Fri 3/1/02 XJ 2955 SCE DTW 4:35P 6:31P SF3 4D
Mon 3/4/02 NW 1225 DTW DEN 7:20P 8:30P 319 6F
Fri 3/8/02 NW 1244 DEN DTW 5:10P 9:57P 319 6F
Sun 3/10/02 XJ 3108 DTW SCE 9:15P 10:51P SF3 5D
Fri 3/1/02 XJ 3101 SCE DTW 6:00A 7:57A SF3 1D
Mon 3/4/02 NW 1225 DTW DEN 7:20P 8:30P 319 7F
Sat 3/9/02 NW 560 DEN MSP 6:35A 9:35A 72S 9F
Sat 3/9/02 NW 1862 MSP DTW 1:14P 4:04P 757 42F
Sun 3/10/02 XJ 3108 DTW SCE 9:15P 10:51P SF3 5D
Well, here is the run-down of it all
Friday, March 1st, 2002
Mesaba Airlines (Northwest Airlink) Flight 3101
State College Pa (SCE) – Detroit, MI (DTW)
Scheduled Departure: 6:00am Actual Departure: 6:00am
Scheduled Arrival: 7:57am Actual Arrival: 8:06am
Aircraft: Saab 340 B+ N445XJ Delivered: 11/4/98 Seat: 1D
I was supposed to leave later on Friday afternoon on 2955, but I had no reason to stick around and I wanted to get home. Checking the online availability nearly every hour Thursday night, finally they were showing openings on 3101 at 6am. I decided to play the odds and show up bright and early with hopes of getting on stand-by. Nothing like waking up at 4:15 after about 3 hours of sleep and then making it to the airport in five minutes, by doing 70 out the back roads to the airport. I roll up to the airport little after 5, take a first row parking space and walk across the circle drive in the front door, about 30 feet from my car. At any other airport they would have people searching my car, or the parking blocked off, not in State College, they got an FAA waver. I am next in line at the Mesaba counter. The USAirways Express counter already had a line of 20 people and they didn’t even open until 5:15. No one at the United Express counter, their first flight out isn’t until 7:45. The usual two agents were checking people in, so I go up and hand over my driver’s license, WorldPerks card, and E-Ticket. The agent doesn’t even pick up my E-Ticket, you check in by last name. I told him I wanted to go stand-by, “Sure no problem. Exit row ok?” I was just happy to take what I could get, luckily I got a window, 1D. He goes to take my bags, unfortunately I had 3 bags to check, a suitcase, a small bag w/ ski boots, and my ski bag. He took a look over the counter and said, “Carry that one on the plane” Referring to the ski boot bag. I ask that now I’ll have two carry-ons and that’s against the rules since I already had a backpack. The agent said, don’t worry about it, this way I don’t have to charge you for an extra checked bag. Alright, thanks, and I’m on my way as this all took a total of 5 minutes from when I walked in the front door. Now its time to wake up my folks at 5:10 to have someone meet me at the airport. They appreciated the wake-up call.
After taking a seat in the lobby for a few minutes, at 5:20, the security crew, national guardsman (one), and county sheriff enter the departure area to open up the security checkpoint. They make an announcement for all passengers on the 6am NW flight to DTW & 6am US flight to PIT to make their way to security. The departure lounge in State College is basically a room with about 75 chairs that is separate from the lobby by a window-wall. So I get in line, there are about 15 people ahead of me and the line grows to about 60 people combined for both flights. It’s the same national guardsman that has been there since October. Everytime I have flown out, its been the same guy. He’s actually gotten a little bit friendlier, but it was obvious he didn’t want to be there at this time in the morning. I get up to security, he is checking ID’s & boarding passes, then it’s the usual security deal. In State College, they wand everyone down at the checkpoint, quite simply, because they can. With the few number of passengers, they can efficiently do this. The people running the checkpoint are actually USAirways Express employees, wearing ties & blazers. They appear official, speak English, and actually understand their job unlike the goofballs running security at major airports. I waited a little more than 5 minutes. They got everyone through the checkpoint by 5:45. They call us to the door at about 5:50, and now I’m outside on the way to the aircraft.
