Outbound: 2 June 2005, DL 1275, SYR-ATL, M88, Seat 26C.
I've said it before and it bears repeating. I love flying out of Syracuse-Hancock International. From parking my car I am able to check-in, clear security, and be at the gate in less than 10 minutes. This trip was no exception. Thursday morning a small army of Delta ticketing staff were on hand. No waiting in line to check-in for the 2 hour flight down to Atlanta. Security lines are also virtually non-existent. And I think the women who checked my ID at the north security checkpoint is the same one who did that back in December when I flew to Newark, and July when I flew to Washington-Dulles.
But the lack of lines and lack of waiting at Hancock also means that there isn't much activity to watch. At 8am the second round of morning flights are beginning to push. The Republic (UAX) E-170 and American Eagle ERJ-140 were both loading and getting ready to head off to Chicago. On the south concourse a Northwest DC-9 was already taxiing out to begin its journey to Detroit. And the end of the north concourse was the MD-88 that would be carrying me down to Atlanta that morning.
Photo © Rafal Szczypek
This flight was about half full, or half empty. However the first class cabin was full. I had specifically chosen seat 26C because of the extra legroom, it is an exit row. So not only would I get extra room to stretch out, I would be the first person out of the plane in an emergency.
Flight time that morning was 1 hour 50 minutes with a routing southwest out of Syracuse, towards Elmira, NY and Pittsburgh, PA, then south towards Atlanta. In-flight service consisted of a single snack and drink service. My poison of choice was a glass of orange juice and a packet of animal crackers. After which I took a nice little catnap.
Arrival into ATL was uneventful. Skies were overcast and ceilings were down around 2500'. I had mentally prepared myself for the possibility of being delayed into Atlanta... afterall it is summertime and it is Atlanta. However we touched down on-time with a nice long roll-out on 8L.
Now I had heard bad things about Hartsfield. However I have nothing but praise for the place. Despite its age, now around 25 years old, the facility has held up well and its basic design still seems to work well. The only weakness that I could see was the lack of moving sidewalks (concourse not wide enough). The walk from B28 to the tram was a bit lengthy, but not too bad.
When I got to the train station I had just missed the train headed to baggage claim. So instead of waiting I decided to hoof it all the way to the rental car desks in baggage claim. For some reason I failed to realize that the distance from the B concourse to the baggage claim area was close to a mile. But no worries, I needed my exercise anyways. And I got a surprise, a rather nice African art exhibit, specifically Tanzanian stone sculptures.
Despite the mistake of walking all the way from B to the car rental shuttles I was able to make it out of the airport (again no checked baggage) and into my rent-a-car in less than 30 minutes. Not at all bad for a busy, large airport.
Homeward bound: 4 June 2005, DL 545, ATL-SYR, M88, Seat 26C.
After two days of learning about assessment and exploring the streets of Atlanta I was ready to get back home. But prior to dropping the rent-a-car I needed to get a proper southern breakfast. Luckily, it seems, there is a Waffle House every half a mile in Atlanta. I was able to secure a nice counter seat at a Waffle House in Buckhead where Sharon served me a hot cup of coffee (Waffle House has good coffee BTW, and for $1.05 with unlimited refills you cannot go wrong), 2 eggs scrambled, with a side of bacon and regular order of hash browns.
The thing that impressed me most about my departure out of Hartsfield was this. The time it took me from check-in, to clearing security, to boarding the train was no more than 15-20 minutes. Again pretty quick for a large, busy airport at midday on a Saturday. I suppose it helped that I used to self-service check-in kiosk, and can dodge the bewildered novice travelers, but impressive nonetheless.
The return flight to Syracuse was about 3/4s full, but first class was at half capacity this time. Our flight time was 1 hour 45 minutes. Again in-flight service was the same as on the outbound flight, drinks and a snack. My meal consisted of a diet coke and a bag of Sun Chips. Good thing I had that Waffle House breakfast, or else I would have starved to death.
Now the best thing about this flight had to be the junior f/a. Probably one of the best looking flight attendants that I had in a long time. She definitely made the most of the new Delta uniform. She was sporting the skirt/blazer, blue short sleeved blouse combo.
Again I managed to get in a cat nap after the snack service, waking up about 35 minutes prior to touchdown at Hancock. Which happened a few minutes ahead of schedule as we touched down on runway 28 on a warm and sunny afternoon.
And I cannot restate my like of flying in and out of SYR. From the plane door, to my car was less than 10 minutes. Our official arrival time was 4:27pm, I was on I-81 heading home by 4:40. Pretty impressive.
Overall I was reasonably happy with my Atlanta/Delta experience. Maybe I have low/no expectations about air travel, but I couldn't ask for more; perhaps food, but tell me when airline food was worth going nuts for. I had a quick non-stop flight on a mainline jet for a decent fare. Works for me.
Photo © Matt Coleman