Photo © Paul Robbins - Nashville Aviation Photographers
This flight was scheduled to depart at 8am, so we got to IAD around 615, and went over to the kiosks to drop off our bag, having checked in the day before. Security would have been a breeze, as they opened two new lines right as we got there, however, a family with multiple small children got into the other line first, and infront of us in the other line was a guy who SOMEHOW hadn't heard of the 3-1-1 rule, and had an ungodly amount of cologne in his carry-on bag. So we all had to wait until another TSA guy could come over and take his bag away. We still beat the family though, since when we finally made it through security, they were arguing with the TSA agent over why they couldn't push their toddler through the metal detector in the stroller. After a nice stroll over to Terminal B, we plopped down at Gate 44 where our MD-88, in the Deltaflot colors, unlike the photo above, awaited us. Boarding was surprisingly orderly and efficient, with a 100% load. Push-back was on-time, and we had a quick taxi over to RWY19L for departure. Once airborne, the flight attendants came through with the standard drink and snack service. My wife asked for Sunchips, and when I asked for the cheese crackers, she commented she didn't see those, so we traded. I also had a cup of coffee, which tasted like it had been brewed the day before using an old gym sock as a filter . What was interesting, was there was a soldier returning to Iraq seated in 14B, and the guy in 14C bought him a drink. Later in the flight, the soldier got up to use the lav, and a flight attendant came back and gave the guy in 14C his $5 back, saying something to the effect of 'that one's on the flight crew' which was a nice touch. The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we arrived 20 min early to Atlanta. However, our gate wasn't open yet, so we had to wait on a taxiway over by the Delta TOC for 15 min. The net effect of this was an on-time arrival into Terminal A.
Photo © Stefan Welsch
Once we got out into a very crowded Terminal A, we checked the departures board, and made our way over to Gate B08, using the underground walkways instead of the train, as those were packed to the gills. Once at the gate, we ran over to the Seattle's Best Coffee stand and got some really yummy sandwiches for lunch. Boarding was again efficient, and while waiting in line to get down the jetway, I exchanged comments and predictions about the Stanley Cup Final with the guy behind me, who was wearing an Ottawa Senators T-Shirt (GO SENS GO!). Departure was on-time at 11:10, and after a brief wait behind 3-4 other flights we were off. The captain announced our cruise altitude as 37000 feet, which I found surprisingly high for such a short flight. We followed the West Coast of Florida down over Tampa and Naples before turning due East and making a straight-in approach to 9L. We did hit some moderate chop while on short final, which led to us 'arriving' 2 or 3 times before finally staying on the runway. Service was identical to the previous flight. Also, this 757 had yet to be upgraded with the new IFE, so we had the overhead TV screens showing something which I ignored. We arrived right-on time at 1, and while taxing in, saw a few ex-Chalk's Mallards over on one ramp looking downright pathetic, missing all sorts of parts. We arrived at gate D08, and after a short wait, had our bag, and were off to the hotel.
Photo © Art Brett - Photovation Images
The FLL airport wasn't as crowded as I had feared, and after a short wait, were able to check-in using the kiosks again. Security was a breeze, and after a quick stop at the newstand just past security for a book, we settled in at Gate D08 again to await boarding. We were in Zone 9 for boarding, so were among the last on the plane, which was again, 100% full, but we still managed to get overhead bin space for our carry-on. Another on-time departure at 11:17 followed. This was a fairly bumpy flight- the seatbelt sign stayed on for most of the trip. Service was the standard drink and chips/crackers/etc offering. Again, this plane had the old IFE, and we were shown some CBS sitcoms, complete with commercial breaks- this stayed on until we were off the plane in Atlanta- it was never turned off on approach or landing. Also, we could see the Flight Attendants putting the VCR tape into the player, and with the commerical breaks, it kinda felt like something they had recorded on their VCR the night before. We arrived on-time again in Atlanta, and had a quick taxi over to Terminal A. This time, the terminal was surprisingly empty, and we made our way over to Gate T04 for our connection.
Photo © Daniel Piotrowski
After stopping for sandwiches, we arrived at our gate in the construction zone that is the T-Concourse. Our plane arrived at the gate not long after we did. Boarding was a little chaotic this time, as there were several families with small children on board, so it took a while to get them settled, but we still pushed close to on-time, which was 2:39. We were number 2 for departure, so after a brief wait, we were off. Again, this 757 had the old IFE, and the showed the exact same set of CBS programs (glad I hadn't forked over the $2 for the headsets)- the only difference being they turned it off for landing this time. Also, this flight was the only one not 100% full, but it was close- I saw 4-5 empty middle seats, but that was it. We had the (by now) standard drink service, and arrived 10 minutes early into gate B44- where we had started our little adventure. Naturally, here is where Delta really distinguished themselves. According to the board, our bags were coming off carousel 14. After a 10-min wait, the siren went off, the carousel started spinning and 5 bags came out. That was it. After another 20 minutes of no activity, an announcement was made that Claim #14 was broken, and our bags would appear on Claim #13, which after 5 min or so started spinning, and spitting out bags. None of which had DL tags on them- they were off an American Airlines flight. After 10 minutes of this, my wife notices that bags are coming off Claim #14, so we go back over there, and sure enough, they are tagged from our flight. Eventually, our wayward bag came out, and a full hour after we had landed, we were off.
Apart from the baggage claim debacle at IAD, this was a smooth series of flights on Delta. OK- so the seat pitch was a little tight, and there was no steak dinner offered on board, but they got us and our luggage there and back on-time, and without any major hiccups. Thanks for reading this far, and comments are always welcome!