Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: US Airways BWI-PHL-ISP, April 29 2012

When I was doing a little flying in April, I wanted to check out Long Island Islip Airport, the #5 NYC airport. The obvious choice from Baltimore to Islip is Southwest - after BWI is a Southwest hub, Islip was their main gateway to New York until they started LGA and EWR. However, I wanted a Sunday morning flight, and the first WN flight was in the afternoon. Oh well, I am not going to say no to two segments instead of one, and plus I can add PHL to my log. Also, it was the same price.

Flight US1516 BWI-PHL
Aircraft - N954UW - Embraer 190
Seat - 19F (Window)
Distance - 90 miles

My hotel shuttle got me to BWI quickly and efficiently.  There was not much wait for TSA, and no issues there. US Airways is out of the D Gates at BWI, along with DL, UA, B6 and 9K. There was a DL flight boarding to Salt Lake City just before the US flight to PHL. Looking around the gate area, there seemed to be a good load for the early morning flight to Philly. Whilst 90 miles is awfully short to fly, I am sure 100% of passengers were on connecting flights - it seemed like a good chunk of passengers were off to Cancun.

Boarding was smooth, and I was in my window on my favourite narrow body in no time. The fellow in front of my seatmate reclined right away, and the flight attendant did not notice. My seatmate did not seem pleased, and whilst I don't like to tell people what to do, I told Johnny Reclines to move his seat to the upright position until the seat belt light came off. The lady next to me was pleased, and I feel like a saved a life (what if the unforeseen happened, and she was decapitated due to a reclined seat in front of her? that's right, I saved a life...). There is something about super short flights that make them seem to drag. I think when you board you a feeling like you will be off in no time, but 20/30 minutes is still a pretty good wait. There was no service on the short segment. The flight path seemed very twisty-turny, and the 90 mile straight shot probably ended up being more like 150 miles. Approach into Philly was pretty cool, as you go right over Citizens Bank Park, the Wells Fargo Centre and Lincoln Field. We we at our gate in the A pier in no time.

Connecting at PHL would be easy if you stayed in the A, B, C or D piers, but it is a bit complicated if you were going to where most Express flights come from - the E pier. There is a shuttle bus across the ramp, but the line-up was excessively long. I had an hour for my connection, and I would rather not get squished into a bus, so I walked past the D pier, left the secure area, and cleared TSA again at the E pier. My thought process was the line would be short, since the express flights were to connection destinations, not so much O&D. I was right. There was some construction in the E gates, and a lot of people rushing around to catch their connections. A family were let on their connection to Buffalo due to fact that the gate agent actually tried. Amazing how good customer service saved this family's day.

Flight US4481 PHL-ISP - Operated by Piedmont Airlines
Aircraft - N327EN Bombardier Dash 8-300
Seat - 7A (window)
Distance - 129 miles

Boarding was smooth, and the doors closed on schedule. There was a pretty good load - probably about 80%. The flight path on the lovely little DH3 took us straight across New Jersey, over the Atlantic, and a left turn over Central Islip into ISP. Despite the short flight, the was a beverage service, and coffee was enjoyed. The FA was friendly and professional. We touched down in Long Island on schedule, and disembarked on the ramp. There were some WN jets off to Florida at the other end of the terminal. The airport is a cute little terminal, which is suited perfectly for a few connection flight to DCA and PHL, and a modest WN operation. There is a shuttle - a mini-van - to Ronkonkoma LIRR station, which is only $5, and takes a few minutes.

US Airways is a perfectly fine airline - both flights were on schedule, and my Aeroplan miles were posted to my account quickly. BWI is a good airport, but PHL could have been much more frustrating. There were too few shuttles, and people had way too much stress to get to their connections. I love an E90 and DH3 - both planes were clean and well maintained. ISP is a nice airport, but if you are going to NYC proper, it is just not that convenient...

E90 pic - Micheal Davis from Flickr
DH3 pic - from Flickr
Map -

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