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Trip Report : New York, The #7 Train And Chicago.  
User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3574 times:

30 June 2000
NW 490
Douglas DC-9-40
Atlanta Hartsfield to Detroit Metro

The flight was due to depart at 1050. Accordingly, I arrived at hartsfield at 1015am with E-ticket itinerary in hand and headed to the E-Service center to check in. Unfortunately, all 6 machines were "out of order" and the agent told me to head straight to the gate and use one of the machines there.

I arrived at D16 around 1030am and tried to check in at the machines there, but got a message of "Flight Oversold - Please See Agent". So I walked over to the gate and stood in line with 6 other people in front of me. Sure enough, I was one of the poor souls selected for the involuntary bump. NW yield management really screwed up badly on this flight, because in addition to 13 volunteers they wound up denying 7 of us who wanted to fly - a total of 20 pax on an aircraft that carries just over 100.

A quick look at the day's loads had the agent offering me either a trip to DTW at 8pm with no connection to LGA till the next morning (NW would provide Hotel at DTW), or the 620am flight to DTW connecting to LGA a little later in the day. Neither of these were acceptable to me since I had to be at Shea stadium before 7pm on Friday evening to drop off tickets at will-call for various clients. A search through MEM and MSP connections revealed nothing available either. I asked the agent to interline me to another carrier but she said that she could not do that.

Rather than argue the vagaries of Rule 120.20 with her, I asked for Shirley (the supervisor who had saved my bacon a few times before) and she turned up shortly with many apologies and immediately printed up $500 compensation vouchers for each of us. We then turned our attention to rebooking us on other carriers. All but two of us were headed to DTW, so those people were immediately interlined to a DL flight leaving in a couple hours. The guy going to BDL was interlined to a US flight through CLT. That left me. CO had an ERJ leaving for CLE with an LGA connection and Shirley printed out my coupons, endorsed them over to CO and off I went to their gate.

I activated my standby listing and watched with a sinking heart as CO too asked for volunteers. They wound up taking 5 of them for the ERJ, which sent me back to Shirley looking for more alternatives. US was showing 2 seats on an ATL-DCA flight with a shuttle connection to LGA arriving at 6pm. I hurried over to US to check-in, calling some friends along the way to see if they wanted to meet up at DCA. Just as I get in touch with one of them, I see the flight status change to "Cancelled". Aagh. I was ready to cry. I picked up my cellphone and began calling airlines to find even the most obscure routings. The best I came up with was ATL-DFW-CVG-LGA on AA/DL but that too got me into LGA too late. Checked options for JFK, EWR, HPN, ISP and SWF too but nothing convenient would get me there in time.

I went back to Shirley and got her to endorse my coupons over to DL now, and headed out to the DL concourses to take my chances as a standby on their plethora of overbooked flights to the NYC area. First stop B18 where JFK was boarding. Watched pathetically as the flight left without me. Next stop T3 for LGA where I once again sat and waited as another standby list cleared sans moi.

I was wandering down to T2 where the next EWR was due out when I suddenly heard an announcement "LaGuardia passenger Gardner please report to T1 immediately". My heart leaped. Turns out the flight was from earlier in the day and had been delayed due to maintenance problems. I rushed to T1 and asked them if I could have Gardner's seat if he didn't show up. The agent went "Ok, we are closing the doors right now - give me your ticket". YES! There is a God!

30 June 2000
DL 526
Boeing 727-200
Atlanta Hartsfield to New York - LaGuardia

The agent tore up Gardner's boarding pass, issued the seat to me and I scrambled aboard into seat 24C pausing only to gate-check my carry-on bag. The flight itself sucked pretty badly. One bite of DL's "Bistro Snack Service" reminded me why I try to avoid them with a passion. Nonetheless, we touched down on runway 13 at LGA around 235pm and then taxied for what seemed like eternity. My bag took a while to come out as well, but I finally made it to my room at the Wyndham Garden Hotel just after 330pm. I grabbed some food from a local lunch truck and got back to the room only to find a message from my friend who was driving up from DC that he was stuck in traffic and would meet me directly at the stadium.

Braves at Mets
Shea Stadium, NY

Around 5pm I commenced my ritual for the game. Ballistic vest and Rocker jersey were donned, straps tightened and trauma plate inserted. Left the room just before 6pm and had the doorman get me a cab. I received my first "You are a brave man" from the doorman, a sentiment oft repeated through the evening.

Traffic was hell and we arrived at the stadium just after 630pm. I began to walk across the parking lot amid shouts of "Go home you redneck *expletive*" and "*expletive* you Rocker!". There were NYPD officers everywhere and a mounted patrol sergeant came over and trotted about 30 feet behind me as I walked through the parking lot. I had to speak to someone at the Mets ticket office and arrange for tickets to be placed at will-call, and once I emerged from their office I had an officer walk up behind me and tail me for the rest of the evening. When I went to the concessions, he went. When I went to the restroom, he went. Quite funny actually!

My friend turned up in the 2nd inning and we spent the next couple hours chatting with the Mets fans around us. They had their share of cracks about the Rocker jersey, but at NO POINT did I ever feel even mildly threatened by them. These were BASEBALL fans, and they respected John Rocker for his talent just as much as they despised him for his words. What a great place to watch baseball!

The game itself was great for the first 7 innings, but then the Braves proceeded to self-destruct and gave up a MAJOR LEAGUE RECORD TYING 10 runs to the Mets with 2 outs in the 8th inning, finally losing 11-8. Needless to say, I received my fair share of taunts after this but it was all in good fun. There was a fireworks display scheduled for after the game, so we decided to head out to the train station and watch the show from there.

