We made our way up to the rooftop level of the carpark for some pics. It was very warm and sunny up there - some much needed rays for my sun deprived European skin! Here’s “my” DL
320 getting ready to go again - it was heading back to Memphis. Thanks for a nice flight.
US Airways action
Nice to see this 757 with winglets - the only one I saw for the rest of the time in PHX
Air Tran 737s - one in, one out!
US Airways “Arizona” logo jet A319
America West (RIP) logo jet A319
Great Lakes B1900D
US Airways Express CRJ900
Southwest 737-700...by day
Southwest 737-700.…by night
United 757 at dusk with some panning action
The day ends in Phoenix. Dedicated to my friend and Phoenix resident, CC
, who passed away in 2010.
Part 2 - Dots in Detroit via Atlanta
Flight Time: 2hrs55min
By 9pm that evening, it dawned on me that it was going to be a looong night. DL1646 was not scheduled to depart until 1250a the next morning. My first red-eye experience in the US and I wondered whether the flight would be busy, or whether I might have a little space to spread out for this nearly 3 hour sector to Atlanta.
Deserted concourse in PHX
We found a row of seats each at the departure gate, and shutdown for a short nap-ette, with an alarm set just for 1130p in case we failed to wake up. I don’t recall much for the next hour or so and managed some shuteye. In the meantime the gate area slowly filled up. By the time I woke up and went to get a picture of our ride to ATL
(sorry, this was the best I could do),
the gate area was almost full. Who and why were all these people going to ATL
at 1250 on a Tuesday morning?
Boarding commenced 20mins after midnight in sections, and it wasn’t long before everyone was seated and ready to go. Most people by now, tiredness taking over, just wanted to sit and sleep, me included.
View from 12A, which was 3 rows from the start of Y.
My first impressions of this aircraft, delivered to Delta in January 2009 were positive. Seatback IFE, nice new leather seats….but after a few minutes, the seat felt incredibly hard. Much harder than on the A320 seats. I could feel my rear end was going to be numb by the time we touched down in ATL
! Seat pitch was OK
however, although I had a seatmate in the middle and aisle seat - so much for spreading out on this red eye flight!
Delta, what an ungodly hour of the day to be awake!
We taxied to 25R for departure after watching Deltalina wag her finger at us, reminding us that smoking was NOT ALLOWED on any Delta aircraft. Not much happening at this time of the morning. The lights in the cabin were dimmed for departure which provided great views outside. Thankfully nobody decided to put their reading light on (and destroy the effect outside). Phoenix was saying goodbye in spectacular fashion. My photos hardly do it justice, and I blame not only the lack of sufficient light, but also I was so tired by this point, I could barely keep my eyes open!
Climbing out of PHX
Lots of lights still on down there
Once we got to our cruising height, the crew commenced a drinks service. By this point, I had just about passed out, which must have then happened, as I then woke up over Oklahoma.
Took this pic, having woke up (briefly). Nothing to see outside.
The cabin crew passed through with another drinks round shortly after this, with water. Again, the crew were very friendly - kudos for them at this ungodly time of the morning. My seatmates barely moved the entire flight and it was quiet in my section. Phew.
We had a tail wind for most of the flight, and with only a couple of bumps over Arkansas, the cabin gradually came to life. About 60 mins out of ATL
, the cockpit crew gave us some arrival information and hoped that we’d enjoyed our flight with Delta. I had, but my backside hadn’t. Those seats proved to be very uncomfy for this length of flight - don’t know whether anyone else has felt the same on Delta’s 73Gs?
Once again, we were treated to nice views during our descent. We passed over downtown Atlanta on the way in which was brightly lit up
Followed by a smooth touchdown in Delta-land. Just on 3 hours, we rolled into our gate pretty much on time in the early am of Tuesday 7 December 2010.
The third DL
sector had now been completed and after getting the feeling back in my rear end, I was in need of only one thing…. COFFEE! This trip confirmed to me what a coffee addict I have turned into. I suppose there are worse vices to have?
Coffee mission accomplished, we then set off for the E concourse to await our next departure, which was DL1005 to Detroit.
Flight Time: 1hr30min
A very empty E concourse at 645 in the morning
This was to be the sole wide body sector on this Delta marathon and today, the flight up to DTW
was to be operated by N864DA. This aircraft, one of the older 772s in Delta’s fleet, was special in the Delta fleet - having been painted in the special “Soaring Spirit” colors for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and it also carried the Olympic flame from Athens to North America.
A pre-dawn shot of our aircraft
I managed to drag myself over to a couple of nearby gates to see some more DL
action. Here’s a 737-800 getting ready to go to Baltimore.
This 737-700 (not our inbound aircraft) was heading for Quito
A different angle of N864DA with a DL
772LR next door.
