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Posts: 389
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 1999 3:34 pm


Sun May 24, 2009 2:55 am

March and April were good months for me. My wife, son and I moved to Portland, Oregon from Central California in early January, and we were finally settled. My new freelance web/graphic design career was taking off, and for the first time in recent memory, I had a little extra money to spend. Having looked through flight options, I thought a trip home to Toronto for a few days to visit my family was doable. It was also timed perfectly to surprise my grandfather at his 80th birthday party.

To keep costs down, I chose to fly to Buffalo instead. BUF is a modern airport with much less traffic than YYZ, it's within 2 hours of Toronto, and it usually means that flights from the west coast end up costing about half as much. Many Canadians fly to BUF for this reason. Travel to Toronto is easy by road, taking about 2 hours, minus the time through customs.

This was actually the first time I'd be flying alone in quite awhile. I love my young son, but doing a cross-country trip with a 3-year old can get pretty nerve-wracking. When we all travel, the name of the game is to get there as soon as humanly possible, but for this trip, I wasn't under those constraints. I chose an itinerary that only an aviation freakazoid would love (yes, I mean you and me both, dear reader).

The round trip involved a total of 6 separate legs, 2 different airlines, 3 types of aircraft I haven't flown on, 2 airports I'd never been through, and over 10 hours of layover time for terminal wandering and taking pictures (and that doesn't include time spent at the airport before the first flights of the travel days). Yes, you know...the kind of itinerary that makes your spouse roll her eyes, and say, “if you ever book me on a flight like that...” Oh yeah. You know that type of itinerary.

From the moment I booked it, I couldn't wait for May 2nd.

Finally, it was the day before departure. I'd be getting there on Northwest Airlines, PDX-MSP-DTW-BUF, starting on a 757-300. The 2 later flights were on DC-9-50's, which I'd never flown on. The only DC-9 I'd ever been on was a US Air DC-9-30, and that was over 11 years ago. I had checked in online, and changed my seat from the back of the plane to 17F, since a whole block of priority seats in the front of the economy section had opened up.

There was a family birthday across the river in Vancouver, WA the night before my trip, and I was stuck doing laundry when we got back. I didn’t get to bed until almost midnight, and my radio alarm rocked me into consciousness at 5 the next morning.

I opted to take TriMet to the airport since I didn’t want to get my wife and son out of bed so early. At quarter to 6, I was standing out in the pouring rain at 17th & Haig waiting for the #17 bus into the city. The trip was short, and after a quick stop at Voodoo donuts for some fuel, I walked over to Skidmore Fountain MAX station and caught the Red Line light rail to the airport.

Looking fugly but excited on the way to the airport

The train was almost empty so early, and I was at the airport at about quarter to 7. I checked my bag and picked a checkpoint. There are 2 security checkpoints at PDX you can use, and often, one will be less busy than the other. However, they both seemed pretty long this morning, so I just chose the one nearest my gate.

What followed was kind of surreal, the TSA agents were cheerful and cracking jokes with passengers. What’s in their coffee, and may I have some? It took about 20 minutes, but I was through security. I started by heading to my gate and snapping a nose-only picture of the plane. I was hoping to get one of the newly painted Delta 753’s, but this one was still in the NWA scheme.

N581NW, my ride to MSP

I decided to take off and wander around since I’ve never gotten the chance to freely explore PDX before. I covered most of the 4 concourses on foot, and even snapped some photos of my aircraft from the B concourse.

Hawaiian Airlines 763 later heading to Honolulu

From the side

A northwest sandwich

Alaska Airlines

Hey don't lose my bag!

Southwest Airlines

Love those squat little engines

American Airlines Mad-dog

N581NW – getting ready to take me to MSP

What a catch!

I came back to my gate, and at that point I wondered about the people who just go to the gate after clearing security. You’ll be stuck in an airplane seat for hours, so before then, you want to just sit at a gate for hours? I guess not everyone finds airports as interesting as us av buffs.

In the last few minutes before boarding, I kept overhearing chatter from the next gate over. A flight was about to leave and one of the passengers had left a sweater somewhere else in the terminal. Well the Northwest groundcrew was doing everything possible to locate it and get it back before the flight departed, ending with one of them taking off and actually running through the terminal to pick it up and bring it back to the aircraft. They made it with 2 minutes to spare. Wow! How come we only ever hear about the pissy airline staff?

Leg 1 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW218 - PDX-MSP
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 757-300, N581NW
Seat: 17F
Load Factor: ~98%
Scheduled Departure: 8:50AM
Actual Departure: 8:47 AM

Boarding was called and I used that excuse to head for one final bathroom visit, and then boarded the plane. I had a great seat in front of the engine but unfortunately, the window had some gunk on it, so my photos weren’t as spectacular as hoped. I was sitting next to an older couple, and the gentleman in the aisle seat seemed to have issues with his hip and wasn’t able to move easy. This became a problem later on…you’ll see.

