KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 433 posts, RR: 2 Posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 10782 times:
One Last Non-Rev Adventure! Munich and Düsseldorf on DL, Y&J
For the past two years I have been part of Delta TechOps' student co-op program, alternating semesters between studying at university and working with Delta's engineering team in Atlanta. Throughout this program Delta has extended me full employee standby travel benefits, probably one of the best perks in the industry. At the end of the summer my time at Delta was coming to an end, but I had one last thing I needed to do: take one last non-rev adventure!
Non-rev travel this summer has been difficult. Delta has been doing a great job of packing the planes full of summer vacationers; great for Delta's bottom line but not so good for standby travelers (who only get on when seats are left unsold). Throughout July and August I spent many an afternoon checking and re-checking for a route that would allow me to cross the pond. Nothing worked until the absolute last weekend possible: On August 10th I found a flight to Munich with 45 open seats! Nothing was available coming back from Munich, but with Germany's comprehensive rail network that shouldn't be a problem. Sure enough, I found about 25 seats available returning on the 13th through Düsseldorf. Yes, the two cities are on opposite sides of Germany, but I was desperate to use my flight benefits one last time!
After a bit of last-minute searching I found an evening itinerary on Germany's ICE train from Munich Hbf to Düsseldorf for about 85€ and a nice hotel in Düsseldorf for just $40 USD per night (I love small European hotels, they're so much cheaper than anything in the US). Everything planned, I simply had to wait and hope for everything to turn out for the best...
As the morning of August 10th arrived I awoke to an unpleasant surprise. Thunderstorms passing through Atlanta had diverted, delayed, or canceled many of the previous evening's flights. Many passengers flying to Munich on the 9th had found themselves stranded and rebooked (unfortunately for me) on the 10th. TravelNet showed only two seats remaining of what was previously 45. After a day of nail-biting and fidgeting I went to the airport anyways, hoping for more thunderstorms...
The stress and drama of waiting for a seat doesn't translate well into text, so I'll be brief: I got a seat! 38G (a window in economy-regular, just a few rows from the back) certainly isn't the most glamorous seat on the 767-400, but it sure beats sitting in Atlanta for a weekend!
I checked in at Atlanta's new Terminal F. Terminal F is the designated international terminal in Atlanta, serving primarily the likes of Lufthansa, Aeromexico, and Air France. A select few Delta flights operate from the F gates, but today's flight to Munich would be departing from the old Concourse E. Before heading to my gate I did a little exploring of the F terminal. My conclusion: it's exactly the same as Atlanta's other concourses, but cleaner and with more swag hanging from the ceiling. Terminal F is slightly more interesting and certainly emptier than Atlanta's other concourses, but still can claim very little architectural credit (although it has plenty of ceiling fixtures and blue lights, if you're into that sort of thing).
Terminal F (East terminal) check-in area.
Airside, as seen from the central mezzanine level. Lots of blue lights and ceiling...things.
Terminal F Concessions. Yes, that's a Varsity restaurant, the absolute last thing I'd want to eat before a long-haul flight.
Concourse F is not accessible by walkway, it is only connected to the rest of the airport via the "PlaneTrain" (a name that you'll grow to hate if you ever have to ride E-A. One can only listen to "Welcome aboard the PlaneTrain!" so many times...)
Headed down the escalator to the old Concourse E.
Certainly more dated than T-F, but still the nicer side of ATL.
As always seems to be the case, my flight was departing from the far end of the concourse. Unfortunately for spotters, the E-concourse lacks the wonderful walls of windows which are featured on most other concourses at ATL. My gate was completely walled in with drab drywall, the only view of aircraft came from the CNN Airport monitors blaring throughout the terminal. Soon the aircraft was ready for boarding; I sighed a deep breath of relief as I finally received a boarding pass.
There's a 767 back there, I promise! Ship number 1802, a 13 year old 767-432ER.
A few 763s headed elsewhere in Europe and South America.
Boarding a 767 is always fast; I bet Delta could turn a 767-400 faster than most 757s, especially if the 757 was using the L1 door. I can honestly say I've never had an unpleasant 767 flight; the cabins are always open and airy, the flight attendant ratio is good, and the percentage of middle seats is even lower than on a 737! As great as the 777 or 747 are, I think I'd choose a 767 for a 9-hour flight any day.
DL's 767-400s have some of the nicest interiors in the fleet. Delivered with 777-style bins and sidewalls, all of the seats were recently remodeled as well.
So many 767s!
Despite the fact that boarding began a few minutes behind schedule, everyone was aboard and seated well before the scheduled departure time. After sitting at the gate for a few minutes push back commenced, the standard Delta safety videos came on, and we joined the short queue for 27R.
Following the lead of United's Jeff Smeisk, Delta's CEO Richard Anderson now gives an introductory speech before the safety videos. Honestly I think it's a little tacky, but I suppose it's just another way to establish the Delta brand.
Richard Anderson likes his office furniture...
Smoking is *not* allowed on this or any Delta flight.
Sunwing? I didn't even know they flew into ATL.
