It’s that time of year again and fall break was upon us. I decided instead of heading home and seeing my parents, much to my mother’s dismay, I headed to Cincinnati to see my bestfriend and hang out at his school. Not to mention I wouldn’t have missed the mileagerun on Delta for the world. I am going to make Silver Medallion this year!!!!
Friday, October 11, 2002
I could have taken the non-stop’s t o and from CVG, but that would have been no fun and I would have missed a great mileage run opportunity, so I went the “long” way through ATL. I had an 8:00AM and a 9:00AM class and I dragged myself to those depsite really wanting to sleep in. After class we ran home, packed, checked myself in on Delta.com, and then headed off to Norfolk International Airport. My roomate was flying to ATL for the weekend to see her parents, but she was on DL #1173 at 2:40PM. We arrived at theairport at about noon. We parked in the new parking garage and headed for the check-in desks. I wanted to see if any better seats were available so I swiped my SkyMiles card at the e-ticket check-in kiosk and sure enough an exit row window was available. I took it and printed out my boarding cards. I helped my roomate check-in on the kiosks and quickly had her boarding pass to ATL. Took our bags over to the detection machines and were quickly given the all important security clearance. We had some time to kill so we grabbed a bite to eat at the burger joint in the main lobby. After that we cleared the security checkpoint and headed to departure gate 23. My 757 in new-new colors awaited us. The gate area was filling quickly as do most DL flights out of ORF. It was looking mughty dreary outside and it began to drizzle. I sat with my roomate around the corner at her gate, 27, because there was no one back there and much more room. At 12:50PM, the scheduled boarding time, I walked towards my gate only to hear the gate agent announce a delay because of air traffic control in ATL. Spacing delays due to low clouds and low visibility were slowing all ATL arrivals. New departure time of 2:10PM was announced. Waited around some more and boarding finally began. The 757 was completely full in both classes, but boarding was quick. I took my seat in the exit row 26F. At this point I was angry at myself. I totally forgot DL puts the controls for the IFE on the inside of the armrest and the exit row window seat width was much smaller and very uncomfortable. Oh well, I had to deal.. We had a quick taxi to runway 5 and we were number one for takeoff. Turned to the centerline and we were off. As we all know the 757 has a powerful takeoff and climbout, but it never ceases to impress me. Runway 5 departures take you over the Atlantic and a left departure turn is done at 1,000’. We turned over the Hampton-Roads Bridge Tunnel (I’m finally starting to learn the geography around here) and then out over downtown Norfolk headed for Atlanta. The first office welcomed us aboard and announced a flight time of 1:17 at FL270. He also apologized for the bumpy ride we would experience. We were riding Kyle all the way to ATL. Some people became uneasy, but it didn’t really bother me. It was needless to say cloudy all the way so there was nothing to see. Beverage and pretzel service was done, but I declined both. This was kind of just a blah flight. The FO announced our initial decent and shortly thereafter we made two 90* turns and lined up for an ILS to 9L. Weather in Atlanta was overcast ceiling at 1,800’, 5 miles visibility and 12 mph winds out of the ast/southeast. We broke through the clouds and about thirty seconds later touched down on a wet 9L. Braking action was kind of hard and we turned onto the second last taxiway (from what I could tell) and went directly to our gate. I deplaned at 3:30 and was expecting to miss my 3:45PM connection to CVG. Well, luck was with me my departure gate was A34, right across the way from my arrival gate. I literally walked across the concourse and handed the agent my boading pass and ID and took my seat. What timing I tell you....
I walked down the jetway to a 1970’s workhouse: the 727-200. I have never really been a fan of this plane, but it has never given me a problem, so I think I might be slowly changing my mind about them. Anyway, I walked the length of the plane and took my seat in the rear exit row, 35F. Although this seat is directly next to an engine it doens’t really bother me. There is no seat in front of you in this seat, so plenty of leg room. Although the evacuation slide/raft kind of sticks out and takes up a little space. No worries though. I watched the rest of the plane board fairly quickly. A non-rev Delta employee walked with her six (or so) year-old son towards us. Well, there was only one seat left empty int the back, 36D, so I was wondering where they were going. To make a long story short she was letting her son sit alone, in what she called her “experiment”. She explained the whole thing to the FA and left her son alone and went and took her seat. The manual demonstration was given and pushback commenced. We joined the long departure line and slowly crept our way towards the 9L threshold. The captain told us we were number seven for takeoff. I was on the wrong side to see what was departing, so nothing interesting to note here. Our turn was up and we roared down the runway and lifted off into the low clouds. Made an almost immediate left departure turn and headed for Cincinnati. As we passed 10,000’ the FO welcomed us aboard and announced a flight time of 1:02 at FL270 again I read Sky Magazine and browsed SkyMall. I love Delta and all but compared to Continental and United, its’ inflight magazine is not up to par, in my opinion. Beverage and pretzel service again started and I declined once again. The very friendly FA told me if I changed my mind to just let her know. I thought that was cool considering it was a relatively short flight and a capacity 727. Flight went quick and again there was nothing to see except clouds. We began our decent and soon broke through the clouds. It was an interesting approach because the guys up front were playing throttle jockey and at some points it seemed we were going very, very slow. Maybe my perception is just off. It was cool to hear the engines though, I mean it was sitting on my right shoulder. Touchdown on CVG’s 8L (I think, someone correct me) was a little hard, but hey, a landing is a landing.We taxied to our gate in-between an MD-11 and a 767-300. Walked down to the baggage area, grabbed my bag, met my friend and was off for an extended weekend of collegiate activities.