Greetings! As some of you may know (if you've read my previous TRs), I visit Phoenix, AZ quite often, as that's where much of my family resides. Since it was a good six months from my last visit, it was time for another trip...
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Delta Air Lines
Flight #: DL1067
Origin: Green Bay, WI (GRB)
Destination: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP)
Equipment: Airbus A320
Scheduled Departure: 9:00 a.m. CST (9:10 actual)
Scheduled Arrival: 10:13 a.m. CST (9:56 actual)
Despite my 9:00 a.m. departure, I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. for a couple of reasons – one, I’m always very nervous that something is going to go wrong before my flight (like having car trouble, for example) and two, I was just damn excited to spend some time at the airport – so you can see why I like to get up early.
I jumped out of bed and drove to the airport. I pulled into the Long Term Parking Lot at Austin Straubel Int’l. and spent a good few minutes searching for a spot before settling on one that seemed an acre away from the terminal. This is a major problem with GRB, in my opinion. A large, new parking structure was in the plans at one point, but it was put on the backburner. Meanwhile, the number of passengers at the airport continues to grow, and that means parking in the existing lot is becoming scarce.
A view of the terminal at GRB on this cold, winter morning.
I had checked in online the night before and wasn’t planning on checking any luggage, so I headed straight to the security checkpoint. It turns out that I got there at the perfect time – way too early for my own flight, but too late to catch the earlier departures – so there was no one in line. The friendly TSA agent asked me if I was looking forward to the Arizona heat, as temperatures were only in the teens in Green Bay that morning. GRB hasn’t installed any full-body scanners, so I knew that security wasn’t going to be a hassle, but I still appreciated the fact that the staff were polite and professional. The negative stereotype of the TSA tends to not reflect reality, in my experience.
A view of Gate B6, where our A320 was parked. Concourse B only serves DL. The other carriers at GRB – AA, CO, F9, and UA – use Concourse A.
This was the best I could do for a shot of the A320. If you want to see a good pic of a DL 320, I would suggest the massive database here at A.net!
Boarding began shortly after 8:30 and took about the usual amount of time for an A320. I was very happy when I got on and saw that no one was going to sit in the middle seat next to me. It looked like things were getting off to a good start!
As you can see, Delta’s A320s have great pitch… and I’m short!
A view of the UA and AA gates at Concourse A. As you can see, their morning flights had already departed at this point.
We taxied over to runway 24 and rocketed out of GRB. Shortly thereafter, the FAs came around to do their service and I ordered a Coke and some mini-pretzels. I hadn’t had the pretzels yet on DL and found them to be quite good, though I still do miss the Spinzels that NW had. With no seatmate next to me, I took advantage of both tray tables, using one for my Mac and the other for my snacks and beverage. I settled in and listened to some music (The Doobie Brothers, Chicago, Eric Clapton, and other great classic rock!)
We descended into MSP and alongside of us a DL Connection CRJ-900 used the parallel runway. The landing was smooth and we taxied to a gate in the F Concourse. This made me quite happy, since my connection was in nearby Concourse G.
During my layover I was hoping to have a McDonald’s breakfast, but much to my dismay, I found out that they were already serving lunch at 9:50. Since I wasn’t in the burger-and-fries mood, I decided to have a cheese steak sub at Quizno’s. It was tasty, but a little too messy to eat at the gate and I ended up with a massive grease stain on my shirt! Oh no!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Delta Air Lines
Flight #: DL2699
Origin: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP)
Destination: Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Equipment: Boeing 737-800
Scheduled Departure: 11:25 a.m. CST (11:46 actual)
Scheduled Arrival: 1:49 p.m. MST (1:34 actual)
Once my zone was called, I got up and walked over to the growing line at the gate. Economy pax getting in line when the gate agents are only boarding First Class/elite pax is something that really irks me. Why should I have to wait behind all of these people, when I’m the only one who boards properly?
At least I had some eye candy ahead of me in line…
Was I taking a picture of the 738 – or the cute Minneapolis chicks? We may never know…
The land of the blue-and-red tails! Another 738, 2 757s and a 744 lined up next to us. The 744 was headed for Shanghai.
At some point between now and the last time I was here, the black jetways were repainted white. I preferred the old look – white doesn’t really fit in with MSP’s black and gray façade.
Yes, I’m still as short as I was in the A320 photo. As you can see, the 738 has a somewhat shorter (but still acceptable) pitch.
We pushed back and taxied past the old NC/RC/NW hangar next to the terminal building. It really looks different, now that so much of it has been torn down. Still, there were a couple of aircraft that were parked out front, so I assume there is still some activity that goes on in that building.
After a short wait, we took off and headed for the southwest. The same drinks and snacks were offered as the Green Bay flight, and I ordered the same items. About 2/3rds of the way into this uneventful flight, we experienced some moderate turbulence and the fasten seat belt sign was turned on for the rest of the flight. The captain told us that the time in the air would be 2 hours and 50 minutes and he was right (the actual time, according to FlightAware, was 2:48). This was one of the longest MSP-PHX flights I have ever been on.
This 737 was equipped with overhead IFE and the movie “The Social Network” was shown. I was very excited to see it (I missed it in theatres), but the screen above me was too dark and the second-nearest one was too far away to really see any detail. I decided to wait and watch it in a setting where I could enjoy it more.
Instead, I read through the fantastic Sky Magazine and they had a great column from CEO Richard Anderson on the threat of new aviation taxes. He explained how taxes have skyrocketed since 1980 (while fares have gone down), but yet we’re still using an antiquated air traffic control system. Anderson is right on the money with this one and I would highly recommend that you read his piece on the Sky website. The magazine also had a very interesting interview with “No Ordinary Family” star Michael Chicklis that I would also recommend.
Soon the snow out our window turned into desert and we descended into Phoenix. We passed over the ASU football stadium and U.S. Airways headquarters before the worst landing I’ve ever experienced. We nailed the runway hard (No, I’m not trying to make an innuendo here ) and used full braking and reverse, which lead to a kind of jolting feeling for the passengers.
Anyways, here is the view of our gate at PHX:
Now that I had arrived, I took care of the most important thing first… get some spicy Mexican food!
This was at Cantina Laredo in Scottsdale. It is a chile relleno, spinach enchilada, and chicken enchilada. Tasty!
Well, that’s gonna do it for this report. Overall, I found the experience on DL to be good, and I’m happy to know that IFE is an issue that they’re addressing (but I still think the window is the best kind of IFE there is!) I’ll be posting the return legs soon and let’s just say that they’re not as uneventful as these flights were!
Feel free to post any questions or comments you have!