I thought I'd start with my most recent flying vacation, a summer trip I took with a travel group called People to People. Really neat tour all around Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and England. (I'll have another TR on the flight home, stay tuned!)
Flight: Delta Airlines DL1913
Aircraft: McDonnell-Douglas MD-88 (N912DL)
Our first flight was out of Pittsburgh, on a Mad Dog MD-88. This particular Dog goes by the name of N912DL. It first flew in 1987, and has been with DL ever since.
It was my first flight on an MD-80 type, so I was surprised to say the least at how steep the takeoff was. The flight was pretty uneventful, until the end, when we overflew ATL and made a very, very sharp turn to land. Even the FAs were screaming!
We landed at ATL on time. As we were taxiing to the gate, I noticed a KE 744 with emergency vehicles behind. Thinking it was going to sprout slides with passengers fleeing out the exits, I grabbed the camera. It turns out that a catering truck decided to go tech behind it. (Relief, but secretly disappointed at not seeing my first evacuation!)
Flight: Delta Airlines DL66 ATL-ZRH
Aircraft: Boeing 767-3P6ER (N153DL)
Our next flight was ATL-ZRH, on a Boeing 763ER, configured in 2-3-2 Economy. This particular aircraft, N153DL, was delivered in 1990 to Gulf Air, where it flew as A4O-GN until 1997, when it was sold to DL. From the looks of this database, it's a pretty frequent visitor to ZRH.
We had 2 really friendly gate agents, who I chatted with quite a bit about DL's fleet. It was here that I found out we'd be on a flight with no personal IFE. That was ok, I wanted to sleep anyway. The gate agent said that, while this was a comfortable plane, it doesn't compare to the 772LR/ERs. She also said that she doesn't like A319/320/321's- they're very hard with ground service.
I was told by the Delta call center that since we had a group reservation, I couldn't pick my seat. I was slightly disappointed to see that I had an aisle seat in the middle. The gate agents replied that there were only 6 seats left, all middles. Apparently, the load factor on this flight is really making money for DL! Then, I met a certain gate agent who can only be described as a bulldog. The other gate agents laughed and told me to get in her line, and I'd soon find out why! Once we started boarding, she was constantly on the loudspeaker, berating couples for not holding their own passports. She eventually screamed at me for folding my boarding pass. Why, I shall never know... Boarding announcements were made in English only.
Once aboard, I settled into my seat, 27C. A crew member came through the cabin to confirm my special meal request. We had a pretty normal takeoff, and after an hour, the friendly FAs served dinner. I had pre-ordered a VLML, a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal. Special meals were served first. It turned out to be the standard issue tortellini in cream sauce served on this flight, only mine had a "lacto-ovo" sticker, and fruit instead of the prepackaged brownie my seatmate got. The other choice was chicken with orzo pasta, in some sort of Mediterranean sauce. It looked pretty good.
It was OK for airline food, but I wouldn't eat it if something else was available. The cheese inside the pasta could've passed for sawdust, I had to ask for salad dressing, and my roll was extremely hard. I didn't bother eating the roll. To be honest, the best part was the fruit. I had a Fresca, which went nicely with the pasta. Since it was something less popular, the FA gave me the whole can.
When I called the Delta call center to order a special meal, there were very limited choices. The only special meals available were diabetic or lacto-ovo vegetarian. It wasn’t a problem for me, but could’ve been very annoying for someone with another special diet. I thought there would be more options, since we were flying out of DL’s largest hub.
The overhead movie offerings were Just Go With It, Jane Eyre, and another one I couldn’t remember. Not very interesting to me, but it wouldn't have mattered if I'd wanted to watch these though, as my seat's headphone jack was broken. In-flight announcements were made in English and German.
Once we hit (what I assume to be) Newfoundland, we hit turbulence. It was a pretty rough ride that evened out a bit, but the seat belt sign remaining on throughout the entire flight. As usual, most people ignored it when they needed to use the lav. The FAs passed through the cabin frequently with water and duty free goods.
Soon the first rays of sunlight were peeking out from across the Atlantic. That only meant one thing: Breakfast. As usual, special meals were served first.
My VLML breakfast consisted of a hot multigrain bagel (wrapped in foil), margarine, strawberry jam, Minute Maid orange juice, a Nature Valley granola bar, and a banana, plus a moist towelette to freshen up. Overall, you can't go wrong with pre-packaged cold items. My seatmates got some sort of hot English muffin with sausage, egg, and cheese. They said it was pretty awful, which made me glad I had pre-ordered.
No sooner was everything cleared than we started our descent into Zurich. We hit some crosswinds, which were accented by the lady behind me constantly grabbing my seat in sheer terror every time we pitched up and down. The descent over the Alps was beautiful, even from the aisle seat in the middle section! (A big thank you to my friend Josh, who took these 2 from his window seat!)
We landed and taxied to Concourse E, the non-Schengen arrivals area about 10 minutes early. It was my first time in ZRH, but I can say that even the airports in Switzerland are nice! It was nice to see that my luggage had made it all the way without any major damage.
As I was browsing through the database, I noticed that someone got a picture of us as we were landing at ZRH. Very nice!
Photo © Alessandro Lukas
On the way out, I caught a glimpse of a Thai A330 (correct me if I'm wrong, please!) at SR Technics, and behind it was HB-JHA, Swiss International's first A330-300.
Overall, the crews and people I met were great, except the one gate agent in ATL. In my opinion, Atlanta was one of the easiest airports to get through. I was very, very glad to hear that DL is in the process of updating their 763ERs with personal IFE and headphone jacks that actually work.
I had a great time in Europe. Residents of Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Britain, you have very beautiful countries! My return flight, DL9 LHR-ATL will come in a separate report.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed my first trip report. Any suggestions and/or questions are welcome. As I watch and learn, I will get better!