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FRA On DL Business Elite + Amtrak & DL Domestic Y  
User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 456 posts, RR: 2
Posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 22027 times:

New Years at 34,000ft: Frankfurt and Back with Delta Business Elite, Amtrak, MBTA, and DB!


This past New Years day, I passed up the Champagne, fireworks, and celebration in exchange for a last minute trip of more than 30 hours of traveling and just 23 hours in Frankfurt, Germany with a good friend. As I've explained in past trip reports, Delta's employee standby travel program makes crazy adventures such as this one possible.

In this trip report I will cover a round trip from Portland, Maine, USA to Frankfurt, Germany. Included are a rail journey on Amtrak from Portland to Boston, Delta flights from Boston to Detroit and onward to Frankfurt, my quick touristic visit around Frankfurt, and return flights on Delta from Frankfurt to Portland, via Detroit. In all this flying I experienced Business Elite service and Delta's new flat beds on the 767-400 and domestic coach service on a 737-800 and a CRJ-200 out of Boston and Portland.

Without further ado, on to the flights! (Well, actually, the train trip comes first, but after that on to the flights!)

POR - BON (Portland Transportation Center - Boston North Station)
Train # AMTK 692 ("Downeaster")
Equipment:
GE P42 & EMD F40PH NPCU, Pulling 5 Amfleet II Cars
Scheduled Departure: 08:05 Actual Departure: 08:05
Scheduled Arrival: 10:30 Actual Arrival: 10:45

This year Amtrak and the "Downeaster" train service celebrated ten years of service between Portland, ME and Boston. This route was inaugurated in December 2001 and was the first passenger train service to the state of Maine since the 1960s. The train isn't the fastest option between Portland and Boston (driving is still about ten minutes faster than the train's 2:20 block time), but its convenience for tourists and commuters have pushed the route to be Amtrak's fastest growing route for many of the past ten years. One way fares from POR to BON run from $15-25, easily cheaper than buses or driving and parking in Boston. This morning, I caught the 8:10am departure from Portland, the second of five daily round trips on the route - nowhere near the frequency of similar European rail routes, but not bad for American intercity rail.

Amtrak's Downeaster departs from the Portland Transportation Center, an integrated bus and rail station about three miles from downtown Portland. While the station isn't ideal for arriving tourists, its location is very convenient for passengers arriving by car from elsewhere in Maine. Downeaster trains are operated in a push/pull configuration with a General Electric P42 Genesis providing power on the North end of the train, and a converted EMD F40PH NPCU (Non-Powered Control Unit, Cab-Baggage, or "Cabbage") on the South end. Depending on the season, the train typically runs with between 3 and 5 Amfleet I coach cars and an Amfleet cafe car.

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Careful observers may notice that this photo was taken in the summer...I may or may not be re-using some old photos for this first bit. An Amtrak Downeaster train set waiting in the Portland station.

Amtrak's station in Portland is located on the former Maine Central "Mountain Division" branch, once a busy link between Maine and the West. In the 1980s the entire line was abandoned by its new owner (Guilford Transportation Industries) and only a small spur remains active in Portland (although, the Conway Scenic Railroad operates on a portion of the line in New Hampshire). On this trip, we pulled out of the station on time and were quickly on the Guilford (now "Pan Am Railways") mainline southbound to Boston.

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Passing through Rigby Yard in South Portland, making about 45mph.

In the above photo you may notice something unusual on the box car at the left. Yes, that is a Pan Am globe logo. In the mid 1990s Guilford Transportation acquired the Pan Am brand to operate Pan Am III (Boston & Maine Airways) a poorly organized charter operation flying 727s and Jetstream 32s in the Eastern US. When the DOT shut down the airline due to (I kid you not) managerial incompetence, Guilford decided to utilize the name to revitalize their failing rail system. Even though Guilford owned the branding for two proud railroads (the Maine Central and the Boston & Maine), they decided to further sully name of Pan Am. I'm sure Juan Trippe is turning in his grave as boxcars roll around the northeast, graffiti painted all over their Pan Am livery.

After Rigby Yard the train accelerated up to its maximum operating speed of 79mph, a speed attained in a number of locations between stops through Main and New Hampshire.

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The interior of this worn but comfortable Amfleet I.

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Safety information card. Note that it's much more text based than the cartoonish format used by airlines.

I made a quick trip to the Cafe car, buying a muffin and bottled water for a reasonable $4.00. A number of hot food items and items locally sourced from Maine companies are offered, certainly better being crammed into a Greyhound bus.

In Massachusetts the Downeaster runs on tracks owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority commuter rail, we were delayed almost 15 minutes waiting for a Northbound Downeaster and an MBTA commuter train to pass. Later we found out that an automobile accident at a grade crossing had slowed all trains on the track that morning. Eventually we pulled into Boston's North Station, about 15 minutes behind schedule.

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Pardon the re-used photo. A Downeaster trainset in North Station, next to an MBTA commuter rail train.

A quick walk outside brought me to the MBTA's North Station subway stop. The station was renovated during Boston's "Big Dig", relocating the Orange Line subway and Green Line tram into a single underground station. About twenty minutes after stepping off the train, I made it to the Airport via the Orange and Blue lines, plus a complimentary shuttle bus from the "Airport" station to the terminal.

