Phxtravelboy From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 297 posts, RR: 0 Posted (9 years 1 month 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 10379 times:
Hello everyone, I wanted to give a brief introduction to this trip report. I work for American Express Travel and was fortunate enough to win a pair of tickets valid for international travel in coach on Delta. We are allowed to book these tickets 90 days before departure, and it was very difficult to find the space for this trip as free tickets are always severely capacity controlled. I live in Phoenix, and could not find any space at all for the outbound so I attempted to book from other cities close to PHX and was able to secure space from San Diego. For the return, I was able to secure space to PHX. Since these tickets were luckily for two, my boyfriend was able to travel with me on these flights. He is a flight attendant with AA, so we were looking forward to seeing what kind of service DL would provide since we are "used" to what AA provides. Also, it was nice to be "positive space" on these tickets instead of "space available" as it is when we when nonrev on AA. Since we had our DL tickets confirmed from SAN, I had to purchase a ticket on Southwest to get there. My boyfriend got to ride along for free, due to an agreement between AA and WN. Our tickets on Germanwings and Lufthansa were purchased just like "joe public" with no industry discounts.
October 14, 2006
Southwest Flight 225, Phoenix to San Diego
Depart Gate C3, Terminal 4
Arrive Gate 8
737 - 700 (with winglets)
Seats 19A and 20A
Estimated Load Factor 40%
We arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in PHX approximately 1.5 hours before departure. I had checked myself in online the evening prior, so just had to drop off my one checked bag. My boyfriend was travelling space available, and the agent that checked him in was kind enough to give him a "B" boarding card since the flight was wide open. We made our way to the gate to wait. I took a pic of the WN flight at gate C1 next door that was heading off to SLC.
As 4pm rolled around, there was no sign of our plane. I walked to the desk at the gate to see if anything was posted and it said the departure was now scheduled for 450pm. No announcements about the delay were made in the gate area. Our plane finally arrived from SEA. I walked to the gate next door to get a couple of pictures while everyone was deplaning. You can just see our new control tower in the background. It should be operational in the next couple of months.
This is a closer picture of the tower with the tail of our plane to SAN in the foreground.
We finally boarded the plane and it was quite empty so my boyfriend and I took consecutive window seats behind the wing. The captain advised us the flight was late due to this aircraft and crew starting out the day in LAS where they experienced a weather delay. This pic was just at pushback showing our wingtip and gate number.
We took off to the West, and I took this picture about 10 minutes after takeoff. Arizona is truly a beautiful state!
After take off, WN served their usual beverages and pretzels. This was a "typical" flight on WN. We directly overflew Yuma and in the pic below you can clearly see the airport. The runway is quite long for a city this size due to it being a joint military/civilian airfield.
Yuma is right on the Colorado River which forms the border with California so we knew we were getting close to SAN and about 5 minutes after passing YUM we started our gradual descent. We encounted the typical marine layer of clouds coming into SAN. For those that have never flown into SAN, landing gives quite a nice view of downtown as it is literally right outside your window as you can see below.
We had a nice overnight in SAN and stayed at the Radisson Harborview which has a VERY nice view of the airport and the landing planes.
Unfortunately, it was dark the whole time we were there so I couldn't take any pics of the airport or planes.
October 15, 2006
Delta Flight 1870, San Diego to New York JFK
Depart Gate 38
Arrive Gate Mobile Shuttle
737 - 800
Estimated Load Factor 98%
We got up early the next day to start our long journey to Budapest. As we arrived at SAN to checkin, we were greeted by a VERY long check in line at DL's counters. This wasn't a big surprise as it was a Sunday. Luckily, just as I was looking to see if there was another line for international check in only, a DL rep came along the long line and told anyone travelling internationally to get into a different queue. This wait was very short; maybe 5 minutes to reach the counter. After checkin, we had to wait in a very long line for security processing. SAN however was extremely efficient and we made it through the line in only 15 minutes. As we approached our departure gate, I could see there was no aircraft in sight. However, shortly after our plane was towed into the gate (below).
We boarded our plane and were lucky enough to have an empty seat left over in our row to spread out as I estimated a 98% load factor. Take off was as typical for SAN to the West. I took this shot shortly after take off, just before we went over the Pacific. You can see it was another typical gray start to the day in SAN with the marine layer.
