US Airways Express flights will leave from. No pictures from here, but If you really want to see some it has been covered in other reports.
US Airways And Irregular Operations! (by MSS658 Jul 17 2011 in Trip Reports)
Propping Around The Upstate! (by MSS658 Aug 7 2011 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A332s, A Step Forward In The Fleet? (by MSS658 Apr 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
However, no Charlotte-report without one pic from this place. Today in the spotlight an A330-300 registered N273AY which arrived prior as US705 from Frankfurt Main and will leave again in a few hours as US732 to London Gatwick. In the background you can see Lufthansa’s daily arrival from Munich.
On the way to gate D9 I could see another familiar friend. N246AY, the Boeing 767-200 that took me from Philadelphia to Charlotte in August 2011. The full story you can read here.
Chasing The Storm On US Airways! (by MSS658 Jan 24 2012 in Trip Reports)
Today she is heading to Rome as US721 at 18:20. While I found the 762 to be comfortable it would be a bit to long for a flight to Rome Fiumencio
Lufthansa is as usual parked at gate D12. She arrived just about 45 minutes ago from Munich as LH428 and will leave at 17:30 back to Munich as LH429. In the winter season an Airbus A330-300 is deployed on the route. Today D-AIKI is assigned for the Charlotte-run.
N255AY Is present as well, she arrived earlier from Rome FCO as US722 and will depart back as US1522 to Philadelphia at 17:55
Since there is a corridor for the arriving passengers between the departure hall and the aircraft taking pictures isn’t that easy always. Here was my best shot of N279AY, in full preparation for it’s flight to Paris
Soon I went to the podium to get my documents checked! I asked the agent that I’ve heard they where giving free upgrades to Envoy. The gate agent laughed and told me they where waiting on me. When showing my Belgian passport I was asked for my ESTA entry pass, after telling him I had dual nationality it was ok. While waiting on the boarding call a quick picture of the D-concourse, I like the way that it’ has been designed. Wide and open.
At approximately 16:40 the boarding was called in broken English and fluent French. I do not remember having a german-speaking gate agent on my Charlotte-Frankfurt flight back in 2010. US Airways A333's.Are They Really That Bad? Part 2 (by MSS658 Oct 23 2010 in Trip Reports)
However I did find it quite nice to see how much the Charlotte airport and US Airways invested in this route. Especially since Paris is not a Star Alliance hub. At 16:50 zone 5 was called again and I was in the jetway:
US Airways flight US 0786 From Charlotte to Paris Charles De Gaulle
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Charlotte (CLT/KCLT) – Paris Charles De Gaulle (CDG/LFPG)
US Airways 786 (United Airlines 2455, Aegan Airways 3419)
Airbus A330-243 N279AY. Economy Class 21A
Built and delivered to US Airways on 10 April, 2009
17.30-17.28 (Gate D09; wheels up on runway 18L at 17.44)
07.55-07:10 (Terminal 1, Gate 23; wheels down on runway 27R at 14.50)
Announced flying time: 7hrs11mns
Cruising Altitude: FL 400
Load factor: 95% in Y
155th registered flight.
18th flight in 2011
12th flight on US Airways
5th flight on the A330 series aircraft
2nd flight on the Airbus A330-200
1st flight on N279AY
recommended song for this long haul flight: Zanzibar –Billy Joel
16:52 in Charlotte, 22:52 in Paris. I entered the A330-200 where the Assistant Purser with a big New Jersey and French accent greeted me. I would estimate her at least in her upper 60s. More on her later. I told my seat was to the left, but she responded to me that I should keep on dreaming and laughed. My seat today was 21A, the last window row of the forward cabin. I quickly gave the box of chocolates to the flight attendant manning door 3L. She was very glad to get it and we talked for a few minutes about the new Airbus which Flight Attendants do like working. I could definite feel the difference in the crews’ mood comparing to my A330-300 flight back in 2010. After a few minutes I returned to my seat. My seatmate, a young French woman in her 20s has arrived as well. While the cabin was filling slowly the sun started to set gradually.
In the meanwhile Moving on from John Adorney was playing. While a welcome video was shown
A view of the cabin when boarding was almost completed.
Legroom was the same off course as on my flight to Charlotte a few days prior, but for the ones who missed it.
As our departure time neared the sunset outside was in fun swing.
