Back in June 97....about a month after my high school graduation.....my family and I went on a week long trip to Disney. Yes, we could have taken Southwest nonstop...or Comair...but my parents, knowing my love of aviation, let me make the itinerary. Of course, they knew a connection in Atlanta would be inevitable. The fare was only around $155 roundtrip. I did this for one reason and one reason only....
....I had to experience the L1011...the first wide-body I'd ever flown on back in 1988 on the same exact route...one more time.
Our flight to ATL was the 8:20am departure which had originated in LAS the night before. Flight 302 was either flown with a 757, 767, or 763 depending on the month, and when we had made our reservations, a 757 was the scheduled aircraft. To my delight, there was an equipment swap due to high load factors out of LAS and MSY, so we got on a 763. Flight was totally full. My brother, myself, and my mom sat in the middle 3-seat section...my dad had an aisle seat next to us. I remember we were wayyyy in the back around row 40 or so. Anyway, we departed on time and used up little more than 4,000ft on runway 1 before we were airborne for ATL. Flight time was, as it is usually on this high-density route, a tad over an hour. Delta still had a full beverage service going on back then,and they somehow managed to serve 250+ passengers on the aircraft in time. An amazing feat indeed. Arrived into ATL a few minutes early and, as usual, had to wait about 10 min for a gate to open up. Some things never change.
Flight number: 1979?...not quite sure
11:50am (or so) departure
Of course, this flight was booked to the gills as well. Tons of kids on this one as to be expected. My parents could see how excited I was about getting on the Tristar again. My dad actually filmed our first flight on it back in 1988, it was an 11:00pm flight ATL-MCO, near empty...he filmed the entire takeoff sequence. Anyway, our seats were in the last coach section of this giant, pretty much under the tail engine. Seats had a little more pitch back there. Pushed back maybe 15 minutes late. Same service en-route as coming up to ATL, but the ambiance was so much better...I love the 767's, but the L10's were my all time favorites. Flight was a bit bumpy at times, especially the landing in MCO in a heavy rainstorm. After everyone deplaned, I managed to take a few nice shots of this elegant bird. Flying on an L1011 was always well worth the hassle of Hartsfield.
After an enjoyable week at Disney...we stayed at the Dolphin Hotel that particular time...we departed back to Atlanta and New Orleans.
Flight number unknown (have to dig out my old timetables)
This was my first flight on a Tristar 500, so I was very excited. All 219 seats in coach were full. I finally got a window seat on this one, right over the wing. As we headed to the runway, I got a nice pic of a Varig 762 waiting at the gate. Not much else to say about this flight. I enjoyed every minute of it. In the back of my mind, I knew it would be one of my last L1011 flights, so I made the most of it. The worst part of the flight? The duration...a short 1 hour and 15 minutes. Note: I could easily have flown an L15 to Europe...much better than the DC-10-30.
Flight 453 I want to say
This was Delta's 12 noon nonstop to MSY. Not totally full from what I remember...all the windows and aisles were taken, but they had some middle seats left here and there. First Class? All 24 seats taken. This was only my 2nd 757 flight at the time...1st was on this same exact flight 2 years prior....so I was looking forward to it...especially that legendary takeoff. Two words to sum up this flight? Short and sweet. You simply cannot, in my opinion, beat a 757 for a short/medium haul....unless of course it's a 767.
My parents actually had a great time on these flights. They had nothing but great things to say about the L1011, which made me feel good. They never again got to experience a Tristar flight, but two years later, I rode on my final two...both -500's, BOS-ATL-BOS. Finest aircraft ever built in my opinion.
Steve in N.O