Flying to US Airways Media Day 2010 (Trip Report)

PHX - Phoenix, Trip Reports, US Airways

I know I’ve already given you most of the info from the US Airways media day and the Phoenix Symposium, but I never got around to posting the trip report. Unlike in previous years, I opted to fly instead of drive, and US Airways A321 InteriorUS Airways offered the ticket for free to anyone who was attending. I accepted.

I could have flown out of Long Beach, but I made the rare decision to go LAX instead. Why? I’d rather not fly Mesa, and that’s who US Airways uses from Long Beach.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a ride on the way out. Not wanting to leave my car at LAX for a few days, I just took public transit. Track closures had rail running slow, but I still arrived at the terminal about 1:15 before the flight.

I always like to leave a little buffer when I fly out of LAX Terminal 1 (Southwest and US Airways) but it was completely unnecessary today. There was no security line and I tested the new option to leave your netbook in the bag. Didn’t work. They said it had to be the only thing in the bag, so they made me take it out. Oh well.

After, I went to the gate. This was my first time flying US Airways in a long time, but it brought back memories. My days at America West were spent flying between Phoenix and LA, always taking one of the two midday flights home on Sunday. Here I was, taking the same flight (there’s only one these days) back to Phoenix.

April 27, 2010
US Airways #574 Lv Los Angeles (LAX) 1240p Arr Phoenix (PHX) 200p
LAX: Gate 6, Runway 24L, Dept 3m Early
PHX: Gate A28, Runway 25L, Arr On Time
Aircraft: N521UW, Airbus A321-231, Post Merger Colors, ~75% Full
Seat: 6F
Flight Time: 1h4m

I boarded to find a very nice, new A321 US Airways New Leather Seats(about a year old). US Airways has done a nice job with leather seats and a bright interior design. The legroom, at 32 inch pitch, actually felt quite roomy for me. I took my seat and waited as we boarded early and pushed a couple minute before schedule.

We taxied out and sat off the runway for about 5 minutes before heading off into the marine layer. It was my favorite kind of departure – a short hop into the marine layer and then out into sparkling sunshine just a minute later. Only this time, the sunshine didn’t last long because we had high clouds that kept us bouncing much of the way to Phoenix.

This is one of the planes equipped with wifi from GoGo, but it was never mentioned by the crew and there US Airways Wifi Onboardweren’t any pamphlets in the seat back. How did I even know? There was a sticker on the door. But I wasn’t about to use it, not for an hour flight. I just did some reading and drank my ginger ale. (If you haven’t seen it, read this great piece from Mark at Upgrade:Travel Better on drinking ginger ale on airplanes.)

Soon enough we were passing over the Colorado River and beginning our descent. It may not be summer, but the temperature was heading toward the high 90s. If you’ve flown into Phoenix in the summer, you know that it can be a rockin’ ride with the thermals. This trip was no exception and the captain actually had the flight attendants sit down early so nobody would get hurt. We bounced our way into Phoenix and had a long taxi US Airways New Seatsback to the gate.

After the door opened, I stood up and crossed my seat belt, another America West flashback. Seatbelts had to be crossed before boarding back in the day, and as an employee I always crossed it to help out. That’s stuck with me, and I cross it every time I fly.

I was supposed to come home on Saturday at midday, but I decided I just wanted to get home early so I switched to good old flight 24. For as long as I can remember, flight 24 (or previously 2024) has been the morning flight to LAX. I used to take this often, so once again, it was a nice flashback.

I got to the airport an hour early and found a very slow line with a single ID checker. Our line kept backing up as employee after employee kept coming through and cutting in front of us. It took 15 minutes to get through a line that should have taken 5.

Once through, I headed to the gate to find the latest Arizona plane. This is the third one I’ve been on. The first was 757 N916AW. That was returned to the lessor in the 1990s and N901AW was painted in Arizona colors. Then when the merger happened, the 757s all received regular US Airways paint and the theme planes moved to A319s.

May 1, 2010
US Airways #24 Lv Phoenix (PHX) 740a Arr Los Angeles (LAX) 905a
PHX: Gate B6, Runway 25R, Dept On Time
LAX: Gate 8, Runway 24L, Arr ~10m Early
Aircraft: N826AW, Airbus A319-132, Arizona Plane, ~95% Full
Seat: 1D, First Class
Flight Time: 53m

I had forgotten I was on a US Airways-provided ticket, so when they called me up to the podium, it threw me off guard. Fortunately, they had called me up to give me a First Class ticket US Airways Arizona Planefor the ride home.

I boarded after most, but I did find a place to put my carry on just a couple rows behind me. The flight attendants were having a rough start to their day. One was running back and forth trying to help everyone. At one point, the gate agent was on the plane when the flight attendant realized there was a child in the exit row. She asked the gate agent for help and he simply shrugged and said, “What do you want me to do?” If I could only describe the look on her face . . . . She just did it.

We pushed back on time and were told to expect a bumpy ride. Once we got airborne, it turned out to be pretty smooth, and I had a bloody mary to make the ride a little better.

It was a beautifully clear day and the service was excellent onboard. We did end up hitting some turbulence as we descended into LA, but that only prompted the flight attendant to ask me if I wanted another bloody mary. I had no intention of doing so, but hey, why not? I wasn’t driving home.

We came into LAX on a beautiful day and landed nice and early. The captain opened the door at the gate and exclaimed “Welcome to Burbank! Oops.” Those at the front laughed and then we all headed out to find our rides.

