This is my first trip report, so please be kind. On a side note this was my first family vacation since I was 17. As I am now in my 30s, I was fearful of what this trip with my mom, dad and sister might be like.
Scheduled 11:45 Actual 12:00
Seat 14C, Exit Row aisle.
Awoke about 7am the morning of the flight. After a shower and breakfast, ran some errands before arriving at the airport at around 9:45 am. The line for Delta's International Check In was already horrendous. To make matters worse, people who did not seem to speak English wanted to cut in line. Some angry Americans put them in their place, ie, the end of the line. We were able to get up the counter by about 10:20 and shared some good natured kidding with the check in person. I told her I wanted a real plane to JFK and an exit row, and she responded sarcastically with a smile. Nice banter with her. Although she was not able to give me the exit row, I was able to go to the gate and get it for myself and my father, so all was good. I am 6'7" (200cm) so flying can be a real painful experience.
Afterwards, we went to the security checkpoint, which took less than 5 minutes. I got a yogurt and a sandwich, as I knew this was a beverage only flight. We then went to the gate, where boarding commenced after another CRJ to Baton Rouge left (late). When we boarded, we had to walk across the tarmac for a bit as the CRJ's were parked in very close proximity to each other, obviously leaving no room for a jetway. I had to give up my bag to be put underneath, as it was too large for the tiny bins on the CRJ.
Upon boarding the plane, it seemed bright and new. I noticed that after I sat down, the etechings on the windows seemed to indicate that they were manufactured in the fall of 2003, so I thought that this plane was probably delivered in 2004. As other A.net members have told me, the windows are higher on the -700 so that they are easier to see out of, I found this to be correct. Or at least they seemed normal to me compared to a 737 or MD-80.
The flight was pretty much packed to the brim, there might have been 4 or 5 empty seats at the most. I am thinking only 2 empty seats was all I saw.
We closed the door and pushed back about 12:00, not sure the exact time as I did not have a watch on. After a short taxi, we turned onto active and were airborne after what seemed like a normal takeoff roll. The speed does seem much higher in a smaller plane than it does in the larger ones though.
Right away, I noticed that the plane seemed pretty noisy and buzzy. The exit row is fairly near to the back, and I got a steady diet of CF-34 noise the entire 3 hours on the way there. Eventually I walked to the front of the plane and it seemed much quieter uo there.
The beverage service on the plane was WN style, consisting of cheese pretzels and drinks. No complaints, as that's what I expected going in.
It was cloudy the whole way there, so there was not much to see. The ride was quite bumpy at several times during the ride, and thus the seatbelt sign was on for most of the trip. On a couple occasions, we hit some moderate turbulence that caused a wing to dip. That was a bit disconcerting.
After about 3 hours, we had a smooth touchdown at JFK. As we taxied into the terminal, I marveled at all the widebodies. 747, 777, A330, A340, they were all there. All the airlines of the world, it seemed like. As my home airport is AUS, and I sometimes fly from DFW or IAH, I don't normally get to see this many widebodies and international airlines. A real treat!
We pulled up at a gate next to a 757, and then boarded onto the tarmac again, where they had my carron bag waiting.
Scheduled 6:25, Acutal ? (pretty late)
Seat 21G, Exit aisle
After our arrival at JFK, we wanted to try to get an exit row again. Thankfully, in the US they are blocked at the gate, or at least on my flights they were. There was supposed to be someone at the gate to check us in 90 minutes before flight time, however, that person did not show up on time. As the flight crew arrived, they all openly wondered when the person would show up. Finally they did, and my dad and I were able to get exit rows again. Yay. After that, we went to get a bite to eat at some place, I think it was Chili's.
Boarding was pretty hectic. There were absolutely ZERO empty seats on this plane as far as I could tell. (and I looked around quite a bit). We were in zone 9, so we boarded last. I was afraid there would not be enough bin space but I was relieved to see that I was able to get my bag in a bin right above my seat.