30 June 2000
The infamous "7 train"
Willets Point/Shea Stadium to 42nd Street/Times Square

The fireworks show was impressive and we headed to the platform at Willets/Shea station, still being tailed by my personal NYPD officer. I got on the train and suddenly the friendly Shea stadium fans weren't so friendly after all. I took the precaution of telling my friend to sit away from me on the other side of the carriage, just in case something happened.

The first few stations were fine, but around 82nd/Jackson Heights the ridership began to change from game-goers to locals and the attitudes too changed from good-natured taunts to more serious threats. I had a few folks get in my face with a bunch of abuse, but the NYPD officer standing impassively by the doorway deterred them from doing anything beyond that. One somewhat inebriated guy tried to shove me at one occasion but came up against the vest and his eyes opened wide as he backed away apologetically whispering to his buddy that "the dude's a f***ng undercover cop".

The train slowly emptied as we rattled on towards Manhattan, until we reached 42nd/Grand Central and pretty much everyone exited, including the NYPD officer who had been *guarding* me for the last 4 hrs. It was just me and my friend left in our compartment, with a smattering of folks in the other bogies. I glanced over and saw a guy sitting in the next compartment who looked kinda familiar, which set off warning bells in my head. As the train pulled into 42nd/Fifth Avenue, I abruptly jumped up and stepped onto the platform, to be mirrored exactly by the guy next door. Just as the doors were about to close, I stepped back in and he followed once again into the next compartment. Thankfully, a few other people also boarded in each compartment. I walked up to the door seperating the two compartments to get a closer look at the guy. He walked to his door and we were face-to-face across the compartments with just these two doors seperating us. The tension was electric as he pulled up his Mets shirt to reveal what appeared to be a .22 caliber revolver tucked into his waistband.

I was not sure whether to panic or be relieved at this point. Panic for rather obvious reasons, but relief because I was confident that my vest could stop a .22. Weird thought, eh? Anyway, I quickly activated what had become my backup plan just in case something like this happened. My friend was carrying a backpack with him that was almost totally empty. I signalled to him to follow me and we exited at 42nd/Times Square and headed seperately towards the Port Authority Bus Terminal exit with the majority of the crowd. I was trying to shake the guy, but he was pretty slick and managed to stick with me through the crowd. Anyway, I headed down the stairs towards the Greyhound area (which is always PACKED around midnight) and entered into the men's room, followed by my friend with the backpack about 10 seconds later. We waited by the sinks for about 30 seconds to make sure he didn't tail us in and then went into adjacent stalls at the end of the aisle. He then slipped the backpack under the divider to me. I proceeded to shed the Rocker jersey and the vest and dump them into the bag. I was wearing a plain white T-shirt under the vest and I pulled out a cap from the backpack and brought it down low over my forehead. I then exited the restroom with the backpack and walked right past the gunman who was camped outside without him even giving me a second glance. My friend followed a few seconds later and also got past the guy safely.

It was just past midnight at this point and Times Square was rocking. We were approached by a bejewelled pimp who offered us "hot Indian girl" for $200. We declined, at which point he asked if we "prefer Indian boy? I have that also". Once again we declined and headed off to get something more conventional to eat.

No visit to New York is complete without a trip to Tad's Steak House and this was no exception. Even at midnight, the succulent T-Bone with baked potato, garlic bread, onions and salad for $8.59 is one of the best deals you can find! We enjoyed our meal and then wandered around the square for a while before heading back to the subway station around 130am. We alighted at 82nd/Jackson Heights and caught a cab to the hotel where we proceeded to watch a replay of the Braves' self destruction on Sportscenter before turning in for the evening.

1 July 2000
NW 539
Douglas DC-9-30
New York - LaGuardia to Detroit Metro

Woke up around 845am for the 1115am departure. We got ready quickly and headed out on the 10am hotel shuttle to LGA. Tried to check-in at the E-Service center, but it would only allow me to do the first sector. Headed out through security and was pleasantly surprised that the pin in my jaw didn't set the machine off. Grabbed a quick breakfast at the cafeteria and then my friend headed back out to DC while I headed off to gate 7 where the DC9 was just beginning to pre-board.

I had selected seat 5A at the E-Service Center which is the first row of coach allowing me extra legroom, but the disadvantage of being in the last group to board. Anyway, I was horrified to find a lady with FOUR carry-on bags trying to preboard. She spent a while arguing with the agent that she should be allowed to preboard so that she could find space for all 4 bags. I glanced at her boarding card and to my utter horror it said 5B. This was gonna be a long flight.

Nevertheless, she sneaked on board when they called rows 15 and higher and the boarding process was immediately slowed as she attempted to stow her 4 bags in various places. The flight was pretty open, so the crew chose not to enforce the one carry-on rule, which was probably a good thing since this gal could talk the hind leg off a donkey if you gave her half a chance.

I trundled on board at the tail end of the process as usual and assumed my seat next to Ms.Carry-On. We proceeded to push back and began the lengthy process of waiting in line for takeoff. I tried to doze off, but she kept trying to engage me in conversation. We were discussing the delay when I mentioned that the East Coast had a lot of trouble due to ATC.

She then remarked that ATC was a huge problem everywhere, especially because of language problems. She told me a story about "a Boeing 747 flying from China to Washington National that crashed and killed 400 people because the pilots didn't speak English". I figured that discretion was the better part of valor here and mumbled "Oh really, I don't seem to remember that one".

