American Airlines operates in RDU out of Terminal 2. Terminal 2 is a “not bad” terminal as far as airports go, it’s long, has lots of open spaces, and generally high architecture. The décor is typical airport, as are the vendor selections. Once past security, I headed to the Admiral’s Club lounge. At RDU, both the Admiral’s Club lounge and the Delta Sky Club are a one-floor elevator ride up from the main floor.
My American Express Platinum nets me free access to Admiral’s Club when flying AA, so I was looking forward to getting some work done while awaiting my flight. As it turns out, that free access doesn’t come with free Wi-Fi yet (though the receptionist told me it was coming). I didn’t feel like paying for the Wi-Fi pass, so that nixed getting much work done. Instead, I started this trip report. (Incidentally, I later saw a FlyerTalk post about a crazy eShopping mistake listing and convinced the receptionist to let me have the free Wi-Fi so that I could take advantage. I hope that one works out!)
The lounge is fairly nice as lounges go. It features several large-screen LCD TVs tuned to CNN and prominent arrivals/departures boards so you can keep up to date on your flight information. There is a lot of seating—far more than they probably ever need—in the form of leather chairs of average comfort. The seating area is divided into 3 sections separated by 4.5-foot privacy glass. The bar is well apportioned and the bartender kept asking me if I wanted a shot of rum to go in the Cokes I ordered. There are showers for the long-haul travelers and plenty of snacks and reading materials. All-in-all, not a bad way to spend time waiting on a flight.
I flew AA 4400 from RDU to DCA operated by American Eagle on an Embraer RJ140 as MQ 4400. This is a single-cabin commuter aircraft seating 44, and I sat in seat 2A which a single seat on the port side of the cabin (across the aisle from the coat check). The flight left on schedule and had a great flight attendant. Takeoff and landing were very bumpy, but the weather was not cooperative, and the RJ140 is a small plane.
After arriving at DCA, I made for the Hertz rental counter where I had a 2011 Buick Enclave waiting (we were a party of 5—one arriving from Venezuela and sure to have checked baggage). I rented this vehicle on an “AA/Hertz 2X miles, save 20%” promotion that I saw on FlyerTalk and also received 500 bonus Hertz #1 Club points (enough for a free weekend-day rental) from this promotion.
We made the 25-mile drive to the Chase Suites Hotel in Rockville, MD where, after much confusion at the front desk related to our Hotels.com reservation, I checked into room 308. The walk to room 308 included a stroll along an outside hallway that was not very upkept. When I reached my room, it was a nice-enough room. Not what I would call a “suite” given that it was one room with a kitchenette, but it was okay. The biggest drawback was that the Internet connection was non-functional (it would take me to the login page, but the login failed). After struggling with it for about an hour (and the front desk not really helping), I took a stab at guessing another password (based on the name of the hotel) and had success. Nice. One bar is better than nothing.
We had a late dinner at the Thai Farm restaraunt in Rockville which was excellent, though it is not a participant in the AAdvantage Dining Program (which I typically try to take advantage of when given the chance). After dinner, I headed back to my room to get a little work done, now that I finally had Internet connectivity.
I had breakfast at the hotel restaraunt–the Rock Grille. Breakfast was in keeping with the quality of the room. They were out of everything except for some soupy canteloupe and over-heated scrambled eggs. The from-concentrate apple juice was the best part of the “meal.”
After spending the next morning in business meetings in Gaithersburg, MD, we left for the DCA to return the car and begin the homeward trip. Upon arrival, I visited the Hertz counter to return the car and headed to the terminals. I waited for the flight in the Admiral’s Club, where there were no issues with the free Wi-Fi (DCA has free Wi-Fi for the entire airport). The lounge was a typical Admiral’s Club, if a little larger–but also much more crowded.
I flew AA 4527 back to RDU, again operated by American Eagle on an Embraer RJ140 as MQ 4527. I sat in seat 1A this time which offered a *touch* more legroom. It was another bumpy ride, but I did have my first experience viewing a rainbow from the window on an airplane. The best part of this view? The rainbow was upside-down! My camera was in my carry-on bags about 8 rows back (it’s a small plane), so I didn’t get any pictures, but here is a picture of one that is similar.
All told, it was a pleasant trip, but I definitely feel I could’ve done better on the hotel.
PS. The next trip is a business trip to E-ATP/mini-vacation in Prague next month. There will be posts between now and then, of course :).