Iain’s CRJ-700 Adventure

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About a month ago, I booked myself on a reward ticket using my British Airways Executive Club membership.  I joined BA’s Executive Club because I was expecting to fly One World airlines to the US more often than I do.

12 years ago, I started flying regularly with my job at Reserve America.  I would often fly US airlines because it was much cheaper than Air Canada, and we needed to keep flights cheaper.  I would fly primarily American and US Airways, oh the irony.  Surprisingly, US Airways was my preferred airline of choice when I could.

If only I had realized the importance of collecting miles on a single airline, as well as not splitting my hotel points with the airline points.

I digress.

For just over 18,000 Avios and $69, I was able to book a business class flight to Chicago on American.  Say what?  For that kind of flight on Aeroplan points, it would be 50,000 points and way more money as you pay the Canadian taxes.  I was very surprised!

I haven’t really flown a US-based airline, until the last year where I have flown American, United, and Alaska.  My previous experiences tell me that service is going to be horrible, especially on the shuttle services.  Very much inline with a Skytrax 2 or 3 star airline.

IMG_5537The service on my flight to and from Chicago was great, just as it has been for Dallas on AA last year.  I have noticed that the US airlines are attempting to get better at service.  I noticed it the last time I flew Delta, and even slightly with the new hardware on United.  I think the airlines are slowly trying to turn things around with mixed results.

Anyway – American to Chicago.

Anytime I fly through Terminal 3, which is three times in the past year, I always feel like I am at an airport based in the US.  I’m hearing spanish, american accents all over the place, and very little french.  It’s like I am in a totally different world, especially relative to Terminal 1 which is just a few 100 metres away.  Just bizarre.  I wonder if the US-based airlines end up hiring US staff that drive back and forth to Buffalo rather than hiring Canadians. LOL

I also never fly out of the International or Canadian side of Terminal 3, so my perception is always US-centric when leaving from this terminal.  What I have also noticed is that the Canadian side of T3 also has a very different vibe, when I have left from there.

The equipment for this journey was a CRJ-700.  After coming down from the high of the 787 experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

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The equipment on American, with the new paint jobs, and the fact that the plane was new (you could smell that new airplane smell), I was very impressed.  I’ve always disliked CRJs but having flown on a few 700s and 900s more recently, I actually like these two models.  Forget the 100s and 200s.

The service from the FAs returning was fantastic.  Going, I’d say the guy was kind of funny.  Not what I’d usually expect in Business but I can’t complain.

A big glass of red wine going, with top ups if I wanted (which I declined) and a big mug of coffee on my way home.

I think what topped the experience was, when mid-flight on my way home we were told the plane had an indication and that we had to turn back to ORD.  Prior to landing they explained that we had lost one of the backup hydraulic systems.  Doh!

IMG_5545‘Cool escort’, the FA said as we landed. We had a landing party that included fire trucks and other support had the hydraulic systems or other systems completely broke down.

In 12 years of flying regularly, this is a first time for a mechanical issue like this and needing to be diverted.

AA did a great job of getting a replacement plane – actually immediately sent us over to G8 to get on a new plane, with snacks, new crew within 30 minutes.  AA did a great job keeping us informed and updated.

FlightpathYou can see American trying to do a great job of providing great customer service, as they go through the merger with US Airways.  Mergers are always a challenge, and I do hope they are successful.

With the changes they are making, they could possibly sway me from British Airways, and could also become a regular airline that I use to the US, if for some reason I can’t with Air Canada.  United should be my choice given it’s link to Star Alliance, but I can’t help but think that American is just that touch better with service.

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