This past weekend my wife and I drove down to Gainesville, FL for the Florida Gators Homecoming game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Welcome to "The Swamp" Only the Gators get out alive.
We had planned this trip for a while but the week before I was told that I would be working on a new project down in Jacksonville and Orlando starting that Monday. Needless to say I had no plans to drive home just to catch the 0h-Dark-Thirty flight to JAX
on Monday morning when I was going to be just 70 miles away. My wife took the car home and I got a rental car and drove up to Jacksonville. After spending the week there I flew home on Friday afternoon on Delta.
1401 (actual 1416)
1518 (actual 1527)
Departure gate: A2
Arrival Gate: A27
Tail Number: 612
My coworker and I left the client site about 1130 and made our way up I-95 to the airport on the north side of town. Traffic was light and we made it from the far southside very quickly. We filled up the rental car with gas and continued on into the airport.
Driving into the airport
We turned in the rental car and got to the terminal in just a few minutes. There isn't any offsite rental cars here so everything is in the lower level of the parking garage. There is a covered walkway to the terminal from the upper level of the parking deck to keep the tropical rains away. Luckily today was a nice day unlike last week with Tropical Storm Tammy.
Walking into the terminal with my co-worker in front of me
We turned right as soon as we got into the terminal and the Delta checkin was right there. Since I had only carry-on bags I skipped the Medallion desk and just used a kiosk to check in. That process took all of 2 minutes to print boarding passes and receipts. My co-worker used the kiosk as well to check in and getting his bag to the agent just took another minute or so.
The Delta ticket counter and a few others. WN
and US would be on the other side of the terminal to the left in this picture.
Looking down the right side of the main terminal
There is a model of the master plan for the airport in the middle of the terminal between the left and right sections of ticket counters. I had checked this out the other night while waiting to pick up my co-worker when he flew in Sunday night. Somewhat of an ambitious plan given the size of the city but hey, you can dream.
Part of the master plan
Another part of the master plan
The fancy schmancy model of it all
We made our way down to the security checkpoint but stopped to get some lunch at the Budweiser Brewhouse. Not a huge selection for food in the airport but this would do. We had a quick lunch and then walked over to security. JAX
doesn't have any premium lines for security but luckily it wasn't very crowded that afternoon. There was a line for crew and airport employees. Perhaps they open that up to premium fliers when busy but I can't say for sure.
Central area with shops and dining
Although we didn't get the dreaded SSSS on the boarding pass we were directed over to the special checks line for screening. We got to go through the machine that blasts you with air searching for nitrates and other bomb making materials I would assume. It was my first time through one and all I could think when I was in it is that it reeked of a dirty bathroom. Not sure what went on in there but I was glad to get out of it. After passing through the blaster you get to go through the metal detector. It wasn't that bad of a thing since we didn't get the full body search.
Now I could be wrong here since I haven't flown through JAX
in a while but I thought I remembered three different security checkpoints for the three concourses but now it is just one. Not a big deal but you have to hike a little bit to get to the A or C Concourses. As we were walking to the gate we say our plane land so it was running a little bit behind. We stopped into the Crown Room which doesn't seem to have changed since I last flew through here in 1998. Unlike some of the big ones though it doesn't show its age nearly as much. We made a quick pitstop, grabbed a drink, and then headed to the gate.
One thing I noticed was the plane we were on today had the middle (Ron Allen) livery instead of the new Wavy Gravy/Aeroflot one. It had been a while since I had seen this paint job on a plane.
Our ride home today
The flight was packed and the flatscreen monitors in the gate area stated that no seat changes were allowed. Since I had booked my flight last minute I ended up with a First Class ticket while my co-worker did not get upgraded. He was 16th in line for 1 remaining seat. They called for boarding and we made our way to the gate. Once on board I was pleasantly surprised. Seeing that the plane had the older livery I was expecting the inside to be kind of rough but it seems the interior had been changed sometime recently. The seats in First had the lighter blue leather covers that I've been seeing on the MD
-88s recently. The newer overhead bins were in as well but I think they did those a while back. If anyone knows when this plane is supposed to get a heavy check and a paint job I would be curious to know as it seemed to be in good shape.
