Now thats out of the way onto my report!
We left our hotel in Connecticut at 9am and spent the day in NY with the grandparents. Then at 3:30 it was off to LGA. We pulled up curbside and the airport was QUIET! Now, this being a Saturday and the day before Mothers Day I expected a little lull, but the airport was the quietest I had ever seen LGA.
We checked in curbside and waited while my dad returned the rent-a-car. We then proceeded through security. I thoght having 2 reservations, one being one-way, would cause a red flag, but it didn't and we were on our way. Now, you all know how I feel that airport security is overdone...not at LGA. This is because pre 9/11 they had many of the measures already in place, including ticketed pax only...so LGA is one of the few exceptions to my rants about security. Also, at the DL terminal, I reccomend the checkpoint on the right hand side...no line at all, albeit only a short line at the main checkpoint due to lack of crowds.
The airport has been changed and it looks great. There is a huge bookstore, a Chillis, BK, Sbarro, and Starbucks...yum! We headed off to gate 3 where the SLC flight was boarding...even thought it is 1X weekly, they can't fill a 757 to SLC...suprisingly I think. I headed over to gate 2 to watch the DFW E170 leave...beautiful plane. This was at 4:00pm, and it was the last flight out of gate 2...also, many gates were empty until the 7:00 bank...why the under-usage by DL? I know of many airlines that would love to use that gate! Then it was over to gate 1 to spot the ATL flight...again, dead...maybe 50-60% full at best. Same went for the 5:00 ATL flight...and the 7:00 ATL flight! The comair gates even ere empty...5 40-50 seaters and at best a TOTAL of 40-50 people waiting! It was the emptiest I have seen these planes. Even the NWA gates (while fuller) were empty. And on that topic, when you leave the DL section and head to NW, its depressing. The podiums haven't been redone since what seems like 1960 and the arrivals/departures screen for NW also seems that old! We hung out and watched the SLC flight board. a PAX was waiting for his family at secuirty....he was afraid they would not make it. the agent could not find anything to SLC, but went out of his way to find something to DEN as a last resort. He also headed to security to get them through. A+ for customer service there! They did make the flight with seconds to spare!
We then sat down and waited...the MCO gate started to fill up, but still no where near 100% full...the DFW gate didn't even appear to be filling up.
Finally, our plane arrved from MCO early...a familiar plane! N610DL! Pink Snot!
Photo © Michael Carter
if you remember, I flew this aircraft in Thanksgiving.
Boarding commenced at about 6:30pm...group 1, then a second later 2, aother second and 3, another second and 4, another second roup 5, another second group 6....finally, people started boarding...thats how empty the fight was! We boarded in group 7 and sat in row 5 (ABC) for:
SCH DEP: 6:59pm
EARLY/LATE: 15 mins EARLY
The plane appeared pretty empty..I would say 40-50% full and leaning more towards the lower end. I left my parents and headed to row 7 which was empty. I had all 3 seats to myself which was awesome...and my parents had a middle seat open so all was well. Pretty much every row had 1 or 2 people in it and many rows in the back were empty. No wonder there was nobody in groups 3-6!
We taxied and were #1 for takeoff...how about that at LGA and departing 15 mins early from the gate....how lucky we were! Safety video played on the IFE screes (took 3 years for them to figure out how to do that!?!?). It really brought back the memories of the days when I used to fly FLL-ATL-FLL...the last time I was on a non song DL was ATL-FLL back in '03. It was old school, just updated with the new uniforms and a male voice over the old female. Captain was really nice but not detailed and, unlike song, the FAs did not introduce themselves by name, a touch I enjoyed. The new unifoms in all look stunning and you can tell that employee moral is up as the entire NON SONG crew was nice and had genuine smiles on.
One of the things I love about empty planes is the fact that the FAs are not as stressed and thus nicer. Add to that that most people on Saturday nights tend to be more "Seasoned veterans" and you have one low stress crew! despite a few bumps, the flight was relativly smooth as well.
Our meal was a non-song treat...OJ and a bag of chips. AFter the crew came through the cabin, the FA came by and gave out refills due to the light load...better IMHO than a full can. Also, during a trash pass, I asked the FA for some cookies, and she gave me biscoffs...not the Newmans Own, but good nonetheless...we had a quick chat about song meals and she told me that she had never flown song.
In lieu of watching TV, I decided that I'd take advantage of the extra space and make a playlist and watch time go by and lay down a little. The sun was too bright, so I spent most of the flight with the shades down. The man in 6C came to row 8 behind me to rest, so I moved my seat to upright for him. It was funny to see, the entire cabin was laying down on sets of 3 seats...thats how wide open it was...I'd say it was the 3rd emptiest flight I had been on.
I kept the inflight map on and the music playing and then we approached Melbourne and I opened the window shades. we made the basic 9L approach and we got to see a lit up FLL area...it is so beautiful to see from above at night!
SCH ARR: 10:01pm
touch down: 9:24pm
AT GATE #D9: 9:26pm
TIME EARLY/LATE: 40 MINS EARLY!!!
TOTAL TIME IN FLIGHT (push to at gate): 2 hr 44 min!
We touched down and headed to gate D9. The airport was empty. A new touch, the gate agent came on and said CAROUSEL #2! We got off and nobody knew where to go. I headed to carousel #2 and others followed. An announcement came on and said: ATTENTION CUSTOMERS ON DELTA FLIGHT 1489 YOUR BAGS ARE COMING OUT ON CAROUSEL NUMBER 3. Now, do't I feel like an idiot. Mind you, 1489 was the only flight in at this time, and everyone was at coursel #2...could they not of just put the bags on #2!?!?
Anyway, our bags were amung the first off and we headed out!
Overall, a great flight and I regained trust with mainline DL!
LGA airport: 10/10: clean for a change and great when its empty!
LGA Ground staff: 10/10! Supurb handling of the delayed flight and getting our flight out 15 mins early!
airplane: 8/10...didn't feel like song...shouldn't have...it was wierd seeing the DL Safety cards and the DL magazine in it!
flight crew: 10/10...handled a spill supurb, hun in the galley for a while, but they really were not needed in the cabin...did many passes with the trash cart and did 2 drinks! very friendly! Had the spirit of DL!
meal: 3/10...I'm sorry, from song's meals to chips and cookies is unacceptable...2 points for the FA letting me have the cookie though!
IFE: 10/10...song's IFE is still the best IMHO
FLL aiport: 10/10...its my home, what can I say
FLL ground staff: 5/10...friendly, but the bag situation could have been handled better
total: 76/80=95% satisfaction...by far the best satisfaction rating in a LONG time...even on song!
All in all, I wish all of my flights are that empty, but the reality is they can't! I'd like to put all of this to test on a busy day, but I'm sure that while it may not be 95% satisfaction, It would definently be high! DL is headed in the right direction, and, given a choice, I would definently fly mainline again!