Southwest Airlines PVD-MCI 5 July 2009 by VPP

Southwest Airlines Trip Details

Sunday, July 5, 2009:

WN 825 B737-700 departing PVD at 3:05 p.m. arriving BNA at 4:35 p.m. Open Seating, Got 11C

WN 393 B737-700 departing BNA at 5:25 p.m. arriving MCI at 7:00 p.m. Miss connect

Total Trip Cost: $389.70, Completely Refundable
Actual Airfare: $344.19
Actual Miles Flown: 1,398
Yield: $0.246 per mile (Business Select)
Taxes & Fees: $45.41, 11.6% of ticket price

Actually Flown

Sunday, July 5, 2009:

WN 825 B737-700 departing PVD at 3:05 p.m. diverted to SDF at 6:15 p.m. Open Seating, Got 11C

WN 214 B737-700 departing SDF at 7:00 p.m. arriving MDW at 7:15 p.m. Open Seating, Got 12D

WN 936 B737-700 departing MDW at 9:30 p.m. arriving MCI at 10:50 p.m. Open Seating, Got 11C

Actual Miles Flown: 1,473
Actual Yield: $0.233 per mile

Ordinarily, flying on Southwest is so darned simple,  it borders on boring….if it weren’t for the fact the crews are, for the most part, really fun-spirited.

But this is a great airline and a really great story, if you are curious how an airline performs when things go wrong, like the weather. Fortunately, they performed so well, I didn’t get a chance to see what happens when there’s a total meltdown.

Our travel manager secured the this ticket spur of the moment. I became aware of an emergency, last-second trip I had to make and WN came to mind first. I asked for Business Select as I like the product. Our travel manager checked me in and I got an A1 boarding position…SWEET!

At Providence, I checked luggage as I had a long trip…ultimately headed to Napa for the better part of 6 to 8 weeks.

I grabbed a bite to eat and then went to board. I was not quite the first person on as the “blue card” (minors, people that needed extra time, etc.) were allowed to board first, but I did get the best seat in the house, 11C on a B737-700.  With the best seat in the house and drink coupons in hand, I was ready for the trip!

The flight was perfect and normal…until I noticed we were nowhere close to landing and the pilot said, “Folks, if you look off to the left side of the aircraft, you will notice a huge storm…and unfortunately its right over Nashville and the airport is closed, so we’re going to hold…they are telling us 25 minutes.” 25 minutes came and went and the pilot came on and said he had enough fuel to circle another 20 minutes…but then we’d be looking for an alternative place to land if we could not reach Nashville.

Twenty minutes came and went and off to Louisville, KY we went…and the magic and genius of Southwest starts here.

On the way, the flight crew made it “fun and OK” and reassured everyone we’ll be fine. We arrived at Louisville and the crew asked everyone to remain on the aircraft and if possible, seated, as we could be released FAST.

So we were there about five minutes…and then the Lousiville ground crew came on and said, “Anyone going to Kansas City, we need you off the airplane, we’re going to re-route you.”

So I deplaned…and with skill and precision, the agent said, “Don’t worry, your luggage will be in Kansas City when you get there, sorry for the problems, here are more drink coupons.” The agents also had trouble generating new Business Select boarding passes with A1 – A15 numbers…they instead had B46…and the agent took the time to write on the boarding passes, stamp them, and instructed me to talk to the ground people when I got to Chicago-Midway.

I took my seat, we left….EASY flight…with the time zone changes, we “landed before we left.”

Once at Chicago-Midway, the ground crew was great…and made sure I had boarding position A5…where I grabbed the best seat in the house again, 11C. I had one drink coupon left…and I used that…and we landed at MCI ahead of schedule and…lo and behold, there were my bags!

How about that?

Folks, great airline…GREAT airline! I feel wonderful about being able to fly them. The detractors just don’t get it, no matter how they try to convince me they do.

And while it’s purely anecdotal, I run into more people like a gentleman I did during this trip, who is a national sales manager for an automotive company, and who just enjoys flying Southwest so much more over anyone else.

And to see they manage well through “crud” when it happens…very impressive.

Every trip I take, I become more and more impressed with Southwest Airlines. I’ll be flying them again and again.