For a fully-loaded 753, the boarding process was surprisingly quick, and we pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule. It was still gray and rainy outside. We taxied out to Runway 10R. PDX had just the other day closed the other main runway, 10L/28R, for a runway extension project.

The engines roared, and we climbed into the murky gray. We stayed in the soup for quite a while and finally surfaced into clear skies.

Out of the clouds and into the blue

Over the Rockies

I sat back and enjoyed the flight, as instructed by the captain (I was just following crew member instructions, ha ha). About an hour into the trip, I started feeling pressure as my morning coffee was catching up to me. The drink service was slowly traveling down the long and narrow aisle, and since one of my seatmates had trouble moving, I waited as long as I possibly could before asking them to clear out so that I could run to the bathroom amidst a flood of my own apologies.

Unfortunately, I was stuck back there for 10 minutes or so, and I came back to find that half an episode of Frasier (among my favorite shows) had already played. I watched the rest of it though. It was the episode where Martin & Cam Winston’s mother pretend that they're dating to drive their kids nuts, and Niles was darting around on a Segway scooter for no reason I can think of other than because Segway gave them a lot of money.

I spent much of the rest of the flight listening to my puny iPod mini on my gigantic noise-canceling headphones, but 45 minutes out from MSP, I had to admit that I was feeling a definite urge to make a bathroom trip again. However, I couldn’t make my seatmates move again in good conscience, so I had to hold it.

Getting close

Final approach

We came in from the east, and finally touched down on 30L. By now my bladder was screaming at me but there wasn’t anything I could do until I was off that plane.

Over the threshold

Reversers & spolers deployed

Slowing down

This 757 landed behind us

Ooh! Delta 747!!!

The aircraft pulled up to the gate, but sat there for another 10 minutes waiting for a marshaller. THE AGONY!!!!!!

Next gate over

As the plane docked, I realized, holy cow, I can’t really ask them to move to let me out…I’ll have to wait for the entire plane to get off first. I had just accepted the imminent bursting of my kidney when they offered to let me out, and I managed to squeeze into the tiny spot between a particularly large passenger and another who either didn’t know I was there or refused to move an inch forward to give me room. You know the way people are before they get off a flight.

Exiting the plane, I made a beeline for the nearest bathroom, screamed HALLALUJAH in my head, and finally, zipping up my pants, walked out into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

I had a 3 hour layover here, and was happy to just go wandering. I walked down the Lindbergh Terminal's G concourse, went across to C and up towards D and the observation deck. After walking for a while, I realized just how big this terminal is. Freakin' huge!

NWA E-jet – MSP was full of them!

The last time I had been at MSP, even though I knew roughly where the observation deck was, I still couldn't find where it actually was. At the time, I just gave up and assumed that it has been closed for security reasons ('twas the season). But this time, I wasn't going to give up that easy. I soon found it and headed up there. Well, it certainly was quiet. There was only one other person up there, a gentleman chatting quietly on his cell phone. I made myself comfortable, took out my camera, and snapped away.

The classic MSP C concourse lineup

US Airways flight pushing back

Bowling shoe A319 – probably will be in Delta colors soon

After a while up there, I headed down to look for some lunch. I chose to get a Grilled Veggie Sub at Charley's Philly Grill. It was tasty but a bit too greasy. After that, I wandered down toward the commuter gates, concourses A & B. I took the terminal tram to get most of the way there.

Delta MD-80 from the food court

Saab 340 pushing back

It amazed me how quiet these commuter gates were. I didn’t see any more than 5 or 6 passengers at any one gate. I guess I stood out like a sore thumb, as some wierdo walking back and forth in a near-deserted terminal snapping pictures. However, an interrogation never happened, so maybe not.

Bowling shoe CRJ starting up

Another Saab

I slowly made my way back to the observation deck to spend the last little while before catching my next flight to Detroit.

An E-jet under perfect lighting...tears to my eyes!

'Delta' DC-9

Delta 747-400...does anyone else think their new livery looks really boring on such a large aircraft?

Back up on the deck, there were only 2 people up there this time. The entire time I was up there, in 2 visits of over 1 hour total, only 5 people had been up there, not including me. What a waste of a good observation deck!

Delta taking over...

There goes the DC-9

I think CR9's are so damn good looking, especially in the NWA scheme!

Panorama of the C concourse

40+ year-old DC-9-30

Slightly newer A319

Aha! A 'Delta' A320. I was happy to catch one.

US Airways E-jet...I still much prefer this classy livery to the newer US Airways scheme.

With 15 minutes until boarding, I sauntered over to my gate, just 2 gates from where I arrived. While waiting to board, I called home and then wandered over and found a great view of the aircraft through the tall, thin windows spaced across an access walkway.

N779NC – my ride to Detroit

Catering truck wondering why it's there in the first place

At last…time to board this beautiful old DC-9!

