Well, just got home from my spring break 2010 trip to FRA. For spring break 2009 I went with a work buddy out to FRA to go to Sinsheim and see the Tu-144. This year we were going to go to AMS to visit an a.net buddy but those loads rapidly filled up so we ended up going to FRA again, this time out to Speyer to see the Soviet space shuttle 'Buran'. Between spring break loads and the BA strike, we had a hell of a time nonrev'ing around. I was one of the very last passengers to get on the DL flight out of FRA... had an extreme amount of luck that day!! Final itinerary for the trip:
DEN-HDN: UA CR2
HDN-ORD: UA 319
ORD-BOS: UA 752
BOS-LGA: DL M80
JFK-FRA: DL 763
FRA-DTW: DL 332
DTW-DEN: DL 319
19 March 2010
Block Time: 08 hours, 15 minutes
767-332/ER, N190DN, ship# 190
Seat: 5A, BusinessElite
Photo © Stewart Andrew
Since the loads on Friday were completely full to just about everywhere out of DEN, my buddy and I ended up going to ORD on Thursday night and then just crashed in an airport hotel for the night. The next day I needed to get out to NYC but the ORD-JFK flights on both DL and AA were totally full so I ended up going to LGA via BOS. Long way around but it was fun, especially for my first flight on the Delta Shuttle.
UA A319 arriving in HDN for our flight out to ORD
Deplaning via the aft airstairs in LGA on the Delta Shuttle
After getting to LGA, I took the NYAS bus service from LGA to JFK. Very nice, the ride only took about 30 minutes and is well worth not having the headache of trying to fly directly into JFK with their runway construction and major flow control delays.
I had quite the long layover in JFK before my 810p flight to FRA so I just wandered around T3 and T4 to kill the time, watching some of the earlier DL TATL flights depart to SVO, ACC, and ATH.
N190DN inbound from FRA being towed over to T4 for the outbound flight to FRA
N190DN to FRA, sitting at the gate at T4
Different view of the plane. 767 row at T3 in the background. I was hoping I'd have a winglet bird to FRA but no such luck.
Head on view of my plane to FRA
Gate monitor for the DL106
Since the flight was almost completely full in Y, the gate agents waiting until mid boarding process to start calling the few nonrevs on the standby list. I was given 5A which I was very happy with.... I love window seats in the aft business cabin so as to have good views of the wing and engines, haha
Just getting settled in 5A, looking forward towards the galley and doors 1L/R
Looking aft toward the mid galley and cockpit crew rest seat (curtains above)
Looking across from 5A
Given JFK arrival and ground delays, we sat a few minutes past our scheduled close time to allow a few last-minute pax to board before we closed the doors. Once off the gate, the crew made a PA saying that we'd have a 45 minute taxi time. By that, I thought they meant we'd have a 45 minute ground hold. Not so, our taxi literally took 45 minutes. Yikes... JFK is a nightmare airport sometimes!!
Looking out the window just prior to pushback
The FA's handed out the menu's during the taxi and came around to take everyone's order in the LONG 45 minutes it took to get to the runway. When they came around to asking me for my order, they said all the entrees were available. Ordinarily I order the chicken but I thought I'd try the vegetarian option - it was a white lasagna that actually sounded rather good.
Initial place setting for the meal service. The Chilean red wine was quite good.
From the menu: Seasoned shrimp with avocado and salsa rosa, tomato florentine soup, and salad of romaine hearts with tomato and bleu cheese.
From the menu: Lasagne tossed with spinach and radicchio in a light gorgonzola sauce, topped with pine nuts
For dessert, both the ice cream sundae and fruit and cheese plate were available but I chose the fruit and cheese plate.
Dessert of fruit, cheese, and crackers.
Moving map just prior to me hitting the sack for the next 5 hours or so.
The current DL BusinessElite seats are relatively comfortable though I tend to prefer the angled lie-flat of the old NW World Business Class. Of course, the full-flat of the 764 and 772LR are indeed the best, so it will be nice when the 763's begin to get the full-flat interior conversions.
First daylight of the flight. Still at cruise enroute to FRA, about 1.5 hours remaining.
Breakfast choices were a swiss cheese and mushroom omelet or oats and honey granola. Still pretty full from the dinner service not too many hours ago, I had the granola. The omelets smelled especially good, though!! But then again, the granola was actually REALLY good.
From the menu: Oats and honey granola served with milk and yogurt. In personal commentary, the cranberry-walnut bread was quite good!!
Flying over London - strikes abound below, haha
Flight stats page - only about 3700 miles to FRA. Considerably shorter than the TransPac's I'm used to!!
Top of descent, speed brakes out
About to descend into the low overcast layer. It was pretty cold, drizzly, and foggy that morning.
Descending below the overcast layer, on final into FRA
Landing was especially hard and bumpy. I've come to a completely-uneducated personal conjecture that the 767 is a very hard airplane to land. Out of my 21 flights on 767-300's and 2 flights on 767-400's, I've never once had a smooth landing on them. Maybe it has something to do with their rather bizarre weight-on-wheels mechanism?? Either that or just an overall difficult airplane to get a smooth landing in.
Two DL A330-200's already at the gates in FRA. Ship 3357 (N857NW) on the left was inbound from ATL, outbound to DTW. Ship 3359 (N859NW) was inbound from DTW, outbound to ATL.
Pulling into remote parking at FRA, immediately opposite the A330's at the gates.