Advertisements

US 4165 LGA-ROA 5 July 2009

US 4165 LGA-ROA 8:19 am-10:39 am Dash 8-100 Seat 4C Exit

What a way to end my US Airways flying!  We boarded only 15 minutes before departure–and quickly–as there were only 17 passengers (of 37 seats).  Luckily I had no seatmate again.  During boarding, a passenger called the flight attendant to her row  to remove a dirty diaper from her seat area!  The flight attendant had to retrieve a plastic bag to pick it up and remove it!  Yuck!

We pushed back at 8:20 am and were airborne by 8:34 am.  The flight attendant made an announcement that adult beverages and Power Nap Sacks were available for $7.  I decided to have a Bloody and a Nap Sack, a souvenir of my last flight.  Well, catering did not provide any Nap Sacks–the flight attendant said she always asks for them and never gets them–then she gave me a full cup of tomato juice w/ice and vodka mini, after inquiring, “What liquor goes in a Bloody Mary?”  I thought perhaps she was out of Bloody Mary mix, until she came back later and apologized for giving me the wrong mixer.

On top of that, the flight attendant, nor the pilots or other passengers, had any change for my $20.  She also did not have a handheld device for credit cards, since Piedmont has not yet been provided with them, nor snacks to sell.  So she offered to sell me two more Bloodies TO GO, so I’d owe her $21, which I had.  At this point, I felt so badly for her that I gave her the $21 and packed up my two minis and can of Mr and Mrs T.

But I can’t complain, right, because we arrived at ROA early at 10:26 am.

Flight = A
Flight Attendant = C
Cleaning and Catering = F

US 4158 ROA-LGA 2 July 2009

Scheduled
US 4158 ROA-LGA 4:48 pm – 6:51 pm Dash 8-100 Exit Row Aisle 4C

Actual
US 4158 ROA-LGA 7:25 pm – 9:06 pm Dash 8-100 Exit Row Aisle 4C, delay due to earlier weather and subsequent ATC delays

We pushed at 7:18 pm and departed at 7:25 pm.  I had no seatmate, which was nice.  We had a full in-flight beverage service.  I purchased two Bloodies for $14, which consisted of two minis, one plastic cup with ice, one can of Bloody Mary Mix, no lime, no stirring straw/stick, which meant I had to swish/swirl the cup to mix up the beverage.  I had purchased snacks and water at ROA, so I would have something to eat.  I had to ask for a napkin. The flight was otherwise uneventful.

I do not recommend this flight.  According to flightstats.com

Route: Roanoke to New York
Date Range: April 15, 2009 to June 15, 2009
Flight: (US) US Airways 4158

0 of 5 Very Poor
On-time: 43%>
Avg. Delay: 65 min

This flight has an on-time performance of 43%.

This flight has an average delay of 65.0 minutes with a standard deviation of 54.03 minutes.

On-time Arrival Performance for this Flight
On-time 23 43%
Late 5 9%
Very Late 7 13%
Excessive 15 28%
Cancelled 3 5%
Diverted 0 0%

DL/NW 3499 MCI-DTW-PVD 24 June 2009 by VPP

Delta Airlines Trip Details….on Northwest Metal
————————————————————
Wednesday, June 24, 2009:
DL 3499 CRJ900 departing MCI at 10:45 a.m. arriving PVD at 5:09 p.m. 3D to MSP, 3C to PVD

With a stop in MSP
————————————————————
Total Trip Cost: $183.20, Non Refundable
Actual Airfare: $157.21
Actual Miles Flown: 1,510
Yield: $0.104 per mile (Upgraded to First Class)
Taxes & Fees: $25.99, 14.2% of ticket price

So, I relayed a great story about Delta Customer Service…and now, a truly remarkable story about how VASTLY improved the product is!

I had to take a quick spin to Kansas City and needed to get home as efficiently as possible. And actually, DL made the most sense…with a good schedule and price. So our travel manager booked me on Delta….and then she told me, “CRJ900!” I, by my own admission, winced, “Satan’s Chariot?!? A CRJ900?” I thought….and yes, a CRJ900….in Coach.

