Our home airport of RIC has really seen some great development over the past several years. Not only has RIC expanded its capacity, but it is really visually appealing facility for a provincial airport. We have good connections on all the legacy carriers to the hub cities along with seasonal and year-round service to tourist destinations, such as Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Cancun. We court Air Canada Jazz once every few years and they move in with service direct to YYZ a few times a week…and then they always suspend due to low ridership. Then they'll come back…and then they'll go again.
Richmond will be hosting the UCI International Road Cycling Event in September of 2015 so our region is undergoing massive infrastructure improvements–the city is full of Detours and Road Closures which is frustrating for now but great for our future. Though I still believe we do not have enough hotel rooms for the event, our airport is on point ready to welcome the expected 100,000 international guests.
This evening's departure board…as you can see, not bad for a provincial airport. Check in and security are always extremely swift.
After a rather uneventful journey through Priority Access Security, I stopped by one of the three bars in the concourse for a quick drink. Sorry for the lack of pictures of the concourse–this trip was rather last minute so I was using any downtime I had to wrap up any final work items I had on my agenda.
The 17:30 UA departure to ORD was delayed until 18:15 and our flight's departure time was 18:30. All of the standbys from the 17:30 comfortably fit into our 18:30 departure…and good for them, it ended up not really being much of a delay!
Our Flying School Bus…errr Embraer arrived just in time from ORD for a quick turnaround for her return flight. Boarding was about five minutes late–but we made that time up without any problems.
I got the single seat on the left side of the aircraft in the exit row.
So…my legroom was pretty decant…
Now, I had been really struggling to love these UA Express Embraers that are flown to Houston and Chicago…when I call them Flying School Busses, I mean it rather affectionately. However, United's contractors really need to focus on maintaining the cabins. Across the aisle from me, the tray table was duct taped secure for who knows what kind of reason. How tacky is that?
From looking at the tape, it wasn't a quick, temporary fix.
This cabin was in horrible shape–very dirty and lacking some love. Public transport was cleaner than this cabin…and the filth was clearly not just one busy day's worth.
One redeeming thing about this flight was our wonderful FA. Once everyone was boarded, she went to the intercom to welcome us and to give some general boarding information. She actually asked the cabin to vote if we would rather fly to Cancun instead of Chicago. When nobody really responded, she followed up with a vote to fly to Nassau. I raised my hand to both proposals and got a great laugh out of it. She then came back to our Exit row to give us the standard Exit Row speech and chatted for a while afterwards. She asked where I was traveling to and she turned out to be from Brazil. Our conversation lasted for about five minutes–really made me feel welcomed and valued on the flight.
After a slightly delayed takeoff, our FA started the drink service. I ordered my Vodka on rocks and, knowing I'd have to pay, had my credit card ready. Our FA told me that she would come back to collect payment…which never happened :) I was sure to thank her for her service upon arrival in Chicago.
As most of you can attest to, the descent into ORD from westbound flights is wonderful. After traversing land for so long, Lake Michigan appears and you really have the feeling of crossing an ocean into a new country. Then the Chicago skyline appears–I think its one of those special things that passionate travelers can appreciate. I studied for two years at the Univ of Wisconsin–when flying back to Wisconsin from the East Coast, crossing the lake marked for me the return to a culture of hearty, friendly and down-to-earth people…something extremely different from the part of the U.S. I was raised in. I think for all of us the approach to every airport evokes specific and very special personal feelings.
After landing in Chicago, I had enough time for a nice, leisurely stroll to my connecting flight to Sao Paulo.
United Express (Trans States)
Richmond - RIC
Chicago - ORD
RIC airport is great--I wish we had a club, but that wish is only a dream!
United should be embarrassed of the equipment that is being used with their United Express brand--it was really filthy.
Luckily, a high level of service and an extremely warm and friendly FA made up for the equipment.
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