20 November 2004
Delta Air Lines 1037
Depart: Greensboro, NC – Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)
Scheduled Departure: 0645 Local
Actual Departure: 0642 Local
Departure Gate: 47
Arrive: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Scheduled Arrival: 0815 Local
Actual Arrival: 0818 Local
Arrival Gate: B11
Equipment: Boeing 737-232 Adv
Registration: N310DA (New Colours)
Seat: 21A (Economy)
I arrived at the airport at about 5:45, plenty of time for me, but oh well. I had did online check-in the morning before, and while my upgrade didn’t clear and there were no preferred seats open, I didn’t really care. In front of me was the stereotypical once-a-year vacationers, and they didn’t know what they were doing (it ended up that they set off the detector and they had a 6:00 departure, which you can only pull off on the Shuttles, not a mainline to ATL), so the ticket checker just pulled me up and I went through the drill (phone off, PDA in bag, belt and shoes off, check for change, etc.). It is a lot easier to do this though when you only have a small briefcase then when you’re trying to do it with a roll-aboard and a laptop (looking forward to doing the advanced drill at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning).
Anyway, not much action was going on in the terminal. US Airways had a few 737-300/400s in (the only 3 US Airways mainline flights of the day) and their Express ramp had a few ERJ-145s and Jetstream J-41s, Delta had my 737-200 and a couple of MD-88s, plus about 5 CRJs (all Comair), United had an ERJ-145, CRJ, and 737-500, American had a CRJ-700, Northwest had a DC-9-30 and 3 CRJs, Continental had a couple of ERJ-145s.
Well, while waiting around for my flight, I decided to grab something to eat, since I knew that GSO-CVG would be a FastBreak service flight (let’s see, the only Delta mainline flights I know of under 500 miles that are not FastBreak service flights are BOS-LGA and LGA-DCA, and that’s to cater to the business crowd). The muffin I got was not entirely good (nor was it cheap), but it subsided my hunger pains.
Boarding started at about 0620, only one person went ahead for Zone 1 boarding (everyone else came on later, F was full), and then I went ahead and boarded in Zone 2, along with my seatmate (21E was empty). A couple of people came on for Zone 3, and then general boarding started. This was a full flight, only a couple of empty seats in economy. Many of the people were families, I’m guessing to get a jump on Thanksgiving (some of us have work on Monday, and then get to go have meetings after getting off the plane in Boston on Tuesday).
Anyway, we pushed back on time, and then we sat, in the area between the two concourses. After about 5 minutes, the captain came on and informed us that the FAA wasn’t going to let us go for a half hour due to weather, and that he had just shut down the No. 1 engine to save some gas. So, I just sat and read the Charlotte Observer. We started to taxi out, along with a US Airways Jetstream to Baltimore, but when we reached the cargo ramps, we just sat for another 10 minutes. Finally, we got going again and finally made it out to Runway 23, where we immediately took off, rotating after about 6000 feet.
Service today was FastBreak and Biscoff cookies. I took an orange juice and had that, and that was about it. I’m not sure of our exact routing, but it had us going out over into Tennessee and then up into the Cincinnati area. No idea on altitude. Flying time was 55 minutes.
Due to our hold at CVG, we were running a few minutes late. However, we did make up some time, and we came in over the city of Cincinnati (got a great view of the football stadium), and then made a U-turn and came in onto Runway 18L at Cincinnati. In case you hadn’t heard, Cincinnati is a Delta hub, as evidenced by the fact that the only non-Delta planes were a pair of Northwest Avros, a United BAe-146, a Continental ERJ-145, and an American Eagle ERJ-145. There were plenty of Delta 737s, 757s, 767s, MD-88s, CRJs, and ERJ-145s to go around though. No special liveries to report though.
Anyway, I hopped on the Shuttle bus to Concourse C. I love this shuttle bus, as I can get nice and up close with a bunch of Delta planes. Unfortunately, I had seen pretty much every plane Delta parked there (the only new addition to my book was N3741S, I had seen everything else, which means two things: (1) I’m close to finishing my Delta fleet and (2) I’ve spent too much time having long layovers at Delta hubs).