So, the trip was booked in Coach as the numbers reference. Have to admit, and I don’t believe in “flying for status,” but the way I wrote this one off in my mind was, “well, I’d like to maintain some sort of status on a Sky Team carrier, so this will work.”

I was notified I was upgraded, about 12 hours prior to departure, certainly not within the window. And as a side note, I’m fine with that. I paid Coach and was prepared to ride in Coach. But I was upgraded.

Got to the airport where NW and DL operations are combined…and still a little confusing…but I checked my bag and got on with my day.

Once on the airplane, I settled into my seat, amazed at the pen marks all over the seats, and relaxed. “Comfortable” I thought. We took off shortly and in the air, the service was excellent…the Flight Attendant, Judy, made herself known and was extremely professional and accommodating. She came by a number of times with the Delta Snack Basket as well as drinks and more drinks.

For the record, the ONE thing US Airways did have on many airlines was “the best snack basket” in F….no longer, Delta now owns that position, by a long shot.

Delta (NW Metal) CRJ900s are nice in F…there is adequate, dare I say “plenty” of seat pitch and size…and the seats are comfortable.

We arrived in MSP early and I hopped off the airplane to go get an e-mail download at the NW Club.

Went back to get on…new crew…and this time, I was in seat 3C with no seat mate. We took off and out came the cart…drinks and the snack basket. I had my usual, Club Soda with a lime and got to work. 5 minutes later, the F/A came back, “sir, for lunch today, I have either a smoked turkey sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise or a chef’s salad, which would you prefer?”

OK, STOP THE TAPE!!! Let me get this straight….I’m on a freakin’ Regional Jet?!! A Canadair?!? I’m in row 3 of 4 rows….AND I GET A CHOICE?!?!?

NO FREAKIN’ WAY!!! I HAVE to be dreaming!!!

So, I pinch myself, nope, not dreaming….and ask for the turkey sandwich. Is served with chips, fruit and a chocolate brownie. I look at it and notice it’s (a.) not insignificant in terms of size and (b.) it actually looks tasty. And so it was, tasty, bordering on really good, significant, filling, very satisfying.

I again, in my mind, think, Let me get this straight….I’m on a freakin’ Regional Jet?!! A Canadair?!?

I finish lunch, quite satisfying…and shocking…and before I can barely put my napkin down, the F/A is picking my tray up and I get to work. The gentleman in front of me reclines…and I still have room to manage my laptop and to get out if I need to. Nice!

In any case, I was impressed. And I have taken a ride on a NW CRJ900 in Y and thought it was a decent ride…certainly not like a CRJ100 or 200. My only beef would be this for the CRJ900 in First Class. I’m 6’3” and 260…and I don’t fit in the bathroom….I have to REALLY be a sort of contortionist in order to get into that bathroom.

What a great flight though! I got plenty of work done, was comfortable with space and had a tasty, satisfying lunch. Not only that, but in the future, if my routing to the west coast takes me on one of these to MSP or somewhere again, I would pay the F fare to ride in the seat.

Nice experience…one I will do again!

My first experience flying non-revenue

16JUN US 2570 TRI-CLT 544A 630A CRJ-200 Seat 8F Exit
16JUN US 3921 CLT-CHS 735A 827A CRJ-200 Seat 7D

17JUN US 1818 CHS-CLT 715A 819A ERJ-190 Row 26 all to myself
17JUN US 4141 CLT-TRI 924A 1021A Dash 8-300 Row 12 all to myself

When I first decided to try my hand at non-revenue flying, I thought it might turn out to be an adventure of sorts, flying space available only, perhaps being denied along the way due to full flights.  I had also heard that treatment of non-revenue passengers could be negative.

However, I am happy to report that this little adventure of mine turned out to be truly a non-adventure.  All of my flights departed early or on time and all arrived early.  Each time I approached the gate agent to let him/her politely know I was a non-revenue standby, I was greeted with a smile and immediately given a seat assignment.  On my first flight, I was given the exit row, on the second, my preference of aisle or window.  On my third flight I had the last row all to myself, and on the fourth flight, I was given a window seat beside someone, but there were empty rows in the back of the plane, so I just moved back and enjoyed the space of an empty row.

