Minneapolis, MN - Washington, DC (MSP - IAD) | United Express (Mesa) | E175 [Coming Soon]
After a few days in Ithaca, it was time to head out for my next leg of travel, up to Minneapolis, MN. I mentioned this in the previous part of this series, but I'll mention it again here: since I was traveling on the Friday immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, there were very, very few flights available. In fact, my United itinerary that day was on the day's only flight from Ithaca to Newark, and the day's only flight from Newark to Minneapolis (on United at least). Ithaca had four total departures (United and American with only one each), significantly reduced from the nine regularly scheduled across the three carriers.
The anemic post-holiday departure board.
A couple of shots from the main pre-security area – the terminal was practically empty because of the lack of inbound flights. Security was a very relaxed affair as is typical of smaller regional airports.
Our E145XR for this afternoon jaunt down to the NYC area – N14171 came in just about 24 hours before.
The United boarding area in Ithaca – no need for the typical United boarding line separators here. Also, the desk for door 6 hosts a Keurig machine, the pods / cups for which are sold by the pre-security cafe.
Exactly 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure time boarding began. Like every Ithaca departure I've had in recent memory, the first few boarding groups were called in quick succession, followed by "now boarding all-zones all-rows." No overhead bin space to fight for on the E145.
Back a few years ago when Delta was the only regional jet operator (American and United used Dash-8s for a number of years), Delta used Ithaca's single jetway at gate 2. Now that all three carriers are using regional jets, American typically uses gate 2. The local government recently approved the purchase of a second jetway to go at the currently unused gate 3, but it has yet to be installed as of April 2018. On this beautiful late-fall afternoon however, I was glad for the short walk across the tarmac to the plane.
One thing I noticed on the tarmac was that the parking position had been recently re-striped for basically every aircraft that flies for United Express: CRJ-200/700, E145/170/175, and Dash-8 200/300. I know it was more of a "well, we're already re-striping, might as well measure for everything" sort of decision, but it was still pretty cool to see "E175" in Ithaca.
After placing my valet-tagged carry-on bag on the baggage cart, I climbed aboard. I made my way to the back of the cabin to seat 23A – unfortunately, the overhead bins near my row were already full (there goes my theory on not having to fight for overhead space), so my backpack had to go in it's more typical spot below the seat. Legroom, however, was still adequate, and of course, having both a window and aisle seat in one is hard to beat.
The view from 23A. The flight crew announced before push back our expected flight time, just 32 minutes wheels-up to wheels-down that afternoon.
Even with a completely full flight, we pushed back 10 minutes early. I suspect that early departure was also helped by the much-reduced amount of traffic heading for the NYC that afternoon and the perfect weather. A good view of Ithaca tower.
After disconnecting from the tug and powering up both engines, we spun out to the right. The pre-security cafe area is to the left side of the winglet (it has some nice views of the apron and runway), while the post-security area is to the right. The terminal is tiny compared to more major airports of course, but it fits the bill quite nicely for a regional airport in my opinion.
Heading for runway 14. The SkyWest CRJ-200 would soon be operating a Delta flight over to Detroit.
With no other traffic to wait for, we rolled straight onto runway 14 and departed.
Even though it was well past the peak of fall foliage, the hills of the Finger Lakes region and the Southern Tier were quite picturesque.
Just a few minutes after takeoff, we reached our cruising altitude of 19,000 feet. Again, to my surprise, the flight attendant made a quick service run offering a pack of pretzels and a water. It may have offered zero choice, but I was still very impressed that a run was done (and completed) on this fully-booked 32-minute flight.
As I got my pretzel pack, I noticed that we had just begun our descent over the Catskill Mountains.
Passing by Stewart / New York International Airport (KSWF) about 15 minutes prior to landing – it's the airport in front of the wing. It's about 65 road miles (~100km) from Manhattan and has several transatlantic routes via Norwegian and their 737s.
While the single Flight Attendant was hurriedly collecting any trash from the service run, we closed in on New York.
On final for 22L at Newark. Quite a nice view of New York on this beautiful afternoon.
Landing at Newark. Parked on a remote ramp on the east side of 22L was a trio of Jet2 757s.
A smooth landing followed exactly 32 minutes of flight time. Our arrival gate was over in Terminal A, a terminal at Newark that I had yet to experience.
Taxiing towards Terminal A revealed that United wasn't the only carrier to reduce their schedules around the holiday. Dozens of aircraft, from a brand-new El Al 787-9 to several United E145s were occupying remote parking near Terminal A.
We arrived at gate A25 nearly 35 minutes before scheduled time leaving me with over four hours until my flight up to MSP. In the next part, I'll cover my flight up to Minneapolis along with Newark Terminals A and C.
United Express (CommutAir)
Ithaca - ITH
Newark - EWR
CommutAir's crew impressed again on this short flight, managing to fit in a snack and water run on just a 32-minute flight. This relatively uneventful regional-jet flight was a quite a good start to the second leg of my trip.
Ithaca Airport is about as convenient as an airport can possibly get. Short lines and gates steps from the curb.
Newark airport is still a bit of a mixed bag for me. Terminal A was considerably more cramped-feeling than Terminal C, and the shuttle bus operation between the terminals is far from ideal.
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