Just want to give you a trip report on the inaugural flight from IAD to San Diego and back earlier today, and Independence Air seems to be very enthusiastic about the new flight, and I am proud to be among the first group of passengers on its real flight to the West Coast this morning. Yes, I flew a same day roundtrip between JFK and SAN via IAD, and here were some of the details.
April 14, 2005
DH 1075 JFK-IAD Lv0645 Arr0809 CRJ-200 N634BR
DH 51 IAD-SAN Lv0920 Arr1140 Airbus A319-100 N809BR
DH 52 SAN-IAD Lv1235 Arr2030 Airbus A319-100 N809BR
DH 1101 IAD-JFK Lv2115 Arr2235 CRJ-200 N624BR
Actual takeoff and landing time
DH 1075 JFK-IAD t/o from R/W4L at 0708 and land R/W1R at 0756 48 minutes
DH 51 IAD-SAN t/o from R/W30 at 0955 and land on R/W27 at 1133 4 hours and 38 minutes
DH 52 SAN-IAD t/o from R/W27 at 1309 and land on R/W1L at 2048 4 hours and 39 minutes
DH 1101 IAD-JFK t/o from R/W1R at 2127 and land on R/W13L at 2230 52minutes
Well, not much information about check-in because I used on line check in the previous evening, but did not really see any major line at DH counters at JFK or at security line. It was still pretty early morning with only a few Caribbean and Latin American flights.
About the gates, everything went fine and boarding took place on time, and the only festivities for the inaugural flight was at San Diego Airport. San Diego Airport Authority was very happy about DH selecting SAN as its first real west coast destination and yes, DH uses Terminal Two and gate 38, and the ground handling was Frontier (well I saw a few F9 uniformed gate agents helping out at the gate). For gifts, SAN airport authority provides a few like airplane toys, luggage tags, and a few children packs. DH passed out some gifts at the gate to special passengers. At SAN, there was a buffet with very nice tortilla wraps – turkey, Brie, and red pepper, chicken salad, and veggie, as well as potato salad, and pasta salad, with fresh fruit plate and assorted non-alcoholic beverages. For entertainment, there were three gentlemen playing a Popeye theme with various instruments. Once again, the American flag was used to decorate the gate, as well as sign about going to the Nation’s Capital.
About the load, JFK-IAD was pretty full, and IAD-SAN was also surprisingly full. The crew serving the return flight did not overnight at SAN previous evening, but was put on this flight to SAN, and then worked the return immediately. It must be tiring. The return was not full though – SAN-IAD was half full with lots of folks occupying three seats to themselves, and IAD-JFK was very lightly loaded too – with only 20 passengers (but I guess it was the last flight of the day and midweek.)
About the flight itself, service was similar to other A319 flights, but with one additional snack service. The first service was beverage, followed by snack choices of Grandma’s Vanilla Crème mini cookies, Sun Chips original, Pretzels, and Quaker’s Cereal bars – strawberry or apple. A cup was served with refills after snack, and then there is a second beverage and snack service mid-flight – snack pack was similar to Jetblue and Frontier – Oakfield Farm Grand snack – Le Petit Fromage Cheese spread, sesame crackers, Lorna Donne shortbread cookies, Sun-maid Raisins, Milky way, Lifesaver Swirl Fusion candy – cherry-watermelon flavor, a knife, and a wet nap. The same beverage and refills are offered. However, I find the timing of the second service to be a bit too early – it should be more like an hour and half prior to landing, instead of an hour after the first snack service. DH is also not as generous as Jetblue in term of passing out snack and drinks – only exception is water bottles. I think DH is still doing double catering for its transcontinental flights (but I am not sure). I am sorry but Jetblue is still a notch better, even though service is similar. However, the hot towels and mints service are still here and much appreciated. About the shorter JFK-IAD flight, there are changes again – no more snack – just an express beverage with mints (and hot towels for some crew).
Another new invention for this transcontinental flight is the Dig E players. For those familiar with Alaska Airlines, it is the same Dig E players with an Independence Air sticker. The headset is sort of worst though for DH – more flimsy. Here is the April program:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
After the Sunset
Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
FLYi Guy Comedy Short (A Must See for Everyone)
The Simpsons (3 episodes – Lisa’s Rival, Tree House Horror, and the one with the greyhound)
Friends (2 episodes – Rachel’s farewell, and an earlier episode)
King of the Hill (rodeo)
Two and a Half Men
Without a Trace
According to Jim
It costs $10 to rent and for additional $5, you can get a splitter and watch the DVD players with your companion. The F/As start the Dig E players’ service first before beverage and snack, and collect the Dig E players when the pilot made its seat belt sign announcement.
About gates at IAD, DH pretty much uses every single available gate the B concourse. My flight to SAN departed from gate B38 next to DL areas, and the return flight used gate B39, next to AF/NH gate. However, I feel that DH still lacks organization especially in helping connecting passengers. My flight from SAN was really late, and we did not park at gate till 9pm, and then we had an emergency situation and had to wait. I barely made my flight, and the folks at A5 did not know that I was coming from the delayed SAN flight. There was also lack of agents helping with connecting passengers at the arrival gate. As expected, we had quite a few folks heading to other DH destinations, and I wonder if they will hold the flight (or since it is a DH mistake, will DH be forced to put them up at a hotel that evening and put them on the flight next day? Or endorse them to another airlines?). Also, there was no more water salute at either IAD or SAN.
Well here is my report and I will fly DH next inaugural to SFO (only the way onto SFO though on May 1).
Good luck, Independence Air!