Here's a trip (IND-MSP-LAX-MEM-IND) I got back from not too long ago.
Northwest Airlines 509
Indianapolis Int'l to Minneapolis-St. Paul Int'l
Equipment: Airbus A320 "Toulouse Lumberjack"
Seat: 2A (First time in F/C!!!)
As I waited in concourse A at IND, it was announced that our aircraft would be five minutes late inbound. No problem really. And 5 minutes after it was supposed to arrive, we saw the gray A320 fight its way down to the runway at IND (the weather was awful - 30 mph winds gusting to 50). Didn't really look all that fun for the Airbus and anybody in it. We boarded a bit late and I took my seat in 2A, next to an IND-based businessman who was Platinum on Northwest. We sat at the gate for a total of 40 minutes waiting for the de-icing truck to come and do its job, as the temps dropped and the rain changed to snow. Meanwhile, we were served a variety of preflight beverages in the front cabin.
Finally, at around 4:15 PM (50 minutes late), we began our taxi towards the runway. At this point, we heard from the flight attendant what nobody really would like to hear:
"Ladies and gentlemen, please check the seat pocket in front of you to ensure that you have an airsickness bag, as this will be an extremely rough flight."
For better or worse we launched for MSP. Climbout wasn't bad at all (just a few moderate bumps). Once we reached cruising altitude, the pilot announced we were going as fast as the A320 allowed at the altitude in an effort to make it to MSP (relatively) on time.
More beverages were served (yay, real glassware!) in addition to honey roasted peanuts and Northwest's infamous buttery spinzels. Descent into MSP was a bit rough and landing was accompanied by a couple of good bounces. We arrived at 4:45 PM central time, giving me 19 minutes to make my connection.
Northwest Airlines Flight 303
McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-40J "Death Cruiser 10"
I sprinted across the F concourse (what luck that my connection was intraconcourse!) and ended up in the boarding line for flt. 303. I took my seat in 2A, noticing that 2B was empty. I suddenly noticed the cushiness of the f/c seats. Soon before the front door was closed, a man came up from behind and sat in 2B, claiming that he was offered a free upgrade to first (for no apparent reason). Why can't I have this kind of luck?
We stayed on the ground for nearly an hour, as it had been discovered that one of our luggage carts was knocked over in the wind, allowing baggage to go flying across the taxiways at MSP. The taxiway had to be cleared of all baggage and everything had to be loaded intot he aircraft before we could proceed. By about 6 PM local time the luggage was loaded, and it turned out that we had to taxi to gate F8 (sheltered from the wind) to pick up the catering service. Had they attempted to load us at F14, the scissor lift would have certainly been knocked over in the 40 mph winds (or so the captain claimed). All the meanwhile there were 2 first class beverage services.
By the time we taxied for departure, it was 6:30. We had a surprisingly short takeoff roll (anybody else also notice that the 10-40's PW engines also sound like buzzsaws on full throttle?) and lifted off into the sunset sky. When we finally reached cruising altitude, a meal service began. They started with hot towels, and then had a pre-meal beverage and snack.
The menu for dinner was as follows:
Salad: Mixed spring green salad with feta cheese and pear
Appetizer: Chilled sliced beef tenderloin in a ginger marinade
Main Course: Choice of: Grilled lemon caper chicken with tricolor risotto and mixed sauteed vegetables, OR Homestyle Meatloaf with Redskin mashed potatoes and mixed sauteed vegetables.
Dessert: Vanilla ice cream sundae with chocolate, strawberry, and walnuts; Italian blend coffee.
The salad and appetizer were good, and the main course (I chose the chicken) was tasty and filling. I also enjoyed the dessert. Although the meal could have been fancier, it by all means tasted good and was served in sufficient quantity (unlike the stuff we get in Y).
I had a chance to converse with the fellow next to me (it was also his first trip in F!). I later did some reading and fell asleep, to awaken as we passed north of Las Vegas. The rest of the flight was uneventful (it was too dark to see what exactly we were passing over). Soon a bright array of lights came into view forward of us: the city of Los Angeles (and surrounding communities). We gracefully approached LAX followed with a not-so-graceful landing. Arrival was around 8:30 PM, almost 90 minutes late.
Northwest Flight 554
LAX to Memphis-Shelby Int'l
Equipment: Airbus A320
Web checkin the previous day for this flight did not yield my precious 5A for this flight (all of row 5, it turns out, was filled with handicapped people and their travel companions!). I took the SuperShuttle from Pasadena at 6:45 AM to arrive at LAX around 7:45 AM (waaay too early, but the next Pasadena shuttle wouldn't arrive until 9:45, which would be too late). I checked my luggage curbside and headed to the decrepit (relatively) Terminal 2 and had breakfast at the Burger King there. Afterwards I headed for Gate 24, where I soon fell asleep.
I woke up not too long before flt. 554 began boarding. I boarded and took my seat in 8A. Ah, back to good old coach class. Knees banging on the seat in front, awful food, bumping elbows... We departed LAX on time (10:30 AM) and headed over the ocean, then making a U-turn to head back eastwards. I fell asleep again (this is what having 2 hours of sleep the night before does to you) and was awakened for the "meal" service. By "meal", I mean one turkey and american cheese sandwich on a stale hamburger bun, one bag of Sun Chips (the highlight of it all, really), and one Northwest Airlines Official Wax-Coated Apple. A good kick back into reality after being treated to first class the previous weekend. After the "meal" service, I fell asleep again.
I awoke about an hour before our descent into Memphis, at which point we hit some moderate chop and the pilot had to descend a couple thousand feet to get out of it. Eventually we descended to Memphis, which was cool with a very low layer of clouds. Arrival at the gate was a few minutes early.
Northwest Flight 1796
MEM to Indianapolis Int'l
Equipment: Airbus A320 "Insert Nickname Here"
After disembarking from my LAX flight, I had a quick early dinner at the KFC Express stand in the middle of Concourse B. Oddly enough, the KFC served Coca-Cola beverages, which is odd because KFC is owned by Coke's rival Pepsi. I ambled over to Gate B-10 for my flight to IND. Getting bored, I did a little plane spotting from the gate. FedEx DC-10. FedEx MD-11. FedEx A300. FedEx DC-10. FedEx MD-11. Fed... well you get the idea, not much variety there.
Boarding was another example of Northwest's timely performance, as everybody was on the plane well before departure time. The problem is we were delayed 15 minutes while they finished loading luggage (and this time they couldn't say that it blew all over the taxiway like at MSP!).
Once we finally pushed back, we waited in line with about 10 other NW planes for takeoff. Once we finally did liftoff, we cleared a bit of rough air and witnessed a beautiful sunset from 30,000 feet up, above the clouds. At cruising altitude, a snack and beverage service was offered. The whole flight suffered from some mild chop, and the pilot once again descended a bit to avoid the turbulence. Approach to IND was also a bit choppy, but otherwise uneventful. The arrival, unlike the departure, was on-time.
Well, there's that. I'm now back in Cleveland. Although we're having actual weather here (unlike LA), at least I can breathe easy.