This is a trip report about a recent SEA-BNA flight with DL. I'm not huge into technical details so I don't know the reg number, runway numbers or anything like that. Hopefully this TR will give a better insight into travelling on DL, and there were a few interesting events as well.
May 24, 2005
DL 706, SEA-ATL
Depart 8:52A Arrive 4:35P
767-300 Domestic Configuration
I got to SEA around 7:00 for the flight, and used the self-service kiosk at SEA. The DL area was rather busy, as there were the flights to ATL at 7:40 and 8:52, as well as the 8:30 departure to JFK. Additionally, Hawaiian checks in at the DL counter so there were crowds for the 8:45 as well. Nevertheless, things went rather smoothly. I went to check my bag, and the DL agent was prompt and courteous. Then as I started to walk away, he says “Sir, I guess I should check your ID”. So I pulled out my driver’s license and proceeded once bozo inspected my ID. Now here’s the question: if I had done this online there would have been no check. So what was the point of this? And if it’s so important, why was it an afterthought? Oh well.
Proceeded through the central security checkpoint (always faster than A or N checkpoints) and inspected the new Pacific Marketplace up close and personal – quite nice! The spotting window seemed popular, and it really makes it much more enjoyable to be at SEA. I finally made my way to A13, which is quite a hike. The A gates are very nice – very spacious and modern (a huge improvement over any other concourse in the airport).
Boarding began on time, proceeding by zone. There were two gate agents collecting boarding passes so things went relatively quickly. The flight left on time, beginning with the safety video shown on the main screens. The plane took off and headed west to ATL. I was in 26F – an exit row with a single seat all by itself. I checked seatguru, which mentioned that the seat didn’t recline but had lots of personal space since it was by itself. I liked it overall. I lived being able to stretch out and have room under two seats in front of me, and not having to share the armrest. Plus it was nice to have some peace and quiet. However, it was kinda annoying not being able to recline on a long flight.
Service was 8/10. There were two flight attendants who was nothing but smiles, extremely friendly and welcoming, and very nice to all the passengers. Then there were a couple of older ones (one that has had way too much botox) that were rather grouchy. I should add that DL’s uniforms are due for an upgrade (hopefully the new ones we saw here a few months ago will be put into use soon!). When they’re wearing the suit with the blue undershirt and wavy tie it looks great – however many of them were just wearing grey slacks with a blue sweater – more “soccer mom” than flight attendant if you ask me.
The snack cart came by, followed shortly by drinks. The snack packs were so-so. It’s nice to get something for free, however it’s disappointing to not even be able to buy anything on a 4 hour flight (5 hours on the return). Nevertheless, snack and drink service were prompt. The flight went on rather smoothly. About an hour before landing, they came by with another drink service and a cart where you could pick one of several snack choices. Another nice touch, considering many airlines have those bland pretzels (except NW!).
We held in a holding pattern over Rome, GA for one turn, and then landed in ATL. Landing was smooth and we made it to the gate quickly. I hadn’t been to the airport in a few years and not much had changed. However, I was still amazed at the sheer size of DL’s operation there and the hospitality of most of the employees. We landed in A, and my next flight would be in B. I had a quick bite at Popeyes and proceeded via foot (to help work off the Popeyes) to the B gates.
May 24, 2005
DL 512, ATL-BNA
Depart 5:53P Arrive 6:01P
MD-88, Changed to 757-200
This flight was originally supposed to be an MD-88, and I was excited to hopefully see the new interior (we don’t get the MD-88’s in SEA). Imagine my disappointment when I got to the gate and had to take a boring 757 instead. Despite the fact that the monitor at the gate showed the 757 and a seating chart, everyone in the gate area was surprised when it was announced that there was an equipment change and some of the seats would change. Despite the monitor showing 52 open Y seats, there was a mad dash to the desk as if the world was ending. After several announcements that it wasn’t necessary to be in line and that seats would be reassigned after boarding, the line halved but people were still in line until boarding started.
Boarding started about 20 minutes late due to the equipment change. Apparently an extra crew member was now needed for the 757 (don’t ask me why, considering it only had about 120 pax on it). The extra crew member came and boarding progressed by zone. This time the announcements were automated, although quite difficult to hear (the volume was waaaay too soft). It was also announced that there would be no food or drink services on the short flight. This was slightly disappointing as QX even manages a service on shorter flights, but this is a much bigger plane and it wasn’t really necessary for a 45-minute flight anyways.
