USAirways A321 economy from San Diego to Phoenix (and back)

USAirways A321 economy from San Diego to Phoenix (and back)

The following is a review of USAirways A321 economy from way back in 2013. The most interesting thing (my opinion anyway) is how thick the seats are. It’s hard to imagine a time when economy class seats were as thick as domestic first class seats, but that’s the way it used to be…

Segment 1 of 2: San Diego to Phoenix

The days leading up to this flight went by painfully slow. Yeah, I was excited about finally getting back in the air again after being on the ground for a few weeks – and the fact that I was really excited about a short hop over to Phoenix and back says a lot. I was that desperate to hit the road again.

San Diego, CA (SAN) – Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Saturday, December 7 2013
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Registration: N551UW
Seat: 26A (economy)

USAirways A321 (N551UW) side view
USAirways A321 (N551UW) side view illustration by

Despite being excited about this trip, it wasn’t until the evening until departure that I realized that I had a 6:30am flight out of SAN. Somehow I thought it was an 8:30am flight, so that caught me a little off guard. No matter though – I was anxious enough to get going so an early departure didn’t phase me at all.

The drive down to the airport in the morning was fast and easy as usual considering the early hour. Once I arrived at the airport, it was quiet and dark, which provided an excellent opportunity to take a few nice pics of the newly built extension built onto terminal 2 west.

San Diego international airport outside
View of the new dual-level green build at SAN
Entrance to T2 West at SAN
Entrance to T2 West at SAN on the ground level

Since I already had my boarding passes (printed the night before), I went right through security and out into the main terminal. Despite the fact that there are many 6:30am flights out of SAN every morning, the airport seemed awfully quiet.

empty gate area
Empty gate area at SAN

Boarding was right on time, though a bit chaotic due to the fact that this was a full A321 flight and there was construction going on directly in front of the gate.

USAirways A321 N551UW
The USAirways A321 taking me to PHX this morning
Boarding at gate 33
Boarding at gate 33 for US567 SAN-PHX

This was my first flight since the FAA relaxed it’s rules on mobile device usage, and before this flight I was thinking that I’d probably be using my iPhone from the moment we sat down all the way until we took off. It didn’t quite happen that way – it was early and I was tired…my brain wasn’t ready for information overload.

full flight to Phoenix
Onboard and ready to go on US567 to PHX

It was kind of a gloomy morning in San Diego, and the sun disappeared behind the clouds as we pushed back from the gate and made our way to the threshold of runway 27 for departure. We had a 15 minute wait once we got there, because of flow control into PHX (which according to the pilot, was a regular occurrence that early in the morning).

rainy view from the wing
Rainy skies in San Diego while we wait for a departure slot
view of Terminal 2 at SAN
Finally on the way out of SAN with an excellent view of Terminal 2
tray table advertising
I thought that the advertising on the tray tables was low-class and annoying
view out the window
The view out the window: there’s a little bit of wing flex going on!

The flight was short – only 45 minutes or so from wheels up to wheels down. Due to the winds out of the east, we flew straight into runway 8, overflying downtown Phoenix on the way in.

flying over downtown phoenix
Flying right over top of downtown Phoenix as we glide in to runway 8 at PHX
landing on runway 8 at PHX
Moments before landing on runway 8 at PHX

I had a window seat on this flight, and the husband and wife in the aisle and middle seats asked me if I was in a hurry while the plane was deboarding. I said “no”, so they waited until pretty much everyone got off the plane before getting up themselves.

It would have been irritating if I was trying to make a tight connection, but since I had no hard plans, I really didn’t mind. Once entering the terminal, I was surprised to see that it hadn’t changed at all since the last time I was there (over 7 years ago).

PHX terminal interior
Inside the terminal at PHX

Segment 2 of 2: Phoenix to San Diego

Since my flight wasn’t scheduled to depart PHX until 11:15am, I took my time checking out of the hotel and returning my rental car.

I was hoping for clear and sunny skies that morning, because if that was the case, then I would have left much earlier to spend a bit of time in the terminal 4 parking garage doing some aviation photography. But it was gray and gloomy when I woke up, which scrubbed those plans in an instant. The sun did come out later though.

Phoenix, AZ (PHX) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Sunday, December 8 2013
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Registration: N542UW
Seat: 26F (economy)

USAirways A321 (N542UW) side view
USAirways A321 (N542UW) side view illustration by
USAirways terminal PHX
A quick look at the USAirways terminal here at PHX before going inside

I eventually made into the terminal at PHX by 9am. Since I still had plenty of time and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, I grabbed a quick bite at a cafe in the main terminal (before going through security). $14 for a bagel, fruit bowl, and an orange juice. Yikes!

This is the first time I’ve been in this section of Sky Harbor International Airport – it’s fresh and modern with many restaurants and shops, which makes killing time really easy.

phx main terminal
The main terminal of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (pre-security)

Once past security, I spent my time walking between terminal 3 and 4 several times – which for an aviation geek like me, is a fun way to pass time. I like airports that allow walking between terminals without exiting security, and PHX is one of the best – topped only by ORD in my book.

walkway between terminals
Walkway between terminals 3 and 4 at PHX
USAirways A321 PHX
This isn’t the A321 I would be flying on – but it looked exactly like it (duh)

Boarding was a few minutes late, but they managed to get everyone onboard quickly and on our way right on time.

my seat to San Diego
My seat (26F) on this USAirways flight to San Diego
view of runway 8 at PHX
View of the northern runway (8) at PHX as we departed for SAN
climbing out of PHX
Climbing out of PHX with an excellent view of downtown Phoenix

Flight time was a little bit longer than it was when I came from San Diego the day before (55 minutes this time), and there was a bit of turbulence the entire way. But other than that, it was a completely uneventful flight.

in cabin view
Drink service during the flight – notice the mid cabin lavatory (something I haven’t seen much on other US carriers)
cloudy wing view
Started to get cloudy as we descended into the San Diego area
san diego mountains
The clouds eventually broke allowing for pretty good views of the mountains below
approaching SAN
Overflying I-5 just moments before touchdown at SAN
touchdown on runway 27
Rolling to a stop on runway 27. That UA 767-400 is not a regular visitor to SAN – it was most likely a football charter.

It was a good trip, and nice to fly on USAirways again after a 12 year absence. The short flights made it difficult to effectively evaluate the service, but I saw nothing with my time with them that would prevent me from avoiding US in the future.

So – will these be my last every USAirways flights before they are fully absorbed into American Airlines? Time will tell…

Comments (2)

  1. Brandon S

    November 18, 2017
    • SANspotter

      November 19, 2017

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