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.

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LGA-TRI: A True “Beth Effect,” 1-2 Mar 2009

DL 1779 LGA – ATL 11:00 am – 1:54 pm seat 27C exit
DL 9857 TLH – ATL 7:00 am – 8:06 am seat 27C exit or 35D
DL 5388 ATL – TRI 10:00 am – 11:13 am seat 3D then 8C exit

On Saturday, I realized this trip would be a challenge due to the winter weather, but Delta had not cancelled my flights or changed my schedule, so I tried to remain positive. The elite phone lines were clogged anyway, so I could not proactively make changes for myself.

The next morning I woke up to one cancellation–my second flight on Sunday from ATL to TRI had been cancelled and I had been proactively rebooked on the next flight.

I arrived at LGA early and checked in with an elite ticket agent so I could inquire about additional options, but there were none. I passed quickly through security thanks to Clear, spent about 30 minutes enjoying the snacks and Internet in the Crown Room Club, and then went to the gate. The flight boarded promptly and pushed back within a few minutes of scheduled departure. We had our obligatory taxi wait at LGA, then took off about 20 minutes past scheduled departure, but were scheduled to arrive on time.

I was in coach and in-flight service included a full beverage and snack service, including beverages and snacks that were either complimentary or for sale. There was also Delta’s short-program in-flight entertainment with ear buds for sale for $2.00.

We started making our approach into ATL, but were turned back due to the weather and problems with ground landing equipment/technology. The pilot announced that we would try to land one more time, but if we were unable, we would be diverted to TLH. We were not allowed to land, so off we went to TLH, another 30 minutes in flight. We landed around 2:16 pm, but remained on the plane for a while until they announced we would be grounded until 7:00 am Monday morning. I deplaned with the other passengers, I stopped to ask the gate agent to make sure I was rebooked on an ATL-TRI flight for Monday, and then I boarded the first hotel shuttle available to the Residence Inn University location, one of our discounted overnight options.

Upon arrival to the hotel, we found out that the hotel was not expecting us, nor were they prepared to offer a discounted rate, but they called the general manager and he approved a rate of $99.00 per night instead of $199.00. The desk clerks quickly checked us in and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in my room, trying to relax after a stressful day. The only “perk” from this experience was the opportunity to earn a night’s frequent stay credit and points with Marriott Rewards!

The next morning I got up at 3:45 am and was downstairs by 4:45 am to take my taxi to the airport. Once there, the line started forming and became very long very quickly, as no one was able to use the kiosks to print boarding passes for this flight or any connecting flights. Once I was finally able to speak to an agent, it took him and another agent about 30 minutes to reissue a paper ticket with my new flights and seat assignments. Luckily the security line was not as long!

However, at the gate, there was a minor uproar about seating, as some of us had checked in for the new flight and been assigned different seats and some had just used their old boarding passes. So the decision was made for us to take our original seats, which worked out well, as I had originally had 27C exit row aisle, but had been assigned 35D when my ticket was reissued!

We were about to leave on time at 7:00 am, when the pilot announced we would be taking additional stranded passengers from other cancelled flights, so we departed about an hour late at 8:00 am. We landed at 8:50 am, so I still had plenty of time to make my 10:00 am connection. I proceeded to the concourse C Crown Room Club near gate 36C, as my connection was scheduled to depart C40. I spoke to one of the agents in the club about a better seat assignment and was given 8C exit row aisle instead of 3D window. I enjoyed a quick glass of water, a couple of mini muffins, a packet of Biscoffs, and then went to my gate.

We boarded a little late due to a late-arriving aircraft.  However, we boarded quickly and were ready to depart at 10:10 am when the pilot was alerted to a possible maintenance issue.  The tug driver had noticed that the toe bar looked broken, so the pilot deplaned to check it out, but it was a false alarm. So we pushed back, took a little bit of a typical ATL runway delay, and were airborne at 10:36 am.

I have to say, this was one of the best CRJ rides I have ever had. First of all, I had no seatmate, which is always a plus. Secondly, we had a very funny flight attendant, Jerry, who kept us laughing from boarding until the end of the flight. He also did not give the “due to the short duration” line, but instead, provided us with a full beverage and snack service, just like mainline coach. And after the snacks, he offered us all mints! He was an example of a stellar flight attendant who obviously loves what he does and does not use lame excuses to not do his job.

We arrived at TRI 40 minutes later at 11:16 am, only three minutes past our scheduled departure.

Upon checking my Delta frequent flier account later that day, I noticed that I received full fare Y flight mileage credit and all applicable bonuses for all three of my flights, LGA-ATL (actually TLH), TLH-ATL, and ATL-TRI.

Although I would have preferred to have arrived home on Sunday, I think Delta did a good job of handling the situation and getting me safely home before lunchtime the following day.