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The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:59 pm

Leg 3: Miami Nice? – February 25, 2012

Greetings once again, fellow aviation fans! I’m sure you’ve already figured out where this trip took me—Miami International Airport, the 12th busiest in the United States. Compared to the first two legs, this one appeared to be a cupcake: only four flights and one new airport. Nevertheless, I was eager to have some fun in the sun during my first foray into Florida. (Not that I’d have any time to hit the beaches, but you get the idea…) With that, we’ll jump straight into the action.

(Some pictures have been omitted for your convenience. If you wish to see them all, feel free to follow the link: Slideshow for Leg Three)

This day automatically started out better than the last solely because of the departure time of my first flight: 8 AM trumps 6 AM any day of the week. (That didn’t stop my alarm from malfunctioning, resulting in me being a few minutes behind schedule. By the time I got to the gate, boarding was just about finished.) The thing that wouldn’t change was a quick up-and-down with AA.

It’s been a while since I saw natural light in here…

The nose knows

American Airlines 1814 OKC-DFW
Scheduled: 08:20-09:25
Actual: 08:28-09:05 (wheels up/wheels down); 08:14-09:16 (gate to gate)
McDonnell-Douglas MD-82 (N7528A)

A few shots of the morning’s activity

That speck is a 737 going to wherever it’s supposed to go

The ground crew briefly hosed down the plane with de-icing agent

Terminal facilities

Now here’s a strange one that popped up a few days ago. I apologize for the bad shot, but it’s of a 737 from Jet4you (a Moroccan low-cost airline). I’ve no idea what they plan on doing with it.

Up we go!

Lake Fuqua, about 65 miles south of the airport

Waurika Lake, 6 miles northwest of Waurika, Oklahoma

The captain announced our descent shortly before I took this picture. Down there is the Red River, meaning we were still in Oklahoma as initial descent started. Don’t you just love short flights?

Center of frame: Ryan, OK

I selected apple juice at the beverage service. The cold juice was quite the refreshing start to the day. As you can see, I’ve already knocked out half of it.


Bridgeport, Texas and Lake Bridgeport

Decatur Municipal Airport (KLUD)

Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW / KAFW)

Close to landing…

And there it is

We landed on Runway 13R, resulting in a taxi to the gate of approximately 11 minutes. Once we got there, I had about two hours to mill around before jetting off to Miami.

The plane that got me here

I noticed another old friend while pulling into the gate. Once inside, I made my way around to where it was sitting. There sat N433AA, another of my pictorial conquests.

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Photo © Eric Brown

In case you’ve forgotten who is the king of DFW

My first AA 738 (one of AA’s newer ones, just over two months old)

American Airlines 1154 DFW-MIA
Scheduled: 11:30-15:10
Actual: 11:38-14:58 (wheels up/wheels down); 11:28-15:11 (gate to gate)
Boeing 737-823 (N881NN)

Legs—Spirit is still fresh on my mind, so any legroom is a welcome reward

Sky interior; the AA cloth seats just seemed so out of place, though—almost as if they’d been snatched off an MD-82


On the takeoff roll

Mountain Creek Lake and Naval Air Station Dallas (former US Navy station, now home to various National Guard and Reserve units)

Dallas Executive Airport (RBD / KRBD)

Can you spot the other 737?

Terrell Municipal Airport (TRL / KTRL)

The view through the window was mostly of clouds, so I couldn’t see the exact moment when we crossed over the Gulf of Mexico. I suppose it was just as well there were clouds, given that I had to bend down to get good looks through the window. That’s high on the short list of shortcomings of the 737, at least from a passenger’s perspective.

After a little while, the person in front of me reclined their seat all the way back. No big deal; though my laptop was there, I wasn’t planning on fully utilizing the space. However, when the beverages came around, I wanted just a tiny bit more room to maneuver. I considered reclining my seat a bit, so I looked back and saw this:

Not wanting to fracture somebody’s skull, I made the best of the situation. Needless to say, I survived, and the flight went on…

Mississippi River, Port Allen (by engine) and Baton Rouge (left of river)

See our reflection on the engine?

