American Has Finally Made Mesa Improve Its CRJ-900 Interiors (Trip Report)

American, Mesa Airlines, Trip Reports

Surprise! It’s a Wednesday post. I have a big backlog on post content right now, so I thought I’d put this trip report up today.

After the mess getting to Phoenix, I figured my return couldn’t be worse, right? Then I remembered I was flying Mesa. Fear not… the flight was perfectly pleasant, and it was my first on the redone Mesa CRJ-900 interiors that American required after the merger. More on that later.

But first, I have to say thanks to the Westin Kierland. My wife and I spent the first two nights there (using my SPG points) before she went home and my Cranky Concierge team came in for meetings. I had been to the hotel before, so I knew I liked it, but they did a great job this time. My wife has been on a jigsaw puzzle kick lately, so I mentioned that it was her birthday weekend and she would love to do some puzzling. Sure enough, they had a puzzle waiting in our room with a nice note. They helped us get a dinner reservation at a full restaurant on Saturday, and they sent up a box of cookies the second night with another note. It’s stays like these that remind me why I’m an SPG loyalist. (And yes, the Marriott merger terrifies me….)

But let’s get back to airplanes. After my wife left Sunday, I relapsed with my cold/cough just in time for my team to arrive. We spent the week working on strategy, and by the time we left on Thursday, I was feeling better but not great.

I pulled up my reservation on the American app, and I didn’t have a seat assignment. When I checked in, I was surprised that it auto-assigned me into a Main Cabin Extra seat (nothing else was left on the airplane). I had no idea that they would auto-assign someone into Main Cabin Extra until the gate, but I wasn’t going to complain.

We all had flights leaving between 1:30pm and 2:30pm from Terminal 4, so we got there around 12:30pm. Two of us had Pre Check and were through security in minutes. The other two didn’t and it took them over 30 minutes to get through. Of course, one of the guys in that line had the earliest flight at 1:26pm, and he made the mad dash, just squeezing on before American shut the door.

The rest of us spread out and found our respective gates. I headed to mine to find the airplane (a former Alitalia Cityliner aircraft, no less) waiting for me in the new colors. Well, most of it was in the new colors. It still had an old white US Airways nosecone.

Boarding time came, and the gate agent announced that we were just waiting for the captain to show up, so boarding would be delayed. I did not like the sound of that. But nine minutes before departure, he arrived. I was just out of earshot, but it looked like he was surprised they hadn’t boarded the airplane yet. There was some back and forth, but it didn’t last long. We were boarding shortly after.

March 23, 2017
American Eagle 5914 Lv Phoenix 210p Arr Long Beach 329p (operated by Mesa)
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B5, Runway 25R, Depart 10m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 3, Runway 30, Arrive On Time
N951LR, Bombardier CRJ-900, Ugly Flag Tail, ~95% Full
Seat 7A, Main Cabin Extra (by accident)
Flight Time 59m

Onboard, I found this was one of the newly-refurbished interiors. American said it would make Mesa fix its worn and tired interiors to give it a similar look to what American has on its new mainline and regional fleets. The odd blue/black combo with a red stripe was present here, but these weren’t new seats. I confirmed with American that while the First Class seats were new, in coach they were just recovered.

Once I sat down, I could see that this was a fairly superficial retrofit. My seatbelt was fraying. (Apparently that’s scheduled to be replaced at a later date.) The windows were still scratched up and dirty.

The sidewalls looked clean, but the cover near my feet was coming off and showed a lot of what can only be described as “gunk” hiding.

Even on the seat itself, it seemed to have been done on the cheap. The label-maker apparently ran out of sticky stuff for the new disclosures on the seat. It was already peeling off.

In short, this is a big improvement over the previous state of these airplanes, but I’ll be curious to see what these look like in a couple years.

We taxied out, and naturally I went into a coughing fit. If only I had been smart enough to buy water in the terminal. I felt awful for the guy next to me (though I was turning the other way and covering my mouth). He pretended to be asleep, but there’s no way he could have slept through that. Once we got to the runway it was gone, and I was fine for the rest of the flight.

It had rained overnight in Phoenix, but by the time we left, there were just scattered clouds that caused a few bumps as we climbed. More importantly, it made for a great view.

