As of right now this flight will be my last pair of the year. I have to go to the Boston this week for a training class at the Cisco Systems campus in Boxborough. After spending the last couple of months on the big Delta metal between the 767-300/400 and the 777 back and forth to Orlando I found this trip to be on the ever reliable Maddog. While not a huge plane compared to those it is one of the workhorses in the fleet and I've never had any problems with them.
Sunday came and I was off to a bad start. I had done some laundry the night before and while I remember putting them in the dryer and even starting it but I woke up to find the dryer door open and wet clothes. Luckily it was early enough and I got them dry and finished packing. I started puttering around the house helping my wife. Needless to say I lost track of time and made a late start to the airport. Traffic was horrible due to unscheduled bridge work so I called Delta at that point and got rescheduled for the later flight. There was no way I could make my 1415 flight at this point. Luckily I had a changeable ticket so I had no problems and it didn't cost me anything.
I got to the airport just before 1400, parked in the daily parking deck and walked into the terminal. I made my way to the Medallion/First Class checkin desk and was third in line. The agent was cheerful and got my boarding pass, receipt, and printed out my baggage stickers. Two stickers came out though. One was the normal one to get my bag to Boston and the other one was the dreaded "Special" sticker. I was going to be the lucky recipient of additional screening today. That'll teach me to change a flight at the last minute. Sure enough my boarding pass had the wonderful SSSS designation on it.
Looking towards Baggage Claim in South Terminal
I wandered over to the Premium line to get into security and didn't have to wait too long. I was second in line but the guy in front of me was waiting for the rest of his party to catch up to him. I was fine with it since I had spare time now but the lady checking boarding passes and IDs got pretty grumpy about and yelled at them to "hurry up and to quit holding up the line." She marked all over my pass with orange highlighter and sent me down the special body cavity search line. Yippee!
The line was deserted and nobody was even there to watch me put stuff on the conveyer belt. A TSA agent finally appeared and I asked him if I needed to take off my tennis shoes since I was getting the superduper special screening today. He laughed and said I didn't need to take them off. I got escorted over to a little table got the metal detector wand and pat down search. They didn't look in any of my bags or make me take off my shoes or undo my belt. I guess not so bad compared to some of the other screenings I have had before.
I wandered down the hallway to the T Concourse past the display cases that were now holding an exhibit on model trains. There used to be a great exhibit in these cases on the history of Delta Air Lines. I'm guessing that got moved over to the HQ building and the museum over there. I took the escalator down to the transportation hall and walked out to the A Concourse instead of taking the train for just the one stop. Once in the concourse I went to the Crown Room at A18 and got a drink and settled in to watch some of the Pittsburgh-Chicago game and some good smash-mouth snowy football. Outside the window a 757 pulled into the gate just below us. As it was pulling into the gate an MD-88 had to hold up a little bit before it could continue on its way.
N669DN pulling into the gate
N941DL waiting behind the 757
I left for the gate about 45 minutes before the flight and got there a few minutes before they started loading up.
Lv ATL 1545 (actual 1546)
Ar BOS 1809 (actual 1818)
Tail Number: 967
Routing: DAWGS1 SPA J14 RIC J14 PXT J191 RBV J222 JFK ORW3
We walked down the jetway but when we got there it seems they weren't ready for us yet as the cleaning crew was still on the plane. We waited on the jetway for a few minutes and then got on board. I made my way to 4A and settled in for the flight. While the cabin crew was friendly they seemed a little bit lost today. Although I was the first one on the plane they took the drink order of the couple across the aisle from me. No big deal but then that couple never got their drinks and no one else was asked if they wanted anything. I guess the gate agents got ahead of themselves but the plane got real crowded real quick and think that was what kept the steward and stewardess from getting drinks or taking jackets to hang in the closet. Like I said, not a big deal to me but it was different than what was expected. Perhaps a cost cutting move? I doubt it but interesting nonetheless.