Thankfully, she was able to stike up a conversation with the guy behind her and I was able to grab a little shuteye once we finally took off. Service was typically efficient, although Ms.Carry-On spent a while arguing with the F/A over whether they used bottle water to make the coffee. We arrived at E12 in DTW around 45 mins late, but still ample time for my connection.

1 July 2000
NW 489
Douglas DC-9-50
Detroit Metro to Atlanta Hartsfield

I headed out to gate D11 where the incoming aircraft for flight 489 was just arriving. So I wandered back to the food court and grabbed me a roast beef and swiss sandwich from the City Deli. Returned to D11 around 230pm for a 305pm departure and tried to get a boarding card. I was told to take a seat and wait since there were no seats available at present. Announcements were being made for volunteers, but only 2 people offered. Finally, with 10 minutes left before departure, they cut the seats loose and printed boarding cards for the lucky few of us. Mine was just about to be handed to me when up comes a panting NW agent with 2 unaccompanied minors in tow. Sure enough, once again I am the lamb selected as the sacrifice on the altar of involuntary denied boarding. The kids are escorted on board and I am left to once again collect the $500 voucher and get myself rebooked.

The NW staff at DTW were absolutely great about the situation though. Curlee, Deborah and their supervisor John had our vouchers out and ready within minutes of the aircraft departing and also furnished us with two options - coach on a DL non-stop or first class on NW through MSP. Most people took the DL option, but I figured that since I was late enough already I would go with the MSP connection. Deborah also plied me with about $40 in meal vouchers valid for 7 days (instead of the usual 24 hrs) saying "you can eat well on us this week". The entire transaction was quick and painless and I traipsed off to gate C5 for my flight to MSP after visiting the Starbucks and spending my first voucher on a Venti Frappucino Mocha.

1 July 2000
NW 757
Boeing 757-200
Detroit Metro to Minneapolis-St.Paul

Boarding on the 757 commenced around 430pm for a 450pm departure. We were delayed a little during pushback because of another aircraft pushing from an adjacent gate who was blocking us. Nonetheless, we were quickly airborne for the short hop over to MSP. I was seated in 3D and had a great view of Lake Michigan as we passed overhead with barely a cloud in the sky.

The service was exceptional and we were addressed by name. Immediately after take-off the F/A came around for our drink order (I picked a Vodka Orange) and later with the snack. The food was exceptional, a turkey club on croissant. The bread was soft and still warm and the sliced turkey was miles better than the congealed lump of mystery meat you get in coach.

We touched down at MSP around 6pm local time and taxied to gate 78 on the Green Concourse. My connection was at 630pm from Gate 17 on the Gold Concourse, a veritable 20 minute walk away.

1 July 2000
NW 862
Boeing 757-200
Minneapolis-St.Paul to Atlanta Hartsfield

I arrived at Gate 17 somewhat out of breath only to find that the flight was going to be delayed due to the incoming aircraft being delayed out of Fairbanks. Nonetheless, we boarded around 7pm and I took my seat 1B next to a NW captain who had just brought a DC-10 in from SEA.

We got to talking during the flight and wound up discussing the merits of the Airbus avionics system versus that employed by the US manufacturers. It was highly interesting stuff. We also discussed whether NW would go with the A330/A340 over the 777 as a replacement for the 747-200s. His verdict was that the Airbus was "highly unlikely" and that the Boeing order would be announced as soon as the Farnborough airshow later this month.

Once again, the service was exceptional and we were addressed by name. I ordered a Vodka-Orange right after take-off and also a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with the meal. Dinner was one of the best I have eaten aboard a US Domestic Carrier. The salad was fresh and the lettuce was still crispy. The entree consisted of steak in a wine sauce with mashed potatoes and sauteed vidalia onions. Finally, they finished it off with a slice of fresh Strawberry cheesecake. Since First Class was so empty, I found it a nice touch that they brought each passenger their food individually and course-by-course, rather than saddling us with a tray from the cart.

We touched down in Atlanta around 15 mins late, and I immediately grabbed a cab home as I had to be back at the airport in a few hours for my Chicago trip.

2 July 2000
CO 1144
Boeing 737-500
Atlanta Hartsfield to Newark

I was supposed to be flying ATL-CLE-ORD on Continental, so I went online once I got home to check if my flights were running on time. Unfortunately, the webpage showed that my CLE-ORD flight had been cancelled. So I called CO and after much load checking, they rebooked me ATL-EWR-DTW-ORD. The nightmare weekend of travel was continuing.

I got to the airport around 1015am for my 11am flight and breezed through the check-in lines only to find that CO could not issue me a boarding card for the DTW-ORD sector since their code-share pre-seating allocation quota was maxed out for that flight. I would have to get with NW directly at DTW to get a seat.

I boarded the 737 and quickly assumed my seat 20C. The flight was totally full, and I was glad to have landed an aisle seat with such a late rebooking. The service on the flight was poor - the F/A was somewhat rude to passengers who requested the full can of soda ("If we gave everyone in front a full can of soda there wouldn't be any left for the back") and the food was atrocious. I have had my share of bad turkey sandwiches over time, but the lettuce in this one was soggy and awful. One passenger asked the F/A for peanuts/pretzels/snack mix in lieu of the sandwich and was told that "this is a snack service flight - you get the sandwich or nothing". Fortunately, I was able to sleep through the flight and we landed in EWR with no major incident.

2 July 2000
NW 363
Douglas DC-9-30
Newark to Detroit Metro

I had to transfer from Terminal A to Terminal B for this flight so I grabbed the monorail and headed out. I had a great view of the International ramp which included a Singapore Airlines 744, the SAS 763 in STAR alliance colorscheme and a BA 777 among others.

