This is my first trip report, but after reading several others, I felt that this trip would be the best way to start.
My friend G decided to take a quick trip to Honduras with me. This was my 7th time there and it had been about 4 years since I had been down.
The trip actually started at DCA on 5/13. We spent some time planespotting at Gravely Point park, with planes coming in on the River Visual approach – before catching the 2:00 pm DCA – ATL Delta flight.
Among the highlights at Gravely Point: An AA 738 doing a go-around; several DL CRJs and US ERJs, a few Airbuses, and a Frontier A319.
An hour and fifteen from departure, we left Gravely Point to go to the Economy Lot, not realizing how far this was from the Terminal. There were no immediately available parking spots, so we drove back up and left the truck in the Daily Lot. That’s a $40 extra hit!
Thanks to Sky Priority, we checked-in, and made it easily through security (one of us has TSA Pre-Check) and got to the gate just as they were boarding. No pictures of the uneventful flight down to ATL on a DL A320.
In the morning, we got to the airport about 8:30 am for a 10:10 am departure on DL 849 to TGU, dropped our bags off at the Sky Priority/First Class desk, and met the longest security line either one of us has encountered, at Hartsfield’s South Security Checkpoint. But then, neither one of us has traveled out of here on a Monday morning!
After clearing security we took the packed plane train (what a silly name!) to Concourse E. At the stop for E, the recording announced that the train would be going on to Concourse F, though the new International Terminal does not open for a couple of days; there was no signage on the train for Concourse F either.
Concourse F visible from the DL Sky Club on E.
We got to the Sky Club near E15 at 9:20 am, and spent about 20 minutes getting a drink and some bagels.
By the time we got to E3, they were making the final boarding call. Using Sky Priority, we cut ahead of the dozen or so people still waiting … and we took our seats in the Business section (thanks to a Gold Medallion upgrade), 1A & 2A.
Boarding finished, we were given a choice of orange juices, champagne or the traditional Southern beverage of the mimosa, which we both chose (served in plastic cups).
Push back was on time at 10:10 am. Next to us on the right at E5 was a DL A319 bound for San Pedro Sula, which pushed back just before us. On our left there was a 763-ER bound for DTW.
Sister ship flying just ahead of us to SAP.
Turn those cell phones off!
We taxied on the starboard engine, to runway 27R, lining up for a westbound departure. After several company 757s took off ahead of us, we were number 5 for departure. It looked like they were doing an extension on the runway at the 27R end. After turning, we taxied along the threshold and kickedthe throttle up as soon as we got on the runway proper. As we took off, a company 752 was landing on 27L. Soon the green Atlanta landscape disappeared under low lying clouds which we traversed rather quickly.
We leveled off at a cruising altitude of FL390. The flight cut across Georgia, pretty much following I-75 to the Florida panhandle, and then the west coast peninsula, going over St. Petersburg, the Everglades and then Islamorada, Key West on the starboard. The friendly Southern flight attendant announced Key West and then said we would soon be flying over the “island nation of Cuba,” which we surely did!
After take-off, beverages were served, along with the traditional Delta snack option of peanuts, pretzels or the oh-so-good Biscoff cookies. We had Bloody Marys, which weren’t quite as good as the one in the lounge (they add tobasco and worcestershire in the lounge), but still enjoyable.
The choice for lunch was a beef short rib or pasta with mushrooms. All 12 pax up front chose the beef, to which the flight attendant quipped, “I’m glad we have 12 … of course, no one cares what the flight crew gets to eat!” She said that she flies Tegus, San Pedro Sula and Mexico City regularly, but doesn’t really speak Spanish, or what she does, sounds more Southern than Español.
I had the Blue Moon with my meal, which she brought with an orange slice. Nice touch Delta!
After lunch I enjoyed (a few) Delta mojitos along with my Hemingway novel.
After Cuba, it was a straight shot across the Gulf to the northern coast of Honduras, passing over the bay island of Roatan, and making landfall over La Ceiba. There were scattered clouds and some pretty high cumulus heads as the land sloped rapidly up from the coast.
Descent started about 90 miles out of TGU. As we entered the approach pattern at 10,000ft, we did a 360 degree holding pattern, presumably to allow space for the flight ahead (AA 752 from MIA). Soon the green hills emerged from the clouds alarmingly close, and then we were on the exciting final approach into Toncontín. Over the ridge, the city appeared and then we could make out the runway. Pretty crazy to think we’re just a few miles out, and still more or less perpendicular to it!
After that was the sharp left bank, with the wings seemingly touching the colorful roofs of the houses below, and then we’re lined up on short final, the runway appears below, then the landing zone, and we’re on the ground, reverse thrusters roaring, and hard brakes as all the energy is shed on this 6,631ft runway.
Landing Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BYLp...wPlD2qkBudOWQ&index=8&feature=plcp
Light applause breaks out from behind us and we’re taxiing to a busy apron where we could spy a TACA Regional ATR-42, a TACA Embraer 190 and a Copa Embraer 190 in addition to a United 737, a Copa 737 and the American 752.
The flight attendant announced that we might be at a jetbridge, or might be using the airstairs – but the Copa 737 pushed back and we got a jetbridge between United and American. Another TACA Regional (aka “Isleña”) landed as the engines shut down.
We waited a few minutes for the bridge to align, then got off, thanked the pilot for his excellent landing, and made our way to Immigration, crossing the passengers boarding AA 954 back to MIA.
This is the end of the ATL-TGU portion of the trip report. The plane spotting at Toncontin and the return flight will be up shortly. I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did. Any comments or questions are welcome. The pictures in this report were either taken by myself or by Gashwin.