Last week, I went to Mexico City for work and while I would have liked to take UA
out of AUS
(closest to home) the prices were just ridiculous, especially on the return leg since Friday, March 22 was the beginning of the Easter holiday in Mexico. I normally don't like reading trip reports of short flights, but given the fact this one appears to be somewhat of a unique route for the carrier and I couldn't find another one on this site of this route I chose to proceed with a TR
. Enjoy! All routing and times were courtesy of FlightAware.
Also, anybody know since when SAT
's non-parallel runway became 4-22? I could have sworn it was 3-21 last time I was there.
March 21, 2013
AirTran 33 (FL 33)
ETD/ETA: 11:14 - 12:25
ATD/ATA: 11:44 - 12:28
Route: MILET2 LRD
J22 NLD UJ11 MTY
UJ81 TUMAL TUMA2A
Obs.: although we pushed back on time, we held off to the side near the active waiting out air traffic delays in MEX
. I found it interesting FlightAware still logged the departure as the gate pushback time of 11:14.
I am normally a pretty expedited person when it comes to traveling: always early to the airport, to the gate, antsy to get in the plane, etc. For some reason, that day I felt very relaxed. I got to the airport with about an hour before the boarding doors would close and stood in a lengthy security line without a care in the world.
I was probably one of the last people to board, but the plane was pretty empty anyway. I took my seat (11F), a strategically chosen window to get some shots of Mexico City from above. The boarding doors were closed on time and off we started taxiing to the active. That's when the captain came on to tell us about the ATC delays in MEX
. So we sat there and I took a few crappy plane pics of the usual SAT
fare (AA, WN
) which I'll spare you.
Once we actually took off, the climb was kind of weird. It felt like he throttled up to about FL50-70 and cruised there for a little bit then climbed up a little more and finally kept going to cruise. I had never experienced that before, though I assume it's related to those aforementioned delays. After we got to cruise (FL400), the flight was very smooth without a bump in the sky.
Having grown up in Brazil, taken Spanish in school and lived in Miami for 6 months after college, I felt like my Spanish was up to par so I unleashed some Spanish on the guy next to me and...success! We had a good conversation in Spanish, he told me he actually makes cabrito (baby goat; a Mexican delicacy) in San Antonio and was going on a culinary excursion/holiday to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Monterrey, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi and a bunch of other places. Cool!
I started looking around the plane and noticed a couple of things: they are so proud of their Recaro seats, but they are super thin! I'd hate to sit on them for more than a couple of hours. They are also very flimsy and would recline at will without requiring the push of a button. Also, the overhead spaces could use a little scrubbing, though you can't tell too well from this picture.
Thin seat is thin.
There also wasn't much in the way of legroom.
We were flying above the clouds for most of our time inside the U.S. so I never saw anything too exotic, but having driven in South Texas plenty I know there's not much anyway. It wasn't until about halfway there that the skies began clearing and some mountains became visible just above the clouds.
Finally on approach to MEX
, you could see the expansiveness of Mexico City (and once I got around the city, it reminded me SO MUCH of my hometown of São Paulo). Weirdly, São Paulo feels a lot bigger in area than Mexico City. And it is, but not by much (573 v. 588 sq mi). I snapped a picture of Estadio Azul, and the adjacent bullfighting arena.
After landing, we passed grounded Mexicana planes as well as a Cargolux 747-800F (looked pretty sharp!) Once we got off the plane, I walked and walked and walked some more until I got to customs. Customs line was short and sweet!. I got some money at the exchange bureau and got the little green light, and away I was for an afternoon of meetings and a delicious cabrito dinner!
Grounded Mexicana planes.
March 22, 2013
AirTran 34 (FL 34)
ETD/ETA: 15:48 - 18:42
ATD/ATA: 15:36 - 18:45
Route: APN UJ15 XOSOK UJ38 CVM UJ41 NLD LRD
Reg.: couldn't see it where the gate was in MEX
or when we arrived in SAT
On Friday, I heard some other people from my company were also in Mexico City and one of which staying at my hotel. I grabbed a ride to the airport with him, which considering it was around 1300 before a holiday weekend traffic was still pretty normal. We made it to the FL
counters and I saw the IB
counters. It made me a little teary-eyed because I had to go to London the next day and tried to catch a MEX
flight but couldn't get the return fare to AUS
to work out at a reasonable price on my company's travel portal.
(An interesting aside, I never realized that MEX
is such a long flight! I believe it clocks in north of 10 hours. I then realized it's a flight between two points along the same latitude over one of the widest parts of the globe. Then again, not sure how I felt about going in Y for 11ish hours without AVOD on those IB
My colleague got out his AMEX and we went to the AMEX lounge in MEX T3
. It was packed, mostly with families. It also was very hot in there, so we decided to go to the gate area and check out the other AMEX lounge near our gate. My colleague was aghast with this other lounge. It was even hotter and it was supposed to be the platinum/black lounge but it was really just a tiny room with a few seats and a small bar. According to him, the Centurion Platinum/Black Lounge somewhere (I forgot where) is three stories tall and has a 3-story saltwater fish tank that has sharks. Whatever, I personally don't care for these luxuries but I never met the guy and it'd be rude to say, "No! I do not care for your elitist pamperings!"
On the way to the active, we passed those grounded Mexicana planes again but no exotic freighters. There was a JJ
flight (A330) pulling up to its gate as we pushed back. We once again sat off to the side of the active, and I could see some trees nearby shaking about but couldn't figure out if it was because it was windy or it was just from the planes. Once I started looking out the oncoming traffic approaching for landing swaying side to side, I figured out it was wind.
Full plane. Wind. Take-off. Fun! Sure enough, as we began gaining speed toward V1-V2, I felt the plane swaying side to side and when we lifted off more so. A kid, no more than 4 or 5, a few rows back begins crying his little eyes out. You know he must have been terrified, because it's not like he's just a baby who's crying because that's his only means of communication. Turns out we just hit one big bump on that climb out. I reasoned that MEX
's climate is likely to create these conditions and once we were away from the Valle de Mexico things would smooth out. That's exactly what happened.
I'm not one for turbulence, I'm not necessarily afraid but I always get this odd sensation the plane is falling when it shakes.
My seat mate was slightly less chatty this time: an older woman very interested in her gossip magazine, and I got deeply entrenched into an iPhone game called Flow. We began to approach San Antonio, and as I often do when I go to places I know well, I kept trying to figure out the landmarks along the approach but this one threw me for a loop. It looked like from above like we were going to approach 30L, but then we kept going and once I saw we were going past Fiesta Texas on the NW
side of the city it dawned upon me we just flew north to turn around for approach.
It also dawned upon me that I should take a video
of this approach on my phone. The late afternoon/early evening orange glow was just so inviting for that, I couldn't pass up!
It looks like I might have to start going to Mexico City for work more frequently, and I wouldn't necessarily rule out AirTran. It's not perfect, but the fact I don't have to go AUS
or even AUS
a slightly attractive more option. Even if I do have to drive an hour each way. Hell, the flight would get stuck taxiing at IAH
for 30 minutes on each flight anyway! =p
[Edited 2013-03-30 15:40:37]