It was a great trip on US Airways. It’s been awhile since I last flew them, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

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23 comments on “Flying to US Airways Media Day 2010 (Trip Report)

  1. FA’s probably figured that on a one hour flight, Gogo is not going to be used. They could have mentioned it, but w/e.

    Are there any other airlines that cross the seatbelt or do something else with it? (Cause I would not mind helping some FA’s at all).

  2. I know it is a minor point, but I really liked the US Airways logo on top of their bulkhead. It is such a minor touch but struck me as very classy and nice. Thanks for capturing that.

    I actually have never flown US Airways since they merged with America West. I used to fly America West ALLLLL the time and loved them for their kind flight attendants and gate agents. Of course, I’m assuming on this flight, the employees were the former America West folks so it is nice to see that they continue to provide solid service even with the challenge of working with counterparts that seem less than hospitable.

    As always, thanks for the trip reports!!

  3. The one and only time I flew America West I wrote a complaint letter to the company about the flight attendants on the ONT-PHX portion of a ONT-PHX-ONT trip.

    Crossing the seat belts must have clued people in you worked for the airline. It was like years ago when I worked for TWA. Employees had to dress up when flying nonrev so you could always tell who the employee were on a flight to Hawaii. Who else would be wearing a suit to paradise……lol

  4. In my opinion, America West control has been the best thing to happen to US Airways in recent history. Do they still have issues to deal with? Yes, but they’ve come a long way.

    I believe US Airways is a viable long term stand alone carrier and they will ultimately evolve into what America West was – a hybrid between legacies and LCCs that can and will give Southwest all it can handle.

    People forget that America West was one of the first post-deregulation start up carriers and started operations after Southwest entered the PHX market.

    Where are the other carriers that started up when AWA did?

    AWA (aka US Airways) has gone head to head with Southwest more than any other airline and has at least hung in there to fight another day. And … I wouldn’t be surprised if one day in the future, US Airways is Southwest’s preferred codeshare partner to Europe the Caribbean Central and South America and Asia.

  5. As someone who thinks the “getting there,” rather than the “being there” is more often than not, the better part of travel (well, it used to be), your report was great. Of course, reading your blog, the “there” is pretty good too!

  6. As a former TWAer myself, crossing the seat belts is something I still do today as well. Great report, now I’m going to go pour myself a ginger ale!

  7. Cranky, why would you rather not fly Mesa?

    Also, why not leave your car at LAX? Is it just the cost? I’ve taken public transit to and from LAX several times, but for very short trips I find parking at the airport quite reasonable, especially when leaving early in the morning or arriving late at night when transit is too infrequent (I’m in the east side of Long Beach which is 20+ minutes by bus just to get to the Blue Line). Of course, parking costs do add up daily.

    1. Mesa isn’t a safety issue but rather just the way they deal with the media. I don’t like to support airlines that use frivolous lawsuits to shut up their detractors.

      1. There’s always the point that an an Airbus is simply more comfortable than a CRJ (though at least the -900 is better than the -200).

        Though isn’t Mesa on a fee-per-departure contract, in which case it doesn’t matter to them whether or not a pax is on board? And who pays for the fuel on these? If Mesa does, then having an extra pax on board actually hurts them.

        1. Yes, Mesa is on a cost-plus contract but fuel costs are passed through as well. So ultimately, it really is just a principle issue.

  8. Great post, Cranky! It’s good to hear the US Airways is trying to put a positive product in the skies. And I was hankering for another trip report as I haven’t been flying in a while, so thanks. I always love reading your reviews. Keep it up!

  9. Would concur with some of the positive comments about US Airways – I’ve had them for a few hops on United itineraries on the east coast and they’ve been fine – basic, but fine (and infinitely better than CO).

  10. I live in Belmont Shore (East L.B.), so mass transit to LAX can take as long as two hours. If I have the time, I don’t mind as I can do some reading and the price is right for extended trips. But LAX parking isn’t that bad if you know where to go: AirPark LAX on La Cienega just north of Century is superb and cheap (as low as as $4.95/day). WARNING: It is across from the LAX Parking Center, which should be avoided like the plague, even though they advertise cheaper rates. Of course, flying out of LGB is always preferable.

    1. It’s easier for me since I’m near the blue line train. I was gone for five days so I just didn’t want to leave my car, especially since I knew I could get a ride home.

    2. When I lived in L.A. I parked in the employee lot when working for TWA. After that just had a friend drop me off or had another friend in Marina Del Rey so could just park at his place and he would drop me off. I did hitch a ride home once in someones limo. It was a coworker who hired it so don’t think I just jumped in someones car……lol

  11. I have always crossed my seatbelt and made sure there was no crap left in the seat pocket before I left a plane after a flight. I always believed it was common courtesy to not only the person sitting in that seat next, but also to the cleaning crew.

  12. Your trip reports are always excellent, and this was no exception. While I believe that airline loyalty is a “pick your poison and stick with it proposition,” I have avoided US the past couple of years due to consistently poor experiences using them in the past. This January, a trip ORD-CLT-TPA on US was unavoidable, and I was blown away by the improvement in the product from the last time I flew the airline (a very unpleasant ORD-PHL-DUB-PHL-ORD trip). The staff was friendly, flights were on time despite bad weather, and the interiors were newly-refurbished. It’s great to see them striving to operate at a high level in all elements of their service, especially given the airline’s important place in American commercial aviation history. Also, your post motivated me to have my first ginger ale in years!

  13. does it have tv screens in it to watch during the flight..cuz im flying on us airwaysin tow more weeks to phoenix and im scared that the us airways a320 cabin wont have a screen tvs any where in the cabin…you know i dont want to get bored in my 3 hrs flight…..just asking

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