We didn’t climb very high at all, topping out at a mere 22,000 feet. It was a mostly smooth day, and we started descending before we had even passed Palm Springs.

That meant I had a spectacular view of the fresh snow on Mt San Jacinto as we passed by.

I couldn’t help but look out the window at all the green below thanks to our incredibly wet winter here in Southern California.

We came over the top of John Wayne and then followed the coast into Long Beach. Needless to say, it was a quick taxi and we got to the gate right on time despite our late start.

I passed the race car (not a typo – it’s promoting the annual upcoming Long Beach Grand Prix) and was at the curb in a couple of minutes. It may have been a quick walk, but it did give me just enough time to ponder why the hell I ever fly out of LAX.

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25 comments on “American Has Finally Made Mesa Improve Its CRJ-900 Interiors (Trip Report)

  1. Great to see a post on Wednesday. I always open your site after lunch (I’m in Europe) and at the moment it opened, I remembered it’s Wednesday. Nice surprise!

    Hope your cough is completely gone by now.

  2. Another good trip review and I agree with your comments about aircraft flown by Mesa. I have flown many times over the years and the quality of their product both in terms of operational performance and an onboard experience. I actually book away if I can to ensure I arrive to my destination on time and with a good experience. Far too many times I have a delayed flight. It is apparent they are not investing in the cabin interiors and I therefore question their commitments to the customers as well. I also read that are near a strike with their FA because they spent it on the pilots and their contracts aren’t profitable. There is a trend with this airline that they don’t invest in their people of their product. When will the carriers–specifically AA and United –hold this Management team at Mesa to quality.

  3. You do realize that the cost of interior renovation is a pass through cost. American could have told Mesa at any time to re-do the interiors, at which point they would be obligated to reimburse the (agreed upon) cost. Absent that directive, Mesa has no opportunity to recover its outlay on upgraded interiors.

  4. I like your ugly flag tail comment….LOL

    And this is why I always check here everyday, you never know when there may be a special post.

    1. Yes, kudos to the Crankster for keeping the “ugly flag tail” comment alive!

      And “boo” to the guy who keeps complaining about it, although I haven’t seen him in this thread…yet. ;)

      Damn, that’s an ugly tail. I can’t believe Doogie likes it!

    1. seahurst2 – There is no way the app has built-in functionality that allows them to flag a person and then provide an upgrade to MCE at the time of check in. If they were going to do that, they’d have to handle it beforehand. (And I wouldn’t be happy.) But I literally had no seat assignment when I pulled it up then it auto-assigned when I checked in.

  5. I read that American just gave up two of its slots at Long Beach and had lost market share. Maybe that’s why it took some action.

    1. Join the discussion Here’s my theory I’m sticking to until someone tells me otherwise. I think AA was content to let Jet Blue carry the water on the customs facility issue. When that was beaten back by lies and deceit by local NIMBYS, AA said the heck with it. They might have had an interest in some int’l travel and LGB but they see no more reason to hang around much anymore.

      1. American had no interest in international flying from Long Beach. The problem it two-fold. Now that American has tremendous nonstop options from LAX thanks to its build-up over the last few years, people are less willing to fly out of Long Beach because it requires a connection. And it’s not just American’s build-up. LAX has grown dramatically and fares are low. Long Beach was never a great performer, but the changes at LAX only hurt it more, and that’s why American is shrinking.

        1. BUR is down to 3 flights too. Mesa isn’t helping their cause. Honestly, from DFW, I’d rather fly via PHX to LGB than battle LAX.

          Remember, one thing, it’s not AA calling the shots anymore on Amon Carter Blvd. It’s Doug Parker and his America West crew. LGB should be safe, if Mesa doesn’t piss off all the traffic to DL.

  6. I know Mesa owns the plane, but American is on the side of it (at least this one). AA needs to hold Mesa to the same standards it expects their planes to appear as. :Facepalm: I forgot, even their own planes seem to lack consistency, so what is new? AA needs to force their regional partners to raise their standards, or they should just allow the regional partner to have their name only on the side of the plane. Customer’s expectations may then be more aligned to what they see, which is less than if they were on the “legacy” plane.

