Mesa Makes It Harder to Choose Long Beach (Trip Report)

I’m still on the road, so how about a report of the last time I took a trip? This was from earlier this month when I went to Phoenix. As a reminder, I will be slower at approving any flagged comments and responding to any emails. I’ll be back as usual on Monday. ————–

Are you tired of reading trip reports? Well I’m tired of traveling. But alas, this is the busy season, and only two days after returning from Boston, I was off to Phoenix for one of my favorite conferences, the Phoenix Aviation Symposium. Since my brother, who lives in Phoenix, recently had his first child, my wife and kids decided to tag along and make a whole family trip of it.

The tickets weren’t cheap. Each ran $306.20 roundtrip. I didn’t even look at LAX to see if it could save money, but it’s hard to keep acting that way when the only thing American/US Airways brings to Long Beach is a tired and dirty Mesa CRJ-900.

We all checked in online, and thanks to the US Airways credit card, we didn’t have to pay for the one checked bag we brought. Knowing we still had to drop it off at the counter, we added a little buffer and left home an hour and 10 minutes before departure. We didn’t need it.

It took no time at all to check the bag and go through security. As always seems to be the case, we had time to kill before our flight even started boarding.

Once we had walked up the ramp, we headed toward the back to grab our seats. This airplane only joined the Mesa fleet a little over 2 years ago, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the interior looked. This one had worn and cracked leather all over. But even worse than that was the disgusting state of the windows.

I wish photos could do this justice, but they can’t. In my row, in between the two panes I found all kinds of dirt and grime that had built up. And the windows themselves were so dirty that it obscured the outside view dramatically. It was a very clear day outside but you wouldn’t know it.

I understand that this has nothing to do with the safety of the aircraft, but from a customer perception standpoint, it makes people feel less confident that the airline is taking care of its airplanes. I tweeted American about this, and they asked me for full information so they could investigate. Hopefully someone over there tells Mesa to get its act together.

I had my son next to me on this flight with my wife and daughter behind us. He didn’t want to sit down, and I was nervous that this would be a long flight, but I was pleasantly surprised. We pushed back a little early and when that happened he all of a sudden was happy to buckle up. It wasn’t long before we were airborne and above the scattered cloud layer. I couldn’t see much, but it looked like a nice day.

I was able to keep my son entertained for awhile. We started with a thorough review of the safety card. Then we moved on to a sticker book. Once he got bored, I whipped out some snacks. When the flight attendant came through, I let him have some apple juice, so he was happy. (That’s a treat, since we don’t often give him juice.)

By the time he had finished, we were already beginning our slow descent into Phoenix. I was fighting the beginnings of a cold, so I had some trouble keeping my ears cleared as we came down. But they didn’t stay clogged for long, and soon, we were circling around to land back to the west.

It was a postcard-perfect day in Phoenix, and I got a great shot of the lineup in Terminal 4. That new American tail makes the airplane look bigger, doesn’t it? I still don’t like it.

My wife and kids went off with my family as I made a beeline direct to the symposium. After a couple days there, I joined the family for the weekend. I even squeezed in a Diamondbacks game on Saturday night. But Sunday morning came and it was time to head home.

We got to the airport about an hour and 15 minutes early and it was pretty quiet. We had checked in online, but had to drop the bag again. That took all of a minute or two. Then we headed upstairs and went through security, which was also empty. (The kids were given Pre Check both directions, which didn’t matter, but was still interesting.)

Once through, we found our gate and waited. The aircraft showed up on time but there was some commotion in the gate area as the single agent looked frazzled. First he made an announcement that there was one First Class seat left, and if anyone wanted it for $65, they could have it. Someone took him up on the offer.

Then I heard him on the phone. There were a couple of broken seats on the airplane (hooray, Mesa!) and the flight was full so it was time for musical chairs. It sounds like he emptied one seat by getting that other person to pay for First (give that man a raise for bringing in that revenue, American). But as for the other? No clue what happened to that person.

Either way, we got on board and took our seats.

The seats looked pretty worn on this airplane as well, and the sidewall was dirty. Here’s a shot of both, though the light and shadows on the seat makes it tough to see how worn it is.

Once we were settled in, I remembered that US Airways had an online baggage tracker. I pulled it up and sure enough, it showed our bag as having been scanned as boarded on the airplane. That’s a great relief. It’ll be nice when they bring that to American as well. (I’m told it’s coming.)

Though the official record shows us leaving 5 minutes early, that’s a lie. We actually started moving 6 minutes late, but they kicked the brakes early and we just sat at the gate for awhile. While we waited I looked around. I couldn’t help but notice the emergency exit handle cover that had fallen down on the right side. They kept trying to put it back up but it wouldn’t stay.

Air traffic was already heading west, much earlier in the day than it normally flips, so that meant a quick taxi and we were airborne in the right direction.

We shook things up this time with my wife sitting with my son, and he promptly fell asleep. Lucky. Meanwhile my daughter was wide awake but she was in a good mood.

The seatbelt sign never came off despite it being a nice ride the whole way. Well, it wasn’t a nice ride for me. That cold had developed further, and my right ear promptly plugged up. It started to get uncomfortable, but I did get it to equalize at altitude. Once we started coming down, however, it got worse and hurt a lot.

Service was fine with just a beverage and snack cart passing through. I wouldn’t expect anything more. Once we landed, I took one kid to get the car while my wife took the other to grab the bag. We were home within half an hour of landing. I love this airport, but can we get a different express carrier, please? Or at least make Mesa pay better attention to the interiors of its airplanes.


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Muscat,  Oman
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