I snapped a quick picture of the coach cabin and I apologize for the quality. I think I am going to ask for a new digital camera for Christmas or just start using my old 2MP Sony camera. This plane had gotten the new interior. I've been on quite a few of these but I finally figured out why they seemed "lighter" on the inside now. One thing is the lighter seat covers. They are a lighter blue than before. In the First Class cabin they are a two tone cover of the same blue and a gray. I don't know why but I just don't like the color. I didn't check the head but I believe they are getting the new faux wood floors. Not sure what effect that is supposed to have because I am more concerned with not messing up my pants or getting a horrendous cramp in my neck from contorting myself to fit in that tiny room than I am looking at the floor. I've heard the lighting is new and brighter but it seems the same to me. One thing I did notice was that the bulkheads have new laminate on them instead of the dark blue they used to be. All in all it is a fine interior but nothing to write home about.
Blurry Coach cabin
Despite the full flight we loaded up pretty quickly and pushed back one minutes past the scheduled time. We taxied relatively quickly out the 2S ramp and onto the Mike taxiway all the way out to 27R. By the time we got there the pilot told us we were 4th for takeoff but it seemed quicker than that. We took off to the west and got a good view of the fifth runway project that is coming along. I believe it should be operational before the end of 2006. I dread having to taxi out to it though.
Just west of the airport is a big open mine. I say mine but I believe they just get granite or marble out of it instead of precious metals.
We made a series of left turns to finally come back 180 degrees and passed the field to the south before turning northeast for Boston. We flew south of Stone Mountain (Redneck Rushmore!) and just south of Winder, GA where you can find the little Winder-Barrow County airport on the outskirts of the Atlanta suburbs.
KWDR in Winder
We continued northeast following I-85 towards Greenville, SC. We passed just south of downtown Greenville and the old Greenville airport that is still in use for GA traffic. I would reckon our flight took us right over the GSP airport since I did not see it.
Downtown Greenville airport
We continued into North Carolina and passed a ways south of Hickory. I snapped a pic of the HKY airport but it is from such a distance that you can't see anything so I left it out. Not too long after HKY the skies got overcast and the view disappeared. Not too bad since it was time for dinner or what they pass off as a meal on the plane now. The stewardess came through and got drink orders and passed out hot towels. More so a small thin washcloth but it was hot and refreshing. The cost cutting moves continue with Delta so the cloth tablecloths have been replaced by a paper placemat.
The stewardess brought me my Diet Coke and glass of red wine and then asked if I wanted the meal. I swear I heard her ask me if I wanted a turkey or ham wrap but it turns out she just wanted to know if I wanted the wrap. There was no choice as it was just turkey. She came back with the tray and handed it off to me. The wraps appear to have gotten smaller as well but it was still good. The salad today was a black bean and corn concoction that was served cold and was pretty good. Delta also gives you an Oreo brownie for desert. The stewardess also came through the cabin after handing out the meals with the snack basket. I grabbed a bag of Sun Chips and settled in to chow down.
Delta standard issue wrap sandwich
We continued on our path up the east coast and the weather cleared up just south of Wilmington, DE. We flew just south of the Delaware River and had good views of Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Trenton. Not too long after that we flew over Staten Island and had a view of Newark. I tried to get a picture of the field but we were too far away to make anything of it and it was too dark to be any good. We continued along over Brooklyn and had a great view of Manhattan and the northern suburbs.
Night in Manhattan
We made a gentle turn to the east and continued along Long Island Sound and started our descent into Boston. The clouds picked back up again so there wasn't much to see until we were over Boston Harbor on final into 33L.
We taxied towards the A Terminal but got held up right in front of the cargo complex along taxiway Alpha. We sat there a few minutes before the pilot came on and announced that there was a US Air Express plane in front of us who was confused and waiting for instructions. We continued our taxi and then sat in front of our gate in the main part of the A Terminal. Now the captain tells us we have a broken down truck sitting in the middle of the gate area and they assigned us gate A21 instead in the satellite part of the terminal.
I got off the plane and then made the walk down the concourse to the escalators to the underground tunnel to the main terminal and then back up to baggage claim. I got my bag in one piece and took the rental car shuttle out to the Avis lot and got my car and went my merry way to the suburbs. There was a good amount of snow on the ground but the roads were clear. I like visiting snow but would hate to live in it. I believe this week will get me my fill of the white stuff for the year.
