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Old 02-19-2002, 09:37 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: IND [Indianapolis IN US]
Posts: 33
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IND to LAS on ATA for the weekend

Traveling from Indianapolis to Las Vegas has few fast options. In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to fly there non-stop on America West, ATA, and on a couple Comair Learjets. Unfortunately for a number of reasons, my only real option for non-stop travel now is ATA.*

I don’t even need to spend time explaining why ATA isn’t my preferred carrier, because anyone who has ever flown ATA (or knows someone who has) already knows. Last year I said I’d never fly ATA again, but I decided to give them one more opportunity because three and a half hours sounded better than six or more on any other carrier.*

I started by attempting to purchase my tickets on their website, because ATA always gives discounted fares to their web customers. After filling out several forms, I clicked the final “submit” button, and received some inane error message. Great. I called their 800 number (1-800-I-FLY-ATA) and was promptly transferred to the Internet Help Desk when I explained my problems to the representative. The Help Desk attendant was able to complete my reservation and took my American Express card number (sans the secret four digit number) and thanked me for calling. A few hours later, I got another call from ATA’s reservation center explaining they needed the number that the other agent forgot to ask for, and she then quoted me a rate that was higher than I was quoted on the Internet. It took about five minutes to explain that I attempted to purchase online but was unable to, and finally she agreed to charge me the correct Internet rate.*

We arrived at Indianapolis International Airport the recommend two hours before departure. ATA has electronic check-in in Indianapolis now, so I obtained my boarding passes from the machine, and then we handed over two bags to be checked. We had a quick lunch in the food court, and then headed for security. The lines were relatively short, and I was at the scanner in no time at all. Uh oh. I had my shower bag in my carry-on and it had a metal nail file that I had forgotten about. I am immediately labeled a potential terrorist. My duffle bag and laptop bag are thoroughly examined, my laptop is turned on so they can “see the screen change several times”, and my shoes are removed, as is my belt. I am scanned, patted down, spun around, etc. Finally, they toss my metal nail file in a drawer and send me on my way.*

Much to my surprise, the ATA Lockheed L1011 is sitting at the gate already. If you are unfamiliar with the L1011 (and anyone who flies airlines that fly modern planes probably is), it is basically a gigantic bus that seats well over 300 with wings that was built decades ago by a company that doesn’t even build jetliners anymore. But, alas, there are still plenty in service in third-world countries and with third-world airlines. A later check of the planes N number revealed it received its airworthiness certificate in June of 1974. I was five years old.*

The boarding began on time (another surprise), and even more incredible: We pushed back almost 15 minutes before departure. This guaranteed us an on-time departure. Amazing. I pointed this out to my wife as we were taking off, and the passenger next to me (apparently an ATA employee) bumped my arm, smiled, and said, “Hey, watch it… we’ve been doing better lately!”*We arrived in Las Vegas nearly a half hour early, got our baggage from the baggage carousel, and headed to the curb to wait for the Hertz bus. For what it’s worth, ATA flies into Terminal 2 at McCarran International. This is where most of the International and Charter gates are. The wait at the curb is frustrating. We see many rental car buses a number of times, but we have to wait a good 20-30 minutes for the Hertz bus. I attempted to call the local number, but the phone just rang about 30 times. Finally the bus shows up and takes us to our car, which is waiting in the Club Gold section with the trunk opened. We are off the lot in less than 3 minutes.*

Our three night stay is at the MGM Grand, which is clearly the closest “mega hotel” to the Airport. *In fact, the view of LAS’s runway 19L/19R and Terminal 2 is as good from the elevator lobby as it probably is from the control tower. This was my first time staying at the MGM Grand, and the rooms were as nice as any other hotel on the strip. Nothing spectacular, but very clean and comfortable. Check-in as well as check-out was prompt and friendly. My only complaint was the cost of a direct-dialed long distance call. I was too lazy to get a local number for Earthlink, so I dialed back to Indianapolis. The first call was a wrong number ($10), and the second call was only 20 minutes ($60). Ridiculous. Direct-dialed calls from an Italy hotel were less.*

As usual, we headed to the airport two hours before departure again. Our check-out at Hertz is very quick, and the bus is waiting for us this time. A few minutes later, we’re back in Terminal 2 standing in a very large (but fast-moving) line. The check-in counters are being run by Swissport and are serving multiple airlines, which actually seems to be helping everyone move through quickly. Once we’ve got our boarding passes and luggage checked, we head to the security checkpoint. Apparently I still have the markings of a potential terrorist as I am pulled aside for the treatment again. This time, however, they ask me to NOT turn my laptop on. Instead, they want to check it for explosive residue. They do the same thing to my shoes. Satisfied that I am still not a terrorist, we are left to head to the gate.*

This time, the plane is not at the gate, but we’re still early. We head to the snack bar which had a line of 40 people and three very slow attendants. It takes every bit of 30 minutes to get our pizza and drink. The plane still isn’t at the gate. Now this is the ATA we all know and love. The plane shows up finally, nearly an hour late. Despite winds out of 210 at 20MPH gusting to 30MPH, we have to taxi five miles to runway 25R because it’s the only one long enough (14,510 feet) to get a fully loaded L1011 off the ground, even though we were 300 feet from runway 19L (9,775 feet). The climb out of Vegas is rough with the wind and clouds, but it finally smoothes out, and we get into Indianapolis about 40 minutes late.*

For what it’s worth, ATA did purchase 39 new 737-800’s and 10 new 757-300’s last year, and claims to now have the youngest fleet of any major airline. Most of these operate out of their “new” Chicago Midway Airport hub. If you are flying out of Indianapolis, you will be on an ancient L1011, because the L1011 can’t land at Midway.
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Old 02-19-2002, 09:37 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: IND [Indianapolis IN US]
Posts: 33
Send a message via ICQ to paul
IND to LAS on ATA for the weekend