Quite a line forming behind us.
Lining up on 27R, right behind a company 757.
Pulling out of the E-concourse alleyway we ended up as #5 in line and shortly thereafter lined up for takeoff. The heavily laden (99% of the seats full and plenty of fuel) 767-400 used a large percentage of the 12,000ft available before rotation. An MD-88 on the parallel runway quickly outperformed us in the climb.
Flying formation with an MD-88 on the parallel runway, over Concourse T.
Beautiful wing-flex; that small wing is holding a lot of weight.
After departure we made a slow loop back around to the South then East, finally turning Northbound. I was impressed by the amount the wings flexed while we bounced around in the low cumulus clouds. The 767-400's wings have a pronounced bow shape, flexing various amounts across the span.
DL's new IFE system includes a nice data page which displays various flight parameters on-demand.
Obligatory legroom shot. A little tight with the seat back pocket stuffed full, but not terrible.
As we neared Charlotte the drink carts rolled out. Economy class is served a full drink and snack service (typical domestic small snacks) before the hot meal carts are brought out, followed by a second drink service (sans snacks). Beer and wine are free on transatlantic flights (liquor still caries the standard $7 charge), and flight attendants tend to be far more generous with drinks of all kinds. The flight attendant serving my row seemed to forget about the pretzel and Biscoff offering and skipped us altogether; two different people in the row had to request their pretzels before he realized that he had skipped us.
First round drink service (including pretzels, finally).
Cruising around the anvil of a thunderstorm, North of Charlotte.
Dinner options were the standard pasta or chicken. The chicken seemed quite popular, I didn't see any pasta orders around me. Despite being an economy meal I found the dinner to be extremely tasty. The roll was slightly cold and stale (I should have let it sit atop my entree for longer), but everything else was spot on; good job on that one, Delta.
Surprisingly tasty dinner; Parmesan crusted chicken breast over gnocchi in cheese sauce, green beans and carrots, fresh salad, a wheat roll and a brownie.
The sun setting as we head out over the Atlantic.
I settled in to watch "The Five Year Engagement" on my PTV (surprising, since the movie was still in theaters at that point) and quickly fell asleep after it ended. Despite waking up a couple of times with kinks in my neck, the rest of the flight passed very quickly. I was jolted awake by a service cart rolling past my row offering wet napkins (the poor-man's hot towel?) My seat mate was kind and grabbed one for me while I slowly woke up. Breakfast and an abbreviated drink service soon followed.
Time for breakfast, making landfall over The Netherlands.
Sunrise over Germany.
Breakfast: Orange Juice, an Egg and Cheese Croissant (with some sort of jalepeno relish), and a totally frozen banana.
Our descent into Munich followed a very interesting path. We descended very low over the countryside while still on a wide downwind, taking a scenic tour of Bavaria before finally lining up for a landing to the West.
Spoilers deployed, descending into Munich.
Breaking through the clouds, it's starting to look like Bavaria.
Traffic! Traffic! Crossing paths with a Lufthansa A320 in the very busy German skies.
Turning a very wide right base for 26R.
Taking a scenic tour of the rolling farmlands.
Flaps deployed, continuing the descent.
The German countryside in the early morning light was beautiful. Most of my experiences in Germany have been in efficient, utilitarian, urban areas; I was surprised how rural the landscape was so close to the city of Munich.
Short final, over the village of Berglem (must be a fun place to live for plane spotters, not so much for NIMBYs.)
Read in the voice of the Doctor Who character River Song: "Spoilers!"
767 landings are *always*, without fail, violent affairs. I'm not sure if it has to do with the forward-hanging bogies, the cockpit sight picture, the flight controls...I don't know, but I've never experienced a "greaser" in a 767. This landing was no exception, although the roll out and deceleration were relatively smooth.
MUC's awesome spotting-mound. I didn't stop on this trip, but don't worry, there will be lots of spotting later!
Pulling into the empty terminal, the only other traffic was this Etihad A330.
Stepping off the plane into a nearly empty terminal, I followed the crowd to immigration. I was surprised to find only one EU and two non-EU booths open to process an entire plane load of passengers. Luckily, German immigration is much much faster than in the US (no "interrogation" plus friendly agents), I quickly had a passport stamp and was on my way.
The Munich airport was clean, empty, and really quite boring. I basically stumbled upon the airport train station by accident, following signs that were just barely specific enough to be useful. Luckily the airport is connected directly to the S1 and S8 S-Bahn lines to the city, a nice amenity that almost all American airports lack.
Instead of hopping on the S8 right to downtown, I had planned to take the long way around. Researching things to do in Munich, I stumbled upon the Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleißheim, an impressive looking air museum on a small airfield in the Munich suburbs. The museum was located about two kilometers from the nearest train station, but it was early in the day and I was up for a walk.
Stepping off the S1 at Oberschleißheim.
Rather quaint German town, not exactly where I'd expect to find an air museum.