I was pretty excited to see that we were using remote parking for our arrival, beings as how I'd be able to get a few exterior pictures of the aircraft before we drove off to customs.
Deplaning through the forward and aft doors at remote parking
Looking aft toward the tail and engine #1. N190DN is one of the PW4060-powered birds in the DL 763ER fleet, my personal favorite type.
My final look at N190DN while driving off to customs
While the trip was cut short due to the BA strike and all flights across the Atlantic rapidly filling up, we were still able to go out to the Technik Museum in Speyer to see the LH 747-200 and the space shuttle Buran. Sinsheim was a cool place to visit but IMO, Speyer has a way better museum in regard to all the cool aerospace things they have there.
Soviet space shuttle Buran at the museum in Speyer. Very cool to see it in person. I read somewhere that it's the only one on public display outside of Russia and former Soviet-bloc states.
Cockpit of Buran. Sorry for glare, the plexiglass did no favors for photography.
My original plan was to fly home FRA-ORD on the AA 763 as AA remains my favorite airline for international service, but beings how AA is in Oneworld with BA, almost all of AA's TATL flights have been running extremely full during those BA strike days and days leading up to the strike. As such, FRA-ORD booked totally full nearly overnight. Given how all the DL flights were also extremely full, I took a shot in the dark (or a leap of faith) and decided to try on FRA-DTW, followed by a last ditch option of FRA-JFK, both on DL.
22 March 2010
Block Time: 09 hours, 30 minutes
A330-200, N858NW, ship# 3358
Seat: 6C, BusinessElite
Photo © Agustin Anaya
I checked in relatively early for the DTW flight and spoke to the agents to see if my listing on FRA-DTW-DEN could be changed to FRA-JFK-DEN if necessary if I didn't get on the DTW flight. They said it was possible, and to just talk to the gate agents if I didn't make it on DTW.
As I was waiting for DTW, the ATL flight next door made a PA saying all standbys were cleared and to come get seat assignments at the podium. The flight eventually left with 2 seats open in business class. At the time, I was cursing myself thinking I should have gone to ATL, despite the ATL-DEN flights being totally full. In an extreme amount of luck though, I was cleared onto the DTW flight and even in J-class. I thought about asking if they had any window seats available but didn't want to push my luck, haha.
Ship 3358 (N858NW) sitting in remote parking at FRA. I will admit, the A330 is a remarkably good looking airplane in the Delta new colors.
Walking under the wing toward the forward boarding stairs
Final view aft before boarding
Once on board, the BusinessElite cabin was almost completely filled in as I was one of the last passengers to board the aircraft. I was in 6C, the last row of the J-class cabin in the small aft mini-cabin on the A330-200's.
Looking forward toward the cockpit from my seat 6C
Seats 5AB, the first of the two rows in the aft mini-cabin in J-class.
Looking across to the other side of the cabin, seats 5HJ and door 2R.
Pre-departure beer and mineral water. I was major stressed so I took care of that beer in no time to cool down, haha
Unfortunately, since I was in an aisle seat in the center section, I don't have any external pictures of the aircraft, scenery, wing, or engines from the flight. I was pretty bummed about that but at the same time, was very thankful to be on the flight at all, much less in J-class!!
Main menu of the AVOD selection for the PMNW planes and IFE system
Audio on demand selection. I took this picture for a good buddy of mine here on a.net who I'll allow to remain nameless so he is not humiliated as I've just humiliated myself in admitting that I enjoy listening to Lady GaGa
Starter of warm mixed nuts
My one vice while flying - Cranapple juice. Also noise-canceling headset
From the menu: Salmon mousse with smoked salmon and pumpernickel, cream of mushroom soup, and caesar salad with cherry tomatoes and garlic croutons
When the FA's came around to take my meal order, they only had the chicken and pasta entrees left. Since I enjoyed the pasta so much on the flight over, I figured I'd try the pasta again on the flight back.
From the menu: Ricotta and basil fettuccine tossed with an assortment of sauteed vegetables
From the menu: All natural vanilla ice cream sundae with your choice of sauces, whipped cream, and chopped nuts
Unfortunately they were out of chopped nuts. Rather, the catering company in FRA didn't load them onto the aircraft. So, I just got the berry topping sans the chopped nuts.
Globe view of our route of flight prior to me hitting the sack for about 6 hours.
I woke up about 1.5 hours out from DTW, just as the FA's were preparing the pre-arrival meal service. There was a choice between a hot turkey sandwich and a shrimp nicoise salad. I ended up deciding on the latter of the two options.
Moving map of the final hour of our flight before arrival into DTW
Flight stats page. Strong headwinds during the last portion of our flight.
From the menu: Shrimp nicoise salad with tomato, egg, green beans, olives, and potatoes, accompanied by bread sticks and fresh fruit.
We were going to be about 30-40 minutes early into DTW, at least until ATC put us into holding for 30 minutes. DTW was getting a steady rainfall and was into a mild ATC flow control because of it. We ended up arriving right on time though, so no complaints.
Final impressions... DL is progressing nicely with the merger. As the on board soft products are now fully integrated, I look forward to seeing the on board hard products being integrated and improved. Major thumbs up to DL for announcing huge investments in fleet improvements. Lie-flat J-class and AVOD PTV's in Y-class across the entire longhaul fleet.
[Edited 2010-03-23 15:57:54]