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Old Jan 19, 09, 7:24 pm   #1
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Arrow Gold Run: Mr Kevincm goes to Washington (with EI and US)

Previously on this channel....

LHR-BRU-LHR ... or "How do you burn a £50 BMI voucher without too much pain?"
MAN-ORD on BMI (29/10 ... or Did Kevin Make it to ORD?)
Kevin goes for a little mileage run on UA - ORD/CMH/IAD/EWR/ORD
ORD-MAN in BMI Premium Economy (with Pictures)
Kevin’s American Adventure – MAN-ORD-SEA-ORD-MAN (4 flights, 2 weeks) in Y..
BMI ORD - MAN in Premium Economy: How hard can a PE product drop? (also random moans)
LHR-PHL-SEA, SEA-PHX-ORD, ORD-PHL-LHR - In Y, Come and be scared with US!
LHR-SFO-LHR - If you're going to San Francisco - SFO MegaDO Trip report

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But first - a message from our sponsor!

Yes, it's muggins again. Unlike the passionately addicted Moomba who's forgotten what a Y tray meal looks like or Kiwi Flyer who does more miles than I can dream of, it is yet another trip in steerage for me. Some of course query the value of a Y class trip report - others just laugh at me idly for subjecting myself to this madness. I like to appeal to those who need comedy.

My normal rules apply to my trip reports - in other words, sarcasm abound, bad Brit humour, amusing anecdotes, random moans and YouTube videos that make no sense to anyone (well ... someone with a bad sense of humour). Comments welcome in the box below

Of course I should plug my photoblog which has the pictures for this trip, split into bite sized segments for you to enjoy

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So where were we last time...

Ah yes - the lack of 3155 miles to hit the magic BMI Diamond Club Gold to hit Star Gold.

As a lot of us on the European continent know, mileage running in the EU is 1) expensive thanks to taxes every 5 meters and 2) mileage earning is pants in the lower fare buckets, thus to get decent mileage, you have to fly J or C... with the cash needed to do those s0ort of runs.

So the aim of this run was threefold, yet simple:
1) Get me to gold
2) Get me on a flying start for gold next year
3) Try and do it with the minimal possible spend

See? I don't do complex

Choices, Choices…

The choice... SWISS or US Airways? Do I do a J class special and minimise the pain, or go for the full on masochistic experience that is a 757 across the pond with a few extra segments?

I was all set for a J class overnight in Barcelona when US Airways started throwing silly fares flying from Dublin to Washington Regan National. Combine that with an easy start from my home airport (BHX), the struggling pound anywhere, and the math doesn't lie. It was US Airways or bust!

After a bit of fiddling with the booking engine, I was getting multi-segment returns for $71 each way+ tax and the usuals.

Now leaving me with a booking engine can be dangerous.... as I discovered some segment hops were very good value. Modifying the segments proved to be ... a dangerous mistake for my sanity (as good as my sanity is at 4am in the morning)

So the mile earning itinerary is:
DUB-PHL - US Airways
PHL-LGA - US Airways Express
LGA-DCA - US Airways Shuttle
DCA-BOS - US Airways Shuttle
BOS-PHL - US Airways Express
PHL-DUB - US Airways

An interesting note for doing these: Segments in the BMI Diamond Club program score 600 miles a pop. Therefore with 1 segment priced up the same as 2, it was mad not to take them up on the extra hops.

Alas, I don’t live in DUB… I’m nearer BHX. I could haul my backside down to LHR, but I'm not in the mood. Thankfully Aer Lingus have handy little BHX to DUB hop (yes – there is Ryanair route there that arrives a whole 5 minutes early, but even I have some limits) so its 8 segments over 3 days. I think that's a new record even by my standards.


Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com

Ok .. this is difficult to work out, but on the left is the muddle that is LGA, BOS, PHL and DCA. On the right is the muddle that's BHX and DUB. Easy? Whadaya mean no? Sigh.. you can have some maps too on each leg. Aren't I nice?

To cut down costs, again I'll be travelling with the small backpack only (as EI charges for checked luggage, so one bag it is - the one that I've managed to mangle at Chicago O'Hare a few trips ago), with the poor Macbook (the keyboard top is not wearing well), some lenses, a couple of cameras and a couple of clothing changes.

