A very pretty morning in Chicago earlier this week. And, an easy day ahead of me, one-leg home from O’Hare to Phoenix.
This is a route I’ve flown countless times in my 28+ years in the airline business. During those years, I’ve flown the Boeing B737, B757 and the Airbus A320 series of jets into Chicago.
Here is our route as depicted on the website, FlightAware.
We flew the Airbus A321 at 32,000′ enroute to Phoenix. A little zig/zag around some weather in the Kansas City area and that was about it. Overall, a rather smooth flight with about an 85% load factor.
Here is a picture of the A321 passenger cabin as we prepare for passenger boarding in Chicago.
The First Officer (copilot) and I had stopped by Starbucks, naturally, for our morning coffee and treats prior to arriving at the American Airlines gate H12 that morning.
Nothing like that first cup of Joe! Mmm.. That banana nut muffin isn’t bad, either! Haha
I’m all set! Let’s do our pilot thing and get the Airbus A321 all set for this flight.
We’re scheduled for a 3:08 flight to PHX. A little bit of forecast turbulence for the first 45 minutes or so, weather related, and beyond that a nice flight is expected at an initial cruising altitude of 30,000 feet.
As we burn off fuel, resulting in a lighter Airbus, we’ll climb on up to 32,000. A bit later on, we’ll climb to 34,000 feet somewhere over southwestern Kansas or southeastern Colorado.
As we taxi out for departure for O’Hare’s runway 22L, we run into a typical morning rush hour and come to a complete stop. About 15-20 minutes later, we depart into the morning sky off towards PHX.
In the picture below, if you look closely, you can see the Chicago skyline on the bottom right of the picture. OK, you might have to squint to see the buildings!
I’m parked behind an American Boeing 737-800. I wondered where they were headed?
After takeoff, we were assigned a few left/right turns by Chicago Departure Control as we climbed to an initial altitude of 5,000 feet. The turns are designed to help align the jets departing O’Hare based upon a number of factors. One of these factors can include our initial departure path. In my case, we were departing the Chicago area to the southwest and towards St. Louis, the nearest large city along our flight path.
Our flight plan to Phoenix included the very standard O’Hare 8 Departure procedure. Something we’re all quite familiar with when departing O’Hare.
Eventually, the Chicago controller issues us a clearance to fly direct to the initial departure fix, Acito. (See the O’Hare 8 Departure plate below.)
Acito is located just south and west of O’Hare. From there we we’re on our way towards St. Louis and eventually, Phoenix.
Several hours later, we flew right over beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of my favorite places!
It was a sunny morning over the great state of New Mexico and a beautiful view from 34,000 feet.
Less than hour later, we arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
All in all, an easy day! One-leg home days are generally easy.