Warning: this is a long report - when I typed it, I came out to be 9.5 pages single spaced, so it might take a while to read. Sorry, no photographs...maybe next trip... Anyway, enjoy!
17 April 2004
Delta Air Lines 1603
Depart: Manchester, NH (MHT)
Scheduled Departure: 0730 Local
Actual Departure: 0728 Local
Departure Gate: 10
Arrive: Atlanta – The William B. Hartsfield International Airport (ATL)
Scheduled Arrival: 1010 Local
Actual Arrival: 0951 Local
Arrival Gate: A34
Equipment: McDonnell Douglas MD-88
Registration: N957DL (1997 Colours)
Seat: 11E (Economy)
I woke up at 2:59 (I don’t know why I didn’t just set my alarm for 3:00, go figure) in the morning to pack, get washed up, and eat some breakfast. I left my house around 5:00, for the 45 minute drive up I-93 from Andover, MA to Manchester, NH. There was no traffic along the way, which made the ride a nice, quick ride upto the airport. I parked in long term lot E at Manchester, which is a shuttle bus ride from the terminal, but since parking is only $8 a day (half the price of Boston), I figured I would take it. I parked in the lot, which is next to the UPS ramp, where I had a nice view of UPS 757-24APF N471UP, which was donning the new colours. I also got a view down the main ramp at MHT, which I will address a little later.
The shuttle bus took about five minutes, and I was dropped off in front of the main terminal. Southwest Airlines is the largest airline at MHT, and with this being a vacation week, their check-in lines, as well as US Airways, was nearly out the door. However, as I walked down to DL’s check-in desks, which had only 3 families in the standard check-in line, and no one in the First Class/Medallion check in line. Thus, I was able to go right to the desk and was promptly issued my boarding pass, which was for 11E (window). Unfortunately, neither of my upgrades (either for MHT-ATL or ATL-CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO) had gone through at this time, but that’s life. I was in Zone 2, so I was able to hop on pretty early.
Here is a piece of advice for those flying out of MHT in the early morning rush: Do not use the main security line. This line was about 30 minutes long, and would be a hassle to go through. However, the newest check-in desks, next to the NW/CO desks, had no wait, and only 2 people in front of me. Thus, I would recommend that you use these lines instead of the central checkpoints; it’ll save you a few minutes.
After quickly going through security, I found myself in the newly renovated NW/CO concourse (formerly C concourse). It was pretty airy and well lit; very aesthetically pleasing. Continental had a 737-300 N14334 at Gate 1 (this was an upgrade over the standard 737-500), and an ERJ-135 heading off to CLE (a downgrade from a ERJ-145). Northwest had an A320 (N356NW) at Gate 3, and Northwest Airlink/Pinnacle had a CRJ-200 (N8409E) at Gate 4. Parked at the overnight stand adjacent to these gates were another Northwest A320 (N336NW), which was an upgrade from a scheduled A319. All three planes were in the old livery. Gates 5, 6, and 7 are currently being updated, Delta will probably be moving into these gates sometime later this year. US Airways had a trio of Airbuses at their gates (8, 9, 9a), with N107US (PIT), N176UW (CLT), and N177US (PHL) here, with the PIT flight having been downgraded from an A321. Still, I don’t see a ton of US A320s (mostly A321s and A319s), so seeing an A320 was a welcome surprise. At the RON gates, US had a Saab 340 (sorry...no registration), and Dash 8-102 N810EX from Allegheny. At 10 was N957DL, which was to take me to ATL, and at 11 was N532UA, the 0730 United 757 to ORD. Behind 532UA was Delta MD-88 N999DN in the new colours, awaiting its flight to CVG, and Shuttle by United 737-300 N372UA. Southwest had an interesting array of planes at MHT. The Finals 737-700 was on the ground, and I was surprised to see this, especially since it was just placed into this livery days before (Tuesday of that week I think). Nevada One was also present, which I had not seen yet...another special WN livery for me (after this trip, I have 2 Shamus and 3-4 states). Also N420WN was there, as was N329SW and a couple of other WN 737s. Fed Ex had a DC-10 that did a nice landing on 35 that not only pleased me, but the family next to me that such a big plane was coming in to MHT. It was a pretty neat sight to see a DC-10 come out of the clouds at about 2000 feet and do a landing in the first light of the day.
