Arriving at LGA at 530 for our 700 departure, we quickly learned the benefit of flying in first- no lines! Check-in took a little longer than it should have, but it was because my wife forgot her Skymiles card, so the check-in agent kindly looked it up in the system, but all told, we were checked in and through security within 15 min. After a quick stop at the bookstore just past security for reading material, we headed to the Crown Room, which was fairly empty. We grabbed drinks, and settled in. Note to Delta- windows/natural light make lounges feel much more friendly/inviting. 30 min before our flight was scheduled to depart, we made our way to the gate, where boarding was already in progress, so we joined the line, and made our way on board. Once settled, we were offered OJ, and watched as the rest of the plane filled up. After push-back, we made our way to RWY13, where we waited for 15 min due to 'ATC Congestion' in ATL. After departure, I was very surprised when the f/a asked if I wanted cereal! I was only expecting a grab from the snack basket. Instead we got cornflakes, blueberry yogurt, a bowl of fruit salad, and a croissant- all in all a rather filling meal I read for the rest of the flight, which passed rather quickly- by the way 'Confederates in the Attic' by Tony Horowitz is a very good book. Arrival in ATL was uneventful, and we taxied in to Terminal B, where after a quick restroom break, we were off to Terminal E for our connecting flight.
Photo © John Muzic
Once in Terminal E, after changing some Dollars to Colones we headed again to the Crown Room, where we waited out our layover with a nice alcoholic beverage- at 10am too!- I know, we were lushes on this trip. We left about 40 min. before departure time as my wife wanted to stop off at the Destination ATL store to buy new sunglasses. While she was paying, we heard a broken announcement of "Costa Rica, Last Call" After looking at each other and saying 'WTF?' I made my way to the gate quickly, only to find out it was the boarding announcement for the San Jose, Costa Rica flight we had heard. Still, boarding for our flight began within 5 min of our hasty arrival at the gate. Again, once on board, we were offered OJ/Champagne/Mimosas. Also before departure, menus were handed out, and our orders were also taken. Our choices were either Steak with roasted potatoes and steamed squash or Eggplant Ravioli with or without grilled shrimp. We both ordered the steak. When the f/a made it to our row to take our order, she addressed us as 'Miss Briggs and Mr. Freeman Or is it Mr. and Mrs. Freeman now?' It was a nice, and unexpected touch- I guess they get a lot of honeymooners on this route. Once airborne, headsets were handed out along with pre-departure drinks and the Costa Rican customs and immigration forms. Lunch began with a salad and roll, followed by the main course, and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. The movie was 'Herbie: Fully Loaded' so naturally, I read, and watched the scenery pass by- our route took us over Cuba and the Caymans (!) So I had some nice/interesting scenery to watch pass by. The rest of the flight was passed reading and accepting refills of my wine glass. We landed on RWY 07 at LIR and after arriving on our stand, we were told that check-in closed 3 hours before departure, so we had to be there early for our departure. Once off the plane, we made our way successfully through immigration and customs, where someone had been stopped and was arguing (unsuccessfully it appeared) with the customs agents infront of his opened and half-empty suitcases. Our ride was waiting in the throng of humanity at the end of customs, and we were off for a week of beaches and drinks with little umbrellas in them.
