My day traveling out would be very different than my norm. I usually like to fly early, but I had class this Wednesday morning, but only two of them, then it was off to the airport.
I guess I’ve sort of gotten famous for this, so I’ll start of with a picture of my flight notebook. Notice anything different about it?
First up for me was school. It involved a 40 mile drive to Gainesville for my two classes:
My school stuff strewn about
Sorry for the cell phone crappiness in this photo. It’s just showing my route up I-85 and 985.
First up was German. Sorry for the quality, again.
My last class was Developmental Psychology. I had to keep it low because it’s hard to chronicle your day in photos without looking like a total creep, especially in a classroom.
That class ended at 10:50, and I headed to my truck and drove the hour to my house. There I got on my computer really quick, ate a quick lunch and left my house at 12:11 PM.
In an effort to keep these reports fresh I present some pictures of the on-the-way part of my trip.
Heading up my neighborhood
Getting on I-20
Getting closer to I-285….and yes I took this picture running about 70 MPH
Needless to say I would be heading south.
This picture does no justice at all. When you come from the north you round a bend and you can see the entire airport, and the view is really spectacular. It’s even cooler in early morning when the road and airport are totally quiet. It’s remarkably peaceful.
Getting close to my exit at Riverdale Road, I passed under the taxiway next to runway 10/28. You can see the huge tunnel under the runway itself ahead.
Under the runway itself
Riverdale Road next to the runway
And this little driveway, friends, is the entrance I use for the busiest airport in the world…
For the first time since 2005 I would be heading to the North Terminal.
Getting close to parking. I ended up parking shortly after 1:00, and watched some takeoffs from runway 26L for a minute before walking to the terminal.
Random sign walking through the parking garage
The lower level entrance
Part of Airtran’s pretty big check-in area. The North Terminal’s check in is in a much more traditional layout than Delta’s down in the South Terminal. Lucky for me I didn’t need to check in. I printed my boarding pass at home.
I double checked the monitors with my boarding pass to see I was still supposed to depart from gate C11, and I was (TRAIN )
Before I went through security I went around the atrium and got some photos:
The concept for the new international terminal. Sorry for the reflection. There wasn’t any way to avoid it.
Part of the area from the second floor of the perimeter
The huge skylight window on a bright, sunny day. Couldn’t ask for better weather to take to the skies
There was only so much of that I could take, so I headed to security.
Pretty much no line at all. I really would have thought there would be one.
Really easy time going through. Pretty much all the lanes were open (and there are lots of them.
I went through and they stopped my bag an asked for a check on it…and then I realized my own stupid error. I had a nearly full bottle of Neutrogena T-Gel in my bag (clearly a sign that I am a terrorist). That had to be tossed. There’s $15 well spent. Surprisingly they didn’t get my toothpaste. It was a full-size tube. Remember that book of matches that was in this same bag when I flew ATL-CVG-STL in 2008? It’s still there, and the TSA has still yet to catch it (and I have passed through airport security now TEN TIMES with it in there unnoticed). Which will do more damage?
Oh well. I wasn’t going to let my or the TSA’s stupidity bring me down. After all, I still had to carry my giddy self down to my favorite part of the airport, the train
A flooded Concourse T station
Station that heads back to the terminal
Station monitor at Concourse C
A more broad view of the Concourse C station
Train arriving at the station
Train letting out
After some strange looks and plenty of time I decided to head up to my gate at 2:15 to at least establish where it was and that it had the right destination, which it did.
Going up to the concourse
A general look out Concourse looking toward B
I had lots of time, so I decided to ride the train everywhere, starting with the T-Gates. I also had noted some gates I departed from on flights past, and I visited those along the way. There wasn’t much activity at Concourse T, especially on the Delta half of it. The only flight leaving was a 767 to Caracas.
N381DA at gate T7. I actually left from T7 to fly to LAX.
Next was Concourse A, which was mostly an assortment of 757s and MD-88s, so nothing really picture-worthy, but I did stop and look at a couple past departure gates.
