‘Buses, Bojangles’, and More: My Domestic Wide-body Experience

While I’m undoubtedly partial to Boeing, I have always admired the Airbus A330. In my opinion, both the -200 and -300  variants are very easy on the eye. So when I was booking a trip to Miami and saw that American Airlines was running the A330-200 once daily between Boston and Charlotte as a domestic wide body flight, I felt that I had to pounce.

Up to that point, the only two times that I’d ever had the privilege of taking a wide-body aircraft were my two trips to England, when I flew on a 777 and 747 the first and second time, respectively. With all of that in mind, it was a simple decision: instead of flying direct to Miami, I would fly both legs between Boston and Charlotte on the A330, and both legs between Charlotte and Miami on the A321. In doing so, I’d get to try out two new aircraft – one of which I had a strong desire to fly on – and I’d also get to see the Charlotte airport, which I’d heard good things about. As much as this trip was set to be a vacation, it was equally set to be a new experience – one I was greatly looking forward to.

February 27, 2016

BOS – CLT

It was certainly a different experience boarding a double-aisle aircraft for a domestic flight. While normally I’m used to getting on a plane and — my one first-class experience aside — heading down the aisle to a seat a number of rows back, this time I bypassed the first aisle and went to the second. The flight attendant offered to help direct me to my seat, as is standard protocol, but — and I say this not trying to sound boastful — I knew exactly where I was going.

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N290AY parked at our gate.

After we rotated off of Runway 33L, I began to enjoy the standard departure from the right side of the plane. Having already viewed my home from a departure from that runway the previous year, which was my primary motivation for sitting exclusively on the port side of the plane, I figured that it was time to see the view from the other side.

As it was, we took a left bank to begin our southwesterly track. I was able to see my alma mater, Brandeis University, from my window seat vantage point. While the picture that I captured wasn’t by any means great, I could pick out all of the major landmarks on campus, which was pretty cool.

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I can see my old dorm!

The A330 rode very smoothly, extremely graceful for an aircraft of its size. I enjoyed the fact that I could both watch movies and listen to Dillon Francis on a 1 1/2 hour domestic flight. Regardless of the IFE, I was content enough being on the plane itself – the trip was fully worth it in my mind.

We soon began our descent into Charlotte, flying downwind of the airport before circling back onto the Runway 36R approach. Soon enough, we touched down, arriving at CLT well ahead of schedule.

Bojangles’

Not only was this trip my first time flying through Charlotte, but it doubled as my first time trying Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits. For my fellow Northerners, Bojangles’ is basically a Southern chicken joint that’s better than KFC, Popeyes, and any other chicken place you’ll ever try. It’s where “King Curtis” – he of Wifeswap and the quote “chicken nuggets is like my family” fame – and his family eat during the show, and I can fully understand why. Bottom line: I highly recommend giving Bojangles’ a shot if you have the opportunity – you won’t regret it.

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Best. Chicken. Ever.

CLT – MIA

Following the religious experience that was my first tasting of Bojangles’, I boarded another American aircraft, this time the Airbus A321-200. For the second time in one day, I’d be flying on a plane that I’d never flown on before.

The A321 is, essentially, a stretched version of the best-selling A320. With six seats across in a 3-3 configuration, it’s reasonably comfortable enough. I sat next to two larger men, but I didn’t find myself suffering from any space issues. While flying on the American A321 was a little less crammed than my experience on the carrier’s A319s, it was a pretty standard flight – not fantastic, but by no means undesirable.

Much like the BOS-CLT leg of the journey, the flight itself was around 1 1/2 hours. We had a pretty standard takeoff from Runway 18L, and while there appeared to be extensive crosswinds the pilots handled the challenge with grace. What was memorable, however, was that we flew over the clear, blue water on our approach into Runway 26L at Miami – an incredibly unique experience, and no doubt the highlight of the flight.

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Look at that blue water! Not like anything we have in Boston, that’s for sure.

March 1, 2016

MIA – CLT

After an excellent vacation in Miami, it was time to head back home. I climbed aboard an A321 for the second time in three days, this time bound for Charlotte. The boarding of the plane went extremely slowly, due in large part to the oblivious passengers who seemed to be focused on stowing their carryon luggage as inefficiently as possible, but nonetheless we departed MIA nearly on time from Runway 8R.

During my time on the plane, I watched a few episodes of Moonshiners on my laptop. I was no doubt incredibly intrigued by the behavior of the North Carolina moonshiners, particularly Jeff, Mark, and Jim Tom, and I perhaps was priming myself for a visit to their home state. Regardless, the flight was pretty short at 1 1/2 hours, although we did have a nice approach into Runway 23.

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Not sure how rare approaches to Runway 23 are, but I enjoyed it.

CLT – BOS

With an hour-long layover, I had more than enough time to visit Bojangles’ once again. This time, I was significantly more hungry, and thus was able to savor the experience a bit more. Regardless, I enjoyed the chicken, fries, and biscuit immensely, and I’m already looking forward to the next time I visit Bojangles’.

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More Bojangles’.

While I was a bit disappointed to be ending my vacation, I was looking forward to flying on the A330 once again. It’s an incredibly elegant aircraft, in my opinion, and as I’ve said previously, it rides smooth.

Following our takeoff from Runway 18L, we flew south for a bit before making a long left turn to the northeast. It was getting darker as we flew, but it was pretty cool that we got some of the last rays of the day in at our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet, which we maintained for most of the flight.

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Shortly after takeoff from Runway 18L.

After nightfall, we started our descent for the Runway 27 approach into Logan. Though it was dark out, I could see our aircraft getting closer and closer to the water thanks to the lights on the bottom of the plane. Finally, at the point where I could almost see how murky the water was, or at least compared to Miami, land appeared under the plane, and we smoothly touched down on Runway 27 without incident.

All in all, it was a great trip. I flew on two new planes, got to experience Miami for the first time, and received a much-needed break. While I won’t say definitively that I’ll be going back to Miami every year, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to doing it again. That said, the next time I go back, I’ll be sure to take a full week – and hopefully squeeze in some Bojangles’, too!