I know. Its a real exotic trip, but what the hell, I'm bored.
Unfortunately, I only got the invitation to my cousin's bachelor party
in New York City about ten days in advance. If it wasn't a bachelor
party...or something of that kind of importance I would've said screw
it. But, you cannot turn down free T&A and giving your cousin a hard
time about finally getting married. After looking through some
ridiculously expensive fares, I resigned myself to having to use my
Delta miles to book the trip. I would have preferred that all my
travelling be done on one carrier, Continental, however, the only way
that could happen would be to leave early Sunday morning....that was
certainly not happening. Then I found a couple free double-connection
flights to EWR on DL that wouldve been in my preferred time frame, but
unfortunately I kept being connected to the outsourced Delta
reservation center in India, and they had no idea what I wanted despite
my attempts to explain it to them. I decided to just take the CO
flights outbound, and DL back to DFW.
Continental Flt. 2002 (op. by ExpressJet)
Scheduled/Actual Dep. Time: 2:30PM/2:25PM
Scheduled/Actual Arr. Time: 6:04PM/5:51PM
Flight Time: 2:26
Photo © Scott Kiel
I was not looking forward to this flight, two hours and thirty minutes
in an ERJ didn't sound great. I'm used to the quick 50 minute jaunt
from DAL to IAH on Continental Express. When I got to the counter, I
requested an exit row window. I was pretty happy when the agent said
that it was still availible, however, I wasn't happy when I got 12C.
Even in the exit row, sitting on the side of the a/c with two seats
isn't very comfortable. The agent had a scowl on her face so I decided
not to press my luck and request seating on the single seat side of the
I walked through security with surprisingly little problem. Usually my
camera draws plenty of attention. I grabbed some lunch at my usual stop
in terminal B, the Hot Dog Construction Company (yum!) then walked down
to my gate. I was surprised and slightly worried to see that the
aircraft was not yet at the gate. My fears were alleviated when I saw
them tow the empty ERJ from the hard stand to our gate. I then asked
the gate agent if there was any exit row seating on the A side of the
aircraft. He replied, "Yeah, you can have 1A if you want it." I was
thrilled. 1A is the best seat on the ERJ by far. No one is sitting
across from you and you have plenty of legroom.
Within a few minutes, they had began boarding the plane in standard CO
procedure. OnePass Elites, and then from the back of the a/c forward.
Of course, being in 1A, I was in the last group called for boarding.
Before getting to the aircraft door, I grabbed a newspaper and my MIS
textbook out of my backpack and gate checked it because there is no
overhead bin above or next to row one (and its annoying having to go
back through the a/c to retrieve your bag when everyone is
I was greeted by the flight attendant at the door, made the quick right
turn and sat down in the comfortable, albeit narrow leather seat. We
pushed back a few minutes early and quickly taxied out to an empty rwy.
18L for takeoff. Despite there only being about 25 passengers on board,
it was the longest takeoff roll on an ERJ that I have experienced.
Once aloft the captain quickly turned off the seat belt sign and came
over the PA to announce that it looked to be a very smooth flight up to
Cleveland. The flight attendant got up and immediately began snack and
beverage service from the back of the aircraft forward. Within minutes
she was at my seat and I got my snack box with a full can of Coke. The
snack service was very nice for an Express flight although I guess its
to be expected for a 2 hour 30 minutes flight. The contents of the box
included four large crackers, a pepper-cheese spread, a pack of small
salami, a small apple, and a bag of Fritos. Despite the fact that I
could feel my cholesterol level climbing while eating the cheese and
salami crackers it was delicious!
After the meal service, the flight attendant came through picked up the
remnants of the meal, and asked the passengers if they wanted anything
else. I was content though to try to get my studying out of the way.
About half an hour later, I gave up, and being tired from the night
before I fell asleep. I woke up just as we were beginning our approach
to CLE. Final approach was absolutely gorgeous and I was very bitter
that I did not have my camera on hand. The sun was just beginning to go
down as we flew downwind past downtown Cleveland giving the buildings a
nice orange hue. As we made our turn onto final we were treated to a
second glimpse of the city basking in sunlight.
