31 MAY 2016
Trip #3 of 5 for this vacation.
Got an early morning start for the 0725 departure from Orlando connecting through Miami for Barbados to visit more family. This would be my daughter’s first time out of the US and my first trip back to my generational home on the island.
First things first, had to drop off the rental car, and at that early hour of 0540, it was quick and painless. Down the elevator to the pedestrian tunnel that connects the parking garage with Terminal B, and up the escalator for check in. The priority check in line entrance was gate guarded by an all-business type who let me pass after making sure I was in the right line. The desk agent was a real ray of sunshine though, and he pointed out that my daughter had not yet signed her brand spanking new passport yet, an oversight that would have us detained at MIA
for hours he assured me. I received boarding passes for both my flights at this time. With check in complete, I did a quick look around for this reports sake. I didn’t see any self check-in terminals like I did at DFW
, and the econ check in line looked like it had over 50 people in line at that point (0555 aprox).
Turning the corner, it floored me how long the TSA
line was at this hour. I’ve gone though several times in the past during the afternoon rush, and the length of this line rivaled that. Given the amount of tourists, I guess it was par for the course. There were TSA
agents directing people where to go and providing instruction to the line as a whole (Empty your pockets, etc…) in loud voices to speed up the process I asked the TSA
agent where the Pre-check line was, and she directed me around and to the left of the main line, and I just followed the posted signs. Pre-check proved it’s worth that morning because there were about 5 people at that station with two TAS
officers working it. By the time I walked up, one of the agents waved me right up. A couple of scans later, I was standing at the metal detector line in 45 seconds. My watch and belt were already in my backpack, so I again passed through without a beep, took all of four minutes.
The tram station is right after security, so it was a very short walk to the waiting tram out to our gate. As you could expect from the long TSA
line, quite a few people boarded the tram, but once you got to the satellite terminal, it thinned out as people headed to their gates or to one of the open shops/food court. Not all the eateries were open yet at this hour (little after 0600), but the retail shops and newsstands were.
I hadn’t eaten anything yet, so I braved the crowded food court for some grub and to see what was on the ramp this morning from the window tables.
I immediately spotted the AA
738 in the retro Astrojet scheme. Luck was with me, as our short flight to MIA
would be in that very bird.
I wandered down to the gate, spotting though the windows, as there was still about 30 minutes before boarding. The seating area for the flight was pretty full with lots of other early morning travelers. The gate agent started making announcements at about 0640, asking for any passengers who would like to check in their carry on bags free of charge because it was a full flight, and overhead bin space was going to run out before boarding was complete. I guess not enough people took her up on that offer, because sure enough, bin space ran out before boarding was complete.
Boarding began at 0650 in the typical process, and I was in seat 5E in a few short minutes and an FA
hung up my jacket even for this short of a flight. It looked like this aircraft was configured for 2 classes without any Y+ seating. Boarding Y passengers required the FA
to make announcements in both English and Spanish to try to make an on-time departure. Some bags still had to be put in the belly right up to our scheduled 0725 departure. The door was finally closed at 0728 and pushback was 0730.
During taxi out, the safety brief was played from retractable screens from the seat overhead panels. This was one of the roughest taxis I can remember. It was a side-to-side wobble as if the tires had flatspotted overnight at the terminal, or it could have been the pavement, not sure, but it did go away on the runway.
Departure was on 18R, and after about a 45 second hold on the piano keys, we were off for a scheduled 38 minute flight at 23,000 ft.
Inside the cabin, the interior was the 1990s vintage blue/grey upholstery. The a/c power outlet was between the seats down by your calves, but I didn’t see any other style of outlet.
The only type of meal service offered on this short flight was a hot or cold beverage and a bagged snack.
About 25 minutes after take off, I felt the start of the descent, which coincided with a gentle turn. When I did lean over to take a look out the window a short time later, we were off the coast abeam of FLL
and turning inland and also passed OPF
Landing and taxiing to the gate only took about 8 minutes, and we chocked at about 0830. Once in the terminal, I checked the status boards to verify the information on my boarding pass was still correct (it was), I headed through the terminal to the Skytrain station for my next departure gate to BGI
& a 0900 boarding.
The Skytrain does give you a pretty good view of the airside goings-on’s since it runs above the roofline of the terminals.
From other aviation SIGs, I already knew that AA
operates 757s on this 3 hour flight. Boarding was through 2L and a left turn brought us into a relatively dated and definitely worn interior. The seats were the same that I remember from previous 767 flight from DFW
. A blanket and pillow were in place on the seat. Again, the J cabin crew consisted of one that was all business, and one with a bright and cheery demeanor. Not a complaint, just a repeated coincidental observation. My jacket was hung up and a departure beverage of water or orange juice was served. Boarding was very smooth, and all 16 J seats were occupied as were all the Y+ seats, but Y did have some empty seats when I looked. The door was closed right on time. Pushback, taxi and TO
went with only a small delay since we were #3 for TO
I checked out the IFE to see what was there (same stuff as the other three flights I reported on), played a game or 2 of PacMan for nostalgia’s sake, but ultimately settled on the 80’s audio channel. Earphones were offered, but I had a brainfart and didn’t get a set for the sake of this report, as I was already jamming to Bruce Springsteen playing in my Bose QC25.
The seat has probably been covered in other trip reports, but I’ll say I wish it had some form of lumbar support, but for a 3-hour flight, it was fine.
passed out the required Barbados Customs/Immigration form, and advised us to have it filled out before landing.
Hot towels were next about 20 min after TO
, followed by our breakfast choice reservations (cheese omelet or French toast). Another beverage service (water, OJ, coffee, tea) preceded breakfast being served. The omelet was tasty, and was served with potatoes & sausage, a biscuit, and a fresh fruit saucer (grapefruit, orange, cantaloupe, melon, a solitary raspberry for color, and a mint leaf.
My daughter ordered the French toast, and it was decent to my taste, with a nice touch of cinnamon.
The econ passenger had snacks and drinks available for purchase. I didn’t ask for or about any alcoholic beverages, and I didn’t see anyone have one.
Once breakfast was cleared, every one settled in for the remaining hour and 45 minutes of the flight. Everyone lowered their window with exception of the older guy seated across from me who left his up and lit up the rear seats.
One last beverage/snack service, which included a farewell mint, was done about 45 minutes before arrival.
Deplaning is with mobile airstairs, and plenty of ground staff are there to make sure you don’t go running across the tarmac taking photos or whatever. The only other mainline a/c was the A6 JFK
flight parked next to us.
The only snag that was encountered at this point was that the bags came out on the belt helter skelter, instead of the priority bags first. There was a long line for customs because of the earlier A6 flight still had passengers going through customs and the officers were opening suitcases.
Trip #4 BGI
in two weeks, but for now, I’m off to the beach.