For Venezuelans traveling to Miami is a sort of pilgrimage that we have to do at least once in our lives. Either for business or pleasure, Miami is our main destination since the early 80s when VIASA and Pan Am offered up to eight flights a day in DC-8 and 747, and nowadays with American Airlines, Aeropostal and Santa Barbara Airlines services in 737, 757 and A300 with a total of 6 flights a day.
Photo © Ricardo Haddad
Photo © Bob Garrard
Photo © Sun Valley Aviation
Photo © Anthony Russo
Photo © Suresh A. Atapattu
Photo © Enrique Perrella
Photo © Ben Wang
This is my very first trip report in Airliners.net, I hope that you like it inasmuch as I did writing for all of you.
After spending 5 days in Florida (specifically in Fort Lauderdale), just shopping, sightseeing and having fun during thanksgiving, it was the time to return to Venezuela. During my stay I was able to visit Las Olas and Atlantic Boulevards, as well as take advantage of bargains at Sawgrass Mills
Las Olas Boulevard
Sawgrass Mills Mall
After getting up, having breakfast, finishing the packing of my suitcases and doing some last-minute errands, I checked out and took the Dodge Avenger that I rented. After riding over 1 hour along the I-95, I returned the car and took the shuttle bus to the airport.
You will wonder why I took the 7:40 pm flight if I could perfectly take the 5:05 pm Flight (Flight 903, Airbus A300). Basically, there were two reasons: the last time I took this flight I got 8 hours of delay, and also I wanted to try if I could get a ride in a wingleted 757 (Besides, the fare was a lot cheaper in my flight)
In this opportunity, as I arrived quite early to my flight, I decided to give it a try to the Check-In Self Service. The system worked perfectly for me. It was quick and I could confirm that the flight was 100% loaded (so my chances of changing to a better seat were gone! ) My seat assigned was the 23F, and I had to be at the Gate D49 at 18:20. After dropping my suitcases in security, I just walked around for a while. I could see a scale model of the airport as how it will be in a few years... Quite impressive indeed
As it was Monday after thanksgiving, and there was a lot of people in the security line (besides the chance to try my new camera in the terminal) I passed through security. Although the area was crowded, the screening was quick, and way better than in my past experiences. Finally, and after a 5 minute walk along the Terminal, I finally arrived to the D Concourse!
This was my first time in this area. Even if it is not that new, I have to say that I found it enormous, comfortable and properly sized for the traffic that Miami has. However, I could see that the restaurants are not enough, and that all of them were crowded all the time. The set of sculptures called Got any Jacks? by Donald Lipski gives to the Concourse a local touch... but in my opinion it makes the concourse to look like a trophy room of a big house!
After having a soda and setting in a place nearby Gate D49, I could take my camera and start making some spotting.
A view of the airport from gate D47... AA all the way!
A Learjet 60 taking off from Runway 12
American Eagle Flight to Nassau (one of the several flights a day they have)
The Repairbus Flight to Caracas (Flt. 903)
Two DC-10's in maintenance (Arrow Air Cargo and Varig Log)
A mighty AA 777-200
As the boarding time was coming closed, I checked if my flight was on time, and walked to the gate, when I saw a Beautiful 757-200 wingleted The Spirit of American. I thought that this one was assigned to Flt. 2133, but to my disappointment it was bound to Port of Spain!
The remaining hour I had a snack and chat with some passengers who were starting to gather around the gate. At 6:20 our flight was called and the boarding began in our 757 (not wingleted!). The Boarding was relatively rapid and ordered.
By 7:15 all passengers were boarded when the captain announced that the connection flight from Orlando was delayed due to weather, and that were 20 passengers to Caracas in that flight. After some other announcements along one hour, the passengers arrived and the doors were closed.
Another 757wl from my window...
Pushback was started, and safety video in english was played (By mistake, the crew put the safety video in French also!, but it was quickly put in Spanish). After a relatively short and fast taxi, we were aligned on Runway 12, and the plane lifted off. The takeoff as in any 757 was quite powerful and we quickly climbed to FL 370.
The inflight movie was Casino Royale, and CBS Eye on American after the movie. The crew was really nice and warm (something quite uncommon today). The airplane was in excellent shape, it was clean and it did not look worn at all. Let's see next year when AA upgrades its 757 fleet and see if the changes are for better.
Dinner was served about one hour after we set at cruise level. The choices were Chicked with Pasta and Beef. I took the beef, which was very tasty, yet the muffin was unedible. Also, the catering from MIA forgot to put forks in the cutlery package. Fortunately the beef was tender enough to be held with the spoon .
Landing at Runway 10 was quite soft in a rainy night in Caracas. We left the runway via ECHO and parked at Gate 23, just next to the A300 that left Miami a few hours before. Curiously, next to the A300 there was a TAP A310, and in the International Concourse there was an Air Canada A319 (Toronto) and a Copa 737 (Panama City). Delta 737 (Atlanta) was parked in a remote stand, next to Santa Barbara Airlines 757.
Photo © Frank Robitaille
Photo © Andres Meneses
Immigration line moved quick, and by 1:15 I was ready to take a taxi to go home.
In general terms I have to say that American Airlines offers the best service to Miami. In this opportunity, I was greatly surprised with a really nice and warm crew, a nice and clean airplane and a tasty (yet forkless) meal.
I hope that you enjoyed this trip report. I would like to read your impressions about it. Thank you.