A chilly morning for the first day of March, clear and 15 degrees outside. We haven’t had much in the way of cold weather, so this was a surprise to some. Out on the ramp sat 2 USAirways Express Dash-8’s at the one end: one bound at 6am for PIT the other leaving around 7am for PHL. A United Express Jestream-41 sat right outside the doorway, bound for IAD at 7:30. Down at the far end sat 2 Mesaba Saab 340’s. N457XJ for the 9am departure for DTW and N445XJ, our aircraft on the very end. I had to Planeside check both my carry-on’s since I was in the bulkhead seat. The aircraft was still rather chilly from its evening out on the ramp and the fact that I was sitting across from the open door in 1D, no big deal for me, I had my good ski coat on, and I don’t mind the winter weather. Everyone was soon on board and the Flight Attendant, a very nice woman in her 30’s, told the guy seated in 1A to move to the back row which was empty. The passenger next to me in 1C also moved to the back row since he had nowhere to place his computer bag and they don’t allow you to planeside claim them. I found it odd that I supposedly got the last seat on the plane yet the four seats in row 11 were supposed to be empty. Weight & balance issues more or less. The ground crew came onboard to inform the Captain about where to go for de-icing, as soon as they left, the FA closed the door, and the crew started the starboard engine, promptly at 6am. After a moment to disconnect the GPU, the left engine was started, and we then taxied 50 yards across the ramp to the de-icing pad and then shut-down. We beat the 6am USAirways Express flight to PIT out of the gate, but they didn’t de-ice, so they beat us to the sky. Its funny to watch the person harnassed to the top of the ladder cart being pulled around the aircraft by a tug. Quite simple, compared to the bucket trucks used a larger airports.
Photo © Chris weldy
(sorry N445XJ wasn't in the database)
After a quick squirt-down of de-icing fluid, they pulled over and reconnected the GPU to restart the aircraft. The flight crew made the usual announcement, “Good morning folks, we will be running some quick engine checks since this is this aircraft’s first flight of the day. Don’t be alarmed by any unusual engine sounds or vibrations, that is part of the tests.” I love being on the first flight of the day, the props make the coolest sounds when the power them up and down, adjust the pitch and power settings doing the engine tests. After about 5 minutes we start our quick taxi to the end of runway 24, and we round the hammerhead and apply power for takeoff at about 6:20 as the first light is just coming over the top of Mt. Nittany to the east.
A fairly long takeoff roll since we were full, and once airborne, maintained runway heading more a minute or two before making a hard right turn to the northwest, climbing over the Alleghany plateau. Climbing, we head for Mid-State Airport at Phillipsburg then make a slight turn back to the left, heading nearly due west, paralleling I-80 out the right side of the aircraft. A very smooth flight, on a clear and cold morning flying over the snowy Pennsylvania hills as the sun was quickly rising behind us. Clearing 10,000 ft, with a cruise at 15,000 ft, the F/a provided drink service, for the few passengers, like me that were awake. Sitting there with the first row to myself, an exit row with tons of leg room, sipping on an orange juice and reading the newspaper, I was living it up in “First Class” on the Saab. Even being dead tired, I couldn’t sleep, especially when flying, and there is no way I could sleep over the noise of the props, not that I mind that or anything. The F/a is back in about 5 minutes, and sits down in 1A, she starts talking to me about school and break, a very friendly person. Then one of the pilots comes out of the cockpit to get a coffee. He comes over and starts talking with the F/a & I. He was a very friendly guy, fairly young, no more than late 20’s. He just needed his caffine fix and was enjoying the easy and smooth trip into DTW. After he went back to the cockpit, the F/A asked to see some of the newspaper I was looking at, this was a very easy flight for her too.