I did the same with B, except I sat down in the spot my brother and I always sit at when we leave from B. It really made me have a flashback, because pretty much everything was the same outside, an ERJ-170 at the nearest gate, and an MD-88 at the next, with 757s and 767s across the way at A. It brought out some great memories of May 21 flying to ORD.
Since I was leaving from C, I decided to skip that, and I skipped D as well and headed straight to Concourse E, the international concourse.
The Concourse E station is a little different from the others.
It’s the only station to have the old signage like this. Not sure why, but I wish it was still around everywhere. I like it better than the new flat-panel TVs. It gives a more old-school feel, and makes me think back to childhood.
Concourse E was totally dead. The only two flights leaving from the whole concourse were going to Stuttgart and Paris. The lack of activity didn’t stop me from finding a few good planes, though:
A 777. I think this one would eventually head to Munich.
The Habitat for Humanity 767, if I remember right, bound for Frankfurt (apparently lots of Germans come through ATL )
There’s what we’re after, the Northwest 747. I don’t know where it was going to, probably Tokyo. The gate was deserted and nothing was on the board.
I successfully killed off my extra time in my fun journey, and had to leave the world of 767s, A330s and 747s, and back to my world of a 717. Now it was time for me to fly
Airtran Airways Flight 781
Depart ATL: 4:09 PM
Arrive STL: 4:48 PM
Photo © Justin Idle
Boarding started at 3:28. I was in seat 23A, which was in zone 4 as I patiently waited to step on.
Sorry. There were a lot of people behind me, and I didn’t want to be a holdup.
My window view at the gate. You can see my shirt’s reflection in the window, unfortunately.
The thing I always forget about when I fly…the legroom. Sometimes, being 6’3” is an advantage, but not when flying. The person in front of me couldn’t recline if they wanted to.
Wi-Fi on board, but I didn’t have my laptop with me. The flight was almost too short for the internet anyway. It’s all about enjoying the ride
A look at the rest of row 23. Nobody ended up sitting in the row at all. I took advantage of this and put my bag under seat 23B.
We pushed at 4:07 and began our taxi towards runway 26L.
A look out with the famous Renaissance Hotel
One of a million CRJs there. If I flew Delta at the same time I flew on Airtran, a CRJ would have been in my future. 717 > CRJ…In fact 717 > a lot of things.
MD-88 taking off immediately in front of us
Looking down 26L
I’ll go ahead and say that we had a lightly loaded plane with a minimal flap setting, and I forgot what takeoff on a 717 felt like. I’ve flown several MD-80s and even an MD-90. Those are weak planes. The 717 is a ROCKET. Not only was the takeoff roll short and fast, but steep as well. It felt better than even a 767. I was amazed to say the least.
Cabin shot during climb
We started to level off at 30,000 feet, the sun started to set, and I settled in for the flight.
My XM receiver. I really enjoyed listening to it. I spent most of my time on 60s on 6, 70s on 7, and ESPN Radio. Occasionally I would flip to 50s on 5.
Drink service started at 4:01 ET. For some reason I didn’t set my watch back to Central Time, and didn’t until I landed.
My little snack
Looking out 30,000 feet over Tennessee
Because there was nobody in my row, I had the freedom to get up whenever I wanted. I figured a walk to the back for a couple pictures was in order:
And one more
Descent started at 5:18 Eastern over a an overcast sky.
Hanging a left
And hanging a right
Knifing through the clouds
Getting closer still. Check out that vortex coming off the flap.
We landed on runway 12R at 4:41 Central Time, 7 minutes ahead of schedule. We taxied to gate B12. I had a ton of time before my ride was supposed to be there, so I took it slow in just about everything I did, getting off the plane included.
717 at gate B12 turning around back to ATL
Look at the B gates (or is there only 1 gate on that concourse?)
My ride wasn’t supposed to be there until after 9:00, so I sat and did various things. I brought some homework so I was able to chip away on that. I walked around and explored every corner of the terminal. I sat down and ate dinner at the Pasta House on the lower level, and eventually parked myself in the bar section there to watch the World Series. Come about 9:15 I got out of there and drove to St. Robert for the night. It was an enjoyable flight. I love the XM radio. I had forgotten how much I liked Airtran and the 717. It was almost a 4 year layoff from them for me. Great flight