As some of you know, the joys of being a new dad have kept me a little busy these past 2 months, so I've fallen behind in posting. After much delay, welcome to the 3rd and last sector in this short series of flights in Domestic First.
For the better part of a decade since I've been on the airline status hamster wheel, the month of December has often meant a last minute mileage run to maintain status or reach a new level. At the end of 2018 I was a little under 10,000 status miles short so, like many previous years, I decided to take a quick day trip to the west coast. The routing this year was not particularly sexy and didn't involve any interesting or new aircraft types–the routing was purely determined on price and destination. I decided I would fly to San Diego, where my spouse was on a business trip, and we would fly home to DC together.
Domestic First class tickets yield at least 2 EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) per mile flown, so a transcontinental itinerary with over 5,000 flown miles would yield enough EQMs to reach the 10,000 I was missing.
The routing was DCA-LAX-SAN-PHX-DCA of which the first 3 segments have reviews…after that, redeye-zombie-mode hit.
After arriving from LAX, I headed to the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego where I met up with my spouse and some good friends from DC who had recently moved to California.
Despite being winter, the temperature was pleasant, in the low 70's, so we enjoyed drinks at a rooftop bar. Gotta love Southern California!
We enjoyed a beautiful West Coast sunset before heading back to the airport to fly home.
I've always liked Southern California. Funny enough, I will soon be moving to San Diego, though I didn't know it at the time!
Being that the airport is so close to downtown, we maximized our time with our friends enjoying the San Diego weather and headed back to the airport at the very last minute.
With no bags to check and mobile boarding passes in hand we got through TSA Pre-check in two minutes and arrived at the gate just in time to be among the last to board.
We were greeted by a super friendly lead Flight Attendant at the door.
Despite cutting it close, we still boarded with enough time to have a pre-departure drink. On this pre-merger US Airways bird with a PMUS PHX-based crew, there was no doubt that PDB's would be served. Though, as I've mentioned in previous reports, PMAA crews have also been very consistent with PDB service lately ?
A round of Gin & Tonics in fancy plastic cups…
Legroom is OK on these PMUS A321s with a pretty standard 38" in First; however, PMAA A321 First is more spacious at 40" (At least for now).
Aside from new black leather seat covers, new bulkheads and carpets, PMUS A321 cabins haven't really changed much since before the merger. There is still no in-seat IFE, despite these birds doing transcons regularly, and there is still no power, which is a real shame in an age when everyone has multiple electronic devices that need charging.
Nevertheless, the seats are comfortable.
We pushed back from the right on time
Taxiing past a United 737 MAX 9–who would have thought that a few months later all MAX would be grounded
We took off towards the Pacific Ocean with a view of Terminal 2
Looking back towards the airport as we begin to make our turn back inland.
As this was a very short flight, the lead FA sprang into action as soon as we reached 10,000 feet bringing drinks to the cabin. Orders had been taken on the ground prior to takeoff.
I had a mimosa, because why not…
Soon after, the friendly lead FA came through the cabin with the snack basket, which is never particularly exciting, but you can't really expect much on a 45 minute flight. Though it would be nice to have more variety and perhaps some healthier options, such as fresh fruit.
I barely had time to finish my drink before we began our descent into Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl Airport
The lights of Phoenix and suburbs glowing in the desert night
We landed and arrived at the gate a few minutes early.
I was at least able to get a shot of our bird on arrival, since we were rushed on departure.
I've never really been a fan of PHX. It's a surprisingly huge for a mid-sized city, owing to the AA (former US) hub.
Distances between concourses is annoyingly long, in my opinion.
Christmas decorations helped to brighten up what is normally a pretty drab airport in the middle of the night, albeit in a tacky way.
As we had about 3 hours between flights we headed to the only Priority Pass lounge at PHX, only to find that it was closed, despite the Priority Pass app information stating it was open until 11PM.
Clearly the information on the app was out of date (it's since been updated).
Also, at this late hour, there were very few restaurants and shops still open in the terminal. You would thing they would stay open until the last departure bank…more negative points for PHX.
It was a loooong 3 hour wait for that redeye back to DC!
Thank you for reading this short report.
It was an OK flight--luckily, it was short. As often with mediocre products, a cabin crew can make of break the experience, and in this case, the cheerful and attentive lead Flight Attendant made the experience pleasant. It is really a shame that in 2019, pre-merger US Airways A321s still don't have in-seat power. On a short flight like this, it's fine, but I've had these birds on 6-hour transcon flights before. With no PTVs and no in-seat power, it's difficult to enjoy the streaming IFE on personal devices on longer flights.
Regarding catering, as I'd mentioned earlier, it would be nice to see more options, and especially healthier options, in the snack basket on these short flights.