When I arrived at the air museum I was afraid I'd miscalculated my arrival time. A couple of museum personnel were outside on a smoke-break, but not a single visitor was in sight. Luckily they had just opened, and I stepped inside with the museum almost entirely to myself.
So many gliders! Plenty of interesting planes in this shot, including an MBB Flamingo in the corner, and a Bo-209 Monsun in the back.
Honestly, I was amazed by the museum. The collection wasn't very big (spread between two and a half hangars), but the interesting pieces were...very interesting. From the Dornier 31 to the HAL Marut to the Kamov Ka-26...I saw more new planes in this one museum than any other place before in my life.
Yes! A Cmelák! Sure, there are jet fighters in the next room, but I was just as excited to see some old Soviet ag-planes!
...and I thought the Z-37 was awesome, that was before I found this Ka-26 Hoodlum hidden in the corner!
Looming over the main display hall was a prototype of the Dornier Do-31. This aircraft was capable of VTOL, making use of four booster turbojets on each wingtip.
I literally did a double-take on this one: a HAL HA-24 Marut!! This plane was designed for the Indian Air Force post-WWII by Kurt Tank of Focke-Wulf fame. Sitting next to it was Willy Messerschmitt's ill-fated Helwan HA-300.
The main display hall; too much awesomeness to fit in one frame.
After absorbing all of the airplanes at the museum, I took a slight detour on my way back to the train station to the Schleissheim palace. The palace is a massive complex of classic buildings and baroque gardens. While most of the square-mile grounds require paid admission, even the public facing side was quite impressive. I had more stops planned for the day, so I didn't stop to look around too deeply; still, the architecture was far nicer than most of Germany's drab 1960s-era buildings.
Taking a break from airplanes, just outside the Schleissheim palace.
Not bad for a public garden in the middle of the suburbs...
...and this is just the entryway. I didn't pay to see the square mile of manicured gardens and palatial buildings inside.
Two train rides later I stopped at the 1974 Olympic complex. My original intent was to visit the BMW museum, but after a quick walk through the visitor center I decided that the place was far too packed with teenage BMW fanboys and moved on. Stopping off for a quick lunch of currywurst I decided to take a trip up the Olympiaturm instead; Munich's massive television broadcasting and observation tower. These massive concrete structures seem ubiquitous throughout Germany, but provide excellent views of the otherwise low-rise city.
Moving to slightly higher terrain, at the Olympic Tower just outside Munich.
BMW's factory, museum, and visitors center.
Looking towards downtown Munich, the Altstadt in the distance.
Back on ground level at BMW's futuristic visitor's center, unfortunately packed to the gills with fanboys.
From the Olympic park I had planned on heading to the Munich old city, the remaining portion of the walled city which originally made up Munich. Unfortunately, as I stepped off of the U-Bahn I found myself shoulder to shoulder with a swarming crowd of tourists and locals. Munich's streets are a winding mess of old paths and alleyways. Between the crowds and the difficulty of navigating I wasn't enjoying myself all that much and decided to skip my planned stop at the Hofbrauhaus. I hopped a tram out of the city center and decided to go wherever it brought me. I eventually found a nice neighborhood along the River Isar and stopped for a quick snack.
My train's 5:30 departure towards Dusseldorf was fast approaching; another quick U-Bahn journey brought me to Munich Hbf (where public waiting benches are apparently very hard to find...)
Finally found a place to rest my feet! Very slowly sipping a cup of coffee to justify my seat at a cafe.
While waiting on the platform a group of young German women swarmed off of an adjacent train. One of them approached me and began rambling in German before I could mumble a quick "nein spreche Deutsch." Surprisingly, the girl quickly switched to English and began her spiel again; something about her friend getting married and needing money for a party. As the other girls approached with a big box of cheap nick-nacks I finally realized what they were trying to do. I avoided being robbed or ripped off, but let them keep talking for a while. My train wasn't boarding yet, and hey, they were all quite good looking...
Ducking away down the platform, I was just in time to board my train.
An old ICE-1 or ICE-2 set (I can't tell the difference from this end...) waiting to depart towards Berlin.
My ride towards Dusseldorf, a Seimens ICE-3.
ICE 512, running from Munich to Munster, is operated by two ICE 3 sets coupled in the middle. It is impossible to move from one set to the other without stepping off of the train. Since both sets are identical this really isn't a problem...unless you are traveling further than Cologne. In Cologne, one end of the train remains in the station, while the other set reverses direction to continue up the Rhine. Since Dusseldorf is further on than Cologne, I had to be sure I picked the right train...
The ICE sets have digital monitors next to the door displaying car numbers and destinations. I found that the monitors are very hard to read in bright sunlight. After awkwardly peering at a couple of cars I found the right one, boarded, and settled in for the long-haul train ride.
Making stops at...all of Southern Germany.
Not a bad view out the window.
As reviewed in my previous ICE report, the train interior was well maintained and certainly higher class than any trains in the US. Cloth seats never age well, I personally find faux-leather more comfortable, but that's certainly not a deal breaker - it'll take an awful lot to get me to say something bad about high speed rail.