The service on all of my flights, which were all US Airways Express except for US 1818, was by request only due to the short duration.  If I had been a paying customer, I might have taken advantage of the request, but as a non-revenue passenger, I was just happy and relieved to have any seat.

What I learned from this experience was that as an elite frequent flier who often receives special treatment and perks, I usually set the bar very high for product and service.  In other words, I can be very picky.  However, this humbling experience reminded me to be truly grateful for the transportation itself, and that what is most important is the destination, not the ride.

LGA-ATL-TRI on Delta 1 June 2009

DL 1777 ATL-LGA 9:55 am – 12:40 pm 757-200 Seat 2C Aisle
DL 5086 ATL-TRI 4:15 pm – 5:19 pm CRJ-200 Seat 8B Exit Aisle, changed to Seat 4B Aisle

My fiancé had to be at work at 7:30 am, so he dropped me off early at LaGuardia.  I passed rather quickly through the Clear security line, but it was not as efficient as previous experiences.  It was the “morning rush” and Clear apparently only had two employees working, one to verify identity and one to lead passengers to the shortest line.  Because of this, the service was slightly less personalized and I found I had to wait a little longer than before.  However, it was still quicker than the elite or regular lines.

I spent the next hour and a half in the LGA Sky Club.  There were not many snacks, but I was not hungry.  I just wanted a quiet place to work that had complimentary Internet, so the club worked.  A quiet place to work that has complimentary Internet is primary reason I have the membership.

My flight from LGA boarded on time and we pushed back about three minutes early, at 9:52 am.  However, we had to wait to take off (surprise, not!) and finally departed at 10:32 am, 37 minutes past scheduled departure.

The pre-flight and in-flight service was as expected.  Our seats were prepared for our arrival with ear buds, a blanket, and a bottle of mini-Dasani.  We received a full, pre-departure beverage service.  In-flight service consisted of Delta On Air short programming and a lunch and beverage service.  This time lunch was either a turkey sandwich or a Greek-like salad with cold grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, yellow and red pepper, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese.  Sides included the usual fresh fruit plate, breadsticks, and molasses cookie.  We also received the snack basket service as well, with the choices being Twix®, Biscoffs®, Pretzel Crisps®, apples, or peanuts.

We made up time in the air and landed at ATL early at 12:14 pm.  I made my way to the ATL C36 Sky Club, the location closest to my connecting gate.  There I enjoyed the quiet, the work, and an Atlanta Sweetwater Pale Ale.

I was scheduled to meet a friend who was flying through ATL.  He landed on time, but his aircraft took a delay waiting on a gate and during the deplaning process.  So when he arrived the Sky Club, he literally stopped in, had a brief look around, then departed!  The visit was maybe one minute long!

After he ran in and out, I packed up and went to my gate, one gate away from the club.  When I arrived, the agent was seeking one volunteer to take the next flight to TRI, so I volunteered.  However, there were a couple of misconnects, so she ended up not needing me.  However, in the process, I lost my exit row aisle seat and ended up in 4B.

We departed the gate at 4:14 pm, but had to wait to depart.  ATL’s afternoon rush hour must have reared its ugly head.  We sat in line with no air conditioning, which was really uncomfortable.  We finally departed at 4:47 pm, 32 minutes past scheduled departure.  The flight attendant, sensing how warm we must have all been, offered all of us a cup of ice water en route, atlhough no in-flight service was scheduled.  We arrived TRI at 5:23 pm, only four minutes past scheduled arrival.

TRI-ATL-LGA on Delta 28 May 2009

DL 5644 TRI-ATL 12:41 pm – 1:43 pm CRJ-200 Seat 8B Exit Aisle
DL 1788 ATL-LGA 4:40 pm – 7:09 pm 757-200 Seat 5A Window

I arrived at TRI about an hour before my flight.  As I was printing my boarding passes at the kiosk, I noticed my first flight said, “delayed.” So after completing check-in, I went to an agent to inquire about the delay.  He looked at the computer screen, chuckled, and said, “Two minutes.” Too funny!

