After enjoying watching the RED
tram zip by overhead at the A concourse, I realized it was time to continue on to DFW
(As red is one of Delta's official colors, as evidenced by the red widget and the famous red flight attendant wrap dress, I would wager that the tram will stay red.)
DTW to DFW
Scheduled Departure: 9:00 am
Push Back: 9:00 am
Takeoff: 9:30 am
Scheduled Arrival: 11:30 am
Actual Arrival: 11:35 am
Back at the B/C concourse I headed to B15 to see my ride to DFW
, a CRJ-900, the cooler, larger, "older brother", version of the CRJ-200
From the same spot but another angle, the A concourse can be see in the distance with a 747 waiting to cross the Pacific!
A quick check with the gate agent if any volunteers would be needed, and again the flight was not oversold. Boarding commenced a few minutes later starting with first class. As my upgrade had cleared 6 days ago I was vigilant and had selected the coveted 1A!
On the CRJ-900s first class has a 1 x 2 seating and coach has 2 x 2 seating arrangement. Thus all the "A" seats in first class are both window AND
aisle seats! 1A has the distinction of having the most leg room thanks to the lack of a seat in front of it. This also means no under seat storage, so it is helpful to board first to get first crack at the overhead bin space.
In first class the bins over the "A" seats are ridiculously small where as the bins over the "C" and "D" seats are much more reasonable. Being the first down the jet-way I managed to get a picture of the "magic curtain"
It was pulled back to reveal an attractive young brunet who welcomed me with a smile and warm hello that seemed genuine and un-jaded by years of working as a FA
Before heading down the jet-way I had already gotten my book and noise canceling headset from my bag. At my seat I quickly got a little something special out and as I stowed my bag over 1C and 1D the pretty young brunette offered to hang my coat and asked if I would like a drink.
I asked for my normal pre-departure beverage, a cran-apple with no ice. I then handed the FA
the something special, a box of assorted chocolates to be shared with the rest of the flight crew.
Bringing chocolates for the flight crew is something I first read about on flyertalk and is something that might seem quite strange outside of the U.S.
Forgive another digression and I'll try to explain the reasoning and purpose. First off I always bring chocolates for the flight crew for long routes, anything close to 3+ hours. I also only do this for flights on U.S. carriers with American crews. The purpose of giving the flight crew chocolates is to show appreciation for their difficult, and often thankless, job and to help them get a quick sugar boost during a long flight. Crews have ALWAYS been appreciative of the small gesture. In fact the crews for airlines that historically treat their FAs the worst, are the ones who are most surprised and appreciative. Once on a PHL
flight on USAirways an older FA
came up from economy to give me a hug! As she bent down to hug me she saw I was a little surprised and said "I'm old enough that if I hug a passenger it isn't sexual harrasement!"
I always give this box:
It is perfect as it is called "Merci", the box is flat so it travels well, the package is plastic wrapped, the box is sealed, and inside the box is an assortment of individually wrapped pieces, making them easy to share! Ironically the name is in French, but the company is German!
Getting back to the Trip Report....
With the other passengers on my heals, I didn't have a chance to take a picture of my seat, but here is photo that shows the first class cabin of a CRJ-900
View Large View Medium
Photo © Andy Egloff
From my seat I could watch the FA
hang my jacket and then poor me the cran-apple. Unfortunately pre-departure drinks are always in plastic cups. There was also a small bottle of Dasani water on each seat in the first class cabin.
While others were boarding I managed a quick picture of the view from my window...
Here is the stylish air vents, FA
call button, and lights above my seat. Although there was only one seat, there were still two air vents and two reading lights.
One downside to seat 1A on the CRJ-900 is that it is right near the front cabin lav.
After boarding had finished the captain came on and warned us that we might hear some strange noises as the external APU was inoperative so they would need to do an air start.
We had a short taxi and a quick take off.
