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Trip Report: Cape Air Inaugural Manistee light – Part 1
Manistee was in the news over the summer regarding the EAS contract in the city. After experiencing the previous airline— North Country Sky — first hand, I decided to try out Cape Air’s new service to see how it compared.
The booking process and flight schedule was simple and easy to understand, unlike the previous airline that served here. Cape Air service is twice daily during the winter, fall, and spring with service increase during the summer months. They have departures from Manistee in the early morning and the late afternoon.
Not only would this be the inaugural flight for Cape Air out of Manistee, but it would be my first time flying on the airline’s brand new Tecnam P2012 Traveller, the first of which was delivered to the carrier in July 2020.
Cape Air is the launch customer for the Tecnam P2012 Traveller and worked closely with Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam to design the aircraft based on the airline’s specifications. Tecnam, or in Italian “Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam” is an aircraft manufacturing company based in Casoria, Italy.
The day before the flight I briefly looked for online check-in but found none, I assumed there wouldn’t be as airlines that fly small aircraft such as this require in-person check-in so they can weigh all personal belongings. No matter, I just allowed myself extra time at the airport to check in the next morning.
Day of the Flight
The flight was scheduled to depart at 7:15 a.m. from the Manistee County Airport. Having flown out of Manistee before I knew there wouldn’t be a reason to arrive two hours ahead of time as it’s a very small airport.
I arrived at the airport at 5:50 A.M., knowing it was the first flight I decided to arrived earlier than one would have at such a small airport, in the event, there was some celebrating going on I wanted to be apart of it.
Upon arrival into the terminal, there was a table covered in Cape Air themed goodies and I immediately helped myself to some. There was a wide array of stuff from chapstick, to bag tags and anything in between.
On the left side of the table, there was some food and drinks. These included some smaller plastic water bottles and several bottles of ‘Nantucket Nectars’ which seems highly appropriate due to the airline having a strong presence on the island of Nantucket in the Northeastern United States.
Next to that, there were bags from a local Manistee shop called “Goody’s Juice and Java”, these bags included a banana, and either a chocolate or lemon muffin which was really delicious. The first flight hasn’t even taken off yet and the airline is already supporting a local business.
Upon checking in, some of the airline employees recognized me from when I flew North Country Sky a month back. Once I received my boarding pass I realized something, on my ticket, it said “Sequence No 1” which means I was the first person ever to check in for a Cape Air flight out of Manistee, Michigan.
Upon getting my boarding pass they also weighed my backpack and walked around the small terminal to talk with some of the other passengers and Cape Air executives that were present for the first flight.
Cape Air’s partnership with American and United was already working out for some, as I talked to a passenger that was connecting to an American flight to Raleigh on the same ticket. Another passenger was headed to Philadelphia. Before today, these passengers would’ve been required to collect their bags in Chicago and re-check them, now they can just go to the next gate.
This will not only be a new airline to Manistee but a new destination. Passengers will still be flying to Chicago, but instead of Chicago Midway passengers will now fly to Chicago O’Hare.
Some Manistee based passengers were upset that they wouldn’t be able to use Southwest anymore with the O’Hare flight. Well not anymore, Since Cape Air began service to Manistee, Southwest announced intentions to serve Chicago O’Hare meaning Manistee based passengers will once again be able to connect to Southwest, although it will require a bag change if they’ve checked bags.
I was also able to get some pictures of the brand new Tecnam P2012 from the outside before we left Manistee. Due to it being dark out I wasn’t able to get pictures of the inside of the cabin, so I decided to get those pictures when I landed in Chicago.
About 30-minutes before scheduled departure, TSA screening opened and I and the six other passengers went through. I was pleasantly surprised that TSA PreCheck was available here. It made traveling through this small airport even easier.
Just after security, I saw where the “you have to re-check your bag in Chicago” sign was ripped off the wall. With the previous carrier, you had to re-claim all bags once you reached Chicago.
After all the passengers made it through security, the boarding began for the inaugural flight. As we were walking out to the aircraft, you could start to see the sun beginning to rise.
Despite the boarding passes having seat assignments on them, we were told where to sit as we boarded the aircraft for weight and balance purposes.
The flight this morning only had a single pilot, if we were flying on one of the carriers many Cessna 402’s one of the passengers would be able to sit upfront with the pilot. But with the Tecnam P2012 that will no longer be possible, meaning that you’re running out of time to sit in the co-pilot seat of a commercial flight as the airline is slowly beginning to retire these older Cessna’s they possess.
The aircraft was very comfortable for even the tallest of passengers. Next to every passenger seat was a cupholder, USB port, air vent, a reading light, and a headphone port. I didn’t have headphones with me so I didn’t know what was playing if I plugged a pair in. There was also under-seat storage, large enough to fit a backpack, which is unusual to find on an aircraft of this size.
Startup is always fun to listen to, especially with these two Lycoming TEO540C1A engines that power the Tecnam P2012. The engines felt quite powerful, with 375-horsepower per-engine.
As we pulled away from the terminal, I could see the airline and airport employees waving us goodbye, as the first-ever Cape Air flight taxi’s for Chicago O’Hare.
As we taxied to the runway I could see the sun rising out of the cockpit. The pilot did let us know that it might take a little bit longer than normal to get clearance as it was the first flight.
Once we got our clearance, we took off from runway 28 and headed into the cloudy Michigan skies towards our cruising altitude of 6,000-feet.
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