The flight to JFK was good. DL served a snack box with cheese/crackers, craisins, and a shortbread cookie. They also offered another snack prior to arrive in JFK which was either peanut butter crackers, Sunchips, or some other snacks. We watched "The Devil Wears Prada" on this leg and it was nice to see the Airshow map after the movie. At that point, we were just crossing the Kansas/Nebraska border South of Lincoln. I was surprised to see the Airshow on a domestic leg but enjoyed it as I always like to know where we are when flying. As we approached western New York state, just South of Buffalo, I could see some snow on the ground as that area had received about 2 feet of snow during the week from the lake effect snow. We began our descent into JFK not long after this and landed on a nice sunny day. As we had arrived about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, the captain advised us we'd be parking at a remote gate since our gate was occupied. We would then take the mobile shuttle vehicle to the gate. As we were seated in the back, the shuttle filled up with the passengers from further forward in the plane so we had to wait for it to leave, drop everyone off, then come back and pick us up. I took the below shots while waiting. This shows the shuttle.
This photo shows the "typical" lineup at JFK. It just amazes me how every part of the globe is represented at JFK. You can see Air Tahit Nui (A340), Pakistan (777), Egyptair (777), and LTU (A330).
After waiting for approximately 20 minutes, the shuttle finally came back to pick us up. Even though we landed about 30 minutes early, by the time
we actually set foot in JFK, we were 10 minutes later than our scheduled departure. This was not a big deal though as we were scheduled with a 1.5 hour connection time. I won't say much about DL's terminal at JFK as it has been discussed in length on this forum about what a dump it is. I will say though, that that is pretty much true.
October 15, 2006
Delta Flight 98, New York JFK to Budapest
Depart Gate 21
Arrive Gate 32
767 - 300
Estimated Load Factor 75%
Before boarding began for BUD, I took this photo of our 767 as it was still being catered.
Boarding began, and we had to walk through the Business Elite cabin to reach coach. I saw the seats in J were leather, and was surprised to see the coach seats were leather too. I think I read that DL is refitting their fleet and I assume this was one of the completed planes. The legroom on this plane was quite tight. We actually had more legroom on the 737 - 800 to JFK! We settled ourselves in and my boyfriend struck up a conversation with one on the flight attendants in our cabin. He mentioned to her that he flies for AA and she immediatly told us "J is full, otherwise I'd see if we could move you up there". This was really very kind of her to offer, and not why my boyfriend mentioned he flies for AA. During this flight, "Ann" as I'll call her, took VERY good care of us.
We pushed back right on time at 600pm and as we taxied, I could see a VERY long queue waiting to take off. I started to count how many planes were in line in front of us and got to 29. We were number 30. This was the typical evening rush at JFK with most flights heading to Europe it looked like. I saw a Finnair MD11, Czech A310, Olympic A340, Iberia A340, 5 other DL 767s, 2 AA 767s, 1 UA 767, and right behind us, a KLM 777. We slowly made our way to the runway and it was not until 650pm that we actually took off.
"Ann" came by with the beginning drinks cart and told us we could have whatever we wanted. We both opted for the Mojito and it was very good.
Dinner that night consisted of either a pasta dish or chicken. I had the pasta and it was quite good. My boyfriend had the chicken and he said it was good
too. He also noted the presentation of the meal on DL was very good. After dinner, "Ann" checked on us to make sure everything was ok, and asked if we needed anything else. My boyfriend had taken a Tylenol to sleep, but I hadn't, as I thought I'd be able to sleep. Boy was I wrong! I tossed and turned for quite a bit before he told me to take a Tylenol too, which finally knocked me out. We both then slept for a bit and awoke over central Europe.
Breakfast was then served about 1 hour before arrival which was a banana, granola bar, and warmed up croissant. As we approached BUD over the river Danube, we could see it was a crystal clear sky. Downtown BUD was on the right side of the plane, then the airport. We did a big circle to approach and had a nice landing. As we pulled in to our gate, I noticed an Aeroflot TU154 parked at the gate next to us. I have never seen a TU154 in person before. As we deplaned, I took the below photo.
We had to wait for our airport minibus to pick us up so I took the below photo of Terminal 2. It was a very modern, and nice terminal.
As we left the airport, we passed by an aircraft parking area just after leaving the airport grounds and I saw a Malev TU154 parked there. I go from never seeing a TU154 in my life, to seeing two in one day!
October 19, 2006
Germanwings Flight 2781, Budapest to Stuttgart
Depart Gate 1 (boarding via mobile shuttle)
Arrive Gate Mobile Shuttle
Estimated Load Factor 95%
After spending a few days in the Budapest area, it was off to Germany to visit some friends. We were looking forward to seeing what Germanwings
would be about as we had never flown a European LCC before. As we arrived at BUD airport, we were dropped off at Terminal 1 which appeared to be primarily for the LCCs. The below photo shows the inside of the terminal.