Anyway, onto the flight. As we all know by now, DL boards by zones, which I personally hate, as I was split up from my party (as a Medallion, I am either Zone 2-3 if I’m in Y, but my party was not medallion, so they were in Zone 9...I liked boarding by rows, when all I had to do was flash my medallion card and they could get on with my in preboarding). Oh well...I got on in Zone 2, and poked my head into the flight deck briefly. After learning the route (which was to take us over BAF, down to the Baltimore area, and then following the Applachians into ATL) and our altitude (FL310...the Mad Dog can’t really go higher than that), we had a discussion over the realism of FS2004, which the FO said he really enjoyed and thought it was great...the captain said he would have to give it a try after our recommendations. After this chat, I returned to the main cabin, and awaited take-off.
We pushed back a couple minutes early, and taxied out to the threshold of Runway 35 via taxiways Echo and Alpha. We had to hold short of 35 for a few minutes due to an ATC hold...during this time, I saw a Pan Am 727 on finals to Runway 6, coming in from PSM (pretty much a repositioning flight, unless you want to pay $45 to fly 20 minutes PSM-MHT, when driving costs about $4 for a few gallons of gas, and only 45 minutes). Anyway, after a hold of about 6 minutes, we were off, rotating at about 4500 feet, halfway down the 9000 foot piece of runway. We climbed straight up until about Concord, NH, where we banked left and began our flight. While we were on the ground, the flight attendant noted that the kid in front of me (extremely well-behaved – excellent!) was on his first flight, and she immediately brought him a pair of wings and a deck of cards of various DL aircraft...the kid was extremely pleased. As for the load, both cabins were full, and the flight was oversold by 3.
The flight was pretty much uneventful. I sat there reading my Boston Globe for the majority of the flight, or I was taking in the breathtaking Appalachian scenery...hopefully, I will enjoy this more this summer when I move to Greensboro, NC. Service on this flight was drink service and biscoff cookies. I asked for an orange juice and there were no problems...I only wanted a small cup, so I didn’t complain. The seat overall was pretty comfortable...I enjoy the MD-88 (especially the D/E side) because there are only two people on one side (compared the 3 on a 737/757), and the D/E side has about an extra inch of legroom.
We were descending into ATL very soon after. This time, no connections were read, but they told us that they would be posted on the overhead monitors at ATL. We came in to 26R about 25 minutes early, which is pretty fast, faster than any BOS-ATL flights I’ve been on, which is a shorter distance than MHT-ATL. I saw a plethora of UPS and Fed Ex freighters on the ramp, as well as a bunch of DL birds (a 737 in the Widget scheme, a couple of 767s, a few CRJs). We exited 26R at Taxiway Bravo3, and we then went to Bravo2, where we held short for a DL 737-800 to take off. We had to wait at Echo2 for an American MD-80 to pass by, and then we went Foxtrot2 and right into gate A34 for a short taxi in. Another AA MD-80 (N409AA) passed by us as we were pulling in. I immediately got off the plane and headed straight for Concourse E, even though my connection was leaving from A10.
Thank God I had a (now, with the early arrival) 3 hour and 10 minute layover at ATL. There could be worse places for a long layover. I immediately caught the train to Concourse E, where my goal was to see the trio of Delta 777s that were in (860, 863, and 866 were in), but more importantly the South African A340-600, which was ZS-SND. A beautiful bird, if I may say so myself. I was also able to see an America West Airbus over at D concourse, plus a few other domestic birds. I then went to Concourse C, because I needed to see an AirTran Airbus, since these weren’t going to be around for much longer. N391LF did not disappoint, and there were plenty of Boeing 717s to support the lone Airbus. I also wandered to the DL Connection side of C, where I saw plenty of ASA and Comair birds, including the elusive ATR-72 (at least for me). I also saw N721CA, which exactly one year earlier, flew me from CVG to CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO. I then returned to Concourse A, where I did some more spotting. Seeing a Song 757 at T8 surprised me quite a bit, since they use Concourse D, and their one daily flight is at night, so it was a surprise. There were a few Delta Shuttle 737-800s running around too. It’s pretty rare when you see Delta Mainline, Delta Connection/ASA, Delta Connection/Comair, Delta Shuttle, and Song all within a few minutes of each other...