We taxied out and were about 10th in line for take off. We finally took off and flew over the city northwest towards Nashville. Contrary to the announcements, there was a brief drink service, which consisted of the FAs walking through the aisle and offering small room-temperature bottled waters (8oz). I took one, and think that this was adequate for such a short flight. We arrived into BNA around 6:30, about 30 mins behind schedule. Deboarding was quick, and I headed to the baggage claim. Before I knew it, the paged my name over the intercom. Great, I was thinking, they lost my bag. Well low and behold my bag had come in already on an earlier flight – great!
For the second leg, I give 8/10 due to the delays and equipment change (I really wanted the M80!). Also, the FAs weren’t the most friendly I’d seen, but not bad either. Cabin comfort was adequate for such a short flight.
I spent a week and a half in the Nashville area, and had a good time. Took a roadtrip to Atlanta for 3 days, so that was nice. The south, especially from Nashville to Atlanta, is quite beautiful and there is quite a bit to do.
Anyway, I got to BNA around 4:00 for my 5:23 flight:
May 31, 2005
Depart 5:23P Arrive 7:27P
MD-88, Changed to 757-200
I proceeded to the eCheckin machine, and I was rejected. The screen said that I arrived too late to use the machine and had to see an agent. I asked the nearest DL staff (who was walking around the eCheckin area) about the problem, but she was having none of it. “You need to go stand in that line” she said, pointing to a long line nearby. I tried again on the machine and had the same problem, but this time a helpful agent took me up to the desk and got thing straightened out. Apparently the flight before mine was delayed a couple of hours so DL took the liberty of simply transferring me onto that flight. Good move to get me out earlier, but they could at least have it set up so the machine is working properly! Anyhow I got my boarding pass, checked my bag, and took off to security. The security line was pretty long, but I made it through in about 10 mins. I find it interesting that BNA only has 2-3 security lines for the entire concourse serving NW/DL/US, especially since DL is busier at BNA.
Anyhow I got through and checked the monitors – my flight was late. Perfect. Although the monitors didn’t say how late, they just said delayed. The weather was pretty bad in ATL, so this wasn’t totally unexpected. Anyway I walked around the concourse a bit and came back to see that my flight was to be about 90 mins late, which would make me late into ATL missing the last flight back to SEA for the evening. I immediately went up to the gate agent and inquired, and he started to see what he could do. He talked with his co-worker, and they mentioned that a flight had already left the gate but was holding on the taxiway due to ATL air traffic control. He said that they were going to try to bring the plane back to the gate to load more pax since it wasn’t able to go anywhere for 45 mins and wasn’t full. I was first in line, and after a few minutes of waiting they called the plane back and I was given a new boarding pass. Others started lining up, and the gate agents decided only to let people onto the delayed flight if they were headed to the west coast or wouldn’t otherwise get home that night. There were about 20-25 people lining up, although the delayed flight had about 50 open seats so they were able to accommodate many people. I was surprised that there were about 10 people going to SEA, maybe more. About that time, the plane came back to the gate and I boarded. Dang! Yet another 757 instead of MD88 – Will I ever get to see the new interior??? Either way I was just happy to get on, so that wasn’t a problem.
I boarded the earlier-delayed 757 and there were a lot of empty seats. I took my seat and others started to board. The pax that were delayed didn’t seem too happy that they had to wait while more people came on. In the meantime, everyone had moved seats around so people were boarding and their seats were already taken. One of the FA’s (who seemed like a nazi) sent out an edict that all new arriving pax were to simply take any open seat – and she wasn’t taking no for an answer. I was in a decent seat so I didn’t care. Then she kept loudly complaining to the other FAs about how “they were only supposed to let a few more on”. Meanwhile there was a lady in the back galley area with a baby that was just screaming its lungs out for like 30 mins straight – didn’t stop once. Finally the plane was filling up, again with people supposed to take any open seat. The last guy on had a choice of the middle seat in either of the back rows. He tried to take one, and the guy sitting there was like “don’t sit here, sit over there” pointing to the other open middle seat on the other side of the aisle. The latecomer begrudgingly just took the other seat, although I would have sat in the first one just to p!ss the other guy off!