We had about 2.5 hours to wait before our departure on 4U and their check in desks don't open until 2 hours before departure so we hauled our luggage and ourselves to the second floor of the terminal where they had chairs and tables set up overlooking the ramp area. We were lucky to get the last empty table and after sitting down several more people came up there and had to stand to look out. Just as we settled in this Easyjet A319 was departing. You can see SkyEurope parked behind too.
This Norwegian 737 - 300 arrived from Oslo. You can see Terminal 2 in the background.
We vacated our seats to go check in and immediatly "our" table was occupied by someone else. Check in with 4U was very easy and quick. We were advised that liquids were allowed in our carry on bags within Europe but we still checked them anyway. We then went thru customs and waited at the gate area, on the lower level. Wizzair had a couple of planes on the ground by this time so I snapped a photo of one of their planes.
It was nice to see some different carriers that we don't see in America for a change such as Easyjet, SkyEurope, Wizzair, Norwegian, and Germanwings.
Our aircraft arrived from Stuttgart and I took this photo before we caught the mobile shuttle to the aircraft.
Germanwings does not preassign seats, and does not use the "A", "B", etc type of system like WN, so it's first come, first served, as you board the plane. We boarded from the rear airstairs, and were lucky enough to get the last window/center seats together in the rear of the cabin. The cabin attendants on this flight were very friendly. We thought it was interesting that all announcements were done in German and English only. On Germanwings, you do have to pay for everything, including water, and it looked like no one bought anything on this flight. This resulted in the cabin
crew not really having much to do on this flight so we didn't see them much. Since the flight was only about 1 hour 15 minutes, it wasn't a big deal not
buying anything. We had brought some of our own snacks on board anyway. The legroom on board was good. Overall, we were pleased with Germanwings
as they were right on schedule, had pleasant crews, new aircraft that were clean, and decent legroom. The flight was normal, and we had some nice views at times of the Alps of Austria. Some of the peaks were snow covered. We arrived in Stuttgart and had to take a mobile shuttle to the gate as we were again parked at a remote spot.
October 21, 2006
Lufthansa Flight 1359, Stuttgart to Frankfurt
Depart Gate 173
Arrive Gate Mobile Shuttle
Estimated Load Factor 50%
After spending a few days with our friends in their "willage" in the south of Germany, it was time to take the short hop from STR to FRA. We would overnight in FRA before starting the long journey back to PHX the next morning. We took a train from Kempten, with a change in Ulm, to reach the maintrain station in Stuttgart, where we then connected with the local metro train system to the airport. The trains were running slightly behind schedule so we missed one of our connections which resulted in our arrival at STR about 1 hour 15 minutes before departure. This was still plenty of time however as we used the self service machines for check in, and of course didn't have to deal with customs on this domestic departure. Just before entering security, I took the below photo of the terminal check in area. STR is a very nice, modern airport to travel through.
One thing I found strange though is how STR numbers it's gates. We were departing from gate 173 and as we passed through security, the sign mentioned gates 140-426, or something like that. I don't think they had any gates under three digits long. Once we were settled at the gate, I walked
around a bit to shoot some photos. This Condor 767 - 300 was preparing to depart to Fuerteventura.
This Air Union (Kras Air) 737 - 300 was taxiing out for a departure.
You can see in this pic just how long the jet bridges at STR are.
Once our aircraft arrived at the gate, I was surprised to see it was an A321 as it was scheduled as an A320. When we boarded, I noticed LH had blocked off the first 16 rows for business class. I think I counted about 6 people in J class so they could have moved the divider much further forward for this flight to make a bigger coach class. This flight was maybe 50% full though so it wasn't a big deal. Since this flight was only about 25 minutes long, we didn't receive any service in coach, but I saw the cabin crew serving those in J something that looked like maybe a small, plated salad. I was surprised there was a service for such a short flight. We arrived in FRA at a remote gate and had to be shuttled to the gate. As we were being driven in, we passed an Emirates 777 - 300 taxiing on it's way back to DXB, and a LH 747 - 400 was towed right in front of us to a gate. It is quite a sight being at ground level around all of these
October 22, 2006
Delta Flight 27, Frankfurt to Atlanta
Depart Gate D8
Arrive Gate E10
767 - 300
Estimated Load Factor 40%
After spending the night at a hotel close to FRA, it was now time to begin the long journey back to PHX. We arrived at FRA about 2 hours 20 minutes prior to departure time. Check in was very quick and easy as was security. We took a quick browse through duty free and decided to head for the gate. As we walked down the concourse, we came across a VERY long line. We walked around it to see what it was for, and saw that any passengers heading to gates D3 - D8 had to go through another round of security checks. They had tables set up close to gate D4 to do the checks.We headed off to the back of the line which was now stretched to gate D1. As we waited, and waited, and waited, it took us about 25 minutes to move the length from gate D1 to D2.
