Hi and welcome to the Second Chapter of American Vacation Story!
Heart of Dixie: American Southern Story
This series will cover my annual vacation to the US in summer 2016, which contains 4 journeys in 3 different sets of tickets with 2 alliances.
As per my practice, I will reveal the routing as we go on. The series will be broken down as follows:
Chapter 1 - CX890 HKG-EWR, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here] Chapter 2a - AA1615 EWR-CLT, Boeing B737-800 in Y [You are here!] Chapter 2b - AA5164 CLT-BHM, Bombardier CRJ-200ER in Y [Here] Chapter 3a - DL ATL-ATL, Boeing B767-200 Spirit of Delta in J/Y [Merge into 3b] Chapter 3b - UA5865 ATL-ORD, Embraer E-175 in Y [Here] Chapter 4a - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Flight cancelled and merged to 4b] Chapter 4b - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here]
This is the first part of my flight from Newark to Alabama which I would have a stopover at CLT. This chapter is all about the boring US domestic flights, so there will be my travel bonus of Alabama in the second part of each report.
This chapter started back after I successfully redeemed the CX long-haul J ticket in Aug 2015. Only travel date was confirmed and I was flexible for my itinerary. Doing some googling, my initial draft plan would be the Northwestern:
a. Seattle: 2016 was Boeing’s 100th anniversary and it should have some special events in the Everett Plant. b. Boise ID: at that time Delta in HK started a heavy and weird promotion flying to there as low as USD400 (this place is little known in HK…), which seduced me to travel there to find out why Delta promoted this place in HK. c. Portland: because of Portlandia and the infamous PDX carpet lol
I explored different routing options on Googles Flights to construct a 4-leg AA/AS itinerary from EWR in order to complete 4 CX/partnered flights for my 2016 Marco Polo membership renewal. Of course, things could not be happened so straightforward…
In late Sep 2015, CX announced the changes to the MPC wef Apr 2016 which adopts a BA-like tier points system instead of miles/segments for status qualification. It entirely affected my planned itinerary which was 100% impossible to meet the new MPC renewal requirement. Moreover, from 2016 onwards I began my business travel to the US on *A. Those incidents made me not so keen on keeping the MPC membership and flying to the West Coast at my own cost.
Therefore I scrapped all my initial travel plan and kept looping on the Google Maps to explore other attractive places. Suddenly one day in Mar 2016 I was aware the state shape of Alabama looks kawaii, which encountered me to visit there. At Newark both UA and AA do not have direct flights to Alabama. Even though my UA Sliver status gives me one free checked bag, I opted AA (my favorite livery airline^^) because of the UA’s unfavorable schedule and routing to Alabama.
Newark Liberty International
Previously on last report, I had my OLCI once arrived at my hotel after the HKG-EWR flight and I chose the window seat 20F.
The next day I woke up early and had my breakfast in the hotel.
Then I went to recharge myself. The hotel should be very care about my health as it installed a sprinkler next to the entrance of smoking house lol
I took the hotel shuttle to the airport. I was dropped at Terminal A 2 hours 15 minutes before departure.
I headed to the American counters. Several passengers were queuing but the lane was not long.
Since I needed to pay for my checked baggage I preferred check-in at the counters rather than the kiosk.
About 5 minutes later I was greeted by the agent. I handed my passport and credit card to her. She swiped my card, tagged my baggage to the final destination and handed me my travel items back. My boarding pass.
Still had time after check-in, I went outside for another break.
And then walking around inside the Terminal A. The United counters
Passing through the shopping corridor
So many AA wheelchairs
Time to the A3 security checkpoint.
The FIDS at the TSA entrance. It showed my flight had an 10:29 departure from Gate 36 on time (in the top of the right FIDS).
There was already a line but it was fast where I only waited for 10 minutes
My turn. The TSA staff said good morning and reminded I had to take out all the required items for the scanner check. In return I joked I was a law-abiding passenger. But once entered the scanner I got a "Beep". The humorous TSA staff replied that he knew I was nice and cooperative but please did not forget to take out my phone! Luckily mine is not a Note 7 lol I successfully passed it in the 2nd time.