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Orange line arriving at North Station.

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Blue line departing Airport for Wonderland.


KBOS - KDTW
Flight # DL 1523
Equipment:
Boeing 737-800 (N378DA)
Scheduled Departure: 14:30 Actual Departure: 14:30
Scheduled Arrival: 16:49 Actual Arrival: 16:40

The original purpose of this trip was to see off a friend who was departing on a trip to Thailand. She would be flying United and Lufthansa, with a twelve hour layover in Frankfurt, so I saw her off in Terminal C where she would be flying BOS-IAD-FRA at the same time I would be standing by for BOS-DTW-FRA. As I made my way from Terminal C to A (Delta's terminal in BOS), I was confident that I'd be able to meet with her in Frankfurt, but not so confident that I'd be able to get back to the United States afterward. All employee standby travel is standby, space-available, and my seniority isn't very good. Almost no one seemed interested in flying on New Years eve, so plenty of seats were available. The exact opposite was true for the following week. Regardless, I decided I was up for an adventure and headed for my flight.


Boston's unique Brutalist control tower, probably one of the most recognizable ATC towers in the world.

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Walking through one of Boston's sky-ways towards Terminal A.

The check-in process was quick (although the first kiosk I tried wasn't able to read my passport) and I easily passed through the TSA checkpoint. The majority of the terminal was deserted, only a couple flights were departing on this slow travel day.

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My ride to Detroit, N378DA, just arrived from Bermuda.

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Making use of Boston's free Wi-Fi connection and ample electrical outlets. A keen observer may notice that the sticker on my laptop is an old advertisement for Independence Air.

The flight to Detroit was showing about 30 empty seats, I was cleared into 10F, a window seat in the bulkhead row. Luckily the middle seat remained open and it turned out to be a pretty comfortable flight. This 737-800 was one of the first of the type to be delivered to Delta, entering service in 1999. The aircraft is equipped with only drop-down TV screens rather than PTVs, but GoGo Inflight internet access would be available to keep me entertained. Taxi to the runway took less than five minutes and we were quickly underway.

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The view out my window, just before push-back.

Prior to pulling on the runway I was admittedly a bit stressed and worried about the prospect of being stranded in Germany if no standby seats were available on my return. When the pilots pulled out onto Runway 9 and the two CFM56s roared to life, all those thoughts disappeared and I couldn't help but grin the whole way down the runway.

Snack service began shortly after reaching cruising altitude. I had a few "Have One on Us" drink coupons left over for 2011 which I offered to the passengers sitting around me. It seemed that everyone was saving their drinking for parties later that evening. I ordered myself a Heineken and pocketed the remaining coupons as souvenirs, as they all expired at midnight, the end of the year.

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Not worth the $6 they charge, but for free I'll certainly take it.

The vast majority of Delta's domestic fleet is now equipped with on board "GoGo" WiFi service. During the holiday season, eBay is sponsoring 30 minutes of free internet for all passengers. I took advantage of my half hour browsing Airliners.net and answering Emails, before the system defaulted back to the "DeltaConnect" home page. Instead of paying for the internet, I decided to get working on a couple trip reports which I have in the works, processing pictures of airplanes and jotting down notes about my flight.

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Delta Connect offers free access to Delta websites, shopping, and real-time information about the flight.

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Kermit the Frog poking his head out of the seat back pocket, on the cover of a well worn copy of December's Sky Magazine.

With the internet and trip report writing to distract me, it wasn't long at all before we began our descent into Detroit. It seemed as if the entire US was blanketed with clouds this New Years Eve, so there wasn't much to look at on the way down.


Looking back at the wing and CFM56-7B27 engine.


Interesting cloud formation along a front.

The landing in Detroit was one of the smoothest I've felt in months. After the main gear greased onto the runway the brakes were gently applied and idle reverse thrust was deployed for the long roll out to the W2 high-speed exit taxiway. The airport was very quiet, being mid-afternoon on New Years eve. We soon pulled into gate A77 at the far North end of Detroit's McNamara terminal. The north side of the terminal was very quiet (for some reason the South side was bustling.) I decided to skip the tram and stroll down to my connecting gate, A40, right behind Detroit's famous central fountain.

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Departure boards.

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Along the way to my gate I stopped and found my rock I'd signed earlier in the month - still in the planter where I left it.


KDTW - EDDF
Flight # DL 0142
Equipment:
Boeing 767-400ER (N834MH)
Scheduled Departure: 19:30 Actual Departure: 19:15
Scheduled Arrival: 09:45(+1) Actual Arrival: 09:10(+1)

My flight from Boston had arrived right about on time, giving me about three hours to kill until departure (two until boarding). Detroit's airport provides plenty of entertainment and dining options; between riding the express tram back and forth and walking the psychedelic tunnel to the B/C concourse I entertained myself for a half hour or so. I easily had time to sit down at one of DTW's great airside restaurants (the sushi place across from A34 is a favorite of mine), but I decided to save my appetite for the meal on board.

I settled into a quiet seat in the A40 gate area, took advantage of the ample electrical hookups provided by Delta, and worked on processing photos for a trip report. In the hour leading up to boarding the gate area filled up, but never became crowded. This New Years Eve flight was booked to only about half full, the Gate Information Display Screens were showing 28 seats available in Business Elite, 130 available in coach, perfect for a non-rev like me!

