I have no idea why, but it was impossible to make a reservation to Memphis for Valentine's day week-end. Hence the downward route via Detroit.
LGA - DTWNorthwest Flight 211
Flight time: 1 Hour 26 minutes,
Wow I didn't know the M60 ran at 4:30 in the morning. Well I arrived at LGA before 5, already crowded and a line at Starbucks. LGA has the CTX scanners, and, contrary to the public image of rude New Yorkers, *extremely courteous* and friendly TSA guards. Food courts opening, but I decided to sit at gate 8 and stare lovingly at the Northwest 757. 757's look particularly beautiful in red. Boarding proceeded promptly at 5:30 and we took off on time, flying over Rikers' Island and across the Bronx. Cloudiness prevented much scenery, but a few breaks showed the cold wintered-over Ontario shoreline. After climbing to 35,000 ft, Flight Attendants began to distribute snacks. A bit of clear air turbulence, unexpected acc. to the pilots had the flight attendants stowing the carts and our plane descending to the calmer skies at FL31. Then I fell asleep. I had no idea whether or not they ever continued the service on this short hop, thus I didn't do my duty and check out what one can buy in coach as I was asleep until almost landing (It *was* a 6:00 AM flight) Woke up to see my 757 punch through the scudding clouds that are a winter feature of the great lakes and sinking lower into Detroit.
I was wistfully wishing I could continue onto Seattle until I stepped into the new Northwest Terminal.
I was seriously impressed. Clean bright loads of shops, and not just tacky souvenir shops with "airport novels" in the bookstores. Had an hour to wait, spent most of it marvelling at the Logan's run look of the terminal, especially the red people mover inside. I vowed to come back just to get a good look @ the terminal. Hell, I've got miles stored up.
DTW - MEM
Northwest Flight 281
Arr : 10:07
Equip : DC9-30
Flight time 1hour 40 minutes
My short time in the new terminal came to an end, but I'm buoyed by the chance to fly on a PILF, as I enter the cabin, I notice that this old girl may have been around, but is still sleek and sexy. Settled into my seat right behind the wing. We were treated to a power push, always fun. I notice that the flight crew were somewhat laconic. Everytime before I'd been on a plane that power pushed, they explained what they were doing. I guess it's becoming more common. They seemed to be common in Detroit. As we taxied to the runway, I was treated to a spanking new NWA A-330 at the hangar. My first sighting of that bird.
The DC-9 accelerated like a rocket and we were at our cruising altitude quickly. It was an extremely smooth ride, and as low cloudiness continued onto Memphis, I took the time to read the paper.
Now IFE is nice and I *love* JetBlue's PTVs but I can't understand those who rag on a airline because of the lack of IFE on a flight that lasts an hour and a half. Read a friggin' book!!! It'll be good for you.
Memphis was like a tomb. It is sad to see the state of this once proud hub, you can really feel the cutbacks as so many gates are empty and the flight info shows info for a flight leaving five hours hence. Will MEM be a hub at all?
My week-end in Elvis land, was cold. But it was great - caught up with a bunch of old friends, ate lots of catfish, went out and partied, and the wedding was fun. It was good to see my friend find her soulmate.
MEM - LGA
Northwest Flight 877
Equip A 319
Flight time 1:56 minutes
An annoying aside, I have no idea why the signage for rental car returns at Memphis airport is hidden. You have to exit before the airport where the FEDEX section is. I should have known as I picked it up there, but I would have thought they would have had signs at that exit. Drove all the way to the terminal and had to ask a cop.
Well after the rent-a-car debacle, it was reassuring that I still had time. The TSA agents hand checked and swabbed all my baggage, opening it up. and it was off to the gate. All went along quickly as MEM is not nearly as busy as it once was.
Our A319 was immaculate and had the new paint job, so it looked gorgeous. I must admit, that the high ceilings give an impression of more room, even if the set pitch is the same. I do love the baby 'bus line. Flight was not full so my girlfriend can get her aisle seat (She is a trooper as she knows I *must* have a window which means she gets the dreaded middle - very tolerant)
Our captain was quite garrulous, telling us in detail the route, how much chop there should be and why. I wonder if a fearful flyer went up and talked to an F/A. And then he walked up and down the cabin, talking to the pax. I didn't even think that was allowed but it was a nice touch. Take off was smooth and our Airbus was held at what I assume to be 20,000 feet or so for about 15 minutes. Looking above us I saw wavy rolls of cirrus clouds with "mare's tails". I wonder if that is a marker for CAT and that is why we didn't reach our cruise altitude for a while. Well I began reading my bio of Alexander Hamilton once over the Appalachians, but once we hit the East coast, I had to look out the window. We flew over snowed-in Nashville and the Shenandoahs, over to DC, up the Jersey shore, right to the left of Cape May and Atlantic City and then over Brooklyn and Flushing. The service in coach is what you can expect on US airlines now, but in now way "bad" In order to compete with LCC's, mainlines have to cut back amenities. The public has voted with their wallets. It makes no difference to me personally if I have to pay for the powdered eggs and muffin bomb. I'll skip them and you can pass the savings on to me. I declined both but the FA's were nice and professional. Again on a two-hour hop, I don't know what people expect. I know what I want, cheap!!!! I'm not flying to Singapore for 18 hours!!
Verdict, this is air travel today, and frankly, as long as the airfare is cheap, and the FA's are professional, it ain't such a bad thing. I'd rather see a smaller credit card bill than PTVs and hot meals for a two-hour flight, frankly.
Also I think NWA, the much maligned, airline, here at airliners.net treats steerage passengers much better than other majors. Don't know why they had such a bad rap.
Also know that I gotta go to Motown just to see more of the airport.