User avatar
vatveng
Topic Author
Posts: 1253
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 11:49 pm

Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:52 am

Dear AirTran and Delta,

I'm sorry I cheated on you with US Airways. I've learned my lesson.

Love Always,
Me


Friday, 5 December 2008
US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines
US2647 ORF-CLT
Bombardier CRJ-900 N923FJ
Scheduled departure/arrival: 09:24 - 10:49
Pushback: 09:21 Gate A6
"Flights to Charlotte are on a 20 minute hold" starts: 09:30
Engines restarted: 09:56
Wheels up: 10:02 Rwy 5
Wheels down: 11:06 Rwy 18C
Arrival: 11:18 Gate E24  confused 
Seat: 12A


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Kyle Donagher



Just a couple of weeks before my flight, Norfolk International Airport had made this big announcement and there were lots of news stories about how "getting through security will be a lot easier..." because of the three types of security lines (family, casual traveler, expert traveler) and there's all these signs at the airport about them. Predictably (this is Hampton Roads, after all) they only had one line open so everyone got sent through the "family" line. They must have learned from Wal-Mart: Build 40 checklanes, never ever have more than three open at a time.

My last experience on US Airways was two years ago and at the time I flew on three CRJ200s. The CRJ900 is an improvement over the CRJ200, but that's not saying a lot. The overhead bins are a little bigger... my small duffel bag won't go in the overhead of a -200 but just barely fit (with much shoving) in the -900 overhead. Still, I guess I'm spoiled by the giant overhead bins AirTran uses.
The windows on the -900 are also positioned better, except that Mesa has the seats lined up in exactly the worst possible place, because only every other "window" is actually a window and they line up perfectly with the your shoulder, leading to this view:

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b204/mco1043/1205080909.jpg

The flight was relatively full and we pushed back on time, but taxied very slowly to the end of 5. Just before we got there, the captain told us that all Charlotte traffic was on a 20-minute hold. We got to the runway threshold and stopped, shut off the engines, and sat for 26 minutes before we heard one of the engines restart. A couple of minutes later the captain told us we were getting ready to go, and we waited for two GA planes to land on 5 before we lined up and took off. Once airborne, we climbed to just 22,000 feet and the beverage service began. $2 for a soda, and no snacks... not even for sale. No problem, I had breakfast and should have had a few minutes to grab a snack in Charlotte before boarding my Tampa flight. Except that we were so late getting to Charlotte that I had to run from the far end of E to the far end of B to make my connection.  checkeredflag 

US Airways mainline
US1021 CLT-TPA
Airbus A321 N?????
Scheduled departure/arrival: 11:30 - 13:12
Pushback: 11:34 Gate B14
Wheels up: 11:52 Rwy 36C
Wheels down: 13:10 Rwy 18R
Arrival: 13:14 Gate F84
Seat: 28F

During our final descent into Charlotte, the FA was announcing gate assignments for connections (this is when she said we would be parking at "E30" even though I can't find E30 on any CLT terminal map, I think we were at E24) and then said "don't worry, if we're late chances are your connecting flight is also delayed." So of course I was on the one flight leaving on time. Figures. Navigating around several thousand people who were in no particular hurry, I finally made it to gate B14 right at 11:30, and was among the last 4 passengers to board. Which was disappointing, because this was my first Airbus ever and I wanted to at least get a good look at her from the concourse before boarding. As it was I was so rushed I couldn't even tell you whether she had blue paint or white paint.

After the safety demo we were in the air and they brought out the drink cart, and still no snacks available. At this point I would have gladly forked over $5 for a bag of chips. But they only sell snacks on flights longer than 2:30. A $2 Sprite later I settled in and started to take in the A321 interior. Okay, reasonably comfortable seats and not-unpleasant cabin. Then I looked up at the air vents and noticed the lack of a lighted "No Smoking" sign... in its place was a "Turn off electronic devices" sign. And I remember thinking "That's brilliant!" Honestly, not smoking is a given on planes these days and that directive can be permanately posted somewhere, you don't ever need to turn that sign off so why bother with it? Just print it on the back of the seat in front of you along with the "fasten seatbelt while seated" order. Which it was on the A321. Meanwhile, up above is an indication of when it's okay to use your iPod and when you should put it away. Genius! Since this is my first Airbus flight ever, I'll put this question to the peanut gallery: is this a US Airways thing or an Airbus thing?