Comfortable interior, slightly worn seats, but otherwise nicely maintained.
Underway, cruising at 80mph or so.
The first two and a half hours of the five hour train ride were spent on conventional tracks, making between 80 and 120kph, slowing even further to wind through the steep terrain East of Stuttgart. The train reversed out of Stuttgart, riding backwards through Frankfurt and into Cologne. After Cologne the train split, facing my seat back in the right direction again for the short trip up the Rhine to Dusseldorf.
The only service offered onboard was in the "BordBistro." I contemplated getting up for a snack, but a message displaying on the car's LCD infoscreen advised that only cold menu items were available due to a technical fault. I had purchased a jumbo-size bag of gummy-candy earlier (I love gummy candy, luckily for me so does Germany), so I ate that instead.
Now making some real speed. Topped out at 301km/h (187 mph) between Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
The relatively empty train gained quite a few passengers in Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Seats on the ICE may be reserved; the cities between which a given seat is reserved are displayed on a small screen on the wall of the train. According to the all-knowing screen, the seat beside me was reserved from Munich all the way to Cologne. I lucked out, no one ever showed up to claim my extra space.
The sun going down over Mannheim.
As the sun set the train became very cold. The outside air temperature dropped to the upper 60's (Fahrenheit), but the air conditioner remained on. My feet were frozen solid by the time I stepped off the train in Dusseldorf.
Stepping out into the dark (and surprisingly cold) night in Dusseldorf.
The hotel I had reserved (The Hotel Residenz) was only a couple blocks from Dusseldorf Hbf. I picked my way through the inebriated Saturday night crowds around the station, checked in, and promptly collapsed in bed. The hotel room had been advertised as having air conditioning...it most certainly did not, but after my freezing cold train ride I was alright with that.
Good Morning! Waking up (a couple hours later than planned) for a morning of spotting at DUS!
The next morning I woke up...and fell back asleep. Quite a bit later I woke up for real and hurried to get dressed and head out. Dusseldorf's airport spotting deck only has favorable sunlight in the morning and I didn't want to miss much! The airport is connected to the city by a half dozen different rail lines. Two S-Bahn routes terminate in the airport's main terminal, another (and long distance trains) service the airport's outlying rail station.
DUS features two spotting decks, one atop the main terminal and one atop the rail station at the far North end of the runways. Between the two decks, DUS has some of the best spotting I've ever seen. My first stop was at the railway station deck; the wrong deck for the day's runway configuration, but still an excellent spot.
DUS' main spotting deck, at the far north end of the airfield, built atop the long distance rail station.
Not a bad spot for train spotting either!
The Polizei putting on a good show, flying a low circle around the entire spotting deck.
One of BA's special Olympic liveries arriving from London.
One of many Lufty A340s, headed to points further away than London.
After a few hours at the rail station I decided to check out the other deck. The main terminal is connected to the rail station by a suspended monorail link (awesome). Arriving at the terminal spotting deck I realized I should have moved much sooner. The terminal-top spotting deck overlooks the main ramp, as well as the touchdown zone for the active runway. Downside; there were huge crowds, but that's only an indication of how good the spotting was.
Hopping on the unique suspended monorail, one of only about a half dozen suspended monorails in the world (the most famous being just a few miles away in Wuppertal).
All the locals seemed bored, but an Iranian A310 would make the day of most spotters back home...
Does anyone know why the Germans like gummy-candies so much? (Nothing wrong with that, gummy candies are awesome, but much less popular in the States.)
Another rare catch, common at DUS.
So much smoke, in true 767 style.
My first Fokker 70! Again, boring for locals, but awesome to me!
As the sun rose too high for decent photos (surprisingly late, at 2:30pm or so), I gave up and headed back to the city (not before a stop at the airport's aviation and model shop; 24€ for a postcard and a 1:500 Lufthansa A310). A quick couple of train rides deposited me at the outskirts of the Dusseldorf old city, a surprisingly nice downtown district. After an hour of wandering around I managed to get myself quite lost.
Dusseldorf claims to have the most bars per square mile of any city in the world. I believe it...
Legend has it that a woman who was not a true virgin was married in this church, and the steeple turned away in shame. Legend also says that the steeple will straighten if a true virgin is married in the church. Not sure what that says about Germans, but it's been twisted for more than 100 years.
These scenic German streets managed to get me quite lost...
Well that's an odd color for a river...
Bird watching in a more traditional sense.
I eventually found my way back to the general vicinity of the U-Bahn station, grabbed a quick dinner at a Doner restaurant (so tasty; Turkish cuisine needs to catch on in the US) and headed back to my hotel.
Months ago I almost stranded myself in Stuttgart due to a malfunctioning alarm clock. This time I wasn't about to make the same mistake. I set my cell phone, my travel clock, my iPad, and scheduled a wake-up call for early the next morning. Despite my best laid plans, I once again miscalculated the time difference between EST on my cell phone and my present time zone. This time I didn't miss my train; I woke myself up at 3am. Brilliant.