The 763 we were on looked, well, dated. It was clean for the most part, but it had old, old looking square bins and the control panel with the gaspers on it also looked quite dated. I openly wondered to myself if the newer 76's are like this. I have been on a DL L1011 before and the 763 looked pretty much the same on the inside.
After being seated, there seemed to be a ruckus at the back of the plane. There was a group of hiddacic (spelling?) Jews on the plane, the ones that always wear black suits and have long hair. Anyways, all of them refused to sit next to a woman, which I'm sure caused quite a bit of consternation for the FA's. Finally everyone was seated and we pushed back a few minutes late.
Well after we pushed back, we started taxiing around the outside of the terminal, not going towards the runway at all, it seemed like. The captain came on the air and said that JFK was down to single runway ops and that we would have to wait in a lengthy line. After threading our way though pretty much every terminal, we came to a runway were planes were lined up waiting to get on the active as long as the eye could see. I mean, it looked like they were lined up the whole length of the closed runway. And these planes were all huge widebodies waiting to take off. Quite a line. To add to the difficulty, the Jews in the funny clothes stood up again and refused to sit down. After about 20 minutes of this, the captain came over the air and said we would have to go back to the terminal and lose our place in line if everyone didn't sit down. Dreading this prospect, I hoped everyone would sit down. Eventually they did. Finally we got onto the active runway and took off, after what seemed like a very short takeoff roll for such a large aircraft.
After in the air, the FA's came around. They were an older and surly bunch, hardly a smile in the group. To celbrate our trip to Europe, my dad and I ordered 3 glasses of wine between the two of us. Unfortunately, my glass had a chip in it which I did not notice and it spilled some red wine down the front of my shirt. When I informed the FA of this, she looked at me like I was drunk and did not offer to do anything about it at all. To make matters worse, the service was quite slow, it took about 2 hours in the air to get our food. I was hoping to take a nap but it seemed like we were halfway there before I was done with my food! And it's not like we were getting more beverage service during that time, they were just slow, and not friendly in the least.
The dinner choices were chicken breast or cheese tortellini. I got the chicken breast, which was pretty good. It also came with a small salad, a roll, and some desert. The food was not half bad. I just wish it had been served faster.
The inflight entertainment (of course not in the seatbacks on this dated plane) consisted of Delta's Compass at first, then a couple of movies, one of which was a Gene Hackman movie about him as an ex-president running for mayor of a small town. I don't remember what the other movie was. After that, some sitcoms and other stuff. I tried to get some sleep but was unable to get very much.
As we neared the British Isles, the FA's came around again. (finally!!!!) and served us a breakfast, which consisted of some muffins. The Delta compass said we had less than 1 hour to go, which I knew couldn't be right, and wasn't, as we were still crusing at 37,000 feet. Plus, we had left over an hour late and if that was accurate we would have been arriving on time, which we of course didn't. The display stuck on 42 minutes for a long time.
Finally as we crossed the Channel we started to descend. When the Dutch coast was in sight, we began to do several descending circles. I could see other planes above us and below us in the same pattern. After about four 360 degree turns we came out of it, flew across the coastline, and after a couple of more turns came in for a very smooth landing. We taxied for what seemed like forever, and arrived at the gate about 1 hour late.
AMS is a nice, bright and open airport. I was impressed. Also, like JFK there is a large selection of widebodies to spot, including even the KLM MD-11! It took forever for my bags to come down, but customs were very fast.
All and all, honestly, I wish I had paid the extra money to fly American direct. The service on DL80 was horrendous, and the fact I had to make a connection was annoying. But we got these tickets on Priceline for approximately $650 per person, when most places had Texas-Europe in the 900-1100 range. (AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA, CDG, BRU and MUC would have been acceptable alternatives as the place we were going in Germany was about 4 hours from any major airport).
My return trip report is coming soon, I am just tired of typing right now. For those of you who might be interested, I am willing to type my trip report for my train ride from AMS to Herford, Germany.