Wednesday, 10 March 2004
Delta Airlines Flt 266
Scheduled Departure 13:21
Scheduled Arrival 15:48
Departure Gate: A6
Arrival Gate: C32
Scheduled Flight time: 2:27
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
I arrived at Atlanta’s HARTSFIELD International Airport at 9:15 AM after taking MARTA from the Chamblee station. My mum dropped me off on her way to work, so I had plenty of time to do some spotting, etc. While on Marta, there was this nasty “lady” who would lean out the doors at every stop and expectorate a mouthful of snot onto the platform practically at the feet of embarking passengers. My two beagles are better behaved than this wretched brute. Ugh. That’s Marta…
Checked in at 9:20 AM at Delta’s kiosk, which was painless. No lines, no hassles, no frustration. The computer spat out my boarding passes on that thin heat-sensitive paper and I brought my bags to the baggage check counter which is located about ten feet from the kiosk. A quick check of ID and slapping of check tags on my luggage and I was on my merry way.
By 9:30 I had cleared security at the Concourse T checkpoint and avoided the main security line, one of my Hartsfield “secrets,” and was on my way to the gates. My first priority for the day was to check out South African flight 212 to Cape Town, which was boarding at E14. I’ve heard that SAA may not be coming to ATL for much longer, so I took this chance to see my first A340-600 in person. While waiting for the big -600 to push back, I hung out at the north end of Concourse E for a good photo op and watched a UAL 737 get towed over from E to Delta’s TOC. At 10:55, the big Bus (ZA-SNE) was pushed back from E14 and headed out towards 27R for departure for its helluva long flight to the bottom of the world. At this point in time, I decided I was hungry and headed back to Concourse A to the revered Paschal’s for fried chicken. It was rather dry. I was disappointed.
At 12:20, my 737-800 pulled up to A6. At about 1:00, boarding commenced in Delta’s new zone-boarding fashion, which I found to be overall no different than how it was previously done. Once the gate agent has called 2-3 zones, the usual mayhem and disorganization at the gate ensues and the passengers are herded onto the plane. We pushed back at 1:25 and taxied to 27R. Air France A340 was landing on 26L as we made the turn onto 27L for departure, which was a quick take-off roll and climb with a turn to the south and eventually up the east coast. So far, my experience on the 737-800 was nice. Like the CD / FALO / FALT), South Africa">LCD monitors- Delta Horizons, some sit coms, and Sponge Bob were today's programming.
On the way up to Boston, I spotted Lake Hartwell and was able to find one of UGA’s rival schools, Clemson, which isn’t much more than Auburn on a lake . A beverage service was given and I took a Coke and a bag of Cape Cod pretzels (how appropriate). The entire can of Coke was not given, unfortunately. The rest of the flight I spent reading and dozing until we began our descent over New York at about 3:15, at which point I spotted Manhattan and La Guardia through the thick cloud cover. The descent into BOS was somewhat bumpy. We landed at 3:50 and pulled into gate C32 and the crew welcomed us to Boston on this cold and dreary day.
Overall, a good flight. Delta got me there on time and I had a pleasant experience.
Wednesday, 10 March 2004
Delta Airlines Flt 6134 (Operated by Atlantic Coast Airlines)
Fairchild-Dornier 328 Jet (N425FJ)
Scheduled Departure 17:15
Scheduled Arrival 18:20 (actual: 18:00)
Departure Gate: C42
Arrival Gate: 9
Scheduled Flight time: 1:05
Photo © Jonathan Derden - SPOT THIS!
I immediately found my way to gate C42 for my connection to Burlington. Had to pass through an additional security checkpoint to get there. My overall impression of this section of the terminal wasn’t good. Aside from the restroom, the only form of passenger amenity was a snack cart at which no attendant was present.
The flight which boarded before mine was a Delta Connection CRJ to JFK. Some Indian guy showed up late and missed his flight and, resultingly, his connection in New York to India. Poor guy learned the hard way that the world doesn’t revolve around oneself!