Leg 2 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW1446 - MSP-DTW
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-50, N779NC
Seat: 25A
Load Factor: 100%
Scheduled Departure: 5:05 PM
Actual Departure: 5:05 PM

I had chosen a seat right beside that big engine. I figured, might as well go for the real DC-9 experience!

Hehehehehehe – whadda view!!! Big grin

The flight pushed back, again on time, and oh man, those engines starting up…it was something wild!!! The whole back of the plane was vibrating and it was hard to hear anything else. Regrets? HELL NO!!! Big grin

Taxiing by widebodies

Ah, a Delta A330

A newly-painted 753, N590NW – was hoping for this one on my flight from PDX

The plane launched like a rocket off of 30L and turned south-east towards Detroit.

Downtown Minneapolis

The quintessential Northwest Airlines photo – Minneapolis viewed from a DC-9!

The in-flight service was beverage-only and quick, I ordered a cranberry-apple juice and gazed out the window.

It didn’t take too long before we entered Detroit airspace, and buzzed over the suburbs. I had no idea about the city geography, and so I wasn’t sure what direction we were headed. I saw the city center off in the distance, but we turned away from it and landed shortly thereafter on DTW's runway 22R.

Detroit suburbs


I was pretty surprised at how lengthy the taxi was. 22R empties onto the Q taxiway and that seems to meander around the edge of the airport a ways before turning up towards the South Terminal.

After a long taxi

Rounding the South Terminal

I got to see an interesting sight. I think that because the inside A gates have such narrow taxi space between the terminal and the terminal access roads, multiple departing flights all push back and startup at the same time, so then arriving flights can taxi in to take their place. I saw 4 DC-9’s being pushed back simultaneously, and then taxiing by us shortly thereafter. We then followed 2 other DC-9s in.

Note the 4 DC-9s pushed back and starting up

Waiting for the area to clear

Another docked DC-9

Off to the runway

Pulling into our gate

We pulled into the gate and powered down. Wow, I can hear again. It took a while to get off the plane, but I was, for the first time, in Detroit.

I was right next to the terminal train, so I popped up there for a free ride, one of the things which I thought would help pass my 2-hour layover.

View of the train & terminal from the South Station

Video: Going for a ride on the train!

Now THAT is one good-looking plane.

I had been warned about a nasty DTW feature…the thousands of tiny window dots. So unfortunately, pictures were mostly out of the question, although I did try for some more creative ones later in the evening.

I settled down at Waterworks Bar & Grill and ordered a tuna melt and a couple of beers. I was carded, as usual. I’m 31, but I still get carded 80% of the time when I buy alcohol. I guess it will be more fun when I’m 50 and trying to get a senior’s discount. In any case, dinner was great.

Still with some time to kill, I wandered around a bit more, took some more snaps. Man, I really hate those dots. Look at the great sunset shots that I could have taken. What is the point of these dots other than to annoy people to want to take a picture?

Dots. Thousands and thousands of little tiny dots.

The dots are less visible from a distance

A78 – for some reason, no dots here!

The original looks like there's a halftone pattern on the photo.

Finally I was able to calm my ass down about the dots when I thought, yes, I'm pissed that I can't get any decent photos, but at least I'm not the guy who had to paint these hundreds of thousands of little tiny dots all over the windows. Man it would suck to be them. (Anyone who thinks that a machine did this, don't ruin it for me! It's the only way I was able to get over it!!!!)

I ended up down in the tunnel to the B & C concourses. They have a light, color and sound show set up and it’s pretty trippy…even more so after a couple of beers.

Woah man, the walls are alive....

I wandered back to my gate, and after taking down the registration of the aircraft sitting there, realized that it was the exact same plane that I had taken from MSP.

Leg 3 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Northwest Airlines #NW1684 - DTW-BUF
Date: Saturday, May 2nd 2009
Aircraft: Douglas DC-9-50, N779NC
Seat: 9A
Load Factor: 80%
Scheduled Departure: 9:31 PM
Actual Departure: 9:31 PM

Boarding was quick, the aircraft was about 80% full. I tried to snap a picture of the aircraft beside me, but it was too dark for anything decent. I finally put my camera away, after a great day’s shooting.

Last photo of the day!

For my third flight today, we departed on time. That’s 3 for 3, for Northwest Airlines! Well done!!!

The flight took off, but with a flying time of just over half an hour to BUF, there was no drink service. Ah well, not a problem. I was pretty tired by this point and just dozed and listened to music.

Before I knew it, we were touching down in Buffalo and the plane emptied into a near-deserted terminal. My parents met me shortly thereafter, and we drove home to Toronto. Had a little interesting event at the Canadian border crossing, a car ahead of us was taking an excessively long time going through, and finally the driver gunned the engine and pulled sharply over to an inspection building. When we were cleared through, we saw two customs agents searching the car and the driver was nowhere to be seen. Smuggler?