Arrived at Gate 41B just as pre-boarding was commencing on the DC9 to DTW. I was highly annoyed that they allowed a tour group of around 40 teenagers to pre-board since one of their chaperones was a Silver Elite. By the time I got on board, the overhead bins were saturated with stuff like pillows and stuffed toys which meant that I had to stow my bag under the empty seat next to me even though the flight was less than half full.

Fortunately, I had managed to get an exit row for this sector so legroom was not a problem. I tried to doze off, but excited teenage girls chattering loudly and giggling over the young male flight attendant made this kinda hard so I sat back and read through Sports Illustrated for the short flight. We touched down at DTW almost 20 minutes early, but had to taxi for 25 minutes all the way around the new Midfield terminal construction site to get to our gate, so our actual arrival at E7 was around 5 minutes behind schedule.

2 July 2000
NW 171
Airbus 320
Detroit Metro to Chicago O'Hare

My connection was right across the hall at E4 so I walked over and got myself an Exit Row seat for the DTW-ORD sector pretty easily. The flight appeared to be totally open, which surprised me since CO had told me that they couldn't issue me a seat as it was full. I queried the agent about this and he told me that CO had inadvertently booked me on flight 173 two hours later, but he corrected the record. I thanked him and took a seat in the waiting area.

Around 445pm, the pilot came out and told us that we were going to have a ground hold before we could take off for O'Hare, but he wanted to board the aircraft and hold short for an active runway so we could get underway as soon as it lifted. Everyone seemed agreeable so we pushed back on time with no more than 40 of us on board the A320.

I was seated in 11D and had an Asian gentleman (who turned out to be a Professor of linguistics at the University of Chicago) across the aisle from me in 11C. Ahead of us, in the other exit row 10C was a Caucasian woman. The flight attendant walked up the aisle to us and pointedly asked me and the Asian man in 11C if we spoke English, as it was a requirement for sitting in the exit row. I replied impassively in the affirmative, but the man in 11C took offense to the question especially since the lady in 10C was not asked. To pacify him, the F/A asked her too and was mortified when it turned out that the lady was from Eastern Europe and DIDN'T ACTUALLY SPEAK ENGLISH! She was accordingly reseated and the now red-faced F/A offered both of us profuse apologies. It just goes to show how deceptive appearances can be sometimes!

We taxied to the runway threshold and held there for over an hour until we finally got a clearance into ORD. Flying time was a brisk 47 minutes and we touched down at ORD at 623pm right behind an AI 744 that was coming in from LHR.

The Executive Plaza Hotel is located smack on the river in downtown Chicago, right across from the Sun-Times building. The room was excellent as usual with a bedroom with 2 queen beds, a living area with a foldout couch and a small dining room/work area with a table and a few chairs.

3 July 2000

My mom wanted some rather obscure prints, so our first stop for the day was the store at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to walk the mile or so down Michigan Avenue from the hotel rather than take a cab. Spent around an hour there scouring portfolios for the right prints.

The next stop was the Field Museum, to see Sue the dinosaur. The entry lines at the Field were pretty long, and we stood about for almost 20 minutes before we got in. However, it was well worth the wait. The restored skeleton of Sue was remarkably breathtaking. The sheer size of the T-Rex surprised me, but I was even more impressed by the excellent condition that the skeleton had been restored to. The rest of the museum was also impressive and we spent around 3 hours wandering around the various exhibits. Notable "must-see" sections were the Egyptian mummies, the Africa resource center and of course, Sue.

After the museum, we headed back along Michigan towards the Buckingham Fountain and the "Taste of Chicago" festival. For those not familiar with this, it is a huge open-air festival that takes place in Grant Park every year around the July 4 weekend. There are amusement park rides, promotional tents (Pepsi Taste Challenge, etc...), but most notably there was every conceivable kind of food available. We wandered the aisles for a while and gorged on an assortment of exotic cuisines ranging from "Sauteed Goat Meat with Plantains" to the more conventional "Ice Cream with fresh Strawberries"

Took a cab back to the hotel after that, where I proceeded to call NW to check my flights for the next day. To cap of a perfect weekend, my DTW-ATL flight had been cancelled. I then spent another hour or so trying to find flights that had availability on them. Finally, we found a routing MDW-CLE-IAH-ATL on CO that had available seats and I got myself booked on that just as it was turning dark. The room provided a decent view of the fireworks display so we watched the explosions and then grabbed a late-ish dinner at a local eatery.

4 July 2000

Mid-morning, I called CO to double check my flights and was informed that the IAH-ATL flight had now been cancelled too. By now, I was so used to this that I actually laughed at the irony of the situation. The telephone agent was "glad that you are taking it so well - most people freak out and start yelling at me". We spent another while looking for connections and finally concluded that I would have to leave earlier in the day than I had intended. CO/NW had availability between them for a 230pm ORD-CLE-DTW-MEM-ATL and NW was oversold (but still selling) for a 4pm ORD-DTW-MEM-ATL. I decided to take my chances with NW and went for the 4pm without a confirmed seat assignment.

We had a light lunch in the Hotel's restaurant (excellent Linguine Marinara with Sauteed Shrimp on the side) and then headed up to the room where we finished packing. The doorman told us that he could arrange a stretch limo to the airport for only $35, which was about the same as the cab fare so we decided to take him up on his offer. Sure enough, he came through and we rode all the way into ORD in luxury.