Eventually I dragged myself out of bed for real, carefully packed my new airplane model in my bag, and headed to the airport. The S-Bahn deposited me just feet from Delta's check-in counter. Security and immigration was totally painless (as usual in the EU), I arrived at my gate just as the inbound aircraft pulled in from Atlanta.
At T-1:45 the entire concourse was empty; a few early-risers were scattered about the terminal but most seats at the gate remained open. I grabbed a choice seat, right next to the boarding podium at the window. The early morning traffic was sparse, but the time passed quickly watching the AirBerlin traffic around. As the gate area filled up, an AirBerlin A330 pulled in at the next gate over, right by my seat. Unfortunately the open window space next to my seat was very attractive to families looking to entertain their children with the large aircraft. I was swarmed by loud, energetic kids, all far more excited to be awake than I was.
Right on time! N156DL, a 767-3P6(ER) built in 1991 and previously served with Gulf Air as A4O-GR.
Plenty of AirBerlin action heading to the US.
I had never realized how huge the A330 is.
I wasn't too concerned about getting on the flight back to Atlanta. Somewhere around 30 seats were available and not many standby passengers were listed. I believe I was the only active employee traveling and ended up #1 on the list. I gladly accepted my seat in the Business Elite cabin; not a bad way to finish off my stint at Delta!
Ah, it feels good to be onboard. A toast to my last Non-rev trip for a while.
Dusseldorf is one of the unlucky cities in the Delta network which consistently recieves the ex-Gulf Air 767-300 service. The 76Gs are all outfitted with Delta's 1990s-style recliner seats in Business Elite, lack AVOD in Y, and do not have overhead gasper air vents installed in the cabin. Delta is slowly retrofitting its 767-300ER fleet with lie-flat beds and AVOD, but the modifications are progressing slowly. I'm not entirely sure how Delta decides which routes recieve 76Gs or 76Ts; even the longest routes in the network sometimes still have old interiors. I'm sure it has something to do with the expected premium yield from the route. For comparison Brussels, just a hop across the border from Dusseldorf, has been served by lie-flat 767s for months.
Plenty of space, but the interior styling hasn't changed much since the '90s.
Trying to get a view of the ramp without leaning over my seat-mate.
Unfortunately I had been assigned an aisle seat. Delta's gate agents assume that aisle seats are preferable to windows (probably true for most people) and assign aisle seats first. Usually I'm able to move around and snag a window, but today the plane was just full enough that I was stuck where I was. I limited my photography so I wasn't leaning over my seat-mate too often.
Lining up for departure.
Apparently the heavily laden 767 needed all of the runway available. We taxied onto Runway 23L, but turned right (in the direction of Runway 5.) After a short taxi to the very end of the runway we made a 180 degree turn, lined up, and applied power. The 767 is hardly a sprightly airplane, but when the brakes were released the cabin experienced a good jolt fowards. Rotation was quite a ways down the runway, and we climbed out very slowly, affording a great view of Dusseldorf and the Rhine.
Dusseldorf's skyline in the distance.
Above the clouds, cruising, time to relax.
Today's flight attendants all seemed a little sluggish (late night out in Dusseldorf on their layover perhaps?), but were professional and punctual in performing their duties. Hot towels arrived shortly before reaching cruise altitude, shortly thereafter warm nuts and drinks arrived.
Meal orders are taken from Business Elite passengers while still on the ground during boarding. The first two courses (appetizer and salad) are a fixed menu, the main course typically has four options. The main course options usually follow a basic formula: a beef dish, a chicken dish, a special "Chef Michelle Bernstein's Pick" dish, and a cold salad, pasta, or deli plate. I've found that most beef dishes arrive over-cooked and tough, a consequence of being cooked on the ground and re-heated on the plane. Chicken dishes are usually the most boring choice. I've had both good and bad experiences with Chef Michelle Bernstein; today I gambled on it and gave it a try. I should have picked the chicken...
Starting off with the usual, warm nuts and a coke.
Starter course: Chili-lime shrimp with southwest vegetable slaw and roasted yellow pepper soup.
I don't think I've ever had a bad appetizer on a Delta flight. The main dish is typically served cold (no variability in re-heating) and the soups are always amazing. My only complaint: I've stained a couple of good shirts trying to slurp up the last drops of a pumpkin bisque or vegetable soup...
Salad: Mixed greens with cucumbers, tomatoes, and almonds.
Salads on flights originating abroad usually have far more color. In Atlanta a salad is defined as iceberg lettuce with liberal amounts of ranch dressing. Today I had tomatos, cucumbers, true mixed greens, and plenty of other assorted goodies.
The strangest main course I've ever eaten: Gemelli pasta with cheese sauce, radicchio, spinach, and shitake mushrooms.
Today's Chef's Selection was a pasta with cheese sauce. Conceptually not bad, but honestly...it came out as the strangest meal I've ever eaten. Just looking at the dish, the Parmesan cheese was not served crumbled or shredded, it was applied in big clumped sheets. Digging into the dish, there were specks of hard, raw spices or vegetables (honestly I have no idea what they were) mixed in with the pasta. My seat-mate had also selected the pasta dish, she took two or three bites before passing it back to the flight attendant. I'm not sure if the recipe was flawed from the start, or if it was poorly executed by the kitchen, either way...it was bad.