Of course visiting the USA requires filling in of an ESTA form which of course... actually, no - I won't go into this. It's just hassle to visit the land of the free(tm)

So... what can possibly go wrong? . Lets do the “Gold Run” (where’s Bob Holness presenting BlockBusters when you need him?) to Super Obama Land!

A tonal change before we go any further

This trip took place the day after the US Airways 1549's bird strike incident at La Guardia. My compliments and kudos to the Captain and crew involved for landing the plane, getting everyone off safely. May those involved have a speedy recovery. As part of this trip report goes through LGA... so I'll report there too..

To BHX

5am in the morning. Argh. Why didn’t I do a simple Swiss run? After packing out what was needed, it was a stroll to the nearest bus stop, and within a few minutes (even at 5:40 in the morning) the 82 turned up on scheduled. As its dead ‘clock, there’s near enough no-one on the bus, and it was a normal sluggish ride to New Street station.


5:30... on a Birmingham morning.

There was the option of reducing my costs further and taking the 900 bus from the city centre to BHX, but even I have limits.


Of course for taking the train - this means transiting through the dark bowels of Mordor Hauptbahnhof (also know as Birmingham New Street Station). A ticket machine swallowed £3.10 and spat out a ticket at me. Thankfully, with it being first thing on a Friday morning, there was next to no queues or a wait for a train, and off I went

London Midland Birmingham New Street – Birmingham international airport
Class 350 “Desiro”



6am - Nutters need only apply at this time of morning

Nothing out of the ordinary for a morning train service – mostly empty, but there wee enough people for a ticket inspection to be carried out (one of the few times it’s paid to be me. Within 10 minutes, I had pulled in to Birmingham International Train station, and proceeded upwards to the Air-Rail link.


BHX is however an oddball of an airport, partially due to its location halfway between London and Manchester and the shortish runway, Therefore, with a mixed population it gets a fair mix of long haul airlines (Emirates, Air India (when they want to run a service), Continental, PIA, Turkmenistan and US Airways in the summer). However, it contains a lot of charter, holiday traffic and of course the low cost carriers that the UK seems to be enamored with. Thus it seems that although it is semi aircraft nerd friendly with an observation lounge pre security, but the full on shopping experience post security, with no natural light, no… nothing really apart from a BAA style shopping experience. Of course attempting to find a plug in this airport is akin to asking for the moon on the stick – it doesn’t happen.

There are a few little things I like about BHX, one of them being a bit of joined up thinking of how to link the terminal and the train station together.

After getting to EI’s check-in desks (I’m old fashioned – I don’t do this newfangled OLCI thing unless I have to) I found no queue, and was checked in with no bags, with a question asked of window or isle I’d like to be assigned into. I was issued my boarding pass and went through security. Again there were practically no queues for security and I was straight through, however I have to ding the airport for charging for ziplock bags (aka Kippy bags) at 4 for a £1… defiantly an expensive mistake if you haven’t prepared…

And then it was just a wait. And also scanning the press for US1549 little swim...





Soon enough it was time to head to the gate.

My ride – Ryanair users might notice the odd things attached to the airport are called is an Airbridges… it means you don’t have to go outside

Leg 1 of 8 16-01
Aer Lingus EI263, Birmingham International Airport – Dublin Airport
Airbus A320-200, Seat 15F
200 miles flown, 0 miles earned

The Photos



Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com


Amazingly, I had kept my new years resolution number, and successfully avoided yet another RyanAir flight (alas, I cannot be bothered, nor do I have the energy to engage in the RyanAir game of pay by Electron card, print your own boarding pass, pay for oxygen, etc. I'd rather pay the extras in the first place and be happy... which worked out to as massive... 96p.)

Boarding was a split affair, with the rear half of the plane called, then the forward half. Load factor was a about 66% - I couldn’t see a middle seat occupied at all. Crewed with 4 Flight attendants, service was split over 3 carts , so pretty good brisk service for those who wanted it before the crew went into a huddle for duty free (surprisingly for once – yes I did take part, and brought myself another model – yes. I’m sad enough to collect them ; ) – all done within 15 minutes of take off. They then split into a 3 at the back, 1 at the front, with one roving up and down the plane every now and again.


Off again!