4 July 2000
NW 996
Boeing 727-200
Chicago O'Hare to Detroit Metro

While checking in with NW at ORD, once again my name came up in the system with a SECURITY flag on it, meaning that I was escorted to a side room and made to open up my carry-on luggage, etc.. before they would allow me to collect my boarding pass. My check luggage was also sent through for an X-Ray and explosive residue inspection before I got my boarding pass. I asked the agent why I kept coming up with a Security flag and he replied that officially it was a random selection, but unofficially they used it to target people with "abnormal travel patterns". Looks like my mileage run last month triggered something in the WorldPerks system.

Apart from that, check-in was painless and I headed over to E15 for my flight. The 727-200 was packed to the gills, and I was glad that I was able to snag an exit row aisle seat. Once again, a quick and efficient flight to DTW and we taxied in to gate E6 around 15 minutes early. Back to Detroit airport, my *home away from home* for this weekend!

4 July 2000
NW 287
Douglas DC-9-50
Detroit Metro to Memphis Shelby

I was originally supposed to be on flight 283 leaving at 645pm, but I saw a large teenage tour group camped out at the gate and did an immediate about-face and headed back to E concourse where I switched myself over to the 710pm flight. This flight was also full, and although I did manage an aisle seat, the exit rows were unavailable. Ah well, you can't have it all. My seat was 23D which is four rows from the rear and the noise difference compared to the forward seats was quite considerable.

There was a snack served on this short flight, consisting of a miserable excuse for a turkey sandwich and a cookie. I took one bite of the sandwich, put it back on its platter and spent the remainder of the flight dreaming about the Chopped Pork Sandwich at the "Interstate BBQ" on concourse B in Memphis! We arrived on time and I almost sprinted over to B17 where my flight was leaving from, conveniently located right across from the BBQ place mentioned above!

4 July 2000
NW 826
Douglas DC-9-30
Memphis Shelby to Atlanta Hartsfield

The line for BBQ take out was around 15 people deep, but that did not deter me. The smell of succulent pork dripping with gooey, tangy barbecue sauce wafted over to the gate area and the gathered minions there stared back with yearning and almost envious looks at the intrepid souls who had braved the long lines to satisfy their cravings. I finally reached the front of the line just as the flight was commencing boarding, but I still took my time to savor the delicate sandwich (well, about as delicate as BBQ can get!) before wafting on board with the stragglers.

I was in an exit row seat 11B for this sector, and the F/A named Teddy (who reminded me a lot of Lenny Henry) managed to keep us entertained for the entire flight with his antics. For starters, he explained the exit row responsibilities to us and then promised a free buddy pass ticket to the person who opened their exit first in the event of an emergency evacuation! It was quite a sight to watch 10 people reach for their safety instruction card in unison!

During the safety demo, he proceeded to do a bit of magic with the oxygen mask. He showed us his empty hand as he reached up, but an Oxygen mask dropped out of his sleeve as he brushed the overhead unit. At the end of the safety demo he announced that in the event of a water evacuation, he would be teaching swim lessons at the rear of the aircraft on a first-come first-serve basis. Most of the cabin was in splits by now, but he sure as hell got the point across!

Service was excellent for a short flight and Teddy kept us entertained with gags like the plastic *spilled soda can* and the $20-bill-on-a-string dropped by a passengers foot! We were lucky to take off from Memphis right at 9pm, so we got a great view of fireworks during takeoff. On approach into Atlanta, the Braves game had just concluded so we got another whole display there. It was kinda strange to watch a fireworks show from above (especially from an aisle seat!), but it was pretty spectacular nonetheless.

At luggage claim, my bags failed to show up which annoyed me and I set off to file yet another claim with NW. I arrived at the office and started giving my info when the lady suddenly smiled and told me that my bags had made it in on an earlier flight (a sold-out ORD-MEM-ATL) and were waiting for me in the storage room next door. I was very relieved. I collected the bag, hopped on the MARTA train and was home just after midnight. What a hectic weekend!

30 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineCtbarnes From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3491 posts, RR: 47
Reply 1, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 3304 times:

I'm not usually crazy about long trip reports, but yours made VERY entertaining reading. It could double as a sequel to "The Out of Towners."

I guess the only question I can ask is, despite the plane trip from hell, did you enjoy yourself?


The customer isn't a moron, she is your wife -David Ogilvy
User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 3291 times:

Nice trip report. I'm glad that you had no serious problems with the flights but you were really asking for it by wearing that Rocker Jesey. I suggest that you don't pull a stunt like that again other wise you may not be lucky. Take it from me. I was raised in Bedsty Brooklyn. If you plan to do this again then don't come to NY otherwise you'll probably meet the same guy with the 22 and he'll put one right between your eyes. It's idiots like you that give this great city a bad name by making trouble and expect the royal treatment when you cause trouble. Thank god that all toursts are not as stupid as you are. Although I don't wish you any seroius harm but the next time you do come to NY and someone does see you with that rocker jersey while riding on the #7 train. I hope that you get jumped and beaten up a by the dedicated riders of the subway and by a few members of the NYPD as well to teach you a lesson of not to instigate violence in the city. We already have enough problems in a city of 12 million people as well as being the largest and diverse city in the US. Don't add to the problem otherwise one day you or whats left of you will end up on a slab at the medical examier's office being identified by greaving loved ones. I'm not threatening you; but educating you of what happen's when you piss the wrong person off (suicdal especially in NYC) Take it from a native New Yorker; there are alot of things that you really don't want to do. For your sake I hope that you don't pull another stupid stunt by dressing as a grand wizard of the KKK to bring attention to yourself while walking through the streets of Queens.