I then proceeded to the Chili’s Too in Concourse A. It wasn’t busy there, and I had myself a hamburger and fries, which was pretty good. They still use plastic knives in there...I thought they were allowing real knives back airside (at least on AA and NW). Anyway, I got a great view of the action. I had a birds eye view of N907DE, which was still in the Widget colours (one of 4 I saw that day: N907DE, the aforementioned DL 737, a Comair CRJ, and N134DL). I also saw the Korean Air 777 come in from ICN, and the surprise of the day was a China Airlines 747 freighter come in...I was quite happy to see that. I also saw a long, steady line of Delta come in and out. Other planes of note were about 7-8 of AirTran’s JetConnect CRJs...which I thought were nice. Now, onto the next flight.
17 April 2004
Delta Air Lines 2150
Depart: Atlanta – The William B. Hartsfield International Airport (ATL)
Scheduled Departure: 1300 Local
Actual Departure: 1258 Local
Departure Gate: A10
Arrive: Orlando, FL (CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO)
Scheduled Arrival: 1425 Local
Actual Arrival: 1420 Local
Arrival Gate: 75
Equipment: Boeing 767-332
Registration: N123DL (1997 Colours)
Seat: 2E (First)
I wandered over to Gate A10, and approached the podium to see if my upgrade cleared. They sent me over to the Delta Direct centre by Gate A18, where the agent waved my boarding pass through a machine which spitted out Seat 3D for me. I was quite pleased that my upgrade cleared, even though this was a short hop. I went back to A10 to see if I could procure a window seat, but all they had were 3C or 2E or 2C so I took 2E to have a better view of the window. The agents had to do a bunch of typing on the computer to do this, so I very much appreciated their efforts, and I think a letter to DL management might be coming soon to let them know of the great service I experienced. During this time, a guy came up to the desk saying that he and his whole family (2 kids, wife, parents) should be upgraded to first class, even though he had no upgrades (which he thought he did but then admitted he didn’t) and wasn’t willing to pay for it. Didn’t fly with the agents. Anyway, boarding started a few minutes late, and I was the second one on board, since I was in Zone 1. I popped my head into the flight deck, I was told that we would be flying the inland route today (via TLH/GNV) and we would be getting upto FL370 (a nice parabola, as the captain told me). We then talked about Boston for a few minutes (they were flying CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO-BOS on Song after this flight...he said that flight crew do go back and forth between Song and Mainline), and I returned to the front cabin. For the load, coach was full and there was only one seat (2C) open in First.
Delta First Class is a pretty good product, better than US Airways’ first class. Headphones are complimentary, and there is a bottle of Dasani waiting for you at your seat. The flight attendant came by quickly offering me a drink, and I took a Coke. We pushed back a few minutes early, and taxied past MD-88 land (too many MD-88s to count), the AirTran gates, and Concourse E as we made our way down Taxiway Mike to Runway 27R. I saw an Aeromexico MD-82 XA-TRD at Concourse E at this time, which was a nice treat for me. We were behind a few DL MD-88s for take-off, and there about 3 DL 767-300s behind us waiting for take off. After this 3 hour voyage, I think I saw most of DL’s 767-300 Domestics and MD-88s (and I’m not kidding!). We made our way down 27R and made our way south toward Florida. Service was FastBreak in Coach, but not in First, where full beverage offerings were available. I had two more Cokes on this flight, and a bag of pretzels. The flight attendants on this flight were excellent. They made sure that we were all set, and they were always giving us additional beverages. Not bad for an hour and a half hop. Before we knew it, we were on descent into CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO, and due to Northerly winds, we were coming in from the south. 17R/35L was closed for repairs, so our choices were either landing on 35R (the new runway) or land West Side on 36L. And much to my happiness, we came barrelling down 36L, while a Southwest 737 was on approach to 35R. All take-offs were apparently on 36R, as I saw a DL bird, a JetBlue, and a Southwest all holding short of 36R. I got a great view of the entire airfield, as I saw some US Airways birds, a UA 733, and a Ted A320 at Airside 3 (I finally met Ted...I was pretty happy about that), a Continental 733, 737-700, and a 739 at Concourse A, plus an Air Canada A321 and Air Jamaica A321 and a bunch of AA 757s and a couple of ATA 757-300s. In front of us was a Frontier A319...I forget which one though...sorry.