I proceeded quickly through security and spent about 20 minutes in the TRI Business Center handling some work for a travel client.  The inbound flight arrived and we boarded on time.  We pushed back early, at 12:35 pm.  However, we took about a 15-minute ATC hold in TRI and finally took off at 12:52 pm, 12 minutes past scheduled departure.  The plane was maybe half full and I had no seatmate, so I was able to spread out and enjoy the short flight.  We landed at 1:36 pm, seven minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival.

We deplaned and I grabbed a quick lunch and ate it on my way to the Delta Sky Club near B10.  I spent the next two and a half hours in the club enjoying a couple of Bloody Marys and the complimentary Wi-Fi.   During my wait, I discovered that I had a chance at an upgrade at the gate, and that my flight was delayed by 30 minutes.  However, the time passed very quickly.   I made my way to the gate, which had changed from B2 to B21, so I had quite a walk.  When I arrived at the gate, I looked up at the monitor and saw my elite complimentary upgrade had cleared, seat 5A window.  I am not a window person, because I usually have to get up during the flight, but my seatmate was a young lady who understood my possible need!  And I actually enjoyed looking out the window.

When I arrived my seat, there were the requisite pillow, blanket, mini bottle of Dasani, and ear buds.  We were also served a full pre-departure beverage service and I had white wine.  We pushed back at 5:03 pm, but took an ATC hold in ATL and did not take off until 5:34 pm, 56 minutes past scheduled departure.  In-flight services included Delta TV short programming, complimentary beverages, and a cold dinner plate consisting of a Greek pasta/chicken kabob salad made with feta cheese crumbles, tomatoes, olive bits, and romaine lettuce;  a fresh fruit plate with two slices of orange, a slice of pineapple, and a strawberry; pre-packaged breadsticks; and a pre-packaged molasses sugar cookie.  The only minor complaints I had were the cookie was extremely sweet, so much so that I only ate half, and there was something strange on the chicken kabob part of my salad.  I bit it and it was sweet and had seeds.  Later I suspected it was perhaps a fig, but I was not sure.  At any rate, it was not to my liking.

We made great time in the air, narrowly avoiding another ATC hold, and landed at LGA at 7:21 pm, only 12 minutes past scheduled arrival.

Delta has proved itself to me time and time again this year that they are making an effort towards greater consistency and better on-board service.

Virgin America 912 SFO-LAS 7 May 2009 by J. Augusta

I decided to book a Virgin America to give them a shot on this short flight from SFO-LAS. The times paired up well with my Virgin Atlantic flight, and the prices were cheap. I booked in First Class to get the true “experience.” Check in was a breeze and so was security. I hung out at the Northwest WorldClub (or whatever it’s called now) for awhile before heading to the gate. I was quite exhausted at this point, a full 19 hours into my day! Boarding was called about 30 minutes before departure. Upon boarding, I was impressed with the looks of this plane–purple lighting. It was very trendy looking! I took my seat in the 1st row which is separated by a colored plastic, semi see-through bulkhead. No pre-departure drinks were offered but we were given bottles of water. Boarding took the full 30 minutes as the flight was quite full. After a quick taxi we were in the air and the AVOD was turned on. (Wifi is also available, but I didn’t use it.) The seats were about the same as the Delta International 757 seats- recliner style with several angles and settings available. I reclined my seat back and popped out the TV monitor to watch some live satellite TV (which worked). Drinks and a snack box (yes for a 1hr flight!) were served. I had to try the absinthe which they serve with Sprite, just to say I did! I must say it’s an acquired taste and I didn’t come close to finishing my mini-bottle. We were all laughing about how it’s not the smartest thing to serve in the air, even if this version is “only” 100 proof! The snack box contained three small tapas type items, a couscous salad, a tomato/mozzarella salad, and something else that I don’t remember. It wasn’t the best but is a nice touch for such a short flight and beats the Continental bag of peanuts. Before I knew it, we were ready to land. VX uses the B gates now so it was a small hike to baggage claim. Bags were off in short order and I shortly was on my way to the hotel. Overall this was a great experience for a short flight, I’d like to give them a shot on a transcon to see how their service really holds up.

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.