User currently offlineLouis From Canada, joined Oct 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 3266 times:

Couldn't agree with you more, Vishal. First off, Sean, you should be ashamed that you even own a Rocker jersey. The guy's a total moron -- I can't think of a stupider ball player than him. Anyone with those types of values deserves a beating. I wish he took the 7 train so that he wouldn't make it to the game in playing form. He has lousy control anyways and his teammates lothe him. Secondly, to wear that filth with pride on the 7 train is an absoultely stupid thing to do. Hell, if I was in NY (and I hope to move there soon) I probably would have been the first guy there to jump you and I'm sure many others on the 7 would have followed suit. It's people like you that make the U.S. look bad.

User currently offlineL1011 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1727 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 3262 times:

Great report! I'll be flying Northwest later this month RIC-DTW-ANC-MSP-DTW-RIC, or so I hope. If my trip is anything like yours, who knows what my routing might be.

Bob Bradley
Richmond, VA

Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
User currently offlineWentOnA777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3243 times:

TO THOSE THAT THINK SEAN IS AN IDIOT: First off, why do you assume that he is an idiot for wearing the Rocker jersey? Maybe you're the idiot for belittling him like that. And just because you don't necessarily agree with what John Rocker had to say, it doesn't imply that Sean agrees with what John said, or that Sean is trying to instigate anything in New York City. Maybe you should just back off, and admire Sean's courage to actually goto the game, then ride the 7 train while wearing that Jersey--it is a sign of a TRUE fan.

Anyway, isn't this board about aviation? On that note, great report Sean--but aren't you getting tired of NW's old -9s?.

User currently offlineWishihadalife From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3235 times:

Dude! John Rocker kicks butt! That took balls to do that dude!

User currently offlineRotate777 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 400 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3232 times:

Thank you Sean for this great report. I think this is the longest report I have ever read.

Anyway, I think you are very brave to have worn that jersey (and that bullet proof vest BTW,very smart). You don't really like that Rocker guy, do you? He's horrible! I wouldn't have jumped you though since I don't even like baseball, and I'm not even from NY.   You are one courageous guy, that's all I've got to say. Well, thanks again for your wonderful report.

BTW, a suggestion for you. Next time you go to NYC with that jersey, bring along 10 bottles or pepperspray, and maybe a thick stick....  and of course take that vest along to...it might come in handy.... 

User currently offlineRyeFly From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3230 times:

Thanks for the detailed trip report. I still can't understand if you live in Atlanta why you don't just fly Delta. It would seem to me that it would make life much more easier considering you had a complaint on just about every flight. Okay maybe you just don't like Delta, there is a lot easier ways of getting to LGA from ATL. For example my first choice would be Midway Airlines ATL-RDU-LGA or EWR. They offer excellent service with all leather seats at a great price. My second choice would have been US Airways through Clt or to fly to DCA and take the shuttle to LGA before I would go through 3 or 4 cities on Northwest just to avoid Delta. Maybe its just me, I don't know. Thanks again for the flight report as I can see you put a lot of effort in it.

User currently offlineNycank From United States of America, joined May 2000, 233 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3215 times:

Ryefly: Maybe Sean has FF miles with NW (WorldPerks .. or whatever). Many people do go to great length to gain FF miles  

Sean: Sometimes carrying your stunt (i.e the rocker jersey) can get you into
serious mess - Just look at what happens with fans during European Soccer ;-(
Wearing his jersey in the ball-park is one thing, extending it outside the
confines of the park is risky.

User currently offlineUALfa@jfk From United States of America, joined May 2000, 311 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3209 times:

I, too, usually just give a cursory glance over such lenghty trip reports. But yours was truly very good reading (and even well-written!). I hung on to your every word, almost as if it was some kinda Anne Rice "Vampire" novel.

But like others, I still can't figure out what possessed you to do something as dangerous as sporting that jersey. Did you just wanna get a feel for other people's reaction? Did you just wanna do it for some kind of bragging rights (ie., so you can say how you "survived" in NYC w/that jersey on?) --Or are you really just a loyal fan of the guy? I think you must've underestimated the propensity for ending your life in this way, even with the bullet proof vest.

Just think, it's not too far-fetched that none of us may not have even been fortunate enough to read this trip report after such a shananigan.

...You are, indeed, very lucky.

User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 3209 times:

Wentona777 I can see that you are under the age of 15 and I wishIhadalife unless if you have a death wish than it's ok to be wearing a Rocker jersey. I can see you have never been born or bought up in NY. I've seen stuff that'll make your stomach turn. I was belittling sean because you don't mess with the imigrants of NY and get out alive. You don't go into NY and ask to be treated like a king if you wear a jersey of the person that litterally trashed the reputation of a major american city and those who live there. I can see that both of you had never been born or raised in NY. wentona777; I expected better from you considering that you are living in the murder capital of the US and that wearing a rocker jersey in an area that has more imigrants will cause trouble and get you a one way ticket to the hospital or on the cold slab of the coroner's office; It's like walking the streets of Harlem wearing the white sheets of the KKK while holding up a confederate flag. but then again at age 15 you don't know my area too much. This was an aviation topic until sean bought up his imature adventure of his journey on the #7 train while wearing a rocker's jersey and being the target of verbal and physical threats and for those of you who thinks that he had courage. We have a name for that kind of courage and as a man who comes from a family of New York Police Officers who've been on the force before you guys were born we call that stupidity. By the way; for those of you willing to pull a repeat of the stupid stunt this bears as a friendly reminder that the NYPD will not be there to protect your sorry stupid self if something should go horribly wron like a whole bunch of New Yorkers beating you up on a # 7 train because you wanted to have courage. Please take that kind of courage elsewhere.

