I went to Wichita, wanna read about it? 

by Charles M. Kunz

“...I’m goin-a Wichita!” - The White Stripes

I planned this trip for a multitude of reasons. I had a lot of cash on hand since my last paycheck from work came in, I love flying as we all do, I am AAdvantage Platinum and want to keep it that way and I want to see all fifty states and Kansas was on the list to see so I booked the trip for $210.50 and went.

American Airlines Flight 2815
Sched Depart: 6:57 AM
Sched Board: 6:27 AM

I got up at 4:45 after a scant three and a half hours of sleep and hit a cold shower followed by some Kona Koffee ala father to wake my sorry self up. We then headed down I-95 to the Whitestone Bridge and to LGA in less then a half hour, definitely the best part about flying early is the total lack of traffic. I walked into the terminal, which was already teaming with people for the early Miami, St. Louis and Dallas-Ft. Worth flights and headed to the first class/elite line where I was number two. When called to the desk the woman inspected my e-ticket and said “You’re going to Wichita just for a few hours?” so I said hey I must do something with my free time! She laughed and handed me my boarding passes and a ticket folder. I walked into the D-gates and was told that shoe removal was optional but if you had shoes other then sneakers or sandals it was advisable so the woman in front of me half into the metal detector handed me her cowboy boots and asked me to put them in my box, sure thing lady just not on my new cell phone. I had a feeling she’d be on my DFW flight, I love being right. I like to read the USAToday when I travel so I picked up an edition and noted that the TSA were no longer requiring shoe removal, ooh good to hear! The D concourse was pretty lively for a Saturday with the aforementioned flights as well as an ORD flight. What really surprised me was the huge number of 757 especially the ex-TWA ones, LGA is usually more MD-80s. At the gate under the flight number they had these tiny letters saying “Bistro Service” why AA don’t hide it! Soon they called First Class followed by group ones so I grabbed my happy blue bag of mystery and boarded:

Gate D5
Seat 10F, Main Cabin, Exit Row
757-200, N720TW
Actual Depart: 6:50 AM
Actual Board: 6:21 AM
Take Off: 11 Minutes After Leaving Gate
Flight Time: 3 Hours 12 Minutes at FL390

We pushed back after the pilot came on and jabbered about how early we were pushing back and the computer said we’d be there early but he didn’t mention our route which would have interested me because I haven’t flown LGA-DFW in over a decade. We taxied out and for once at LGA we weren’t following any aircraft but we to hold at the cusp of the runway to wait for a US Dash-8 to land then we did one of those full powered take offs that I know we all love and we were over Shea Stadium quickly. After that we were over the George [Washington Bridge] and over the Garden State fast and then I decided it was high time for some gourmet dining. Thankfully AA had provided me with this blue bag adorned with a MRTC logo, anything good enough to bear that logo must be loaded with foodstuffs of the highest quality, right? Sigh, wrong. A small pot of Raspberry yogurt, an apple Chewy Granola bar and a one-ounce bag of raisins, I remember this I had it DFW-DCA! Oh well it was early and I was starving so I ate every last morsel of food and drank a Cran Apple without the can. Bistro Bags – Good to the last drop! I was wondering if a three hour 757 flight would get a movie and when the flight attendant said “We will be showing a preview of our feature presentation…” I decided I’d watch whatever it was; I mean how bad could the option be? Then she completed her sentence by announcing with a stifled laugh Star Trek: Nemesis, I decided they couldn’t have offered me a less appealing movie so I decided not to bother putting a headphone in the jack. The flight attendants then did something I appreciated a lot, they came around about fifteen minutes after we’d had our beverage service and offered drinks, and I haven’t had that in Coach all year! I passed the time reading the paper then the American Way and Skymall. I scored a one out of ten on the Mensa quiz and found two useful items in Skymall, ahhhh flying. Towards the end of the flight I decided to throw out my paper and hit the head, I like to walk on planes so I walked back to use the mid-cabin lavs but they were marked with “Temporarily Out of Service Stickers” I went back to my lav next to row 10 and waited while a woman was in there, a f/a came up to me and told me to use the First Class one as it was free, I said I thought for safety we were supposed to stay in our own cabins (a frequent announcement) she said to me in a humorous voice that she got to make the rules and I could, hey F class pax, don’t glare at me! I then re-took my seat and we coasted over a large domed stadium, which reminded me of the Astrodome and then landed as our shadow caught up to us.