Over on the east side, I saw Spirit MD-80 N812NK in the old colours, which was a pleasant surprise. AirTran had a couple of 717s in, JetBlue an A320, and of course a bunch of Southwest 737s, including N339SW. We continued to the Delta airside, which had an MD-80 in from CVG, a few Song 757s (N694DL being one of them), and Virgin 747-400 G-VROY. I also spotted Delta Connection Embraers N269SK, N270SK, N274SK, and N567RP. I immediately went to Bag Claim, got my bag, and hopped into a Town Car to the Walt Disney World Swan. On the drive out, I saw a Northwest 757-300 and A320 (both in old colours), plus an Icelandair 757-200. After that, it was a 25 minute drive via the Bee-Line and I-4 (the stretch I was on around I-drive actually has construction finished...I was shocked!) and it was on to vacation and seeing some family down in Orlando.
23 April 2004
Delta Air Lines 1584
Depart: Orlando, FL
Scheduled Departure: 0800 Local
Actual Departure: 0758 Local
Departure Gate: 81
Arrive: Covington, KY – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Scheduled Arrival: 1010 Local
Actual Arrival: 1005 Local
Arrival Gate: B27
Equipment: Boeing 757-232
Registration: N622DL (New Colours)
Seat: 4D (First)
I caught my towncar from the Swan at 0600 for the 25 minute drive to CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO via I-4 and the Beeline. Driving into the airport, a saw a trio of UPS birds (757s), and then as we approached the main terminal, where I saw 5 American 757s, an American A300, 4 Continental 757s and a 737-300, a couple of ATA 757s, a Ted A320, 2 United 757s, a trio of United A320s, and an Air Canada A321, plus a couple of US Airways birds.
I was dropped off curbside at Delta, which was a zoo. Song and Delta Mainline all had a ton of people checking in via the kiosks. However, there was once again nobody at Medallion/First Class, so I promptly walked up. For this trip, the 4 people in my party were on L class tickets, which meant only I could upgrade. However, since this flight was oversold in coach and had a few open seats in First, they allowed me to upgrade two other people, so I gave them 6C and 6D, while taking 4D for myself. I went over to Krispy Kreme to grab some food (nothing like some high-cholesterol junk food in the morning) and then joined the security line, which took about 20 minutes. There was a sign after you had the ticket-checker checkpoint that said that the wait was about 15 minutes from that point...I guess CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO is trying to become yet another Orlando-area themepark (you are waiting 15 minutes for your last attraction of this trip...the monorail ride). Security checkpoint was easy as normal (remove belt, shoes, Palm Pilot, cell phone, change, etc.) and then I caught the monorail over to Airside 4, which was a hive of activity. From the monorail, I saw a quartet of Delta Connection jets, with N292SK, N797CA, N841RP, and N811CA from the tram. The 90-99 gates were empty...only a few Delta staff and TSA down there. Frontier uses Gate 90 (I think) for their flights, as there was a Frontier sign at that gate. I guess DL uses it for a few flights, but not much else. The 80-89 pier had my Delta 757, a Delta 767-400 heading off to ATL, and a Midwest MD-80 at the far end. Not much activity there, especially since the 764 had been boarded by this time, as it was leaving at 0700. However, the 70-79 pier was a zoo. There was a Delta 767-400 going off to ATL at 0850, a Delta 737-800 going to SLC, a Delta 757 and MD-88 going to DFW, and a bunch of Song 757s, having either come in from LAX and LAS, or heading off to BOS, LGA, JFK, EWR, DL / KBDL), USA - Connecticut">BDL, and LAX. It was pretty much Song heaven, if you could get used to that livery (I still don’t like it, after having seen it as much as I do at BOS). Anyway, boarding started around 0730, but since I was still spotting, I hopped on around 0745 (I was Zone 1, so I could board anytime I wanted). From the terminal, I could see a JetBlue A320, a couple of AirTran 717s, and of course, a bunch of Southwest 737s. One of these was a Southwest 737 taking off in the Shamu colours.