Sorry, if I detail the flight path, I’ve only made this flight 20 times or so, not to mention how many times I’ve made the drive too. Heading west, we fly over Youngstown, then past south of Cleveland, just over CLE, were I could see several a/c on takeoff. Approaching Sandusky, OH, make the turn out over Lake Erie to pick up the DTW approach, descend below 10,000 ft, pass over the Erie Islands, before making a hard turn to the North/Northeast into the mouth of the Detroit River, flying the approach into 21L. Fly over the Detroit River, pass just west of downtown Detroit, and start turning to alignment out over the Davison and heading to the southwest. Dropping the gear over Dearborn, with the adjustment in prop pitch, engine noise increases. This is when I start getting the tingles, as I know I’m back in my hometown. As we come into 21L I can see the vacant Davey terminal, void of all activity, nevertheless if felt good to be back home. A smooth landing on 21L a few minutes shy of 8, followed by a loooong taxi in. After exiting 21L, parallel the runway down to taxiway Tango which parallels 9R/27L and looping completely around the WorldGateway before taxing up to gate C24 at the far end of the commuter terminal. The airfield was incredibly empty for 8am. All I saw in action was an ARJ & CRJ that landed ahead of us, a WN 733, a Spirit MD-80, and a UA 757. The WorldGateway was full, we were one of the last a/c arriving for the morning bank, which would explain the lack of ground traffic.
We pulled up to C24 about ten minutes late, mostly due to de-icing and the long taxi in. None of the jetbridges on C concourse were operational for the Saabs & CRJ’s. The F/A said that no one had been trained how to operate them yet. People on our flight, are asking “Where are we, this isn’t Detroit” They built a new terminal, duh. I’m honestly not sure if the expense of jet bridges was even necessary, its only about a 20 foot walk from the aircraft to the door of the concourse, that alone would’ve been fine. I was the first one off the aircraft and once inside the concourse I was impressed. However, it was still a major constructions site. None of the moving sidewalks were working as they were still being installed. Tool boxes, construction equipment, holes in the ceiling, and workmen were everywhere in there. Oh well, there was no reason this place couldn’t hold passengers, and considering it was only day 6 of the place. Down the escalator, to the tunnel, where I find the first bathroom I’ve seen. I go in and it is absolutely trashed! Toilets overflowing, mud, dirt, grime. Only one sink out of four worked, along with none of the dryers and no papertowels. I wasn’t very impressed at this point. Go through the tunnel, pretty cool with the lights and music, it reminds me of some futuristic exhibit at the science center or something. I go up the other side, and going up the escalators is this huge window wall that looks out on the ramp and right outside is parked a 744. Would’ve made an excellent picture, being able to see the whole side of the aircraft. A40 is the marquee gate. I command a photographer on here to go get some of those pictures. I was truly in awe once inside A concourse. Incredible! This couldn’t be Detroit. All I can say is that it was huge, and the tram going by overhead is really neat.
Photo © Neil Alpert
You can’t see the ends of the concourse in both directions. C concourse isn’t all that impressive compared to A, also A was in much, much, better shape than C. They still needed a lot of work and cleaning out in C. Since I would be back on Monday, I’d have plenty of time to look around then, I needed to get going, so I headed for baggage claim. Everywhere I went I kept hearing about people who were lost. Tough, read the signs and look at a map like everyone else. You really can’t get lost unless you are stupid. Go down to bag claim, which is enormous, meet my dad, and shortly there after, Claim 5 starts up, and my suitcase and ski bag pop out, and the claim stops again. The bag claim was empty, and I’m also surprised my skis came out on the claim instead of the oversized claim area like they are supposed to do. Mine were the only bags going to Detroit on that flight. The long walk in from C24 ate up most of the time, but it took about 40 minutes from the time we pulled in the gate until my bags came out. Not as fast as it was for Mesaba in the old terminal, but in general, not bad. Head to the parking garage which is absolutely insane. Unlike the old terminal, you can’t cross the roadways to get to the parking deck, everyone must go to the bridge and cross into the deck at level 6. There is no other way to get across. At least this prevents traffic from stopping for pedestrians all the time though. Self-service pay parking is the smartest idea ever where you pay for your parking at these machines before you go to your car. You really need a map to figure out the parking deck. There are concrete barriers that divide the levels all over the place between hourly, daily, and economy parking. The aisles are extremely narrow and to exit you need to go up one level, drive around, down another, through a gate, circle some more, then get to the pay booth. The craziest parking deck I’ve ever seen. Be back in a few days………..