Once in airside there is only one way to Terminal A3
Retail store airside
The main lobby of Terminal A3. Passengers sat aside and waited
I reached my gate which was not ready for my flight yet
Strolled around the Terminal. The Port Newark and the Manhattan skyline .
Those VX and AS gates.
A VX A320 from SFO
The ceiling lights show the age of EWR
A coffee shop in the central lobby
There are several charging desks in the Terminal
Finally our bird (N934NN) arrived and the agents came to work. Those standbys queued immediately. The FIDS showed that the aircraft would do a turnback to CLT.
What attracted me was the conversations between father and son
Later the father’s colleague came and chatted with the pair.
Thanks to the late arrival of our aircraft, boarding did not start until the original time of departure. It was a mess since the disembarking had not finished and passengers were standing everywhere. I was in group 2 but could not find any boarding lanes.
The fuselage shot
A FA welcomed us at the door
The First-class cabin
The Y cabin
I found my window seat 20F
Later my seatmates came and they are pair of sisters wearing leggings
View from the wing. A B737 to PHX at the adjunct gate. The AA tail was very spectacular^^
Seat pitch is adequate for domestic flight
Although I love AA… livery, it doesn't mean that AA would also love me in return. Aw jeez the margin of my seat was dirty!
The seat back materials.
Today our flight was 100% full. There were 4 FA on this flight. They urged the passengers to settle down quickly for takeoff since a lot of passengers (including me) would have next flight in CLT.
Ironically, we pushed back at 10:53 but then stuck at the tarmac. The captain apologized that our plane had some technical issue and had to delay awhile since some paperwork was doing. Our neighbor to PHX even took off ahead of us.
Safety video was played
We finally taxied again at 11:15
We took off! An AI B77W parked at Terminal B
Nice weather today. My seatmates joined me to photograph the take off.
Once we leveled off, the cabin kept looping the Aadvantage Card promotion.
Time to read those seatback materials. Inflight BOB menu, the Wi-Fi entertainment guide and American Way
Beverage services started when we were over IAD. I apologized for the misleading caused by the picture below lol
I asked for OJ. A pack of snack mix was given, which was a little improvement from my 2015 experience ;)
Elliot Alderson was looking at us!
Soon we were descending.
Eventually we touched down at runway 23 on 12:14 which was still earlier than scheduled arrival time.
We parked next to an AA A321
The FA gave me a very special thanks and goodbye^^
Last view of my bird
I’ll leave off this series here as I started my layover in CLT.
Bonus: Birmingham the Magic City
One of my travel places in Alabama is Birmingham, while all my friends mistakenly thought I went to the UK lol As a former history student, I always like to revisit the city’s past story.
Birmingham is previously one of the industrial and railroad center in the South. Thus I went to the Sloss Furnaces, a former pig iron-producing blast furnace.
After visiting the Sloss Furnaces I desired to walk back to the downtown.
The Rotary Trail
The Railroad Park
I was listening Alabama Shakes in Alabama^^
Vulcan Park and Museum
View of the city from the top of Vulcan Statue aka Iron Man Tower
This picture tells one of my goals with this American Vacation Story^^
Birmingham Civil Rights District
Birmingham City Hall
16th Street Baptist Church
MLK statue in Kelly Ingram Park
Five point south, the neighborhood of my Airbnb stay in Birmingham
Stunning sunrise view from my apartment
English Village and a nice café in that neighborhood
The Japanese Garden in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. You can find a lot of pokestops and gyms there^^
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
The UAB Children Hospital
This is the second part of flight report and thanks for reading! You should probably know where did I fly next…
Newark - EWR
Charlotte - CLT
An uneventful domestic flight on AA. My seat is dirty despite it is comfortable. Standard seat pitch and seat back materials. The crews are friendly. We departed late but fortunately arrived on time. For EWR, the Terminal A is dated but clean. Clearing the TSA is fast in a Saturday morning.
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