20 November 2004
Delta Air Lines 5799 (opb Comair)
Depart: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
Scheduled Departure: 0850 Local
Actual Departure: 0850 Local
Departure Gate: C36
Arrive: Washington/Dulles, DC (IAD)
Scheduled Arrival: 1008 Local
Actual Arrival: 1012 Local
Arrival Gate: B42
Equipment: Canadair CL-600-2B19 Regional Jet CRJ-200 ER
Registration: N470CA (New Colours)
Seat: 9A (Economy)
As soon as I got to the gate, they announced Zone 1 and Medallions, so I boarded. However, the ground staff did not know that we were boarding, so by the time they were ready, there was a queue of about 30 people at C36 (down in the pier). I boarded and took my seat, and we had to wait a few minutes for luggage. Load was about 35 people on the plane in total.
We pushed back on time, and taxied out to Runway 18L (can I please use 18R/36L sometime; I always get either 9/27 or 18L/36R; maybe on Sunday when I’m back in CVG…). Once again, not much was happening besides the Delta armada invading the fine people of Covington, KY. We had the typical CRJ takeoff (which is one of my favourite takeoffs, I love the acceleration those things get), and we were soon in the air. I don’t know our altitude, but we basically followed the Kentucky/Ohio border into West Virginia, and then followed the West Virginia/Maryland/Virginia border into IAD (that section where Maryland is all of 5 miles wide).
Service was typical Delta Connection service…I had a Coke, and they served these really cheap, stale pretzels (oh how I miss Synder’s, as I told my Independence Air flight attendant that night, they are addicting, after my last flight I went down to the store just to buy those, and I think I’m going to go grab a bag to eat right now while I type this out). Not much else to report on this flight, I just played Monopoly on my PDA and that was about it.
We came in to Washington from the south and landed on Runway 1L. There wasn’t much action at IAD, but the action that was there wasn’t bad. Independence had their RJ armada over at A, United was largely empty (a Ted A320 and a couple of 737s), but Terminal B had a JetBlue A320, ANA 777, Korean Air 747-400, and the highlight of the day (at least at IAD, GSO, CVG, or DCA, which were the airports I went to), which was Ethiopian Airlines ET-ALJ (only my second Ethiopian Airlines registration, ET-AIE was the other).
After struggling a little to find a taxi, I went on to my day in the Capital.
Now normally, I don’t bother to bore you with the details of my trips (because basically, it’s work). But, I am going to bore you with details of this trip. Only because I went to both parts of the National Air and Space Museum (I figured you guys might have an interest in reading about this, I’m not sure though…you know, those old planes are quite irrelevant…)
Anyway, I must say that this was one of the best experiences of my life. To say I loved it would be a severe understatement. Prior to this, I had been to the Virginia Air and Space Museum down by Newport News, and to the Intrepid in New York, and this just blew them out of the water.
I first went to the Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles Airport. If any of you have a long layover at IAD, I would suggest going here. Cab fare cost me $11.10, so it’s not that bad, and entry is free. Highlights are many, but Air France Concorde F-BVFA, the original Dash 80 N70700 is here, the SR-71 Blackbird, Space Shuttle Enterprise, Pan Am Boeing 377, and that’s just a small portion. Make sure you bring plenty of film, as you can get good shots of everything.
The other great thing about it is the observation deck. The weather was horrible, but it was still fun. Great views of 1R arrivals, but unfortunately, the only action was pretty much regionals (I didn’t know Independence Air had a hub at IAD…they only had 80% of the movements I saw there). Other movements were United Express Saab 340s/CRJs/ERJs, a US Airways Express Saab 340, a Ted A320, and a BWIA 737-800.
After spending time up there, it was time to take the Shuttle Bus downtown. After sitting in traffic on I-66, we finally made it into the National Mall. Here, the most obvious highlight was the Wright Flyer, as this is the plane that started it all. Other highlights were the Spirit of St. Louis, Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega, a United Boeing 247, Eastern DC-3, and more.
After that, I decided to take a look around Washington, so I saw the major highlights (White House, Capitol, the Monuments). Then I decided to ride the Metro, and the Yellow line was quite appealing to me, as I knew I could see some action at DCA. Thus, I rode by DCA a few times. Not a ton of action, US Airways had a couple of 737s, United had some Airbuses, Northwest had an A320, Delta had a 737 and MD-88, America West had an Airbus, Spirit had a couple of MD-80s, American had an MD-80, AirTran had a 717.
I went back into Washington, explored a little more, then went to eat at Legal Sea Foods next to the MCI Center (I needed to have some real seafood…Southerners just don’t know how to properly cook a good piece of baked seafood, it’s all fried or grilled here).
