The airline with the best average rating is American Airlines with 7.2/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 22 minutes.More information
**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!
Airline: American Airlines (AA)
Aircraft: CRJ 900
Flight Number: AA5317
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.