Anyway, we finally took off baby screaming and all, and headed towards ATL. This flight took off at the time my original flight was supposed to take off, so at least I would be getting in on time even if most of the people were 2 hours late. The flight itself was quite uneventful – it was pretty smooth and the baby finally stopped crying by the time we were over Chattanooga. There was no service of any kind, which was adequate given the short flight yet again. We decended into ATL, and it was really coming down! Stormclouds everywhere and a complete downpour. I knew ATL would be a zoo inside ……
I give this flight 6/10, primarily because of the baby screaming the whole time (Not DL’s fault, but still annoying) and the attitude from the FAs when they let more pax board the plane. It’s not like you should be blaming US for getting on a flight at the last minute! Nevertheless the flight was mostly uneventful and we got there safely and reliably, so that was good.
Unloading was prompt, and I made my way into the crowded terminal. As expected the place was a zoo with cancellations and pax everywhere from the long weekend. I made my way to concourse A to catch my SEA flight and it was really a madhouse. The ticketing area behind my gate had a HUGE line, probably 100 people. At my own SEA flight (which was an hour delayed), there were lines everywhere from all the earlier mis-connects. I overheard the GA telling people that they had no confirmed seats until 4:00pm the following afternoon, and that the standby list was approximately 70 people. People were sitting everywhere and it was a very chaotic scene.
May 31, 2005
DL 489, ATL-SEA
Depart 8:26P Arrive 10:41P
767-300 Domestic Configuration
This flight was about 30 mins late due to the weather, which wasn’t that bad considering what was going on. Apparently the plane took longer to service than expected, so boarding was not done by zone, rather by row as to allow the cleaning crew to progress throughout the cabin. I boarded and took my 26F, single exit row seat. I sat down and was almost overtaken by the stench of some lady in the 25G – had singlehandedly the worst BO I’ve ever experienced on a flight. She had really greasy hair and a balding spot and was just gross. The smell came and went but I can’t imagine how it was for the poor lady next to her. It was funny to watch the other boarding pax wrinkle up their nose as they walked by.
The flight filled quickly, and we were soon prepping for takeoff. The FAs on this flight were awesome – very friendly and smiles all the way. Along with the SEA-ATL flight, I felt that this flight really showed DL’s hospitality. We took off uneventfully and headed to SEA.
The flight itself was rather uneventful. Again we got the drink service and snack pack shortly after takeoff, and then another small snack and drink service prior to landing. The flight was relatively quiet and smooth. The FAs made regular passes up and down the aisle for water, coffee, etc.
About 30 mins before landing, the pilot made the following announcement, “ladies and gentlemen … mumble … mumble … mumble … so there will be fire trucks on the runway just as a precautionary measure but mumble … mumble … mumble … there is nothing to worry about, again this is just to be safe”. Great. All the pax were talking now – no one, including the FAs knew what was going on and nobody could understand the announcement. Either way, we made our decent and landed without incident. Sure enough, there were ambulances and fire trucks lining the runway, but there were no problems. We arrived at Gate 15 and I was glad to be home after a day of delays, smelly pax, and landing gear fires (which is what people at the baggage claim were claiming to be the problem at landing).
I got to the baggage claim, hoping my bag would make it through after the flight changes and delays. After about 20 mins, about 6 bags came up out of the conveyor and then it stopped, even though there were still 200+ pax standing around. After about 5 mins an announcement was made that the machine was having problems and it would be fixed momentarily. About 10 minutes later the bags started coming out again, and by midnight I was on my was home. What a day!
I give the final flight a 8/10, losing points for the pilot’s poor communication about the “fire trucks on the runway” and the lack of a decent meal or BOB option for a 5 hour flight. I didn’t take this into my decision, but the lady with the BO just reeked and the GA or FA should have either reseated this person or taken them off the plane. I’m sorry but you should at least have to be somewhat sanitary to get on an aircraft.
Overall Rating: 8/10. I liked DL overall, although they didn’t blow me away. They’re still one of my favorite carriers as I flew them all over when I was younger. Back when I was a kid my dad would fly DL all the time as we lived in PDX at the time and DL had their mini-hub going. We’ve used their miles to go to Europe, DC, all over. Anyways it’s sad to see DL’s decline since the late 1990s, but they’re still a good carrier. I think they’ll make it through the current storm and be back in the front of the pack within a few years.
Thanks for reading! This is only my second report so any comments are appreciated.