My trip started out with a nice Greyhound ride to Toronto (really nice new leather seats, perfect for a couple hours' nap) and a cheap trip from there on Megabus to Pittsburgh. The bus was nearly empty until Erie, taking a full 5 minutes through customs and giving me a few hours rest on the back bench of seats... much better than my last experience with them!
I got in to Pittsburgh around 06:00, giving me a couple hours to explore town before heading to the airport.
First Light hitting downtown.
One of the historical funiculars.
Sunrise working through the trusses of the bridge.
One more bridge for good measure The Southwest Experience (PIT-MDW-MCI)
Photo © Jaysen F. Snow - Midwest Tail Chasers
Leftover from a busier time
It was very interesting walking through the remains of US's former hub, the airport feels very quiet, though not deserted. The street prices airside are a real bonus, it's too bad more airports don't follow this!
WN's gate area wasn't too busy, but it was still nearly impossible (here and elsewhere) to get a seat in WN's business area (big leather seats with AC and USB power). WN's boarding seemed to be the quickest I've been through... until you get to the plane. Everyone who boards first wants to sit at the front... well, you get the idea.
Push-back was a few minutes ahead of schedule, followed by a few jokes thrown in with the safety demo - and it managed to get people's attention, so I guess it works!
Great roasted peanuts! And nice that they take your order for drinks and bring them around on a tray. Though I'm guessing it's just to save weight by eliminating carts?
Approach under gradually lowering ceilings to a rainy MDW (we were within 1000 ft of the clouds for the last 10 minutes, but never flew into them.)
We arrived in MDW a dozen minutes ahead of schedule and I set off to take a look around (and maybe find a free lounge chair?)
There's an interesting aviation history corner between the concourses.
After a quick walk around the terminal (really wishing for PIT's Airmall prices right now!) I settled in to a quiet seat in the A concourse to charge my camera for the next flight - have to remember to do that at home in the future!
Photo © Carlos E. Santa Maria
Photo © JetPix
Boarding wasn't as quick this time, as the flight was full and a lady had to repack her bag because it was too large to fit in the overhead bins... there's one on every flight!
A F9 flight pushing back (really like the tail design)...
And if you look closely - the same aircraft still waiting while we take off! Gotta love WN.
The bins, lights, and vents on this classic are noticeably, well, older than on the -700. I prefer the flap fairings on the -300 as well.
The lead FA led us through a WN exercise in happiness: turn to your seatmate and say "I look... better... than you!" Got most people to crack up, a good start for the flight.
After an uneventful flight we arrived in sunny MCI, passing by the ex-TWA hangars. The FAs on this flight had a contest - PAX were asked to cross their seatbelts if they enjoyed the service. The FA with the fewest belts at the end of the day buys dinner!
And now for something completely different (DL from MCI-MEM-MSP)
Photo © Shawn Early - Flight Deck Photography
Architecture and design are a bit of a hobby of mine, so it was interesting to see the "drive-to-the-gate" terminals in MCI. With each airline having it's own 'lounge' of connected gates, connections on one airline seem to be quite easy. However anything else is not.
I nearly made it to the exit row on the hop to MEM - but my bag was too thick to fit in the overhead bin (camera and padding) so I had to move back a couple rows. Plenty of empty seats though.
A couple minor delays on the flight as we were overfueled and had to burn some off before departure to avoid landing overweight. And on arrival there was no marshaller to be seen for a few minutes.
I found the pitch-down attitude really noticeable on approach - or maybe I was just imagining it after watching a few land while spotting.
It's a bit of a walk from one concourse to the other in MEM, but the gate areas themselves are very pleasant with plenty of brick. I had some cheap (and terrible) Cheez-its for a snack - I'd recommend never touching the things!
Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg
There it was, the aircraft I'd been waiting for! Okay, I couldn't tell if it was a DC9 or MD80 until I saw the safety card...
I'd taken seat 24F to be as close to the JT8Ds as possible and still be able to see outside... and it was worth it! The engines were loud enough that I couldn't understand any announcements in flight.
The physicist inside me also enjoyed listening to / feeling the phase shift between the engines (usually only about 0.5Hz), with the vibrations alternating between my body and the floor. Anyone have any idea what causes that? I'm guessing some matter of harmonics, but it's beyond me. Just fun to be there. It's like the engine was part of the IFE
Anyone know what the 'socket' on the wingtip is?
The flight was very comfortable, I had the whole row to myself. Service was the best I'd gotten on the trip so far, with cookies, peanuts, and a whole can of coke (and I didn't even have to ask!)
Finally, it was time to make my way across MSP by foot (no golf cart for me! It seems that DL uses them as a semi-permanent inter-concourse transit system) with a quick dinner at Burger King as it was closing. It's a very nice and open terminal, with a very decent mall/food court.
Photo © Frank Robitaille
My last flight of the night would be on a Meseba CRJ900. Not the most comfortable aircraft, but still better than a CRJ200. There were some cupboards above the left side of business class, I've never seen these before but they looked interesting.
The seats were a little short, barely any seat above the tray, and the headrest wouldn't stay up. The windows seemed unusually far apart as well. Not a problem tonight though, as I was out for most of the flight.
We got into YEG with the late bank of flights, customs taking a few minutes as usual. It was nice not to have to wait for any bags though! The International area is still under construction, but I imagine that it will look very nice once completed.
And that's that. A long day, but well worth it for me. My thoughts?
Southwest is definitely a different kind of airline, and personally I enjoyed it. Especially the odd bits of humour throughout the flight. Maybe with the acquisition of FL they'll make their way up to Canada eventually.
On the DC9: DL, why must you retire such a beautiful aircraft! The experience was amazing, but I'd understand how it could get to be annoying for anyone other than an aviation nut. I'm glad I caught it before it was gone!