Upon boarding, I was given an Orange juice and relaxed in 4D. Once again, the bottle of Dasani was there too. We pushed back a couple of minutes early, and I saw a Delta ERJ-135 taxiing in from most likely an intrastate route. Today, the winds were coming from the South, so I expected we would be using 17L for the take off. We taxied across the north taxiway again, but I didn’t see a whole lot of action...it was on the other side. Anyway, we had to wait for a Song 757 and a United 757 in front of us, and then we were off from Runway 18L. I did get a view of the action at the West Side airsides, which was still mostly the planes that I saw on the drive in. There were a couple of Planet 727s on the West Side too...undoubtedly due to school trips. We climbed up and banked right immediately, and then turned North over I-4 by SeaWorld. We continued to climb, following a route that had us going over the Jacksonville area (over Craig VOR), and then up through Georgia (via ATL) and Nashville. Unfortunately, clouds came over the land around Jacksonville, and I didn’t see the land until about 5-10 seconds before landing. Service on this flight was a breakfast, which consisted of hot towels to start us off (I love hot towels), a bran cereal, fresh fruit, and a danish. I had the cereal only, served with a glass of orange juice, because I had already had my Krispy Kremes and wasn’t that hungry. In-flight entertainment was Delta Horizons, which I didn’t bother watching, since I had work to do, and my New York Post entertained me enough too.
Service wasn’t great on this flight. The flight attendants only came by meal time, and did not make sure that we wanted another drink, etc. I was a little disappointed, but it wasn’t a big deal. Flight attendants did come around though to give personal connecting information, and then did it again over the intercom. On this flight, people were connecting to ALB, BWI, BGR, BOS, DL / KBDL), USA - Connecticut">BDL, LEX, ISP, MHT, SWF, PWM, and ROC (that was the entire list of connections). Anyway, we started our approach into CVG into the clouds, and we were doing an instrument approach onto Runway 36R. The ceiling was no more than 500 AGL, so we emerged from the clouds and were on the ground shortly thereafter. We had another short taxi into the Gate, where I quickly disembarked and hopped onto the Shuttle for Concourse C. CVG’s Concourse B was pretty much Delta MD-88 and 737-200 city, with only a couple of Delta 757s (one to BWI, ours that was returning to ATL a couple of hours later) and Delta 767-400 N838MH which was going to HNL, and quite frankly, made everything else look small. Also seen was Northwest Airlink Avro RJ85 N536XJ, a United Express/AWAC CRJ, a pair of US Airways Express/PSA Dornier 328s, and a US Airways Express CRJ going to PHL. Comair’s concourse was full of CRJs, with a couple of –700s (N642CA, the 1000th CRJ being one of them), and a bunch of –200s (I could list some of them, but that would take a while).
23 April 2004
Delta Air Lines 5322 (opb Comair)
Depart: Covington, KY – Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Scheduled Departure: 1050 Local
Actual Departure: 1050 Local
Departure Gate: C70
Arrive: Manchester, NH (MHT)
Scheduled Arrival: 1250 Local
Actual Arrival: 1252 Local
Arrival Gate: 10
Equipment: Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-100 ER
Registration: N430CA (New Colours)
Seat: 3D (Economy)
CVG is a pretty easy airport to connect in. My one complaint is the lack of windows in Concourse C though...can’t spot. Anyway, I wandered over to Hudson News EuroCafé, bought myself a newspaper, and then they immediately started boarding Medallions for DL5322. Thus, I quickly boarded and made the walk down the corridor to Gate C70. At least once you’ve boarded you can do some spotting, so I picked up a few more CRJs for my Comair collection. I took my seat in 3D and it felt a lot more comfortable than when I last flew Comair a year ago. Yes, the seats are still thin, and it is quite an adjustment going from mainline first class to regional economy. I just kept the armrest up all flight so I could feel comfortable (I am not large by any means – 5’6”, 140 lbs), but no problem there.
