I think this report is going to be quite lengthy, so I hope you have a good broadband service. Pour yourself a wee dram of whisky and take in a Scottish trip report.
This one started off back in February when I got a call from my parents asking if I could be their "tour guide" on a trip to Scotland in May. I happily agreed, of course, and they even paid my way, asking me to take care of the flight details and they would handle the rest. What a deal! I have been to Scotland on about four occasions, and could not love the place more, but my parents hadn't yet made it there, though they are very seasoned travellers.
I work for American Eagle, so that's my honest disclosure before getting into a trip report and an appraisal of the service of Delta Air Lines. I did all I could to persuade my folks to book on AA
, on which they have Gold status anyway, to fly to London on the 777 and connect to BA
. When I told them that Delta had a flight to EDI
, they wanted to do that. So then I thought I would do a price comparison for them, as I get an employee discount on purchased tickets for myself and my parents on AA
/BA would be cheaper. Delta's flight was cheaper than AA
, even considering my discount! They were flying from SHV
and I was flying from DFW
. I forgot who got what fare, but booking 90 days in advance for an early May trip to EDI
, the fares were $600ish and $800ish. I don't remember if the SHV
or the DFW
was cheaper though. I also told them not to waste their money on a ticket for me, that I could fly standby, and they went ahead and got me a ticket anyway. They really hooked me up!
Moving along. My parents had not bought a ticket on Delta in 7 years because of a really horrible customer service fiasco DL
/AF caused us when the whole family was on a VCE
connection through Paris in 2000. They could have handled the situation professionally, but did not, and so my folks decided to start flying AA
, and that was about the time I started working for AA
, so they have stayed with them. My dad was apprehensive toward trusting DL
again but mom wanted the easy connection, so we went with that.
Here is my itinerary:
May 6th DL
11:00am - 2:01pm 737-800
May 6th DL
May 14th DL
May 14th DL
Nearly to the report proper, but let me set up one more thing. I was really looking forward to this trip. We were leaving on a Sunday and I was working every day through Saturday night, where I got off work at 1:30am Sunday morning. On Thursday of that week DFW
had another round of really horrible thunderstorms, and my apartment had so many power surges that my security system got all screwed up when the power finally was restored early Friday morning. The security system went off periodically through the night, and I actually HAD to wear my brand new Bose QC2 headphones to combat the noise! I had received them the previous day! When I was leaving my apartment for the day on Friday, and I opened my door, the alarm system sounded, even though it hadn't been set, and I was unable to shut it off. I decided that if it was still broken when I got home that night I would stay at a hotel.
It was still broken, so I had done some advance research to see if it had rooms, and decided to spend Friday and Saturday nights, leading up to my trip, at the new DFW
Grand Hyatt, built into DFW
Terminal D! I went home, grabbed my luggage for the trip, plus a bag for the two nights I would stay at the Hyatt, and went to the hotel, unannounced, arriving there at like 2:00am Saturday morning, asking if they had a room. I just checked in for one night at the time. A really nice guy set me up, giving me a good rate for the room, considering the time I was showing up. He set me up in a king room on the second floor, which offered a horrible view of the terminal roof and no view of the ramp/runways. I called from the room and asked if he had anything higher up with a good view. He mentioned something about looking for king beds and so I told him that for me, the view is more important than the bedroom configuration. He said in that case, he can offer me an Executive room on the top floor, with a fantastic view of the runways! I went downstairs to collect my key and really thanked him.
When I got to the room it was just what I had hoped for, and the room, featuring 2 queen beds and a 9 or 10 foot ceiling, plus marble bath, etc. I was living it up, and extended my reservation for Saturday night.
Here's the view of some AA
action from my room:
This hotel is perfect for airplane spotters, and that's why I'm writing so much about it here. The hotel is built into the terminal such that your elevator to your room is right by the TSA
checkpoint and you can see some of the airline ticket counters. The roof is somewhat accessible, as it is where the fitness center and pool are. The treadmills and bikes are set up facing windows that look at the DFW
terminals! The pool is on the roof where you can sort of look down at the terminals as well.