Captain came on the over loudspeaker, with flight stats (20,000ft) and a specified early arrival at DUB (from 1 hour to 45 minutes – a short hop)

There are some reassuring things in the world. Aer Lingus’s BOB is of them. Unfortunately, as the pound has crashed against the Euro, this idea went out of the window fast.


I'm sad. And?

The flight itself was a mildly choppy affair – considering the cloud level, about right for the weather we’ve been having.




Morning skies


On landing, there was a short taxi to the gate – and a hold to clear some luggage off a taxiway before meeting the stairs for disembarkation at the D Piers


D2 Coming along nicely


My next ride..


Disembarkation was of course by Steps in the D Pier.

One down.. 7 to go..


Thoughts : EI are best handled in small doses – certainly not the stellar carrier they once were. From what I could see, they offered a quick and good service on in the air that has been no worse than other carriers over such a short distance. But then again, it is pretty hard to balls up a 45 minute flight….

Next: DUB-PHL or "Macroni Cheese... err why?"

Last edited by Kevincm; Jan 21, 09 at 5:45 am
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Old Jan 19, 09, 7:37 pm   #2
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Part II - DUB-PHL

At Dublin Airport

After arriving at the far D gates, I made my way into Ireland cursing the person who designed this pier, through Irish immigration (hand over passport, smile, go through), through baggage, and turned left and up – straight into US Airways check-in area. A delightful mix of paperwork was issued, with a data collection form for APIS, a wavier form to remind me to get over to customs queue by 9:30, as well as the I-94(W) (so much for ESTA) and customs form., and then over to US airways check-in.

After all the boarding passes were spat out, it was through security and off to the B pier for pre-clearance (after raiding Duty free for some cigarettes for my friend ).

Of course, there was a queue for pre-clearance that took about 10 minutes to the pre-check, and 15 minutes of hard queuing to see an immigration agent. After some gentle probing, I was asked for my fingers, thumbs, and face – and stamped into the USA. At this point, there was nearly an hour before departure… and to be honest- there’s not a lot to do in the pre-clearance area apart from wait, maybe drink something or eat something, and go to the toilet. Basic, but sufficient.

Boarding was of course the usual shambles with just family preboaridng, even every man/woman/flyer for themselves, however, with just a rucksack, I wasn't in a rush to get aboard as it was going to live at my feet

Leg 2 - US723, Dublin Airport - Philadelphia International Airport 16-01
US Airways, Boeing 757-200 (ETOPS), Seat 30K
Miles Flown: 3273, Miles Earned:3274
The Photos


Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com



The economics for a narrow body jet have always made me think that it's great they can run thin and long services that otherwise were unviable, yet as a cabin ... a narrow body over the pond? Up until now I've always preferred wide body aircraft for these hops (least of all the for the on-board ambiance and feeling of room). Lets find out if I can remove my prejudices against the 757 on a long-haul run over the pond...


at the gate

I have been actively checking the seat map, only a few days before this flight for everything to be zero’d out. In act, looking through the cabin, there was only 5 seats I could see in Y that weren’t sold. Luckily, one of those seats happened to be next to me and the other seats were behind me. Some small luck I suppose.


Seats.. US Airways blue leather...

After a short taxi and a hold to let a few movements occurred, we took off, and had one of the bumpiest takeoffs I can remember (I’m sure that the unsecured US Airways pretzels that were in a bag behind me were happy bouncing as we took off), with a lot of chop whilst airborn for first 20 minutes before things settled down.


Take off


Unsecured Pretzels/Fiesta Mix :rolleyes

Of course, in-flight entertainment and US Airways seems to be an oxymoron with some very bad movie on the overhead screens that aren’t visible at a window, and the ghaul to charge $5/4€ for a headset, so I was prepared this time with the iPhone, loaded up with some proper IFE.


How to make a sick bag iPhone/iPod Touch holder
- ensure bag isn't used
- rip hole in baggie
- rip hole large enough for screen
- rip hole in side so you can plug your headset in
- mount onto seat back
- enjoy entertainment


Cabin crew were very slow off the mark to be completely blunt, finally making their way to my seat with nearly 1½ hours gone. Alas, in meal terms, I was very restricted, and had the pasta choice. Lets just say I should really have had a irish breakfast or something in BHX as it was god awful. The bean salad was passable, as was the brownie (this time I was hungry enough to eat it at that moment in time).


