American Has Finally Made Mesa Improve Its CRJ-900 Interiors (Trip Report)

Surprise! It’s a Wednesday post. I have a big backlog on post content right now, so I thought I’d put this trip report up today.

After the mess getting to Phoenix, I figured my return couldn’t be worse, right? Then I remembered I was flying Mesa. Fear not… the flight was perfectly pleasant, and it was my first on the redone Mesa CRJ-900 interiors that American required after the merger. More on that later.

But first, I have to say thanks to the Westin Kierland. My wife and I spent the first two nights there (using my SPG points) before she went home and my team came in for meetings. I had been to the hotel before, so I knew I liked it, but they did a great job this time. My wife has been on a jigsaw puzzle kick lately, so I mentioned that it was her birthday weekend and she would love to do some puzzling. Sure enough, they had a puzzle waiting in our room with a nice note. They helped us get a dinner reservation at a full restaurant on Saturday, and they sent up a box of cookies the second night with another note. It’s stays like these that remind me why I’m an SPG loyalist. (And yes, the Marriott merger terrifies me….)

But let’s get back to airplanes. After my wife left Sunday, I relapsed with my cold/cough just in time for my team to arrive. We spent the week working on strategy, and by the time we left on Thursday, I was feeling better but not great.

I pulled up my reservation on the American app, and I didn’t have a seat assignment. When I checked in, I was surprised that it auto-assigned me into a Main Cabin Extra seat (nothing else was left on the airplane). I had no idea that they would auto-assign someone into Main Cabin Extra until the gate, but I wasn’t going to complain.

We all had flights leaving between 1:30pm and 2:30pm from Terminal 4, so we got there around 12:30pm. Two of us had Pre Check and were through security in minutes. The other two didn’t and it took them over 30 minutes to get through. Of course, one of the guys in that line had the earliest flight at 1:26pm, and he made the mad dash, just squeezing on before American shut the door.

The rest of us spread out and found our respective gates. I headed to mine to find the airplane (a former Alitalia Cityliner aircraft, no less) waiting for me in the new colors. Well, most of it was in the new colors. It still had an old white US Airways nosecone.

Boarding time came, and the gate agent announced that we were just waiting for the captain to show up, so boarding would be delayed. I did not like the sound of that. But nine minutes before departure, he arrived. I was just out of earshot, but it looked like he was surprised they hadn’t boarded the airplane yet. There was some back and forth, but it didn’t last long. We were boarding shortly after.

March 23, 2017
American Eagle 5914 Lv Phoenix 210p Arr Long Beach 329p (operated by Mesa)
Phoenix (PHX): Gate B5, Runway 25R, Depart 10m Late
Long Beach (LGB): Gate 3, Runway 30, Arrive On Time
N951LR, Bombardier CRJ-900, Ugly Flag Tail, ~95% Full
Seat 7A, Main Cabin Extra (by accident)
Flight Time 59m

Onboard, I found this was one of the newly-refurbished interiors. American said it would make Mesa fix its worn and tired interiors to give it a similar look to what American has on its new mainline and regional fleets. The odd blue/black combo with a red stripe was present here, but these weren’t new seats. I confirmed with American that while the First Class seats were new, in coach they were just recovered.

Once I sat down, I could see that this was a fairly superficial retrofit. My seatbelt was fraying. (Apparently that’s scheduled to be replaced at a later date.) The windows were still scratched up and dirty.

The sidewalls looked clean, but the cover near my feet was coming off and showed a lot of what can only be described as “gunk” hiding.

Even on the seat itself, it seemed to have been done on the cheap. The label-maker apparently ran out of sticky stuff for the new disclosures on the seat. It was already peeling off.

In short, this is a big improvement over the previous state of these airplanes, but I’ll be curious to see what these look like in a couple years.

We taxied out, and naturally I went into a coughing fit. If only I had been smart enough to buy water in the terminal. I felt awful for the guy next to me (though I was turning the other way and covering my mouth). He pretended to be asleep, but there’s no way he could have slept through that. Once we got to the runway it was gone, and I was fine for the rest of the flight.

It had rained overnight in Phoenix, but by the time we left, there were just scattered clouds that caused a few bumps as we climbed. More importantly, it made for a great view.

We didn’t climb very high at all, topping out at a mere 22,000 feet. It was a mostly smooth day, and we started descending before we had even passed Palm Springs.

That meant I had a spectacular view of the fresh snow on Mt San Jacinto as we passed by.

I couldn’t help but look out the window at all the green below thanks to our incredibly wet winter here in Southern California.

We came over the top of John Wayne and then followed the coast into Long Beach. Needless to say, it was a quick taxi and we got to the gate right on time despite our late start.

I passed the race car (not a typo – it’s promoting the annual upcoming Long Beach Grand Prix) and was at the curb in a couple of minutes. It may have been a quick walk, but it did give me just enough time to ponder why the hell I ever fly out of LAX.

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