The Grand Hyatt also has a program where you can enter the terminal one time per day to go "shopping." I had heard about this, so I decided to try it on Saturday, before I went to work. I told them at the concierge desk that I wanted to go shopping in the terminal, and they said that would be no problem. They had to phone DPS
(police) and the police would escort me in. After about a 10 minute wait, 2 DPS
officers showed up, and one was training the other on how this works. They got my driver's license and also matched my name with my reservation at the hotel. Then they filled out a long form, and handed it to me. I had to go to the checkpoint at the bottom of the elevator, and only that one, and handed it to the TSA
agent as I approached the Xray. They do special screening on everyone who does this. So I got to get in the wind machine! He was very professional about it and told me that I have access to all terminals via the Skylink. If nothing else, it was certainly interesting seeing how they do this. I did end up buying a couple extra voltage converter/adapters at Brookstone, which ended up being lucky, because my folks forgot theirs.
Here's a view of the layout. The escalator going up takes you to the lobby of the hotel. Behind the frosted glass is the exit from customs. To the left is the TSA
checkpoint. Right of the escalator is the elevator to the rooms. It's quite convenient.
THE DAY OF
Sunday the 6th. I never really slept much that night. I left my curtains wide open, and from the bed nearest the window, I could, with my head on my pillow, look down runways 18R and 18L! So I spent the morning plane-watching from my bed at the Grand Hyatt!
The day started off with a great omen of good plane-spotting as I watched this from my window.
This was a North American 767 arriving with troops coming home from Iraq/Middle East. I actually saw this happen the same time the day before from my room, only with an ATA L1011.
Finally it was time for me to get moving, so I checked out. I got a cup of coffee from the coffee bar (very beautiful area--nice bar and restaurant). The only flaw with this hotel is that you have to fly AA
or any other Terminal D airline if you want to just take the elevator to your check-in. I was on Delta, so I asked what was the best way to get there, and they said take the Terminal Link bus. I was wondering if the Hyatt would drive me, but they don't.
Here I am waiting for the Terminal Link bus beneath the Terminal D complex.
I got to the Delta check-in, which was very crowded. It was about 9:30am and my flight was at 11:00am. I had read on the internet that Delta allows international check-in from their kiosks, and so I gave that a try. It was surprisingly easy. I had to open up my passport a certain way so that the kiosk could read some info, and I slip the passport through the kiosk. Then my boarding passes printed, and I checked my bag--which weighed 47 pounds! I had 2 sport coats and an overcoat stuffed in there. Usually I travel with just a carry-on.
wasn't too bad, and I made it through in like 5-10 minutes. I had all my camera gear, but that didn't slow anything down. I have a Priority Pass membership, which grants me access to Crown Rooms among other clubs, so I went to the Delta Crown room. I knew it was at gate 10, which is really a Continental gate, and my flight was at gate 14, so it was quite a walk from the gate to the Crown Room and v.v. The agents there were friendly, and commented on how busy they were this morning. I asked them to check on my parent's ASA flight out of SHV
and they said the airplane to SHV
had just blocked out of the gate on time, so it looked OK
While sitting in the lounge, watching what was going on at Terminals C and E, I got my second unusual airplane spot of the day. The twice-per-week Continental Express CRJ taxied in!
It was arriving from IAH
and parked next to an Embraer that was going to CLE
. When taking off in my DL
737, we were parallel to the CRJ while holding short for 17R.
At 10:30, I went to the Delta gate to board my flight to ATL
. I hadn't been to ATL
in years, so I was excited about that. I also like to fly other carriers, to see how they all compare, so I was looking forward to this. Delta didn't have any new signage at the gate, since they had just announced their "New Delta" on Monday six days previous. They did have a very professional automated gate announcement system announcing boarding and all the complicated zones of boarding. At first I didn't know if I liked it, but have since decided that this has a very professional feel about it. My seat was 22F, a right hand window seat, and the flight was nearly full, so I had heard.