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My ride to Frankfurt, behind Detroit's centerpiece fountain.

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Now you see it...

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...Now you don't. Hidden behind DTW's unfortunate dots.

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Classic DTW Trip Report shot, looking North in the A Concourse.

About an hour and a half prior to departure the gate agents (I spotted five of them working this empty flight) began clearing upgrades and standbys. I was surprised to see nine upgrades go through before the standby list began to be processed. There must have been an entire flight crew traveling to Frankfurt. Airline employees flying Positive Space are the only people I've ever seen placed on the "upgrade" list for international flights.

I was near the top of the standby list, soon I heard my name and approached the gate. I was handed a boarding card for seat 1A - sweet! Even though all Business Elite seats are basically the same on the 767-400, 1A is a window seat which is actually aligned with the window, rather than staggered out towards the aisle with the seat's console occupying the window area.

Boarding began four minutes ahead of schedule. Because of the light load there were very few gate lice and boarding proceeded smoothly. Even though gate A40 is equipped with dual jetways, only one was attached (apparently standard practice for the 767-400) and I boarded through the L2 door. Apparently I looked particularly German, as I was greeted at the door with "Guten Tag sind Sie in Business-Class gesetzt?" I responded "Umm, yes, I'm seated in business class, 1A." and proceeded to my seat. I certainly wouldn't have surprised to be addressed in German after touchdown in Frankfurt, but I was surprised that the flight attendants were making assumptions of nationality while still on the ground in the US.

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Seat 1A on board the 767-400.

Delta's entire 767-400 fleet has been equipped with Thompson full lie-flat seats in Business Elite. These seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration (as opposed to the 2-2-2 previously installed), but seat nearly as many passengers due to tighter pitch. Instead of the seats reclining into the dead space behind, the seats slide forward into a cavity underneath the large console of the seat in front. Seat 1A has no seat ahead, so the recline function is accomplished by sliding forward into a hole cut out of the bulkhead wall.


Lots of leg room, with a cubby-hole cut out of the forward bulkhead.

When traveling alone, I would certainly put my recommendation on 1A or 1D, the privacy is unmatched. The seat feels like it would be the ideal location for a child's blanket fort, hidden away in the front corner of a 767.

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Pre-departure beverage. Beer is added to the standard Champagne and Orange Juice offering on flights to and from Germany.

Boarding had begun a full hour prior to the scheduled departure. Only twenty minutes after I settled into my seat I overheard a gate agent's conversation with the purser. "We're all set if you guys are, Happy New Years!" A minute or two later I heard the solid *clunk* of the main cabin door being closed. While we still had to wait a few minutes for the baggage loaders to finish up, the jetbridge was pulled back and we were underway at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule, not a bad start to the flight.

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Jetbridge pulled away; I'm on my way to Frankfurt!

The standard Delta safety video played (complete with Deltalina finger wag), and an ad for Fairfield Inn and Suites began to play right after. Luckily, we had already made it to the runway and the ad was shut off automatically. The takeoff roll was surprisingly quiet, with very little engine noise coming from the two CF6-80C2s on the wings. The peaceful climb out was interrupted before even reaching 500ft by an ad for the "Bing" search engine. Delta has begun playing ads on IFE equipped aircraft, both after the safety video and upon retraction of the landing gear. While I didn't mind the original Fairfield of Lincoln ads, I find the Bing ads just obnoxious. I wonder how many more ads will be added to the play list before the madness is ended...

Meal service typically begins about 45 minutes after takeoff, so I began browsing the available TV episodes for something short to entertain me until dinner. Unfortunately the television choices were un-changed from my trip to Stuttgart in early December so I switched to the movie selections instead. I was quite surprised by the quantity of choices.

Delta's domestic aircraft and 767-300s are typically loaded with a selection of about a dozen new releases and perhaps another dozen less recent films. The 767-400 IFE system uses the same menu and interface, but the selections are far more extensive. I didn't count, but there were probably about 100 films to choose from. The choices ranged from classics like Gone With the Wind and Casablanca to newer favorites, like Office Space and The Matrix. I decided to turn on the most recent Harry Potter installment, but was interrupted shortly by a flight attendant offering a hot towel and taking my drink order.

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Pre-meal beverage and nuts - Ginger ale today.

Unfortunately the meal choices were also the same as my flight to Stuttgart earlier in the month. I had tried the Panko crusted Halibut ("Delta Chef Michelle Bernstein's Selection") on the previous flight and found it quite tasty. I decided to try something else for variety and selected the Seared Beef Tenderloin. The appetizer and salad courses would be the same as the previous meal.

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Starter course: Crab and Avocado salad with lime, melon, and a vegetable bisque. Not pictured: a warm wheat roll.

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Salad Course: Mixed Greens and Bell Pepper with a creamy dressing.

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Main Course: Seared Beef Tenderloin with Béarnaise sauce, Gremolata Risotto and Brocolini.

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Dessert, of course a sundae with berry sauce and nuts.

The meal was all-around tasty and on-par with Delta's Business Elite standards. The starter course was very good, although the crab salad was difficult to eat with the small cutlery provided. The crab and citrus went together quite well with the melon. The bisque was simple, but satisfying. The salad was good, as always; fresh mixed greens with yellow bell pepper and tomato.

