5 States, 4 Aircraft, 3 Time Zones, 2 Countries, 1 Airline 

by Charles M. Kunz

Last year I achieved AAdvantage Gold, this is trip served as a mileage run to get me 43% to re-qualification. Also I had nothing better to do this weekend so flying seemed fun. This trip cost me $392.50 plus $50 for an upgrade sticker.

American Eagle Flight 4495
Sched Depart: 7:00 AM
Sched Board: 6:30 AM

I had originally planned to drive myself to the airport but my parents saw too many problems to it so my dad and I got up at 4:45 and he took me. I was worried about my trip because Saturday morning brought with it rain and fog and the entire way to the airport my dad told me that my flight was likely to get canceled and I was to go to the check-in agent "Get me to St. Louis NOW!" if anything went wrong. Once I got to the airport the monitors showed the plane as on time and I joined the First Class/Elite line which had 6 people in it. Unfortunately for 10 minutes we didn't move as the people at the check-in desks all had some problem and a lot of bags causing me to remark loudly "You see why they want us to get here 2 hours early!" which had the people around me laugh. Upon inspection of my e-ticket the woman asked "Was this the best routing you could get?!?" and I explained to her the mileage run. I then decided that since I didn't need the $50 I had earmarked for parking, I should buy an upgrade sticker and use it to upgrade the 550 mile DFW-STL route. I then got coffee and proceeded to the gate. (btw don't buy from the Coffee Beanery it is really awful stuff). At the security station my pack of Juicy Fruit set off the metal detector so I got a wanding. Once at the gate our boarding time came and went and a fellow traveler and I both started talking contingency plans. Thankfully nothing happened and I boarded:

Gate C2
Seat 2A, Main Cabin
ERJ-135 N726AE
Actual Depart: 7:00 AM
Actual Board: 6:40 AM
Flight Time: 40 Minutes at FL200

I walked down the rather chilly jetway and was the first on the plane. I had to stoop gently as my head otherwise scraped the ceiling. I remembered exactly why I dislike RJs as I sat down and my knees were pressed up against the seat in front of me, but no big deal as this flight was short of an hour. New York was unusually dark for nearly 7 AM but the rain and fog were to blame. We then taxied out and took off 13 minutes later. The f/a was all business but not rude in anyway and in an attempt to ease the mood I asked her how many people she'd had that couldn't buckle a seatbelt. She replied "5, all elderly foreiners." The flight was listed as a continental breakfast so I was expecting something along the lines of a bagel or a muffin but I instead received a small box containing four breadsticks, a packet of spreadable cheese, a package of four oreos, a nutri-grain apple cinnamon granola bar and a tootsie roll. This had to be without a doubt the strangest breakfast combination I had ever eaten, but it was filling and tasty (minus the oreos which I saved for later, I couldn't bring myself to eat cookies at 7:20). The whole way down to Washington it was cloudy so I passed the time reading the USAtoday and listening to Billy Joel. Soon we descended and landed at Washington National which was quite crowded for a Saturday.

Sched Arrival: 8:10 AM
Actual Arrival: 8:02 AM
Gate 34

American Airlines Flight 1213
Sched Depart: 9:45 AM
Sched Board: 9:15 AM

I deplaned and called my parents, both of which picked up and were shocked to hear I was not only in our nations capital but that I made it there early. They also were overjoyed with the news I had secured one upgraded (both have told me they're "too old to fly coach") and my mom gave me suggestions to receiving an op-upgrade for the DCA-DFW sector. I then went and sat at the gate reading the paper and watching the narrowbodied world roll by. Soon enough it was time for:

Gate 30
Seat 9A, Main Cabin
MD-80 N726AE
Actual Depart: 9:50 AM
Actual Board: 9:20 AM
Flight Time: 2 Hours 57 Minutes at FL350

We boarded with a rather interesting method, one guy stood at the machine and fed the tickets into it while another one stood back and put marked with orange hilighter on the boarding pass if you were in the appropriate group to board (if he called Group 1 and you were Group 1 he made the mark). I boarded and took my seat in the 3rd row, the loads were very light in coach (a scant 36 people) and I got the seat next to me empty. We taxied out and took off amid heavy rain. After about an hour the clouds thinned and I was able to see the ground from the air for the first time that day. The service for the flight was just a drink and an oatmeal cookie granola bar with a snack up front. I picked the only morning DCA-DFW flight without a meal The flight was pretty uneventful, I started John Grisham's Newest The King of Torts and did the cross word puzzle. I also scored my highest ever on the Mensa Quiz with a 4.25 out of 10. We then landed at DFW and I saw almost nothing American, welcome to a Fortress Hub.

