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 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
Flight Time: 1h4m
I boarded to find a very nice, new A321 (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 weren’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 back 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 for 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.