HBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 281 posts, RR: 2 Posted (2 years 10 months ago) and read 11526 times:
Good day, dear airliner-netters,
in mid-October I was supposed to attend a three day meeting in Massachussets. And, rather than flying directly ZRH - BOS and back I managed to come up with an itinerary that served my needs as an aviation enthusiast much better.
My most favourite jet aircraft are designs that have their roots in the pre-computerised era, ergo the airliner designs of the 1960s and 70s - the 727, the 737-200, the 747, especially the earlier models, the early 757s as well as the DC-9 and MD-80...
It is getting more and more diffcult for obvious reasons to fly the beauties mentioned above: They are replaced by less loud, more fuel-efficient jets.
Yet, it is still possible, and to my advantage, the US is still a safe haven – in comparison to Europe – of passenger jets of 25 years and (older, too) in active service.
So, when I was booking my trip to the US I had my airliner preferences in mind: I am flying routes for planes rather than airlines (or the ever-more inflationary frequent miles). The logical airline choice was to be Delta, obviously, as they are the last airline standing, still operating the DC-9 (inherited from Northwest).
After toying with several online booking websites I discovered a routing over five legs - first 757, second MD-90, third DC-9, fourth MD-80 and fifth DC-9 again. This meant that I would fly three different DC-9 models in one day, I would fly the DC-9 trinity so to speak.
Before actually going to the East Coast I would spend a couple of days in California - a place I really fancy: the sun, the ease, the innovation, the lifestyle...
I would start my journey in Basle as the flight from there was only half as much as from Zürich. All flight were in Y.
First flight: October 8, KL2036, BSL - AMS, 06:15 - 07:55, operated by CityJet, Avro RJ 85 EI-RJT
The short flight was uneventful, yet nothing to write home about. What I noticed was that the 6-abreast seating in the Avro was quite a challenge not only for the passengers, but also for the flight attendants. They would simply bump often into passengers seating on aisle seats. The CityJet overhead lockers are a interior decorator's nightmare: not even a small backpack fits in there (maybe designed for beauty cases only). Against my will a flight attendant took away my camera bag to stow it somewhere in the regional jet's back - as it did not fit under the seat in front of me, either. However, she was polite and promised to handle it with care, which she did.
When flying long-haul I prefer aisle seats. As I can't stand being dehydrated I am always drinking my extra bottles of water aloft - and I prefer not to inconvenience my seat neighbours when nature calls.
The flight itself was enjoyable, quiet, and I could quite successfully wipe out my lack of sleep from the short night before the departure. I guess I never slept as much on a westward transatlantic flight as on this trip.
A couple of days before the flight KLM sent an email in which they asked if one wanted to order a special meal - and I did. I went for the Japanese meal, a very good choice. It was as tasty as a regular meal on Singapore Airlines
I think it was well worth the extra 20 Euros, yet I seemed to be the only person to have done so. Later on I ordered tomato juice and ginger ale, which prompted the flight attendant to say: 'You really do have a special taste.'
The following pictures were all taken in the small park (well, green patch with a couple of trees) by the In-n-out-Burger. The location itself is worth seeing, also from a sociological point of view: Heavy guys arriving in highly powered pick ups with bling bling rims would grab a burger as well as the homeless who found their home at this roofless venue:
In the next couple of days I would come back to LAX time and again, as the desire to take pictures and witness aviation at this incredible gateway by the Pacific was strong. I allow to present some of the better shots I made:
And then my crazy day would come. I was booked on the following flights:
Los Angeles International (LAX) to Salt Lake City International (SLC)
Departure (LAX): October 12, 6:15 AM PDT (morning)
Arrival (SLC): October 12, 9:14 AM MDT (morning) (Boeing 757)
Salt Lake City International (SLC) to Minneapolis St Paul Intl (MSP)
Departure (SLC): October 12, 10:20 AM MDT (morning)
Arrival (MSP): October 12, 2:13 PM CDT (afternoon) (MD-90)
Minneapolis St Paul Intl (MSP) to Chicago O'Hare International (ORD)
Departure (MSP): October 12, 3:25 PM CDT (afternoon)
Arrival (ORD): October 12, 4:53 PM CDT (afternoon) (DC-9-50)
Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL)
Departure (ORD): October 12, 6:00 PM CDT (evening)
Arrival (ATL): October 12, 9:04 PM EDT (evening) (MD-80)
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL) to Memphis International (MEM)
Departure (ATL): October 12, 9:55 PM EDT (evening)
Arrival (MEM): October 12, 10:29 PM CDT (evening) (DC-9-50)
I was fully aware of the fact that such a routing would be considered crazy, if not idiotic by (almost) all airline employees, so I hoped that everything would go well at check-in. Well, it would not. Even though Delta asked me - by e-mail, to check in before coming to the airport, it would not work. And at LAX the machines would not be able to process my booking, either. So I had to see a gate agent - and that guy was utterly unable to cope with the booking. I was at the airport some 100 minutes before the flight, another ultra-short night - and then I would have to wait and wait until the gate agent would figure out what to do with the booking. All in all it took well over 40 (!) minutes to check in my bag and to get my boarding passes. The thing is that my booking outwitted Delta's system: they could only print four boarding passes and - much, much worse - they could only check in my suitcase for four legs. I asked if it was possible to manually write a tag that the bag would have to be sent one leg further, which they denied. What he would say was: 'The system can't make it.'