Eww

To be honest, service was not great at all. Being in the second to last row, I seemed to be forgotten about more than once when it came to drinks or rubbish pickup.


Over the pond

Which brings me onto the state of the aircraft – the seat pitch was thankfully not too bad – but this can be attributed to the clear middle seat for where junk can be stored. The cars themselves are leather, without adjustable headrests. It honestly feels like the aircraft has been taken out of domestic service, some Envoy seats added, ETOPS certificate added with some winglets and shoved back into service. As a result, the aircraft was clean, but seats were looking worn, with the one in front of me trying to loose its cover at times. Nothing that a total refurbishment couldn’t fix…

Once the first batch of chop cleared, it was a nice flight, heading towards Greenland, where upon it chopped up again, not clearing until into the ice wastes of Canada.









A mid-flight service of orange juice from a can and unsecured pretzels from earlier were served, with water and pretzel mix available near the toilets – a nice touch if people wanted a nibble or 2 in-flight.

Towards the end of the flight the traditional US Ham and cheese bread thing that is totally plastic, but surprisingly edible was made available. This was welcomed and tasted how it looked – considering that lunch was a let down.



Service was cleared down and the cabin was prepared for arrival.



The service landed into Philadelphia early – too early alas. From a 45 minute early to a fast arrival at the gate, we were then forced to wait 35 minutes or so whilst the jetbridge team were working out how to dock the plane to the airport

Overall. Not a stunning US Airways flight by any stretch of the imagination. The extra seat was pretty much core to a good journey, and thus it paid off well. The food was probably the worst I’ve had on a plane for a long time, so kevin’s top tip: Avoid the Macaroni cheese . The 757 is still IMO a bit narrow and does feel a bit claustrophobic after a while, but considering the length of flight… it could had been a lot worse…

Next up: Kevincm goes DashTrash! (and plays the standby game)

Last edited by Kevincm; Jan 21, 09 at 5:46 am
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Old Jan 19, 09, 8:20 pm   #3
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Part III - PHL-LGA-DCA

At PHL

After disembarkation, it was a walk from A6 to Immigration, where the pass-through was arranged for Dublin pre-cleared passengers. A saunter through customs, and I was within the United States of America. One of the joys of traveling without luggage is that its possible to move quickly and keep moving

To make life a bit more painful. I shelped over to the F gates. Whist nice enough, it lacks a lot of the main facilities of the A/B/C terminals at PHL

Alas, I tried to standby for the earlier La Guardia flights to no success (the first flight was delayed – the second flight was just as bad and they still wanted $50 to list for it). However, after hanging round the gate waiting for everyone else to board, I was asked I was boarding… and was issued a scribble pass.

Leg 3 - US4222 - Philadelphia International Airport - New York LaGuardia Airport
US Airways Express operated by Piedmont Airlines, Dash-8-100 (37 Seat), Seat 5D
Miles Flown: 91, Miles Earned: 600




Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com


My ride at LGA

My first flight on a Dash-Trash (amazingly I've avoided them for so long, judging how many of them fill my local airport) , and my second trip to Urban New York.


Preparing for the off...

I boarded the plane without having to gatecheck anything and took my seat (being the last person to board the flight). After a few minutes, the doors went to close and off the little Dash went atrundling around PHL before queuing up for take-off.


Up and away!

I suppose I’m not used to Prop aircraft at all (the last time I was aboard a prop, I was a lot younger, but the vibrations as well as the sensitivity to air pockets made it a fun flight. I’d say the most fun flight of the trip. As a such, it was a low level flight, so the whole landscape was before you.







Service was brisk, but there was a fair amount of drinks sold (I didn’t partake this time – I had a gallon of coffee before boarding the flight). Leg room for a small place was also very good for what it is.



Alas, I was assigned in the wrong side of the airplane , no pictures of Manhattan, but it was a very choppy and bouncy landing.







Still, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a plane for sometime. Could do with a pair of earplugs though…

At LaGuardia



Looking at my arrival time, I had a choice – either hang around and check out the place – or head straight to gate 17 to see what space was aboard the flight..

