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Thread: Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13, CO9256/1619 15 Aug

  1. #1
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    Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13, CO9256/1619 15 Aug

    While we all know fares are going up (as well they should), they still appear to be all over the place. While I love CO, even over AA, the thought of getting up at 3:30AM to drive to EWR for a 6:40AM flight still does not appeal to me-especially when I don't go to sleep until my little princess gets home and she was out until midnight the night before! However a buck is a buck and CO priced out almost $350 less than AA on a MIA r/t, so up at the ungodly hour I was.

    The drive was not terrible. Listened to some news, and there was virtually no traffic. I was able to avoid the closures on the highways by going a slightly longer way, so I did arrive at EWR just about 90 minutes from the time I left the house. I parked on the rooftop and proceeded to security, which even at 5:30AM was quite busy. The elite/first line was empty, however, and I appeared to wake up the TSA agent on that side.

    Through security and onto the Presidents Club, which was also semi crowded. I had the requisite toasted bagel and cream cheese with juice and coffee, and made my way to the gate, which of course was the farthest from anywhere (C137). No boarding yet, but they were clearing standby passengers. Finally they began boarding, and I was on and settled in my seat-2F. I will note the F/A's on this one seemed a little distracted, but predeparture beverages were served and just as well, as you will note later.

    We departed about 4 minutes early, and there was almost no line for takeoff, although we held near the terminal for a runway change (which probably helped us). Once airborne, it was slightly bumpy, but the flight attendants remained seated for over an hour-the first hint of service was one hour 20 minutes (who's counting) from liftoff! No explanation, no announcement from the captain that he'd like the flight attendants to remain seated, they just started late.

    Once they did begin it was standard CO first class service--hot towel, breakfast snack consisting of fruit, yogurt and a hot croissant and beverage of choice. The F/A's were just a little short of friendly, but I guess everyone can have a bad day. I tend to give lots of leeway on super early flights.

    Back to my book, which brought back memories of my dad (Assisted Loving-True Tales of Double Dating with my Dad)--anyone with a single parent in Florida should read it! Before we knew it we are on approach and on the ground-hit the gate about 5 minutes early.

    Off to Avis to pick up the rental car, and right away the same problem with Miami--a crappy car with over 20K miles. My profile states low mileage only ( I have had mechanical issues with some high mile cars which included bad brakes so I just won't take cars with more than 15K). I go back and ask for the manager, and the best they can do is another Chrysler 300 with 16K miles. I decide to cut my losses, but the car is filthy inside, the dashboard rattles and the engine already has a valve tap. I would let it go if it were a one day rental in and out, but for 2 plus days, I gotta say something.

    Return to follow--believe it or not I am taking the B-1900 again to TPA and then TPA - EWR on a flight which is almost always late...stay tuned.
    It's the fares, stupid

  2. #2
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    Re: Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13 Aug plus an Avis story

    Oh <deity>...I've taken that CO flight from MIA to TPA on a Beech 1900...it's horrific...good luck...

  3. #3
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    Re: Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13 Aug plus an Avis story

    Art here's the phone number to Avis's SVP of North American Operations if you wish to speak to him, 1-973-496-2932. I'm stuck with Avis because my company uses them but after my last ordeal in LA he got a phone call.

    The MIA Avis station is horrible....they gave me a Saturn Ion..after I rented a full size, went back to the counter to ask for the car I rented and was told in their exact words.."That's what we have take it or leave it." Needless to say a rather robust discussion took place and I got a Caddy which I drove in 2nd gear most of the time during that trip.

    I've nicked named the Avis First program Avis Second.

  4. #4
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    Re: Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13 Aug plus an Avis story

    95 pct of my car rentals in the last 5 years have been with Avis and 75 pct of those have been either TPA or MCO, always gotten great service especially at check in, many agents remember and reconize me and almost always got a better car class than I reserved. Have to remember to try somebody else if I need to rent in MIA. Have a nice flight home Art, you are missed at you know where.

    LGA777

  5. #5
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    CO 9256/1619 15 August--the return! A delay but a Good Time

    I had things timed pretty well for my part of the day--customer appointment with lunch half an hour from MIA, no traffic back to the airport, even had time to fill the tank on the piece of garbage which had been rented to me, and then back to the terminal to print my boarding passes (did on line checkin which works!). Then off to Concourse G.

    Concourse G is probably one of the most deserted in MIA and the oldest by appearance. It was empty except Bahamasair and Gulfstream. I heard that when CO moved to H, MIA refused to allow Gulfstream to follow, which must make connections difficult. In either case, I was the ONLY one going through security, so set a speed record for that part and off to a crowded gate.

