Minneapolis, MN - Washington, DC (MSP - IAD) | United Express (Mesa) | E175 [Coming Soon]
Having arrived nearly 40 minutes before scheduled time from Ithaca, I had over four hours until boarding for the flight to Minneapolis was due to begin boarding. Even though both my arrival and departure gates were in United Express's Terminal A operation that afternoon, I took the shuttle bus over to Terminal C since that's a much more interesting place to kill a few hours.
To catch the shuttle bus from Terminal A, you first head through an old (current?) emergency exit door down a set of stairs to a recently expanded holding area. I say recently expanded because it clearly used to be an absolutely tiny space. From there, you board a bus which then stops first at the high Terminal B gates, then continues to Terminal C.
Once reaching Terminal C, it was clear that the shuttle bus holding area expansion was underway on this side of the route as well. The four bus parking stands took gate 71 out of commission, although it appears as though the work is now finished. After exiting the bus onto the ramp, everyone makes their way up an aircraft boarding ramp into the gate 71 jetway with some pretty solid views of whatever is parked at gate 73 – on this afternoon a United 757 boarding for Lima.
My thoughts on Nerwark's Terminal C can be found in an earlier report in this series, linked again here. To sum it up, United is trying to cultivate Newark as a premium operation in the New York area – so everything is high end and pretty expensive.
About an hour prior to boarding, I figured it was time to mosey on back to Terminal A. Getting the shuttle bus from Terminal C was a much nicer experience than from Terminal A, as you get to wait in the gate 71 gate area before being allowed down the jetway and boarding ramp to board the bus. The late-afternoon light made the 757 view even nicer this time around – now the 757 was one from the transcon fleet getting prepped for a flight back to California.
At this point in the evening, Terminal B was full of Europe-bound flights.
After going back up the same stairs and through the same emergency exit as earlier in the day, I quickly made it to gate 25A as our E170 was pulling in after a flight up from DCA. One positive about United's Terminal A operations is that there's plenty of seating in the gate areas – I was able to get a seat with a decent view.
Air India 787, arriving from AMD via LHR.
UA 777, DL MD-88 and a certain private 767 departing from 22L.
Boarding was called right on schedule, 30 minutes prior scheduled departure. I boarded near the beginning of Zone 3 and quickly found my seat in row 23. This E170 still had the older style (more padding) seat.
The seat pitch was average, which for me is to say my knees were nearly touching the seatback in front of me. However, this older-style seat had a metal bar across the top of the literature pocket that did rest against my knees which made things a bit less comfortable than they could have been.
Boarding was completed quickly despite the full passenger load. By the time we pushed back, nearly all the evening light had gone from the sky.
Even though we were departing Newark in the evening, there was hardly any queue for departure. After an old-colors Alaska 737 departed, we lined up on 22R.
We soon reached our cruising altitude – as it was both pitch dark and cloudy, I didn't even bother attempting any pictures. The clouds cleared while cruising over central New York. First, Rochester, NY, then Toronto.
After passing Toronto, the service cart made it back to my row near the rear of the cabin. Even though this was an evening departure, the snack offering was Stroopwafels – I got one of those and a coffee.
Unfortunately, the coffee wasn't hot enough to make a difference to the Stroopwafel. One of these times I'll get that right.
This flight offered Go-Go Wi-Fi service for paying customers, and also had streaming IFE available. Wi-Fi pricing seemed reasonable for this 2.5 hour flight, but I can't speak to the quality of the service. The streaming IFE worked great, and seemed to offer a decent selection of titles.
Later on in the flight, the crew came through the cabin again offering beverage refills. Unfortunately, I think I caught the bottom of the coffee pot, as this second cup turned out pretty chewy.
We started descent over Wisconsin about two hours after departure.
Passing over Hudson, Wisconsin. Just above the center of the frame you can make out the new bridge crossing the St Croix river just south of Stillwater, MN.
Landing on runway 30R.
To my surprise, our arrival gate this evening was C3, which I had thought was purely a Delta gate. There are a handful of non-branded gates further down the C concourse sometimes used by American (I think C10 / 11) that lack any airline branding on the gate podiums. C3, however, was full-blown Delta branding. I suppose all the Concourse E gates were full on this post-Thanksgiving Friday evening.
Our E170 seemingly out of place at C3. There was also an American 737 over on C10 / 11.
Even though it wasn't all that cold for Minnesota – right around freezing – the side walk warming huts were in full winter mode.
Newark - EWR
Minneapolis - MSP
Overall, this flight was a pretty pleasant experience from United and Republic. Newark airport continues to be a mixed bag for me personally but was fine on this perfect weather day with a reduced flight schedule.
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