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
On our arrival to the airport about 4 1/2 hours before departure, we found all the check-in counters closed, which seemed kinda odd, if they said everything closed 3 hours before departure. So I went and paid the departure tax, and the guy there said the Delta counter didn't open until 11- which is when we were told they closed! Sure enough, at 1045, the Costa Rican police began setting up the gauntlet of documentation and bag checks we had to pass through to get to the check in counters. Once they had finished that, we got up and stood at the front of this maze and waited for them to begin letting people through. Finally, at 1120, the check-in counters opened, and we began the process of getting to the check-in counters. We were the first through the first class line, and my bag was selected for inspection. What was interesting, was that the police officer took my bag, and suggested my wife wait with him, while I checked us in. Check-in went smoothly, and afterwards my wife commented how nice the police officer was, and how he was asking how we enjoyed Costa Rica, etc. Once checked-in, we went upstairs to the restaurant for a snack before clearing security and going to the gate. The gate area at the Liberia airport is open air, so it was wonderful there, with a nice breeze, and all the sounds and smells accompanying the sights. Once at the gate, I watched a pair of Nature Air flights and a SANSA flight come and go, as well as watching the preparations for the AA flight to MIA that was scheduled to leave shortly before our flight. Our inbound flight was about 20 min late, but when it did arrive, much to our surprise, it was N3766 again! I got a few photos of the plane taxing in that might end up on MyAviation.net once the film gets developed. Despite the late arrival, the ground crews turned the plane quickly, and boarding began on-time. Interestingly, it was a police officer taking our tickets at the gate, and there were two more at the bottom of the airstairs checking the ticket stubs. Boarding took a while, as there were two non-revs from the DL LIR airport staff in the seats in front of us, and their fellow employees kept coming and going to talk to them, blocking the door and aisle in the process. Despite this, we did get a pre-departure glass of champagne (OJ and Mimosas were offered as well). Once airborne, the f/a came around asking what we wanted for lunch. There were no menus this time, but our choices were the same steak, or Mushroom Ravioli with or without chicken. I had the ravioli with chicken, and my wife had the steak again. The ravioli were really good, but the chicken was typical dry, bouncy airline chicken. Our route this time took us to the west of Cuba, so I read the whole way as there was nothing interesting to look at. The movie was 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith', which my wife watched part of before falling asleep for the rest of the flight. Before arrival there was a drink service, with a choice of goodies from the snack basket. We had a fairly long downwind leg landing at ATL, followed by a nice, long taxi to our gate in Terminal E. We got off fairly quickly, and made our way to immigration and customs.
Photo © Rory Gabriel
Here is where things got interesting- when we got to Costa Rica, my wife discovered that the sunglasses she had bought on the way down were broken, so she wanted to try and get to the store to return them, seeing as we had a 90-min layover, I figured if we made it through customs in 30 min, we could do it. Immigration was a breeze, however, we stood waiting for our luggage in customs for a good amount of time, and of course, once the bags started coming out, ours were among the last to come out. This, combined with a long line to get through customs, meant it took us 45 min. Still, I figured we could do it if we hurried. Once the transaction was completed, we made our way to Gate A6, where we discovered our flight was running 15 min late. About 9pm, when we were supposted to start boarding, they announced that the flight would be delayed until 10 due to a late arriving flight crew. At this point, they also said LGA had a midnight curfew, so if we didn't leave close to 10, we could wind up diverting to JFK or EWR. Boarding finally started around 935, and we were off the gate right after 10. A fast taxi to the runway followed, and after waiting for one departure, we were off. Service consisted of a pair of drink services with passes of the snack baskets. About 30-40 min after departure, it got very bumpy, and lasted so for another 30-40 min. but the f/as never stopped their service. During this time, the captain came on and gave one of the longest speeches I have ever heard from the flightdeck- he was almost rambling as he apologised for the delay, and that they were trying to get us into LGA, and how he was glad we were flying DL, despite all the bankruptcy talk- something he sounded very sincere about. Once the seatbelt sign was off, I got up and went to the lav.- the faux wood floor was a nice touch. I gave up reading, and watched the nighttime scenery pass by. We were still fairly high as we passed EWR, but shortly thereafter, we were told LGA was being held open for us, and we began a steep descent over the George Washington Bridge, around over southern Westchester County, the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges. At this point, we got VERY low, and made a shallow turn onto final for RWY 22 at LGA. We landed about 1215am and taxied past a dark and quiet LGA to gate 6, where our trip had begun a week beforehand.
Overall, it was a good trip on Delta, despite the issues with the LIR ground staff who were definitely working on 'island time' and had no real interest in doing anything, really. Both our MD-88s had the old interior, and it showed- they were in need of a refit, but the 737 was nice and comfortable. I hope you enjoyed the report, and comments are always welcome.