While there will be some San Juan to follow, I’m starting with just the trip report. Just the airports, planes, ups and downs. When I worked out the itinerary, I went out of my way – and paid a bit more – to get us on US Airways’ flagship A330-200. With Silver Preferred, I bought coach for the flight down, allowing us to take our chances on a complimentary upgrade. And the price difference was hundreds of dollars, so no dice. Everything went off without a hitch, to include waking up at 4:30 to get to DCA on time. With 20 Envoy suites, we easily scored the upgrade. So nice to turn left.

Pre-boarding coffee and plain doughnut. The reward for waking up at 430.

Pre-boarding coffee and plain doughnut. The reward for waking up at 430.

I slept on the DCA-PHL short flight and have no memory of it. There was no layover time, so we rolled right off one tiny plane and into a big one. The husband and I had adjoining center seats.

I slept on the DCA-PHL short flight and have no memory of it. There was no layover time, so we rolled right off one tiny plane and into a big one. The husband and I had adjoining center seats.

Fernando models his Envoy Suite. Notably, the IFE is not operational on these domestic/Caribbean flights. I hear it's a licensing issue. But these days, if you can afford a flight, it's highly likely you can afford  screen.

Fernando models his Envoy Suite. Notably, the IFE is not operational on these domestic/Caribbean flights. I hear it’s a licensing issue. But these days, if you can afford a flight, it’s highly likely you can afford a screen.

It was too early for alcohol, so we had bloody marys.

It was too early for alcohol, so we had bloody marys.

Once in the air, the FA showed me a wine glass. "This is the regular size." Then she showed me the highball glass. "And this is my size" I guessed she was pressing the big 'un to save herself re-fill trips. Worked for me!

Once in the air, the FA showed me a teeny wine glass. “This is the regular size.” Then she showed me the highball glass. “And this is my size” I guessed she was pressing the big ‘un to save herself re-fill trips. Worked for me!

I opted for the pasta with cream sauce. It was heavy, but what was I expecting?

I opted for the pasta with cream sauce. It was heavy, but what was I expecting?

The caprese, however, was great. With the cabin environment dulling tastebuds, all in-flight catering should include vinegar and fresh basil.

The caprese, however, was great. With the cabin environment dulling tastebuds, all in-flight catering should include vinegar and fresh basil.

Here's a ho-hum shot looking to the rear as we (cue Fantasy Island theme. "Boss!) de-planed.

Here’s a ho-hum shot looking to the rear as we (cue Fantasy Island theme. “Boss!) de-planed.

On the return, things got funky. I’d actually purchased first-class tickets for the trip home. It was only $4 more per person. Granted, there were much cheaper flights throughout the day, but the 2:50 departure was a perfect time for us. Arriving at SJU, Fernando bought a big bag of Puerto Rican coffee and packed it into one of the suitcases, which we then checked. After security, we headed to the American Airlines Admirals Club on the chance our US Airways pass might be applied. Nope. Fine. We headed to Margaritaville for – What else? – margaritas to kill time. That’s when I got the automated message advising that our CLT-DCA flight had been canceled for maintenance reasons. I thought I’d given us enough buffer, with loads of flights connecting SJU to Charlotte, and a steady stream from Charlotte to DCA. Alas, no. And Fernando’s Monday appointments began at 10 a.m., so we were sweating. Right until the door closed, he was making frantic phone calls. The flight to CLT was pleasant enough, but we were certainly preoccupied. At CLT, there were also loads of passengers stranded due to weather issues, so all the agents had their hands full. While the husband waited to get our hotel voucher and the details on our new itinerary, I went to the baggage area to make a plea for pulling our bags rather than have them loaded onto the next DCA-bound flight. There were hours between, so we thought there might be a chance. But no. Still, we had to wait through the two-hour window in case that request was filled and our bags were pulled. Otherwise, we feared they might be left sitting in CLT long after we left. I guessed we’d fill this time getting dinner at some restaurant on the same pre-security side as the baggage areas, but there isn’t one! CLT, please take this into consideration. For an international hub, you really need something more than Starbucks pre-security! I suggest getting some ideas from TPA. After a quick night at the Charlotte Airport Wingate (Do not be fooled by the hotel photos – that little sundries shop is dry as a bone!), we left early for JFK, where we had to pick up new boarding passes for our final flight, American Eagle to DCA. No problem for me, but there was some sort of security flag on Fernando’s reservation. Scary, as this has happened to him before with American – only American. Eventually, however, he got his pass and we cooled our jets at Cascata, which is lined with electrical outlets for charging everybody’s junk. Thank you! I think we finally made it home a little before noon, where our bags were waiting for us.

Checking in at SJU, we still think everything's dandy. Why I always look grumpy, I do not know.

Checking in at SJU, we still think everything’s dandy. Why I always look grumpy, I do not know.

SJU Margaritaville, where we got the bad news.

SJU Margaritaville, where we got the bad news.

Whatever the bumps in the journey, this plane is beautiful.

Whatever the bumps in the journey, this plane is beautiful.

Post-boarding, I actually am grumpy, so my face expression is far more apropos.

Post-boarding, I actually am grumpy, so my facial expression is far more apropos.

I took the edge off with my Dutch pal, Heineken, and got to writing my column as I was afraid of what was going to happen to Monday's schedule.

I took the edge off with my Dutch pal, Heineken, and got to writing my column as I was afraid of what was going to happen to Monday’s schedule.

Again, the main was not dazzling. But what am I expecting from pasta?

Again, the main was not dazzling. But what am I expecting from pasta?

And, again, the side was the scene-stealer.

And, again, the side was the scene-stealer.

I skipped the chocolate cake offered on the way down, but this tropical tart thingy on the way back was super.

I skipped the chocolate cake offered on the way down, but this tropical tart thingy on the way back was super.

The supper I crafted for myself based on what was for sale at the hotel.

The supper I crafted for myself based on what was for sale at the hotel.

After sleeping through a 2-hour flight – aisle coach seat, middle empty – JFK and Cascata brought us back to civilization.

After sleeping through a 2-hour flight – aisle coach seat, middle empty – JFK and Cascata brought us back to civilization.

Waiting to board our final flight!

Waiting to board our final flight!

Nice to get the upgrade, if only for 30 minutes. My first time up front on American Eagle.

Nice to get the upgrade, if only for 30 minutes. My first time up front on American Eagle.

And oh me, oh my! A genuine cup!

And oh me, oh my! A genuine cup!

A little unexpected JFK plane-spotting was also welcome.

A little unexpected JFK plane-spotting was also welcome.

A special goodbye from beautiful Big Blue!

A special goodbye from beautiful Big Blue!