It seems I’ve set a new record for the amount of time I spend in the NY/NJ area … 45 minutes. An improvement on the 5 minutes I spent last time at Newark, but one day, I’m going to have to actually visit the city

And if pigs willl fly

Once the boarding had mostly been completed, I asked what was available – and took a middle seat (for that was what left).

Of course, there was a queue down the jetway, with a pilot and a few of us talking about US1549, and some of the glaring oversights (the lack of people wearing lifejackets, how long luggage takes to dry out and what Doggie will do with a slightly soggy A320. Personally, I think it would make a great museum piece… but that’s me…

Leg 4 - US2183 - New York LaGuardia Airport - Washington Regan National
US Airways Shuttle, Airbus A319-100 (EOA), Seat 12E
Miles Flown: 214, Miles earned: 600



Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com


My ride at LGA

There's always something reassuring getting back to an old friend. The A319 is one example – the relative shortness of it with the capacity and the design of it makes for a low chance of design messups, and it shows. The aircraft was in very good condition, clean and the seat covers were all in place and not falling off. Rather good for US Airways actually.

After a short wait, it was a case of queue up, climb into the air, and begin the slow slog over to Regan National.

Whilst the rest of US Airways (US Dom) seems to have abandoned free drinks, Shuttle has maintained it. And it seems everyone likes a freebie, with everyone partaking of drinks. Pretty soon there was a rubbish collection, and a lovely nighttime approach to DCA… which I failed to catch at all thanks to the middle seat.

Is a 1 hours wait worth a middle seat? I’d say so.

After making my off the plane, it was time for a walk to the kerb and to find a transfer for the hotel.

Next up - the return journey - DCA-BOS

Last edited by Kevincm; Jan 19, 09 at 8:36 pm
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Old Jan 19, 09, 8:51 pm   #4
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Part IV - DCA-BOS

Back to Regan National

A nice simple transit system…. I’ve actually found one that exists in the USA! (Excluding the Chicago L… but that’s another matter completely – I understand it – not many others do ). After catching a metro back from Le Enants to Regan National, I made my way around the architecturally nice terminal that is Regan National. Check in of course was unmitigated disasters – I made my way into the E-ticket queue to be mistaken for a non-rev (I have to do International check-in for all legs). After sighing for 5 minutes, I queued in the First class queue (which technically I can now), and got checked in for all legs to Dublin.



The TSA… it seems the TSA at Regan have had some lessons in manners and were treating people nicely. My request for a manual scan of film was met without compliant and I passed through successfully, and took up a waiting perch for a bit as I couldn’t standby for the 14:30 flight without ponying out some more cash to US Airways.



Another nice feature (apart from the pretzel shop and the obvious Obama tat that people are selling) is laptop charging points - a useful pit-stop to charge before today’s fun and games of flights begin properly.

Boarding was done by rows – unusual I thought until I boarded…

Leg 5 - US2038 - Washington Regan National - Boston Logan International Airport
US Airways Shuttle, Airbus A319-100, Seat 8A
Miles Flown: 399, Miles Earned: 600


The Photos


Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com

This flight is yet another segment on my mileage run – and infact the longest internal flight out of the collection – and helped give me the most possible time in Washington DC by some mad reason.

After boarding, it was obvious this flight was lightly loaded with most people having half a row to themselves – a lot of space to stretch out in. Whilst in the row before the exit row and having no recline, I made my own recline once airborne.


Yup. airborne again.

Take off was reverse to landing – taking off away fro Washington DC before swinging around and flying off to Boston.


Downtown DC


Dulles

Another signs loads were light – drinks service was done by hand. Again – a free service on Shuttle services, so it was appreciated.



The flight itself was smooth, and tracked the east coast to Boston, with a cleanup of items, and where after a few fancy turns, we landed, and after a short taxi, docked and the doors were opened. By the time I was in the terminal building, it was night.







Overall: US Airways Shuttle is prehaps its strongest Y class product - it's constant, delivered well, and delivered at the same level. For a Y class flight, you cannot ask for much more...
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Old Jan 20, 09, 12:33 am   #5
  
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Love the TR Kevincm, and I was rolling on the floor laughing when I saw your IFE!
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Old Jan 20, 09, 4:47 am   #6
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Part V - BOS-DCA

At Boston Logan International


Wha.. you can have illegal sea foods?