Anyway, after dinner, it was raining out, and I didn’t want to be exploring Washington at night in the rain. So, I took the bus out to Dulles.
20 November 2004
Independence Air 1790
Depart: Washington/Dulles, DC (IAD)
Scheduled Departure: 2200 Local
Actual Departure: 2152 Local
Departure Gate: A3E
Arrive: Greensboro, NC – Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)
Scheduled Arrival: 2306 Local
Actual Arrival: 2249 Local
Arrival Gate: 23
Equipment: Canadair CL-600-2B19 Regional Jet CRJ-200 ER
Seat: 8A (Economy/Exit Row)
Well, since I left the city an hour earlier than planned, I got to the airport an hour earlier than expected. So, what does an aviation enthusiast do at a major international airport for 2 hours? Does he go eat more stuff? Does he just sit at the gate and read the Washington Post? No…he goes spotting. Basically, I just walked around concourses A, B, C, and D, and then repeated. Highlight of the day was nailing not one, not two, but three Independence Air A319s (803, 804, and 805BR). Also around was the Virgin A340 (G-VSUN) which was delayed, a British Airways 747-400, Air France 777 (not used to these since Boston gets the Airbuses), some United 777s and 767-300s (N777UA was one of them, so I finally have N777AN and N777UA, which is something that is pretty nice in my book), as well as some 737s, 757s, and Airbuses (plus, I renewed acquaintances with everyone’s friend Ted), Northwest had a DC-9-30 and a CRJ, US Airways had a 737 and A319, Delta had a CRJ (ASA) and MD-88, Continental had a trio of Jungle Jets, and did I mention that Independence Air has a hub at IAD??? I think I made it through two of their banks, so I got a lot of I-Jets in my book now (which was needed).
Anyway, after riding the mobile lounges around (on two of them I was the only person, and then 2 other times there were less than 5 people), it was time to board.
Independence’s ground staff could use some work. They are very disorganized. They didn’t know what was going on with a crew for a DTW flight, the ATL flight was messed up, and GSO was boarding but it wasn’t on the board. Thus, I didn’t have a good first impression of them.
Finally, I got on board, it was a whole different experience. I was warmly greeted by both the captain and the flight attendant, and then the captain and flight attendant came to everyone to personally greet them once we were seated. Since I was in the back, and the only people back there were me, someone coming from BOS that was on the F/A’s previous flight, and 3 non-rev crew, she let us pick the safety announcement, so we all agreed on Dennis Miller. She warned us though she might be a little out of sync on it, but she did great. This was the first time in several years I had actually paid attention to the safety announcement (after hearing them so much to the point where you have memorized the script, you just tune it out, and I just always check when I get on where the exits are), and it was pretty good, I enjoyed it.
We soon started our taxi out, and made it to Runway 30 after a while. Once again, we experienced the great take-off acceleration of the CRJ. Altitude for this flight was 22,000 feet, no idea on the route, but probably down to Richmond and then into Greensboro.
This was my first time on Independence Air, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, the seats were the most comfortable seats on an RJ I have ever experienced (could someone at Delta please take note of this, I would then probably start booking more Comair flights then). Service-wise, I don’t really know how to put it into words. Let’s just say on the 40 minute flight, I got two bags of pretzels, a Coke and then got it refilled, two hot towels, and mints. I told the flight attendant as I got off the plane how much I travel, and how a good percentage of it is in First Class, and I told her that this experienced blew all the other flights out of the water, which left her and the captain beaming. When I say best customer service I have ever received on a flight, this would be it, and yes, that trumps Continental’s BusinessFirst. Independence Air will be receiving in the mail very shortly a letter of praise for this flight.
Anyway, back to the flight. We landed on Runway 23 early (more bonus points!), and not much was happening at GSO. US Airways had some 737s and ERJs in, United had a 737 in, Delta had an MD-88, 737-200 and a couple of CRJs, Northwest had a CRJ and DC-9-30, Continental had some ERJ-145s and Independence had a CRJ already in. After a short walk through the A concourse (a lot smaller than B), I went back home.
Next trip is Tuesday, I’m back on Delta, flying GSO-ATL-BOS for a few meetings and then Thanksgiving with my family, returning on Sunday MHT-CVG-GSO. Expect a report on the GSO-ATL-BOS leg maybe sometime Wednesday, and then the rest next Monday.