We touched down in CLE and taxied promptly to the gate with very little
waiting. I was surprised to see a CO 753 taxiing to the terminal, which
I later learned was used on a flight to BWI. We parked at Terminal D
and I quickly retrieved my gate checked bag. Terminal D is very nice,
largely a glass structure, with very open gate areas. Once I got off
the aircraft, I asked the woman working the gate for the next flight
which gate a Mr. Alpha1 was working. After recieving a quizzical, why
the hell would you want to see him look (just kidding, Alpha), she
replied that he was over at C2 working the flight to CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO.
Continental Flt. 624
Scheduled/Actual Dep. Time: 6:50PM/6:49PM
Scheduled/Actual Arr. Time: 8:35PM/8:09PM
Flight time: 1:20
757-200 (Int'l Config)
Photo © Ryan Kaskel
I had about fourty minutes until my connecting flight to EWR was
departing from C5. So I headed over to his gate and introduced myself.
I "warned" him in advance that I might drop by. Luckily, well, not for
him, the flight he was working was delayed so we had a chance to chat
over a variety of topics. Very nice guy, although I'm sure I wouldn't
have had the same opinion if we got into a talk about politics . I
checked my watch and there was only 10 minutes before my flight
departed, so I briskly walked to C5. The agent took a look at my
boarding pass, and sarcastically deadpanned with a huge smile, "Nice of
you to show up, Mr. Smith. We were getting ready to call you over the
PA." I laughed and made my way down the jet way.
I made my way to the exit row, where I was not pleased to see that the
agents had seemingly booked the entire exit row full despite the fact
that there were only roughly 60 passengers on board. Luckily, the my
two seatmates were deadheading pilots, so I knew they would both pass
out after takeoff. Once aloft, the captain informed us that we would be
"to Newark pretty quick, but chances are that we wouldn't have a gate
once we arrived." There was some sitcom on the overhead monitors that I
didn't bother watching even though I still had Continental headphones
in my backpack from a previous trip. The flight attendants came through
the cabin, and offered us peanuts with our choice of drinks. I decided
coffee might be a good decision considering that it would be long night
once I got into the city. By the time the flight attendants were
finished collecting the trash, we had began our decent into EWR. Its
pretty cool on decent to EWR at night because you can see a/c lining up
on approach for miles.
Once we were on the ground in Newark, the captain informed us that it
was okay to use our cell phones because we would be taxiing to a stand
before getting a gate. I called my voicemail and much to my worry, I
found out that our school's powerplant exploded which is only a block
from my dorm. I was frantically calling everyone I knew to make sure
that the dorm was okay, and all my stuff hadn't burned up.
Within minutes of parking at the stand, we were taxiing to our gate at
the Continental international terminal. Once we had disembarked, I
walked through the international terminal to baggage claim. Being my
first time through the international terminal, I was very impressed. I
was also surprised to learn that the flight to Tel Aviv departs at
10:50PM! Although, it makes sense considering that its a red-eye back
to EWR. I collected my roller at the baggage claim, which is quite
clausterphobic. Then got on the monorail to go to the AirTrain to Penn
As usual, Continental does a fantastic job in every regard. From the
comfortable aircraft to its great customer service.
The bachelor party was a blast. I think I might have gotten six or
seven hours of sleep the entire weekend.
I was originally leaving on an 8:00PM flight through CVG, which
would've gotten me into DFW at around 12:30AM. I decided that keeping
these flights as the were wouldn't have been a great idea considering I
had a mid-term at 8 the next morning. I arrived at EWR at 1 looking to
change my flights to get an earlier flight to DFW. Unfortunately, the
earliest availible flight was a 5:15 flight to Atlanta, that would
connect me to a flight that would get me into DFW by around 10:00 and
the only seat availible was a middle seat. I decided that anything is
better than arriving home at 1:30AM. Little did I know....
Surprisingly, and much to my happiness, I was not charged a change fee.
