Here's the second half of my trip home to Texas on AirTran:
December 28, 2003
AirTran Airways Flight 104
Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL)
Departs DFW 11:30am, arrives ATL 2:37pm
Boeing 717-200, Seat 28A
Once again, I was flying out of Terminal E at DFW… although AirTran would be moving to its new facilities in Terminal B by the end of the week. AirTran’s counter in Terminal E consisted of two check-in desks, and with an Orlando flight going out at 10:50 and my Atlanta flight at 11:30, things were understandably crowded. It took about 25 minutes to get through check-in and clear security.
Once through, I wandered around Terminal E’s airside for awhile. Continental has moved into Terminal E and actually has some of the nicer gates in the terminal, directly under the future SkyLink people mover station. These gates have larger-than-normal windows and departure lounges and were actually quite nice, for DFW. Northwest occupies several gates in Terminal E as well, where a pair of DC9s (one in the old colors and one in the new) were bound for MSP and DTW:
Our 717 arrived from Atlanta and was quickly repositioned for the return flight; we boarded at around 11:10am. My seat was towards the rear of the plane – despite the flight being almost full, I was lucky enough to have a vacant seat next to me.
We pushed back on time and taxied out of the terminal area with a light rain falling. On the way out we passed by American’s Terminal C ramp:
DFW departures were to the north today, so we had a relatively quick taxi out to the threshold of Runway 35L. We followed an American MD80 and a Delta Connection CRJ onto the runway:
Takeoff was actually quite long, but yielded some great aerial shots of the DFW terminal area:
Terminal A seen after rotating, with the new SkyLink people mover tracks visible:
The American Eagle satellite that was built a few years back (it’s used by the turboprops now that the RJs have moved over to Terminal B):
We climbed out to the north, passing by the Grapevine Mills outlet mall…
… and turning over the suburb of Lewisville and its huge reservoir…
… before disappearing into the clouds over The Colony.
The flight itself was pretty unremarkable… service wasn’t much, just the usual beverage-and-cookie affair. There were clouds below the aircraft for most of the way to Atlanta, which made it tough to figure out our exact route:
After about an hour at cruising altitude, we started down towards Atlanta. The clouds had thinned out at this point and the forested hills of northern Alabama and Georgia were visible down below. We passed over several lakes and a giant power station:
Our 717 made several turns over the hills, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of development below, just sporadic small towns and rural highways. Then we made a long, sweeping turn onto finals and downtown Atlanta appeared off to the left:
The area under the aircraft became more built up and we passed over lots of sprawling suburban developments and freeways:
Finally we roared in on short finals over the airport access road:
… and touched down on Runway 9R alongside an AirTran Jet Connect CRJ taking off on 9L.
We slowed to a taxi and turned off the runway; I was able to get a shot of Concourse E, with numerous Delta heavies resting before transatlantic and South American flights:
We had to wait on the taxiway adjacent to 9L while several aircraft departed, then our 717 made its way to the ‘AirTran Jungle’ on Concourse C:
With just 45 minutes until my Milwaukee flight was to depart, I didn’t have much time to look around. We arrived at the ‘bottom’ of Concourse C, so I mostly strolled around looking for a good place to sit and watch the action. ATL has pretty lousy viewing from the airside gate areas, and the terminal was insanely crowded besides:
AirTran Airways Flight 604
Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL) – Milwaukee Mitchell (MKE)
Departs ATL 3:45pm, arrives MKE 4:45pm
Boeing 717-200, Seat 28F
Eventually it was time to head back to Gate C1 for my Milwaukee flight. At this point I was pretty sick of Hartsfield – I hope I don’t have to do much more flying through there in the future. Boaring started a few minutes late, but from our stand adjacent to the runways I got a decent view of aircraft taxiing by, such as this Delta 767-200:
Taxiing out of Concourse C with several AirTran and Delta Connection aircraft parked at the gates:
We headed for the threshold of 8R and joined the queue for takeoff, behind a Delta MD80, 757 and two 737-200s. Finally it was our turn, and we made a quick takeoff to the east:
A Delta 767 departed from 9L in tandem with us, and climbed out alongside our 717 before turning south, presumably towards Florida or the West Coast:
By this time of day it was getting dark, and we spent most of the flight in twilight winging our way northwest towards Milwaukee. I’m sorry I can’t write more about the flight or the service itself, but it was a typical low-cost airline flight: nothing to report. The cabin crew brought drinks and even made a second pass for refills, but otherwise the trip was hugely uneventful.
About an hour later, the captain announced our position over Gary, Indiana, and said we’d started down into Milwaukee. There were scattered thick clouds outside, but as we sunk down it was pretty obviously we were descending over Lake Michigan:
We flitted in and out of the mist on our way down, and when we finally dropped below the cloud layer it was getting very dark. I had to turn off the flash on my camera, so many of the pictures I took during landing were a little blurred:
Finally we made a sharp left turn onto final approach and the Milwaukee shoreline appeared up ahead in the distance:
Descending over the rooftops of Cudahy with full flaps and the landing gear down:
Down onto Runway 33L at Mitchell Field:
We turned off the runway pretty quickly (a Skyway Dornier jet was landing right on our tail) and taxied quickly to Gate E1, the same gate I’d left from a few days earlier:
And thus my trip home came to an end. I’m not sure I’ll fly out of Milwaukee again – it’s not that far from my house, but the drive up there felt a lot longer than I expected it to feel. It’s a cheap alternative to O’Hare, but lately I’m trying to fly American (for miles), which makes ORD much more convenient. Nonetheless, it was nice to fly from a new airport, and AirTran got me there safely and with no problems.
Stay tuned for further trip reports (ORD-PHX and ORD-SFO) in the next week or so!