Apparently first class was pretty empty as there was a non-rev pilot seated across the aisle from me. Here is a quick picture I took to show how the windows on the CRJ-900 are not only bigger than on the CRJ-200, but are much better placed relative to the passengers!
Soon after take-off the older FA
came from the back of the cabin and the two FAs started assembly of the drink cart for economy. It always amazes me just how much has to be done to prepare the cart! Once she had pushed the drink cart into the economy cabin, the younger FA
came through and asked each first class passenger if they would like breakfast. I asked if there was a choice and was informed there was only the cold cereal breakfast. On mainline jets, first class breakfast is usually a choice of the cold cereal or a warm dish, usually eggs with some kind of meat. The rest of the tray is identical.
delivered each tray individually, which was a nice touch instead of wheeling a cart down the aisle.
Upon receiving my breakfast tray the first thing I noticed was the way the kiwi fruit had been cut. Then I noticed that the bagel had shrunk! Since I'm trying to cut down on my carb intake, I didn't mind, but I was amused to see Delta had bagels that were about 3/4th the size of typical bagels, like the ones served during breakfast at the Delta SkyClubs.
I've been disappointed by Delta's current cutlery! It looks cheap and childish... Alas the Northwest cutlery was much more stylish, but is all long gone now.
I did notice that the non-rev pilot across the aisle was quite chatty and friendly with the woman sitting next to him. After breakfast had been cleared I casually asked him if he was heading home or heading to work. He smiled and said "headin home" with a slight Texas twang... I then followed up with "Oh so where did you high-speed?"
As I expected this got his attention and he replied with "BVT...do you work for Pinnacle?"
To explain this exchange I guess it is time for another digression....
Pinnacle is an independent regional airline that is not owned by Delta Air Lines. Pre-merger Pinnacle contracted out to both Northwest and Delta to provide regional service. With the merger their only customer is now Delta. As an independent airline Pinnacle crew do NOT wear the Delta uniform. So I had been able to identify him as a Pinnacle pilot from his uniform.
A "High Speed" is terminology used by Pinnacle but other regionals sometimes call them "Stand Ups." A crew operate a small regional aircraft from a hub out to a regional airport late at night, often arriving between 11 pm and midnight. They then head to hotel where they can nap, but they then operate the first flight back from the regional airport back to the hub which often depart between 5 am and 7 am. Once they arrive back at the hub they are done for the day. This type of operation has come about because the small regional airports often charge no, or minimal, fees to airlines to park their aircraft there overnight. Thus it makes sense for the airline to offer service late at night to a regional airport, leave the aircraft parked over night, and the have them flown back to the hub early in the morning, ready for a full day of service!
While the crews are at there hotel they are still considered to be "on-duty" and this time is, strictly speaking, not a layover.
I answered the pilots question by explaining that I was not an airline employee, but that I live in Upstate, NY and fly a lot so I've met many crews doing "High Speeds" to ITH
, or BGM
We continued to have a pleasant chat about the industry and his life commuting from his home in Dallas to his base at DTW
. In general Americans are friendly and chatty, especially those from the southern parts of the country. In my experience people in the airline industry enjoy talking to passengers who are knowledge-able.
Although I enjoyed chatting with the pilot I couldn't help but notice his watch...I kept thinking to myself, "Maybe everything IS
bigger in Texas!" I was able to get a picture of the Texas sized watch while he was looking through "Sky Magazine" Delta's in flight magazine.
During the flight I hung out in the galley with the flight attendants and chatted. The older one was heading home as she and the pilots were DFW
based. The younger was actually heading back to DTW
and had been sent on this flight as a last minute replacement for a DFW
based crew member.
Towards the end of the flight the FA
did one last garbage run. Delta does collect recyclable material and keeps it separate from the normal garbage. Here is a picture of the cans.
There was another clear bag with newspapers. The normal garbage bags are not clear. As we started our decent the first class FA
returned our coats and prepared the cabin for arrival.