The sun was rising by this point, and our 777 was bathed in a lovely orange background glow
The flight was practically empty in Y. In fact, as part of the pre-boarding announcements, the nice lady at Delta told us that there were 150 spare seats in Economy so there would be plenty of room to stretch out all the way to Detroit. We were also told that the 777 was the largest aircraft in Delta’s fleet - what? Really? Guess she did not see the 747-400 a bit further along….!
Without further ado, everyone was onboard in record time. I had an entire row, or practically an entire section to myself.
View from 48J and our neighbour - a lovely looking 772LR. Our cargo door is still open.
A bit of action over at some of the Air Tran gates
Delta reminding us on the seatback IFE screen that bigger and better can work…..!
Delta’s first 737-700 N301DQ passes by just as we’re ready to push back for Detroit.
Awaiting clearance for departure
Another presentation by Deltalina and we were off on our 1hr 30m flight north to Detroit. The weather up there promised to be entirely different to that of Phoenix. Cold, cold and colder was the order of the day. The captain told us that it was however fine for our arrival - although we could expect a few bumps on the way down as it was windy.
Again, we were blessed with great weather for flying. Our departure from ATL
was short sharp and steep!
Passing the Renaissance Hotel, and the area where the old Atlanta terminal used to stand (to the right of the Delta 763 on the ground).
Climbing rapidly with a distant view of downtown Atlanta through the early morning mist/smog
Banking to the right
Still climbing and the sun shining. Life is good !
Making a beeline for Detroit
For some reason, I managed to get over my initial tiredness and found some energy from somewhere to enjoy this flight. The usual drinks service and cookies were served. The flight attendants on this sector were all very relaxed and again, friendly. I had a nice conversation with one lovely lady as she provided me with a can of Coke. Consistently, on each sector, the onboard service was good (apart from the lax attitude toward the seatbelt sign on the MEM
sector). How could this be from a part of the world where onboard service is certainly not what it used to be? Delta were certainly leaving a positive impression on me.
We cruised at 41,000ft which was quite high for such a short sector - and the views from above of Kentucky and Ohio were mostly shrouded by clouds.
Our route started to deviate somewhat - we seemed to be avoiding the Columbus area?
Now out over Lake Erie, and not long before commencing our descent into Detroit.
Canada on the other side Part 1
Canada on the other side Part Two
Making some wide turns to align ourselves with the runway. By this stage, the captain was right - it must have been quite windy outside as the aircraft was bumping around the lower we got.
Getting closer to Runway 04L with flaps down
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Detroit, where the East Central time is 1030am” East Central time? What’s that?
Peering out the window at the snow on the ground suggested that it was cold in Detroit, certainly colder than Orlando, Memphis, Phoenix and Atlanta.
Pulling into our gate at the McNamara terminal - which of course, is also Delta-land. Some DL
heavies getting ready for some longhaul flying. We parked next to a 744.
De-boarding was fast, given how few people were aboard, and I managed one last photo of N864DA at the gate through a “clean“ window…knowing what I was about to encounter through the windows at DTW
…and that is… DOTS - thousands and thousands of annoying dots in the glass which are to provide anti glare protection from the summer sun but also to prevent decent pictures. What were they thinking? For me, one who likes to take pictures at airports, I cannot begin to describe to you how much I hate those dots! DTW
is forever in my memory as the place with the annoying dots - a shame really because the McNamara terminal is very nice.
A couple of terminal shots whilst wandering through the main concourse, with of course the red train - interesting that it remains in “NW
” red, and has not been repainted into “DL
Looking down the main concourse
Mostly at my insistence, we decided to brave the elements and head to a nearby parking garage to get a vista of the proceedings. Big mistake. Within 5 minutes of being outside, I was nearly frozen and could not feel my face! I did take a couple of pictures however, just to prove to myself that I had been able to escape the dots and get some dot free pictures at DTW
A DC9-50 at the gate looking very smart
Nondescript runway picture? You can just see the start of the runway to the far right of the picture - actually this was the runway that NW255, an MD80 took off from and tragically crashed in August 1987 killing everyone onboard except for a 4 year old girl.
Having survived barely 15 minutes in total outside (I grew up in a subtropical part of Australia - give me a break!) we ventured back into the terminal area, and headed to the satellite concourse via the funky colourful walkway.
A short snack later and we found ourselves at an isolated window away from throngs of pre-Christmas travellers, where, despite feeling sleepy again, I wanted to catch some of the DTW
action (dots notwithstanding)
Delta 744 off to Asia
Delta 757 with winglets
Delta A319 going somewhere…..
Bigger brother, A320
Again, great to see another DC9-50 in both Delta colours
…and still in NW
colours. This was one of about 5 aircraft in total that we saw still in NW
colours. Delta has pretty much repainted the entire NW
fleet (including NW
Delta Connection EM145 N575RP in the old wavy gravy colours
One of the hundreds of Delta Connection CRJ200s at DTW
- this one was going to Scranton, PA.
