Star Alliance to Phoenix, oneworld Back (Trip Report)

Each of the last several years, I’ve gone to Phoenix in the spring for both US Airways media day and the Phoenix Aviation Symposium. But this year, US Airways is now American and headquarters isn’t in Phoenix. So it was a strange feeling preparing for this trip knowing that most of the US Airways folks I know wouldn’t be around. I bought my ticket from Long Beach for $209 roundtrip, and I’d fly a Star Alliance carrier out but a oneworld airline back thanks to the planned switch on March 31.

It was an early morning so my wife wasn’t going to drive me to the airport. I thought I’d try UberX but there was nothing in the area, so I just cabbed it instead. Unfortunately, the cab got to my house a little early and I was at the airport about an hour before departure. At Long Beach Airport that’s way too early.

I had Pre Check on my boarding pass, so I sailed through security. Has anyone else seen the TSA stamping process get out of control? My boarding pass had 6 imprints from 3 different stamps.

TSA PreCheck Boarding Pass

Once through, I had time to kill so I just logged on and sifted through emails that had come in overnight. Soon we were boarding.


March 29, 2014
US Airways Express 2727 Lv Long Beach 645a Arr Phoenix 811a (operated by Mesa)
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Depart 5m Early
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B19, Runway 7R, Arrive 8m Early
N249LR, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, ~75% Full
Seat 11F, Coach
Flight Time 55m

It was a light load of about 60 on our ex-PLUNA CRJ-900 and boarding was pretty leisurely. I strolled on and saw plenty of empty overhead bins – a fun side effect when everyone brings roller bags that won’t fit. My duffel, however, went right in.

My streak of having people sitting in my seat continued as a girl had already parked herself in 11F. I smiled and told her it was my seat. She asked, “11A”? Nope, not quite. So she gladly moved over to the other side. I, meanwhile, cursed myself for picking this seat.

11F is a non-reclining row in front of the exit. That doesn’t bug me at all on a sub-1 hour flight (or on most flights for that matter since I rarely if ever recline in coach). But in an airplane with nearly all windows misaligned with the seats, this was one of the worst. My view:

Window View on CRJ-900 Seat 11F

After all the safety announcements and the spiel about being a “proud member” of the Star Alliance, we pushed back 5 minutes early. That was stupid because airplanes can’t take off until 7a in Long Beach. We got to the end of the runway and sat for about 15 minutes for that reason. Finally, we were airborne.

It was a surprisingly bouncy ride at altitude considering the weather looked so benign. At one point, the flight attendants came on and asked people to make sure everything was secured. But once we started descending it smoothed out. We landed and soon I was on my way to seeing family and friends for a few days before the main event.

The Symposium was great as always. I was on a panel about “the digital age” in air travel and the customer impact. I’m still working on figuring out which posts to write from the entire event.

The conference was at the Westin Kierland, and I can’t say I was overly impressed with the property. It seems to be showing its age a little, and the signature things I usually expect from Starwood (most notably, power outlets everywhere) were not to be found here.

The last night I stayed at the Aloft right near the Phoenix airport. They have a shuttle but the property is only a half block away from the Sky Train which goes right into Terminal 4. I decided to take that.

Phoenix Sky Train

The train is what you’d expect it to be. Driverless and frequent, it, so far, only takes you from the 44th St station (where the Phoenix light rail meets it) to the East Economy parking lot and then on to Terminal 4 where both Southwest and American/US Airways fly (among others).

The stations seemed pretty extravagant with many artistic touches. Of course, I spent almost no time there as I headed to my flight. I had Pre Check once again and there wasn’t a line at this time of day on a Saturday. Still, I was slowed down by the couple in front of me who decided to argue that since one person had Pre Check on the boarding pass, the other should be able to go with. That didn’t get them very far.

I got to the gate and noticed that all oneworld signage had gone up. (This apparently happened systemwide overnight on March 30/31.)

US Airways oneworld

Shortly, we were boarding.


April 5, 2014
US Airways Express 2819 Lv Phoenix 747a Arr Long Beach 909a (operated by Mesa)
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B3, Runway 7L, Depart 2m Early
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 2, Runway 30, Arrive 4m Early
N244LR, Bombardier CRJ-900, Standard US Airways colors, ~99% Full
Seat 9A, Coach
Flight Time 1h1m

The was another ex-PLUNA aircraft, and it has a different configuration than the non-PLUNA ones. Most noticeably, the first row in coach has a single seat on the A side and the row numbers are different. The night before, seat 9A showed up when I checked in so I gladly switched and the view was certainly better than on the way out.

We pushed back and made our way to the western end of the runways for an eastbound departure. The flight was routine, though we seemed a bit further south on approach than usual. I had a great view of Orange County Airport. We landed, parked quickly, and I was glad to be home.

20 Responses to Star Alliance to Phoenix, oneworld Back (Trip Report)

  1. Bill from DC says:

    what’s PLUNA?

  2. Sanjeev M says:

    PLUNA was a CRJ carrier from Uruguay. Most of their business was Montevideo-Argentina. But Argentina favoring Aerolineas didn’t help and they were restricted to the point of closure.

    Also, why didn’t they just put new AA signs instead of just the oneworld logo?

    • Eric says:

      I am going to *guess* that they can not replace brand signage until AA/US get their SOC in place.

      • Oh they can replace the signage at any point they like. (CF got on a US Airways Express flight with US Airways signage around, although the legal operating carrier is Mesa.) US Airways already has planes painted in the American livery, it just has a little “Operated by US Airways” decal on it near the door.

