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FLL-CLT-FLL: The old and the new

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  • FLL-CLT-FLL: The old and the new

    This past weekend, my mom and I flew to North Carolina to visit our cousin who is 80 years young.

    The old: This would be my 4th and 5th flights in/out of CLT. My first flight ever was into CLT (July 1968, Eastern 727-25 from JFK).

    The new: My first flight out of FLL (despite living here 7 1/2 years), also my first flight on US Airways (though I did fly on Piedmont back in 1976, which became part of then-US Air back in 1989? Ironically, that flight originated in CLT)

    FLL-CLT 2/17/06

    The flight was scheduled to leave at 6:40 AM, but we wanted to get to FLL early, b/c we weren't sure what to expect from TSA. So, we left the house around 430 AM, got to FLL a little after 5:00. After parking, we went to the checkpoint, which was nearly empty. I had to be wanded b/c I kept setting off the detector (once b/c I had a little notepad in my pocket which had wire coils.) I didn't have to remove my shoes, but I did have to unfasten my belt. All in all, not that bad, compared to some of the TSA horror stories I've read here and other places. We were at the gate by 5:30. My mother is mobilty-impaired, so we were able to baord first, around 6:10 AM. The plane was N164UW, an Airbus A321-211, first registered in Feb. 2001. This was only my second time on an Airbus, the first being a cramped A320 from UA on an LAX-ORD flight on 6/1/95. The 321 seemed to have more room than the 320, the overhead bins were huge! Most rollaboards could fit perpindicular to the aisle, instead of parallel, which meant more could get in the bin. Good thing, as the flight was full. As we got close to departure time, the F/As kept making announcements to hurry the pax along, as they had guaranteed connections to make in CLT. The joys of flying into a hub The announcements weren't rude, though. Musta worked, as we pushed back only 2 minutes after schedule. We got immediate clearance and took off at 651 AM. The flight was uneventful and we arrived in CLT a few minutes early. The weather in Charlotte was overcast and in the low 50s (the previous few days, that region had been having unseasonably warm weather, with highs in the low 70s). My mom and I were off to the Hertz counter, where they at first gave us a car with a small hole in the windshield (appeared to be from a pellet gun, maybe the Vice-President had been in the area recently) Eventually, we got another car, and drove the 60 or so miles to our cousin's house. We had a nice couple of days there, it actually snowed Saturday morning! (it didn't stick to the ground, since it was still relatively warm from earlier in the week). Sunday morning, it was clear, by cold (21 degrees, brrr)

    CLT-FLL 2/19/06
    Our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 1:50 PM, but we wanted to get there early again, so we were at the terminal at CLT slightly after 10 AM.
    There was a slight line at the checkpoint, but not too bad. This time, I was smart and emptied my pockets completely before going through the scanner, but I still set it off. The culprit was my belt again, but this TSA agent had me remove it completely, put it though the conveyor and walk through again. It was almost embarassing, b/c my pants were kinda baggy since I've lost a few pounds recently, but I managed to hold them up and pass through w/o incident. Also, TSA was making everyone remove their shoes this time, I guess it depends on the location. We arrived at our gate before 11 AM for a 150 PM flight. Better early than late, I guess. The previous flight (which was going to MIA) was at the gate. We were at gate C19 (I think, I lost the pad on which I had been making my notes) , which is at the end of C concourse, so I had a good view of the tarmac, and planes going back and forth. I got a few pics, which I'll try and post later whenever I can get them developed and scanned. I hadn't realized how big a hub CLT was for US. I saw one plane (a United Express RJ) that wasn't either US or America West Express. That included both days, including planes I saw taking off and landing while at the Hertz lot.
    About an hour before our plane was supposed to leave (it hadn't yet arrived from its inbound flight from MIA), I noticed a Charlotte Fire Dept. truck parked on the tarmac by the gate. A few minutes later, 3 guys wearing Charlotte FD arrived in the gate area. Turned out that there was a medical emergency on the inbound flight. As soon as it arrived, the 3 FDs (probably paramedics) went onto the plane. Meantime, an electric cart ambulance thingy had arrived with more paramedics and a stretcher aboard. After a few minutes, a man was wheeled out in an aisle wheelchair, apparently he had suffered a heart attack in flight. He seemed to be alert, but they loaded him onto the stretcher and then onto the cart and whisked him away. Because of that, we were late in boarding, and departed about 25 minutes late. The pilots made up about 15 minutes of that, though.
    The plane for this flight was N434US, a 1990 Boeing 737-4B7. It was showing its age, with paint peeling in several spots, plus the cabin floor seemed to be dipping in a few spots when ppl walked on it. I would assume that the 734s won't be around US for many more years.
    One last thing, I think there were a couple of air marshals on our flight. Almost right after the last inbound pax alighted, 2 guys in casual dress boarded, along with one of the gate agents. Once again, my mom and I got to board first, and when we got on, there they were in first class. So much for anonyminity

    Sorry this was kinda long, when you haven't flown in 6 years, 6 months and 1 week, you have a lot to say LOL

  • #2
    Nice write up! Im glad you had a fairly good experience with US Airways.


    • #3
      Thanks. I wasn't sure what to expect, since US has had its difficulities recently, but the service wasn't bad, expecially considering that both flights were full (which can tend to make F/As cranky at times). Probably helped that there was no meal service (drinks only on the outbound, drinks + peanuts inbound).

      Somewhat related, I observed a couple of US planes in the new color scheme:

      N655US , a 762
      N605AU , a 752 (ex-Eastern Airlines! It probably flew quite a few segments out of CLT with its original owner)


      • #4
        Nice report, I'm glad you enjoyed the trip. I know what its like when you haven't flown for years. I didn't fly for just 2 years, and when I finally did I just went crazy I loved it so much.


        • #5
          Forgot to mention: on both flights, after "crosscheck" was announced, the f/as would call out the doors in their zone (presumably meaning that said doors had been checked/armed). One would say "1L/1R", then "2L/2R", etc. I had never heard the doors being called out before, is that something unique to US, or do all airlines do that now (keep in mind that I hadn't flown since July 1999 before this trip, and my last 9 flights at that time had been on AA).


          • #6
            Originally posted by transitfan
            N605AU , a 752 (ex-Eastern Airlines! It probably flew quite a few segments out of CLT with its original owner)
            Just found this thread, so my apologies for the late response:
            EA 757s were pretty rare in Charlotte even when Eastern had a small hub here; only one or two of the just over 50 flights a day were 757s.