When I boarded, I snapped these shots quickly.
Here's a quick view of the interior of Delta's 737-800.
Here's the view out the window.
N389DA "Wavy Gravy" or my favorite "Aeroflot" paint job.
11:00am - 2:10pm On-time
Just before they shut the door a Delta captain who was hitching a ride to work claimed the middle seat next to me. A captain in full uniform, so I decided not to video the takeoff and landing like I usually do. I didn't want to get in trouble. I spoke to him and immediately found out he was a talker. We ended up talking for the whole flight to ATL
The most awkward question was when he said, and this was still before we pushed, "so, what do you do?" When asked that by a crewmember I always get really close to telling them I'm a writer. I write as a hobby, and haven't been published in a few years, but that answer would lead to more questions than I care to answer, so I answered him truthfully. "Crew scheduler for American Eagle" We talked for half the trip about the difference between the two carriers and things like that. Then he tried to get me involved in some multi-level marketing scheme that he's involved with and I respectfully declined!
We took off DFW
runway 17R and turned out east for ATL
My biggest surprise was that they have the Air Show, showing our present position, even on the 737-800, which makes sense I guess, since the aircraft can do some really long flights. They played that for a while before turning on the TV
I asked him if the Delta uniforms had changed, because the flight attendants looked to be in a new uniform with red highlights, but he said that was last year's new uniform. The new new uniforms hadn't come out yet!
They came by for the beverage service, and also offered one item from the snack tray. It was a choice of various things such as chips, biscoff cookies, cheese and crackers, and there might have been more. I took a coke and a cheese and crackers.
Soon enough we were landing at ATL
and we landed on the new runway--10. My captain seatmate called it the penalty runway. I compared it with DFW
's 17L and he said that ATL
's 10 seems even further away from things than 17L at DFW
. We taxied forever it seemed, before parking at terminal A.
We arrived on time, and I looked around the terminal, which seemed recently remodeled. The gates all had the new Delta signage, which looked OK
. My parents were arriving on ASA from SHV
at 3:30 (including a 30 minute delay) and it was about 2:15, so I went out to Terminal E to see what was there. There was an Omni MD11, a KLM A330, and a very familiar LH
A340-300. The LH
was D-AIGI. I had spotted it at DFW
on 4/22 and 4/28. This was 5/6 and I was seeing it again, now at ATL
, so that's the third interesting spot of the day, which had hardly begun. If anyone cares, the KLM was PH
The fourth interesting airplane spot of the day for me was when back at Concourse B, waiting on my parents to arrive, I saw that ASA still has their Texas special paint job. I would have though they would have repainted that after DFW
closed down for them. I suppose it doesn't matter all that much, and ASA flies to Texas still in a couple cities.
Finally, mom and dad arrive, so we are all in ATL
in one piece. I had a choice of scheduling them a 1 hour layover or a 4 hour layover, and decided to go with the long one, given ASA's on-time performance plus the fact that ATL
's worst delays are in the afternoon around the time they would be arriving (5pm-ish). So they arrived 30 minutes late at 3:30, and that was no problem at all. We headed to a TGI Friday's for a bit of lunch. There aren't many sit-down restaurants in ATL
. Mostly they just have fast food.
Once we left TGI Friday's we headed to the Crown Room at the T Gates. I picked that one because my dad is a golfer and that one has the putting green. Here he is using it:
The T Gate Crown Room has some great views. Here's a really big 767-400:
And here's its little brother:
Time goes by rather quickly, so at 6:30 or 6:45 we get up and move to Concourse E for the 8:05pm flight to EDI
! It was at Gate E36 and there's no way to see that plane from inside the terminal. I suppose it could be done at Concourse D if you knew where you were looking, but that wasn't convenient. So I didn't get to see my plane until Scotland!