Over on FlyerTalk there is plenty of discussion of "Delta Chef Michelle Bernstein", almost all of it negative. I can understand why Delta likes the idea of having a gourmet chef on staff, but I'm sure most passengers would be just as happy with a well-prepared simple hearty meal. In her defense, the Panko-crusted Halibut (the Chef's selection last summer) was the tastiest thing I've ever had on an airplane. This time around though...not so much.
Luckily it's hard to mess up dessert. Dessert is served from a small cart; today's selections were ice cream, a crème brûlée tart, or fresh fruit and cheese. All looked tasty, but I picked my favorite, the ice cream sundae with berry sauce.
The ubiquitous Delta sundae, more melted this time than I've ever seen.
I settled in with my PTV, reclined, put up my legs...and promptly fell asleep. I awoke a couple times in flight to browse the AVOD selectio
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 433 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 10756 times:
Sorry about that, it appears my first post was cut off. The conclusion follows.
I settled in with my PTV, reclined, put up my legs...and promptly fell asleep. I awoke a couple times in flight to browse the AVOD selections. Apparently Hollywood hasn't been producing many movies lately; very few of the titles appealed to me. I started to watch "The Hunger Games" but turned it off when I couldn't suspend my disbelief in the ridiculous premise of the movie. Fortunately my jet-lag made it very easy to pass the time by sleeping.
Over Northern Canada I decided I'd had my fill of sleep, got up, and took a quick walk. A small basket of snacks was set out in the galley; Biscoff Cookies, bananas, and assorted small items. I helped myself to a Biscoff for a quick snack. Not long after, flight attendants came through the aisles asking passengers if they'd like lunch. The options were a warm chicken sandwich or a cold salad with smoked salmon. I was feeling hungry, so I opted for the sandwich.
It appears we're taking a very westerly route today.
Pre-arrival meal: Roasted chicken sandwich with pesto, provolone, and a cucumber side salad.
After lunch, flight attendants came through offering coffee mugs for an after-meal drink service. As soon as the mugs had been distributed we hit a rather substantial bit of turbulence. The flight attendants walked down the aisle pouring hot coffee with seeming ease. Following the coffee, cream and sugar were offered on a tray. Delta allows passengers to pour their own cream from a small pitcher. I picked up the cream and attempted to pour it into my coffee, only to find that pouring liquids in turbulence is much, much harder than the FAs made it look. I managed to get the cream positioned next to my coffee cup and simply allowed each jolt of turbulence to splash a little bit more into my coffee (an effective use of energy, I suppose).
Coffee, luckily in my mug and not on my lap.
The lunch service had begun earlier than usual, there were almost 45 minutes left before landing when my tray was collected. Having exhausted all of the interesting videos on AVOD I explored the gaming options. There were quite a few popular 1980s arcade titles available (PacMan, a Galaga knock-off, etc) as well as an updated trivia game.
Delta's new AVOD interface operates much slower than the old one (the Microsoft Office effect - weighed down by so many features that it defeats itself), which made the arcade style games very difficult. The in-flight trivia game is no longer competitive against the rest of the plane; the new questions are much more reasonable though, with far fewer typos. After a few rounds of trivia I realized we were already on approach to ATL.
We must be back in the States, massive highways and semi trucks galore...
Today's landing was...767-ish. Liberal use of the thrust reversers sent loose items sliding around the cabin; a less than glamorous end to my trip. We arrived into the E-concourse, not far from where I had departed three days prior.
Yep, that's Atlanta alright. Delta jets, the Renaissance Hotel, and even the Atlanta skyline.
The jet bridge first attempted to connect to the L2 door (not standard practice for the 767s, most of DL's 767s don't even have a forward L2 door). Half way to the L2 door, the jet bridge driver changed his mind and turned to the L1. Apparently there is a package of paperwork which must be handed off before any passengers may deplane from an international flight. As the jet bridge moved back and forth the flight attendants chased it up and down the crowded aisles with a heavy case of paperwork, trying to guess which door would actually open...
To clear immigration I decided to try out the new Terminal F facilities. The original Terminal E customs facilities are still in place for connecting passengers, Terminal F offers a direct exit to the street without having to deal with TSA. A mile-long sterile corridor connects terminal E to F; security guards stationed every hundred feet strictly enforce the "no photography" rule, otherwise I'd show you how ridiculously long the corridor is...
I probably could have made it to my car even sooner had I gone through TSA and Terminal E, but hey, walking won't kill me...the TSA's cancer-machines might. With that I stepped out into the Atlanta heat; my non-rev career with Delta finished (for now...)