The landing at DFW
was smooth and we had a short taxi to terminal E at DFW
. The first class FA
bid everyone a friendly good bye as we deplaned.
for the first time I was excited to walk around, explore, and ride the SkyLink!
Terminal E itself was a little on the plain side. All the terminals at DFW
are basically horseshoe shaped. At one time Delta had a large presence at DFW
, but they gave up and ceded DFW
to American Airlines.
This sign impressed me and I wish more airports took this approach, not only showing the direction to different stores and restaurants, but estimated walk times!
I headed towards an entrance to the SkyLink, which is the tram system used to connect all the terminals at DFW
on the airside. The SkyLink system was added to DFW
after the airport was built and had been operating for several years. As an add on feature they built the track and SkyLink stations ABOVE the terminals. I had been advised by my pilot friend on the flight that the SkyLink provides the best views of the airport so I was really eager to give it a try.
Near the escalators up to the SkyLink station in Terminal E I saw an area with very comfortable looking public chairs!
As these chairs are tucked away in an area underneath the escalator up to SkyLink station, they provide a relatively quiet area to take a nap or relax! I really wish more airports in the U.S. had these types of chairs!
I finally headed up a set of escalators...
And arrived at a SkyLink station!
The SkyLink actually has two sets of tracks and has trains running on complete loops in either direction.
The train cars themselves were very clean but had little seating available.
The lack of seating is not a problem as SkyLink is FAST and it only takes a few minutes to get between terminals!
As my pilot friend promised...there were some excellent tarmac and gate views from SkyLink!
After riding one complete circuit on the SkyLink I then headed to the international terminal where I had read they had the most shopping and art work. I was not disappointed. In fact in the international terminal I obtained an entire pamphlet detailing the artwork at the terminal. There was one large structure that actually reminded me of an abstract vision of New York City! (Perhaps I was getting homesick!)
The view inside...
The terminal also had many "medallions" which are large round art pieces in the floor of various parts of the terminal.
Each one was unique and done by a different artist.
Here are a few examples:
Near one of the medallions was the boarding line for an American Airlines flight to Japan:
After I took this picture and saw all the Asian passengers waiting to board it finally occurred to me what was nagging at me the whole I time I was walking around DFW
The passenger mix at DFW
is NOT very diverse. Especially given that this is a major American airport, there were just not many non-white people there. Not only where the passengers almost all white, but so too were the airport workers. I'm not saying this is a good or this is bad, it is merely an observation as I would have expected an airport, especially the international terminal, to be more diverse.
In another area of DFW
was a large sculpture composed of concave glass walls, it was hard to get a picture of the entire sculpture. but here is a picture of the plaque in the center and some shots showing various walls.
Outside of the sculpture was more general seating where I got a glimpse of some military personnel who looked like they had been at the airport for longer than they would have liked! Again since the resolution is so poor I didn't bother blurring any faces!
Before leaving I did walk by the entrances of some of the lounges in the terminal. The first was an American Airlines Admiral's club which was also available to military personnel.
A little further down was another general entrance to other lounges, including a pay lounge called "The Club"
I then headed back to Terminal E for my return flights.
DFW to DTW
DTW to ROC
I have only a few pictures and comments on my afternoon return flights as they were pretty similar to my morning flights.
I did arrive at the gate after boarding had started. Being in first class I was able to use the Delta "Breezeway" to cut the boarding line. Unfortunately the overhead bin space in first class was completely full. The first class flight attendant was a middle aged male of a certain "orientation" and told me with a very UN-customer-friendly tone "You'll just have to find space in a bin back in coach."
I asked with a friendly tone if there might be space in the closet for my bag. He replied with a very snooty tone saying "There might be, but that is where we store our bags."
I realized that someone was in full blown "Queen Mode"... Having flown within the U.S. a lot I knew EXACTLY how to handle the situation...
The WRONG way to handle the situation would be to demand he make room for my bag.
The WRONG way to handle the situation would be to make a scene or throw a tantrum.