Anyway, from the outset, this flight looked like it would be a long one. The family behind me had two kids, and the parents decided that they would sit on the A/B side, and let their 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter take 4C/D, right behind me. Thus, from the moment they sat down, I was subjected to a constant kicking of my seat, and a bunch of loud whining. There was a baby in front of me, who cried a little while on the ground at CVG, but once we got in the air, she was extremely well-behaved, and her mother was there to watch over her. We pushed back on-time, and we taxied past Concourse B, which was still Delta 737-200 and MD-80 land. I did see a US Airways Dornier 328 take off though. At Concourse C, there were plenty of Comair CRJs, and Chautauqua had a lone ERJ-135 nosed in at one of the gates.
We taxied along runway 36R, and we were directly behind Runway 9/27 as a Delta MD-88 barreled down the runway, which was a pretty cool sight. We taxied past the DHL hub, which only had a couple of 727s in the new colours there, and N366DH, an A300 in the old colours. We had to wait behind a Delta MD-88 and 737-200 (surprise, surprise) to take off, and then it was our turn. We used about half of the runway to take off, and very soon afterwards (about 10 seconds) we were back in the clouds.
This flight took us over PIT, up to BAF VOR again, and then into MHT, with a cruising altitude of FL290. Service was provided by our lone flight attendent, and it consisted of drink (Coke) and pretzels or biscoff cookies, of which I had the pretzels. I just relaxed the rest of the flight and read the paper. Thankfully, the parents intervened with the kids behind me, and the father took 4C and the sister took 4A...there was still intermittent kicking, but the voices were dimmed.
We started our approach into MHT around 1215, and it seemed like we would be coming in to Runway 6, which would have placed us on the approach that came directly over the Merrimack River. We got down to about 3000 AGL, but then we had to climb back up into the clouds, and we did a few turns that put us on approach to Runway 17. I guess the winds changed at the last possible minute. Anyway, this added about 15 minutes to our flight, and changed an early arrival into a (2 minute) late arrival. We did come down though, and we did land onto Runway 17, which has a pretty neat approach (I think) because the runway is raised from the actual terrain by about 20 feet, so it is similar to landing on a pier, but not quite.
MHT was a ghost town when we landed, as there was only one commercial airliner on the ground, a Comair CRJ that was parked at the RON stands. No other airlines had a plane on the ground, as midday at MHT is pretty boring...UPS had N437UP and N148UP on the ground, and Airborne Express had a DC-9-30F on the ground...couldn’t get the registration here either...sorry. We taxied into Gate 10, where we actually used the jetway. To do this, they lowered the stairs (as one would normally get off a CRJ), brought the jetway down, and then they attached a little bridge so we could get off. No complaints here about using the jetway, since it was 45 degrees and rainy in Manchester. I immediately collected my bags at Bag Claim 3, and was off to my car. Upon reaching the parking lot where I was located, I saw that Continental had 2 ERJs, N13538 (ERJ-135 to CLE, downgrade from scheduled ERJ-145) and N14937 (ERJ-145 to EWR), and a US Airways Express/Allegheny Dash 8-102 had come in from LGA. Upon driving off, I saw N430CA depart back to CVG as I was driving on the perimeter road, and then I headed off to TGI Friday’s at the Mall of New Hampshire, about a mile down the road from MHT, and grabbed a late lunch.
Overall, service was pretty good. All four flights were full, with only one seat having been open on all 4 flights combined (a load factor of 99.84%). I still think they should get rid of this zone boarding concept and go back to rows, and just enforce the rows procedure. The service on DL1584 wasn’t great either, especially for First Class, but that’s not too much of a problem. Service on the other three flights was top-notch, and DL giving me the opportunity to upgrade 2 other people when, according to the rules it should have been none, was also a nice benefit (although understandable, since I’m sure DL wanted to get as many people onto that plane as possible, since it was originally oversold, and they aren’t going to hand out F class upgrades to those people, but give them to the FFs). Anyway, next trip outside of New York is next month when I go to MSY, probably going to be on Continental, maybe US Airways, I’ll know tomorrow most likely when I book it. Hope you enjoyed this.