O my, slaves to the system! The system selling a ticket, but not accepting the bag for the booking!
As the gate agent handling my booking did not know how to proceed the station manager/ gate supervisor was called. He could not help, either. What they would do is check my bag in to my second last stop, Atlanta, rather than my final stop Memphis. They told me I would have to get my bag at Atlanta - and recheck it in for the last leg. What they did not consider, however, was the fact that the Atlanta stopover was the shortest of all four connections - 51 minutes, which would make it impossible for me to get the bag, check it back in - and get my flight to Memphis. Unanimously the gate agent and the supervisor told me: 'Don't ever di this again' and the supervisor even mentioned: 'There is no way you are going to make it'.
So I left LAX with a bag checked in for the wrong final destination and a numb feeling, I was downright flabbergasted. The following questions were spinning in my head: What has become of the American dream? Have we reached an era, in which computers dictate our behaviour, in which computers triumph over common sense? They can't manually tag a bag? What's become with the 'impossible is nothing'-mentality, the 'just-do-it'-mentality? What's up with a gate supervisor predicting me that there is no way I'm going to make the trip?
Anyway, the sight of my plane to Salt Lake City gave a certain comfort.
third flight: October 12, DL1404, LAX -SLC, 06:15 - 09:14, Boeing 757-212 N751AT
It was - as I hoped for and expected - I checked Delta's subfleet carefully on flighaware - one of the four former Singapore Airlines and ATA 757s. The aircraft took its first flight on September 28, 1984. Between that year and 1989 the twin-jet was in service with Singapore Airlines, from 1989 until 1996 with ATA, and for 15 years already with Delta.
My plane to SLC - N751AT - and my plane from SLC - N928DN in one frame...
The gate agent at LAX changed my window seat to a middle seat, and I did not even notice that as I was too caught up in the whole luggage thing...anyway, the flight was pleasant, the cabin very clean and as I could not enjoy the view on the US' Midwest landscape I went online - this wifi service surely abbreviates the felt flying time, and so time was literally flying in the middle seat - and soon we arrived at a wet Minneapolis...
I checked the screen and I was relieved to see that the next flight was on time, too. MSP is quite a nice airport - and allows some good views on the air operations. Here are some pics I took during my short layover:
I enjoyed the flight on the DC-9. In comparison to the MD-90 the interior looked a bit more dated, the cabins plastic cover a bit yellowed - signs of year-long workhorseship. It was rather hot, too, maybe it was my enthusiasm giving me some heat - it was a great short hop to Illinois.
Meeting a good ol' friend: the 747 that brought me to California a couple of days earlier showed up at ORD that moment, too.
At ORD the Delta agents could finally help me. The lady spoke on a walkie-talkie with the ramp agent - and so my bag could eventually be re-tagged to Memphis. I breathed a sigh of relief: The likelihood to get to Memphis that night, together with my suitcase, suddenly increased drastically...
The DC-9 was originally delivered to North Central Airlines on 10 May 1978, becoming Republic Airlines on 01 July 1979, this DC-9-51 had been with Northwest Airlines since 01 October 1986. Since 2009 the twin-jet has been in service with Delta.
My crazy trip was not over: Seven hours later my flying frenzy would continue with the following routing:
05:53 AM MEM 08:39 AM CLT CRJ 900
09:20 AM CLT 10:57 AM PHL 767
12:15 PM PHL 01:29 PM BOS E190
That way I would fly on the US Airways 767-200, too...
After a short night in a rather shady David Lynch-esque airport hotel I would board my second regional jet on this trip, US Airways Express Canadair CRJ900 N919FJ (originally delivered to Mesa Airlines/ America West Express in April 2004)
N652US in British Airways colours arriving at Baltimore-Washington in July 1995...
The cabin of the 767 is very spacious, and this large 3-D domain might contribute to the feeling of having more air to breathe. I had two seats for my own - and I enjoyed the ride in the 21-year-old bird a lot.