Sched Arrival: 12:12 PM
Actual Arrival: 12:09 AM
Gate C37

American Airlines Flight 2992
Sched Depart: 1:52 PM
Sched Board: 1:22 PM

Because I had over an hour and a half I decided to see the DFW sites so I took the trAAin to its last stop in Terminal A and walked all the way back to my gate in terminal C. Along the way I picked up some McDonald's. There wasn't much to see as the windows offer very little viewing and half of them are covered for construction of an inter-terminal train to be completed in 2005. I once again called my parents (they instructed me to call at every US airport) and then I tried to use this internet device that costs $1 for 4 minutes, it was so freakin' slow I couldn't get any of it to work so I just went over to gate C17 for:

Gate C17
Seat 4F, First Class
MD-83 N903TW
Actual Depart: 1:52 PM
Actual Board: 1:23 PM
Flight Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes at FL330

While at the gate I saw a girl crying and I went over and asked her if she was alright, she said to me "well my brother just killed himself so NO" I had been expecting a "I broke up with my boyfriend" so I was quite taken aback and I managed to stammer that I was sorry, although I felt bad I didn't say more. I was the first to board and I took my seat in the second row on the right side (my favorite seat is second row left side but cest la vie). The two flight attendants up front today were the best I'd seen in a while, even though there were upwards of 80 people in back, they said hi to everyone. Once I had sat down they offered me a drink and brought it quickly. We taxied out and waiting for a couple of AA MD-80s to take off and then we rocketed into the sky. Shortly after becoming airborne, one of the f/a's came back to me and took my drink order and brought me a Sprite in a real glass with two packets of honey roasted almonds. I usually hate almonds but these were quite good. My original perception of ex-TWA material had been of unimpressed, but this flight was nothing short of perfect. Unfortunately it was over too soon and we landed in overcast St. Louis after 15 minutes in a holding pattern

Sched Arrival: 3:35 PM
Actual Arrival: 3:47 AM
Gate C2

American Airlines Flight 134
Sched Depart: 4:45 PM
Sched Board: 4:00 PM

Unfortunately my flight to London was at the farthest point from where my DFW flight arrived without being in another concourse. After calling back home I had a good 10 minute walk to the other end of the airport. STL is a work of institutional grays and metals but in several ways I preferred it to DFW. For one I could see out of every window and it had better signs. After a little time at the gate, they called business class passengers and I was depressed to realize I was better dressed then all but 5 of them, most were in sweatpants and t-shirts compared to my khakis and tucked in collared shirt. Oh well, that's America these days. I was standing at the gate next to a guy who was complaining that he should be able to board with the business class passengers because he flew C to the US a few days back. But soon enough I was on:

Gate C36
Seat 13A, Main cabin
767-300 N391AA
Actual Depart: 5:00 PM
Actual Board: 4:10 PM
Flight Time: 7 Hours 25 Minutes at FL330

Once onboard I realized I had chosen myself a pretty crappy seat. Seatguru had next to no information on the new interior of the AA 763 (two class) and my seat had one window next to it and a partition where the other should be and limited recline, so I wasn't very happy. The flight was atleast 80% full and I am very happy to say I had the only 2 seat combo with an open seat in it in the entire coach cabin. We waited for some late connection passengers and then taxied out amist a large amount of ex-TWA MD-80's. While waiting I remarked to one of the flight attendants that I liked her hi-lights (yellow on black hair). She then asked me why I was going to London and I explained about the mileage run, this caused her to get two more f/as who seemed very impressed by me and asked me a lot of questions. Good interview practice for when I'm famous . After take off we received drinks and packets of Fisher Pretzel Sticks of which I'm not a big fan, bring back the peanuts AA! About an hour into the flight we were offered a choice of Steak or Pasta with Chicken. I took the latter and was by no way disappointed. It came with a salad, a roll with no butter, a chocolate/vanilla cake and a small piece of chocolate with a bottle of water. The water was a great option and I put it away for later. After the meal was taken away, I tried to get some sleep which honestly was no easy task as I was screwed by several factors. First the blankets were inadequate and I had to keep the seatbelt on the outside which made it hard to not feel like an hour glass. Second, there were a lot of lights on in the cabin, third, no recline. Fourth, I'm tall. But after a bit I got about 4 hours of decent sleep, even one dream which meant I was pretty deeply asleep. I woke up with about an hour and a half into the flight and I popped on some The Rising and mainly stared forward. I didn't' want to use my reading lamp in case it woke people up. About 45 minutes into landing we received a breakfast tray with a large, warm crescent, strawberry jam, a pot of blueberry yoghurt, raisins and some OJ. After all the talk of budget cuts I was surprised as this was more breakfast then I had gotten 4 years ago to ORY. We then descended through a rather dark London area (sun rises a lot later then in NY) and parked and my first international ride in a year and a half was over.