The next 3 days went like a whirlwind. The birthday party was a lot of fun, and I spent the rest of the time with my family…talking with my mom, trading Photoshop techniques and photographs with my stepdad, checking out my father’s newest collectables and helping with his vending machine route, meeting my stepsisters for a drink, and having breakfast with my aunt and grandparents, as well as my brother and my 1-year-old nephew.

The day before leaving for home, I checked in online for my Continental Airlines flight back to Portland, routing BUF-EWR-IAH-PDX. It was kind of a roundabout way to get back to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd never been through IAH and I was looking forward to flying in a 737-500 & -900 for the first time. Large blocks of seats had opened up on the 3rd flight, and I gleefully grabbed an overwing exit row window seat. No such luck for the other two, so I stayed where I was.

My father and stepmother drove me out to Buffalo the night before. There was a 5-minute wait going through customs, and we soon after arrived at the Millennium Buffalo Airport Hotel, a 3-star find on Hotwire for about 60 bucks. I checked in, had a refreshing shower, and then lazed in bed eating microwave popcorn until I fell asleep.

My room

My alarm went off at 6 AM, and I packed up the rest of my belongings. I also took a few snaps out the window.

Walden Galleria Sign

View over the hotel complex

I got on the hotel shuttle van a little before 7 AM. I think everyone else on board was Canadian since they all seemed totally mesmerized by a Tim Horton's that we passed by on the 10 minute drive to the airport. “There's Timmy's!!!”

I checked my bag at the Continental self check-in & bag drop kiosk. Those things are so convenient. Security was a breeze, BUF just opened up an expanded screening area and I was through in only a couple of minutes.

At that point, my flight was about an hour and 15 minutes away from boarding. I wandered the terminal and finally ended up in a big, glassed in area at the east end of the terminal. No one else was there because it was heating up fast. The traffic was slowgoing, but I still got a few snaps of incoming and outgoing flights.

I'm surprised US Airways flies a 757 to BUF, the only other US plane I've seen there is a CRJ


Ah, nice find.

Jetblue E190

US Airways CRJ

Southwest aircraft being towed to the gate

Our Continental Connection (Colgan Air) Q400 flight arrived a little later than scheduled, and pulled up to the jetway.

Here comes my plane!

The turnaround was done super-fast, and we were soon boarding.

Leg 4 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO3404 – BUF-EWR (Colgan Air)
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Bombardier Q400, N195WQ
Seat: 7A
Load Factor: 95%
Scheduled Departure: 8:40 AM
Actual Departure: 8:40 AM

I took my seat right next to the port-side propeller, and a *very* talkative woman in her late 40's sat next to me. I got the feeling at first that she was nervous, since one of the first things she said is that a plane just like this one crashed a few months ago. However, I didn't see anything to indicate that she was anything more than just really talkative.

The flight pushed back, AGAIN on time, and those engines hummed to life. Even though the prop was right next to me, it never got all that noisy.

We taxied out to runway 23, and without delay, accelerated and took off into the bright, hazy morning.

My seatmate and I ended up talking for the entire flight, and even though I'm not the most talkative person, I quite enjoyed it – some people have very disarming personalities. She was extremely proud to be traveling to Raleigh-Durham for her daughter's graduation from Duke.

Later in the flight, I excused myself to take some snaps.

Big ol' prop!

It wasn't a long flight, and before long we sunk down into the New York City area, which was much cloudier than Western New York State. We popped below the ceilings a few minutes before landing, and below us sprawled a very busy Garden State.

New Jersey

Landing gear

Rail yards

As we neared touchdown, I looked across to the parallel runway, where dozens of aircraft were in line for takeoff. The only other time I've flown to EWR, I got stuck in a line like that for takeoff and it sucked. Ah well. The pilots did a greaser of a landing on 4R, but the reverse thrust was really something that had to be felt to believed! I couldn't believe how fast that plane decelerated! Man, the Q400 sure puts the 'S' in 'STOL!!!'

Long lineup of departing flights

The line keeps going...

...and going...

...and going!

El Al 777

This guy's waited far too long...let's get this baby off the ground!

”Uh, I think there's a Dash 8 stuck in the engine...”

Dash 8

Still waiting...

We crossed the parallel runway after a 5 minute wait, and taxied into the C concourse. I was expecting the A concourse. Is this because Continental Express uses A, and Continental Connection uses C? We pulled into our gate, and de-boarded.

Coming into the C Concourse

Parking next to a 735

My seatmate commented that the prop looked it true?

Thanks for the ride!

My layover was scheduled for a little less than 2 hours, which was more than enough time to wander EWR. I got to take some pictures of Continental's beautiful 777's.

Hazy Manhattan skyline in the background

CO 777

Nice looking T7!

More Continental tails

Despite how many people comment that EWR is particularly anti-spotting/photography, I was never once approached or even given an inquisitive eye.


I still think it's odd to see 737's without the eyebrows

Whadda you lookin' at?