It has been a while since a last flew AA, five years now, and goodness, they really have to get their act together: their employees were surly, the cabin and seat stained - the 20-year-old 757 was in the worst shape of all the aircraft I flew on during my trip. Anyway, the views shown above - another sunrise seen from the plane - compensate for a lot.
Despite the rainy weather I opted for some more plane photography around Miami International:
And then it was time to leave the US, which I did with mixed feelings: On the one hand this country was again a wonderful place for me, an ideal place for mellow adventures, and on the other hand, I was looking forward to my date:
Audrey was awaiting me (and some more passengers...):
This lovely Avro was delivererd to Northwest Airlink in April 1998. Between 2006 and 2008 the airliner was stored at Marana. Since two years in service with CityJet.
The flight passed quickly, which was good. Those who complain about narrow seats in regional jets in North America should try out CityJet...This time it was less cramped as the middle seat was free, and me on seat 9A, could relax quite well on this short hop.
Wow, the trip report got longer than I thought it would. For me it has been a joyful re-visualisation of this multi-leg trip. I am very grateful that I could fly such a route - and I give a toast for those incredible men an women who design and keep the machines aloft!
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
Tigerguy From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 934 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 11332 times:
Quoting HBIHLtoEZE (Reply 1): Wow, the trip report got longer than I thought it would.
Fine by me; there's more to read and see.
Yep, this is pretty much what it should be about: start flying, see where you go, and see what happens along the way. Further, the report is more evidence that, after the baggage drama and crazy routes, the great machine can run more smoothly than people give it credit for. Thanks for the good report and the plentiful planes!
Also good to see that you caught a couple of flights on the DC-9; I had one such trip not too long ago, and I expect that we may be seeing a few more DC-9 related reports over the next year or so.
Flying friendly for a while, but is that a widget I see in the rear-view mirror?
LXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 610 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 10460 times:
Great trip and great trip report! I love your clear and crisp photos.
Quoting HBIHLtoEZE (Thread starter): I am flying routes for planes rather than airlines (or the ever-more inflationary frequent miles).
That's exactly how I see it. I've never ever booked a flight just to get miles.
Congratulations on your DC-9 orgy!
It was amazing that they could not handle your check-in and bag over the itineraray you booked. Very unprofessional and the agents at LAX even more so. They could for example get in contact with the SLC station and have the baggage re-labelled there.... I'm sure there could be other solutions, too.
HBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 281 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 9765 times:
Thanks a lot four your comments, I appreciate the fact that you seem to like the pics - I like them a lot personally as well and I am surely invested quite some time to take them - and edit them (you know so much that my girlfriend felt a bit negleted and started complaining...
Quoting Tigerguy (Reply 2): had one such trip not too long ago, and I expect that we may be seeing a few more DC-9 related reports over the next year or so.
Yes, hopefully, the DC-9 deserves all the attention it can get.
Quoting cytz_pilot (Reply 8): PS. Where were you photographing from when you caught the Asiana 777 at LAX? Were you on the roof of one of the hotels or something?
It's the Radisson, yet not from a a room, but from the restaurant on the 13th floor. Five years ago it was still possible to go outside and take shots from the smokers' corner (now closed due to stricter laws again nicotine addicts in California) - now one has to shoot through tinted double glass, which makes the pics milky. The perspective, however, is still wonderful...
steex From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 1645 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 9640 times:
Quoting HBIHLtoEZE (Reply 10): Yes, and it got worse since they switched to the Airbus fleet - the good ol' 747-200s were perefectly reliably, even for 'Industria Argentina' (I lived in Argentina once).
I'm not going to disagree with you. Although, it apparently works out well for aviation enthusiasts - one of my better days of spotting was spent at SYD waiting for AR's severely delayed A340-200 to take me to AKL!
steex From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 1645 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 9308 times:
Quoting HBIHLtoEZE (Reply 12): It is just amazing that Aerolineas Argentinas are still around, seeing them - or even flying them is a joyous thing for sure though -
when they freshly received their A342s I managed to take a pic of them in SYD, too - in 1999, yet did not fly on them,
Fantastic photo, I loved that livery!
My delay was actually a new low for AR - I took them SYD-AKL the day after the first big Christchurch earthquake last year. Despite the fact that AKL saw no ill effects from the quake and even CHC ops resumed fairly quickly, they blamed their 6-hour delay for the entire SCL-AKL-SYD-AKL-SCL trip on the earthquake. It struck me as very tasteless to seize the opportunity to use such a tragic event as a temporary mask for their own inability to run a timely operation.
That said, once on board, I did rather enjoy the flight and the service. Very friendly and competent folks.