View from my hotel room on the old Fort Devens
Sightseeing in New England
I was able to slip away on Monday and visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. I thought it had too much emphasis on professional ball but then I'm just not a big fan of the current NBA and prefer college ball. While I had a good time it is something I don't need to go to again for many years.
Not too far from Springfield is Hartford, CT and the Bradley airport. I hadn't been to Hartford in many a year so I hopped on the Interstate for the quick trip down there. Way on the north side of the field is the New England Air Museum and that was where I was headed. Here are a few pics from the visit. If you are in the area I recommend it. Nowhere near the level of the Smithsonian but still quite interesting and worth the $8. My dad used to work for a division of United Technologies at Cape Canaveral but had to come to Hartford all the time since it was HQ along with Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Standard which UTC owns so I like to think of Hartford as an aviation town in addition to the Insurance Capitol of the United States.
The F4-U Corsair is my favorite WWII plane. I wish I could have one at home.
A partially restored B-29 Superfortress
It wouldn't be Hartford without something from Sikorsky
A little bit closer view of the nose
That DC-3 sure looks big compared to the Piper Cub
A Gee Bee reproduction that I think would be fun to fly
An old F-14 Tomcat. Where are Goose and Maverick?
An old F-86 Sabre fighter from the Korean War era
An Apache helicopter. These fly over my house all the time (close to Dobbins AFB) and I swear those two blades just beat the air into submission to stay aloft
I visited Walden Pond during a lunch break one day but I'll spare you a picture of a frozen lake.
I also visited the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston on Friday evening for the brewery tour. I was visiting Boston back 1994 for a tour and got really lucky. Back then it seems they only had one tour a day but the information didn't say what time it was. When I showed up at 4PM they told me it was only at 2PM. One of the office workers asked me to give him a few minutes and that he would take me around. I got my own personal tour and got to sample a lot of the really good stuff they don't normally let you try at the end of the tour. This time there were a lot more people but it was still great. If you find yourself in Boston I recommend you take the tour. That one day 11 years made me a Sam Adams drinker for life.
I stayed in Back Bay Boston on Friday night since Boxborough is so far from the airport and I just didn't feel like driving into town on Saturday. From my room at the Copley Place Marriott you could see part of Logan and the planes landing on 4R and 4L.
Overview of KBOS from the 31st floor.
I checked out and drove through the city trying to get to Logan. There was construction and I never could find the detour the signs said was ahead. I finally made my way through the Callahan Tunnel and into the disaster that is the roads around Logan. What a complete nightmare trying to find the gas station to fill up the rental car and the rental car return but I finally did it. The receipt for my rental car was for just shy of $1700 which was obviously a mistake. They corrected it and I went on my way to the terminal. The bus dropped me off and I checked in at the Medallion desk and gave them my bag. I hate checking bags but it was too bog to fit on the plane since I had to bring the cold weather gear this week.
This week, even though I had changed my flight, I didn't get the SSSS designation so I went through security very quickly. I made my way down the escalator to the tunnel out to the satellite concourse. I was running a little bit behind so I didn't stop at the Crown Room. I've been in both of them now at BOS and they are nice. The one on the satellite seems bigger but they have the same amenities are very new compared to some of the other CRCs in the company.
Lv BOS 1440 (actual 1438)
Ar ATL 1716 (actual 1754)
Tail Number: 688
Routing: GLYDE BAF J77 EMI J48 MOL WOMAC2
Our plane today was a 757 and it was still in the old Ron Allen colors. I'm surprised that in the 5 years the Wavy Gravy livery has been around they haven't been able to repaint all the planes. What was stranger was this plane had the new interior. I was the first one on the plane and lo and behold we were going to have two air marshals on the flight today. How did I know you ask? I'm the first one on, the flight is not a connection, and these two guys are sitting in First, look like ex-military types, etc. I'm all for air marshals but common sense says you should have them board with the rest of the passengers so not to give them away. Just my opinion...I could be wrong but it should change to keep the bad guys guessing.