    Gulfstream flies B-1900's, and it looked like they had a few plane loads worth of people there. Turns out the 12-something TPA flight had a mechanical and was still there showing an estimated departure time of 7:30! My 4:10 was obviously oversold (holds 19 on a cold day), but was on time. At boarding a group of people gave boarding passes, walked down the stairs and were pointed to the furthest airplane from the door--one in Gulfstream colors, no CO! On board, in the exit row (which means nothing on a Beech), I noticed the seatback in front of me was broken, actually resulting in my having LESS room. I was debating if it was a safety issue, but since it did not obstruct the exit hatch, I left it alone.

    The airplane was HOT inside-the external AC was not working and even after engine start, the blowers were blowing warm air. Finally with all on board, we started engines and taxied out to 8R. This time the pilots were friendly, and they left the "door" to the flight deck open. There was weather fast approaching MIA from the north and west, but there was a pocket of clear. I wish I had my camera on climbout because I would have had great photos of thunderstorms from the air.

    Early arrival in TPA, by 5 minutes, up the stairs and I noticed that the 5PM EWR flight is still at the gate. EWR was already in heavy ATC delay mode due to weather (it was ROUGH there last night). I used the CO PDA tool to check the flight and noticed that F was full and there were 3 middle seats available. I asked the agent, who confirmed that but offered me one of the seats, and I politely declined, saying 30 minutes in a middle is okay but not 3 hours. He smiled and said he understands, and I said thank you and got out of the way. Turns out lucky I made that choice because the flight pushed back at 6:10 and sat at the end of the runway for 2 hours before being allowed to take off!

    My flight was scheduled out of the next gate, so I asked about the status of the inbound, which was delayed coming from IAH. The agent told me expected ETA, and I brought up the flight on Flightaware on my Blackberry and showed him the map progress. We got to talking about a number of things, including CO's excellent PDA site--which gives you standby, upgrade standby, and tail numbers of the airplanes on flights as well as where the inbound aircraft is coming from (which I find amusing since CO uses SHARES too and US EMPLOYEES couldn't tell you where an inbound was coming from until a month or two ago).

    The flight arrived, and of course we were subjected to the same ATC delays as the previous flight, however we did not board until 8:45. Having been through the outstation delay scenarios many times before, I noticed that something was different here--there were concerned customers but none of the gate rants and poor behavior of customers dealing with delays. It could be luck but the previous flight had no issues either with people behaving badly. I think it has alot to do with CO employees being very upfront and providing updates and accurate information to the best of their ability on a REGULAR basis. These folks are updated by ops every few minutes and pass along details immediately when something changes. They are given the TOOLS with which to do their jobs--now there's a concept. The agents I spoke to seemed to enjoy their jobs and it showed in their dealings with customers.

    Once boarded, I had a cocktail before departure, and chatted with my seat mate for a few minutes. I had been joking around a little with another customer on the boarding line as we were ridiculing some people quietly who tried to cut in front when boarding was announced (not a unique thing to US I guess), but he was seated 2 rows behind. I did tell him I'd buy him a drink though, and we all had a laugh.

    We pushed right when they said we would but again the captain provided up to date information, and provided changes to the wheels up time as appropriate. We sat at the end of the terminal taxiway for about 20 minutes, then began a long taxi (there had been a runway change and I guess this was a good way to kill some time). Picture going from A gates north, then over to the west side of the airport for a 18R departure for those who know.

    Once in the air, it was CO hospitality at its best. Drink and dinner orders (I had the lasagna, which came with soup and salad, and was quite good (also I noticed somewhat larger portions in F meals lately?). The flight attendants were friendly and efficient, and worked together as a team very well. Again it was clear this was a crew who enjoyed their jobs, and it showed.

    I was able to sleep for a few minutes and finally we began our descent into the NY area, passing directly over PHL (I thought to myself how lucky I was I don't have to deal with that airport any more).
    We arrived on 4R and taxied right in to C82, off the plane, and to my car (for once I arrived at a gate which was close to the parking lot side I used). Paid the parking fee, and again I missed the exit for the turnpike south and wound up on 1-9 south to the local road which ends at the Goethals Bridge (which I did without using my nav system).

    So while there was a significant delay, and the potential for any number of nightmares, it wound up being a pleasant experience with a few laughs, and I now have a new gate agent friend in TPA. It's amazing how smoothly things can go when the employees have proper tools....
    It's the fares, stupid

  6. #6
    Senior Member MarkLawrence's Avatar
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    Re: Back to CO--CO 338 EWR-MIA 13, CO9256/1619 15 Aug

    Great report Art! Friends like that (at gates) are always good to know! :) Pity about the Avis episode - I've been a Hertz Gold member for 5 years now and have had nothing but incredible service - but YMMV depending on who/what/where, etc.
    Mark Lawrence - KFLL
    Davie, FL

    Community Manager NYCAviation.com
    email: [email protected]

    http://www.jetphotos.net/showphotos.php?userid=1538
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