And its larger sibling, a CRJ700 in the old wavy gravy colours
PART III - Dots to Disney
Flight Time: 2hrs10min
Despite having been mostly awake for the past day or so, and craving a bed, the time in DTW
did not drag and passed very quickly and before long, we found ourselves heading across back to the main concourse to Gate A20 for our final leg back to Orlando, departing at 1730.
Once there, I noticed the opposite gates had 3 DC-9s in a row - going to Chicago, Charlotte and Minneapolis respectively. It was a great sight - pity I was unable to get any pictures.
Gate A20 about 35mins before boarding was called. It soon filled up.
Our “flying pencil” getting prepared for the flight to warmer climes (although people in Florida would hardly call it warm at the moment - still, it was warmer than DTW
!) Sorry for the dots!
By now the light was fading fast as we were called for boarding. The flight did not appear to be completely full but not a bad load for a Tuesday evening flight. There seemed to be many DL
employees on this flight heading to/back to Orlando. Fortunately 17A was toward the front of the long Y section, just behind the L2 door.
The fading light at DTW
and view from 17A
Our neighbour - DL
Doors were closed and the safety demonstration was performed by none other than Deltalina again - OK
, I know that I must not smoke on any Delta Airlines aircraft but feel free to wag your finger at me if you want. Sexy minx.
There were small fold out TV
screens which popped out from above us - I did not realise that these ex NW
aircraft were fitted out with these - and expected the safety demonstration to be done manually. The flight attendant covering our section of the cabin must have been 60 if a day, but he was OK
- not overly friendly and out of all the flight attendants I had seen on this trip, he was pretty slack in his presentation and his uniform looked decidedly tatty. He looked how I felt - tired!
Just before pushing back - in B&W
We headed out for de-icing which unfortunately meant our scheduled departure time had now slipped. Hey ho, we had no connections at the other end so I wasn’t bothered. It looked mighty cold outside by this time, and the captain told us that the aircraft had been on the ground in Detroit for over a day and therefore surfaces needed to be de-iced. I guess the aircraft had had some maintenance in DTW
explaining its extended time on the ground there. I was glad to be inside a nice warm cabin and watched outside as we were sprayed with the de-icing mixture.
A long taxi later, and we found ourselves lining up on runway 21R, as the traffic flow had now changed to the opposite direction/runways. By co-incidence, this was the very runway that NW255 took off from (in the other direction) on its ill-fated flight in 1987.
We lined up after two aircraft took off in front of us, and it was now pitch black outside - my view being lots of flashing lights with the humming sound of the P&W engine next to me. We were ready to roll and the engines began to fire up, but then there was what felt like a surge, with the engine next to me winding down slightly, before the crew re-fired the engines, and then we were off. After a smooth take off, we launched skyward into the dark and freezing skies of Michigan. Phew.
I don’t recall what the service was onboard this sector, but no doubt it would have been drinks with a sweet or savoury snack. I was in the land of zzzzz, until being woken up by the announcement that we were starting our descent into Orlando.
Getting close with the twinkling lights of Central Florida below.
We landed from a northerly direction on the far right runway at MCO
, which my mate commented was unusual for Delta in Orlando. Weather was clear and temperatures were close to freezing at this time.
Finally, we were back in MCO
- precisely next to the gate we had departed from some 48 hours earlier to Memphis. We were home (well, not quite for me) but at least there was a bed waiting! The Delta marathon was sadly over.
Post Flight(s) Reflections
- Flying Delta domestically over 48 hours was a pleasure. We also managed to stay awake for the most important bits but still found time to catnap when we could. I had visions of passing out sometime during our stopover in ATL
- I managed to fly the 757-300 which is quite rare in Europe and I got to see Phoenix during the day time and spend some time on the parking garage - two of my key objectives for this trip. Done.
- Delta’s onboard service was broadly consistent and certainly exceeded my expectations. Cabin crew greeted passengers politely and farewelled them on all of the sectors. Service was generally provided with a smile. I was surprised at how lax they were when the seatbelt signs were activated on the MEM
flight, but thankfully the “rough air” as Delta calls it, did not get any worse.
- Flights were largely on-time, we did not miss any of our connections and no aircraft substitutions were made. Phew.
- If I had to rank them, the ATL
sector was my favourite - a half empty 777 (good for me, bad for Delta) with a very friendly crew. Great stuff.
- Finally we had no trouble with the authorities in any city with regard to my obsessive picture taking. It certainly made the trip more enjoyable not having any confrontation or being yelled at to stop taking pictures!
Thanks for reading if you got this far. Hope you enjoyed this marathon trip report. Please feel free to leave any comments.
A sample of my other trip reports -