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3166 times:

To everyone who thinks I was stupid to wear the jersey, I have two words. I survived. Simple as that. I knew exactly what I was getting into and what the risks were, and that was part of the reason I wanted to do it. I am also a veteran of 3 years of undercover police work in downtown Atlanta, so NY doesn't particularly scare me (one street thug is just the same as the next).

As for the Rocker situation, I think the New York media has blown it out of proportion. If he played for the Yankees and made a statement that all Southerners are a bunch of inbred rednecks, the city would embrace him as a folk hero.

You guys (especially VirginA340) need to really take a look at your comments and realize that spewing empty vitriol merely makes you look dumb. A340 - if you really are from a police family, I don't think any of them would appreciate some of the crap you are talking about. Don't put words into the mouths of the people who serve behind the badge until you have worn it yourself ok?

Thats all for now.

User currently offlineEx NWA From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 119 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 3143 times:

How can you be so stupid to compare the white sheets of the KKK with a Rocker jersey. The KKK represents many years of hatred and violence, and all a John Rocker jersey represents is a F@*$#&g loud mouth player on a baseball team. I could go on and on about this, but this is an aviation forum so I won't.

I wouldn't have done what you did, but I respect you for doing it. You DA MAN!! Just to let you know I wore an Orioles jersey to Yankee Stadium and almost got beat up too!!!

User currently offlineVirginA340 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 3129 times:

Sean I am from a family of police officers and yes they did appriciate on what I had to say to you and your stupidity. When I called up my uncle who is a homicide detective in Brooklyn with the NYPD (among other family members I have serving with the NYPD)on what you did he actually called you an idiot for trying to pull something like that here in NYC and was suprised to here that you flew out alive instead of being flown back in a box. I'm not puting words into people's mouths but I'm voicing my own opinion and telling you on what my uncle said. If you are really a cop from Atlanta then you should be ashamed that you pulled a stunt like that in my city in which the tensions are already high about this racist punk. I expected a street smart cop to make a wise dessision not to wear something like that and try to incite a riot by wearing something that controversial. If you were a cop then why did you run from the guy who had the 22 instead of calling the NYPD to the scene after you had changed and left the restroom with the man standing outside. Ex NWA; If this is what Rocker said on his article what do you think that he has on his mind about blacks, jews, gays,etc. If he was on a New York team and if he did say this then he would be still under alot of hotwater from NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sarpton gay rights activists,NYC Mayor Rudolph Guliani etc

User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 13
Reply 15, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3087 times:

For those of us who live in the UK, or anywhere other than the USA, some questions -

1. Who is John Rocker?
2. What did he say?
3. Why does everyone hate him (probably related to no.2).


User currently offlineBen88 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1093 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3086 times:

He is a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He made some comments that offended many people. Here are two of his more famous ramblings,

1.) "Imagine having to take the [Number] 7 train to the ballpark, looking like you're [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. It's depressing."

2.) "The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"

User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3068 times:


Is that the same as a bowler in Cricket - a bloke who throws the ball?

Sorry, I'm just very ignorant of baseball - it's always puzzled me how the Americans have the 'World Series' when it's only them and Japan that play it.

User currently offlineAerLingus From China, joined Mar 2000, 2371 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3064 times:

Rocker is a bigot.
He is ignorant and he is a disgrace to baseball!!!!
Our multicultural diversity is what makes this country so great.
I just think that what Rocker needs to know is that he too has immigrants that once came from overseas. Also, who the hell does he think he is to critisize alternative lifestyles!?
N E way, your trip report was excellent. Not that I take pleasure from reading about such misfortune, I just found it amusing. It's like your experience was plucked right out of comedy.
I know that this is an aviation forum.
I'm sorry.

Get your patchouli stink outta my store!
User currently offlineBen88 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1093 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3056 times:

Yes the pitcher throws the ball. It's probably considered the "World" series because the best players from around the world want to play in the majors. Same concept as the NBA. No argument from me, as I believe we attract the best basketball players in the world. If the American soccer final were called a "world" championship, then we'd have a serious problem...

User currently offlineACA330 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 146 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3061 times:

Excellent trip report. You have a great, it not enviable writing style.

I thought all of NW DC-9-30 and -50's were now fitted with their unique noise-elimination
technology that was supposed to minimize engine noise levels throughout the aircraft.
I could be wrong.

BTW the no. 7 train (which I ride frequently) is not "infamous", Rocker's comments about it were; they were unfortunate too.

User currently offlineB747-437B From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3036 times:

To those of you who posted/emailed messages of support - thanks very much. I appreciate it tremendously.

To those of you who think I was an idiot/stupid/whatever for doing this I will inform you that the opinions of people on the airliners.net discussion board don't rank particularly high on my list of priorities when deciding what I want to do. Most of you, with specific reference to VirginA340, can go take a FLYING leap (the reference to flight is because of the aviation forum!).

A few quick notes :

Why did I do it? - well I have been a Rocker fan since he was in the minor leagues and have always admired his competitiveness. Few people were happier than I last year when he broke into the majors as a big-time closer. I wear my Rocker jersey to games everywhere (including Milwaukee, Toronto and Atlanta among others) and I did not intend to stop supporting my favorite baseball player just because some punks from New York think they can scare me off. I have done similar things in the past (such as carried an Indian flag through the Pakistan section during a cricket game in Sharjah) and I enjoy doing them. If you don't want to do it, well thats your choice and this is mine.