Land Time: 7 Minutes before Arrival
Sched Arrival: 9:33 AM
Act Arrival: 9:24 PM
Gate C24

American Eagle Flight 3892
Sched Depart: 10:41 AM
Sched Board: 10:11 AM

I got out into the good old C terminal which I had already visited twice this year and started the mile long walk towards the SkywAAlk over to the B terminal. Along the way I tried out my new cell phone and the coverage was great and I got a good connection home and said hello to my mom who for some perverse reason didn’t want to wish me a good trip at 5 when I left! Because Bistro bags wouldn’t fill your average Russian Gymnast’s stomach, I headed to McDonalds for some McGriddles (if you haven’t had one, get one) and then walked over the SkywAAlk, which was actually pretty nice, a lot of light and moving walkways. My impression of B was a good one, good restrooms, nice gate areas, plenty of light, the only problem being it wasn’t a spotters place, just the AE planes taxing around and pretty far off an active runway where DL 737s and AA MD-80’s were rocketing off. Boarding was delayed slightly due to a late crewmember but then they called Group 1 (first time I’ve heard Groups being used for an ERJ, must be cause it’s a 145) and I walked to the right in the Jetway to:

Gate B9B
Seat 3A/2A, Main Cabin
ERJ-145, N617AE
Actual Depart: 10:42 AM
Actual Board: 10:22 AM
Take Off: 10 Minutes After Leaving Gate
Flight Time: 56 Minutes at FL240

I originally had seat 3A but 2A a seat I’ve flown in seven different ERJ’s this year opened up and I’m not one to break precedence so I parked my butt in that one instead. In the seat pocket was Landing Zone, AA’s kid’s magazine so I read through that. It’s not as good as the ones they had when I was a youngin it was more fun, they had more activities to do and it was a coloring book too, now its geared more towards education, almost like a Highlights magazine, but I could have figured out what kinda camp I wanted to go to thanks to the mag. Soon we taxied back and out to a runway across from Terminal D, slated for completion in 2005, I hope for you Texans it doesn’t go as overdue as the ****ed Airtrain at JFK! Soon we were off and above Texas and the cloud cover was high so I got a nice view all the way up to the Sunflower State. We had a beverage service complete with pretzels rods, which aren’t peanuts but still compliment a cup of slightly warm, slightly flat Diet Coke without the can pretty well. After a short flight, I’m used to these RJ jumps from my east coast experience, we were getting lower and lower over farm lands and all of a sudden a large runway appeared and we landed near some farms and a huge lake and across U.S. 54 and 400. A quick taxi to the gate near the largest G.A. collection I’d seen since HPN and I was into a new state!

Land Time: 4 Minutes before Arrival
Sched Arrival: 11:52 AM
Act Arrival: 11:48 AM
Gate 5

I walked out by a huge display marked “Wichita, The Crossroads of Aviation” hmm if you say so Mr. Chamber of Commerce people. I then passed a Waffle Express and a gift shop showing the Wizard of Oz on TVs, freaky almost but cute too. I went to the American Eagle check-in desks and the woman gave me my two boarding passes but they were out of ticket folders so I got a folded up exit row questionnaire stapled together for a folder, oo improvising! I hailed a cab and took it to the nearest mall, The Towne Square East just past downtown where I walked around and ate at a weird place called Fuso where they make these extremely odd drinks with fruit and weird things at the bottom you eat with the drink; but the pork and staff were great and I enjoy new places so this was good. I then went outside and called for cab and sat and enjoyed the beautiful day until it came. The cab got me back fast and C-135 Re-fuelers kept buzzing my plane, thanks for the send off guys!

American Connection Flight 5654
Sched Depart: 2:42 PM
Sched Board: 2:12 PM

I learned something new today, Wichita, Kansas is the hotbed for terrorist activity in this country! They required my shoes off at the metal detector even though they were sneakers and even though the contents of my pocket hadn’t changed one iota since New York and everything was out of them, I set off the metal detector and got the wanding, they also do random gate screens, which weren’t done at LGA, DFW or STL. Oh well, I sat at the gate and watched a UA CRJ followed by the only plane I believe to have First Class to ICT, a UA 737. After a gate delay where the gate agents entertained themselves by turning on the pager and scaring us with the noise then laughing about it they announced “Ummm American flight fitty-six fitty-four to Saaaaaaaint Louis!” Of course as the first person to board I got the random screen, they announced Group Ones and I was the only one so they search me, which makes sense. I remarked to the TSA man why only I was being screened and they said, “we screen one of the first three passengers, it’s random” That makes a lot of sense.

Gate 5
Seat 4A, Main Cabin
ERJ-145, N818HK
Actual Depart: 2:47 PM
Actual Board: 2:21 PM
Take Off: 8 Minutes After Leaving Gate
Flight Time: 51 Minutes at FL250

I had wondered if ERJ’s built for TWA and ones for AA would look different inside but the 145s I can compare appear exactly the same except for a different looking eagle plaque on the bulkheads. Soon we were pushed back and held on the taxiway for a NW CRJ to roll to the gate. Then we were up in the air and the f/a asked as usual if she could do anything to make us more comfortable, for some reason she couldn’t find me a five course meal which would have helped, probably caterings fault again. Because of a full flight we were only offered water, Diet Coke, Coke, 7UP and Diet 7UP but that was fine as I was drinking Diet Coke. Although that reminded me, I’ve never had Coffee on an Eagle flight, which I find odd as I often take early ones. After the drink I went to use the lav and I found in the sink a box of moist toweletts at least there’s a real bathroom feel with the sink! Soon we started decent and flew right over the airport and then over downtown St. Louis and well into Illinois before turning around and over-flying Busch stadium and next to the Renaissance Hotel where I once stayed, bad place, trust me. Then we were on the ground and off to the American Connection gates in D.

