The Westin Austin at The Domain

Lobby of The Westin Austin at The Domain

I stay at many hotels, but it isn’t often that one merits a great review and mention. However, The Westin Austin at The Domain is one to recommend and remember.

Although the location of the Westin isn’t in downtown Austin, it’s well worth staying here and driving into Austin, or just enjoying The Domain, the retail and dining complex across the street. I can’t rave enough about the property itself, the restaurant, urban an american grill, and the room.

The service was outstanding. Everyone I encountered at check-in, the restaurant, and around the property were friendly and accommodating.

Brunch at urban an american grill

I loved both the food and the service I received at urban an american grill. I ate three meals there, two dinners at the bar and the Sunday brunch. The food was outstanding, the local beers cold and plentiful, and the wine list comprensive. I was also impressed with one of the bartender’s wine knowledge as she helped me select a wine with one of my meals, a pairing of NY Strip on spinach with Gloria Ferrer Carneros Merlot.

NY Strip on spinach with Gloria Ferrer Merlot

I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to the executive suite, which was luxurious and well-appointed, with a large living area, one and a half baths, and a large bedroom. My favorite part of the room was Westin’s famous Heavenly Bed. I didn’t want to get out of it either morning I was there. The full bathroom had both a bath/shower and a standalone shower, both with Westin’s branded shower heads. How often do you wish to stay in the shower forever?

The Westin Heavenly Bed

When I return to Austin, I definitely plan to return to the Westin. You should plan your next stay there as well, or I can plan it for you!

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TYS-DEN-TYS on United Express June 14 and June 18, 2012

Note: Both flights were UA 6075 operated by ExpressJet on the Embraer 145 (E145, EMB-145, ER-145) regional jet aircraft with only one class of service and no Economy Plus or “premium” seating except for exit row 12.

When I checked in online for my June 14 outbound flight, I discovered I had lost my paid, premium seat assignment and had been moved to 19A. I had to re-select exit 12A. The baggage fee was easy to pay online. I wasn’t offered the option to buy extra redeemable miles or Elite Access.

When I arrived at TYS (Knoxville MGhee Tyson Airport), I discovered the two Uniteds (United/former Continental) still had separate ticket counters, one for DEN/IAD/ORD and one for EWR/IAH departures.

Security was very quick and easy, but I was disappointed that TYS had a full-body scanner.

We boarded by groups. There were a few passengers in groups 1-4, but most were 5-6.  I think I boarded last.

In flight, there was only one beverage service. No snacks or food were offered. I spent the flight reading a wine book I had downloaded onto my iPad from amazon.com. A 2-hour 37-minute flight (1162 nautical miles) was too long without any in-flight entertainment, Internet, or snacks/food for sale. However, my flight arrived on time and baggage arrived promptly at baggage claim.

On Saturday, June 16, I checked my return seat assignment for Monday, June 18 and I had been bumped again to 19A. I re-selected 12A, but it did not take on the website or app. A call to United confirmed I really had 12A. When I checked in at exactly 24 hours out, the website and app said I had 19A, but in reality, I did have 12A, and I prepaid my luggage. Again, I wasn’t offered the option to buy extra redeemable miles or Elite Access.

I arrived at DEN (Denver International Airport) on June 18 and took advantage of curbside check-in, where there was absolutely no one waiting. I tipped the skycap $3 and she directed me to security. I also re-activated my Clear card. The Clear line was shorter than the elite line and there was only a metal detector. I will renew my Clear membership when it comes up for renewal in about eight months.

After boarding by group number, the aircraft was sweltering. The auxiliary power was either not available or not working, so there was no air conditioning until we departed at 10:15 a.m.

One hour into the flight, there was still no in-flight service. Thank God I had the Southwest peanuts and pretzels from my TBEX conference swag bag! Finally the flight attendant showed up with a tray of cups with water, Coke, Diet Coke, or ginger ale. Really? On a 2-hour, 35-minute flight after sweating on the tarmac? I helped myself to two drinks. The flight attendant did not offer any additional service.

