Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Using SeatGuru for US Airways

Flight #69 – US Airways 622 
Phoenix (PHX) – New York (JFK)
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 
Depart: 3:20PM / Arrive: 10:58PM 
Duration: 4hr 38min 
Aircraft: Airbus 321 
Seat: 17A and 17B (Economy) 
Earned: 2,153 miles
Cost: $166 / person (one way)
Lifetime Miles: 136,097 miles

Time and time again, whenever we fly a domestic non-United flight, we remember why we should stick with United. US Airways isn't a bad airline, per say, but when the plane isn't configured well (without all the amenities), you realize how spoiled you've been.

We could have found a United flight from Phoenix that would take us back to Newark, but Phoenix was a hub for US Airways so there were plenty of US Airway options. We planned to credit my father's US Airways flight to Aegean Airlines to help with his pursuit of lifetime Aegean Gold Status since US Airways flights usually credit 100% of mileage flown to Aegean while many United flights only credit 50% mileage.
Before we went to the airport, my father checked out what the flight would be like on The website is a valuable resource to any aspiring frequent flyer who flies enough to care, but not enough to have memorized different aircraft configurations. Here's the link to the Airbus 321 flown by US Airways. If you're not smart enough to know which aircraft your flying, then you can search by airline and then by route (destinations). Hopefully you will know that much.

Seating Chart

As you can see, they show you how the seats are configured and color coded which seats are better or worse. When you move the mouse over the seat, a small text box will pop up explaining why the seat is color coded (White = neutral, Green = good, Red = bad, Yellow = slightly negative). For example:
  • The red seats in Row 20 will say "Seat 20 has limited recline and the proximity to the lavatory may be bothersome."
  • The yellow seats in Row 1 will say "Seat 1A is a standard First Class seat, however, there is no floor storage during take off and landing, and over head space is limited. Viewing the movie may be difficult from this seat. It can get cold in this area due to the unconditioned cargo hold under these seats. The proximity to the galley may be bothersome."
That's helpful when you have a choice of selecting advance seat assignments, but even more helpful is the detail on the rest of the page, including In Flight Amenities. Unlike our United flight which had DirecTV in each of the seat backs, our US Airways flight had pretty much nothing.
"US Airways has discontinued all in flight entertainment on all fights except for international and Hawaii flights effective November 1st. Both first and coach class have LCD screens that drop from the ceiling every three rows. Movies are usually shown on flights longer than 3 hours, short subject programming (TV shows) is shown on shorter flights. You can bring your own double-prong headset for free or you can buy a headset to keep for $5."
However, not having a personal TV to watch my Disney Junior cartoons wasn't the end of the world. We still had our iPad, but according to Seatguru: "On US Airways' new A321 aircrafts, there are no power ports." So at least we knew in advance to have our electronic devices fully charged before boarding.

While the US Airways flight did offer wifi (via GoGo Air), it was pretty expensive for the 4+ hour flight and we opted to make do without paying $20 for the short flight.

Given our flight time was going through dinner time, we needed something to eat during our flight. After confirming on SeatGuru that meal service wasn't provided for economy passengers (something we knew anyway), we originally planned to buy something at the airport to take with us on the plane. However, returning our rental car, waiting for the shuttle and clearing security (without elite status) took a bit longer than we anticipated so by the time we got past the TSA checkpoint, our flight was already starting to board.

Thankfully, we could buy a snack on the flight, so we shelled our $3.49 for a bag of Chex Mix to hold us over until we got back home. We would have purchased a "meal" for $7, but the choices really weren't better than the Chex Mix.

By the time we landed at JFK Terminal 8, it was just before 11PM Eastern time (8PM Phoenix). Being unfamiliar with this airport, we underestimated how long of a walk it would take to the baggage claim as well as how long it would take the ground crew to unload our luggage. By the time we collected our things and got into a taxi, it was closer to midnight.

To be fair, it wasn't a horrible flight. We took off on time and arrived safely. The airline didn't lose our luggage, nor did they keep us on the tarmac for hours, but it just wasn't a memorable last flight to finish your career as a lap child.

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