Hello and welcome to a short new series of Flight-Reports.
Every year we choose a different destination for the U.S. Presidents' day Holiday weekend. In past years we've squeezed far flung destinations in Europe or the Middle East into a long weekend; however, with a busy travel year ahead, this time we decided on Puerto Rico as it's a relatively short flight from the East Coast. Puerto Rico's tourism industry has taken quite a hit since the devastation brought by two Category 5 hurricanes in the fall of 2017, so this felt like one small way of contributing to the recovery. Just a few months after the hurricanes, "La isla del encanto" was as charming as ever and I was impressed by the resilience of the Puerto Rican people I met, many of whom still had no electricity in late February.
Although I believe US Airways may have previously flown DCA-SJU nonstop, there are currently no nonstops with American Airlines so we had to connect through one of AA's East Coast hubs. I specifically routed through PHL on the outbound flight for the A330–I love that AA frequently flies widebodies domestically and to the Caribbean.
There will be two reports in this series. The shorter flights will not be reported, though I will have a short section on the DCA-PHL flight in this report.
It almost looks like the Bermuda Triangle doesn't it?
Flight AA1645 DCA-PHL
The day started out early in the morning at DCA for a 6:30 AM flight. Routing through Philly to catch the A330 down to San Juan meant an early departure, which worked out perfectly as it would get us into SJU early enough to have some exploring and beach time that day.
Our A320 for this short 45 minute hop to PHL
As usual on LUS (Legacy US Airways) metal, PDBs were served. I had a coffee and Baileys–a healthy breakfast drink ^^
The LUS Airbus narrowbody fleet cabins have recently been updated to the post-merger new American grey
We pushed back a few minutes early and were treated to some nice views of DC in the early morning light.
We took off heading north and then headed Northeast with view of the entire city
The Chesapeake Bay and Chesapeake Bay bridge
For a short 45 minute flight, the service was very attentive with the cheerful cabin crew managing several refills and passes of the snack basket.
View of the seats upon deplaning.
Boarding - AA2028 PHL-SJU
The connection in PHL was only scheduled at 35 minutes; however, as we arrived about 15 minutes early, we had plenty of time to get from Terminal B to Terminal A-West
And here is our ride to San Juan–N285AY, an 8-year old A330-200
Boarding had already begun when we arrived at the gate–we were able to board immediately through the Priority lane.
From the back, the Business cabin still look a lot like it did in the US Airways Envoy class days…
However, the seat upholstery has been updated to the post-merger AA colour palette.
US Airways was the first airline to introduce the, now common, Zodiac Cirrus reverse-herringbone Business class seats. Though the seats are beginning to look a bit outdated compared to newer versions they are still plenty comfortable and spacious.
There is ample legroom, though the ottomans are a bit smaller than those found in the Cirrus seats on AA's B777-300ER fleet due to the narrower fuselage of the A330.
A friendly flight attendant introduced herself just as soon as I was settled in and offered pre-departure beverages.
As is the standard for domestic flight, my sparkling wine was served in a plastic cup. Fancy 🧐
Let's explore the features of the seat.
Off to the side we have a reading light, headphone jack, USB port, universal power outlet, and the IFE remote control.
The seat controls are found to the side.
Just underneath we find the tray table stowage.
In my opinion, these new grey bulkheads, though plain, have an overall cleaner look than the previous faux-wood US Airways bulkheads.
Boarding was quick and we pushed back 2 minutes early
The safety video played as we pushed back
I love how 757s look in the new AA livery
Taxi was quick at this hour of the morning and we were off
Nice views of Philly on a beautiful clear day
The IFE screen is on the small side on the A330
But the content is the same as on other aircraft.
For airshow geeks, the moving map isn't the most updated version but still decent
Flying over the southern tip of New Jersey
Wildwood and Cape May, NJ
The service began shortly after takeoff with drinks. I had a mimosa as it was brunch time.
There were two hot options for breakfast, stealcut oatmeal or biscuits topped with scrambled eggs and chorizo gravy. I went for the latter and it was quite tasty–an interesting spicy play on traditional Southern biscuits and gravy.
The flight attendant working our side was very friendly and attentive–she was in the cabin regularly checking on passengers and offering drink refills
After breakfast I started watching a movie and took a quick nap. When I awoke, we were almost in San Juan.
Blue tropical waters below
First sight of land
The cabin prior to landing
I always enjoy flying in and out of the Caribbean for the beautiful water.
I never realised San Juan was so spread out.
It just goes on and on
With our early departure from PHL we landed early
It's always nice to arrive early when only visiting for a weekend! More time to enjoy this beautiful island.
Thanks for reading!
Philadelphia - PHL
San Juan - SJU
A widebody with lie-flat seats and aisle-access on a 3 hour domestic flight is about as good as it gets for short-haul. The cabin crew were very friendly and attentive. The IFE was decent with good content, though the screen is on the small size. Catering was good for a breakfast flight, which is never super exciting; I enjoyed the biscuits and gravy. Overall, a very nice experience up front for a 3 hour domestic flight.
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