On Saturday, October 27, I flew from JAN (Jackson, MS) to LAX via ATL aboard Delta and back using a free ticket (15,000 SkyMiles for domestic coach).
JAN (Jackson Intl), DL4520 departing at 6:10 A.M., CRJ operated by Delta Connection carrier ASA -
I arrived at the airport around 5:20 A.M. and checked-in, receiving my boarding passes for the first two flights. (2 hours early seemed a bit excessive, as it was only a 50-seat RJ that was about half full.) Going through security was a bit of a hassle, as the x-ray scanner found a long, narrow battery-powered object which they thought was an electric drill. So the guy unpacked everything, held up each item, and said to the woman "is this it?" for each one. It was determined that the object it found was my cell phone-- you'd think they've seen a cell phone before! At gate 17 was the CRJ (unknown registration, 1997 colors). Boarding began at 6:00, and I was near the end since I had seat 03D. We departed at 6:10, on time. About 20 minutes after takeoff, the sun rose, and about 30 minutes after that, we landed at ATL on 27L. We arrived at 8:24, 4 minutes early, at gate C24, right next to an EMB-120 (N239AS).
ATL, DL1565 departing at 10:00 A.M., Boeing 767-400 -
After getting the photos I wanted at Concourse C, I headed over to the T-Gates. Riding up the escalator, I saw to my left a Delta 757 (N681DA, old colors, at T08), and, one gate down, the 767-400 (N840MH, new colors, at T07). Boarding began around 9:30, so until then, I took pictures and listened to ATC on my portable VHF receiver. I was one of the first to board coach since I had seat 46A. Next to us at T06 was a 737-800 (N3743H, new colors) and, behind it at T05, a 767-300 (N128DL, 1997 colors). The 737-800 pushed back around 9:30 and was soon replaced by a 767-200 (N111DN, old colors). We departed at 10:12 (12 minutes late) and taxied out; we were approximately 8th in line for takeoff. Aircraft ahead of us included an AirTran 717, two Delta 757's, and a Delta 767-200. We took off on runway 26L and climbed to FL310 where we cruised for about an hour before climbing up to FL370. About an hour after takeoff, lunch was served, which was a choice of pasta or a small sirloin steak, each of which came with mashed potatoes, a salad, a dinner roll, and a little cake with whipped cream. Not bad for prepackaged food, really! Over western TX/eastern NM, scattered & broken clouds began to form about 10,000 feet AGL and broken & overcast clouds began to form at our altitude (it had been clear since leaving ATL). Los Angeles, CA was hazy, with broken clouds around 3,000 feet AGL. We landed on runway 25L and taxied to building 6, past the international terminal, which had aircraft of JAL, Korean, ANA, and China Eastern, and building 5, which had American Airlines 757's and 767's. We arrived at 11:57, 9 minutes late, at gate 61. From our parking space at gate 61, the tower and theme building were easily visible.
LAX, DL78 departing at 1:25 P.M., McDonnell Douglas MD-11 -
After departing the 764, I walked over to building 5 to get my boarding passes for the last two flights. At gate 57 was the MD-11 which would take me back to ATL (N806DE, old colors). While waiting in the gate, I heard the announcement for a Sun Country 737-800 (N800SY) departing for MSP. Boarding began around 1:00 P.M., and I was near the beginning to board coach since I had seat 54A. Interestingly, though the MD-11's all have DL's old-style interior, as did this one, the right secion of the last 2 rows (4 seats) were the new style with leather headrests. Next to us at gates 56 and 55 were Aeromexico MD-80's (MD-88 XA-AMU and MD-87 XA-TPM, respectively). Behind it was a Delta MD-11 in the 1997 colors. We departed at 1:37 (12 minutes late) and taxied out next to a landing American Airlines 777 (N790AN) and building 7, which had a United 777 and 747-400 (N767UA and N171UA, respectively). Also, taxiing nearby was a China Eastern MD-11 (B-2172) and, landing on the runway parallel, a United 737-300 (unknown registration). We took off to the west on runway 25R and flew out over the Pacific Ocean for a few miles, then turned back. Upon reaching the mainland, we were just south of Long Beach, CA, at FL280. Broken/overcast clouds and thick haze continued until reaching eastern NM/western TX, as it was on the way there. ABQ airports and OKC airport runways, taxiways, and buildings were clearly visible from the air, as the clouds had dissipated by Oklahoma, and over Albuquerque there happened to be a break in the clouds. About half an hour after takeoff, dinner was served, which was a choice of chicken or a small sirloin steak, each of which came with mashed potatoes, a salad, a dinner roll, and a little cake with whipped cream. Not bad for prepackaged food, really! When the sky was relatively clear, contrails were clearly visible just behind us from my seat. The sun set when we were over Arkansas, and the first big city we flew over at night was Memphis. About 20 minutes later, we flew over Huntsville, AL, and about 20 minutes after that, we were approaching ATL. We landed on 27L and taxied to Concourse E, the international terminal. We arrived at 8:34 P.M., 5 minutes early, at E12.
ATL, DL2289 departing at 9:50 P.M., McDonnell Douglas MD-88 -
After departing the MD-11, I headed over to Concourse A. Walking all the way down to the end, I found my gate, A33, with the MD-88 bound for Jackson parked there (N982DL, new colors). Next to us at gate A31 was another MD-88 (N956DL, 1997 colors). Boarding began around 9:40, since there were less than 20 passengers scheduled on this flight, and I was one of the first to board. My assigned seat was 36E, but upon noticing that it was more blocked by the engine than I had hoped, I took the picture of the engine inlet that I wanted and moved to 22E, just forward of the wing. We departed at 9:55 (5 minutes late) and taxied out; we were approximately 4th in line for takeoff. We took off on runway 26L. About half an hour after takeoff, we got bottled water and a bag of snack mix (the "fastbreak" service). The flight was only about 50 minutes, and we landed at 10:01 (12 minutes early).
Back home at JAN (Jackson, MS) -
After departing the MD-88, I headed over to the terminal where my parents were waiting. (To avoid the parking fee, my parents took me to the airport in the morning and picked me up in the evening.) Overall, it was indeed a very pleasant 16 hours of flying!
I look forward to hearing your comments.