The main course was interesting. The beef wasn't over-cooked, but was very well done. I've found all beef served on board to be either well done or over-done, a consequence of being continuously warmed in the aircraft's ovens. The dish overall had a strong herb/citrus flavor which was a bit potent for my tastes, I certainly preferred the Halibut on my previous flight. Dessert was offered with the standard choices of fruit and cheese, ice cream sundaes, or a creme brulee cheesecake. The cheesecake looked very good, but I was feeling like a sundae. Wine was offered multiple times through the main course, Port with dessert, but I was already falling asleep and didn't partake.

Shortly after the tablecloths and last dishes were collected I slid my seat down into the flatbed position. When fully reclined the seats become 6'6" long beds, 21.5" wide (although the foot holes narrow slightly at their ends.) The window side arm rest curves inward towards the seat, giving the impression of a narrower seat cushion, but for all practical purposes the seats are just as wide or wider than the Business Elite seats on all other Delta aircraft.

I fell asleep very quickly and didn't wake until mid-way through the breakfast meal service. I slept straight through midnight and any celebration that may have taken place (a testament to the quality of Delta's earplugs and eye shades perhaps?) and the beginning of breakfast service. A water bottle had been left on my seat console and flight attendants were already collecting breakfast trays, so I settled for just a water for breakfast.

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Descending through the high cloud layers over Eastern Germany.

Much of the climb and early cruise had been quite bumpy, the descent into Frankfurt was no different, shaking and bouncing the whole way down. We landed on 7R and taxied to the terminal. The captain had announced in Detroit that the gate would not be open until about 9:40, we touched down at 9:10. Luckily a remote stand was available and a stair truck soon rolled up to the 1L door.

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Looks like we're in Lufthansa territory now.

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Stairs pulling up to the 1L door.

Being in 1A, I was the first off of the aircraft. I had hoped to deplane through 2L so that I could snap a few more photos of the cabin, but no such luck. Three buses were waiting at the base of the stairs. The first bus departed as soon as the Business Elite cabin had deplaned, leaving the remaining two buses for the whole coach cabin.

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Pulling away from the aircraft on a mostly empty bus.

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Lufthansa aircraft all around. The clean windows of the bus were a great change from the fogged up 767 window.

The bus dropped off at the end of Terminal 2, I made my way to the Skyline people mover, in hopes of catching my friend as she deplaned from her United flight. I found the air side facilities in Terminal 1 to be rather sparse, so I headed out to the land side area to kill a couple hours.

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Every time I ride one of these people movers I can't help but think of the opening to Half Life 1. Hello Mr. Free-mmaan.

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Good to see some old style flip boards in use.

My friend's flight arrived early as well. The S-Bahn station is located just underneath the airport's front access road, so it's just as easy to access as any bus or car. A day ticket was relatively cheap, 8 Euros (especially compared to the 4.40 Euro one-way ticket from the airport to downtown), and the train ride to downtown (Hauptwache station) was just over 15 minutes.

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Frankfurt's extensive S-Bahn and regional rail network.

I spent the rest of the day wandering about Frankfurt, mostly in the Römerburg district and the surrounding areas. Took a tram ride to see the sights, walked some pedestrian bridges, drank some Ebbelwei, and generally saw the sights.

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Downtown Frankfurt, the Eiserner Steg, and the Main River, as seen from the Sachsenhausen neighborhood across the river.

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The Holbeinsteg pedestrian bridge.

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Evening in Römer Square.

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Looking south at the Eiserner Steg, lit up at night.

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The Zeil by the Hauptwache station.

Soon it was time for my friend to head on to Bangkok, and for me to get a quick bit of sleep before my flight home. Back on the S-Bahn, said my goodbyes, another train ride, and to my hotel. I stayed the night at the Hotel Savoy, which turned out to be a very nice hotel, just a block from the Hauptbahnhof station. I had snagged a Hotels.com deal for the night, only $51 (USD). I've found that Hotels.com typically has excellent rates available for decent hotels in Europe, much cheaper than most US hotel rooms.

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Waiting to hop on the S8 or S9 back towards the airport.

The next morning I checked out at 5:45am and was soon back at EDDF, an airport I was quickly becoming very familiar with.


EDDF - KDTW
Flight # DL 0143
Equipment:
Boeing 767-400ER (N843MH)
Scheduled Departure: 09:45 Actual Departure: 09:45
Scheduled Arrival: 13:50 Actual Arrival: 13:35

I had allowed plenty of time to arrive at the airport (I had almost missed a flight a couple weeks prior due to a missed train, I wasn't taking any chances this time), so I ended up arriving before the Delta check-in counter opened. I found a self-service kiosk which was usable for all Skyteam airlines and checked in there. Through customs control I found a very comfortable reclined chair and napped for a few minutes before the gate opened for passengers.

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Back at the airport, my scheduled ride back to the States.

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The empty (and very clean) main air side corridor in Terminal 2.

Security wasn't very busy, so I was selected for not one, but two secondary inspections. My bags were opened and inspected on the X-Ray belt, but I was also pulled aside by an official for a pat-down and a full dissection of my baggage. Perhaps I was looking particularly suspicious in my jet-lagged state?