I have to say the 757 has to be my favorite plane in the fleet (other than BizElite on the 777) since the seats up front are wider than the 767 with plenty of room to roam about and get comfortable. As I said this plane had the new interior and yes, they have the fake wood floors in the head. I have no idea why they even think this impresses us. It's about 4 square feet of space and you don't even see it unless you just happen to look down.
The empty coach cabin
The First Class cabin during boarding
Drink orders were taken and coats stowed away in the closet. We departed a couple of minutes early and made our way out towards runway 22L. Along the way we passed the American Airline gates and the JetBlue gates. One thing of note was that Delta finally refreshed the safety video. Unfortunately they picked a long haired hippie looking kid to be in it showing how you should store all your electronics before takeoff.
AA gates and control tower
There were a couple of ERJ-190s sitting at the B6 gates. The one with the striped tail is N179JB "Come Fly With Blue" and the one with the checkerboard tail is N183JB "Azul Brasileiro."
Farther down at the E Terminal I could see the daily Lufthansa and Speedbird flights but we didn't get close enough to make out their registrations. We pulled onto 22L and started our takeoff roll. We took off and made the sharp turn to the left. As we continued to climb quickly and make the turn I looked back behind us and snapped a pic of the field with an AerLingus plane landing on runway 27.
Looking back with AerLingus landing
We started making a right hand turn and still continued the steep climb. We passed close to NAS-Weymouth which is southeast of town. We continued our turn and eventually followed I-90 out west. We passed to the north of a small airport close to Southbridge, MA.
We continued our flight to the west to stay out of the NYC area traffic and passed just north of Hartford which gave me a nice view of Bradley Airport. Somewhere down there is that nice Air Museum.
KBDL in Hartford
The snack service on this flight wasn't a wrap for the first time in I don't know how long. Instead it was a sandwich but at least on a roll this time. It came with a bowl of undercooked Penne pasta which tasted ok despite it being a little too firm. We also got a little oatmeal bar from the same folks who supplied the Oreo brownie on the way up. This flight was somewhat turbulent so once they served the meal the steward and stewardesses sat down until much closer to ATL. No drink refills but luckily I had a bottle of Diet Coke in my seatback pocket just in case.
We made a turn to the southwest and picked up the J48 airway for a little bit before starting the WOMAC2 arrival into ATL. Along the way we passed Baltimore and had a view of downtown Baltimore and the BWI airport. We also passed north of Washington, D.C. and I got a picture of the downtown area and National Airport. I could see Andrews AFB off in the distance but it was too cloudy to get a decent picture. I could make out the CIA complex at Langley but there a little bit too much cloud cover to get a good shot. (maybe generated by Karl Rove's hurricane machine?) I hope all my co-workers at the Pentagon are having a good time. I suspect I'll be on a project there again sometime soon.
We continued along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the arrival into Atlanta. Along the way we passed the Wintergreen Ski Resort in Virginia and what I think was Mount Mitchell in North Carolina which is the highest point east of the Mississippi River.
Wintergreen Ski Resort
I dozed off a little bit here but it was pretty cloudy so you all didn't miss much in the way of pictures. We approached from the Northeast and made a turn to the West to run parallel to the field before making a 180 turn and lining up on final approach for runway 8L.
ATL at dusk
We had an easy landing and then took the B11 and B10 taxiways to cross 8R where we took E11 followed by the E, D, and F taxiways before turning into the 3N ramp for the B gates. I was kind of disappointed since the original arrival gate was listed as being on the E Concourse. There was a BA Speedbird 777, a KLM 767 and an OAI DC-10 that I guess was on a military charter sitting around along with the regular Delta heavies.
We pulled into B21 right along "the Spine" (thanks for the explanation OttoPylit) so the walk to the trains back to baggage claim was very short. Unfortunately when I got to the baggage claim area I stood around for 30 minutes before the bags showed up. I finally got my bag and walked to my car in the daily garage and drove home tired but glad to be home. As usual Delta service is good but nothing to write home about. The stewards and stewardesses are attentive (when not sitting for turbulence) and always providing service with a smile. This was my last trip of the year as I am heading off on a lazy Christmas vacation.