Dash 8

I think 757s are the most attractive aircraft from the front

As I kept wandering, it occurred to me how boring it was taking pictures in the C concourse. Continental has no logojets or anything, and all of their aircraft are in 1 scheme. Nothing transitional, no new liveries to catch or old aircraft waiting a repaint. Everywhere you look, same old same old. Plus, the cloudy sky didn't do anything to brighten things up. I didn't have the time to travel to any of the other concourses, so I just dropped by Vito's Gourmet Deli and had an absolutely fantastic tomato, basil & mozzarella panini sandwich. Yes, I know, Continental feeds you, but on my flights I couldn't order a special meal, and I'm quasi-vegetarian (I eat seafood occasionally, but no other meat). So, I doubted the snack-meal would likely be very useful. Not a problem though, that was a damn good sandwich.

After that, I wandered back to my gate, and got the best picture I could of the aircraft that was going to take me to IAH.


Once more onto the breech!

Leg 5 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO411 – EWR-IAH
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 737-500, N46625
Seat: 21A
Load Factor: 60%
Scheduled Departure: 11:45 AM
Actual Departure: 11:45 AM

It was a fairly empty flight, with about a 60% load factor. The 2 seats next to me remained empty during boarding, but after the door closed, an off-duty flight attendant sat down in the aisle seat. I kind of was pissed about this, because I wasn't going to test how strict she'd be with the no-electronics rule. I grudgingly put away my camera as the flight pushed back and started up...once again, ON TIME. Wow. 5 flights out of 5 on time. What's happened with US air travel?

The taxi was short, and I noticed that the runways had reversed and we'd be taking off in the opposite direction, compared to the direction we'd landed a couple of hours ago. Not only that, but the huge traffic backup was completely gone – there were only 2 aircraft ahead of us in line for takeoff, and soon after, we taxied over the piano keys, the engines roared, and we were off.

The climb out of New York airspace was fun, with tons of turns and rapid changes in climb speed.

We cleared the lower clouds, but there were high-level clouds way above us, so we never really saw the sun until much later in the flight. At last we were above 10,000 feet and I was able to take pics again.

Wings across America

The meal service came, and it was a turkey sausage looked tempting and I considered breaking my 2 year stint of quasi-vegetarianism, but only for a short minute.

Later during the flight, I saw a huge airport down below, but I couldn't recognize it because it was mostly covered with clouds. I took some pictures to look it up later, turns out it was ATL. Too bad the weather wasn't nicer.


The weather seemed really unsettled through the entire flight, even though we hardly hit any turbulence. Check out some of the clouds along the way.

Almost eerie cloud formations...

There was no one sitting behind me, so I spent most of the flight fully reclined, listening to my iPod, dozing, gazing out the window and struggling with the Sudoko puzzle in the in-flight magazine. It was a really quick 3 1/2 hours, and as the cabin was being readied for landing, the clouds broke somewhat and I saw the coastline which I later realized was where Texas meets the Gulf of Mexico.


Once again, the camera went bye-bye. We landed on runway 27 and it was a very short taxi to our gate in Terminal E. I got off the plane into Houston, my first time ever in this airport. Now, I had almost 4 hours to kill until my next flight. I dreaded that it was going to be as dreary as EWR, but some sun shone down through the haze improving my photos, and I started walking.

In the sake of wasting time, I took the inter-terminal train over to the B Terminal, where the Continental Express flights operated from. I swear, from the train, I saw nothing other than ERJ's over there...with one exception...a CRJ at what looked like a maintenance building. When actually in the commuter terminal, I walked to the end of one of the piers, and, other than crappy photos of just the nose, there were no decent shots I could get. I took the train back to the main terminal and continued wandering.

The connecting bridge between D & E gave me this view of the D departures level

Continental 767-400

I stopped to rest a few times, trying to stretch out my visit...and I visited every corner of the C, D & E concourses. I ended up in the D concourse taking pictures of the BA 772, AF 773 & LH 744, as well as other aircraft hanging around.

BA 777

AF 773

Lufthansa 747-400

Continental 753

Getting tired of writing captions

When getting into position for a half-blocked picture of an EK 772, a Qatar 772 landed in front of my eyes. I was so excited, since I'd only ever once taken a photo of a Qatar plane, an A330 in 2002. But here was a beautiful new 772 in their new livery.

Emirates 772

Rrg, who put that thing there???

I stood around waiting for it to taxi in, and got some great shots. What a beautiful bird!


Captions are irrelevant

With that success, I settled in to a restaurant for a greasy veggie-burger dinner and a few glasses of Fat Tire. Yummy!

Much loosened, I kept walking around for the final hour. It was actually well timed because I was never far from a bathroom. That was helpful when the seal broke!

Our flight, a 737-900ER, arrived late and we were told that there would be about a 20 minute delay. Great, my last leg would be the only one that was delayed out of 6 that I was anxious to finally get home.

I couldn't see the registration from where I was, so I motored over to the C gates where I was able to snap a shot of N37419.

Our plane, fashionably late

It was worth it to walk all the way over to C to get the registration

Took a few more while walking back.