One of those “little facts we don’t really care about” is that the retail side of Boston Airport is run by a Spanish airport group who have a monopoly in London (but not for much longer). Gotta admit – it shows with the in-airport music with advertising every few minutes .

A slow move from the Shuttle gates to the Express gates, and an hour and a half wait. Time to do some writing whilst the plane is being prepared…

Boarding was called in zones, with practically no one paying attention as normal...


EMB-175 at the gate

Leg 6 - US3160 - Boston Logan International Airport - Philadelphia International Airport US Airways Express operated by Republic Airways, Embraer 175, Seat 18A Miles Flown: 280, Miles Earned: 600


Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com

The Photos

But enough BAA bashing and their lack of retail management. Time for a new aircraft type. This time, Embraer 175. As this will be my first time aboard one of the little E-Jets, I'll try and positive.

Seating is 2 x 2, so immeidently, it feels a little tighter than a 737 or A319, and yes – in classic US Airways Express configuration (so the windows are misaligned, but on the positive sides, the seating was comfortable (even in slimline configuration) and even though it was a 31” pitch, it felt a bit more than that.

The seat


Cabin


By amazing luck again, I had a clear seat next to me on my flight (although there was a fair load on the plane with only a few seats at the rear of the plane – enough to justify this class of aircraft on thisroute)


Taxing was a bit of a trek, but take off was quick, powerful and fast, pushing into the air very quickly.


Taxiing


Up and away again

After a few turns and an appropriate climb level, the electronics light was extinguished.

The ride was choppy only on landing, but otherwise was very smooth. In addition, I found the ambient noise levels to be very low (I was playing some music on the iPhone (Elbow – On a Day like this) to the point where the volume was at 40% - considering I’ve been needing 60/70% on the Airbus’s and nearly 80% on the 757, there is some real work done on accousitc the design this plane.

A service run was done again, with a brisk trade in drinks being done. This was one run, with 2 cleanup runs. The cockpit crew were nice and cheerful, however the cabin crew didn’t really want to doing this flight tonight, and thus service was passable (even though I've found in the past that Republic group airlines are the better regional outfits...).


On approach

On approach to PHL, a departure list was given of where to connect to - a very nice touch.


Landing

Again on landing at PHL, it was a quick landing and taxi to the gate – for where was a 5 minute wait get an airbridge driver, then a 15 minute mess around to initially try to get the gate onto the plane. In the end, a tug dragged the plane forward a foot, and the airbridge docked successfully.

Next: PHL-DUB - This plane is a bit big for a 757....
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Old Jan 20, 09, 5:51 am   #7
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Part VI - PHL-DUB-BHX

At PHL (Again)

After the 2nd minor incident with a jetbridge (twice in 2 days – I’m lucky), it was straight off the plane, and the shelp to A22 West.


A Liberty Bell on the way to A22W


Art. Allegedly.

Although I am starting to warm to PHL as an airport, it is a bit expansive., which can mean great fun when trying to get from gate to gate in time.
Thankfully, by the time the Dublin flight was called, I was well within the A-West Part of the terminal, and when I got to the gate, it was empty – flight had boarded quiet early.

Leg 7 - US722 - PHL-DUB (Philadelphia International Airport - Dublin Airport
US Airways, Boeing 767-200 (Equipment Swap from Boeing 757-200WL) Seat 27A
Miles Flown: 3273, Miles Earned:3724


The Photos


Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com

At this point, please understand that I'm getting knackered. More than normal. Some small part of me was hoping that I would misconduct here and have to divert to Heathrow (which had saved on the final Aer Lingus leg and instead would had been a Tube and a Train home)). Alas, my luck doesn't run THAT good.

Normally, I would expecting a queue and all the plalva that went with it when I board an aircraft. It was empty, then I noticed 2 isles upon boarding! Had I lucked out on a A330? Nope. It was a 767 instead !(alas the bashed up interior gave it away without trying). This mean overhead telly and TFT/LCD/Plasma screens at the front, however faster service throughout. In addition, the spare seat next to me when I checked in the morning had held, so a two-seater relaxayvous option was in full effect.


Waiting for pushback at PHL

Boarding was completed on schedule, and we pushed back. After the video died once, the classic US 767 safety video was put on. A short taxi later, the plane took off into a very cloudy Philadelphia sky and away.