On my last mainline US flight a few years ago, the FA gave a rather desperate-sounding sales pitch for the US Airways MasterCard, so I was expecting that this time. It didn't happen, in fact there was little interaction with the FAs at all on this flight. They weren't rude or anything... I will say this about all of my flights on this trip: both the mainline and Mesa crews were professional and courteous. But US Airways (East) still has that stuffy corporate boardroom feel to it. After all those years being headquartered in DC I guess they can't help it.

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b204/mco1043/1205081319.jpg

We touched down smoothly on 18R and had a short taxi to Airside F. I quickly found a fast food restaurant and had lunch. My ride was running late so I had about 45 minutes to kill and after not having time to get any grub in Charlotte I was pretty hungry and food trumped spotting. I pulled out my laptop and tried to check my email, only to find that the "free WiFi" at TPA wasn't working. Anywhere. I tried it in several different places and was able to connect to a router but not get to the Internet. Never mind, I'm on vacation anyway.

Monday, 8 December 2008
US Airways
US1128 TPA-CLT
Boeing 757-200 N920UW
Scheduled departure/arrival: 10:25 - 12:02
Pushback: 10:35 Gate F86
Wheels up: 10:45 Rwy 9
Wheels down: 12:00 Rwy 18C
Arrival: 12:18 Gate B7
Seat: 29A


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Michael Licko



On a very cold (for Florida) Monday morning I made my way back to the airport and took an absurdly short train ride out to Airside F and went through security. Last year when I visited TPA I went through one of those x-ray booths that shoot air at you. But that was a different concourse (A, I think) and F only has metal detectors. I bought a soda at the newsstand and then found my gate and tried again to use the WiFi. It worked this time and I sent some of my long weekend pictures to a couple of people, then got out my book and read until boarding. I was in zone 3 but after they called zone 2 there was a few minutes' delay before continuing. Then, in the middle of zone 3 boarding they sent a woman in a wheelchair down the jetway. Normally if you are wheelchair-bound and are not present for pre-boarding, they board you last to avoid just the sort of backup that this caused. The man pushing the wheelchair basically deposited her at the aircraft door and then left her to get herself on the plane. Because the woman needed assistance to get to her seat, and there was only one flight attendant at the doorway, the FA asked the woman to sit in the first row by the door until everyone else was aboard and there was a flight attendant available to assist her. Holding her at the gate until the rest of the herd was aboard would have made it easier on her, the flight crew, everybody.

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b204/mco1043/1208081019.jpg

We pushed back about ten minutes late and waited in line for runway 9 for another ten minutes before taking off. The usual rocket 757 takeoff, we were at cruise in no time and I went back to my dead-tree IFE. This time, we did get the FA begging us to apply for a credit card, and pushing their inflight shopping magazine... "If you make a purchase during this flight you get yada yada just ask for an inflight order form blah blah please give us your money..." Anyway, this particular 757 flight means I have now been on three different airlines' 757 fleet: AA, DL, and now US. This one seemed much older, at least the interior did, than either AA's or DL's 757s.

I brought a snack with me this time so I had the energy I needed to make another sprint across 4/5ths of the entire length of CLT to catch my connection to Norfolk. Even though we landed on time it took 18 minutes to taxi to B7. Still, I should have had half an hour to get to E12. Except that I was near the back of the plane and it took nearly 15 minutes for me to make it to the door. So I started sprinting through CLT again and made it to the escalators where E splits off from D... and there were about five or six motorized carts there all trying to go a different direction, creating gridlock. Instead of the drivers deciding one of them should go first, they all tried to go at the same time. One of them nearly ran over a pedestrian. It was a mess, and they were blocking all access to the stairs and escalators.