The captain came soon on the intercom announcing the flight time would take about 7hrs11mins which is very short since the flight is scheduled to take 8hrs25minutes. A few minutes prior to schedule the manual ‘Southern accented’ safety demo was presented and the Pushback started.
The Carolina Panthers A319 parked at the C-concourse, where was this plane when I wanted to see it earlier in Atlanta.
Soon passing our neighbour N270AY, an A330-300 who would be heading soon to Frankfurt as US704 at 20:10. A few hours later this plane would be delayed by 7 hours for some unknown reason
When we turned on to the main taxiway we got treated to this sight.
Passing the D-concourse again
The control tower
The Regional concourse E.
Words just can’t describe the view over here.
Soon we turned on to runway 18L and the other right side of the plane could enjoy the view. At 17:44 Charlotte time, 23:44 in Paris the A330-200 fired up it’s throttles and we where in the yellow and orange skies of North Carolina
Wishing I was on the other side now
At least we had the city lights.
And some more
After turning we had the best view of the house again
The lights are switched on again and my fellow passengers are slowly settling in for the overnight journey to France.
Tailwinds are favourable today giving us an estimated landing almost 1 hour prior to schedule
Continuing our climb to 40 000feet
High above the North Carolinian skies as the last part of daylight is visible. The remainder of flight US786 will be in full darkness.
I started to settle in for a movie which for one or other reason I forgot the title completely. However I do remember that I wasn’t so over entertained by it. Soon the crew sprung into action. As on usual Charlotte based longhaul flight this crew went quite senior. In the Economy cabin there where 5 flight attendants. Besides the assistant purser who made all announcements as well in French as in English. Three ‘younger’ flight attendants in their upper 40s. One which had previously worked on my Charlotte-Frankfurt flight in 2010, Thankfully no bad memories about her. The other Flight Attendant was a typical US Airways Charlotte based longhaul F/A.
18:30 in Charlotte, 0:30 in Paris, 45mins in the flight and still 6hours 30minutes to go before reaching Paris the dinner service began. The choice was chicken or pasta. I remembered having a very good pasta on my Charlotte-Frankfurt flight back in 2010. However this Pasta did not look nearly as good as the previous one. It was similar to the pasta on my outbound flight.
When our assistant purser asked my beverage choice I intentionally ordered watered. Then she offered me free wine. Which I off course accepted. Then the AP suddenly got confused and asked a bit frankly what I wanted now… After some explaining of the situation I got the wine. I was very pleased with the free gesture off course, However the last conversation was a bit awkward in my opinion. I was really starting to wonder how she would react in a ‘real’ situation.
While waiting for the service to be completed I snapped another picture of the cabin.
The rear section of N279AY, seems like an almost full ride to Paris tonight.
For the ones who have not realised it yet, I’m flying US Airways tonight .
20:40 in Charlotte, 2:40 in Paris. In the meanwhile we are airborne since 3 hours, N279AY is planned to touch down in just a little bit over 4 hours.
We have just overflew St-Johns and have started our long and dark treck over the Atlantic.
Now it’s the great time to catch the zzzz’s. As usual on these flights it consisted more of napping with several interruptions. Accidentally selected Billy Joel instead of Black Eyed Peas on the audio-list. Being to lazy to change it I settled in for his album ‘52th street’.
After quite a bit my lower back was starting to hurt. Finally I gave up on sleeping, a quick check where we are now.
It’s about 5:00 in Paris while it is 23:00 back in Charlotte. We have been flying for just over 5hours and we still have 2 more to go before our arrival in Paris.
Still high above the Atlantic, however Ireland and the European mainland is starting to come closer.
While it is still dark outside, the cabin is fully asleep as well. US Airways even haves an official name for the time between both service runs. It’s called the rest period. Here the standard PTV/overhead lights shot.
Quite a strange routing on the European side this morning, we crossed the Atlantic quite on a Northerly track but making a turn at the last moment to avoid overflying Ireland and the UK.
After a quick stretch I returned to my seat, a quick view on the map told me that we have started the last straight line to Paris
In the meanwhile the preparation for the Breakfast service started and the cabin lights where switched on again.
Yup, N279AY still belongs to US Airways.
We are going pretty fast today, aren’t we?
6:00 in Paris, Midnight in Charlotte. 6hours15 mins since liftoff in the beautiful Charlotte sunset, still an hour to go before touching down in Paris the carts started to roll down the aisle again.
US Airways is not known at all for their generous Breakfasts. However I was a bit astonished when I found out they downsized the Breakfast even more since 2010. Just a small Danish and one glass of juice it is.
