The flight out of Phoenix is at 07:50 and we are in an Uber and at Sky Harbor for 05:30. There’s not much of a queue for security, so we’re soon at the Admirals Club at Terminal 4. The lounge agent guarding the entrance makes a point of telling us that no alcohol will be served in the lounge. Elsewhere I’d probably be checking a mirror for visible after effects of the Pinnacle Atomic from the night before, but here it’s a nuance of Arizona’s alcohol laws.
Many of the states in the US have their own distinct laws for alcohol sale and consumption. Some are absolutely fastidious with having to see ID before they will serve you, or even let you into the establishment. In a throwback to prohibition, some counties within some states ban alcohol sales completely. Arizona’s particular thing is absolutely no alcohol consumption on licensed premises between 02:30 and 06:00.
Phoenix to Philly (140 TP)
The journey back home involves five flights in total. I’d originally booked a routing with an extra leg via Los Angeles for an extra 40 tier points, and also because American Airlines run a proper trans-continental business class service from LA over to JFK and Miami, with proper lie flat beds. Unfortunately a schedule change after booking meant this was no longer possible, but when sorting it out with AA they insisted we still route home with the extra flight. So we are flying back to Philadelphia and then connecting on to a flight to JFK, less than 100 miles away. This leg has a too-short-for-comfort 1h 11min layover in which we have to change terminals in an airport which is a mile long end to end.
The lounge at Phoenix T1 is on the compact side, but has a decent view of the tarmac, and we’re sharing it with only a handful of other travellers. The breakfast offering is somewhat sparse, cereals, yoghurt, fruit and coffee. I’m keeping an eye nervously on the departure board, conscious that even a small delay could wreak knock-on havoc with our itinerary, but reassuringly AA655 is indicated on time, and remains that way until it’s time to board. Unlike the flight here, we are returning to Philly on an A321, the largest of the Airbus single-aisle family. AA actually have the largest fleet of this aircraft type of any carrier, and are the largest overall operator of the A320 family.
The journey to Philly is a little over 2000 miles, and there are some spectacular views over parts of the snow covered desert south-west during the early parts of it. The captain updates us with our anticipated progress; generally smooth flying conditions and an early arrival into Philly. Time to relax and enjoy the flight.
We arrive into Terminal C, about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. The pressure is off. We are departing from Terminal F, the home of the smaller American Eagle Embraer jets. You can walk to F, but conveniently there’s a shuttle bus that departs from next to Gate C16.
Safely over to F and with some spare time to kill, we head to the Admirals Club on the mezzanine level above the food hall. It’s quite a bit bigger than the one in Phoenix, but the decor is identical.
Philly to JFK (20 TP)
Making us take this flight, rather than being pragmatic with our re-route after they changed the schedule, probably ends up costing AA $1000. On sub-£1300 tickets for 9 flights, that’s all the profit, and then some. We are at the gate and the little 50 seater, economy only, Embraer E-145 we are due to fly on has been over sold. They are offering passengers $500 per person to volunteer to be bumped off to a different flight.
Boarding is prompt, the plane inside tiny and only 3 across with minimal luggage space, which causes issues for a few passengers. But I do like these little Embraers. BA CityFlyer fly them out of London City, though the slightly larger E-170 and E-190’s. We’ve got a decent size layover in JFK, but we are away on time anyway. Maybe it’s because the plane is tiny, but the take off feels especially fast and the climb out steep. Cruise on this short flight is a mere 15000 feet. It feels like we’ve barely entered the cruise before shafts of sunlight through the clouds are welcoming us to JFK.