We are back from Chicago. We like Chicago as the transit system is very easy to use....most days...except for this weekend. The "Blue" line (only train service from O'Hare) was being worked on this weekend. This meant our hour trip into the city took 1 1/2 hours. This added an hour of travel time to an already short day. Not a big deal...but annoying.
Traveling standby means being flexible. We flew out on the first flight of the day at 6 AM. Landing on time at 8AM we were on the train by 8:30AM. We didn't arrive at the Washington station to transfer to a bus until a little after 10 AM. The toursit center at the airport told us to stop by the cultural center for really good coupons. We did...the coupons were good...but nothing we needed. The 146 bus to the aquarium was running slow. After 15 minutes it arrived. We got in line at 11 AM. By 1:30PM we were done.
After a bite I used my cell phone to check us in for the flight. When we travel standby...hmmm should be when we travel. We haven't paid for a ticket in years....even before I worked here we were frequent flier mileage whores. Anyways we can't check in until 4 hours prior. The earlier you check in the higher you are on the list. The list is a little more complicated...but for this discussion the earlier the better. For example I woke up at 1:58AM and turned on a computer next to the bed to check us in right at 2AM for our 6AM flight. When we travel it can be a pain to carry a computer around or run inside Kinkos. Thankfully AMR developed a mobile website JUST for employees! I can check flight loads (how full the flights are), times, check in, check the standby by list and more. I love it! Below you can see we are numbers 4 and 5 and have already been assigned seats. The flights today were very empty for the most part. We listed for coach both ways. First class was an option, but we would not have been assigned seats until right before the flight left. Short flight....not that big of a deal (so I thought).
After checking in we made the almost 2 hour trek back to the airport. I assumed because we were on an American Airlines MD80 it would be a real American Airlines MD80. Nope. The aircraft was a former TWA MD80 painted in American Airlines colors. What is the difference? Well the first class cabin is all AA. The coach cabin though is very different. The seat backs on the TWA plane are much lower which kills the already tight legroom. Additionally the headrest don't have the flexible "winged" adjustable headrest. These two features alone make the ride not so great for those who are a little on the tall side. We should have just gone first class.
It would have been nice to have been able to see our friends Jason and Jackie in Chicago but the timing didn't work. Jason worked till 4PM. We could have taken the 7:15PM flight back but that still would have meant heading back around 5PM. Hopefully next time.