I had seen earlier on a departure monitor at our hotel that the QF flight that was supposed to depart the night prior at 1155pm, was delayed until 900am this morning and I could see the kangaroo tail parked at gate D3. Several of the passengers in line were on the QF flight and were upset that they were being subjected to the same security checks that all US bound flights were receiving. One passenger in particular was very annoying and kept on complaining out loud to anyone who would listen. At one point he made a comment that these checks were due to "neurotic Americans". I was ready to turn around and tell him to shut up.
As this line was barely moving, I was getting worried that we'd miss our flight. A woman from security then started to walk down the line telling anyone on the DL flight to ATL to move over to a different area where we discovered they were just setting up to screen instead. It only took us about 10 minutes wait in this line, but we were in line for 1 hour total. They had us take off our shoes, and put those through the X ray machine along with our carryons. They passed out clear plastic, 1 quart sized bags for those that wanted to take 3 oz. or smaller liquids on board. We all were subjected to hand pat downs and handwand X rays before we were cleared. By the time we were cleared, and walked to the gate, it was about 900am and they had just announced that boarding would begin. I was disappointed as I was looking forward to spotting and taking some pics. I did manage to get this photo of the delayed QF flight at the gate next door.
This was a shot of the aircraft remoted behind our gate area. You can see 2 Air Canada 767s, a Royal Brunei 767, and an Estonian 737 - 500. The tail
of the LTU aircraft was an A330 bound for Punta Cana. They had pulled people out of the security line for this flight, but it was still at the gate by the time we got to our gate.
Once we got on board our aircraft, I took this picture. A Pegasus 737 - 300 is taxiing out for departure.
This flight was pretty empty so my boyfriend moved into the window seat 37A behind me so we'd each have our own row of 2 seats to stretch out
a bit. This aircraft was not one of the refurbished planes so it had the clothe seats in coach. For some reason the legroom seemed a bit better than on the outbound 767 that was refurbished. We were ready to push on time at 935am, but were delayed just a bit as the scheduled 900am QF flight next door, had finally pushed out and we had to wait for it to taxi by behind us. Our taxi out and take off was very fast. We overflew Cologne and I was able to snap a shot of the airport.
We were handed menu cards for this flight, and our choice of lunch was either a pasta dish, or chicken. I had the pasta and my boyfriend the chicken.
Just like on the outbound departure, the presentation was very nice and the food good. The crew on this flight wasn't as friendly as the crew we had on our outbound. One of the cabin crew looked like she'd rather be eating glass than be working. Around the middle of the flight ice cream was served. We also had the opportunity to help ourselves to water and some snacks that were left out in the back galley area. About 1.5 hours before our arrival into ATL we were served a nice vegetaran pizza. One thing that was a disappointment was that the first movie shown was the same movie we had watched on our outbound, "The Devil Wears Prada". I'm not sure why DL doesn't show a different movie for each direction of travel.
This flight was OK, except for the fact that the party sitting in front of me, of approximately seven people, let a boy of maybe 3, roam the aircraft. He was up and down the aisles, in the galley, screaming at the top of his lungs. At one point, he walked through the middle section of three seats, where a gentleman was sleeping, and pushed his knees out of the way so he could get through. He also came over by me, and I had left a tray table down with peanut wrappers on it, picked them up, ignored my "NO" and threw them on the floor. The grandma I think it was was sitting in front of me and turned around to see what happened and I told her they need to keep that child in his seat but of course nothing happened. I'm not sure why the cabin crew didn't say anything to this family. As we were on final approach to ATL, a cabin member had to carry the brat from the back galley area, where he had run again, and hand him to the family for landing. As we were waiting to collect our luggage at the carousel, the brat was again running all over the place and nothing was done. After we arrived at our gate, I was able to snap the below photo of this KE 747 - 400 taxiing out to ICN.
