I know it’s surprising but this was my first plane flight of the year. Seems crazy, but I’ve been doing a lot of driving instead of flying on the short hauls lately. Anyway, this was a quick trip to Phoenix to participate in the Heart Walk. Even though it was a routine trip, I was a bit nervous about traveling right after US Airways migrated to a single reservation system. As you saw in my last post, all went well and I need not have worried. Back to the trip . . . .
March 2, 2007
US Airways #2735 Lv Long Beach (LGB) 635p Arr Phoenix (PHX) 850p
LGB: Gate 21, Runway 30, Dept 10m Late
PHX: Gate B9, Runway 25L, Arr 26m Late
Aircraft: N935LR, Bombardier CRJ-900, New US Airways colors, 100% Full
Flight Time: 50m
Seat: 2A, Coach
My girlfriend and I arrived at the Long Beach airport remote lot (only $6 a day) an hour before departure. After the shuttle bus picked us up at our car, we were beyond security and at the gate 15 minutes later. Have I mentioned I love this airport?
Unfortunately, our plane was late coming in from Phoenix, but when it arrived (in the new colors), they were able to turn it quickly. We boarded and took our seats just in time to see some excellent customer service from the flight attendants.
The couple sitting in front of us had a small roller bag that expanded in the front. Since they had jammed so much stuff in there, it didn’t fit in the overhead and there was no seat in front of
them for storage. Instead of forcing the couple to check the bag, the flight attendant grabbed a plastic bag and helped them shrink their carry on down so that it would fit. That’s some good service.
Meanwhile, the other flight attendant was pretty funny. She used a very mellow, deadpan humor during the safety briefing and she made it very clear that even though her name was Felicia, we should call her Feliz (that’s “happy” in Spanish). Every time she said “Phoenix,” she drew it out like “Feeeeeeenix.” Her tone was actually just about right for an evening flight like that.
Soon we were airborne and heading toward Feeeeeeenix. We usually sit in the exit row, but this time we decided to sit up front and it is really quiet up there. I liked it better, even though it had less legroom. The flight attendants did an “express” beverage service since the flight was short. That means they’ll throw a bottle of water at you if you wave your hands in the air and scream really loudly. My girlfriend decided to beg for more and asked the flight attendant for some wine. Amazingly, she smiled, went back to the galley, and brought it back. Another great service moment.
It was a beautiful night with a bright, nearly full moon shining overhead. We had great views on the left side of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Palm Springs, the Colorado River, Quartzite, the Palo Verde nuclear plant, and the Phoenix area as we made our way in. After looping around we landed to the west and taxied for awhile before nosing into the gate.
While my girlfriend waited for her gate-checked bag, I followed the time-honored tradition of taking a picture of the carpet and sending it to my friend. Don’t ask. The carpet in Phoenix is pretty nice though, as you can see on the left.
The weekend was a good one with a little walking, a lot of eating, and a spring training game to round things out.
March 4, 2007
US Airways #2734 Lv Phoenix (PHX) 520p Arr Long Beach (LGB) 550p
PHX: Gate B17, Runway 7L, Dept 1m Early
LGB: Gate 21, Runway 30, Arr On Time
Aircraft: N911FJ, Bombardier CRJ-900, New US Airways colors, ~100% Full
Flight Time: 1h0m
Seat: 2A, Coach
Since US Airways was migrating to a single reservations system in the early morning hours on the day we were supposed to fly, I was a little concerned. I went online when I woke up and was happy to see that we were able to check-in on the website. As I mentioned before, there was nothing to worry about (in Phoenix, that is). Just in case, we decided to show up at the airport 1 1/2 hours early. That wasn’t necessary.
We walked straight up to the nicely remodeled B security area and sailed through with no line. The B gates are where the TSA keeps the country’s only backscatter x-ray machine right now, but it wasn’t in operation. One of the TSA guys told me that they only use it about 3 hours a day, and they were done for the day. I think he was just making excuses to keep me out of there.
I tried to take a picture of the machine but they refused to let me. (Boo, hiss!) It’s just a big box hidden behind some portable black curtains. I’m not sure why you need the curtains because you don’t have to take any clothes off, but oh well. They built a small room behind the security area to review the footage. I was told that they’re happy with the results so far and that people don’t seem to mind it.
Since we were through security so quickly, I thought I’d wander around aimlessly and see what was going on. There were very few delays, but the one I did see – a 3 hour delay to DCA – at least had a bunch of sandwiches on the counter for customers to take. Other than that, I just saw a lot of airplanes in the new colors. In fact, I only saw a couple of planes in the old America West colors the whole time.
They called preboarding for our flight, but then they didn’t make another announcement, so confused customers just started forming a line. Unfortunately, the airport was still departing and arriving to the east even though that usually only happens in the morning. That meant a long taxi to the other end of the airport and then we had to turn around after departure to head back home.
This flight was again uneventful. We sat just below the deceptively high cloud layer and landed just as the sun was setting beyond Catalina. That’s Long Beach on the right.