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PNW Roadtrip: US Airways #517/93: ORD-PDX

For the first time ever I was flying US Airways. United cancelled our flight to PDX and US Airways was the only carrier who could get us to PDX in time for our wine event.  The only seats available were in the second to last row, in a middle seat.  With United I am always sitting in an exit row aisle seat. I haven’t flown middle seat since I got out of LGA early to beat a HUGE storm (that actually trapped some friends in NYC for 36 hours).

We opt to BUY access to exit row. For $93 I could sit in a window seat in the exit row. MS decided to upgrade for the same price to middle seat exit row.  We figured we could enjoy this little extended flight if we sat next to each other.

As we wait for the flight, we see there is a delay creep.  10 minutes. 20 minutes. 60 minutes.  Our one hour delay had evaporated.  We hadn’t even boarded the plane yet. One the plus side there were several drunk people who thought it was a good idea to strike me up in conversation.  She asked questions like: How many planes are boarding right now from this gate (uh, technically zero, since there is no plane outside the gate); Do you think we’ll make it to Ontario tonight (God, I hope not, I’m going to PDX); Do I have time to go to the bathroom before we board (sure, why not?); Will my bags make the connection in PHX (honey, I don’t work here — and since you are flying on US Airways with a delayed flight, NO, I am confident your bags won’t make it).

I took to Twitter to see if we could get any more info on our connection. I was SURPRISED that the US Airways social media folks were working and responding to tweets. They pulled my reservation and reviewed the details – informing me that my flight was still on time out of PHX, but they’d note the tight connection. They also noted that nothing really could be done. I was shocked they monitored Twitter — United is almost SILENT on Twitter.

Our flight starts to board, we get in line and my boarding pass doesn’t work. I had to go talk to the gate agents.  They indicate my reservation was voided/cancelled.  The social media people did something to my record, according the people on the ground at ORD.  They managed to get me a seat again on the plane, but they gave away the seat I paid $93 to “upgrade” to.  They put me in that same damn middle seat in the second to last row. ARGH!  I spend the ENTIRE time the flight is boarding arguing with the US Airways people.  They refunded my upgrade fees and one woman finally decided to give me an aisle seat (from a guy who was on a super late flight out of Philadelphia).

I was the last to board and barely was seated before the door was closed and we were taxiing out.  MS was stuck sitting in a $93 middle seat. I was sitting next to a lovely young couple who were quiet and kept to themselves.

There was no In Flight Entertainment on this plane to Phoenix – no movie, no music, nothing. So strange.

Our 60 minute layover had evaporated to a whopping two minute layover.  The stews announced 4-5 flights were being held for connecting passengers — not the flight to PDX.  I told MS that he must RUN to the connecting gate — he was 8 rows in front of me. I would have taken off running after him.

We land and take off running to the connecting gate. While en route we got notice that our flight was delayed 30 minutes, so we were going to make it!  Would our bags? I was concerned that since US Airways has the worst record for lost baggage – would I rather be in PDX at the festival without clothes or in PHX with clothes but missing the main purpose of this weekend.

Luckily the bags were transferred without a problem.

We get on the flight – this one we upgraded for $100 to First Class.  The leg room was pretty limited and again this plane had no In Flight Entertainment. We sat at the gate for 45 minutes waiting for a Philadelphia flight to come in.

First Class (lack of) Leg Room

I slept most of the flight and we arrived in PDX right around 02h00. At this rate we would make it into our room around 04h00 — and the wine festival breakfast/opening ceremonies started at 08h30. This is going to be a long day.

Would I fly US Airways again? Not if I could help it.  United did let me down and US Airways did deliver.  I will not be changing my preferred domestic carrier.

Did you run into travel issues last week? Do you prefer US Airways over United?  Do you find yourself paying for simple upgrades to a non-shitty middle seat?

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