Delta Air Lines: Non-rev or not, Delta has always provided me with consistent, reasonable service. I've never looked for super-luxury on a Delta flight; Delta's ticket prices certainly reflect that. Delta consistently provides on-time, pleasant transportation, no more, no less. Delta's Business Elite is certainly a business class product (I maintain that true first class doesn't make sense in the United States). Lie-flats are great, but even Delta's old BE product offers lots of space, comfortable day-seats, and reasonable service. I honestly think that Delta should drop its attempts at "gourmet" service and offer some hearty meat-and-potatoes options. My meal in Y was delicious; scaled up to a Business Class portion I would gladly order the same meal up front.
Taking a step back...I flew to Germany and back for almost no cost. Non-reving really is the best industry perk in the world. When I graduate in a year, I will be looking very hard for an airline job - I've become addicted to this "traveling" thing!
Deutsche Bahn / ICE: Simply put Any Train in Europe > Any Train in the US. The ICE got me from one side of Germany to the other in less time than driving for about the same price. This trip from Munich to Dusseldorf was probably a little too long to comfortably spend on a train (500km is probably the practical limit for a comfortable trip), but in the absence of other options the train was quite reasonable. The ICE certainly makes Germany more accessible; the US could learn a thing or two from it...
I hope you've all enjoyed reading my report, comments are always appreciated! Coming soon, I'll be headed to Oregon on AS and AA, including AA's very poor handling of IROPS around Hurricane Isaac!
adamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1118 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10514 times:
Hi there KPWMSpotter,
Nice to see another Delta LH report, having taken one my own about 1,5 months ago.
Anyway great report with some nice pictures of your short TATL trip.
Looks like you had 2 good flights with Delta.
Not that impressed with the food on your return journey. Quite an old aircraft too, sitting in Y for 9 hours without you're own PTV? wow not good..
Love your pictures of Munich and Dusseldorf. That museum @ Munich looks great.
Spotting at DUS is absolutely great, have spent many many days there. Its been a while since I've visited there though..
There are many more airports around europe with even better spotting decks then those @ DUS
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Throughout this program Delta has extended me full employee standby travel benefits, probably one of the best perks in the industry.
Phatfarmlines From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1346 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10400 times:
Thanks for the TR, but a couple corrections needed:
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Concourse F is not accessible by walkway, it is only connected to the rest of the airport via the "PlaneTrain" (a name that you'll grow to hate if you ever have to ride E-A. One can only listen to "Welcome aboard the PlaneTrain!" so many times...)
Concourse E & F are indeed connected via a sterile walkway, you probably did not see the signs directing to the walkway as you took the escalator down to the F train station. The walkway does not deposit you at the E train station, but rather at the top near gate E17. So if you wanted to walk the entire length, you would have to take a detour through the E gates.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 2): To clear immigration I decided to try out the new Terminal F facilities. The original Terminal E customs facilities are still in place for connecting passengers, Terminal F offers a direct exit to the street without having to deal with TSA. A mile-long sterile corridor connects terminal E to F; security guards stationed every hundred feet strictly enforce the "no photography" rule, otherwise I'd show you how ridiculously long the corridor is...
I probably could have made it to my car even sooner had I gone through TSA and Terminal E, but hey, walking won't kill me...the TSA's cancer-machines might. With that I stepped out into the Atlanta heat; my non-rev career with Delta finished (for now...)
You would not have had a choice in the matter. All ATL bound pax have to clear customs/immigration and reclaim bags at F, while connecting pax have to clear customs/immigration and reclaim bags at E. And if you tried to clear at E, you would be directed to F by the agent to clear at F. Personally, one of the most ass-backwards and inefficient arraigements (but cheap as the city of ATL admitted) if you ask me.
cgnnrw From Germany, joined May 2005, 1143 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10391 times:
Thanks for the report. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to DUS. The airport is extremely spotter friendly, its one of my favorites in Europe. I agree it seems DL does fairly well on the DUS route but unfortunately not well enough to be served
by an upgraded 767. I've flown the route twice in Y and once in C. The flights were fine but I can't help to think with upgraded equipment they would really be an enjoyable experience.
Oh, just one correction....the TV tower in Munich was built for the 1972 Olympics!
Did you look into flight options between MUC & DUS. If booked early enough flights on LH, AB or 4U can be on par with German Rail prices
"As the other girls approached with a big box of cheap nick-nacks I finally realized what they were trying to do. I avoided being robbed or ripped off, but let them keep talking for a while. My train wasn't boarding yet, and hey, they were all quite good looking..." No need to worry.....bachelorette parties are very common in most German cities, especially in the Summer.
Ah, okay. I've done the F-E connection a dozen times and never even noticed the signs for a walkway. Guess I'm not as observant as I thought. Even with the mile-long corridor to F immigration, the new system is certainly much better than the previous arrangement...
Quoting cgnnrw (Reply 5): Did you look into flight options between MUC & DUS. If booked early enough flights on LH, AB or 4U can be on par with German Rail prices
I checked, but since everything was booked last-minute it was quite expensive. It would have been almost $100 more to fly. I would have sprung for the flight if interesting equipment was scheduled, but all the cheaper routes were boring A320s and 737NGs. (Now an Avro RJ or a Fokker...that would have been worth the extra few dollars...)
