Back to the Midwest: AA FLL-ORD

AA1005 Fort Lauderdale FLL – Chicago ORD
24 Mar 2011
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 1925-2135
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 1959-2145
Boeing 737-800 N856NN
Seat 28A

I was supposed to take the GO Airport shuttle but somehow either the concierge did not reserve the seat for me or the shuttle completely forgot to pick me up as it did not show up between the scheduled time of 4:30 to 5pm. This led me to take the taxi which came down to 28 bucks due to the jam to the airport. But having departed early from the hotel, I was still early in the airport and there was suprisingly no queue on the economy line on AA, and thus I was served in no time. I managed to check in 2 bags free due to the oneworld ruby status, but had to transfer some stuff out as one bag was more than 50lbs after my long time travelling around the nation.

AA 737-800 at Fort Lauderdale
JetBlue A320 at FLL

Priority AAccess works well in FLL security since there was a large crowd of tourists preparing to depart for their flights though there was still some wait to clear security. Once past security, the airport is filled up with holiday makers and was really noisy. There was only one bar and sandwich store close to my gate F3 that was selling hot food and I grabbed a BBQ pork sandwich and a bottle of orange juice. The sandwich is essentially shredded pieces of pork marinated with BBQ sauce in between a soft burger bun. Quite a simple treat really, and suprisingly a very delicious burger! After finishing my burger, it was just waiting in this crowded waiting area with my iPad. Thank goodness for noise cancelling headphones, as I do think the Fort Lauderdale Airport is a bit of a mess during peak holiday season.

Crowded boarding area at FLL

Boarded the plane with Priority AAccess and got to my last few rows. By the time I reached my row, I noticed that the middle seat of row 28 was occupied, and there goes my hopes of having more space. Thus I took out my iPad, headphones and the bottle of juice I bought from the airport before taking my seat at 28A. Once seated I took the time to relax and enjoy the setting sun on FLL. Holiday makers and business people (nice place to conduct business in) completely filled up both cabins. Shortly thereafter, a gentleman took up the aisle seat on row 28, but as the cabin begin to fill up, a younger lady came over and showed she was supposed to be seated on 28B. The crew was called in and the original portly occupant of 28B was supposed to be seated at 29B instead. This definitely brightened me up since the younger lady is more petite and more likely to allow more space for me 🙂 Bad luck to the passenger on 29A though.

Cabin onboard the 737-800

The plane pullback slightly late at 19:38 and with the long queue of flights, it meant an even later take off time of 19:59. Though, the captain announced a cruising altitude of 36,000 ft and a predicted landing time of 21:55pm, which is not too way off from the original scheduled time. It was very nice for the flight to be chasing the sunset for a while after take-off and that mesmerized my attention for the start of the flight. After take off, slight turbulence was encountered but stewardess doesn’t seem to have any problem with passengers getting off their seat to head to the bathroom.

Taxiing in the Sunset at Fort Lauderdale Airport
Take Off from Fort Lauderdale

The crew started beverage service around half an hour after take-off but the full flight meant a slower service and lots of trouble for the crew with many passengers walking along the aisle to get to the bathroom. I ended up with a ginger ale and snacked on the bag of pop chips that I have brought with me. All this at the same time watching a movie on my iPad. Who knew economy class seating could be that good, since the seat had ample legroom for me, and I was seated comfortably with a petite lady sitting in the middle seat who was fast asleep.

Chasing the sunset
Inflight pleasure with an iPad and a can of Ginger Ale

But good things doesn’t seem to last as the child seated 2 rows in front of me seems to be making a huge fuss and the mother wasn’t able to control the child at all. Now I realize how irritating and frustrating it is for a passenger when crying babies are onboard. I have been in little of such flights fortunately, and it seems like a distant memory that I am glad to forget. Somehow the intensity of the girl’s screams was ear-jarring to the point of rendering my noise-cancelling headphones useless. So much for a quiet flight. Naturally, it got the crew’s attention and I found the crew in AA were very professional, trying as much to make the family feel comfortable while helping to manage the situation. Frankly, it helps a bit in lowering the cries, but it came back on after the flight attendant was called to prepare for landing.

Cabin Interior of the 737-800

After we landed in Chicago under a clear night, it became apparent that the little girl’s cry was due to discomfort in her ears. Other than that it was a smooth landing into ORD and I wondered why no one clapped, I have been in several of those flights when passengers clapped upon a great landing, and I think it adds to a great finale! Being seated at the end of the cabin, I took my time to disembark and I became one of the last to get off, allowing me to take some nice shots of the plane’s cabin. Even with my late disembarkation, I still had to wait for my luggage to come out of the conveyor. It was a short wait though and overall this journey made it seem like Economy Class on AA seems good value for money especially since I had PriorityAAccess with complimentary checked luggage due to my status with CX and there were refreshments on board.

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