Sched Arrival: 6:50 AM
Actual Arrival: 6:40 AM
Gate 18

American Airlines Flight 173
Sched Depart: 12:10 PM
Sched Board: 11:25 AM

I walked off the plane in what I believe to be the European Low Fare Airline/Narrowbody capital of the world. Airlines like Ryanair, FlyBE and Britania were plentiful although the US airlines made their presence known with 4 from CO, 3 from AA, 2 each from Delta and US (including an MD-11) and one from NW. After deplaneing I went off to immigration where B747-437B told me to expect problems but I was just waved through and laughed at by the female customs agent for my stay of 5 hours. I changed some cash and grabbed a breakfast at Garfunkles and I was amazed by the number of shops. They surrounded everything! I waited in the departure lounge for 3 hours after being turned away at the gate when I went down there at 10. When I got to the gate I was searched including a shoe wanding and a pat down search with ridiculous questions like "when did you buy your backpack?" What was really stupid was they had to search 20% of the passengers, but they didn't do it randomly, they searched the first 20%, so if you had something illegal, you just had to show up a little late. Oh well, security procedures are ridiculous occasionally.

Gate 15
Seat 22A, Main cabin
777-200 N798NA
Actual Depart: 12:06 PM
Actual Board: 11:40 AM
Flight Time: 8 Hours 32 Minutes at FL360

I boarded past a full business class cabin and sat down in the second row, always my favorite. Unfortunately I had a view of the entire wing and nothing but, there goes watching the clouds go by. We pushed back early but sat on the taxiway for a full 25 minutes as wave after wave of planes past us by. We then took off and started the long trek back to my homeland. After take off we got more of those pretzels and a drink service, another flight with the full can. 30 Minutes later we received a choice of salmon or chicken. I was wary about coach fish so I took the chicken. This turned out to be Teriyaki Chicken with mashed pots, green beans, a salad and a cherry cake. This time the roll had butter but I got no square of chocolate which leads me to believe on AA you either get butter or chocolate but not both. After the meal I finished my book and turned on the movie "Welcome to Collinwood" ( on the PTV. The movie was alright, nothing special but great for a flight. I then dozed for an hour until we were over Northern Maine. We then got a second meal of pizza, grapes and a cookie. As I got this I was thinking to myself if you have two seats in coach on a day flight like this, its the same as business. Both cabins have PTVs, the first meal might be larger, but I'd rather have pizza then what they're getting up there, I don't really want to sleep so I don't need more recline and I have lots of legroom. We then flew right over CT, Long Island and New Jersey Avon which they showed the RDU flight arrivals video, which was several years old but still interesting. I love the voice that says "Let us be the first to welcome you to the United States." We then landed and taxied past a place with very very little going on.

Sched Arrival: 3:40 PM
Actual Arrival: 4:10 PM <-- Late take off came back to haunt us
Gate C18

American Eagle Flight 4468
Sched Depart: 8:30 PM
Sched Board: 8:00 PM

This was the only flight I had any problems with. Previously unbeknownst to me, the Northeast had been having weather problems all day and all flights were delayed, canceled or oversold due to previous cancellations. I tried to standby on the earlier flight to LGA but after I couldn't get on I parked my ass at an internet cafe to weather the storm. Unfortunately the storm got rougher as my flight was delayed until 10 due to the ERJ-135 going out of service and us having to wait on an inbound BOS flight for their plane.

Gate C16C
Seat 2A, Main cabin
ERJ-135 N725AE
Actual Depart: 10:20 PM
Actual Board: 9:57 PM
Flight Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes at FL270

We got to walk out on the tarmac and walk close to 100 yard to our plane which was staffed by the largest f/a I'd ever seen. 6 foot 5, 250 pounds would be a good guess, he looked like he was a football player and even had the haircut. I sat down in the same seat I was in the day before but it seemed like a lifetime and a third ago. We taxied out past the deserted AA terminal with only overnighting planes and took off. Over Richmond we entered a circular holding pattern because LGA was only using one runway due to the weather. We received a bag of pretzels again and the f/a passed around free beer. Ironically the only flight I didn't get the full can on was the one that got delayed. I dozed for another hour and woke up as we were over Brooklyn with a great skyline view to my left. We then touched down and I was surprised at the LGA action for nearly midnight. An AA MD-80 from STL landed followed by a US Dash 8. Must have been the weather.

Sched Arrival: 10:15 PM
Actual Arrival: 11:46 PM
Gate C2

I arrived back at the same gate I had left from some 40 hours ago and walked out to my cab that was waiting. I arrived home at 12:30 and decided to take a day off from school Monday, I just wasn't up to it.

For a six segment trip, five going without a hitch was more then I expected. Thank you very much to Sean Mendis who planned this out for me. The best airport of all that I was in was DCA.
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