Celebrating in Phoenix (Trip Report)

Last weekend it was time for another trip to Phoenix, but this time it was for a festive event – my brother’s wedding. The kids kept us up at all hours of the night during the weekend itself, but they were angels on the flights. Go figure. The flights themselves were mostly good.

We bought our 4 tickets at $129.80 a piece back at the end of August. I didn’t even look at LAX knowing that Long Beach would make life much easier. I was right.

We had someone drop all of us off at Long Beach Airport a little over an hour before departure, earlier than usual because we had to check a bag. There was no line at the counter, and our bag was on its way. My wife, still without Pre Check, took the baby with her through the regular line and I took my son through the Pre Check line.

Pre Check is very new at Long Beach Airport, and it seemed like it was this guy’s first day working the line. He said I couldn’t bring my son with me if he didn’t have Pre Check, but before I could correct, one of his fellow officers told him that wasn’t true. We sailed through after that little speed bump.

We headed toward our gate and I took what is probably my favorite picture of my son to date.

After a brief wait, the agents let us pre-board.

October 23, 2013
US Airways Express 2835 Lv Long Beach 435p Arr Phoenix 556p (operated by Mesa)
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Depart 7m Early
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B16, Runway 7L, Arrive 17m Early
N903FJ, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, ~95% Full
Seat 8C, Coach
Flight Time 55m

We had two seats together on the left side with two immediately behind. We let my son play in his seat area until the door was buttoned up. Then I strapped him in and we were off. Not much to say about the flight itself. The flight attendants did one pass with beverages and that was that.

The earlier departure from Long Beach combined with an odd eastbound landing (that usually only happens in the mornings in Phoenix) meant we arrived really early. Our bag came off quickly and we were on our way to celebrate.

For the return, we had an early morning flight back and I was a little nervous about Monday morning security lines. We arrived just after 6a, and I had my wife and daughter go straight to security. I took my son with me to check the bag. There was a longish line for people who needed to check in or do other things, but the bag drop area was empty. I was struggling to carry my son and our bags, so an agent actually came out from behind the counter and helped me get up to the front. That was very nice of her.

The bag had already been paid for, so she took it and I was on my way to security. There is apparently now a Pre Check line at the B gates (it used to just be the A gates) so I went that way. The regular line actually didn’t look too long at all, and the Pre Check line was empty. I was through in seconds.

I actually beat my wife to the gate. (Have I mentioned. I love Pre Check?) Once she showed up, I watched the fiery sunrise and let my son run around in circles, hoping he’d tire out.

While we waited, I was surprised to hear that the flight was oversold, but then I think I figured out why. This flight was being sold without a First Class cabin. I thought all the CRJ-900s had been converted, but I guess not. Even though that’s how it was sold, this aircraft had First Class. Initially, a bunch of people were called up – clearly those who had been upgraded to First since nobody could have booked it or upgraded into it before. Then they made the announcement about being oversold, seemingly stuck with people who would have had seats on an all-coach airplane.

This time, pre-boarding wasn’t offered so we prepared to board in our assigned Zone 2, but the computer froze and the agent seemed helpless. He called on the walkie talkie for help, but by the time someone showed up a few minutes later, he had already gotten it working. Boarding resumed.

October 28, 2013
US Airways Express 2819 Lv Phoenix 740a Arr Long Beach 901a (operated by Mesa)
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B5, Runway 7L, Depart On Time
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 7m Late
N329MS, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, 100% Full
Seat 7C, Coach
Flight Time 1h7m

This airplane looks like it could use an interior makeover. The seats themselves were fine, but the sidewalls were in rough shape. Apparently this airplane was with HeavyLift International, an all-cargo carrier, before coming to Mesa so it probably got beat up a few times over.

We strapped the kids in, and we pushed back on time. There was no runway magic going for us this time. Departures were to the east, so we had to taxi all the way back to the west end of the airport before launching into the morning sky.

We turned around and pointed west. There was one drink service and it was almost done before it started. The pilots had only made a brief announcement before departure asking flight attendants to be seated. Once in the air, we didn’t hear much more from them until the very end when they told us we were on approach.

While the flight attendants were finishing up their service, there was a chime. A couple minutes later, a flight attendant came on the PA.

Ladies and gentlemen – If you feel the little turbulence we have right now, we’ve been informed that in 10 minutes, it’s gonna get a lot worse. So if you have to go to the bathroom, do it now.

I certainly didn’t like the sound of things getting a lot worse, but I knew that a front was rolling through Southern California and high winds were expected. Still, if it’s going to get a lot worse, I’d like to hear it from the cockpit.

In the end, it didn’t get a lot worse. We had maybe a couple minor bumps as we descended through clouds, and then the rest of the flight was smooth. Weird.

There was quite a headwind working on us so our flight time was pretty long for this route. But we were at the gate only 7 minutes late. Fourteen minutes after that, I was off the plane with our checked bag in hand. And another 14 minutes later, I was at my desk working. I love Long Beach Airport.

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