US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines
US2624 CLT-ORF
Bombardier CRJ-900 N?????
Scheduled departure/arrival: 12:54 - 14:02
Pushback: 12:55 Gate E12
Wheels up: 13:00 Rwy 18L
Wheels down: 13:44 Rwy 5
Arrival: 13:45 Gate A4
Seat: 10F  no  9D

Once I finally made it around the traffic jam and down the stairs, they were announcing the final boarding call for 2624 to Norfolk. As I approached the gate, the CSA yelled out "Norfolk?" I yelled back "Yes!" At this point it's still 12:45, departure is still 9 minutes away, but when I got to the gate the agent acted like I was holding up the entire airline. "Hurry up, they're ready to leave". So I make it down the stairs, across the ramp and up the steps into the CRJ, where a FA was blocking the path to 10F. I made the usual pointing motion to indicate that I was assigned the window seat, and the man in 10D shook his head  no  and the flight attendant pointed at 9D and said "just sit there." Okay, fine, I'll sit in 9D. As it turns out, despite the gate agent making me feel like I was the slowpoke ruining her dispatch, I wasn't even the last person on the flight. One more passenger boarded 2 minutes later, and guess what seat was printed on his boarding pass? 9D, of course. The FA pointed at 8C and told him to sit there.

Despite all this, we actually pushed back on time and were "first in line for takeoff" so there was no delay getting airborne. I still had half of my bottle of Sprite from the newsstand at TPA so when the beverage service started I asked for just a cup of ice. "That'll be a dollar" the flight attendant cracked, then smiled and waved it off, handing me a complimentary cup of ice. In the air less than 45 minutes, we landed 17 minutes early and made a quick taxi to A4.

So, how to I rate this one? Somewhere between the low end of "Meh" and the high end of "Ugh!". It didn't completely suck but it wasn't much more than just transportation, even for an airline geek like me. The positives: courteous, professional flight attendants; the A321; on-time arrivals despite the best efforts of the inbound flights to delay things; not connecting in PHL not getting stuck on a Dash-8. The negatives: pretty much everything else. I really, really wanted to enjoy these flights particularly since I got to add two new aircraft types to my list (CR9, A321) but the whole thing was a big disappointment. What little bit of CLT I got to see as I was running past it at warp speed looked nice, and they are apparently building a third parallel runway so maybe those ground stops won't happen as much. But my overall opinion of US Airways has dropped considerably. It's been what, three years since the merger? They apparently still don't have it together.

I miss Piedmont.
 
staralliance38
Posts: 1114
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 11:09 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:47 pm

Oh, so sad to hear you say that : Smile(.

Since I fly to MCO a lot and so I've though of using TPA as an alternative. Looks nice though.

US is still my favorite  Smile
Roar, lion, roar
 
ual757
Posts: 744
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:58 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:43 pm

I think I will go ahead and say this is typical US service, but then again I haven't flown very much with US.
 
MHTripple7
Posts: 591
Joined: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:17 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:20 pm

Great TR, however, this seems to be typical for US. They are truly one of the worst airlines in the United States.

Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
"don't worry, if we're late chances are your connecting flight is also delayed."

I've heard this announcement multiple times on US when I fly via CLT. Unfortunately, it NEVER seems to be true LOL.

Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
waited in line for runway 9 for another ten minutes before taking off.

Runway 9 is not used very often at all. I'm surprised your flight used it, especially since you were on a 757. There must have been some strong winds.
 
MKP1013
Posts: 128
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:24 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:20 pm



Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
The windows on the -900 are also positioned better, except that Mesa has the seats lined up in exactly the worst possible place, because only every other "window" is actually a window and they line up perfectly with the your shoulder, leading to this view:

Nice report - sucks about the view. BTW, did you look at doing the WN non-stop at all?
 
User avatar
vatveng
Topic Author
Posts: 1253
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 11:49 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:42 pm



Quoting MKP1013 (Reply 3):
Nice report - sucks about the view. BTW, did you look at doing the WN non-stop at all?

