Delta was willing to route me DCA-ATL-JFK for the same price as the Shuttle, so I grabbed the opportunity to connect in ATL and fly a 767 for the first time. I was also really excited because it would mean flying into Terminal 3, and I would be using the same gates that used to connect to Pan Am 747s.
I got into a car service at 10:15 for my 12:05 departure. Before I left my apartment, I had checked the flight status and noticed that it was now a 737-800, not the MD-88 that was scheduled (and on which I had been assigned an emergency exit row seat).
I was bringing two very heavy bags with all of my books from this term home. I didn¡¦t feel like dragging them into the terminal, so I used the skycaps for the first time at DCA. It was very nice to just drop them off and be done with them.
Knowing that there had been an aircraft change, and guessing my seat assignment might not be the same, I found a kiosk and was correct. I changed my seat back to an emergency exit row, albeit in the middle seat and printed two eTickets (both of which had on them that I had checked two bags).
By now, it was about 10:40 so I went to California Pizza Kitchen and had an early lunch. After that, I was surprised to find about a ten-minute wait at security (The only other time I¡¦ve had to wait at DCA was at 5AM before Thanksgiving in 2004). In the concourse, I saw that there was no plane at the gate, and heard the agent say that the plane was due in at 11:45ish. Before long, I saw the 737-800 land but it had to wait for an American MD-80 to leave Concourse B before it could pull in. The gate agent announced that they would try to do a superfast turnaround and they did not disappoint. It seemed like they started boarding as soon as the last passenger left the plane.
We pulled back about 25 minutes late, not too bad considering the plane first landed at 11:45. The pilot announced that we would have a flight time of about 1H, 35 M and later announced that we were fighting a 140knot headwind and thus slowed down a bit.
The service was very nice. Drinks and a choice of snacks served by great F/As. We landed at ATL, and out the left window I saw the famous Delta hangar. I was off the plane within a few minutes, and quite impressed by the ATL operation. Tons of employees and digital displays helping everyone figure out where they needed to go.
I took the people mover to Concourse E and made my way to the gate, getting a great glimpse of many 767 and 777s. There was quite a long line of people waiting to ask the gate agent a question, but it moved fast and I inquired about upgrading to first class but it was full. Other people were inquiring about onward connections¡XOne person was connecting on DL to FRA and wanted to know about connecting to Munich.
I called a fellow A.netter, Mir, and asked which runways they were using at JFK so I could try to know which side I should sit on.
Boarding began at about 3:15, and I was greeted by a cheerful pilot telling people which aisle to go down (not that I needed help ƒº ). I actually rather liked the layout of the 767 and did not mind the seats or lack of PTVs. My only complaint was that it was rather dim and made it seem a lot worse than it actually was.
We pushed back a little early and were # 3 for takeoff. The pilot said that our flight time would be an hour and a half (which is funny because that¡¦s how long the DCA-ATL leg was). While taking off, we flew over a 737 in Delta Shuttle colors and were on our way. The girl sitting next to me was flying from Springfield, Missouri to Atlanta to JFK to CDG to West Africa. The cheese and crackers that they served were delicious. Before long, the sun was setting, leaving me a gorgeous view on the left side.
We started our approach to 31R and had a smooth landing. This is where the flight turned a bit sour.
We had a slow taxi to the T3 area when then the pilot announced that the plane at our gate had a maintenance problem. We then taxied past Terminal 1 and were parked off of 13R for about ten minutes. The pilot then announced that they had found a gate for us in Terminal 2. I was upset that I wouldn¡¦t get to see Terminal 3 but was just happy to be ending my journey. Right before we pulled up to Terminal 2 the pilot stopped and announced that we would have to wait for a few minutes because another aircraft (a 767 off to our left) was blocking our path to the gate. A few minutes later the 767 was towed away and we pulled into Terminal 2. While waiting to leave, I chatted with the F/As (who were fantastic on both flights). I asked if they were continuing to Europe and they looked at me like I was crazy¡XSo I guess Delta has separate domestic and international 767 crews? They were a New York based crew ending a 3-day journey that had brought them to Salt Lake City and I think they also said Washington DC.
The departure area of Terminal 2 was much nicer than I remembered. They had modern display screens and tons of people all around. The plane I was on was continuing on to Frankfurt; The next gate was boarding to Spain (I forget if it was Madrid/Barcelona).
Downstairs, the arrival area was CRAP. It took about fifteen minutes or so before bags started coming out, and mine was the sixth or seventh off.
Overall, it was a great experience. It was only a onetime thing since I was starting a month-long vacation, and wanted to connect in ATL. Normally, it is much better and easier to take the Shuttle. Everything is all around faster on the Shuttle (boarding, flight, baggage, etc).