Traveling from Indianapolis to Las Vegas has few fast options. In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to fly there non-stop on America West, ATA, and on a couple Comair Learjets. Unfortunately for a number of reasons, my only real option for non-stop travel now is ATA.*

I don’t even need to spend time explaining why ATA isn’t my preferred carrier, because anyone who has ever flown ATA (or knows someone who has) already knows. Last year I said I’d never fly ATA again, but I decided to give them one more opportunity because three and a half hours sounded better than six or more on any other carrier.*

I started by attempting to purchase my tickets on their website, because ATA always gives discounted fares to their web customers. After filling out several forms, I clicked the final “submit” button, and received some inane error message. Great. I called their 800 number (1-800-I-FLY-ATA) and was promptly transferred to the Internet Help Desk when I explained my problems to the representative. The Help Desk attendant was able to complete my reservation and took my American Express card number (sans the secret four digit number) and thanked me for calling. A few hours later, I got another call from ATA’s reservation center explaining they needed the number that the other agent forgot to ask for, and she then quoted me a rate that was higher than I was quoted on the Internet. It took about five minutes to explain that I attempted to purchase online but was unable to, and finally she agreed to charge me the correct Internet rate.*

We arrived at Indianapolis International Airport the recommend two hours before departure. ATA has electronic check-in in Indianapolis now, so I obtained my boarding passes from the machine, and then we handed over two bags to be checked. We had a quick lunch in the food court, and then headed for security. The lines were relatively short, and I was at the scanner in no time at all. Uh oh. I had my shower bag in my carry-on and it had a metal nail file that I had forgotten about. I am immediately labeled a potential terrorist. My duffle bag and laptop bag are thoroughly examined, my laptop is turned on so they can “see the screen change several times”, and my shoes are removed, as is my belt. I am scanned, patted down, spun around, etc. Finally, they toss my metal nail file in a drawer and send me on my way.*

Much to my surprise, the ATA Lockheed L1011 is sitting at the gate already. If you are unfamiliar with the L1011 (and anyone who flies airlines that fly modern planes probably is), it is basically a gigantic bus that seats well over 300 with wings that was built decades ago by a company that doesn’t even build jetliners anymore. But, alas, there are still plenty in service in third-world countries and with third-world airlines. A later check of the planes N number revealed it received its airworthiness certificate in June of 1974. I was five years old.*

The boarding began on time (another surprise), and even more incredible: We pushed back almost 15 minutes before departure. This guaranteed us an on-time departure. Amazing. I pointed this out to my wife as we were taking off, and the passenger next to me (apparently an ATA employee) bumped my arm, smiled, and said, “Hey, watch it… we’ve been doing better lately!”*We arrived in Las Vegas nearly a half hour early, got our baggage from the baggage carousel, and headed to the curb to wait for the Hertz bus. For what it’s worth, ATA flies into Terminal 2 at McCarran International. This is where most of the International and Charter gates are. The wait at the curb is frustrating. We see many rental car buses a number of times, but we have to wait a good 20-30 minutes for the Hertz bus. I attempted to call the local number, but the phone just rang about 30 times. Finally the bus shows up and takes us to our car, which is waiting in the Club Gold section with the trunk opened. We are off the lot in less than 3 minutes.*

Our three night stay is at the MGM Grand, which is clearly the closest “mega hotel” to the Airport. *In fact, the view of LAS’s runway 19L/19R and Terminal 2 is as good from the elevator lobby as it probably is from the control tower. This was my first time staying at the MGM Grand, and the rooms were as nice as any other hotel on the strip. Nothing spectacular, but very clean and comfortable. Check-in as well as check-out was prompt and friendly. My only complaint was the cost of a direct-dialed long distance call. I was too lazy to get a local number for Earthlink, so I dialed back to Indianapolis. The first call was a wrong number ($10), and the second call was only 20 minutes ($60). Ridiculous. Direct-dialed calls from an Italy hotel were less.*

As usual, we headed to the airport two hours before departure again. Our check-out at Hertz is very quick, and the bus is waiting for us this time. A few minutes later, we’re back in Terminal 2 standing in a very large (but fast-moving) line. The check-in counters are being run by Swissport and are serving multiple airlines, which actually seems to be helping everyone move through quickly. Once we’ve got our boarding passes and luggage checked, we head to the security checkpoint. Apparently I still have the markings of a potential terrorist as I am pulled aside for the treatment again. This time, however, they ask me to NOT turn my laptop on. Instead, they want to check it for explosive residue. They do the same thing to my shoes. Satisfied that I am still not a terrorist, we are left to head to the gate.*

This time, the plane is not at the gate, but we’re still early. We head to the snack bar which had a line of 40 people and three very slow attendants. It takes every bit of 30 minutes to get our pizza and drink. The plane still isn’t at the gate. Now this is the ATA we all know and love. The plane shows up finally, nearly an hour late. Despite winds out of 210 at 20MPH gusting to 30MPH, we have to taxi five miles to runway 25R because it’s the only one long enough (14,510 feet) to get a fully loaded L1011 off the ground, even though we were 300 feet from runway 19L (9,775 feet). The climb out of Vegas is rough with the wind and clouds, but it finally smoothes out, and we get into Indianapolis about 40 minutes late.*

For what it’s worth, ATA did purchase 39 new 737-800’s and 10 new 757-300’s last year, and claims to now have the youngest fleet of any major airline. Most of these operate out of their “new” Chicago Midway Airport hub. If you are flying out of Indianapolis, you will be on an ancient L1011, because the L1011 can’t land at Midway.
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