Boarding for DL6134 to BTV commenced at 5:00. Walked out to our tiny Dornier 328Jet as an ATA 757 dwarfed us as it was taxiing into a gate behind us. I unwittingly took seat 5A, thinking it was 4A, which was the seat I had selected for the flight. No worries though; the other passenger didn’t care. Tim, our F/A, did the safety spiel as the cockpit crew prepared for departure. At 5:15, the door was closed and the two tiny engines were started as we were pushed out of the gate area, and we buzzed on over to the active for takeoff behind a USAirways 737 to begin our thirty minutes in the air.
Takeoff roll and climb-out was smooth and quick for this little jet all the way up to our cruising altitude of FL180. The sunset was a good thing to watch as our flight attendant kept us happy with a beverage service. I got an orange juice (full can!) and yet another bag of Cape Cod pretzels. Afterwards, a hot towel service was offered, which I thought was a very nice touch on such a short flight. These types of things really bring customers back, I think. We began our descent shortly thereafter as the light of day gradually waned. We touched down in Burlington at 5:55 and taxied to Gate 9 to deplane.
This flight I would rate higher than the previous, as I felt more like a valued customer. The full can of juice and hot towel service were great services that could have easily not been offered on such a short flight. Great job, guys!
Sunday, 14 March 2004
Delta Airlines Flt 5719 (Operated by Comair)
Scheduled Departure 11:35 (Actual: 12:15)
Scheduled Arrival 13:39 (Actual: 14:23)
Departure Gate: 9
Arrival Gate: C7
Scheduled Flight time: 2:04
Photo © Bruce Leibowitz
After three days of great skiing at Stowe and some free instruction from my uncle, it was time to head home to the ATL at the conclusion of Spring Break and prepare to dive back into the books the next morning. I was dropped off at 10:40AM at BTV and entered the “bustling” check-in area. Most pax were going to larger cities for their connections. Among them were ORD, IAD, JFK, CVG (mine). After waiting in line for 10 minutes, I checked in behind some guy going to Amsterdam with nothing but a large backpack (must be a hostel-hopping student like me). The agent informed me that the flight was delayed 30 minutes, so I had a good bit of time to kill in the tiny terminal.
After disrobing for the TSA folks, I watched the JetBlue flight for JFK depart at Gate 10 (plane was Bada Bing Bada Blue). The A320 was the largest plane out there, as the only other planes were Cessnas, a few biz jets, and CRJs. After Bada Blue left, I began to catch up on reading for the upcoming week.
At 11:55, our CRJ (which has been repainted in Delta's newest colors, contrary to what the picture depicts) pulled up to Gate 9 and the pax deplaned as rampers swiftly offloaded their luggage and loaded ours. We boarded promptly at 12:05 and the engines hummed to life five minutes later. We taxied to the active, onto the active, and then up the active runway some more before making an about-face for takeoff. I’ve never seen a plane do that!!
Takeoff was smooth and we departed to the southwest, making a right turn out over frozen Lake Champlain and into the overcast cloud layer. The ground was obscured by cloud cover for the rest of the flight, and in the absence of any other forms of IFE, I did some more reading. Our F/A came around with beverages and snacks for all of us. No full can of Coke this time, but she did hand out two bags of Snyder’s Pretzels to every pax who wanted them. The other option was two Biscoff biscuits. Later, a coffee/tea service was offered. I declined and kept on reading. The lady next to me had some tea. Some other notes about the flight- the dude going to Amsterdam was seated in front of me. The lady next to me was what Southwest may consider to be a “customer of size” and insisted that the armrest be kept up for her comfort. The girl sitting behind me was probably just about my age, and quite good looking. I wished I had the seat next to her instead.
