After a lovely eight days in Punta Cana, it was time to come home. Though we had high hopes of being upgraded last minute, this same flight had been cancelled the prior two days to our departure due to the massive east coast winter storm. The seat map on AA.com had been half empty only days before; 24 hours ahead of our scheduled departure, every seat in the main cabin was full and only one seat in Business was left. We had such a great trip down in Business; however, I was also happy to try out the main cabin as I've only flown Business in the PMUS A330.
Our chauffeur got us back to the airport about half an hour after we had intended. It was extremely busy as this was the first day the two daily AA flights were going back out to CLT. Many other east coast airports were only just reopening as well, so many passengers were at the airport simply hoping they would get out. We were beyond relieved that we had booked our return for Sunday instead of Saturday!
We got in the Priority check in line and an AA employee was checking her list to make sure everyone in that line was supposed to be in that line! Great job! At check in we learned that our flight from CLT to RIC had been cancelled just that afternoon and that we had been automatically rebooked for Thursday (!!)– four days from then! We knew there wasn't anything the airline could really do…and besides, we saw this coming. Luckily, I had reserved a room and a rental car for our anticipated, impromptu stay in CLT a few days in advance. Our home is only four hours via car from CLT, so the drive isn't that bad.
After quickly getting through immigration, we thought we only had about 45 minutes to browse the duty free and to grab some snacks for the flight…then we saw that the inbound aircraft was delayed about two hours! We thought about paying the $50 to visit the private VIP lounge and asked for a brief tour before buying the membership. Definitely not worth it– only finger sandwiches and limit two complimentary rum drinks. Besides, the free airport Wi-Fi was surprisingly good and there was a nice bar with a sky desk in the concourse.
The SkyDeck…great place to enjoy a drink and a last minute smoke/pack of smokes.
Lots of leisure airliners from all around…
AirBerlin getting ready for departure to Düsseldorf
The crew did a great job of turning the aircraft around and we boarded about 15 minutes ahead of the posted delay schedule.
We pushed off as quickly as the cabin got settled and we all thought we were underway… Unfortunately, the captain then reports that he was having trouble communicating our weight and balance numbers as we were lined up for departure. We then taxied down the runway, made a u-turn, and sat on the tarmac for about 35 minutes until the issue was finally resolved…
Front of our cabin and the really plain PMUS interior…
Looking up the aisle to all the people in Business enjoying a drink :(
But, at least there is a surprisingly good amount of leg room! I'm happily shocked! Though not pictured, I'm actually able to stretch my legs all the way out under the seat in front of me.
After take off it is announced that most of the snacks for sale are not available on this flight as they sold out on the way down to PUJ…
Luckily, they weren't out of vodka and we had bought salads to bring on board. Beverage service started about 25 minutes after takeoff. FA's were simply doing their jobs…no extra smiles and friendliness didn't exactly stand out.
Beverage refreshers were offered to our part of the cabin by a very gruff cook from Business that reminded us that we had to pay the next time the FA for our class of service came by with the credit card machine…
IFE has great and current variety. Finished The Martian which I had started on the trip down. The touch screens in the main cabin were not as sensitive to touch as the ones in Business which lead to a lot of people banging on the screens and clearly disturbing people in the seat in front of them. Quickly learned that the screen is very receptive when you use your fingernail. Also, in what I consider a total design fail, the FA call button is conveniently placed under the screen by the power and volume controls. There were two announcements by FA's making passengers aware of that button and suggesting not to push it unless there was a real need…which prompted some people to press it repetitively…just for fun.
Audio jack and USB port in arm rest:
Found this pop up ad on the IFE kind of fun…just shows that this aircraft is meant for longer haul destinations…
After the movie was over, put the airshow on and enjoyed the rest of my beverage(s).
View towards the back of the cabin
As in typical CLT fashion, immigration, luggage pick up and customs were very fast. We went up to the main ticketing area and got into the Priority customer service line to inquire about maybe rebooking our cancelled flight to RIC a bit sooner. The storm was pretty catastrophic on a transportation and the agent did work quite hard to get us re-booked on a Wednesday morning flight…which was still too late for us and we really didn't want the hassle of being on standby for a flight that takes about 40 minutes takeoff to landing. Since our cancellation was not weather related, we would be entitled to a cash refund for the last leg of the trip–which covered the rental car back to RIC.
Punta Cana - PUJ
Charlotte - CLT
I was actually impressed with the roominess & comfort of our seats and we had a genuinely comfortable trip.
Service wasn't anything to complain about nor praise-- all of the staff, both on the ground and onboard, were working through three days of really bad travel situations, cancellations and delays. Everybody was frustrated and had their best game faces on. We kept smiling and expressing our gratitude and it seems that it came back to us.
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