I did, but by the time I booked it all but their highest fares were sold out. And most of the flights available of US were all showing their highest fares too, only a couple of flights each way still had seats left that I could afford. Besides, I've been on hundreds of 737s before, but never an A321 so there was the geek factor. And that A321 was the highlight of the trip, I just wish I had had time to actually get a look at it from the outside.
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8307
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:36 pm

Nice report and pictures, thanks, enjoyed.

I have to be honest, all my US flights have been generally pretty decent, don't have any issues in choosing them over other carriers though I'm not keen on them charging for soft drinks.

Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
The CRJ900 is an improvement over the CRJ200, but that's not saying a lot. The overhead bins are a little bigger... my small duffel bag won't go in the overhead of a -200 but just barely fit (with much shoving) in the -900 overhead. Still, I guess I'm spoiled by the giant overhead bins AirTran uses.

- Despite the CR9 being bigger than a CR2, it is in effect a stretched CR2, the overhead bins will never be as good as a 717 or 73G that Aitran operate.

Regards

Mark
111 732 733 734 735 736 73G 738 739,7M8 BBJ 741 742 743 744 752 753 762 763 764 772 77L 773 77W L15 D10 D30 D40 AB3 AB6 312 313 318 319 320 20N 321 21N 332 333 342 343 345 346 359 351 388 CS1 CS3 I86 154 SSJ CRJ CR7 CR9 CRK 145 170 175 220
 
miaskies
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2004 3:08 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:10 am

US is so cheap, I am so not looking forward to flying SJU-PHL-RDU in 2 weeks! 2 bucks for Soda??? OUT OF CONTROL. SJU-PHL is about 4 hours! least they could do is give you free soda!
Crosscheck Complete :)
 
MKP1013
Posts: 128
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:24 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:17 am



Quoting Vatveng (Reply 5):
I did, but by the time I booked it all but their highest fares were sold out. And most of the flights available of US were all showing their highest fares too, only a couple of flights each way still had seats left that I could afford. Besides, I've been on hundreds of 737s before, but never an A321 so there was the geek factor. And that A321 was the highlight of the trip, I just wish I had had time to actually get a look at it from the outside.

Ah yes, the geek factor. I probably would have done the same as well.
 
Ryanair!!!
Posts: 4127
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 8:55 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:20 am



Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
I still had half of my bottle of Sprite from the newsstand at TPA so when the beverage service started I asked for just a cup of ice. "That'll be a dollar" the flight attendant cracked, then smiled and waved it off, handing me a complimentary cup of ice

LOL... You know for a moment there I thought they were doing it for real!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
tommy767
Posts: 4658
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 12:18 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:30 am

What happened to human decency? $2 for a soda. F*ck you US! You'll never get my business!

Great pics and report tho  bigthumbsup 
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
b737100
Posts: 129
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2004 7:29 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:28 pm

Nice report, Thank you!
Boeing 737 sunjet service
 
User avatar
vatveng
Topic Author
Posts: 1253
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 11:49 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:26 pm



Quoting MIASkies (Reply 7):
2 bucks for Soda???



Quoting Tommy767 (Reply 10):
What happened to human decency? $2 for a soda.

The sad thing is, back in the day Piedmont used to bust on other airlines in their ads for doing just that... kind of like Southwest is doing today.
 
tommy767
Posts: 4658
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 12:18 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:39 pm



Quoting Vatveng (Reply 12):
The sad thing is, back in the day Piedmont used to bust on other airlines in their ads for doing just that... kind of like Southwest is doing today.

I've seen those commercials on youtube. they're great. Even more sad how the current US hubs into Piedmont's former headquarters.
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
ATLTPA
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:24 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Tue Dec 23, 2008 6:26 pm



Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
I miss Piedmont.

Why don't you guys get over it? That merger was 20 years ago, blah, blah, blah. . .

NOT!

This trip report reflects typical US service, all right.

Anyone (like me!) who remembers Piedmont and is now forced to fly US to cities where this airline is the only game in town harbors a special sort of disappointment with US's cheapskate policies and down-at-the-heels service.

It's not just the beverage sales and the dirty planes. Everything about this airline feels cheap for some reason these days. US Airways is like flying a Travelodge (at least both offer free ice).

Incidentally, I also have observed that the US employees tend to be just fine-- when you have occasion to interact with them.