At the gate I heard what I was afraid of: standby travel on this flight was not looking very good. The flight was oversold by 18 seats in coach, but there were 22 empty seats in Business Elite. In the event of an oversell in Y, Delta will upgrade coach passengers to available Business Elite seats before bumping them, putting the maximum theoretical seats for standby passengers at 4. At the time of check in, I was #3 on the list. Talk about stressful, especially when flights for the next two days were only looking worse...

A number of connecting passengers had arrived late, as the minutes 'till departure ticked down there was no sign of activity for standby passengers. I was quite relieved to hear one of the gate agents announce "I'm going to clear the first 5 standbys now, this should work out." Much to my surprise (and relief) I was soon holding a boarding card for Seat 1A, my new favorite seat on the 767-400.


Settling back into 1A, right where I left off 24 hours prior.

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Pre-Departure Beverage (Mimosa) and the lunch menu.

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Exact same legroom as before.

When ordering my pre-departure beverage the Flight Attendant looked at me with a confused expression and asked "Are you 21?..." I simply responded "Yes" and the flight attendant returned with a Mimosa. In all the time I've spent flying this was the first Flight Attendant to question my age. Perhaps my less-than well-groomed hair gave me a slightly younger look? *shrug*

Just prior to the scheduled departure time I heard frantic footsteps running up the aisle behind me. A flight attendant rushed past and out the door. As he exited the plane I heard "they're sending down doubles!! We have two 25A/Bs!!" I was one of the last standbys to be cleared, this put me in the position of first to be removed, not a very good place to be. Luckily, two Business Elite seats had remained open, the couple seated in 25A/B were moved up, the door was closed, and we were on our way. *phew*

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The best sight I've seen all day, the jet bridge retracting while I'm still on board...

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The inbound flight from Detroit, pulling in as soon as our aircraft was clear.

From gate to runway we only taxied for a couple minutes, pausing briefly to allow the inbound 767 from Detroit access to our recently vacated gate.

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Lifting off from 25C with an A320 rolling on 18 below.

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Disappearing into the clouds.

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Above the thin cloud layer.

As had been the case throughout the entire outbound flight, the ride was quite bumpy up to our initial cruising altitude, and remained slightly rough even after leveling off. The 767-400ER is significantly heavier than the -200 and -300 models, yet it makes use of basically the same wing. A consequence of this simplified design is a much lower initial cruising altitude, sometimes as low as FL270, resulting in a rougher ride at times.

Watching the airshow map, our route brought us North to Cologne, before turning Northwest, leaving continental Europe somewhere just South of Amsterdam. Meal service began somewhere near the German/Dutch border. The standard hot towel service was offered (mine was absolutely scalding this time, good thing I let it cool before applying to my face...) and initial drink orders were taken.

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Too early for any more alcohol (it's only 4am EST), Cranberry juice and warm nuts this time.

When delivering my drink, one of the flight attendants recognized me from the outbound flight from Detroit. The majority of the crew was the same as the crew I'd flown with a day prior. After I explained my story and mentioned that I worked in Engineering, the flight attendant joked "You're not the one who designed these tray tables, are you?" laughed, and said it was a good thing that I hadn't. I haven't had any trouble with the 767-400 tray tables before (an odd design which stows flat in the top of the seat console), but apparently they have a bad habit of jamming or unintentionally retracting.

Even though the Frankfurt flight departs at 4am EST, it is catered as a lunch flight. The meal options included a full meal with salad and starter, a bit too much food for me at this hour, but I wasn't about to turn down a good meal.

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Starter Course: Thai Red Curry Shrimp with Quinoa Vegetable Salad, served with a Carrot-Ginger soup.

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Salad, fancier this time. Mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, feta, and olives.

Eastbound flights always seem to have a sense of urgency during meal service while westbound are more relaxed. Without the rush to sleep (and a strong jetstream to fight on the way over) the meal service was quite leisurely. I made good progress on the new Sky Magazine's crossword puzzle between courses.

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Taking a leisurely meal, crossing over Scotland as the main course is being delivered.

All Business Elite meals are delivered with a packet of silverware which includes two forks, three knives, and a spoon. Apparently Delta expects the appetizer to be eaten solely with a spoon, which I normally don't do. Most of the time I realize that I'll need to re-use a fork before my plate is taken away, but today it slipped my mind and my second fork disappeared with the salad bowl. When I asked a passing flight attendant for another fork she responded "Haven't you learned that you need to hold on to that?" before bringing me a fork from the galley.

http://img804.imageshack.us/img804/7088/f62e.jpg
Main Course: Grilled fillet of Beef with Port Wine sauce, served with roasted potatos and asparagus.

http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/6057/f63s.jpg
Dessert and Coffee, served at the same time on this flight.

Most passengers closed their window shades and settled in for sleep or to watch videos on the entertainment system. My PTV needed to be reset a couple of times, the system seemed to be having quite a bit of trouble. After the initial trouble I was able to select a movie and relax.

http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/6001/f64d.jpg
The darkened Business Elite Cabin in flight.

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Small snacks and water bottles set out in the galley.

After a bit of sleep I awoke and found the movie "Office Space" to watch until the pre-arrival meal.

http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/9202/f66g.jpg
Deeper and deeper, way, way down...