    Kind of reminds me when I worked at fast food restaurant chain not to be named. I worked for a franchisee who left the market to another market across the country with twice as many stores. His minority partner was given 4 of his 9 stores he left, one was closed due to the “original” design, and no room on the property to rebuild a newer store, and the other 4, the corporation took over, including the one I worked at. When corporate management came in, the standards seem to slip, and sales dropped. Thankfully, one of the managers who stayed with the minority partner asked me to transfer and take a promotion in management, so I was able to get out of the situation.

    Later, I worked with another franchisee who had stores surrounding a corporate ran store. Store was losing more a month than what it did in gross sales due to mismanagement (theft). The franchisee took over the store, cleaned house of the staff except for a few and within 2 weeks, sales almost tripled, and the store was making a huge profit. It goes to show that this corporation actually forced their franchisees to adhere to a higher standard than they required their own stores to be run.

    1. TC – And that is what American is doing. Mesa didn’t do this for fun. It did it because American is requiring that regionals come up to their standards. I really just want to know what this looks like in a couple years.

  7. Mesa has been so bad for so long, I’m amazed AA hasn’t dumped them by now. My last trip with them was the latter part of June on a CRJ-900 with no air conditioning ABQ-PHX. At least they apologized. That didn’t make the trip any easier, though. “It’s a dry heat.”

  8. They’re going to spruce up the interiors? When? I flew round trip LGB to PHX earlier this month. I noted N934FJ on the return flight. Didn’t get the number going. The inside of both planes was, charitably put, tired. The seats had the red stripe, but the seat belts were frayed as well, the windows were opaque and the front lavatory was out of order. Not related to the interior, but when we landed at LGB, we came thisclose to fish tailing that thing because they must have been standing on the brakes after landing too fast.

    1. I remember a LONG time ago when Eastern said it was going to “spruce up” its interiors. HAHAHAH….. a couple of misguided streaks of paint and a few pieces of black duct tape here and there that didn’t even begin to remedy the filthy windowshades and hanging ceiling panels.. I have to expect Mesa won’t do much better, and I hope to be proven wrong.. Trouble is, from a number of cities, if you want to get to Phoenix without one or more connections, it’s either Southwest’s flying cattle cars or Mesa’s CrapRJ-900s. Southwest may not be cheaper anymore, but they’ve never made me fly in a plane that feels like it’s 100 degrees hotter inside than it is outside. Come to think of it, Southwest has never cancelled a flight I was on, or delayed more than half an hour or so. Maybe it’s time to dig out my Southwest freaky flyer card and start putting it to use again.

      1. Sorry, I should have specified that this was Eastern Version 1.0, not long before it went kaflooey. Ah, those were the good old days… FAs who wore sunglasses all through the flight and lounged around looking down their noses at the passengers… milk-run flights that made numerous stops between Cleveland and Charlotte — for example (excuse me if I don’t get these in the right order) – CLE-PIT-ROA-GSO-RDU-CLT, and then a transfer to Piedmont to GSP. Quite the pain in the posterior anatomy, but it was cheap — around $35-45 one way on student fares. AND… there was food on some of the legs. SIGH — those were the days!

  9. I feel the same way with using SJC instead of SFO. Unless I’m flying internationally, I’m using SJC, even if that means adding in a connection. I figured that the time to connect somewhere is about the same amount of time that it would take to get me to SFO. Plus, I don’t need to leave my house until 60 minutes before flight time.

  10. During last Presidents Day the wife and I flew nonstop CVG-LAX, took a long hike from Delta’s gate 55 to front of terminal where we waited 25 minutes to board a crowded rental car shuttle bus. It took forever just to get away from the LAX area and on our way to Hollywood Hills. For our return we elected to depart BUR with a SLC connection to CVG. Glad we did. No hassle. On future visit to San Pedro, we’ll skip the nonstop to LAX and fly to LGB via SLC.

  11. How do two employees of Cranky Concierge not have PreCheck?! You’d think that would be automatic for anyone “in the know” working with this industry!

    1. Andrew – That is a REALLY good question. I was surprised myself. One of the guys is back office, so he’s not an airline guy and doesn’t travel a ton. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But the other guy? No excuse!

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