Booking our flights:
Our journey to French Polynesia would take us from Houston, TX to Papeete, Tahiti. This was a much anticipated trip and I booked the seats in January of 2006 to travel in September 2006; we used miles to secure our seats. Since this trip included an international segment, I had to telephone the AA Customer Service Center instead of booking it online (www.aa.com)
The wait for a customer service person was about 10 minutes
once I had a representative on the line, we discussed the dates that I wanted, and she told me which dates were available, etc., and I did have to be flexible with the dates, but it worked out well. September is still the high season in French Polynesia, and actually, we were lucky to find award seats from LAX to Papeete only nine months in advance.
Once we worked out the dates, AA held the reservation for a few days before finalizing the booking (as there are fees involved if you change the dates after booking), allowing me to secure our hotel reservations. We were not able to obtain business class tickets, as Air Tahiti only offers coach class seats for award purposes.
Paper tickets were issued (again, because of an international partner) and we received them in the mail about a week after finalizing the reservation.
I had forgotten to call for our seat assignments a couple of months before departure, so when I called AA and Air Tahiti, a week before we left, I was told I had had to get seat assignments at the counter; not so good! On the return, we were assigned seats, but not sitting together
they said flights were fully booked!
September 1, 2006
Travel day finally arrived and we rose at 03:00 am to make our flight of 06:30. Our house is less than 20 miles from Houston International (IAH) and we planned to arrive at the airport by 05:00 -05:15
we live dangerously, considering it was Labor Day weekend and with new security procedures in place!
The check-in queue was long, but there is a separate international counter and there were only 3-4 people in front of us. We placed our bags on the scale, one by-one, as requested, and one bag was overweight by 9 lbs. The AA representative told us that we exceeded our weight allowance but shed let it slide! Hooray!
She gave us our boarding passes for IAH/DFW and DFW/LAX. The first flight we had emergency row seats and for the second flight she could only find two seats together, on the very last row; but, I didnt care, I was on my way to Tahiti!
Our luggage was checked all the way to Papeete (which meant AA would transfer our bags to Air Tahiti in LAX); after reading all the negative stories about AA losing luggage, etc., I was a tad nervous because the luggage was changing planes three times in one day
but, I hoped for the best!
Going through security was easy and even though the queue was long, it took about 15 minutes to clear security. Not bad!
IAH/DFW Flight1505 ~ McDonnell Douglas S80 ~ Seat config: 2-3
Plane was clean and there were blankets available upon request and they were needed as it was freezing! This flight was fully booked.
Flight departed on the dot, weather was clear, and the Captain announced flight time was 1 hour and 1 minute. Free refreshments were offered as well as coffee and tea! Flight attendants were pleasant and did their job well.
DFW/LAX Flight2413 ~ Boeing 737-800 ~ Seat config: 3-3
Flight departed on time as the weather was good and there were no equipment/mechanical delays. This plane was also very clean, even though the seat upholstery showed its age. There were a few blankets and pillows available upon request. The flight attendants offered a headset for $2.00 to watch the TV or listen to music, but, a movie was not shown. Flight time was 3 hours and 4 minutes.
Free refreshments were offered and a snack boxes were available for purchase for $4.00. Sitting on the last row (seats 28D/F) has its advantages, as one of the flight attendants offered us beverages several times and we discussed French Polynesia at length. He told us about his many trips to Tahiti and recommended a few spots to visit. The flight was pleasant and the flight attendants did their job well and courteously.
For the third flight segment, we left the domestic terminal and went across the street to the Tom Bradley International Terminal where we had to check-in with Air Tahiti Nui. Our luggage was transferred by AA to ATN.
September 13, 2006
We landed from Tahiti at 09:30 a.m. and ATN was transferring our luggage to our connecting flight with AA, scheduled for 2:10 p.m. We went to the AA counter to see if we could be moved up to an earlier flight and the attendant told us that yes, she could, but she didnt know if the luggage could be located in time to make the earlier flight; she said the computer that matches luggage to passengers isnt always 100% accurate. We said we didnt mind if it didnt, and accepted the AA terms in exchange for an earlier flight. She then booked us on the earlier flights, arriving in Houston at 7:30 p.m. instead of the original time of 9:45!
LAX-DFW ~ Flight 2446 ~ Boeing 757 ~ Seat Config: 3-3
We boarded the plane as scheduled, everyone got comfortable and settled in their seats; we didnt have to share our row with another passenger. We fell asleep immediately and didnt hear the ensuing announcements. I think I woke up about half-hour later and we were still on the ground, and then I heard the Captain announce that they were still working on the computer malfunction and that it would be another 12-15 minutes before we would depart! To make a long story short, the computer was repaired and we departed about 55 minutes late. Honestly, I was so tired that I was content to snooze on my seat, and I knew that if we missed our connection, there was one more flight that evening (our original connection, lol!).
The 757s are one of the venerable work-horses AA uses, and are showing their age, but the cabin is comfortable and the seats are okay for economy class and seem to have sufficient leg room, unless the passenger is tall.
Free headphones were passed around (because of our late departure) and free soft drinks. Cocktails and snack boxes were available for $5.00 and $4.00, respectively. Blankets and pillows were scarce, and Jerry managed to find a smelly blanket for me, but I was cold and sleepy, so it worked out.
So, indeed we missed our 5:50 p.m. connecting flight to Houston, but the AA agent in DFW informed us that we were already booked on the 8:40 p.m. flight and gave us our boarding passes. Funny how we ended up on the originally scheduled flight! To pass time, we dined at Chilis Express, which was awful, but thats another story!
DFW-IAH ~ Flight 2256 ~ McDonnell Douglas S80 ~ Seat config 2-3
At this point, we had been traveling 20 hours, and I just wanted to take off, get to Houston, and I could care less what condition the plane was in or if the flight attendants were cranky, etc.
Turns out the plane was very clean and the flight attendants were friendly. There were no available blankets, but since I must have looked pitiful, one of the flight attendants was sweet and brought me a pillow and blanket from first class.
The Captain announced we had excellent weather and that the flight would only take 44 minutes. Beverages and cocktails were offered and a flight attendant announced that due to the short duration of the flight, they would try to serve beverages to everyone, but apologized if they couldnt serve all passengers! I didnt hear any groans from the passengers.
A mechanical failure can happen at any time, so, as long as the Captain keeps the passengers informed about whats being done about it, Im fine waiting it out; its the silence and lack of information that angers me. And, the fact that AA immediately booked us on the following flight, made things much easier.
Our luggage was transferred three times in each direction, and made it to the final destination and arrived in good condition!
We flew on a mileage award, so a free ticket cant be beat, but honestly, we were completely satisfied with the service received in Coach Class.
The planes we traveled in were clean and the flight attendants did their job as required, and our luggage arrived unscathed... and that's all that really matters to us!
Thank you for reading!
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