About an hour and a half out of Detroit the pre-arrival meal was served, a choice of Ham and Swiss sandwich or a salad with chicken. Delta's hot sandwiches are always very tasty, so I chose that option. I was surprised that the ham was a thick cut, rather than the very thin "Philly Cheese Steak" style cut I've had previously. The thick cuts of ham were far less greasy and very good.

http://img62.imageshack.us/img62/7838/f67t.jpg
Pre-arrival meal: Ham and Swiss Sandwich, marinated salad, and a small chocolate.

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Descending over a snowy Ontario.

After the completion of meal service the IFE system was taken over by a Customs and Immigration arrival video, a generic video played on all transatlantic arrivals which explains the basics of navigating US Customs. During this presentation the Flight Attendants collected the complimentary noise canceling headphones from Business Elite passengers. I understand that collecting headphones early makes sense for the Flight Attendants, but this left about 25 minutes left of the flight with no IFE available. No worries, the window is the only IFE I need.

http://img835.imageshack.us/img835/8452/f69v.jpg
Downtown Detroit in the distance.

The landing was a bit rough - the landing gear on the 767 seems to be more prone to bouncing or floating on touchdown than other aircraft. As the brakes were applied I heard water bottles sliding off of seat consoles all throughout the Business Elite cabin. The seat back pockets on the 767-400 are too small to fit the complimentary water bottles, making it hard to stow them safely during takeoff and landing.

http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/3469/f70.jpg
Taxiing past Concourse B.

We had arrived slightly ahead of schedule (about 30 minutes) and had to wait briefly for a 747 to vacate the gate. This time the 2L door was opened and I had a chance to grab a couple last photos.


I reject your reality and substitute my own...
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 22021 times:

...a last couple of photos which were apparently cut off by Airliners.net. Continuing:


http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/7193/f71.jpg
747 vacating our gate, on its way to Tokyo Narita.

http://img72.imageshack.us/img72/7081/f72u.jpg
One last look at my seat, about to deplane through the 2L door.

Detroit's customs facility is absolutely massive, designed to process multiple widebody arrivals. The Frankfurt flight was the only one being processed so I didn't even have to pause in line before heading through Passport Control. I was traveling with only carry-on baggage and was the first to exit through Customs. A number of Customs agents were standing idle; I was sent down to secondary screening, probably just to keep them busy. My bags were dissected yet again, but I was quickly on my way.

KDTW - KPWM
Flight # FLG 4156
Equipment:
Bombardier CRJ-440 (N8808H)
Scheduled Departure: 17:50 Actual Departure: 18:20
Scheduled Arrival: 19:45 Actual Arrival: 20:10

Instead of heading back through Boston I caught a flight straight to Portland. PWM is served solely by 50-seat RJs from Detroit (quite a change from the DC-9's back in the Northwest days). This night, the last flight out would be operated by a Pinnacle airlines CRJ-440.

http://img859.imageshack.us/img859/9607/f73ax.jpg
A few birds, also enjoying the clean Detroit terminal.

Detroit's terminal loudspeakers periodically play recordings of predatory birds and animals, in order to scare off wildlife. Apparently the system wasn't working very well, as there were a handful of small birds flying around the A gates.

http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/141/f74p.jpg
The psychedelic tunnel connecting the A concourse to the B and C concourses/

http://img847.imageshack.us/img847/6016/f75g.jpg
Walking down to the end of the C Concourse.

The B/C concourse was very busy, especially with passengers who had missed earlier morning flights due to snow throughout the Midwest. The C end of the concourse primarily handles CRJs and ERJs, while the B end has larger gate areas and tends to handle CRJ-7/9 flights and E-175s. Unfortunately I was down at the C end. The departure gate was shuffled a couple of times due to delayed flights. Eventually I ended up at gate C33 for a fairly full flight to Portland.

http://img818.imageshack.us/img818/1200/f76v.jpg
My ride to PWM, getting ready for a quick turnaround.

The flight to PWM was quite typical. After a short delay I wedged myself into Seat 7C next to a young lady who was carrying far too much carry on baggage to fit into a CRJ. Snow had started to fall so a quick de-icing was required. Eventually we made it to the runway, lifting off almost an hour after the original scheduled departure time. It turns out my seat mate was slightly afraid of flying, she spent most of the flight gripping the seat back in front of her with white knuckles (I know, no one likes CRJs, but this was a bit extreme...)

In flight service was typical, soft drinks and a choice of Biscoff, Pretzels, or Peanuts were offered (Biscoff, of course.) The flight attendant seemed slightly hard of hearing, many people had to repeatedly state their drink orders before he understood. The rest of the flight was entirely uneventful, landing on Runway 29 in Portland and taxiing straight to a remote stand. Just about 60 hours after I left, I stepped out of the airport and headed home, not a bad day trip across the Atlantic...

Conclusions:

In all, I think Delta has finally perfected a consistent post-merger product. In Business Elite the service, food, and hard product was nearly identical inbound and outbound. The lie-flat seats are an excellent product. While they don't offer the privacy of a First Class Suite, they certainly are the next best thing and are a far more efficient use of space on board. Food on board still seems hit-or-miss depending on the option chosen. Fish and Chicken dishes seem much easier to perfect than beef, but compared to airplane food in general, all options were above average. There isn't much to differentiate US domestic carriers, but Delta keeps their planes clean, offers WiFi on all but 50-seat RJs, and still offers some form of free snack service on all flights. Of American carriers, domestic and international, I'd say that Delta's doing a good job of staying at the top of the pack.