Personally I found that the second round was served very late. After Breakfast you could clearly note the flight Attendants rushing to get everything in order for our landing in Paris. Thankfully they had a few seconds spare to be thanked by me. They wished me a pleasant onward journey to Belgium. I told them to visit Brussels one day. On the way back to my seat I could make one more shot of the cabin.
Soon the Inflight Entertainment was suddenly turned off and the ground was coming closer and closer, indicating the decent was already in full swing now. Some lights on the ground are telling us we are already above mainland France
The turn off electronic devices sign was turned on again, sorry for the bad quality pic.
After some turns I noticed the other side of the plane got a nice treat of the city of lights by night. We, well got to see some Paris suburbs by night. Flaps are down and set indicating that the final approach has been commenced!
7:01 in Paris, 1:01 in Charlotte. A bang his heard, N279AY has touched the soil of runway 27R in Paris Charles De Gaulle after a short flight of 7hours15minutes from Charlotte, NC.
Once we vacated we started our taxi towards Terminal 1
There where various aircraft from various airlines from all over the world at the gates in Terminal 1, a nice welcome diversity after all the US Airways/Delta traffic in Atlanta and Charlotte.
An albino Boeing 777 was at the gates as well, I guess our Flying Finn is happy he was not waiting for a flight on that one. Just too bad I noticed it too late so I don’t have any pic or registration info. Sorry Planehunter for that one . However I could spot another lost bird. F-GSQJ, an Air France Boeing 777-300ER was parked at the gates in Terminal 1. Quite uncommon as well. Here is a (very bad) picture.
A reference to let our pilots know they are taxing to the right Terminal .
The Whalejet was present as well, today Singapore Airlines sent in 9V-SKF on it’s Paris run. Here she is just 30 minutes after arriving from Singapore as SQ334.
Soon we reached Satellite 2 where we docked in at gate 23 at 7:10, 45 minutes before our scheduled arrival time.
Soon the fuel flow was cut off, the seat belt sign plinged off and the same Jazz music started to play as I heard in Charlotte on the outbound. After some research I found that this song was called S7ven Large by Euge Groove
Slowly the cabin started running empty. I quickly had the time to make one more pic of the forward Economy cabin.
I thanked the crew for everything, unfortunaly I had no luck with my flight deck picture again. By 7:20 I was in Paris Charles De Gaulle terminal 1.
Arrival in Paris Charles De Gaulle International Airport
When deboarding the plane I noticed we parked beside a Kuwait Airways widebody jet. A mission for me coming very shortly. N279AY would have a long 6-hour rest over here before flying back to Philadelphia as US755 at 13:00. On the other side another US Airways A330-200 just arrived at gate 22. Funny enough the registration was N282AY, the plane that brought me to Charlotte a few days prior. Actually, this plane was doing the same route. Just arrived from Philadelphia as US754 and soon bound for Charlotte as US787. Another quite interesting fact is that I departed earlier in Atlanta right beside US754 and now arriving at the gate beside the very same flight number. Here she is.
Back to the underground walkway to the main satellite. Only in Terminal 1.
Soon I neared a long line for immigration facilities, apparently they where only 2 desks open for E.U residents and 2 for all nationalities. These 4 desks had to cope with arrivals from Washington IAD (Boeing 757-200), Newark (Boeing 767-200), Charlotte (Airbus A330-200) and Philadelphia (Airbus A330-200). Finally after 15 minutes of queuing I was officially allowed into the European Union and went back trough the tunnelmaze downstairs.
A good fact of waiting ages for immigration is that baggage delivery is in progress…
After another 10 minute wait I retrieved my bag from carrousel 2.
A quick check to the train information screen. Since I arrived a bit early I still had more than an hour before my 9:07 TGV back to Lille. Thankfully I arrived a bit early since I only had 1hr10 minutes to transfer and at that pace everything went I was sure to have missed it.
Finally at 8:00, 50 minutes after the arrival of US Airways 786 I was cleared trough customs and was outside the secured zone. I could change my TGV ticket to an earlier departure if I wanted to, but decided to get some breakfast as the US Airways Breakfast did not fill me up at all. After a great French croissant I checked the FIDS. Seemed like we are not the only ones that are early.