Ah, 777

Our engine

I was among the last passengers to board, by choice...I wanted to make one last trip to the bathroom, to clear out the last of my beer rental. I took my place in a very spacious exit-row window seat.

Leg 6 of 6 ---------------------------------------
Flight: Continental Airlines #CO553 – IAH-PDX
Date: Wednesday, May 6nd 2009
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900ER, N37419
Seat: 16F (exit)
Load Factor: 90%
Scheduled Departure: 6:40 PM
Actual Departure: ~7:10 PM

The woman next to me was again very talkative, and we chatted off and on for about half an hour as the plane pushed back, started up and taxied out...about half an hour behind schedule.

Next door neighbor

We sat on the runway for several minutes before taking off into the evening sun and turning north-west for Portland.

As the sun set, I got lots of shots of the great-looking winglet and the dying day.

Going home

Like many of Continental's newer aircraft, this one had no IFE of any kind. Too bad! I would have enjoyed a movie to pass the time, this turned out to be a really dull and long flight.

The snack-meal service came, but it was chicken, outside of my diet choice so I didn't take it. It's ok, that's why I ate before boarding. I did get a Heineken, though.


At this point, I got really bored. The seat, while spacious in the legroom department, wasn't so comfortable for my rear end. I squirmed a lot, listened to music, and tried not to concentrate on how slowly time was passing. I swear it's been a long time since I've been that bored on an aircraft. I just sat there watching the minutes slowly tick by over the 4 ½ hour flight.

Tried to be creative


It took FOR-EV-ER, but finally we entered the Portland area. It was wet, just like when I left, and we flew through patches of heavy rain which illuminated quite well against the aircraft lights. We came in from the east, along the Columbia River, and finally touched down. Apparently, my wife and son, sitting in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot, saw my plane go by and touch down.

I was so anxious to get off the plane and home, so of course it seemed to take twice as long as usual to taxi in and deboard. I made a bee-line out of the secure zone, and was one of the first to pick up my checked bag. My wife picked me up on the departures level (the arrivals level was bumper-to-bumper), and I was soon heading home. It was after 10, and unfortunately my son was fast asleep by the time they picked me up. I missed that little guy!

Conclusions --------------------

In any case, despite the loooooooooong last leg, I had a great time. My thoughts were that the service on my Northwest Airlines flights was superior to Continental, having judged this based on 3 flights on each airline. Continental had no in-flight entertainment of any kind on any of the aircraft (not expected for the Q400 of course, but it would have been nice on the longer legs). I know that they have IFE upgrades coming soon in the form of PTVs though. The flight attendants, while polite, didn't seem like they were all that excited about being on board. On two of the legs, the FA's were doing something else when I boarded. Call me old fashioned or prudish but I always appreciate a smile and a greeting when I'm getting on board. Continental's free hot food is certainly a wonderful feature these days, but I do wish I had the opportunity of getting something veggie. I know that they vary their snack-meals, and some of those meals don't have meat. Maybe since they're mass produced, they could mix the food items up on each flight just to try to cover a few extra bases - instead of just offering a 'chicken-or-nothing' ultimatum. Well, I was probably one of the only passengers who didn't take it so it's not all that important in big picture. In any case, their aircraft were pretty new and very clean inside...and no gunk on the windows!

Northwest Airlines, while seeming pretty bony on the on-board service front (thanks for the cookie), gave me smiling flight attendants on all three legs, 3 on-time departures, and I couldn't get over how that ground crew in PDX was going to all that trouble just to get a sweater back to a passenger. They've really got some good people working for them. I wish them the best on their new partnership with Delta Airlines, which is an airline I have yet to fly on. Maybe next time!

Note the addition of the D95, 735 & 739 to my signature below. Woo hoo!

Thanks for reading and I'd be happy to get any feedback!!!
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Sun May 24, 2009 4:29 am

Thanks for a thorough TR. Agree that those DTW dots are awfully annoying.
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Sun May 24, 2009 4:36 am


A FANTASTIC REPORT! You had me laughing out loud at some of the bathroom stops, as well as little tid bits of off the head comments about different things.

Excellent report, and you got some great variety of planes as well! Nice mix of airlines too, to help the trip out also.

The pictures were amazing bro, and I really enjoyed looking at all of them.

Thanks for taking the time to do a trip report like this, it was so much fun to read it as much as you probably did writing it!

I always look forward to your TR's when they are made, keep it up!

Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who go AFTER it!
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Sun May 24, 2009 4:50 am

Thanks a lot for the awesome report! That was worth every second of my time. During your NW leg, I was nodding my head in agreement with things like the quiet observation deck at MSP and the window dots at DTW. Been there/done that; I find those experiences fun to read from others. Great pictures too. Looked like fun!
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Sun May 24, 2009 5:54 am

Wow great TR! I live in upstate NY and have flown through BUF several times and was ALWAYS amazed at just how many Canadians fly through there! If you go to the long term parking lots there are as many Ontario plates at NY plates! The pictures are excellent and I am glad you enjoyed is my favorite large US airport...