Thanks for reading, I hope you've all enjoyed the report!


Past Reports for your reading pleasure...
Maine For Thanksgiving On US And Cape Air! (by KPWMSpotter Nov 29 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-AMS/DUS-ATL, DL F + ICE Train And Köln (by KPWMSpotter Nov 1 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-PWM-DTW-ATL, DL Y + New PWM Terminal (by KPWMSpotter Oct 31 2011 in Trip Reports)
ATL-SLC-SUN & Back DL F, Flying The Brasilia (by KPWMSpotter Sep 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO, STL-MSP-DTW-PWM +NIFA (LONG!) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 10 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-JFK-PWM On JetBlue (by KPWMSpotter May 1 2009 in Trip Reports)
BOS-LHR-BOS + Eurostar (Long/Pics!) (by KPWMSpotter Mar 11 2009 in Trip Reports)
DAB-ATL-PWM & Return On DL (+Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jan 7 2009 in Trip Reports)
MCO-ORD, MDW-MHT, PWM-MCO (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Nov 27 2008 in Trip Reports)
Flying Into A Hurricane: PWM-MCO W. B6 (pics) (by KPWMSpotter Aug 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
PWM-MCO On AirTran (Pics) (by KPWMSpotter Jun 25 2007 in Trip Reports)
PWM-EWR-SEA-IAD-PWM On CO/UA (by KPWMSpotter Dec 25 2006 in Trip Reports)



I reject your reality and substitute my own...
User currently offlineFutureFO From Ireland, joined Oct 2001, 3132 posts, RR: 21
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 21960 times:

The CRJ's are notorious for loud cabin noise. I myself have to ask for people to repeat their orders when I worked the CRJ.


I Don't know where I am anymore
User currently offlineplateman From United States of America, joined May 2007, 923 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 21879 times:

I really enjoyed this TR ... well-written, not subjective and great shots .Thanks for putting it together.


"Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 4, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 21818 times:

Hi KPWMSpotter

Impressive trip report, thanks for sharing it with us.
It was interesting to see Delta's new product in J. Have not seen them that much (unless I'm unwillingly forgetting one) here.
Seems like you had a comfortable ride over to this side of the pond. Like how DL offers beer as well on flights to Germany. I wonder if there is anything special they give on other longhauls depending the origin/destination
If I understood it right you had the same crew back to DTW as to FRA. Did they recognize you.
Nice to see another Amtrak report here in as well, seems like they are getting popular  Smile. It looks like we had a similar expercience (except all the IRR OPPS going on in my story). You can view the details here
A Trip On A Classic Silverjet And Some Trains! (by MSS658 Jan 4 2012 in Trip Reports)

Greetings
Marc

[Edited 2012-01-06 12:52:03]


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineemirates202 From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 237 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 21366 times:

Great TR! Very descriptive, and I really enjoyed the pictures. Looking forward to the others you were talking about!


Fly Emirates, Hello Tomorrow
User currently offlinejmy007 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 598 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 21329 times:

Great report!

I flew Business Elite on the 400 to London some time ago, and your report brings back all the great memories. The seat is fantastic. The only complaint I would have is the seat, when in bed mode,it felt more like lying on a doctors table, than a bed. Also, I found the tray table difficult to get out at first as well. But over all the BE hard and soft product where fantastic.

I agree, the westbound flight was more relaxed, and I had time to enjoy the product. I wish the flight was longer!



Cookies are the Gateway pastry. They lead to Éclairs and Bear Claws.
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 7
Reply 7, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 20924 times:

Quoting jmy007 (Reply 6):

Same here! Idk why but my Europe-US flights always seem to be a little more relaxed than the eastbound evening departures.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 4):

Many flights have destination specific offerings. Anything to NRT/DTW (whether from HNL, mainland or Asia) offers a full Japanese course as an alternate to the "western" menu. All flights also offer Japanese beer, wine , and green tea/hot sake. Id like to add that the sapporo that DL caters is quite good. I had 3 during boarding alone on my flight to NRT from JFK several months ago!



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 20726 times:

Thanks for all of the comments, I'm glad you've all enjoyed it!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 4):
I wonder if there is anything special they give on other longhauls depending the origin/destination

Across the Atlantic, service is pretty standard (the menus are country-specific in BE, modified slightly depending on destination). The addition of beer as a PDB is the only unique trans-Atlantic addition, since they already carry the beer onboard. As FlyASAGuy said, Asia is unique. NRT flights are catered with both a Western menu and a Japanese option. The entire meal experience is modified with the Japanese option, including traditional food/beverage choices. Also on NRT flights small Delta branded slippers are offered.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 4):
If I understood it right you had the same crew back to DTW as to FRA. Did they recognize you

Yep, same crew for the most part. A couple of them recognized me. The 24 hour turnaround didn't get as many strange looks as my 15-minute turnaround on an EMB-120 in Idaho did, the FA was very curious on that flight.

Quoting emirates202 (Reply 5):
Looking forward to the others you were talking about!

Next trip will be coming soon, just a couple domestic hops on Continental and US Airways. I just need to fly the return segment on Tuesday before I can finish it...