Here is the gate. I have always loved ATL
's Concourse E signage:
Look at the uniforms of the Delta agents. They are so casual that I don't find them professional. It looks as if two non revs are checking standby lists, wearing golf shirts and all.
While sitting at the gate I look over toward the cargo ramps and the private jet ramps. I see a strange airplane. I don't trust my eyes at all. It looks like a Qatar A319 in ATL
, but that can't be. So I grab my NIkon with 200mm zoom lens and look through that. It is a Qatar A319! In Atlanta?!?!
This is as close as I could get to it. I left the heavy 400mm zoom lens at home this trip. Does anyone know why a Qatar A319 would have been in ATL
on May 6th?
They begin to board the flight with zone 1. I'm sitting right by the boarding door, and notice that the zone 1 people, who are in business class, mostly have NRSA in huge letters on their boarding cards. OK
,I saw at least 4 of those. American doesn't put huge NRSA on boarding cards for passengers to see! It's more discreet. Anyway, I'm in zone 6 with seat 35A. I look across the hall and I see another surprise airplane spot, this would make number 6 for the day. Look what I saw!
Yep, the new paint job. Citgo has arrived! It looks better in person than it does on a.net forums.
Anyway, as you can tell, I quickly ran across the hall to snap a shot or two out the window, and ran back quickly.
So we board up N177DZ and take our seats, strapping in for the 8 hour flight to Scotland. A Scotsman sits by me on the aisle and his wife and some friends are in the middle seats. He was really friendly, as all the people I encountered in Scotland were, and he gave me some good tips on restaurants & etc. He had been scheduled to fly home the day prior, but missed his connection by five minutes. They had been on vacation in Florida, and their RSW
flight diverted to TPA
for a medical emergency. Delta put them up in a hotel and gave them food vouchers.
We push out right on time.
Here's the takeoff from runway 9L
I was impressed that Delta has almost brought back the amenity kit. We were given (all with the new logo) eye shades, ear plugs, and a menu. I'm going to go in more detail on the return flight, as I have more pictures from that, but I'll just say that the staff were very professional and mostly friendly. The food was some of the best coach class food I have ever eaten. My main course was a ravioli that was rather good. The choice was a grilled breast of chicken with honey glaze and carrots or a spinach and cheese ravioli.
We flew up the east coast, but since there's no personal IFE, I didn't know where we were once we left the big cities. I wanted to see St John's NFLD, as I always look forward to seeing it as the last city of North America. About an hour past Boston the flight attendants made an announcement for everyone to shut their window shades. I shut one of them and had the other one halfway open as I was still looking at the various cities in Canada go by, while listening to music on my Bose QC2. All the sudden I feel my chair move, and the flight attendant is behind me, on top of the back of my seat, reaching across to my window to shut it. I felt that was out of line. I was not about to fall asleep and I fully intended to shut my window shade once we passed St John's. I could sort of see the Air Show that was on the main screen in business class up front, and I had an idea where we were. Later on I actually did pop the window open and saw it.
I slept for an hour maybe. As the sun was coming up outside (yes I popped my window open quite a bit) we were north of Ireland and I couldn't see it. We had a satisfactory breakfast and started preparing to arrive at EDI
. It was 55 degrees and rain showers according to the captain's report. Luckily the weather moved off before we got there.
The breakfast wasn't very exciting, as it included:
We came in to Edinburgh from the south and then flew around northeast of the city to land on runway 24, to the southwest. Here's the landing video:
I've only flown into EDI
once before, and that was a domestic flight, so this was my first time through customs there. It's a small airport and customs was very easy. Once we were off the plane I got to see it was the "Aeroflot" or "Wavy Gravy" paint scheme.
We had a great time in Scotland, spending 5 days in Edinburgh and 2 days in the Highlands at Inverlochy Castle. Here are two friends I made:
And here is my dad, an avid golfer, doing his tee shot at number 1 on the Jubilee Course at St. Andrew's. A huge milestone for him. And he got the best score of his foursome.