Accelerating away

I must be picking the crappy flights recently on TATL runs as I seem to get nothing but chop these days on TATL runs. This flight was no difference with chop all the way with the seatbelt sign on nearly all the time.


Climbing out

After electronic use was ok'd, the immigration card run were distributed (one advantage of heading “home” to an EU country – no landing cards to fill in


Getto IFE system... installed

I hinted at the 767 disrepair… where to begin. Seats were not reclining that well, the seat pocket in front of me was broken, and the plane just didn’t feel looked after and loved unlike the Shuttle A319s, the E175 or to a point – the 757 I came in over in.

From what I glanced – the Envoy space refit had been done, and they actually looked better business class seats than the old style ones that are installed on the A330’s, but the seating in the back is once again blue leather seats.



Dinner was Chicken and Rice with sweetcorn and beans – I’d go as far as to say Cajun Chicken, with the usual salad and a square of carrot cake.

The chicken – dryish, but better than nothing. The rice – soggy as heck, the sweetcorn… I didn’t t know it was impossible to mess up sweetcorn. The only things that weren’t’ messed up were the salad and the carrot cake. The roll was only low level damage capable, so not that bad. The service was lights down all the way from PHL to DUB, and as far as I could tell, there was also no pastry/breakfast coffee service as well.

Soon enough the skies lightened a bit, as it was coming up the 7:30, the cabin lights came on for final clean-up, then dimming for landing


Coming over Dublin


Turning

Landing was powerful, and after taxing back, there was a delay on hooking up the airbridge (again - I'm having all the luck with them this trip), and the plane slowly emptied out.


At the gate


My ride at DUB (It was best I could do)

Back at Dublin

After a quick clearance at passport control back into the EU, I made the mistake of leaving the secure area to see what was what heading back to BHX.

Alas, I forgot that the first flight was at 06:30… with the next at 13:45 and no check in before 10:45

To say I was mildly annoyed at myself would be an understatement . After confirming this, I wandered back to Arrivals (ground side) and had breakfast (A Chicken Creaser salad I picked up in PHL) and a can of coke obtained from US Airways. Then it was a case of hooking up to a spare power port and time to charge the laptop and camera after some quiet heavy work.

With a 5 hour connection, normally that’s plenty of time to go into Dublin’s fair city – but for once, I honestly felt like I should be curled up somewhere and not on a cold bus going into a cold city. After a good 2 hours it was time to fight with the Self Checkin Machine, which unhappy spat out a boarding pass at me.

Security was… to put it lightly, I thought the TSA had took over. Started loading up the trays… and all of a sudden, one was pushed off by an agent as he pushed a set of trays back off the rollers. The tray that just happened my laptop and thus landed happly.., o na nice concrete floor. After a half hearted apology, and the equipment was checked, thankfully no short term damage was found. Long term damage on the other hand … give it time.

One final raid of duty free for my friend (she's done well out of me), and it was off on the long hike to the A-Pier, which is in an absolute state (I remember the A pier being nice and bearable… it’s now low cost semi-hell with metal benches, with some of the facilities that used to be there ripped out. A shame.

After finding an empty beach, it was time to just rest for a bit as I didn’t have any euros to go shopping with, plus I’m a bit tired for some odd reason


Eventually I woke up and queued near the gate, with boarding begun at 13:20 for the flight.

Leg 8 - EI273 Dublin Airport – Birmingham International Airport
Aer Lingus Airbus A320-200 Seat 8A
Miles flow: 200, Miles earned: 0



Map generated by the wonderful Great Circle Mapper http://gc.kls2.com

To be honest, there's not a lot of photos on here (partially I haven't uploaded them to photoblog, the other reason I hadn't remember to get my camera out of the bag until half way across the Irish Sea).

A quick climb out and a few turns, it was a quick 45 minute flight back to Birmingham. Standard service (drinks and food), with no one taking part in Duty free this time.

Landing was on schedule, and after taxing towards gate 58, the plane stopped short of the airbridge, and we were all bussed off.

15 minutes later I was through security and on the train home.

-- summing up to follow ---
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Old Jan 20, 09, 6:40 am   #8
  
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Hi Kevin,

Great report as usual.