Monday, March 4th, 2002
Northwest Airlines Flight 1225
Detroit, MI (DTW) – Denver, CO (DEN)
Scheduled Departure: 7:20pm Actual Departure: 7:50pm
Scheduled Arrival: 8:30pm Actual Arrival: 8:46pm
Aircraft: Airbus A319-114 N316NB Delivered: 6/16/00 Seat: 7F
Photo © Mark Abbott
After making it to the airport in remarkable time in rush-hour, its time to use to crazy parking deck again. The signage coming in from I-94 isn’t the greatest. I knew where we were going and we had this phaplit that had a map to the parking entrances, but its very confusing for clueless people. Pulling into the Daily parking in the new deck, a rent-a-cop stumbles out of this clunker asking to roll down the windows. Takes a glance, ok…talk about window dressing security measures. Cars full of suitcases and bags, nothing suspicious would ever be in those. Now in the daily part of the deck there are these crazy spirals, but some levels are blocked off, and there is an up & down spiral. Crazy I’ll tell ya. Not straight forward like the old deck.
Go inside, go up to the check-in level, the place is empty. The whole southern third of the check-in’s are closed, or not even assigned to a carrier. The middle third is all international check in’s, and the north third is open, but has virtually no line, and this is 5:45pm on a Monday. The best part is the huge window walls at both end of the terminal which give a clear view of the inside ramp. Its interesting how NW uses their gates. Only smaller narrow-bodies use the inside gates. A320’s and higher use the outside even numbered gates. With my dad, who’s gold elite, use the special check-in. Had probably the friendliest employee I’ve ever seen in DTW, before many of the agents were quite rude and appeared to hate their jobs. Maybe it’s the new terminal that’s raised morale. That didn’t take long, now for security, where the is absolutely no line. Now there are three checkpoint areas, each with about 5 or six scanners in each. There was about 2 people ahead of us in line. Painless security, except they pull me over for being a male between 18-35. It was the typical goof-ball screeners. Conversing back and forth about their social lives, not really paying attention to the job at home, then talking back and forth in Spanish. The guy wands we over, thinking its like I’ve never had this done before yeah, right, I know the drill. Done with that, no carry-on searches for once. So my dad & I are going down the escalator, talking about how imcompitent the screeners were, and I was mentioning how they were speaking Spanish….well apparently the county sheriff just below heard me. We get off the escalator, he comes up to us…. “Excuse me gentleman but what did I hear you say was happening up there?” We told them about them going on and speaking Spanish and not paying attention. He goes, “Speaking a foreign language like that is against the law, they shouldn’t be doing that, I’ll go take care of it, thank you very much for telling me.” And the sheriff was off in a dash up the stairs. Good, at least someone cares about security.
Anyways, once again in awe at the new terminal, this was my dad’s first time in the place. We rode the tram down to the one end and back, its so fast, clean, and its got new car smell. Then we walked out through the tunnel to B & C since we had so much time to burn. Now it was approaching 6:30 so we decided to go get something to eat. We were supposed to depart from A53, however walking by the gate, a delayed DC-9 to Lansing was still sitting there. Glancing over at the monitors showed our flight had moved farther down to A68. We walked down and ate at a real nice restaurant, RioWraps, which makes very delicious wraps and sandwiches, and at very decent prices, not your typical fast-food airport garbage food. It was mostly flight crews eating at this restaurant between flights. Too bad they didn’t have a little more seating.