N1604R Older Paint Scheme
Mom did way too much shopping! We actually had to buy 2 bags to carry all the stuff! It was a challenge getting all that in, and I wasn't expecting them to actually enforce the 1 item carry-on limit. Last year at Heathrow I went through security with my camera bag plus a 22 inch carry-on and they didn't say anything. At EDI
we had 5 carry-ons among the 3 of us. In the 5 were my mom's purse, my camera bag, and three normal carry-ons (such as a small duffel bag, etc). I ended up stuffing my camera bag into my duffel bag, which barely worked, and my mom put her purse into another bag, and then we went through.
Delta and Continental are the big excitement at EDI
, and they park next to each other. The Continental 757 had winglets and was running a bit late getting to EWR
. The DL
767 was in the older paint scheme and had arrived 1 hour late from ATL
, but was scheduled with a 4 hour sit at EDI
, so it was no problem.
Here's Continental starting up for EWR
This time I had seat 31G (or whatever the window seat on the right at 31 is) and had an empty aisle seat next to me. The two rows in front of me were empty and three rows of middle seats adjacent to me were all empty. Well, they were empty until later in the flight when people layed down across the three seats in the middle on two of those rows.
The view from my seat at EDI
Business class had maybe 10 people in it and they were mostly non-revs. I watched when they made a general announcement for all standbys to please approach the podium and it looked like about 15-20 nonrevs for the flight.
It was so empty that we pushed out 15 minutes early, at 1:00pm rather than 1:15.
Here's the terminal. There's an Easyjet there and a Scot Airways. You can see Edinburgh in capital letters written on the terminal, which is a nice touch.
Some colorful cargo.
Holding short. See the colorful yellow field. That's grape seed.
And the takeoff on runway 24, with some scenery after takeoff.
As we were taxiing out, I noticed that the main screen was not working and the flight attendants in my section did a manual safety demo. That made me think that the projector was broken and I would have no video IFE at all. My suspicions were correct. The mainscreen is at about row 21-23ish. There are little TV
's above the aisle up there. Then the next little tv's over the aisle are at row 32. I was at row 31. They made an announcement after takeoff that if anyone wants to move to a seat where they can watch the movie, they are welcome to, once the seat belt signs were off. They mentioned that there was plenty of room to move about.
I had a good book and wanted to look out the window too, so I remained in my seat.
See the dark screen! And look at the empty seats. You can see, from where I was sitting, that the nearest TV
to watch was a long way away.
Here's a view looking to my left, just showing how many empty seats there were.
As mentioned before, Delta gives out almost a complete amenity kit now. Here's what they give you:
The one thing I forgot to put there was the pack of ear plugs. I think that's a nice touch. Even British Airways doesn't give out menus in coach. Or at least they didn't last year when I flew them.
For the meal I got the roasted chicken breast. The food was rather good for airline food once again, so Delta gets good marks for that. I was going to get the pasta, but decided on the chicken as the pasta had an emphasis on olives, which I don't much care for.
Fresh seasonal salad with tomato and feta cheese, served with creamy Italian dressing.
Pesto Roasted Breast of Chicken complimented by marinara sauce, with orzo, broccoli, and carrots
enhanced by red and green peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans and olives, topped with Parmesan cheese.
Oat Crunch Cookie
Ice cream will be offered midflight
Four Cheese Pizza featuring Mozzarella, Edam, Emmental, and Provolone Cheeses
The pizza was made and packaged in Italy. The cookie was made and packaged in the Netherlands. I thought those were impressive, since it wasn't all just Atlanta-catered stuff.
Here's a shot sort of showing the flight attendant's uniforms. The flight attendants were all rather friendly and professional. The flight attendant who made most of the announcements was Scottish.