We were welcomed on board by a stewardess and steward and went our separate ways for the flight. I made my way to my seat at 5D and settled in for the flight. I've always liked the 757 and the seats are bigger than the 767 so you have some room to roam in them although it was just going to be a short flight. I snapped a pic across the aisle so you all can see the pitch between seats.
Looking across the aisle in First
Within a minute of sitting down the steward came by and offered me a drink. Although I am a big Jack Daniel's fan Delta has Woodford Reserve so I asked for a glass of that neat. He was back within a minute with the drink. Since the flight was late getting into JAX
we were delayed a few minutes getting backed away. When the 1401 pushback came around the head steward made an announcement that we had reached our departure time and that we weren't going to make it. We finally finished everything up and pushed back at 1416 right at the 15 minute marker to be considered ontime. It didn't matter to me as I was going to be home before 2000 on a Friday which was the first time that would happen in a while.
We taxied out to runway 7 and after waiting for a Comair or ASA micro-mini-jet to land we took off to the east and started our climb out.
Taking off to the east on a kind of hazy day
Not too long after takeoff we turned to the north and parallel to the coast. We flew by the airport in Fernandina Beach (55J) and then started to turn to the northwest and flew south of St. Mary's, GA
and the airport there (4J6). Sometimes you get lucky and can see one of the Ohio class subs cruising out to sea in the river but none today. After that we climbed up to our cruise altitude and there wasn't much to see from up there. The flight was scheduled for a wheels to wheels time of 45 minutes and that was pretty much right on the money.
Just to the west of Fernandina Beach and its small airport
Cumberland Island to the left, St. Mary's River in the middle, and Ft. Clinch to the right
St. Mary's airport. Look straight up from the central runway and you can see the submarine base and the large "hangers" for the boomers.
The stewards made their way through the cabin serving drinks and I was able to get two more bourbons along with a pack of cheese crackers from the basket of goodies. Choices included, peanuts, almonds, cheese crackers, chewy granola bars, and Sun Chips. One of the cost cutting items has been the use of plastic cups in first even when in the air. I would be curious to see how much that saves them per flight/per day/etc. I'm sure it adds up and honestly it doesn't bother me. Even flying first domestically I know I'm not going to get even remotely close to what is offered on international flights.
Good may go around but it doesn't come in a glass anymore
One thing that surprised me on this flight was that the stewards outnumbered the stewardesses. Nothing wrong with that but it is the first time I can think of their being more guys working the flight than girls.
We followed a pretty straight path up towards Atlanta and made just a few small turns before making our way straight into runway 27L.
Final approach to 27L with a 757 flying into 26R with the city in the background behind the pollution and haze
Delta Technical Operations in the middle of the runways
We landed quite nicely and then waited to cross 27R as a couple of planes took off. We made our way to the A concourse and pulled into gate A27.
B Concourse center point
A MadDog going somewhere
A 737-800 sitting at the gate
Unlike most of my flights lately this flight wasn't ending, but instead going on to SAN
, so not everyone got up to leave the plane. I gathered my backpack and rollerboard and was one of the first few off the plane. I waited for my co-worker since he was my ride home. We made our way to baggage claim where he got his bag very quickly and we made our way outside where his wife whisked us away into the afternoon rush hour and I was home within an hour of stepping off the plane.
Be careful with your bags or the ants will take them away.
Airport access: 9/10 (Jacksonville is growing on the southside so the northern location is a little bit of a haul)
Checkin: 10/10 (2 minutes from start to finish)
Food Choices: 5/10 (not a whole heck of a lot but then it isn't a huge airport.)
Security: 8/10 (Central checkpoint can be a bottleneck plus decent walk to A & C concourses.)
Crown Room Club: 8/10 (Small but in good shape compared to others)
Boarding: 10/10 (First class helps but I'm guessing the rest of it was a free for all even with Medallion boarding)
Ground service: 9/10 (Quick to gather coats and server drinks.)
On-time departure: 9/10 (Within 15 minutes which amazed me seeing as we were going to ATL
In-Flight service: 9/10 (Nothing fancy in 45 minutes but a couple of drinks and some crackers)
On-time arrival: 9/10 (again, within 15 minutes into ATL
on a Friday...Not bad.)
Baggage claim: 10/10 (Co-workers bag almost beat us to the carousel.)
"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."