Land Time: 4 Minutes before Arrival
Sched Arrival: 4:00 PM
Act Arrival: 4:02 PM
Gate D30

American Airlines Flight 2956
Sched Depart: 5:01 PM
Sched Board: 4:31 PM

The flight attendant had announced my connecting gate, as “Delta-18” hey is that subliminal messaging from Trans States? Where’s FTer Singapore Air to say that she should be saying something pro AA and using an AA pen? ;) The walk was short and I found a bathroom to freshen up a bit it and comb my hair, as I never wear a hat when flying in a Premium cabin so I needed a bit of a comb. I was at a set of three gates with flights to ATL, MSY and LGA all leaving in a bank of flights the conflicting announcements was amusing. It seemed that ATL and MSY were empty but ATL had a full First Class cabin. Two non-reving pilots in full uniform boarded before us and then after two minutes and a UM brought on board they called First Class passengers and I was the first to board:

Gate D18
Seat 3F, First Class
757-200, N708TW
Actual Depart: 5:07 PM
Actual Board: 4:30 PM
Take Off: 13 Minutes After Leaving Gate
Flight Time: 1 Hour 51 Minutes at FL370

I sat down in the large seat with light grays, red and blue squiggles set on a dark gray, a nice scheme if you ask me. I saw the two pilots in 6 E and F and asked them shouldn’t they be in the cockpit, we enjoyed the laugh. Flight Attendants were around quickly to hang jackets and distribute pre-departure beverages and I got my Orange Juice, which surprisingly had pulp in it, usually it doesn’t with AA. Towards the end of boarding maintenance man in full uniform including earplugs and orange vest brought his kid on board who was UMing up to New York. Soon we pushed back and with a bank of MD-80s and the 767 to Gatwick and waited for some WN’s to land before we took off and I finally had a multi-segment trip without a large delay this year. Once airborne the drink cart came by and I got a Diet Coke in a real glass, it tastes so much better in a real glass. My only complaint with this flight was that no nuts or pretzels accompanied the glass but it really wasn’t a problem what so ever. Soon linens and a tray containing a bowl of salad with one baby tomato, organic lettuce, cucumbers, and some weird yellow vegetable I couldn’t place. Next to this was the main course, which had been a choice of cold chicken with pasta or “beef.” Usually I’d take the chicken but a hot meal sounded really good so I took the beef. It was a slab of steak with roasted potatoes and vegetables and some un-named sauce. Hmm the beef tasted like the steak from JFK-LAX and Filet Mignon from Paris trips in Business years ago. I wonder if all airplane beef tastes the same, no matters as this tasted good. We also got a warmed up white roll, oo good, white rolls are the best and a slice of cheese cake with chocolate on top and nuts and caramel. A good cup of coffee and a refill on my Diet Coke made for an enjoyable end to a very nice meal. The service cuts can’t have been that bad if you get a hot meal on a less then two hour flight, at least for now. I passed the rest of the flight reading Celebrated Living (All right Mick Jagger is on the “Premium List for entertainers!”) and drinking waters. With twenty-five minutes to go, just after our initial decent, the two UMes, who weren’t traveling together or related in the slightest were brought up and allowed to sit in Row 1 for landing, hey USAir never did that for me when I UMed with them! Soon we were over Staten Island and the Verazano and then over lower Manhattan with Ground Zero clearly lit up, then Madison Square Garden, Central Park, the Cloisters and then a wide right over Yankee Stadium and co-op city and then a smooth landing next to an inbound US Dash 8 from somewhere close.

Land Time: 4 Minutes before Arrival
Sched Arrival: 8:30 PM
Actual Arrival: 8:20 PM
Gate D3

I hopped into a cab to Grand Central and managed to not get stuck in traffic on the Grand Central, BQE, LIE and Midtown Tunnel, wow thanks road gods! Soon I had my train ticket and was on the 9:40 Local to Rye where I was welcomed home by one family member, why are they always asleep at 10:45?

A flawless trip with four flights with minimal or no delays and no problems larger then a crappy movie made for a great time. I have now been to twenty-seven states and will pick up Louisiana as number twenty-eight next month. Comment all you want. Home       Trip Reports Index       Whine And Cheez Index       Discussion Forums

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