It was twenty five years ago when I fell in love with baseball. I had started to show interest during college when I’d sit there studying next to my die-hard Orioles fan of a roommate as he watched the games, but it wasn’t until I spent a summer interning at America West that I was fully hooked. The summer of 1998 was right after my junior year, and I went to a lot of games during that inaugural season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. America West was a big sponsor, so there always seemed to be tickets to be had. I have been a fan of the team ever since.
It’s been six long years since the Diamondbacks have made the playoffs and 16 since they last made the league championship series. Once they made it to face the Phillies this year, I just had to go. With game 5 on a Saturday, I decided to have faith that they would at least get that far and I bought tickets. Plane tickets were a lot pricier, but I was able to use 7,500 BA points to get me to Phoenix on Saturday morning on American. I had an expiring American credit to get me back home. With American having left Long Beach, this meant it would involve a trek to LAX but otherwise I’d be looking at somewhere around $500 roundtrip to outright buy a ticket at such a late date.
On the way out, I parked my car at QuikPark and had a little extra time. So, I decided I would walk over to Terminal 4. This is not a short walk, but I could do something that only became possible recently. Now that the connector between Terminal 3 and Bradley is open behind security, I was able to go through security in Terminal 1 and walk the whole way to Terminal 4 without leaving the secure area.
It’s actually a fun walk. You go through Terminal 1, by the buses to the Bradley gates in Terminal 1.5, past the Delta SkyClub, and then in the connector from Terminal 3 to Bradley.
It’s no surprise, but just like on the connector from Terminal 4 to Bradley, it’s a bit of a zig zag to get between the two.
The views are great, and I particularly love the suspended tunnel that looks down on the ticketing and security area (above). This matches the one on the Terminal 4 side.
In Bradley, you stay one level above the ground and walk by the lounges.
Once at Terminal 4, I walked around to see how construction was going and then I headed to my gate, I was in group 6 now that my credit card is canceled, and I waited until toward the end of the group since I had no overhead bin space needs.
October 21, 2023
From Los Angeles
➤ Scheduled Departure: 926a
➤ Actual Departure: 922a
➤ From Gate: 42A
➤ Wheels Up: 937a
➤ From Runway: 25R
➤ Wheels Down: 1032a
➤ On Runway: 7R
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 1101a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1043a
➤ At Gate: A11
➤ Type: Boeing 737-823
➤ Delivered: January 28, 2014
➤ Registered: N945NN, msn 33233
➤ Livery: Ugly Flag Tail with Painted Winglets
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 23A
➤ Load: ~90% Full
➤ Flight Time: 55m
This airplane looked like every other American 737 with a sea of seats.
I took my window seat on the left side and stared out the window.
This was the first American aircraft I’ve been on with the painted winglets, and I found it maddening. Why is the logo not aligned with anything? Who designed this? What is the meaning of life?
I’m convinced American has taken a page from the Emirates playbook. Emirates tries to numb its coach passengers into forgetting they’re crammed in there by giving a mind-boggling variety of entertainment on a big glowing screen. American has none of that, but this misaligned logo kept me from remembering I was on a plane as I tried to unlock the mystery in my mind.
We pushed back a bit early and made our slow crawl to the runway. I looked at the progress of the rebuilt end of Terminal 4 (above) and then went back to that winglet as we took off. It was still there as we passed over Long Beach. That’s the problem with winglets. They don’t get out of your sight.
It was a hazy but pretty morning. Soon after we got above 10,000 feet. The flight attendants said that due to the short duration of the flight and the turbulence (of which there was none), they wouldn’t be able to serve hot beverages on this flight. This was very strange. I mean, the pilots turned off the seatbelt sign at altitude. I’m not sure why they blamed turbulence.
After a glass of water and Biscoff, well, you know what I did. I went back to staring at the logo for awhile which led to a deep existential crisis.
I was only snapped out of it by the absurdly lengthy credit card pitch. On a flight that’s less than an hour, it really seems rushed and particularly obnoxious to squeeze that in there. This made me realize American had missed a great opportunity. Instead of painting the logo askew on the winglets, why not just put a QR code for the credit card on there and then shut up while we’re enroute?
After landing, I took the train out to the 44th St station where my parents picked me up. My dad and I went to the game that night, and wow, did it suck. Other than a single home run by Alek Thomas, there wasn’t a Diamondback highlight to be had. There was no tension either. It was just a terrible game, but so be it. I regret nothing.
The next morning, my parents dropped me off at the 44th St station again and I rode the rails into the terminal. I needed to go to gate A2, but how should I do it?
The security lines were very long, stretching into the middle of the concourse. I looked at the sign, and it said the A line was 7 minutes, the D line across the way (which is just a slightly longer walk to the A gates so it’s a good alternative) was 17 minutes. A it was. Even though the line was long for TSA Precheck, it moved fast. I was going to be through in about 5 minutes until I got randomly flagged. TSA swabbed my cell phone and then let me through after it cleared.