I LAUGHED after seeing the pictures about the line of planes waiting to take off from EWR... All the NYC airports are just terrible with congestion...

Again love all the pictures, thanks for sharing!
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Sun May 24, 2009 7:22 am

Great report! I really enjoyed your great photos and commentary! I can't believe I forgot about MSP's observation deck... I had a whole day to kill there not too long ago when I took a few VDBs.

I'm glad you enjoyed your seat mate on the BUF-EWR leg. I was also at the Duke graduation, but I still have one more year to go. Oprah was the commencement speaker.

I look forward to more reports from a fellow Portlander!
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Sun May 24, 2009 5:27 pm

Great TR! I hope I can catch my last times on NW before it becomed Deltanized  Sad. I've been wating to try CO to knock off anew airline for me and to fly a 737  Smile. do they all have winglets?
Roar, lion, roar
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Sun May 24, 2009 6:17 pm

I have to honestly say that was one of the best trip reports I have ever read.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
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Sun May 24, 2009 7:10 pm

Thank you everyone for the kind words! Glad you all enjoyed it.

Quoting Phatfarmlines (Reply 1):
Agree that those DTW dots are awfully annoying.

I just don't see the point in them - why wouldn't they have just tinted the glass?

Quoting Atrude777 (Reply 2):
Thanks for taking the time to do a trip report like this, it was so much fun to read it as much as you probably did writing it!

Yep, I really enjoy doing these, but by the end I'm so relieved to be done that I never want to do another one again!!! Big grin Nah, there will be more but probably not until later this year - haven't got any more trips planned.

Quoting MSPNWA (Reply 3):
quiet observation deck

It's bizarre...but I guess it's tucked away in an area with only a couple of gates, so most transiting pax don't know it's there.

Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
I am glad you enjoyed DTW...

I was quite impressed about how modern and spacious it seemed. I wonder how the airport and city will fare now that the auto industry is in decline and Northwest Airlines is losing it's identity. Could it become like St. Louis airport?

Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
I LAUGHED after seeing the pictures about the line of planes waiting to take off from EWR... All the NYC airports are just terrible with congestion...

It's crazy! I know many people have discussed how the airports in the area are so jammed with smaller regional jets, and I wondered - in the case of CO, does it make sense to operate so many small aircraft and have so many of their planes, engines and crews idle for so long just waiting to take off? I would guess they must have calculated that it's cheaper to do it that way than to consolidate EWR flights into larger aircraft and less frequent departures. I dunno, I'm not an area expert.

Quoting Pdxtriple7 (Reply 5):
I look forward to more reports from a fellow Portlander!

Hopefully it won't be too long before I can do another! Where in the Portland area are you?

Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 6):
I've been wating to try CO to knock off anew airline for me and to fly a 737  . do they all have winglets?

Hmm, good question...I went through my TR photos again, and my others - every shot I had of a CO 737 showed them with winglets, but I don't know if that would cover the entire fleet or not.

Quoting Jeffrey1970 (Reply 7):
I have to honestly say that was one of the best trip reports I have ever read.

I appreciate the comment very much!  Smile
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Sun May 24, 2009 7:22 pm

What a fantastic trip report!! Obviously comments on most trip reports are all positive, but this TR really is a step above the rest. The pictures were excellent and plentiful and I agree that the comments are also very entertaining. It is clear that this trip was taken with the report in mind, and who from this site wouldn't like to take it.

I can relate to so many aspects of this as well-the flight selection, the walking from gate to gate, the slight awkward feeling taking pics but not caring at the same time, the empty obs deck at MSP, the dots in DTW, the simultaneous DC-9 push-backs, the customary train video etc...this is one of the first TRs I read where it almost felt like it was me taking the trip.

The pics looking down concourse C at MSP are especially nice, and a great way to show time passing as many of them went from full to empty between the first and second pic. Also, I noticed N762NW was at gate A9 when you arrived and departed from DTW. The return legs were also above and beyond the other TRs here, stupendous job! Thanks for sharing.  bigthumbsup 
Dentistry: Because everyone smiles in the same language!
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Sun May 24, 2009 8:51 pm

Hi and thanks for sharing this great report! I enjoyed reading it! I noticed the N340NW and N357NB among your photo's, two of the NW planes I flew on  Smile You got me a tad jealous of the 753 flight though! I noticed that one of the pictures of EWR which features an RJ taking off, it looks like if the plane is missing the port winglet?

Kind Regards, Martijn
Always comparing your flown types list with mine
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Sun May 24, 2009 9:12 pm

Nice Report
It's amazing how few Delta planes are painted. It is still Northwest dominated!
Duluth is a nice city, we even get 3 months without snow per year
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Tue May 26, 2009 6:40 am


Awesome pictures of my home airport, IAH. I haven't made it to the airport to see QR at Terminal D, but there are plenty to advertisements still up at the Houston Galleria that many people are still taking pictures of them. Too bad you weren't there when SQ adds to the exciting livery line up at Terminal D.