The REALLY WRONG way to the handle the situation would be to pull a "DYKWIA?!!!" (Do You Know Who I Am?!)
The *RIGHT* way to handle the situation is the make life difficult for them in a non-threatening way...
So how do you accomplish this?
Well I simply said with a regretful tone "My computer is in this bag so I really can't check it. I'm sorry to have created a problem. I'll just go back up to the gate agent and see if I can SDC to a later flight."
SDC stands for "Same Day Confirm" and is one of the perks of having high elite status with Delta Air Lines. It allows you to get a confirmed seat for a flight that leaves on the same day as your originally ticketed flight.
My statement accomplished two important goals in a non-threatening way.
First, by using Delta elite flyer terminology I established to the FA
that I am in fact an elite flyer with the airline.
Second, by suggesting I would leave the flight and catch a later flight, I made it clear that the gate agent would have to do significant paper work to get me off of this flight and the gate agent would surely ask why room couldn't be found for my bag on THIS flight.
Magically the FA
became motivated to open up the closet and declare "Yes I can get your bag in here..."
In my head I said "DAMN RIGHT!" but to him I simply said "Wow! Thanks for helping me out..." I then handed him my bag and after he put it away I handed him the box of chocolate I had slipped out of my bag right before boarding. I handed it to him and said "This is for you and the crew since it is such a long flight..." and threw in a quick wink as I handed it to him.
I turned turned to get settled in 1A and finally noticed the cute brunette FA
from my previous flight sitting in 3D. She gave me a little wave hello...
Several thoughts raced through my head at lightening speed...
-Why did I waste my time taking so many pictures! I could have gotten here on time and tried to trade seats, my 1A for 3C so I could have sat next to her and chatted her up during the flight back!
-Was there still a chance to trade seats?
-OH CRAP! Did she see me wink at the FA and get the wrong idea?!
-Why is the guy in 2C looking at me like that?!
At that point I sat down and the flight attendant in the back came forward to get the materials to do the safety demo. She quietly asked the first class FA
"Where is *HE* seated?" to which he answered "He is in 2C."
Of course before I could stop myself I turn around to look at 2C, a middle aged burling looking well dressed African American male with close cropped hair...AND
a mean stare directed right back at me...
I spent the entire flight seated while fighting the urge to turn around and see if he had any bulges around his calves!
Fortunately lunch was a distraction. The choice was cold Asian Chicken wrap or cold grilled Chicken salad. I chose the wrap...
When I split the wrap apart to take a picture of the inside I noticed that it really was COLD, not just room temperature...but the inside was actually COLD! It also wasn't clear to me if I was suppose to "unwrap" the wrap to add the lettuce and tomato that was on the side, or eat them separately as the world lamest salad?
On the positive side the first class FA
was in a much nicer mood during the flight than during boarding. He even seemed a little excited when I requested a virgin version of the Delta signature "Heart of Pom" cocktail. Basically it was the Stirrings Pomegranate cocktail drink mix with club soda and lime, with no alcohol.
We arrived at DTW
without any problems and I was the first to deplane after a good by from the first class FA
and another thank you for the chocolate.
In the terminal I stopped to check on my bag and my computer. Much to my delight the brunette FA
came up to me and said hello. We chatted a little bit and she was curious why I spent so little time in Dallas.
I made a split second decision that there was no way to explain to her that I wanted to visit a new airport AND
I wanted to collect some frequent flyer miles AND
I had a voucher which made the already low fare cheaper than the cost of the what breakfast and lunch would have cost me at an airport restaurant....
....without sounding like a complete nut job...so I told the truth..."I'm just eager to get home."
I did try to casually ask if she ever did high speeds/stand ups to any of the Upstate, NY airports...but sadly it was not to be....
The CRJ-200 flight from DTW
was packed and uncomfortable, fortunately I slept through most of it!
Well that is about it...
I can only hope that...
Some of you were entertained....
Some of you learned something...
One of you is a cute brunette FA
based at DTW
who is also an a.net reader!