The gate area was a mess. We were boarding our 737 next to another 737 heading to JFK. The seats were all very full and there were hordes standing around the gate and into the hallway even though boarding hadn’t begun. This is just not meant to handle the 350ish passengers at the same time between the two aircraft.
JFK started boarding just before us, but when we started, there were apparently a ton of wheelchairs. The agent seemed flustered and kept apologizing for the delay. I’m guessing she was worried about not getting out on time, because she’d probably be in trouble.
By the time they called group 6, there were still a lot of people in the gate area. I guess we had a number of people who weren’t even AAdvantage members or in basic economy.
October 22, 2023
➤ Scheduled Departure: 827a
➤ Actual Departure: 826a
➤ From Gate: A2
➤ Wheels Up: 910a
➤ From Runway: 7L
To Los Angeles
➤ Wheels Down: 1009a
➤ On Runway: 25L
➤ Scheduled Arrival: 959a
➤ Actual Arrival: 1019a
➤ At Gate: 53B
➤ Type: Boeing 737-823
➤ Delivered: June 16, 2000
➤ Registered: N937AN, msn 30082
➤ Livery: Ugly Flag Tail
➤ Cabin: Coach in Seat 24F
➤ Load: ~99% Full
➤ Flight Time: 59m
Onboard I again found my seat, and I noticed that while the seats were all the same, the windows looked different. They had that old squared off look unlike the rounded ones from the flight out (which you can see if you scroll back up). This photo came out terribly, but you get the point.
This was an older 737, delivered back in 2000. I guess the side walls were of a different vintage, and they didn’t bother changing them when they retrofitted. But the best part? A blissfully unpainted winglet awaited me.
I was in no mood to interact with people, so I put my headphones in and read my book. Shortly before closing up, a woman showed up next to me with her squirmy lap child. Then behind me was another woman with her kicky lap child. I certainly felt bad for them having to deal with this, but I also wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of kicking and screaming. I opted to just keep my head down, hoping they could handle the kids and knowing we’d be done soon enough even if the kids wouldn’t cooperate. We’ve all been there.
The gate agent succeeded in getting us out there on time, 1 minute early actually. We started taxiing down to the west end of the runway when we turned around and parked in a penalty box. Uh oh.
After a couple minutes, the pilots came on to say that after we started taxiing, a maintenance issue popped up. We would sit there until they got a response from Dallas. At least, that’s how I heard it in English. I think in baby talk it translated to “go absolutely nuts,” because squirmy next to me got really squirmy, and kicky behind me found new superhuman leg strength.
Fortunately, it wasn’t all that long until the pilots came back saying that the issue had been cleared up and we were were going to head back on our way. Huzzah.
We took off to the east and circled around to the south. It was a smoggy day, but I still got a nice view of the airport as we went by.
The good news is that the babies got the message that we were in the air and they passed out the whole flight. If I seemed relieved, I wasn’t even half as relieved as the mothers were. The one next to me passed out from exhaustion. Good for her.
This flight was four minutes longer than the way out and again turbulence-free, but the flight attendants didn’t do any service at all. I didn’t hear them announce anything about the reason, but maybe I missed it with my headphones on.
Don’t worry. They did find enough time to do the credit card pitch, so that’s what’s really important. Maybe that’s why they didn’t have time to do a drink service. They wanted to really nail that pitch this time.
I was so engrossed in my book (Firewall by Henning Mankell) that the top of descent actually surprised me. We had a nice view making our way into LAX. After landing, we had a somewhat convoluted taxi until we got toward our gate. I guess our delay had made them relocate us from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5, so I’m sure there was some scrambling involved. We blocked in about 20 minutes late.
I got off the airplane into the teeming mass that is gate 53B. If you’ve been to that gate or read past trip reports, you know it’s wedged in a corner with entirely too little seating. I fought my way through the crowd waiting to board the aircraft to go to Chicago and decided I’d walk back to QuikPark.
This time, I walked from Terminal 5 to 6 and then 7. I was so close to finishing my book that I actually found a quiet spot in the connector between 6 and 7 and just read for a few minutes. That’s a great place to pass the time. Once done, I dropped the book off at gate 71A where United 2237 to Houston was delayed an hour. Hopefully someone picked it up and will pass it on when they are done.
I then played a little Frogger walking from Terminal 7 over to QuikPark but it all worked out fine, and I headed home.
American’s focus has been about D0, departing on time or earlier. On that metric, they succeeded on this trip. I can think of a few other things that should matter a little too, like a drink service or a shorter (dare I dream, non-existent) credit card pitch but that’s most certainly not American’s concern these days.