Now to the gate area, which is rather empty, maybe only about 50 people or so sitting around. This end of the concourse seemed quite deserted. I like the huge jumbo-tron TV’s in the gate areas with CNN on. Trust me, these aren’t like TV’s at most airports, they belong on stadium scoreboards, you can see them from outside taxi-ing by! About 7 they begin boarding. I think its funny how before everyone used to jump up to be the first onboard, now everyone waits since they don’t want to get pulled aside for “random”-yeah, right, searches. Once they’ve picked someone off, then all the business travelers rush the gate. The mic for our gate was broken, so the agent had to walk across the hall to use the mic at A65 for our flight. Also the heat was broken in the jetway too, it was quite cold in there as it was only about 15 outside. Get onboard, my dad & I had the three seats to us both so he took the aisle, I took the window. This was only was second A319 flight ever, well that’s because NW has only had them in their fleet for only about 2 years now. Typical interior, blue seats, new looking. We sat at the gate until about 7:50 before being pushed-back, a half hour late. A good old DC-10-40, N158US was parked next to us, and strangely, the thrust reverser on the number 1 engine was deployed. The captain said we were waiting for all the luggage to be loading, but I didn’t see very much action going on outside and they didn’t cater us until about 7:40.
After pushing back half an hour late, we start up, which I never really knew, is quite smoky. A big cloud of smoke pours out of those CFM’s on start-up. Then we taxi up to 22L, passing by the old terminal. Strangly quiet over there. The lights were still on inside and out. Electronic gate signs were taken down, some jetways were down, mostly the newest ones on the end of C-concourse. Others were left in the position of their last aircraft, while others were put in some really odd positions. Dumpsters were all around the ramp areas. A lone light stand with some bag carts sat in the middle of G-ramp. A few moving vans were loading up at F-concourse. After a Saab and a DC-9-50 took off ahead us we were next. Powering up, I was amazed at the lack of buzz-saw noise inside the cabin as compared to what you hear outside. It was still noticeable, more after we powered back after takeoff. We took off like a rocket, we were also rather empty too only about 65 pax on board, everyone had spread out so they got more than one seat to themselves. After takeoff we made a sweeping right turn to the west, took us over Ann Arbor, then Jackson before the clouds came in and I could no longer see the ground. At some point the F/A’s came around to serve us drink along with we got pretzels and this energy bar. We had some interesting F/A’s on this flight. This one woman, was probably the youngest and cutest F/a I’ve ever seen. This other guy, was quite strange. You couldn’t understand a word he was saying into the mic and he also forgot when he had already made and announcement. I believe he made the announcement about being in the exit row, willing and able four times. Judging by his tone of voice and actions toward other males, I wasn’t totally certain of his gender preference.
Cruising at 37,000 ft we had an incredibly smooth flight, no bumps at all, and it was incredibly quiet. Maybe I’ve just been on too many prop flights lately, and I’m used to the noise. We descend into DEN, encounter a few bumps an land smoothly on runway 26. We were in no hurry to slow down as we ran the length of the runway before exiting and the long taxi into C concourse. DEN was completely dead at this time of night. A lone UA 735 was parked in front of the mx hanger, and their B concourse was empty. No ground traffic either. Parked at C concourse was a TW 757, AA 757, AA MD-80, US 733, 2 DL 763’s, and a NW 722. The taxi in was kind of rough due to the ice and snow frozen on the taxiway. DEN is impressive at night with the lights everywhere, however I was disappointed with the lack of traffic at 8:45pm. We pulled up to C36 at 8:46, about 15 minutes late, right next to us at C34 is the old workhorse NW 727 N728RW. Inside the concourse and terminal are deserted. Our flight was the only one arriving at that time and the bags came very quick for DEN. Soon we were on our way to get a rental car and the mountains.
Everything went smooth until this point….now here’s where things got interesting……..I'll have the return posted shortly.....