I took adequate precautions and consulted with the neccessary persons (A340 - why doesn't your uncle go chat with the desk sergeant over at one of the Queens precincts and ask him why he didn't think it was a big security risk? or are the desk-jockey detectives in NYC just as clueless about streetwork as they used to be down in ATL?).

Also, speaking as someone who has met Rocker personally (which is a darn sight more than most people passing judgement on the guy have) I can vouch for the fact that he is not prejudiced against immigrants. How many people know that when foreign born players like Randall Simon and Andruw Jones came into the country for the first time, John Rocker opened his home to these guys in the off-season so they could have somewhere homey to stay while they worked out at the Braves minor league facility in Macon? Actions speak louder than words, and John has done more than enough to clear his name in that regard.

Like him, love him, hate him, ignore him - I don't particularly care. Just read my trip report and enjoy the aviation commentary if the rest doesn't interest you (last I checked, barely 1/6th of the report dealt with the game!).

User currently offlineBen88 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1093 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3025 times:

You sound like one of those adrenaline junkies. I really don't see the reasoning behind risking your life over pride, but obviously you do.

User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 2151 posts, RR: 3
Reply 23, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 3015 times:

I have ridden the No. 7 train many times; this is the train from Grand Central Station (in Manhattan) to Flushing (in Queens, near LGA). While the '7 may not be the newest train, it is surely the most interesting.

Because this is an aviation forum, let me use some analogies and metaphors from the world of commercial airliners. Simply put, the No. 7 is a regional jet and A340/B747 wrapped up in one, with everything else in between thrown in. The No. 7 faithfully takes tens of thousands of people on their commute to their jobs every day. At any time, the train will take you from Argentina and Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, India and the Philippines, Korea, Russia, and some 100 other exotic locations. The sheer variety of cultures is astounding!

For anyone planning a visit to New York City, I would heartily recommend spending an afternoon (unfortunately, there are some less than savory characters lurking in the stations late at night) in Jackson Heights, where you will find fresh fruit at Philippino and Korean groceries and fresh pastries at Chilean bakeries; the meals at the Colombian and Indian restaurants are plentiful and good and MUCH cheaper than anything in Manhattan. This and other Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods offer an excellent picture of the *true* New York City, a city of diverse cultures and hard-working immigrants.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, with jumbo jets able to take several hundred people anywhere in the world nonstop in less than a day, the Earth is truly a small place, affording increasingly less room for bigotry and any other kind of prejudice (especially from top athletes in whom so many young people look for a role model and a hero).


The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
User currently offlineIlyushin96M From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2609 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (15 years 10 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 2999 times:

After reading this very interesting trip report and all the commentaries which followed it, I can't help but throw in my own two bits here.  

Sean, I could NOT believe you got bumped so many times! How does one keep from going ballistic??? Ouch. And all the switching around of different flights and times...It's a good thing you had time to spare to deal with that mess.

At least you had a chance to experience three major US carriers in one trip. Sounds like NWA was the best out of all the ones you took in terms of service and helpfulness of the ground personnel. Nice that they was so generous with the vouchers and upgrades, though. Despite all the slamming of NWA on Airliners.net, I've flown them several times and never had anything but good service. It sounds like they were pretty accommodating to you.

As far as wearing the Rocker jersey on the #7 train and other stunts you've pulled...carrying an Indian flag through the Pakistan section during a cricket game in Sharjah was your other example...this brings to mind things a friend of mine does on occasion. He's got a mouth on him, and doesn't have the stature to back it up should someone respond with physical violence. Also, he has no hesitation in walking in front of oncoming cars, asserting his "rights as a pedestrian." I've said to him that if he gets hit, it's his fault, and it serves him right. His reply is usually something idiotic, like "I'll sue!" to which I respond that he won't sue if he's dead, which he more than likely would be. Then he tells me I should sue on his behalf. I reply simply that if he's stupid enough to walk in front of a 3,000 lb car barreling down the street, then he deserves whatever happens to him, and won't get any sympathy or assistance from me for being an idiot. In regards to some of my friend's other "risky" actions, I've suggested he not blow kisses to truck drivers and rednecks on the freeway as they might have guns and use them, or run him off the road, and I've told him he should probably not yell lewd things at cops when he's driving past them at night. He doesn't seem to think anything serious will ever result from these foolish actions...however, if they do, I won't have much sympathy. There are actions, and there are consequences. It's best to think of the consequences before acting.

You like to live on the edge...that much is plain...but would your perspective be much different, do you think, if you were in the hospital with broken bones, facial lacerations, etc. from having the living crap beat out of you, or recovering from a gunshot wound?

Anyway...great post - very thorough, and very thought-and reaction-provoking.  



25 Post contains images B747-437B : IL96M : Nice post. I am not quite stupid enough to step out in front of a moving car, but I do enjoy to live on the edge occasionally. It definitely m
26 FlyPNS1 : I hope you are a Northwest FF because otherswise you certainly put yourself through a lot just to avoid Delta.
27 Bernsa : I'm so very confused... Why didn't you just fly to Chicago from New York instead of going back to Atlanta? Would the ticket changes be so much more as
28 Post contains images B747-437B : My carrier of choice is NW, so most of my travel winds up being on either them or their partner airlines whenever possible. Also, I have tons of vouch
29 RyeFly : Pehaps try checking in earlier and you won't get bumped so often. I check in 60 to 90 minutes before flgiht time and have yet to get bumped as a payin
30 Post contains images B747-437B : Ryefly - NW guarantees that my advance seat reservation will be available until at least 15 mins before departure, so usually arriving around 30-40 mi
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