Again, I spent the flight reading a wine book I had downloaded onto my iPad from amazon.com. And again, this was too long of a flight with no in-flight entertainment, Internet, or snacks for sale.

In summary, I’d rather connect on my usual airline and save myself baggage and premium seat fees, feel confident about my seat assignment selections, have Internet and/or in-flight entertainment options, and receive in-flight service that includes free and/or paid snacks options.

Grade = C (only because we were on time both directions and I had no baggage issues)

For assistance in planning your next trip, please visit my website.

XNA-MSP-YYC on Delta 10 June 2012 by Bruce

I wasn’t going to write a trip report for XNA-MSP-YYC because I thought it was boring. But I like writing and maybe someone will get some enjoyment from my experience.

As mentioned elsewhere, DL is not my carrier of choice. After switching to CO from US in 2008, I’ve been happy. And now with UA, no problems. But for this weekend trip to XNA, UA wanted $1200 and anything over $1000 has to be approved by the customer. The only way the client’s travel agent (I have a client who has a customer. I’m a third-party provider) could book it under the limit was to break it into 2 one-ways, outbound on AA and the return on DL. So while I don’t get to earn for Mileage Plus, I at least get to refresh the several thousand miles I have in these other two programs.

XNA is Northwest Arkansas Regional and exists mostly to serve Wal-Mart vendors and the few people who work for Wal-Mart that fly commercially (they have a massive private fleet that is based at a regional air strip not far away). Tyson Foods, JB Hunt and the University of Arkansas (Soooooie! Pig!) are the other three very large employers in the area. The airport recently completed construction of an extended 12 gate concourse, complete with jetbridges. Some of the carriers have moved over to these. Very nice, very modern, very spacious, very comfortable with plentiful power and free wifi. Five stars.

The inbound arrived a few minutes late, but the crew turned it quickly and boarding for Group 1 was called manually. With no status, I had a Group 3 boarding pass so I waited out of the way. A few minutes later, my boarding pass was scanned and beeped. I was ready with my passport and I entered the jetbridge with my very small rollaboard. It easily fit into the overhead and I took 10A on this ERJ-145. It’s the same configuration as the CO/UA ExpressJet with one on the left / two on the right and exit row in 12. Barely 25% filled. We pushed back 2 minutes late and were first to depart. Beverage service (half-can) with two bags of peanuts. Hmmm… US doesn’t offer anything with their drinks. AA didn’t offer anything. UA doesn’t offer anything. On the way to the galley after serving the rows behind me, the flight attendant offered me the rest of the can.

The approach into MSP was one of the bumpiest rides I can recall in some time. We managed to get on the ground and stopped about 50 feet from the gate. The captain announced that there was an electrical storm in the area and we would be waiting at least 10 minutes and possibly 25 minutes until the lightning stopped. Looking out the window, I could see the wind pushing the standing water and the rain. The plane rocked from side to side, as we were sideways to the wind. After 20 minutes, still with a bit of storm in the air, the engines spooled up and we finished into the gate.

A very long walk from gate A12 to gate C4, at least a mile with scattered slidewalks and a repeated overhead announcement, “emergency response teams – activate your severe weather plans.” Arriving at the gate, the gate agent was answering questions to passengers saying that there would be a half-hour delay. She didn’t make any overhead announcements. As it turned out, we boarded only ten minutes late in one of the fastest boards I’ve seen. Again in Group 3, but after paging Group 1 and getting no response (I don’t think anyone was ready at this point), she called all rows.

Seat 16A on this ERJ-175 is a two-by-two behind the exit row and behind the wing. Almost all rows were occupied, but my seatmate was too slow to go grab the empty row just in front of us before another passenger got it.

We pushed back 13 minutes late and had a very bumpy climb, which continued for about the first hour of flight. I was surprised to see the flight attendant do beverage service (“Peanuts, pretzels or cookies?”) as she nearly fell down at least twice. Gogo Internet was available for $12.95 which I didn’t use. I tried sleeping or reading but was mostly just bored for three hours from Minneapolis to Calgary (I had no idea it was so damn far). We ended up arriving only six minutes late.

Customs and Immigration to enter Canada, I had my rollaboard and did not have to wait for the carousel.

Summary: Good flights and good service. I really liked that the captain came out of the cockpit to greet (with eye contact!) passengers for both flights (is this normal for DL/DL express?). I thanked the first one for a great approach under what were certainly challenging conditions. Beverage service with a nibble (it’s not quite a snack but much better than nothing) from friendly flight attendants. The planes were clean and well-kept. Wi-Fi on the second segment (a regional!) even though I didn’t use it. An F section on the ERJ-175. Organized boarding. Delta earned an A. They did well.

In the last four months, I’ve flown mainline on three of the legacy carriers. US for CLT-EWR, UA for ORD-YYC and AA for YYC-DFW. DL for XNA-MSP-YYC was not mainline but skywest and Compass. I’m not having second thoughts about my choice to stay with UA out of CLT, but I’m certainly thinking that DL might know what they’re doing.

Total Trip Cost: $ 318.50
Actual Airfare: $ 220.00
Actual Miles Flown: 1648
Yield: $ 0.133 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 98.50, 30.93% of ticket price

Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast

The parlor at Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast

One of my former students alerted me that his aunt and uncle were opening a new bed and breakfast, the Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast in Christiansburg, Virginia, and that I might want to visit it. I contacted proprietors Linda and Jim Salyers and they graciously invited me for a one-night, complimentary stay on May 31, 2012. The property dates back to 1900 and was the Salyers’ family home purchased and renovated in the mid-1990s. Recently both retired from their previous careers and wanted to make good use of the empty rooms and space, and Linda told me she hates just cooking for one or two people. Therefore, a few months ago, Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast was born.

The inn is a large, gorgeous, and meticulously clean Victorian-style home. A combination of antiques, dolls made by Linda Salyers in her workshop behind the inn, Amish quilts, and French country- and Victorian-style furnishings fill the parlor, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, and the upstairs sitting room.  Even the recently remodeled bathrooms are decorated down to last detail and include soap, toiletries, and towels. But don’t let the classic décor fool you, the inn also boasts complimentary Wi-Fi and some of the rooms have flat-screen televisions. Each stay includes complimentary snacks in each bedroom, non-alcoholic beverages available from the kitchen refrigerator, coffee, tea, and a wonderful breakfast made by Linda Salyers every morning. My breakfast consisted of a bottomless coffee cup, orange juice, French toast made with fresh apples in a casserole dish (think homemade apple pie with thick bread instead of crust!) and a wonderful breakfast quiche.

My room, Sydney Satin and Lace, at Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast

If you find yourself headed to or through the Blacksburg/Christiansburg area of Virginia, the Ivycrest Inn Bed and Breakfast is a must-stay property. For more information, please visit the inn’s website and Facebook page, or contact Linda and Jim at ivycrestinn@gmail.com or (540) 382-0964. You may also view more photos at my public Facebook link.

As the website says, Although reservations are preferred when possible, the weary traveler will not be turned away, if accommodations are available. Nothing could be more welcoming than that.

American Airlines: YYC-DFW-XNA 8 June 2012 by Bruce

Fri., 8-Jun
AA694 dep YYC 14:25 arr DFW 19:15 (MD80)
AA2917 dep DFW 20:30 arr XNA 21:35 (E145)

On AA because they were way cheaper than UA. It’s crazy how expensive it is to fly across a border. I wonder how many people aren’t coming to the US because of the taxes.

Calgary has US Immigration and Customs – it only took about 25 minutes. Then security screening, though not the TSA. Initially only magnetometers, anyone who alerts gets to go through one of the “old” ProVision full body scanners. I didn’t alert the magnetometer, but somehow earned a random secondary. They directed me to the machine but I opted out and got a pretty lame pat-down. Into the terminal, decent food options and a lot of comfy chairs. There is an Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, but that’s not in the same concourse as the AA flights.

I have no status on AA, so my boarding pass was Group 4. Very organized boarding process, they called each of the groups and passengers didn’t rush the line at all. Despite being in the last group, as the flight was only half full, I had no trouble putting my small roll-aboard in the overhead above 21F on this MD-80. Thankfully, D and E never arrived so I was able to stretch out. If they hadn’t, it would have been an extremely uncomfortable three hours with my knees rubbing the seat in front. Once reaching 10,000 feet, I put my seat back and zonked out. When I woke up an hour later, I had missed the beverage service. During cleanup, the flight attendant stopped by, said he noticed I had been asleep when he came by and asked if I wanted anything. Nice touch.

Gogo inflight available. $14.95 for three hours (90 minutes after my nap) wasn’t worth it.

We arrived DFW 25 minutes early. I took the opportunity to visit the United Club in Terminal E. It’s a small one and they close at 7:30 p.m., which I assume is around the time that the last UA flight departs. I had a beer, a few nibbles and then took the Skytrain back to Terminal B. DFW is a massively huge airport – it’s a long ride to go around.

Another Group 4 boarding pass, I was one of the last to board this ERJ-145. It’s the same configuration as the United Express aircraft, but I was in 10A, not 12A. Short flight with a beverage service, we arrived on time. Nothing unusual.

Total Trip Cost: $ 528.10
Actual Airfare: $ 471.16
Actual Miles Flown: 1804
Yield: $ 0.261 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 56.94, 10.78% of ticket price

US Airways: CLT-EWR-CLT 16 Apr-20 Apr 2012 by Bruce

Thanks to my compadre in travel, Bruce, for reviving my blog!

Mon., 16 Apr 2012
US1972 dep CLT 15:10 arr EWR 17:06 (737-400)

Fri., 20 Apr 2012
US1291 dep EWR 13:15 arr CLT 15:09 (737-400)

It’s been five months since I was last on a plane, so I got to the airport extra early to soak up the atmosphere. As is normal at Charlotte, the shuttles from the long term lot bunch up – nothing for ten minutes and then three in a row. I was finally at the terminal at 12:00 where I easily printed a replacement boarding pass at one of the US kiosks. This flight will be credited to Mileage Plus and my Star Gold status meant that it printed with Zone 1.

Security was a breeze with no queue at the B terminal where I used the priority lane even though there was no one waiting in the regular lane. There are still none of the advanced screening devices there, so I emptied my stuff into bins, removed my shoes and belt and pulled my laptop. I did not set off the magnetometer and did not earn any additional screening. The TSOs were friendly.

A 20-minute shoe shine ($5 plus $2 tip) and then I spent two hours in the C/D Club. Free soft drinks and the snacks were good – fruit and a big bowl of pretzels. I liked the individual packs of Milano cookies and grabbed a handful for later.

At the gate (the last one in the C terminal), they were offering $250 vouchers for volunteers. I was tempted, but the next flight wasn’t until 9 PM. Boarding was called right on time with F and then by zone. The gate fleas were not too bad.

Seat 5A in Y is the second row in coach. There was plenty of room in the overhead when I got there but the seat was far from Choice. No premium economy and a tight pitch. A married couple exchanged with a guy across the aisle so that they could have B and C. I did not see any empty seats in the aircraft.

We pushed back on time, were first for takeoff on 36L and there was a beverage service (half can, no lime) that was picked up a half hour later. Decent into Newark was from the north and the landing was good. We were at the gate a few minutes later, which was 14 minutes ahead of schedule. I was out at the taxi stand a few minutes later.

For the return, more of the same. The ID check for the concourse was well backed up, even for priority passengers. That took ten minutes and they pulled a few people forward who were headed to Miami. There was a whole body scanner being used for one of the security lanes, but I bypassed that and went further in where there was not one of those. I did not set off the magnetometer and was not selected for additional screening. Security took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

The concourse where US has its gates is served by an Admirals Club, so I had a sandwich at Phillips Seafood and then waited with the rest of the cattle. Boarding was again F first, then Zone 1. The usual obliviots with Zone 2 and higher were standing in the flow.

Otherwise, the flight was the same. It could well have been the same aircraft as the outbound with the same tight pitch and lack of power or IFE. Smooth flight, half can, and we landed 15 minutes early on runway 23.

Summary: I’m glad I decided to keep my UA status and not return to US. The lack of premium economy, power, and IFE would make this a very uncomfortable flight for anything more than a short trip. There’s no way I could do a transcon in that seat. When we talk about a bus in the sky, this is it. The rest of my flights to Newark on this engagement will be on United metal. Grade: C.

Total Trip Cost: $ 406.10
Actual Airfare: $ 359.07
Actual Miles Flown: 1057
Yield: $ 0.340 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 47.03, 11.58% of ticket price

One Flew South: My Favorite Airport Restaurant/Bar

The Concourse E Burger at One Flew South

Since I am an elite flyer, I usually frequent airline pubs, er, clubs, for free libations. However, I make an exception in Atlanta. I don’t even mind being delayed in Atlanta because of this place. My favorite airport bar/pub/restaurant hands-down is One Flew South, even if I only want a drink and not food. They have by far the best cocktail and wine list of any airport bar, and if you do wish to eat, they also have an amazing menu of made-to-order appetizers and meals, as well as a sushi bar. What is even more surprising is that although it is described as an “upscale dining experience,” you are served very quickly. My last two visits have been about 45 minutes, from arrival to departure. If you inquire about how long it will take to receive your food and drink, the servers can answer with a preparation time for each item on the menu. If you do decide to eat, my personal favorites are the Chicken Noodle Soup, Concourse E Burger 1/2 pound Kobe, and Breast of Duck. Since I am a wino, I always go for a selection from their extensive wine list.

2009 Marc Brédif Chinon at One Flew South

If you’d like real-time information, please follow One Flew South on Facebook and Twitter.

Trains, planes, TSA, and exit row seating compliance

Yesterday could only be described as a comedy of errors of sorts.

I arrived at Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TN/VA), checked my Wine Check without incident, passed through security, checked e-mail, etc. Boarding was announced for the plane, which was a few minutes late arriving. Pre-boards and people needing extra time boarded first. I saw one lady board. Zone 1 was next, so I boarded and discovered the pre-board seated to me in the exit row, which I thought was probably not appropriate if she needed extra time to board. I wondered why the flight attendant didn’t notice and switch her with somone else. During the exit row spiel, she even said, “I didn’t even know I was in the exit row, but I will do whatever I need to do.” The flight attendant’s eyes lit up, but she still didn’t move the passenger. I tweeted, “‎@Delta Why is a special assist pre-board in the exit row?” and one of the @DeltaAssist team send me a private message asking for the flight information, so they could follow up.

We departed and it was the longest 45 minutes of my life, as this 65-year-old woman (yes, she told me her age) with some sort of nerve battery implant (why she was a pre-board) told me about her entire life, family, and how she ended up on the flight. She had missed her delayed US Airways flight because despite having medical documentation of the implant, was subjected to not just a secondary search, but one behind the curtain, a full-on, comprehensive body search. She appeared frazzled and shaken from it all, and told me she hadn’t flown in years. I felt sorry for her and at the same time thought, “This passenger should not be sitting here.” Once we landed, I told her to see a gate agent and to check the monitors in Atlanta to obtain to her connecting flight gate. Incidentally, she had shown me her other boarding pass and she was also seated in the exit row on that flight.

I wished her safe travels and visited the Delta Sky Club before heading to my departure gate. Unfortunately, when I boarded the train to my next concourse, it was declared inoperable, so we had to disembark and walk to our concourses.

Once at the gate, we boarded and were ready to depart at 5:40 p.m. when two mechanics boarded. The pilot announced that the forward lavatory was broken, but would be repaired quickly. The mechanics exited and the gate agent tried to shut the door, but it appeared jammed.  It took about three people to finally get it shut and we backed away from the gate. This was a 757-200 with individual in-flight entertainment at all seats, so one of the flight attendants turned on the safety video. It froze, so the flight attendants scrambled to find seatbelts and face masks and gave the fastest pre-departure safety presentation I’ve ever seen. We departed about 25 minutes past the originally scheduled departure time.

After all of this, my trip settled down. I used coupons to purchase a snack box and beer and enjoyed Gogo Inflight Internet on my iPad until we landed 31 minutes early at LaGuardia. My Wine Check, priority tagged and marked fragile, was the third bag to arrive on the carousel.

UA: GSO-ORD-(LAX)-PHX 2 Dec 2011 by Bruce

When I booked the ticket, I needed 2517 miles* to reach and maintain my Gold status. A search through the Matrix for flights to places where I wanted to go (LAX, SEA, FLL) suggested that the cheapest itinerary would be to go to PHX with two outbound and two inbound stops from GSO. VanMetrics at the bottom of the post.

For the 06:00 departure, I let my alarm clock wake me at 02:15. There was very little traffic on the highways at that crazy time of the night, so I arrived at the airport and parked at 04:45. It was still dark and I ended up in the $6 a day long-term uncovered lot. I’ve never been to GSO before, so I was impressed with the size and modernity of the place when the two mega-hubs CLT and RDU are nearby. It sort of reminded me of PBI (though I haven’t been to that airport since 2001). I did not need to check-in, but the departure boards did not show my flight. The ticket agent pointed me in the right direction, since the two halves of the terminal are not joined up.

Security was a breeze and my transportation security officer was friendly. I did not alert the magnetometer, I was not randomly selected and my bags did not need any additional attention. With a short bathroom detour, I was at my gate by 05:00. Or at least I thought it was my gate – there was still a lot of confusion with the departure boards. Even the crew was wondering if they were at the right place.

Boarding was called about ten minutes late (at 05:45) with military in uniform and special assists. No takers. 1K, Platinum and Gold were called together and I was second onto the plane. An ERJ-145, I was in 12C (the first guy was 1K and was in 12A). Operated by Trans States under United Express, it’s the same configuration as the ExpressJet flights I’ve taken that were Continental Express livery.

At 06:10 (about ten minutes past scheduled departure), the captain announced that there was an issue with the floor panel where the handle hides that allows manual deployment of the landing gear. He updated us constantly on progress and said that if it looked like it was going to be an extended delay, he would allow us to leave or anyone who wanted to get off now was welcome to do so. The flight attendant came down the aisle to help passengers understand if they had connection problems. 12A called the 1K service line from his phone and I overheard him decide to stay on the plane rather than head to the other gate where an IAD flight would allow him to connect to SEA about four hours late. At 06:30, seeing that I would now only have a half hour instead of a full hour to connect at ORD, I called and learned that I was protected onto a direct ORD-PHX flight (instead of my scheduled ORD-LAX-PHX) that would actually get me to Phoenix 90 minutes earlier. Bonus!

More announcements about the missing handle and such, before we were informed that it was resolved and we were just waiting on signoff. Doors closed about ten minutes later and we pushed back at 07:10 and immediate clearance to take off. As soon as we reached altitude, I put on my sunglasses and my noise cancelling headphones and slept the rest of the flight, only waking for descent into O’Hare.

A very short taxi to the last gate of terminal B, we used the aircraft’s stairs to disembark. Nearly ten minutes of standing in the freezing cold waiting for our gate-checked bags. Ugh.

Inside the terminal, the first kiosk I found said to pick up the phone and in turn that told me that I needed to see someone at special services in order to be rebooked. So now I got to walk all the way to the main concourse where the special services guy helped me with my new boarding passes. (He insisted on having my original ones, which made zero sense. Maybe someone can explain this one?) Sadly, the only Economy Plus seats available were middle ones, so I kept the seat he gave me and crossed my fingers to get the middle seat open.

Over to the C terminal and with 45 minutes until boarding, I headed into the United Club for coffee and a bagel and also topping up the charge on my phone. This is a really nice club with a lot of seating in “noisy” and in “quiet” areas, as well as a TV that seemed to capture the attention of several. After stocking up on a banana and some other snacks, I headed to the gate.

Flight 661 is an A319 operated by United with only six seats in F. I was number 23 for the 2 available seats, so I didn’t have my hopes up (I hadn’t been upgraded on my original ORD-LAX either). I was well back into the crowd when 1K, then Platinum and finally Star Gold were called. Waaaaaay to the back of the plane, seat 37F is the last seat before the lav and rear galley. There is a space behind the seat and it did offer some recline. The middle seat remained open and we pushed back on time. Smisek did his thing to introduce the video and it’s just as “fake” as ever. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel any connection with him like I did with Larry.

Channel 9 was awesome as usual. It was very bumpy for the first hour and I listened to our Captain searching for weather reports from other altitudes. We eventually got up to 36000 before it smoothed out some.

By that time, the in-flight entertainment started. Flip-down monitors revealed an episode of “Big Bang Theory” I hadn’t seen, followed by “Our Idiot Brother” (Paul Rudd with a beard) and then Suits. Frustratingly, the in-flight entertainment system does not pause when there is a PA announcement so I missed a good amount of the movie and the show.

Buy on board was offered which I declined (I had my stuff from the club) and then a full can beverage. A few water services and before I knew it, we were descending into Phoenix for a good landing and then taxi to the gate.

Summary: Our crew in GSO did a great job of handling the potential mechanical. I was pleased with the communication that was at least every ten minutes. UA did a good job of rebooking me onto another flight that saved me a bunch of time, but I would have preferred to get the job done at the kiosk instead of having to find special services. I didn’t need those 500 miles for the LAX-PHX segment. My ORD-PHX seat was bad but would have been unbearable if I had to share the armrest and floor space with a middle-seat. It was nice to have in-flight entertainment, it could have operated better. Grade: B-.

Original itinerary:
Total Trip Cost: $ 288.20
Actual Airfare: $ 221.40
Actual Miles Flown: 5601
Yield: $ 0.040 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 66.80, 23.18% of ticket price

Updated:
Total Trip Cost: $ 288.20
Actual Airfare: $ 221.40
Actual Miles Flown: 4296
EQM’s earned: 5318
Yield: $ 0.042 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 66.80, 23.18% of ticket price

*I’ve since earned 2000 Flex EQM’s, so would only need 517!

Dear Delta Customer Care

Delta Sky Priority Luggage Tag

I am writing to express my disappointment in the Sky Priority handling of my checked bag on Nov 4, 2011. My bag was checked with me on DL 2399 RIC-ATL on Nov 4. My bag and I both misconnected in ATL and we missed DL 5400. I was re-accommodated on the next available flight at 7:15 p.m., DL 5341. My bag was not as lucky. It did NOT make DL 5341 (7:15 p.m.), DL 5409 (8:35 p.m.), or DL 5350 (10:22 p.m.). When I arrived at TRI, the agent who filed my claim told me the bag would arrive Nov 4 evening and be delivered Nov 5 morning. Instead, it spent the evening, night, and morning in ATL’s “Sortation System” and “Sort Area.”  In fact, it was scanned eight (8) times in ATL between 5:29 p.m. Nov 4 and 10:13 a.m. Nov 5. Thankfully it was finally “expedited” at 6:01 a.m. Nov 5 to DL 5250 and departed ATL at 10:28 a.m. It was finally delivered to me at 1:50 p.m. Nov 5, almost 24 hours after it was checked in RIC at 2:06 p.m. Nov 4. I hope that this sort of Sky Priority treatment does not become a habit.

UPDATE:   On November 7, I received an apology e-mail from Delta and 7500 miles as a “gesture of apology.”