I took this trip in September 1999 for my birthday, but I still remember every detail because it was my first widebody trip. Plus, I still have all of the ticket stubs. Enjoy!
George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston
My mom picked me up from school at about 12:30PM, and we picked up a burger and headed for the 40 minute drive to Bush. We were flying on buddy passes which meant what? Standby!! Yay!!
Anyway, we checked in at the desk and by my request were put into the standby list for the Delta flight for Atlanta because I wanted to take the 767-332 flight to SFO instead of the 767-232 flight from Salt Lake. Plus I wanted to be in the air as long as possible. The flight was overbooked, and the desk agent said so, but I insisted, so she went ahead and did it. We walked to gate A19 and waited while they boarded all of the ticketed passengers. The lady was about to start calling standbys when a group of about five employees walked up to the counter, showed the lady their employee ID's and boarded the beautiful 727. At that very moment, I could have killed them.
Anyway they began to call standbys and it looked as if we would get on. Then it happened. The dreaded words, "Ladies and gentlemen, Delta flight 916 to Atlanta is completely full..." I swore vehemently under my breath and stomped angrily around the gate area, drawing curious looks from this Asian couple who were also trying to catch the flight. Anyway, the lady said we could either wait for the 4:45 flight to Atlanta, which was also quite full, or try to hop on the 2:30 flight to Salt Lake. We weren't going to catch the 763 flight from Atlanta anyway, so we signed up for the Salt Lake flight, which was also pretty full. I was rooting for us to get on this flight as if we did not, I would be deprived of the widebody experience. We walked across the aisle to gate A18 and I looked at the plane and started cursing again. (If you haven't noticed yet, I'm very melodramatic.) The plane was a 737-300. A 737-300! I am not a 737-hater, but 737's strike me as the most boring plane plying the skies. You can't look 3 feet in any direction at IAH without seeing one. And the experience that I was about to have on this one confirmed my preference of the A320 family.
September 24, 1999
Delta Air Lines flight 1895
Scheduled Departure: 2:30 PM
Actual Departure: 2:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival: 4:33 PM
Actual Arrival: 4:12 PM
While we waited for departure time, I busied myself with planespotting. Terminal A at IAH is for everybody but Continental, and now for Northwest, so I saw a United A320, many 737's from Southwest, US Airways, and United, and some 727's from American. When they started calling for standbys, I readied myself for whatever would happen. We were the last standbys called and I was quietly happy, but this would prove to be a mixed blessing. The man at the desk gave me my boarding pass, and I went through the checkpoint and started down the jetway. I looked at my ticket. 29F. Oh, well it sounds kind of far back, but at least its a window seat. When I got on the plane, I discovered it was kind of far back. Way back. Think: last row. Well that wouldn't have been bad in itself except for the fact that it didn't recline. No, I don't mean fully recline, I mean recline, period. On a three hour flight that really sucks. We pushed back on time and proceeded to runway 8 for takeoff. Takeoff was rather long, as the 737 was pushing its range and was probably rather close to MTOW. We went to cruise and I was quite unhappy. Not only could I not recline, but the woman in 29D was perpetually complaining because she was an Elite SkyMiles member and she did not get upgraded to first class. My silent response: OK, and you paid for coach right? Yes, I did. Then you got your money's worth. Anyway, the food was edible, and I saw a Southwest 737 at cruise. It wasn't too far away from our 737 and I have never really seen a plane that close. Anyway, the flight got a lot better during descent. Why? If you have never descended into Salt Lake City International, buy a ticket and go, just for the descent. The view is breathtaking. Flowered mountains, and the pungent smell of the Great Salt Lake can take your breath away. (In more ways than one.) We landed on runway 17/35 and taxied to the gate at SLC. Very nice airport, abiet a bit deserted. We deplaned and walked to the next gate to attempt to get on a flight to SFO.
Salt Lake City International Airport
I helped myself to a pretzel before we went to our departure gate at SLC. We checked in at the gate and asked the gate agent about our chances of getting on the plane. Yep, you guessed it, once again, very slim chances. What a way to ruin my somewhat good mood. They began boarding the 767-232 at about 6:15PM. I began pacing around the departure lounge, drawing glares from many tired businessmen. After nearly everyone was onboard,except about 10 of us standby's I sat down figuring they already had about 200 people on board and only had room for maybe four. That actually ended up being true, as we were the first standbys called for boarding. Praise the Lord!