Quoting jmy007 (Reply 6):
The only complaint I would have is the seat, when in bed mode,it felt more like lying on a doctors table, than a bed. Also, I found the tray table difficult to get out at first as well. But over all the BE hard and soft product where fantastic

I agree, the bed certainly wasn't the softest I've slept on. I've never had trouble extending the tray table, but they always seem to take a bit of fiddling to line them up and retract the table though. When it's extended I think the position of the table is far better than those on other Delta aircraft. It's a trade off for use usability I guess.



I reject your reality and substitute my own...
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 7
Reply 9, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 20632 times:

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 7):
Many flights have destination specific offerings. Anything to NRT/DTW

That should have read NRT/HND.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlinefawannabe From United States of America, joined Feb 2011, 44 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 20308 times:

Great report with superb photos!


flying wouldnt be the same without them, FA's
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 20244 times:

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 7):

Many flights have destination specific offerings. Anything to NRT/DTW (whether from HNL, mainland or Asia) offers a full Japanese course as an alternate to the "western" menu. All flights also offer Japanese beer, wine , and green tea/hot sake. Id like to add that the sapporo that DL caters is quite good. I had 3 during boarding alone on my flight to NRT from JFK several months ago!
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 8):

Across the Atlantic, service is pretty standard (the menus are country-specific in BE, modified slightly depending on destination). The addition of beer as a PDB is the only unique trans-Atlantic addition, since they already carry the beer onboard. As FlyASAGuy said, Asia is unique. NRT flights are catered with both a Western menu and a Japanese option. The entire meal experience is modified with the Japanese option, including traditional food/beverage choices. Also on NRT flights small Delta branded slippers are offered.

Thanks for the info!



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineburj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 19981 times:

Wow great trip report especially all the photos!

I've yet to enjoy the 767 BusinessElite seat... I saw a mock up down in Atlanta and it looked narrow. How did if feel shoulder wise?

I had one Delta FA tell me that she felt a little like Buffy the Vampire slayer while walking down the aisle at night because all the seats in bed mode look a little like caskets since they are so low to the ground and "sunken in" compared to the console!

It is awesome that you found your rock! I always go and find mine when I get a chance. I even had to touch it up again after a few years as the ink/writing was starting to fade!


User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (2 years 10 months 3 weeks ago) and read 19697 times:

Quoting burj (Reply 12):
I've yet to enjoy the 767 BusinessElite seat... I saw a mock up down in Atlanta and it looked narrow. How did if feel shoulder wise?

For me it felt fine, but there wasn't too much room to play with on the sides. The seat could probably get a little tight at the waist when sitting, tight at the shoulders when reclined for larger passengers. The cushion is 21.5" wide, but the arm rest opposite the console curls in at the top, effectively cutting 1-1.5" from that figure.

You're right about the "casket" feel, the beds really do sink down to the floor. It only feels ridiculous when you get up and look down...



I reject your reality and substitute my own...
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1960 posts, RR: 24
Reply 14, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 19084 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another great report, KPWMSpotter,

I really like your style of writing, and good photos to show every aspect of your flight.

I really want to try DL's Business Elite service again. I flew it back in '99, but that was a long time ago, and when we flew F on DL to LIR back in Feb 2010, the flight was labeled as "Business" but in fact was domestic First Class service; very good, but not the same as a long flight to Europe!

Food looks really nice; I like the presentation as well. I saw those DL glasses in action on a recent flight to ORD; they look really stylish!

Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter):
When ordering my pre-departure beverage the Flight Attendant looked at me with a confused expression and asked "Are you 21?..." I simply responded "Yes" and the flight attendant returned with a Mimosa. In all the time I've spent flying this was the first Flight Attendant to question my age. Perhaps my less-than well-groomed hair gave me a slightly younger look? *shrug*

I've been asked this before on-board as well, but not very often - definitely makes you feel young looking!

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew


User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 7
Reply 15, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 18990 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 14):
I really want to try DL's Business Elite service again. I flew it back in '99, but that was a long time ago, and when we flew F on DL to LIR back in Feb 2010, the flight was labeled as "Business" but in fact was domestic First Class service; very good, but not the same as a long flight to Europe!

Purely marketing, unfortunately. It's an international destination so it will get the "business class" label. Only real BusinessElite routes are on their widebodies or the 75Es/As.



What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 1014 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 18536 times:

Quoting plateman (Reply 3):
I really enjoyed this TR ... well-written, not subjective and great shots .Thanks for putting it together.

Couldn't have said it better myself, great trip report!

I considered going to Portland this summer, when I was in the US, but never got around to it. How is it over there? And the train to Boston, is it any scenic?


User currently offlineKPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 456 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (2 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 18224 times:

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 16):
I considered going to Portland this summer, when I was in the US, but never got around to it. How is it over there? And the train to Boston, is it any scenic?

Portland's great in the summer if you enjoy seafood and rugged coastal scenery. Unfortunately the Downeaster doesn't run on a very scenic route. There are a few salt marshes and small-town scenes which the train rolls through, but for the most part it's a very wooded route. For a scenic journey take the Maine Eastern Railroad. The ME runs from Brunswick to Bar Harbor and snakes around the coastline for the whole time. If you're in the area again, take a couple of days and see Maine, it's worth a visit!



I reject your reality and substitute my own...
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