First of all, I do not like to give specifics of my flight anymore due to security problems, so here it is. . .
March 27 I sitting in DIA's Concourse C in the center of the structure. Before I knew it, there were clouds of dirt rolling in from the west on both sides of the concourse. It looked like a modern "dust bowl". I could not see through to concourse B or see anything to the north, it was a "brown out"! The ATA 737-800 finally arrived 20 minutes late due to headwinds. This was my first time on this type A/C. We finally boarded, I sat just behind the wing with a window seat. The leather seats are a definate upgrade from the old 727 cloth.
We pushed back and headed for the SW East-West runway, it happened to be the only runway being used for takeoff due to the heavy winds from the west. Our line for it started almost at our own gate. We were 20th in line. Others in front of us included two Northwest A320's, two United 777's, a Continental 737-500 and 737-900 (first one I've ever seen in person), and a scramble of other A/C common to DIA.
We took off after only 25 minutes wait-time, just after a hold for a heavy 777 before us. Our takeoff roll was approx. 30 seconds, with a full load to MDW. WE climbed swiftly into the dusty and turbulent sky. If you watch those winglets in turbulance, it is almost enough to give you motion sickness!
We held at 17,000ft until about 50 miles east of Denver, then climbed to 37,000ft.
Our Chicago arrival was another first for me, it was my first "go-around". We were landing in a hurry because half the pax on board needed to make connections, so the atc and ATA tried to work with this. We were shoved in too tight up against another ATA 737-800, we were about 100ft. from touchdown when full-thrust was applied and we leveled quickly before a quick ascent back up, passing a full SWA terminal filled with all their makes of 737s. It took ten minutes to return and finally land. Our landing was spectacular. We came in very fast and bounced of the runway once, coming back down for another hard kiss, we applied full reverse and heavy brakes all while I tried to keep myself in my seat!
We missed our connection, but were taken care of ATA with an $8 food voucher, we ate at Harry Carry's, pretty good food for an airport. Full flight to DCA, quick take-off and ascent to 37,000ft. I got a seat over the left wing, I got to see the Chicago skyline at night in all it's splendor. What a spectacular and beautiful city! That was dreamy. On arrival into DCA, we headed south, did a U-turn to land to the north, finally dipping below the overcast with a full moon above. . .another spectacular site! We came down hard and bounced, we then sttled down once again with a heavy pavement-kissing and medium brakes. One of the FA's got on the horn and said, "We'd like to welcome you to D.C. this evening, and no, we won't charge you for an extra landing from our Captain."
The trip back to Denver was less interesting, but affirmed in me that my new favorite A/C to fly on is the 737-800. Everything about it was just the way I like. It reminded me of flying on a 727, just with more power. Yes, we had another hard landing in both MDW and Denver. It makes me wonder if the ATA pilots are still getting use to the 737-800s.
Another first, I got to see my first 757-300 while waiting for takeoff back to Denver, and that ATA livery looks smart on it as well. P.S. this was on March 30th.
In summary, ATA treated us well and was an exciting airline to fly, maybe because of the 737NG, or maybe it was flying in and out of MDW.