I fly DL when I can, US when there is no other way. Flying around the South on US Airways is bad enough-- I can't imagine flying these guys to Europe!

Interesting that there are still Piedmont loyalists this long after the merger. Wonder how many people will still have a sense of belonging with US Airways 20 years from now?
 
wn700driver
Posts: 1475
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2001 10:55 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Tue Dec 23, 2008 9:33 pm

Having worked at good old 'Airways, I almost feel obligated to say something in defense. Comming up blank, sorry.

It has been my experience (flying them about thirty times this year) that service is real hit or miss. At the good end, I've had impromtu upgrades (amazing what having 8 pax on a 757 from CLT to DFW will do for that!)

But I have also boarded planes to find a flight attendant dead heading sitting in my assigned seat. In uniform, no less. And barbie there had the nerve to insist getting a snack box, on the house (Policy is drinks are comp for employees, but NOT meals). Wouldn't have been such a big deal if there weren't at least five paying PAX in sight of this on our four hour run. Absolutely disgusted, I was. I guess it's possible to be loyal to and embarrassed for your employer at the same time. It was/is an emotion I don't have words for.

The thing is, at 'Airways, in particular mx & dispatch, we will move mountains and deliver the impossible to get those planes to the gate on time. Like any other Airline, I suppose. But when all that is made worthless by not only my experiences, but by seeing responses like those above, it makes one wonder, what's the point?

Oh well, rant off. I start in two weeks at an airline that seems to want to stay in business, so maybe clearer skies ahead, huh?
Base not your happiness on the deeds of others, for what is given can be taken away. No Hope = No Fear
 
User avatar
vatveng
Topic Author
Posts: 1253
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 11:49 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:29 pm



Quoting WN700Driver (Reply 15):
I start in two weeks at an airline that seems to want to stay in business, so maybe clearer skies ahead, huh?

Good luck to you!  bigthumbsup 
 
wn700driver
Posts: 1475
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2001 10:55 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:35 pm

Thank you Vat. I'm pretty excited about this!
Base not your happiness on the deeds of others, for what is given can be taken away. No Hope = No Fear
 
CMK10
Posts: 1826
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2004 10:56 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:04 am

Sadly, "disapointing USAirways trip" is becoming a redundancy. I bet the flight attendant's love this new buy on board beverage service though as they now have to do one short drink pass at the beginning of the flight and then get to sit back down for the rest of the flight. I've flown 18 flights on them since they insititued this policy from 255 to 2000 miles and this is the procedure on all of them.
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
 
thegreatRDU
Posts: 910
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:47 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:25 pm



Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
. $2 for a soda, and no snacks... not even for sale. No problem, I had breakfast and should have had a few minutes to grab a snack in Charlotte before boarding my Tampa flight.



Quoting Vatveng (Thread starter):
At this point I would have gladly forked over $5 for a bag of chips. But they only sell snacks on flights longer than 2:30. A $2 Sprite later I settled in and started to take in the A321 interior. Okay, reasonably comfortable seats and not-unpleasant cabin.

This is about right with US service.....I haven't flown them in maybe 4 years and I will never fly them again....
Our Returning Champion
 
N766UA
Posts: 8271
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 3:50 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:25 pm



Quoting Tommy767 (Reply 10):
What happened to human decency? $2 for a soda. F*ck you US! You'll never get my business!

I flew US last year and they charged me for water on a 55 minute flight. That is, tried to charge me, until I realized they wanted money and I promptly told them to take a hike.

By the way, unless you buy an overpriced beverage or snack onboard, the F/As will totally ignore you, thus making US feel like a cold, expensive, and selective place. I won't be flying them again.
 
caleb1
Posts: 543
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:51 am

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:57 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't US discontinue charging for soft drinks?
 
KBUF
Posts: 468
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 1:12 pm

RE: Disappointing US Airways Trip ORF-CLT-TPA

Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:32 am



Quoting Caleb1 (Reply 21):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't US discontinue charging for soft drinks?

The report was posted in 2008. I think US still charged for drinks at the time.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 29 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos