US Airways Club at LaGuardia: A Review

I realized today that I haven’t been to this club, or to the US Airways LaGuardia Terminal, since 2008. So I thought a brief review was in order.

The club is still very relaxing and the free Internet rocks, although as a “guest,” I had to ask for a T-Mobile access code. How pre-merger Delta!

Most of the clientele was businesspeople. It wasn’t crowded.

For breakfast hours, there were muffins, yogurt, coffee, and choice of juices. They do still have US Airways-logo silverware and glassware.

The snacks at “lunchtime” include Fiesta Snack Mix and Kettle Classics® Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt chips.

I also decided to check out the bar. The free beer choices are Bud/Bud Light and the free wine choices are Berenger’s. Other adult beverages are “premium” selections and cost additionally. Boo. So, this Bud Light’s for you!

Score = B

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TRI-ATL-PHL on Delta 5 May 2009

DL 5326 TRI-ATL 830AM – 948AM Seat 1B CRJ-200
DL 1012 ATL-PHL 1232PM –  235PM Seat 25C Exit MD-88 with Gogo Inflight Internet

Today could have possibly gone differently, but the DL agents at TRI were proactive!  I arrived at TRI and started to check in at the kiosk, when an agent asked me to approach her and told me that she was putting me on a delayed 8:30 am flight to ATL because of low ceilings/weather delays.  She was afraid the 9:50 am would also delay and I might misconnect.  So I rushed through security, hit the restroom, and boarded.  She had assigned me 1B and I had no seatmate, so I was pleased.  We departed the gate at 9:25 am, one hour late, but 20 minutes earlier than my original flight.  The flight attendant was excellent.  Although the flight was scheduled to be 37 minutes en route, she offered a full beverage and snack service.  She was the kind of flight attendant that makes the others look badly!  We arrived ATL about 45 minutes later, around 10:10 am.  And I found out later that my original flight did leave on time and arrived about 20 minutes after my new flight, but I still appreciated the TRI agents proactively trying to prevent misconnects.

I had some extra time to spend in the Delta Sky Club near B10.  That is the small club, but it was a light crowd in the late morning.  I checked delta.com and saw my upgrade changes were absolutely nil.  I ended up being something like number six of 17 with no seats remaining!  I relaxed and ate pretzel mix and had a couple of Bloody Marys.

Boarding began promptly at gate B11, with first class and zone 1, then zone 2, etc.  Although first class was full, coach had 42 empty seats, including the middle seat in my row, so the guy in seat A and I in seat C were able to spread out, which was nice.  And the MD-88 exit row legroom was very good.

We pushed back on time and took off around 1:00 pm for a flight time of approximately 1 hour 25 minutes.  We had a full beverage and snack service in flight, but I had also purchased a sandwich before boarding, because I knew I’d be in coach.

The highlight of my trip today was that I finally got to try out the Gogo Inflight Internet service on my new iPod Touch for $7.95.  It took the iPod a few minutes to connect, but once the connection was made, all I had to do was open the Safari, log into the Gogo account I had set up in advance, and I was off!  I was able to send and receive e-mail, as well as surf the Internet and make posts to a frequent flier forum, Facebook, and Twitter.  Having the Internet made my flight go by so quickly and I felt like I’d accomplished something, too.  I will be a Gogo customer again every time it is offered.

We landed on time around 2:30 pm, but we did have to wait about 5-10 minutes for our gate, A13.

Upon deplaning, I passed through security, to zone 2 ground transportation to catch my shuttle to Dollar for my rental car to New Jersey.  I was nervous at first, because I am not confortable driving in areas with which I am not familiar, but the drive to Toms River was quite pleasant and I had no trouble getting there with Gigi, my Garmin nüvi®.  Once I exited the Philadelphia metro area, the 45-50 minute drive on Route 70 East was very rural and relaxing, until the Toms River area, where I finished my drive in on Route 37 East.

TRI-CVG-LGA on Delta 24 April 2009

DL 6027 TRI-CVG 615P-720P seat 12A EMB-145
DL 1218 CVG-LGA 800P-1005P seat 3B First Class 737-800

This trip was flawless.  I arrived at TRI about an hour before my flight, reprinted my boarding pass at the kiosk, and passed quickly through security.  I spent about 15 minutes in the TRI Business Center, aka our lounge, except without food.  Apparently most of the power outlets in there are not operational anymore, as I tried three cubicles, no go.

We boarded quickly, pushed back about 10 minutes early, and were airborne about five minutes early.  In-flight service was by request only.  We landed at 7:01 pm, 19 minutes earlier than scheduled, which gave me a quick 15 minutes in the Delta Sky Club in Concourse B at CVG.  My snacks included a glass of Chardonnay, chicken salad, chickpea salad with yogurt drizzle, and mixed nuts.

When I arrived at my gate, the plane was already boarding.  When I arrived at my seat, there was a pillow, blanket, and mini bottle of Dasani.  The flight attendant took my pre-departure drink order and I had an Amstel Light.

We pushed back early and departed about 10 minutes past scheduled departure.  In-flight services consisted of a full beverage and snack basket service and Delta television, which included “How I Met Your Mother,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “Delta Destinations.”  The snack basket contained Twix® bars, Biscoff cookies, Pretzel Crisps®, and peanuts. I had two of Delta’s signature margaritas made with tequila and Rande Gerber Midnight Bar Collection MixWe landed at 9:37 pm, 28 minutes early, which might be a record into LaGuardia!

12 Days of Travel: Day 8 (Part 2)

Delta Sky Club
The Delta Sky Club in PHL, although small, really rocks.  Snacks included hummus, crackers, cheese, and olives.  Yum!  And of course, adult beverages and Internet are complimentary for members.  I closed down the club, so I proceeded to Terminal F to the US Airways Club to enjoy the rest of my pass.

US Airways Club Terminal F
The agent who greeted me at the door was very nice and checked on my flight for me, but the US club just can’t stand up to the Delta club.  Snacks included cheese and Cape Cod potato chips (which they no longer have on their planes)! Neither adult beverages or Internet are complimentary, so I had to use my own, paid T-Mobile Hotspot service.  Basically their club is like their first class offering, you get a larger, more comfortable seat and that’s about it.

US 4257 PHL-ROA 8:20-9:55 pm Dash 8-300 Seat 11C Exit
This was a great little flight!  Everyone was boarded in about 15 minutes and we pushed back from the gate about five minutes early.  We were airborne by 8:25 pm, absolutely no line, no waiting at PHL!  The flight attendant provided a full beverage service.  We landed one hour 11 minutes later at 9:36 pm.  Quick, easy, and early, just the way I like it!

Now I am at my home away from home, Roanoke, another night in the Hampton Inn, same exact room as Sunday night!

12 Days of Travel: Day 8 (Part 1)

US 250 PHX-PHL 9:05 am-4:49 pm A321 Seat 2D First Class

Pre-Departure
I went to usairways. com to get flight status information and when I entered my flight number, I got an error message. However, when I searched by city pairs, it was there.  Go figure.

US Airways Club B-Gates, PHX
The free Internet in the club in PHX was awful.  One was required to view an ad to connect, then there was this awful ad bar at the top of every page.  Most of the web pages I needed to access would not load properly or at all.  I tried both IE and Firefox.  This was very bothersome.

However, the club employees were very nice.  The agent who sold me the day pass was very welcoming.  Another guy kept coming around like a flight attendant collecting trash, making small talk, and asking guests if they needed anything.

The morning snacks were standard offerings – yogurt, fruit, and muffins.

In-Flight
The boarding process and push back were both on time, but I’m amazed that they are able to pull it off as passengers just hover/crowd around blocking the boarding area, despite the fact that there is zone number boarding.  The line to board also moved so slowly.

We took off at 9:23 am.

Once at the appropriate altitude, we were given a hot towel service, then drinks were served.

The meal choices were:

1. Tomato basil quiche, two sausage links (no thanks!), a salad with a package of dressing, and a roll with butter.

2. Deli platter – a variety of cold cuts, two kinds of cheese, lettuce, tomato, one Dijon mustard packet, a roll with butter, and a fruit plate – all the fixings for a sandwich but without substantial bread to do so.

I selected the deli platter.  This time there was real cutlery!

I overheard a man in row three ask for another roll and mustard for his deli plate, as I guess he was trying to make sandwiches out of the meats and cheeses.  The flight attendant apologized and said, “We don’t have extras, we only have one of everything.”  After she left, the man said to his seatmate next time they’d try Virgin.

In coach, the In-Flight Café options and snack boxes were available for purchase, but as usual, they announced that there were not enough meals for everyone.

An hour and a half before landing, the flight attendant brought out the snack basket:  French Onion Sun Chips, Fiesta Snack Mix, mini pretzels, Biscoffs, and granola bars. She said we could take all we wanted.

I will say the in-flight service today was much better than the outbound.  The flight attendant was more attentive.

However, the one thing that bugs me most is the removal of the power outlets.  I can live without IFE and bring my own, but not having a source of power for one’s own IFE or computing is very disappointing.

We landed early at 4:32 pm.

March 7: TRI-ATL-SFO

DL 5130 TRI-ATL 4:25 pm – 5:31 pm 8B Exit

I arrived at TRI early to no line and no waiting for either check in or security.  It’s at these times that I love a small airport!  I went to the TRI Business Center to make a couple of phone calls.  For some reason, I was unable to get online with TRI’s free Wi-Fi, so I had to settle for BlackBerry only access.

We boarded early and quickly and we pushed back very early at 4:12 pm.  I had no seatmate!  We departed five minutes early at 4:20 pm and arrived at 4:56 pm, about 35 minutes before published arrival.  There was no in-flight service “due to the short duration,” but the flight attendant did pass through the cabin with cups of ice water.

Interim at the Delta SkyClub (formerly the Crown Room Club)

I met John at the B25 SkyClub location since our flight was scheduled to depart from B26.  We found a place with power outlets and enjoyed about an hour and a half of relaxation.  I had two of my own and half of John’s Atlanta Sweetwater microbrew beer.  Snacks included crackers, individually packaged white cheddar cheese, hummus in a baby food jar (LOL), olives, and Biscoffs.  I love their snacks, but they really need some plastic knives, forks, sporks, or something!  Eating olives with my fingers and dipping crackers into a jar seems so gauche, n’est-ce pas?

DL 47 ATL-SFO 7:10 pm – 9:39 pm 4C and 4D First Class 757-200 Transcontinental Configuration

While I was in the club, I realized that I left my cash at home and I was going to hit an ATM, but John said he had enough cash with him, so we went directly to the gate. When we arrived at the gate, the flight was already boarding.  I gave Breezeway boarding a whirl and it worked, the gate agent scanned my boarding pass ahead of most of the line, but John decided to wait in the long line.  When we got on board, he asked me if I felt rude using Breezeway boarding and I said no, I earned it!

When we arrived at our seats, we had a mini bottle of Dasani, a pillow, and blanket.  We received a full departure beverage service.  I had Amstel Light and John had Heineken.

We pushed back on time at 7:10 pm and were airborne by 7:28 pm.  The pilot announced our flight would be four hours 51 minutes en route with an early arrival.

Shortly after the bell rang signaling we were above 10,000 feet, a flight attendant came around and took our dinner order.  Our choices were penne pasta with tomato sauce or short ribs and mashed potatoes.  I had posted a thread on FlyerTalk a couple of days ago asking about current meals and someone had recommended the ribs, so we both selected that.  After the dinner order, another flight attendant came with hot towel service and when I say hot, I mean those towels were HOT.  We almost dropped them they were so hot.  After the hot towel service, a flight attendant came and took our drink orders and we both opted for Amstel Light this time.

Dinner arrived very soon after the drink order and I believe we selected the best option. The meal consisted of about six ounces of rib meat with sauce/gravy, a side of mashed potatoes, a side of mixed yellow squash and zucchini, a roll, a salad with creamy Italian dressing, and chocolate mousse cake.  I have to say that in my limited airplane meal experiences, this was the best airplane meal I have ever had.  The rib meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy and the side of sauce/gravy was delicious.

We did not want for drinks at all during the flight.  The flight attendants were attentive and offered us refills about every 20 minutes or so.  John and I sampled the white wine selection and neither of us liked it very much, so he went back to beer and I tasted a glass of red wine.  I actually preferred the red to the white, which is rare for airplane wine.

For in-flight entertainment, I opted for DirectTV instead of a movie and I actually remembered my Bose headphones (I never bring them for short flights.)  I watched CNN until 8:00 pm, and then switched to NBC where they were replaying the opening episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET.  I have never seen an episode of this series.  However, I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time.  The challenge was baking and selling cupcakes on the streets of NYC for charity.  The men raised $49,449 and the women raised $62,257 (courtesy of winning a $15,000 taste test.)  The women’s team was comprised of celebrities like Joan Rivers (comedian), Melissa Rivers (always with Joan, TV host), Brandi Roderick (Playboy model), Annie Duke (poker champ), Khloe Kardashian (reality star), Claudia Jordan (model, “Deal or No Deal”), and T-Boz (from the musical group TLC.)  The men’s team, consisting of celebrities such as Brian McKnight (R&B singer), Jesse James (from “Monster Truck”), Tom Green (comedian), Dennis Rodman (basketball player), Scott Hamilton (figure skater), Clint Black (country singer), Herschel Walker (football player), and Andrew Dice Clay (comedian), had me laughing the entire time.  Andrew Dice Clay was by far the most egotistical, obnoxious, and funny character of the entire bunch, while Dennis Rodman was just plain arrogant.  I never watch reality TV, but I might watch this again, because I have never seen anything so dysfunctional.  However, Andrew Dice Clay was fired, so the next episode might not be as funny.

At 10:00 pm, I watched “Law and Order,” a very powerful episode about child slavery, and at 11:00 pm, I watched NBC NY local news.  I took off my headphones after the news so my ears could “breathe.”

I was also able to write this trip report during the flight, because this bird has real 110v power ports, no adaptors required.

Despite a fierce headwind the first half of our flight, we arrived SFO 23 minutes early at 9:16 pm.

If assigning a grade, I would give this flight experience an A+.  It exceeded my expectations.