Before proceeding on I went to get some fresh air. Here are the 2 US Airways A330-200s who brought me over and back from Charlotte this week. They did made my perspective change about the company
At 8:30 I proceeded to the CDG-VAL train to take me back, one last pic of the most amazing architected airport terminal I’ve seen in my life.
Soon back at the train station in terminal 2 and the must have the big FIDS in a CDG report!
At 9:07 sharp the TGV coming from Mulhouse arrived and soon settled sail for Lille Europe. I had 4 seats for myself, just what I needed after a night over the Atlantic.
At 9:55 I arrived in Lille Europe, here is one last pic of my TGV that took me from Paris CDG.
I soon met my pre-arranged shuttle and we hit the road home. I arrived at my house at about 10:45. 21 hours after leaving Anderson, SC.
It was another positive experience to ride on the US Airways A330-200. Unlike the outbound US Airways did not surprise me too much this time. They brought me home On-time and with not too many extra costs which was fine for me. The crew was generally fine on both flights, except for that one awkward conversation with the Assistant purser. Seats where comfortable, just the lack of lumbar support was a bit of a bother after a few hours. Meals where good as well, just the breakfast was a bit on the poor side. I don’t expect eggs and champagne, but a bigger quantity would not have hurt at all. I personally find service 45 minutes before landing a bit on the short side. If US Airways would like to look into serving a little bit earlier, I think most fellow-passengers and crew members would like it since the passengers still have a minute to stretch and to stow their stuff while the Flight Attendants do not have to run as crazy to get everything prepared for the landing. The new A330 cabin is definite an improvement compared to US Airways current offerings, however I would say it’s on par with it’s US competitors. If the guys in Phoenix will finally realise that there is still a lot of work to do on it’s soft product. US Airways would really loose it’s negative image.
higlights in the trip report series
- Flying the US Airways A330-200, was for sure a great ride above the Atlantic.
- Having the change to log the Mesa CRJ-900! Great catch!!
downside in the series
- No major downsides, US Airways and Mesa Airlines did a great job! Well, ok except for not dispatching a special livery A319 on my Atlanta-Charlotte leg .
US Airways 1480 from Atlanta to Charlotte (Total score is 72%):
Departure: 70% (Everything went nice and smooth, except for the discussion between the manager and the check-in lady)
Aircraft cleanliness : 70% (well used cabin but generally clean)
Seat Comfort: 80% (Quite comfortable and decent legroom as well)
Crew: 70% (Nice and friendly)
Catering: 70% (We did get a drink service, unlike Mesa on the outbound flight.)
Arrival: 70% (Busy but efficient.)
US Airways 0786 from Charlotte to Paris CDG (Total score is 74%):
Departure: 80% (Easy to navigate and very clean.)
Aircraft cleanliness : 80% (Clean and kept clean)
Seat Comfort: 70% (Comfortable as on US787 from Paris CDG to Charlotte)
Crew: 80% (friendly, free wine, just that one conversation with the Assistant purser was a bit awkward).
IFE: 80% (same as US0787 from Paris CDG to Charlotte)
Catering: 70% (Breakfast was a bit on the late side and the quantity was very slow. )
Arrival: 60% (arrival au style de Paris CDG….)
As a bonus I would like to give a list of regs I spotted in Atlanta, Charlotte and Paris CDG
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Charlotte-Douglas international Airport
Paris Charles De Gaulle international airport
Total facts in this trip report
2 New registrations (N764US and N279AY)
Facts in the trip report series:
1 New Airline (US Airways Express/Mesa)
1 New type (Airbus A330-200 )
4 New registrations (N282AY, N934FJ, N764US and N279AY)
Some flying facts for 2011
4 New Airlines (TAP Air Portugal, SATA Internacional, Southwest Airlines and US Airways Express/Mesa)
3 New Types (Airbus A310-300, Boeing 737-700 and Airbus A330-200)
3 New Airports (Lisbon, Ponta Delgada and Orlando MCO)
17 New registrations (CS-TQD, CS-TKN, CS-TGV, CS-TNT, N78017, N11181, N424WN, N336AA, N246AY, N460UW, N503JB, N77006, D-ABIE, N282AY, N934FJ, N764US and N279AY)
N424WN was recorded dual since my Greenville-Ft Lauderdale flight had a stopover in Orlando MCO.
Ratings in 2011
Worst Rated flight: 2 on 04 February 2011: S4 0129 Lisbon-Ponta Delgada rated 64%
Full report and details: SATA, The Azores And The A310! Part I (by