Quoting cgnnrw (Reply 5): No need to worry.....bachelorette parties are very common in most German cities, especially in the Summer.
Ah, good to know. The way they were swarming around people just seemed like the start of a pick-pocketing scam. Glad to hear they were actually being friendly, not just pretending!
Cubsrule From United States of America, joined May 2004, 22726 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 8422 times:
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Terminal F is slightly more interesting and certainly emptier than Atlanta's other concourses, but still can claim very little architectural credit (although it has plenty of ceiling fixtures and blue lights, if you're into that sort of thing).
I think the ticketing lobby is really well done, with "floating" rows of counters and a lot of space.
Some other aspects - the departures roadway in particular - aren't so nice.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
IrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 2163 posts, RR: 15
Reply 10, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 8129 times:
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): For the past two years I have been part of Delta TechOps' student co-op program, alternating semesters between studying at university and working with Delta's engineering team in Atlanta.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Breakfast: Orange Juice, an Egg and Cheese Croissant (with some sort of jalepeno relish), and a totally frozen banana.
Woof. "Breakfast" service usually leaves much to be desired.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): Does anyone know why the Germans like gummy-candies so much? (Nothing wrong with that, gummy candies are awesome, but much less popular in the States.)
My friend who works for UA is obsessed with Haribo candies after non-revving to ASIA all the time.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I'm not entirely sure how Delta decides which routes recieve 76Gs or 76Ts; even the longest routes in the network sometimes still have old interiors.
I know. I flew DTWGRU in one in Y (just published the TR last week). It wasn't the best thing, ever.
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): My only complaint: I've stained a couple of good shirts trying to slurp up the last drops of a pumpkin bisque or vegetable soup...
Complaint or confession?
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Thread starter): I'm not sure if the recipe was flawed from the start, or if it was poorly executed by the kitchen, either way...it was bad.
What a disappointment!
Anyways, phenomenal TR! What a gem to read. You and I would probably get a long very well as travelers! I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for taking the time to publish and glad you got the chance to try out DL across the pond during your internship. Best of luck!
fshplns From United States of America, joined Oct 2010, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 8039 times:
Quoting KPWMSpotter (Reply 2): Taking a step back...I flew to Germany and back for almost no cost. Non-reving really is the best industry perk in the world. When I graduate in a year, I will be looking very hard for an airline job - I've become addicted to this "traveling" thing!
One of the perks that non-revs get are, not only next to free travel on your own airline, is reciprocal agreements with most of the other airlines in the world. You could have possibly recieved a zonal fare on LH or AB and would have been cheaper than the ICE, BUT having to non-rev again.
KPWMSpotter From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 433 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 7877 times:
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 7): Did the 764's had new lie-flats in J as well?
Yep, all of Delta's 764s now have flat beds in J and refurbished (AVOD) interiors in Y. It's my favorite type in the DL fleet to fly on.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 7): ICE is indeed top notch, one of the better European trains and definate better than the US train I was on last summer.
Agreed. I've never had a problem with Amtrak's service in the US, it's just so slow...
Quoting 767747 (Reply 8): Looks like you had some good flights with DL - food looks good in both classes, and I'd say the weather looked amazing while you were there!
Yes, I certainly got lucky with the weather! Sunny, low humidity, warm...beats the 95 degrees and 90% humidity in Atlanta by a long shot.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 8): I've also been interested in people's reviews of Michelle Bernstein's choice of entrees. I've seen some that look amazing, others that seem to be odd combinations of things.
That seems to be how it goes, some great some awful. Very little consistency.
Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 9): I think the ticketing lobby is really well done, with "floating" rows of counters and a lot of space. Some other aspects - the departures roadway in particular - aren't so nice.
Agreed. I was surprised when they didn't re-paint the roadway striping and everything, the whole connector to loop road looks as if it's still waiting for the final stage of construction.
Quoting fshplns (Reply 11): One of the perks that non-revs get are, not only next to free travel on your own airline, is reciprocal agreements with most of the other airlines in the world.
Unfortunately not a perk extended to Delta Co-Ops though. Not that I'm complaining, there are more Delta destinations than I had time to visit. I don't know how I would have found time to work or study if I had ID90 privileges too; I'd be on a plane the whole time.
modesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2789 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7012 times:
In response to your question about a/c route assignments, DL currently has seven 76Ts (Ship #1607-1613) that are designed for 12+ hr missions. They have increased fuel capacities, crew rest facilities below deck, and the new flat-bed BusinessElite seats. They were originally designed for routes such as ATLLOS, SEAPEK, ATLTLV, and more. Although they're deployed on the longer 767 routes, they are also used on heavy business markets that justify the flat-bed seating (e.g. ATLBRU, BRUJFK, ATLMAD). The 76Gs have a J capacity of 29 (instead of the 76Ts capacity of 36) and are deployed on routes that may not have the same business demand as more lucrative markets. The 76Gs will be receiving the flat-bed mods and will receive the new "76Z" designation upon completion. Glad you enjoyed your time with DL!