After I woke up from a 2 hour nap or so, I saw the business class Air Show showing we were approaching the south tip of Greenland. It looked like we would remain south of it, but I had a north-facing window seat (by design, in hopes of seeing Greenland) so I started looking for it. I actually think I saw some of the darker black or brown mountains way off and took an unconvincing picture of them, because it might be just clouds. I'm not sure. Anyway I'm not posting that picture, as it's not too exciting.
This is just a shot of the wing over the North Atlantic somewhere along the way.
Further along the way, just before making landfall, there wasn't a cloud in the sky hardly, and there were some really excellent ice formations. Look at this:
And then we start seeing some islands in the middle of this ice:
Further in still, we see some frozen lakes and rivers:
We followed the St Lawrence Seaway for a really long time before breaking off and going nearly due south down the East Coast toward Atlanta. I began to see more and more air traffic as we made our way south.
Some contrail shots.
Probably in Virginia, I looked down and saw we were just above an Air Tran 717, and this 717 was going along at the same rate we were, so that it remained below us for a good 10 minutes. Finally we hit some turbulence, and when that happened, it moved forward of us. I'm not sure if it was a wind differential or an ATC instruction that separated us.
The captain came on and said that the combination of our leaving 15 minutes early plus the favorable winds meant we would be landing in ATL
a full hour early. He said don't get your hopes up until we have a gate assignment, as that usually causes a logistical problem when too many planes come in early, and all the transatlantic flights had the same favorable winds. A little while later he said we had been given gate E35, so that was promising.
Here we are landing ATL 8L
. It was a very bumpy landing this time.
We held for our gate for about 12 minutes or so and parked at 4:35pm. Scheduled arrival time was 5:15pm.
that sat for about 15 minutes waiting on a gate. G-VIIP featuring GE90 engines.
My scheduled flight to DFW
was at 9:30pm. There was a DL
757 at 7:15pm. After going through customs and immigration I went to the DL
re-booking area. I asked my parents to come along as well. They didn't have seats for me to go on the earlier DFW
flight, but they had two seats on the ASA CRJ for my parents to catch the 6:30pm flight to SHV
. They charged my parents $25 each for this standby and rebooked their bags to go with them.
My parents complained to me in ATL
about the discomfort of the DL
regional jet (CRJ) compared to the Eagle one (EMJ) and I talked to them again today 4 days after the trip and my mom said once again not to book them on the DL
regional jet again, as it is just too uncomfortable. I agree with them about the CRJ, where you get a neck pain when trying to look out the window.
I had the option of catching an AA
flight as an AA
employee, and there was one at 6:50pm with 40 seats open. I had a problem though, because of a design flaw at ATL
. I couldn't take my bag with me. I could either send it on its way from customs to DFW
as it was tagged, or I could get in line again to get it rechecked to ATL
(even though I was already there) to get to the main terminal and then claim it, then carry it to American and check it. I usually just bring a carryon, so this checked baggage thing is really annoying. I decided it wasn't worth it, and so I dropped my bag at baggage recheck and went through security, then saw my folks off on the SHV
flight. Then I wandered around Terminal E for a bit to see the plane I came in on and see what else was there.
Here's my plane from EDI
, now getting ready to be DL
70 to FCO
. I wonder if they fixed the projector.
needs to update their information. There are some defunct carriers listed here on their information display. See if you can find them!
Here's the AF
747 to CDG
this trip report is long enough. I'll summarize the ATL
. After my 5 hour layover, it was delayed an hour due to maintenance. It was a 737-800 with the "wavy gravy" or "Aeroflot" paint. I was tired and missed the registration.
As we taxied out at ATL
, the flight attendant gave an announcement that we had a Navy Seal in seat 1C and everyone clapped. He mentioned that there were a bunch of employees on the plane coming back from furlough. That was a little different, but I guess that's a good thing!
As we were landing at DFW
we did a go-around! It was 11:30pm and the pilot said the reason for the go-around was due to a FedEx that didn't vacate the runway soon enough.
If you have read this far, thanks for reading. It's really long and might should have been put into two different reports, but I put it all into one. I appreciate your comments and suggestions for further reports.