        I’m presuming they’ven’t replaced the signage yet because they have two different reservation systems, which drives the customer experience. (e.g. Where passengers can check in, who can work on their reservation, etc)

        Southwest and Airtran have been on the same SOC for a while, but they still operate as different airlines. (Although we have the ever shrinking Airtran.)

        • CF says:

          I’m fairly certain they don’t want to switch the signs because it would be confusing to customers. People are still flying US Airways and buying tickets on US Airways. So to switch the signage it would be awfully confusing. (Doesn’t matter what’s on the airplane since people aren’t using the paint job to find where they’re going.)

          A couple gates down on that concourse are the American gates, and those had the new signage on them.

  3. David SF eastbay says:

    Brett you had a great view from 11F, just close your eyes and you can make the view anything you wanted, like the whales migrating past Kauai. :-)

  4. Robert Rolwing says:

    dont feel PHX will last long as a hub,since it is soooo close to much larger and much more important LAX, and the need to cut cost, PHL will probaly be shrunk and dumped also/ despite the US Justice Dpt agreement, if you read a Business Week article,that came out a couple days after the agreement, the writer slammed the US Justice Dpt,saying only the DCA slot give ups were enforceable, the requirement to keep PHX and PHL for 3yrs is sooooo broadly wriiten and vague ,that it is not binding/ Parker may not like big cities ,but they were already gone to be hubs, now I am sure he will keep JFK and LAX ,ORD MIA ,and CLT , but PHL and PHX will probably be gone,small chance they stay/ also AA and Jetblue recently did an additional slot swap at JFK and DCA-Jetblue gave AA 24 additional slots and AA gave jetblue 16 more slots at DCA–SO AA IS INVESTING AT JFK, NOT PHL

    • CF says:

      Robert – I’m afraid you have your facts wrong. American and JetBlue had already swapped those slots and were leasing them from each other, but this made it permanent as part of the divestiture. There is nothing new at JFK here for American.

      I can’t disagree with your view on Philly and Phoenix more. You’ve left this comment on multiple posts here, and I had to respond at least once.

      I’ve written about this extensively, but in the east, Philly is a huge city and the new American owns it. It’s nowhere near the size of NYC, but American simply will never own that place. Same goes for LA, yet Phoenix is a fantastic jumping off point for so many small cities in the west that don’t work from LA. Both Philly and Phoenix are important.

      • Stephen says:

        I agree with CF. Parker would dehub LAX and JFK long before he even considers shrinking PHX and PHL.

  5. JayB says:

    Thanks, Cranky. Your trip reports even for the shortest of flights are wonderful.

    And, thanks for showing us your first-flight boarding pass. I loved(?) seeing that US 2727 was “OPERATED BY US AIRWAYS EXPRESS-M.” Your writeup indicates it was actually “operated by Mesa.” My OAG shows the actual operating carrier for US flight numbered 2727 would be US Airways Express-Mesa Airlines. But, I never see the name Mesa actually showing up on the boarding pass.

    How were customers to have known this flight would in fact be operated by Mesa? I don’t know, maybe on the booking page of the website?. But, shouldn’t it also be made clear on the boarding pass?

    My guess is that US doesn’t think customers care whether they operate flights directly, understand how US Airways-Express differs from US Airways, or have any preference of one “operated by” over another (in the LGB-PHX market where some flights are operated by Mesa and others by Skywest). I, someone who despises code-shares and “operated by” operations, think this is important. I do. If the “operated by” name is missing from the boarding pass or on any other piece of information customers rely on to make a purchase decision, I believe it is cause for DOT enforcement action.

    (Heaven help us. A blogger tries to write a nice little trip report and some commenter goes off and asks for federal action on his pet peeve.) Whatever! Keep up the good work!

    • Perhaps this should yield a complaint but not quite a federal case, but yeah the IT team failed here…

    • CF says:

      JayB – The rule is that it has to be disclosed who will operate the flight upon purchase, as far as I know. By the time you get to the airport, there’s not much you can do about it anyway. Should the full name be on there? Yeah. But then again, there’s a lot to cram on to a boarding pass. Of course, the US Airways boarding pass will go away next year, so probably not worth the investment to fix it.

  6. Gary says:

    Brett, on the return trip, did they now note that they “are a proud member of the OneWorld Alliance”??

    • CF says:

      Gary – It’s funny – no mention of oneworld from the flight attendant. I don’t know if that’s just not the way it works for oneworld or if this flight attendant messed up. Definitely no mention of Star Alliance though.

      • MeanMeosh says:

        When I fly AA, the head FA usually announces a “warm welcome to all of our AAdvantage elite and Oneworld alliance emerald, sapphire, and ruby members”. I think they do this on every flight, but to be honest, I’ve never really paid close attention. My guess is the FA in this case just forgot.

  7. The train station doesn’t look *that* fancy. They did some artsy fartsy things with the concrete.. Not like they had to put concrete in anyway..

    • CF says:

      Nick – That was only the main platform. There was a lot more elsewhere, but I just didn’t include the pics.

  8. D-ROCK says:

    I flew this past weekend on US and AA (LAX-PHX-SAT/AUS-DFW-LAX) and didn’t get any stamps on my boarding passes. Just the usual ticks with a ball point pen next to name, date, and flight number. I kinda feel left out now…

    • David M says:

      I wonder if the stamps are a Long Beach thing. I’ve never seen them on any of the flights I’ve been on, but the last time I flew out of LGB was in 1999 on WinAir.

  9. ChuckMO says:

    While and interesting en route switch, my Mother (a former Ozark/TWA res agent) booked a man on an extended trip from DSM to MEM and back. He flew DSM-STL on OZ, STL-MEM on RC and by the time he returned it was NW MEM-STL and TWA STL-DSM. She recalls him being a trifle perplexed! Ahhhh mergers!

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