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Well, this is where all the fun ended and the headaches began. To make what could be a long story short, I decided to take the latest ATL flight and then connect to the second to last ORF flight. There was a nonstop flight to ORF at 7:15PM, but who would pass up the mileage run and a 767-300? Well, weather in Atlanta was not good today. Low clouds and rain for most of the day. I checked-in online from my friends dorm and noticed that my connecting flight was being delayed until 10:10PM because the aircraft would be late inbound from SAN. No big deal I thought, until I remember I had two exams the next morning at 8AM and 9AM respectively and I had not yet studied. Oh well, shit happens. I figured I would get back around 11:45PM or so. When I arrived at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport it was almost dead. There was literally five other people in the check-in “line”. I walked up to a kiosk and tried to check my bag but it wouldn’t let me. Oh well, the agent helped me right away and we chatted for a while. He offered to put me on the 7:15PM nonstop and I declined. He thought that was odd, but I didn’t want to explain. The 6:05PM to ATL had been cancelled so I expected a full flight. When I got to the gate I checked with the agent to see if there an exit row available and he told me the flight was wide open, so I took an exit window. Just as boarding time approached they made an announcement that Atlanta ATC had delayed our flight until 8:20PM. I called one of my friends and was talking to him when I heard my name being called and requested at the podium. I walked up and he said he was going to put me on the nonstop to ORF which was departing from gate B05. I could see them boarding since this flight was at B03. I once again declined and he thought I was crazy. Oh well, I didn’t care. We finally began boarding and had expected a full flight. Well, I was way off. Biz Elite (this was a internationlly configured plane) was probably 80% and I counted economy and there was 37 of us onboard. Needless to say the seat next to me was empty and for that matter most of the seats around me. Taxi was quick and the safety demo was shown on the TV’s. We held short of the runway because ATC had pushed our “wheel’s up time” to 8:28PM. The captain announced we were next for takeoff. We lined up and the very short takeoff run was on. Liftoff was powerful and we climbed into the cloudy and turbulent sky. The seatbelt sign was not turned off for the whole fifty minute flight down to ATL. It was moderately choppy, but nothing bad and nothing the 767 didn’t take like a champ, lol. Okay, sorry that was corny. The FA’s did a “personal” beverage service since there was so few passengers in the back. Decent into Atlanta was completely covered in clouds and when we did break through were prolly a little below 2,000 feet. We landed very hard on a wet 9L and taxied to the terminal area. I was beginning to get worried I would miss my connecting flight to ORF. Well, we got to our terminal and then we turned around and headed to the international terminal because they had just changed our gate assignment. Most everyone else had connections also so deplaning was expedited and didn’t take long with the very light load. I knew it was bound to happen to me in ATL. My connecting gate was two terminals away and I was sweating it trying to get over there. I never run in an airport, but this time I did because I really wanted to get back to school so I could study and get some sleep. Luck was with me and I made it in time for my ORF flight.
When I got to the gate for this flight I was just glad to have made it in time. The gate area was a nut house. The filght was completely full and there was a line of people were almost demanding upgrades. They began boarding and I was in the first group of economy passengers to board. I took my seat in 43A and settled in for what I expected to be a bumpy ride to Norfolk. At this point I am really tired and not paying much attention to anything. I fall asleep, but awake as we are taxiing out to the active, 9L. There was a very long takeoff line and we waited for about twenty-five minutes. Had a good view of the departures though. Loads of MD-80’s, some 727’s, 737-800’s, and an MD-11 or two, all of Delta. Also saw some AirTran 717’s and Northwest DC-9’s, oh and I can’t forget the lone ‘bus, a United A319. We were cleared for takeoff and had a long takeoff run on the wet runway. We were airborne and considering the decent I had from CVG it was very smooth. As a matter of the fact the entire flight was smooth. The announced flight time was 1:22. I slept for most of it, including The Simpson and the beverage service.I woke up on final approach when my neighbor politely woke me to let me know I needed to have my seat in the “full and upright position” as she quoted the FA announcements. The landing was very interesting. On short final we seemed very high, judging by the numerous other approaches I’ve been on for runway 5 (I think that’s it). Well sure enough we crossed the threshold very, very high. At that point I fully expected a go-around, but we kept descending. As we flew over the runway we were approaching the terminal. If any of you have been to ORF you know what I mean. Just before we touched down I still fully expected a go-around, but we touched down just as we passed the AA/DL/CO/NW terminal. I couldn’t believe we landed so far down the runway, especially considering it was raining, we had a full load, and there was a bay that leads to the Atlantic Ocean not far from the end of the runway.. The braking action was extremely hard an we were still moving pretty fast when we made the turn at the last taxiway. We taxied to gate 23 and deplaned. I walked to the new arrivals terminal at Norfolk International, claimed my bag, and grabbed a fifteen minute taxi ride back to the apartment. It was 2:00AM and I had only six hours before my exam, which I had yet to study for. It was a long night.
Once again another great trip on Delta Air Lines. I could have done without the delays, but that isn’t Delta’s fault. Just a sidenote, I got my exams back today and I got an 86% on the geology and a 90% on the art history. Not to shabby. I’m off to Florida this coming Thursday, so look for that trip report: ORF-MCO via ATL. Travel safe......