We began our descent from FL310 into the clouds, at which point the small CRJ began to encounter a steady, light chop all the way down to the ground. Our F/A read out a list of connections and gates and I planned my escape from the Comair terminal to Terminal B for my connection to Atlanta. Time was short, hence no time for dilly-dallying around the airport. We lined up for approach and landed at about 2:25 and taxied past Terminal B past a collection of Delta jets in all three color schemes and an Air France A340, which in the tradition of Air France, was completely soiled.
We deplaned at gate C7 and I high-tailed it to the bus which whisked us over to the other terminal. I made my way through the herds of folks and to my gate, B18, and joined the queue for the flight to ATL.
Sunday, 14 March 2004
Delta Airlines Flt 655
Scheduled Departure 15:00 (actual: 3:01)
Scheduled Arrival 16:37 (actual: 16:45)
Departure Gate: B18
Arrival Gate: A27
Scheduled Flight time: 1:37
Photo © Art Brett - AirTeamImages
I was to board with zone 6, but the pandemonium at the gate area and inside the plane proved the zone concept to be futile. The flight was completely full today with many folks heading from the cold, dreary north down to warmer climes as spring break season is in full force. I took my seat in 40E, a middle seat in the cattle-class section of the 757 and awaited the announcement that the flight was oversold and volunteers were needed. Unfortunately, no such announcement came and I would not earn a free ticket. I resorted to watching the last batch of pax board and seat themselves. Among them was a well dressed gentleman who looked like Jesse Jackson who had a tough time trying to shoehorn a clearly oversized red Adidas bag into the overhead bin. I knew the guy wasn’t Jesse because he would not be caught dead in economy class, but it was still amusing to watch. A family of six sat in front of me- two parents and four kids ranging from age 3 to 15ish--all Oklahoma State fans--headed to Florida. The guy next to me was already sawing logs and was totally oblivious to the zoo inside the cabin.
At 3:00, the door closed and we began to push back for my final leg of the trip. We taxied to the runway and waited in line for departure behind a USAirways Express Dash-8 and a Comair CRJ. Takeoff roll was smooth and powerful in the tradition of the 757. The captain turned off the seatbelt sign as soon as we broke through the clouds and the flight attendants came around selling headsets and then began a Fast Break service, which consisted of Coke, Diet Coke, Orange Juice, or water as well as a bag of about ten pretzels (Snyder’s).
We reached and briefly cruised at our cruising altitude of FL330 before beginning our initial descent to FL290, etc. The boys in the family in front of me were excited about their trip to Florida, obviously, as I could hear "Stacey's Mom" and Outkast’s “Hey Ya” being played continuously on their CD players at full volume through the headphones. We joined the arrival for ATL and landed on 26R and sat on the taxiway for about 5 minutes before moving across 26L and to our gate, A27. I deplaned and called my dad to confirm our rendezvous before joining the masses and making my way to baggage claim.
After skipping the packed-out train to baggage claim, I walked. I’d been sitting for the better part of the day, so it felt good, even after skiing for the past three days. I found dad and plucked the first of my two bags off carousel 6. Bag #2 was nowhere to be seen. We waited for a bit longer and then the “last bag” sign flashed on the monitors. It was at that time we decided the bag was lost and I went over to make the necessary arrangements. I told them to deliver the bag straight to my apartment in Athens. The only things that were in it are a couple wool sweaters, a fleece, my ski gear, my cell phone charger, and some genuine Vermont maple syrup. As of this writing, Delta has no information on the bag’s whereabouts.
Overall experience on Delta for this end of the trip was sub-par. The first plane was late for a reason which was not explained to the passengers. Remember- informed passengers make happy passengers. The loss of my bag was not a good end to my day, but with the quick connection time, it was not a surprise. I just hope Delta comes through with it, or I will surely be getting some newer and probably *nicer* ski gear at their expense.
Hope everyone enjoys. Keep flying and keep smiling!
[Edited 2004-03-15 06:29:53]