One quick question:

Did you really only pay $71 ++ each way for this transatlantic trip or I misread your report?
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Old Jan 20, 09, 6:59 am   #9
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Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
Hi Kevin,

Great report as usual.

One quick question:

Did you really only pay $71 ++ each way for this transatlantic trip or I misread your report?
Thanks UA_Flyer
Yup. Summed out at US$231/£160 for the US Airways flights. Bargain of the year - escpecilly with all the segments thrown in. The most expensive segments were the EI flights.. at £70 - Still cheaper than a Swiss J run!


Quote:
Originally Posted by TrayflowInUK View Post
Love the TR Kevincm, and I was rolling on the floor laughing when I saw your IFE!
I aim to provide entertainment .

I hereby dub this "Getto IFE" . It's been featured on a few blogs, and here
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Old Jan 20, 09, 7:10 am   #10
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Impressions:
Aer Lingus: I wonder about EI and it's place in the airline world these days. I can see what it's tried to do (ala BMI's modularisation) with short haul cheapness and long haul service... but with the way the industry is consolidating and contracting... is there a place for EI? Or will it ultimately be doomed to O'Leary's "charms"? I suppose the biggest praise of EI I will give of it is this: It isn’t Ryanair. That alone scores points for me.

US Airways long haul: Ok, I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for. A crapped out 757 with tight as hell seat pitch. But US has to realise that its competitors are biting at its heels - even those who use 757's (paging Continental and American). Much as I think a full internal refit with slimline seats, AVOD and a few more toilets would really help the aircraft, I don't honestly think Douggie and those in Tempe AZ actually care as long as they see the $$ roll in. A shame, as there is real potential for these routes to make serious money if advertised as an "alternative to London" and "An easier way to fly into the USA". It's fine running an aeroplane that distance, but please match a quality of service that is to go with it. The 767 service with due respect is very much a missed opportunity - a chance to really pull out the stops and make a product that people would use. Alas, they've just decked out Envoy and put a couple of new TFT screen on the plane (better than UA's 747's... but still). UA has proven you CAN do something good with a 767... so there's really no excuse...

US Express: Ok – whilst not 100% relevant, the DashTrash flight was a lot of fun - probably my highlight of a trip. I won't go out of my way to catch one again, but if the price was right. The ERJ-175 was anohter good highlight of a modern, well looked after aircraft, and if this is what BA is buying for their fleet, I can see a lot of happy flyers. It's comfortable, low ambient noise and its a nifty little mover. Just a shame I had the most depressed Republic crew I've come across....

US Shuttle: I actually I am impressed with US Shuttle – it seems they load some of their better employees on these shuttle flights, and maintained a level of service throughout. The planes were in good condition, and looked well cared for.


Right. That's it for another two months. Next up is a March report on UA. After being abandoned by BMI it's a choice of UA or US. And I've had enough US for a few months at least... so guess who my next trip report is about

Where to I hear you ask?


Oh... and finally.. .what was this all for?



Earned the HARD way
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Old Jan 20, 09, 1:06 pm   #11
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Great report! US Y food looks, well....
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Old Jan 20, 09, 1:57 pm   #12
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Very entertaining report Kevincm.

Certainly earned your miles cheaply there.
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Old Jan 21, 09, 5:43 am   #13
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Great report! US Y food looks, well....
The Chicken on the way back was edible. The Macaroni cheese however... Lets just say I was grateful for the plastic ham and cheese warm bread thing... and even more grateful for the coffee mug at PHL.

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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Very entertaining report Kevincm.

Certainly earned your miles cheaply there.
Ah... but what is the real price HIDDY? My sanity? My back? Or the pulled tendon in my foot?

Oh well... I'll have to make do with the knowledge that the next set of flights will be a bit more bearable
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Old Jan 22, 09, 5:48 am   #14
  
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Thanks for the report, it sure was entertaining read! Did you know that you can actually book BHX-EI-DUB-US-XXX on one ticket? But then the US price ex BHX will be charged..
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Old Jan 22, 09, 5:55 am   #15
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I booked them as seperate tickets -
EI - BHX-DUB, DUB-BHX
US - Oh you know the route

There was a minor chance of misconnect - this was at DUB on the way out. If that flight was even 30 minutes late, this whole trip would had been up in the air (or I would had been doing a LOT more running at DUB)...
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