I must say the customs and immigration people in ATL were very friendly and efficient. ATL had a great setup with several counters open for customs so the wait time was only about 2 minutes. Our bags didn't take too long to retrieve, and many people were waiting at the through baggage re-check area for us to place our bags onto the belt. After some lunch, watching some NFL football, and making some phone calls, it was now time for our flight home!
October 22, 2006
Delta Flight 1139, Atlanta to Phoenix
Depart Gate A27
Arrive Gate 17, terminal three
757 - 200
Estimated Load Factor 100%
We made our way to the gate and could tell this was going to be a very full flight. Once our aircraft arrived from West Palm Beach, I took the below photo.
Once we were on board, our departure time came and went. There was no announcement about the delay but I saw a baggage cart pull up and deposit more bags so I think DL delayed this flight for some baggage to make it. We pushed about 16 minutes late and the captain told us we were number 10 for take off. Since one of the runways in ATL is currently closed for resurfacing, it's causing some minor delays. Once we were airborne, the captain informed us we wouldn't arrive into PHX until 630pm due to very strong headwinds. Great! We were SO ready to be home, and now we'd be 1 hour late. Oh well, what can you do? About 15 minutes after take off, we were cruising along in very smooth air when suddenly the entire aircraft shuttered and dropped just a bit. This all lasted maybe 3
seconds. I looked out the window immediately as did alot of other people as that was very strange. My boyfriend remarked he's never experienced anything like that in all of his years of flying. The pilot came on the intercom to explain that another aircraft had passed in front of us, and we had flown through it's turbulence. This flight seemed longer than the 4 plus hours it was as we were very tired and just wanted to be home. We were offered a small snack of some cheese and crackers, granola, and a cookie, but I wasn't hungry and didn't eat it. We finally arrived in PHX and we were never so happy to be home.
Overall, I think that DL does do a pretty good job. The Airshow moving map on domestic flights is nice, as was the snack service on our long domestic flights as I wasn't expecting anything at all. The menu card for our return flight was a nice touch, as was the midflight ice cream. As for Germanwings, we were very impressed by them as they offered an ontime flight, new aircraft that were very clean, and nice cabin crew. I've never been a big fan of LH in terms of the hideous gray seats with the yellow trim but they did just what was expected of them for such a short flight. Please post any questions or comments below. I hope you enjoyed this report.
SR100 From UK - England, joined Dec 2005, 109 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 month 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 10048 times:
I enjoy reading posts, that get the facts right. A B-737-500 is not the same as a B-737-600, a friend is not the same as a boyfriend.
In this sense, I think this is a good trip report, because all the facts are correct with the exception of the Pegasus aircraft, which is a B-737-800 and not the mentioned B-737-300... But this is a minor detail not important to the overall impression.
Hi there, thanks for reading my report. Your reply is completely irrelevant to the actual report though. You state in your profile that you're a conservative so that makes sense that my use of the word boyfriend bothers you. What other term should I use? Would it have bothered you if the term was "wife" if I had one?
To all others that have replied, thank you for reading and for your comments.
FLIEGER67 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 5243 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 month 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 9681 times:
thanx for this very interesting report.
Especially while I am a frequent visitor to my homeport STR and had also some flights on Germanwings and lots of on LH.
Your DL experience sounds not bad, you surely know that they operate directly from STR to ATL?.
Phxtravelboy From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 297 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 month 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 8847 times:
Quoting Phxtravelboy (Thread starter): Your DL experience sounds not bad, you surely know that they operate directly from STR to ATL?.
Hi Markus, yes I was aware that DL flies nonstop to ATL from STR, but I couldn't get the space for this free ticket I was travelling on. I really wanted to take that flight as it would have been MUCH easier, but oh well, what can you do? Thanks for reading this report.
Quoting Phxtravelboy (Thread starter): Great Report. I am glad you liked the trip on DL. Did your boyfriend rate the
DL service better than the AA int. Y product?
Well he did notice that DL had a better presentation of their food as well as hand out menus. He also said AA discontinued the midflight ice cream. He mentioned this to the FA and she said DL had just brought back the ice cream not long ago.
ATLFlyer323 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 632 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 month 4 hours ago) and read 8176 times:
Excellent report and photo's! I am personally glad that you liked Delta and ATL, most people can't seem to get past the not so attractive appearance of ATL and see how efficient and friendly it is. I am also glad you enjoyed Delta, I hope to get a job with them some day.
P.S. Did not mind at all the use of the word Boyfriend.