Review of American Airlines flight Charlotte Washington in Economy

Airline American Airlines
Flight AA5317
Class Economy
Seat 13A
Flight time 01:21
Take-off 07 Jun 20, 09:15
Arrival at 07 Jun 20, 10:36
AA   #53 out of 115 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 464 reviews
juddsol
By SILVER 529
Published on 19th June 2020

Routing


**Please excuse any comments that I repeat from my earlier leg CAE-CLT; it was done out of laziness**


This will be my 2nd flight since January and thus since COVID-19 consumed our lives. I have avoided air travel even while traveling via car a good bit for work but not any more. I have a early Monday meeting in VA and didn't want to make the long drive from my in-laws so I decided to fly on American from CAE-CLT-IAD. I live in Charlotte but was visiting my in-laws the weekend of my trip. 

I hope I did an adequate job describing my experience flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sit back, fasten your seat belts, wear your mask and lets travel!


Flight Info


Airline: American Airlines (AA)
Aircraft: CRJ 900
Registration: N564NN
Delivered: 2015
Route: CLT-IAD
Flight Number: AA5317
Seat: 13A
Departure Gate: E17
Departure Runway: 36R
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:15
Actual Departure Time: 9:22
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:36
Actual Arrival Time: 10:20
Landing Runway: 1R
Arrival Gate: B73
Scheduled Flight Time: 1 Hour 21 Minutes
Actual Flight Time:  1 Hour 2 Minutes


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Check In


I checked in around 23 hours prior to departure via the AA app. The process was easy and included an extra bit on how to stay safe during your travels and the regulations on face masks. From the seat map, it appeared that the flight would have around 10-15 passengers but its hard to tell with American *blocking seats*. I was expecting a light load for an early Sunday flight. I had the option to pay for certain seats but given the blocking of seats, expected light load, and duration of flight I decided just to opt for a free seat. I had already used all of my $200 airline credit via my American Express Platinum card so any paid seat assignment would come out of pocket.

All in all the process took less than a minute and in no time I had both my boarding passes.


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Transfer


First thing I noticed, was how empty the tarmac was. Typically, at CLT, plans are lined up on all available taxi ways but not today and not during COVID-19.  I landed at the E gates (the regional wing of CLT). American operates out of B,C,D and E with mainline jets at B,C and D. Lufthansa operates out of D and all other airlines out of A. I had a short work through a very crowded E concourse. I would venture to guess regional flights were still fairly full. It was hard to social distance in such a small concourse.  I had a few moments to kill so I walked around a bit. I hold an AMEX Platinum card but due to COVID-19 the new Centurion club was closed.



Much like CAE, CLT was not set up with social distancing markers. I did see some hand sanitizer stations but they were not as available as you expect. Again, I'm very disappointed in this. Are all US airports like this?????

Some escalators were closed to "conserve energy" but all this did was force more people onto the same escalator. As passenger numbers continue to grow, airports must adapt to ensure everyone can keep proper distance. I would vote for CLT to increase its power bill to allow folks to space out a bit more when using escalators.


Boarding


At 8:44, we began boarding by zone as was done pre-COVID. I was zone 6 and it took just a few moments to reach that zone as this flight would have a very low load factor. Boarding was done quickly and we pushed back a minute early.


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Seat


The bird was clean enough. It had just flown in from Savannah not an hour prior. The width of the seat and leg room was standard. 31" of pitch in Main Cabin. It was fine for a short flight but would have been tough on a 2+ hour flight. American does use CRJ900s on flights to the Midwest (yuck!). Each pair of seats does sport a universal plug with USB.

Only 20 people on this flight so everyone had a row to themselves. I know this was more luck of the draw than by design. In any event, I was thankful for the extra space. 


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IFE


American has equipped its CRJ900s with WIFI, however, I did not connect. The seatback contained a safety card, magazine and sick bag. I was a bit put off by the appearance of a magazine. Please forgive me for not wanting to touch it to get a cover picture.


Food/Beverage


This short sector typical does include a drink service so from this perspective a change was noticeable. It's my understanding that beverages would be available upon request. In order to be as courteous and as safe as possible I did not test this theory with the flight attendants.


In-flight/Landing


The boarding door was closed at 9:10 and we pushed back a minute early at 9:14. We cruised at 28,000ft. Everything else was standard. Very few bumps. All in all a standard hour long flight-minus the drink service.

Dulles was empty!!! I mean super empty. Maybe 15 plans at gates with many more stored on the taxiways. I've seen airports in one horse towns busier! While CLT seemed busy (not normal busy) but busy, Dulles was dead!



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Verdict

American Airlines

6.4/10
Cabin6.5
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering5.0

Charlotte - CLT

6.4/10
Efficiency6.0
Access6.5
Services7.0
Cleanliness6.0

Washington - IAD

7.0/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

Wow, what a stark comparison to my CAE-CLT leg. I really experienced what it was like to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Honestly, my take away is only travel if you have to. I have cancelled two more trips for June and July due to what I experienced on this trip. I look forward to flying again and hopefully soon.

Until then, stay safe.

Information on the route Charlotte (CLT) Washington (IAD)

1 Comments

  • Comment 557497 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5319 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this next leg in the series. A sharp contrast from the first flight, indeed. It just goes to show you never know if you'll have an empty or full flight and not to expect empty flights...especially as I'm hearing AA load factors are back around 80% for many hubs.

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