Debby’s First Flight: Norfolk to Columbus

 

I had settled into my bulkhead row at the front of the USAir economy section when one of the flight attendants approached me and explained that they were re-seating a passenger who had never flown before. Soon a middle aged woman was escorted to the seat next to mine. She was terrified. Every noise made her jump. She gripped the armrest tightly – and we had not left the gate. I introduced myself: “Martin”.  She responded: “Debby”. I said: “with an ie” or a “y”? She smiled with relief and said “y”.

Debby explained to me that her father had suddenly taken very ill and that instead of driving the distance, she had been forced to take this flight. So compounding my seat companion’s terror at flying was anxiety over what would be waiting for her at the hospital when she touched down. She was not convinced that the plane was going to make it. I told her that this was my 904th flight. I reminded her that I had survived 903 takeoffs – and 903 landings and that this one would be no different.

Safety Briefing

As soon as the briefing started, Debby grabbed the Safety Information card as instructed by the crew and followed it step by step. I pointed out the lifejacket. The woman on the other side of the aisle joined me in promising her it would be extremely unlikely it would  be used on this flight.

Take off: 9 out of 10

We left on time and were soon positioned on the runway for a very very smooth takeoff. The woman in 1B and I talked Debby through the takeoff. As the engines of the Canadian Regional Jet fired up she muttered: “Oh God”. She was amazed how quickly and easily we were in the air but would not glance outside staring straight ahead or sometimes looking at us.

On Board: 8 out of 10

The CRJ 700 plane had two classes: First Class with nine seats arranged 1/2 with  a 37″pitch and 21″ width.  Coach Class with seventy coach class seats arranged 2/2. Pitch: 31″ (not in the bulkhead row where I estimate the pitch had to be at least 40″) and width 17.3″.

Meals: 0 out of 10

After takeoff, a Flight Attendant came past to check on Debby and offer her a drink. Her soda came back in minutes, with some mixed peanuts. No one else in the Coach section was offered anything. First Class Passengers were provided witha  drink. I know there was limited time on this service but could not a small water bottle be given to every passenger on such a flight? In today’s flying with the transportation of water  through security banned and with some passengers connecting from short flight to short flight with little layover time, that water could be very welcome. Debby passed her peanuts onto me!

Entertainment: 0 out of 10

No wifi and no entertainment on board – not that I noticed spending the flight reassuring my new companion.

Landing 10 out of 10

We landed a little early. The landing was very smooth, much to my relief as I had promised Debby, the landing would be fine! I walked Debby to her next gate where she begged me to come on her next flight. I demurred and she gave me a hug and promised that she would pray for me. I hope your Dad is doing okay, Debby.

Booking 7 out of 10

USAir’s booking system was pretty simple. Only five steps. On the first screen, plug in what date, destination and origin cities and hit enter.  The next booking screen which gives you a table of  the “best matches” by price and schedule  is a little confusing as you then scroll down a large table of numbers. It would be good, to have some sort of ability to filter by one stop/non stop or by time or by price. Through the booking process,  you are asked to consider a US Airways Credit Card three times. I ended up paying with Paypal.  Confirmation was very quick.

Check in: 8 out of 10

Check in online was very easy. I picked up my boarding pass at the airport from the self service terminal which also worked very smoothly.

The Verdict

My Flight Rating: Overall 47% (2.35 out of 5).

My Overall rating of  Airline:   3.4 out of 5 (based on my 25  flights with them)

Skytrax Rating of USAir: 3 star

Positives:   Staff

Negatives:  Entertainment system, No wifi, nothing to drink (not even water)

Would I fly them again? ?

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