September 24, 1999
Delta Air Lines flight 590
Scheduled Departure: 6:45 PM
Actual Departure: 6:48 PM
Scheduled Arrival:7:40 PM
Actual Arrival: 8:02 PM
The moment I stepped on Ship 104 I was in a completely different world. Widebodies are so much different! My sense of euphoria wore off quickly when I looked at my boarding pass. 40D. But, that's.....the......NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I had the middle seat. Well that's what flying standby get's you. Oh well. I still had a good time on that flight. We sat on runway 34L for like 5 minutes it seemed, just chilling. When we finally did take off, it was quick and to the point. GE CF6's have a much different sound than any engine I had ever heard before, especially the JT8D's and CFM56's. We climbed quickly to FL330 and watched CNN and Frasier until we began our descent into SFO 80 minutes later. I must say the 26th 767 off of the line was looking very fresh and clean. The captain announced that due to fog in SFO we would have to circle for a few minutes so that some other planes could land. We circled for about 30 minutes and came across the bay to land on 28R at a little after 8 PM. We taxied to a gate, and there ended my first experience of a widebody.
San Francisco International Airport
The five minutes or so we spent in this airport were very quiet, as not many people were in the Delta terminal at 8. Outside it was a madhouse of traffic.
San Francisco/San Jose Metro area Sept. 24-27.
Very fun weekend trip. Will be going back soon.
San Jose International Airport
On September 27, woke up at about 4:30 AM to catch the 6:50 flight to SLC. I tried to persuade my mom to let us catch the train to SFO to catch the early morning L1011 flight to Atlanta, but the connecting flights to Houston were overbooked, plus our hotel was in San Jose. San Jose International reminds me a lot of Houston's Hobby airport. Very ordinary, in my opinion. The flight was full, but not overbooked, so we got our boarding passes in advance. We began boarding a little bit after 6:30, but not by jetway. Due to a scarcity of jetways at SJC, we walked out onto the tarmac and up some airstairs into our waiting 757.
September 27, 1999
Delta Air Lines flight 905
Scheduled Departure: 6:50 AM
Actual Departure: 6:50 AM
Scheduled Arrival:9:30 AM
Actual Arrival: 9:09 AM
Delta likes putting their standbys in the back don't they. I didn't mind though because I could recline. We waited in a line of about 5 planes including another Delta 757, an American MD-80, and a Southwest 737. We lifted off of 30L at a beautiful dawn, and quickly climbed to cruise. I was impressed with the 757's abilities, but disappointed that they did not put anything on the IFE system. This flight is actually a bit longer than the SLC-SFO leg that I took. A very uneventful flight, but I again loved the descent into SLC and this time we went directly over the lake, and the smell hit full blast. We landed on a runway that I don't remember and taxied to the terminal. Another on time arrival for Delta. Parked next to us was N782DL, an L1011, jeering at me. Oh well....
Salt Lake City International Airport
Well, we walked to our gate....
September 27, 1999
Delta Air Lines flight 1898
Scheduled Departure Time: 10:20 AM
Actual Departure Time: 10:23 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 2:21 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 1:51 PM
Flight 1898 marked a change in our travel to this point. This was the first flight where the plane was not full. There were 65 passengers on this flight meaning that me and my mom had 13E in between us. This made this a very good flight, and add that to the fact that I had a firsthand view of the engines... YES! Anyway, boarding was quick and easy, and takeoff was the same. We had a very scary moment when it seemed as if we were climbing mere feet above the gravel of a Salt Lake area mountain. My heart rate took a while to go down then. We moved quickly across the desert, and on the approach to IAH, encountered our first real turbulence. (Bump-lovers, Houston Intercontinental is famous for it's amount of arrival turbulence.) We made the approach into runway 9 and landed smoothly, ending my air time. We taxied to A19 and docked, as I ended my first Delta trip in years. Delta proved to me to be the 3rd best airline in terms of service behind Continental and Northwest. I like them though, so long live Delta!