View Full Version : Trip Report: FL 31 26 April SAV/ATL, FL 358 26 April ATL/LGA

Art at ISP
04-27-2008, 12:05 PM
As it turns out, the conference I was attending ended earlier on Saturday afternoon than originally thought--so I was able to change my return flights from Sunday morning to Saturday evening--I recounted that experience on the previous thread. As I had said there, all they had available was their "business class" for the return, but it turned out to be relatively cost neutral, so I did it.

I drove from Hilton Head to Savannah in just under an hour, filled the rental car and returned it--SAV is such a nice little airport...went to the kiosk to print my boarding passes, having checked in on line from the hotel, and stopped to ask the check in agent a question regarding ATL ground stops which showed on the FAA page. She was not aware of any issues, so off I went through security, getting through in about 90 seconds (quiet day at SAV).

They do have a club at SAV, but it is a courtesy of the airport, and not run by any airline. They admit members of all the airline clubs whose line serves SAV, PLUS the Amex Platinum card. It's a tiny club room but it is nice, and the attendant is very pleasant. Unfortunately what it was not during my visit was quiet--there was a group of 4 men traveling to Houston who were whooping it up, and keeping the bartender hopping (bartender is from the public bar adjacent, and serves through a service window). Somehow I got involved in the laughter, and they tried to buy me a drink but I passed.....and it got quiet once they left. It was funny though....

Like a good passenger I headed off to the gate and discovered the flight would be delayed-no reason given. It was at this point I discovered that the gate agents are not employed by Airtrash at all, but by the airport--so they contract out ALL ground handling at SAV, including customer service...I believe that's a first for me. The lady was, however, very sharp, and very good at using SABRE (yes Airtran actually uses SABRE!). I made a pleasant inquiry about connections and she said they had moved the flight's arrival gate at ATL to the same concourse as most of the connections so we would all be okay. I shared Flight Tracker data with her, and she said she uses it too....and that SABRE has a tracker as well.

I will say they appeared well prepared for a delayed flight--the agent mentioned they would use a process called "Last Off First On" meaning that boarding would begin IMMEDIATELY after the last passenger got off the plane. She began to line up Zones 1-3 and as soon as the last wheel chair was off we began to board. She had also mentioned to people that it would be good if they took their books and other required materials out of the baggage before boarding as it would enable them to get out of the aisles faster...

In contrast to the first flight the day before, this crew was relatively attentive, even during boarding. I have come to the conclusion that Airtran does not hang coats (maybe they don't have hangars), because it was 0 for 3 on that amenity, but this crew managed predeparture beverages despite being delayed.

We wound up departing 42 minutes behind schedule, but it was a straight shot out to the runway, and then we were on our way. The flight was uneventful, yet they managed a full beverage service in both cabins with only 40 minutes air time....and before we knew it we were on the approach to ATL. Once on the ground, we had a relatively short taxi to the gate, and arrived at the gate only 27 minutes behind schedule..I am almost sure they pad the schedules like US, but they do try to be off the gate 10 minutes before scheduled departure, which I am sure helps too--to the dismay of late arriving passengers.

Having arrived at C3, I made my way to C21 for the LGA connection. The inbound had just arrived, and the gate area was full of people making this flight. You could tell this flight was going to NY--a mix of urban characters and "beautiful people" at the gate.

Around 40 minutes prior to sched, they began boarding. This flight was FULL. Boarding was uneventful, a predeparture beverage was offered and accepted, and again, we were pushing back about 7 minutes ahead of scheduled departure. ATL wasn't too busy for a Saturday night, so we taxied out to 27R and were in the air within 10 minutes of pushback. It was somewhat unusual for a NY bound flight to use 27R for departure--they usually have northbounds depart from the 26's because they are on the north side of the airport. In any case off we went.......

We had climbed all the way to cruising altitude before the flight attendants even began to think about service--as with the outbound flight, they chose to have their little conference in the galley for about 25 minutes before thinking of taking care of passengers. They must have figured they had the time, since it was 1h41m scheduled. In this case, however, it got pretty turbulent in the midst of the service and the seat belt sign came on for quite a while--and at one point I thought the captain would seat the flight attendants, but that did not happen.

Once the service was done, they DID make a second pass through the Biz cabin, and this time I got to see what was in the snack basket--it was similar to US but with only a couple of choices--granola bars, potato chips and 2 types of cookie.

We began our descent a little early, I guess due to LGA, although again it was not very busy there. There had been weather along our entire route of flight, so I would imagine that had something to do with it as well. We descended through the clouds, proceeded up the Hudson, and turned right onto the approach to RY 22 at LGA. We landed about 10 minutes ahead of schedule and taxied right to the gate, arriving 6 minutes early.

Getting on the parkway at LGA, I discovered that a serious accident had just occurred in front of the US terminal on the Grand Central, so I sat in traffic for about 45 minutes before being able to get past it (welcome to NY). I finally made it home, and fell asleep in record time.....

A couple of observations--while the service was hit or miss, and I don't want to be politically incorrect, it did appear that the worst of the service was offered by folks who had worked at Terminal F in PHL....and who appeared to have the Philly 'tude as well. That said, I had expected little more than I got, and although I don't think I would use Airtran again, they did fulfill the contract of carriage.......they promised no more and delivered no more.

04-28-2008, 06:18 PM
AirTran contracted out here in DAB as well (although they are pulling out). Sorry your experince was so bad. I have had good experiences with them. My only problem was the hard coach seat cushions. They make your butt hurt like hell by the time you deplane.

stuart schechter
04-28-2008, 07:28 PM
I have had nothing but good with them... Just like Northwest, I mean Delta(sorry Matt), it was a hit or miss on the 4 flights I have taken with them. Sorry to hear your bad experience.

04-29-2008, 06:51 PM
Yea, I have had good experiences with them too. I am actually flying them for thanksgiving. Just redeemed an upgrade to Business Class actually. Hope to use it for the outbound leg from LGA-MCO.

05-06-2008, 07:37 PM
I have had nothing but good with them... Just like Northwest, I mean Delta(sorry Matt), it was a hit or miss on the 4 flights I have taken with them. Sorry to hear your bad experience.

An airline shouldn't be hit or miss with its service. Consistency is important in order secure repeat business or you may lose the business you already have. This couldn't be truer then with WN of a year ago. WN's service was very consistent, you pretty much get a seat. They didn't advertise anything extra and not deliver but simply a way to get from point A to point B for a relatively decent price. Now however....WN's service IMO isn't consistent, ever since they changed the boarding process and FF program its getting hit or miss in how things are handled...hence they have lost most of my business to AA who for the past two years has been consistently providing me with good service. Word of the day....Consistent! :)