Delta flt. 1271
Scheduled/Actual Dep. Time: 5:15PM/6:40PM
Scheduled/Actual Arr. Time: 7:40PM/9:01PM
Flight Time: 2:21
MD-88 (new colors)
Photo © Jay Piboontum
With four hours to kill until my departure, I took a few pictures from
the monorail and hung out in the landside area (which is quite nice) of
the terminal, as from my previous experiences the airside part of the
DL/NW/YX terminal is very disappointing. With a couple hours before
departure I decided to go wait at the gate. I talked with a couple
girls who were students at our rival high school from the days when I
lived in Atlanta and browsed through my MIS book. When I looked up, I
was disappointed to see that our departure had been pushed back to
6:00PM. Not again! I've flown through ATL three times earlier this year
and each time I have been delayed considerably--including a marathon
where I was delayed a night and an entire day without my luggage. My
main concern was my bag because I had a very important notebook inside,
one that I needed later that night to study. I went to the gate agent
and explained that I was very concerned about not making my connection
and my bag being held up in Atlanta. She assured me that "everything is
delayed out of ATL, so you'll make your ticketed connection." I did not
believe her from my previous experience, so I asked that she put me on
the standby list on the 10:00PM flight to DFW. ATL is just peaked so
badly that during a delay it becomes an absolute crapshoot. She was
very understanding and even asked me if I would prefer an aisle seat
for my flight to ATL, and handed me a 'Seat Request' boarding card for
the 10:00 ATL-DFW flight. I accepted the seat change and was quite
pleased about the way that the DL CSA had treated me so well... an
uncommon experience on DL.
Now with my fears semi-alleviated, I settled down and went back to
studying. An announcement was then made explaining that due to more
ground holds at ATL for weather, we would be delayed another 45
We finally began boarding the full MD-88 at around 6:15. I was very
thankful for my aisle seat on the full flight. My only complaint was
that the seat needed to be replaced. The seat frame was so warn out
that it was reclining even at an upright position. Within seconds of
the last passenger sitting down, the plane pushed back, and the captain
announced that he was just hoping that the plane wouldn't have to
The entire flight was very bumpy, it was turbulent virtually the whole
way to ATL. Nothing too bad, however, the 'Fasten Seat Belt' sign
stayed on the duration of the trip. We recieved the meager DL snack mix
packs, which contain about 3 pretzels, 3 peanuts, and 3 crunchy sesame
things and our choice of drinks. Just before we began our intial decent
into ATL, the captain came on the PA and announced that we would not be
held and we could land immediately.
As soon as the plane touched down, I whipped out my cellphone and
called Delta and to check the status of my connection and the gate it
would be going out of. Luckily, the flight was delayed until 9:15 and
it was going out of the gate adjacent to ours.
Delta Flt. 743
Scheduled/Actual Dep. Time: 8:45PM/9:59PM
Scheduled/Actual Arr. Time: 10:01PM/11:16PM
Flight time: 2:17
757-200 (Landor colors)
Photo © Ryan C. Umphrey
Once I got off the Newark flight, I walked across the hallway to the
gate for the 8:45 DFW departure. I was surprised to see that no one had
boarded the aircraft, as it was to leave at 9:15PM. Just as I was about
to approach the agent to check on its status, she came on the PA and
announced that it would be delayed until 9:45. As much as I was glad I
didn't miss the flight, I was disappointed that I would be arriving in
DFW much later than I had hoped.
About half an hour later we began boarding the aircraft. Everyone just
wanted to leave ATL, and there was just a giant mass of people at the
boarding door. As I was standing on line, I saw a couple of
40-somethings groping each other, it was disgusting. The only word that
came to mind was: losers. Just my luck, I get to my seat, and guess who
is front of me.
Thankfully, I fell asleep right after takeoff and didn't have to
witness anymore of that. I woke up right as we were on final approach
to DFW. Once I disembarked, I went to baggage claim and was pretty
pleased when my bag appeared. By the time I retrieved my car and drove
home, it was 12:00.
As for Delta, it was nice to get decent service from their CSAs. However,
the inflight service is quite pathetic at best, and their flight attendants don't
really go out of their way to be friendly.