MIAMI – Thanksgiving, among the proudest of American holidays, evokes a spirit of familial gathering, one that often necessitates a lot of travel.

Airports across the United States, especially Miami International Airport (MIA), were expecting a surge of travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday as many families, mine included, celebrated in the Magic City.

140,000 passengers were expected to pass through MIA daily between November 19 and November 30, and when I arrived at the airport on Sunday, November 28, it certainly was busy!

Entering terminal D, home to American Airlines (AA), at MIA. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Entering terminal D, I took some photos and went to an American Airlines (AA) kiosk whereupon entering my record locator my boarding pass was printed.

Boarding pass in hand, I headed to the security line, expecting a longer than usual waiting period given the high volume of Thanksgiving traffic.

The line was extremely busy and while I waited I even noticed Ralph Cutié, the Director and CEO of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department overseeing MIA, walking by. Everyone at the airport was in high gear working the heavy traffic.

20 minutes later I was through security and headed to my gate, where I would catch a flight to Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV) in Gainesville, Florida!

Terminal D was packed but decorated for the holidays! Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

I arrived at gate D55, where I waited for a few minutes before being informed via email and a brief passenger announcement of a gate change to gate D60E.

The new gate was full of students at the University of Florida in Gainesville, myself included, heading back to school to finish the Fall semester. Ironically, a neighboring gate was similarly full of students heading to Tallahassee, home of Florida State University.

Given the historical rivalry between the two schools, an interesting dynamic was certainly present in terminal D.

Many regional flights depart out of an outdoor area on the west end of terminal D at MIA. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Originally set for a 5:30 pm departure, flight AA3607 to GNV was eventually delayed to a 5:49 pm departure. This was unfortunate for me as I had hoped to enjoy sunset views upon taking off.

Nevertheless, gate D60E is outside and I was able to enjoy the Miami sunset while boarding the Embraer E175LR registered as N289MW and operated by Envoy Air, the wholly-owned regional subsidiary of AA.

Seat 20A. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Boarding was efficient and relatively smooth and once on board I settled into seat 20A in Main Cabin, which was actually very comfortable for the 50-min flight.

The Envoy-operated E175LR had a 1-2 seating configuration in First and a 2-2 seating configuration in Main Cabin, the aircraft had a cozy atmosphere inside.

Power outlet. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

A power outlet was easily accessible and conveniently located between the two seats, my fellow passenger and I were both able to use it concurrently during the flight.

Plenty of legroom. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

The legroom was more than sufficient in Main Cabin, I am personally 5’11” and had plenty of room to stretch.

An inflight entertainment and refreshment guide, an airsickness bag, and a safety guide were all present in the seat pocket in front of me.

Pushback and engine start-up! Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Finally, we pushed back behind schedule at 6:07 pm. Soon the engines were on, the flaps were set, and the taxi began.

Surprisingly, despite the heavy traffic at MIA, the taxi was not incredibly long and soon enough we took off from runway 26L.

Heading west into the Florida sky, the bright lights of Miami were certainly mesmerizing but soon enough light transitioned to darkness as we flew over the massive swampland of the Everglades.

Miami at night, notice Dolphin Mall and the Ronald Reagan Turnpike below! Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Eventually, we turned north and climbed to an altitude of 28,000 feet. A flight attendant via the intercom explained that there was no food or beverage service on the flight but that water was available upon request.

I still pulled out the tray table, which was spacious enough and sturdy, with plenty of room to rest a drink along with a book or computer. Personally, I neglected to try the Gogo in-flight wifi or stream any of the complimentary inflight entertainment.

Plenty of space on the tray table. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Electing instead to catch up on the latest edition of The Economist, I also took some time to enjoy the views as we flew north up the Floridian peninsula.

The window photos I took did not come out very well due to the cabin light but I still caught nice glimpses of Ft. Myers, Tampa, and Ocala.

A full cabin. Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

The cabin itself was packed, with many passengers glued to their electronics on the short flight. Soon the captain announced the beginning of our descent into GNV

The flaps and gear soon came down and I, despite the cabin light, caught a photo as we passed below 3,000 feet overflying Lochloosa Lake with the lights of Gainesville appearing in the distance.

Lochloosa Lake with the lights of Gainesville visible in the distance! Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Eventually we made a quick turn onto final before firmly landing on runway 29 at GNV. After a quick taxi to the gate we soon deplaned, in Gator territory!

Pulling up to the gate at Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), just a little smaller than MIA! Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight

Overall, the flight, while delayed and lacking inflight beverage and snack service, had a friendly crew making for a pleasant run from south Florida to north Florida, a true ride up the Floridian peninsula!


Featured image: American Eagle (Operated by Envoy Air) Embraer E175LR, Reg: N289MW, boarding at Miami International Airport (MIA). Photo: Brent Foster / Airways – @5starflight