I apologize for the delay in posting part two. You can find part one here: Delta: GRB-MSP-PHX On DC-9 And A320 (by KGRB Sep 18 2010 in Trip Reports)
It was a wonderful seven days in Phoenix that included a lot of spotting at the wonderful Sky Harbor International Airport. Seeing the mighty BA 744 arrive from LHR had to be the highlight, with a FedEx MD-10 a close second.
Before it was time to say "good bye", my mom and I had breakfast together at a downtown Phoenix diner. I then took my rental car to the new rental car facility at PHX. Actually, it's not at PHX at all. It's several blocks away, linked to the airport by buses on a regular rotation. It's more of a hassle than the using the old facility on site, but with plenty of time until my flight, it wasn't a big deal.
Once my bus arrived at Terminal 3, I walked to a Delta self-serve kiosk to check in. I walked right up to it, even though the counter was packed. With no bags to check, I was not only saving money on fees, but time too!
Next stop was the security checkpoint. The TSA staff at Phoenix are actually very nice (PHX bills itself as "The World's Most Friendly Airport" - more on that in a moment). However, the facilities are way too small and lines, in my experience, are usually rather intense. Once I got through the line, I found my gate, which was the same one at which I had arrived the week before.
I grabbed a seat by the window and waited for my 738 to roll in. In the meantime, I took out my MacBook to listen to the new Electric Light Orchestra, The Runaways, and Natasha Bedingfield CDs I had picked up at Phoenix's ZIA Records. This is when I found the free WiFi PHX offers. The only catch is, you have to fill out a form telling them which airport employee was the "friendliest" that day. I gave some props to the Delta gate agent I had talked to earlier.
June 17, 2010
Delta Air Lines
Phoenix, AZ (PHX) to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP)
Boeing 737-832 (w/ winglets)
I had been looking forward to this segment more than any other, as this would mark two "firsts" for me. This was my first trip on a Next Generation 737 and on an aircraft in the so-called "wavy gravy" scheme. When it came time to board, I was behind an attractive blonde woman I had seen earlier on the bus. She was wearing a Wisconsin t-shirt, but I didn't think anything of it. Now I wondered, "Is she going to be on the Green Bay flight too?"
Once I took my window seat near the trailing edge of the wing (my favorite seat on a 737), I looked around this gorgeous bird. This 738 was equipped with both drop-down LCD screens as well as GoGo Inflight WiFi. This meant we'd get to watch the safety video with Deltalina! (Click here, if you don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgpzUo_kbFY)
Once Deltalina and friends were done talking, we pushed back and after a shot taxi, took off. Unlike all those 737-300s I had been on in the past, this 738 had some power. I sadly watched below, as the city of Phoenix vanished into the distance. It would be all desert and plains until we approached Minneapolis.
Shortly thereafter, the inflight movie started and flight attendants went around selling headphones for $5. The film didn't interest me, so I went back to my music collection and reading the Elle magazine I brought along (don't judge me! ).
Beverages, including Coca-Cola products were offered, as well as your choice of Biscoff cookies or Planters peanuts. Available for purchase was a Snack Box for $5. I got the Biscofffs and a Coke, which to me, is the quintessential Delta experience.
Cruise was pretty uneventful, but things really started to cloud up as we approached MSP. Approach and touch-down were smooth, but glancing out the window, I could see nasty weather was on the horizon.
I stopped by a Sbarro pizza joint to grab a bite to eat and I pulled out my cell phone to check the weather. Sure enough: a tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service for a nearby county. Then, when thunderstorms rolled in, activity grinded to a halt at MSP.
I found my gate, which was in tiny Concourse D. It doesn't have a lot of gates, but 'D' boasts MSP's only observation deck. I walked up there and took a look around at all of the stranded aircraft at the C, D, and E concourses. Once again, I saw a lot of MD-80s & -90s, rather than the A319s & A320s that were so common pre-merger. MSP is still one of the few "fortress hubs" in the US (though Southwest is trying to break it), and that's evident seeing the small operations of UA, AA, and US at Concourse E.
June 17, 2010
Delta Air Lines
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP) to Green Bay, WI (GRB)
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-51
The gate agent announced that there was a slight gap in the storms and we were to
board ASAP. At the gate I once again saw the blonde in the Wisconsin t-shirt, who looking back, I probably should've asked out. Anyways, boarding was quick, despite a 100% load factor on this Douglas Commercial jet, but those storms reappeared quicker than expected.
With the ramp closed again at MSP, we were now going to have to wait it out until the storms passed. About 20 minutes later, the weather cleared up enough to get the rest of the bags on board and take off.
Drink service is always hit-and-miss on the GRB-MSP flights and this time there wasn't one. This flight was so short, though (about 30 mins.), I doubt anyone noticed.
We descended into Green Bay from the northwest, over the village of Howard and the large campus of United HealthCare, which lit up the night sky. Our DC-9 touched down on Runway 18 and taxied to Concourse B, where we were surrounded by a few other D95s and E-170s.
All in all, it was a great trip with Delta. The weather was nasty on all but one legs of my trip, but DL employees handled it like pros. Kudos to them!