Sorry you didn't enjoy your CO flight. Too bad you didn't take any of the 762 or 752 EWR-IAH flights, or even the 738s. Yeah CO had the 739ERs delivered with no entertainment to save on the installation costs for LiveTV, but at least the process has started.

Thanks again for sharing!

Colin  wave 
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
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Wed May 27, 2009 10:55 pm

Quoting MSNfan (Reply 9):
this is one of the first TRs I read where it almost felt like it was me taking the trip.

Thank you for the nice compliment!

Quoting MSNfan (Reply 9):
the slight awkward feeling taking pics but not caring at the same time

Isn't that the worst? I don't know whether it's a self-esteem issue or what, but whenever I snap a picture, my camera goes immediately back into my bag and I turn around to see if anyone's staring, or any airport cops are on the way over, etc. But, on this trip, nothing like that even though I took at least a hundred and twenty in-airport shots.

Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 10):
You got me a tad jealous of the 753 flight though!

Yeah, that was the second time I've been in a 753, and it's pretty nice! I loved being ahead of the engine. The fact that it's a narrowbody really accentuates just how long it is...I think Boeing was overcompensating for *something* when this appeared on the drawing board.... Big grin

Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 10):
I noticed that one of the pictures of EWR which features an RJ taking off, it looks like if the plane is missing the port winglet?

I checked my original photo, and it's just a trick of the's hard to see even at the original 5 megapixels but it is there.

Quoting DLHFLYER (Reply 11):
It is still Northwest dominated!

I was expecting more as well, but it may be a little while before we've seen the last of the silver and red. Too bad they're being phased out...the NWA livery is one of the classiest currently flying in the US, IMO.

Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 12):
Sorry you didn't enjoy your CO flight.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the fact, the leg from EWR-IAH was one of the most relaxing flights I've been on in quite some time. I just thought NWA excelled in this case when comparing the two experiences. Now, last Christmas, I did a coast-to-coast CO trip and they were fantastic at everything except getting my lost DSLR back.

Thanks again everyone for the comments!
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Thu May 28, 2009 2:01 am

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Thread starter):
It didn’t take too long before we entered Detroit airspace, and buzzed over the suburbs. I had no idea about the city geography, and so I wasn’t sure what direction we were headed. I saw the city center off in the distance, but we turned away from it and landed shortly thereafter on DTW's runway 22R.

Cytz_pilot, in your Detroit suburbs shot, the location you were flying over was 14 mile road in the West Bloomfield/Farmington Hills area. The straight road to the right in your picture is 14 mile with the round-about being the intersection of Farmington road. The larger lake under the wing is Walnut Lake. To get this photo would have put you over 14 mile and Halstead roads.
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Fri May 29, 2009 4:24 am

Quoting Cytz_pilot (Reply 8):
Quoting Burj (Reply 4):
I am glad you enjoyed DTW...

I was quite impressed about how modern and spacious it seemed. I wonder how the airport and city will fare now that the auto industry is in decline and Northwest Airlines is losing it's identity. Could it become like St. Louis airport?

Well Delta has definitely reduced flights to/from DTW but I think it will still be fine. What has been interesting where I live in upstate NY is that CO has their flights to EWR but Delta has VERY few flights to their hub at JFK. Instead NW has MANY flights to DTW and with the merger Delta is smart enough to stick with that since the three NYC airports are a mess capacity wise. I've often flown to Europe by going "the wrong way" to DTW first and then going across the Atlantic. Of course going to the west coast and Asia, routing through DTW makes the most sense for the whole yeah DTW should be o.k.

Sorry if I am rambling on....just read through your TR again and enjoyed it even more the second time...thanks again for putting so much time into it!
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Fri May 29, 2009 9:35 pm

Quoting Dtw9 (Reply 14):
To get this photo would have put you over 14 mile and Halstead roads.

Thanks! I was able to check it out on Google Maps, it was neat to see where I was and where the flight plan was taking us.

Quoting Burj (Reply 15):
I've often flown to Europe by going "the wrong way" to DTW first and then going across the Atlantic. Of course going to the west coast and Asia, routing through DTW makes the most sense for the whole yeah DTW should be o.k.

It seems like it may even shave a few minutes off the trip! Well, that's good for Detroit because it would be a shame to see such a stunning airport underused.
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Sat May 30, 2009 1:25 am

Excellent report. I loved your commentary. I tried to recognize any of my coworkers from your MSP XJ/9E pushbacks, but they were too far away  Silly
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Sat May 30, 2009 5:13 am

Amazing pictures and you're an AMAZING photographer! I downloaded a few of your pics to use as wallpapers on my phone they're so good! Keep up the excellent work!  Smile
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Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:22 am

Excellent report and fantastic photos from your trip! Living only a short distance away from MSP, I really like your impressive shots of the airport and Minneapolis on your climb out.

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