Ooh, there’s water down there!

A ship

Winglet close-up

Back over land

Soon enough, the nose dropped down and we began our descent into Miami. We were greeted with some scenic cloud formations on the way down:

In the land of retirement

It says “Welcome” and “Miami-Dade”

Touchdown on Runway 9!

I could already tell that MIA was a bit of a different animal than any airport I’ve yet been to. Being a warm-weather getaway and a gateway to the Caribbean and Central/South America, I saw some airlines that I don’t normally see—and a few that I’ve never seen at all. (In the time between this trip and its posting, AeroSur ceased operations. When I saw that news, I immediately thought back to this day. At least I had the opportunity to set eyes on them for one time…)

AeroSur, Transaero, TACA, a big Lufty in the distance, and others

Land of American; what the MD-80 is to DFW, the 737 is to MIA

After 13 minutes of going hither, thither, and yon, we parked at gate D17

I had little time to waste in going through MIA. For the extra convenience of leaving late and snagging a special plane on the way out, I had to compromise in the area of time. As such, I had about an hour before my next flight boarded. I’m always a bit disappointed when I have to rush through things, but pouting about it wasn’t going to help me... Furthermore, I discovered that I committed the colossal blunder of forgetting to charge my camera’s battery before I left.    Hence, I had to be more selective than usual with photos, but I believe I got the major things I wanted to see.

I stepped through the door of the plane and was reminded that I was in a city on the sea: the humidity made for some rather thick air. I was immediately reminded of IAH, where I experienced the same wall of humidity after stepping off of the plane.

So…about Miami International. The first stop was naturally a bathroom. It was too busy for me to get a picture, but it was nothing spectacular: white tile on the walls and an adequate number of fixtures. An added touch of elegance, though: they had put paper towels on the floor at each of the urinals to soak up where people have terrible aim.   

Continuing the theme of spread-out terminals, I sought to get through as much of the lengthy Concourse D as I could. I made my way to the low end and worked towards the high end:

My first impression: I kinda liked the place. The boarding areas themselves were the standard bland arrangements, but the rest was bright and clean. The color scheme reminded me a little of DEN, minus some of the carpet.

Flight info displays

The hall gave way to shops and restaurants lining the sides. This is a thing we see a lot these days: the shopping mall with gates sprinkled here and there. Not that I have anything against it, provided that it looks decent. In MIA’s case, I like what they’ve done with it.

The Skytrain, a quick way to traverse the D/E complex

American Astrojet

As a change of pace, the black floors switched over to white, further brightening the area

End of the line: Gate D60

To walk from D1 to D60 took me about 20 minutes. There are moving walkways to speed things along, but not many. Hence, the tram can be a blessing for those crunched for time. Nevertheless, it’s definitely a factor to keep in mind if you’ve got a tight connection. Speaking of which, I needed to switch terminals to get to Delta, so I hopped on the train to get to the concourse exit more quickly.

Escalator to the train

Your typical Skytrain station

I made my way through the ticketing areas all the way around to Concourse H, where I negotiated with a kiosk. The negotiations were successful; it spat out my boarding passes with no trouble. Oh, and they were my first look at Delta’s new boarding passes—I can instantly sign off on their practicality. That morning in OKC, I reached in my bag for the boarding pass to DFW—I saw one that said Dallas/Fort Worth, registered it as the correct one, and handed it to the agent. The scanner protested; I had mistakenly handed her the one for DFW-MIA. No such problems with the DL passes; the large lettering is a good feature.

Boy, how bland and sterile can you get? Granted, there’s not much they can do down here…

Don’t let the lights fool you, it felt a little like a dungeon down there

Delta ticketing

Security went quickly and easily, and I was in Concourse H. I proceeded directly to the gate to see what was up.

A bit more confined and subdued than D, but the general theme still exists

Hey, there it is!

Air France 744 F-GITF (I know a little bit of French, so it felt good to actually understand some of what people were saying at an international gate, for once)

My gate; I don’t know why, but I was impressed with the Star Trek entry door. All it was missing was the “whoosh” sound as it moved.

Some lucky people get to turn left on a single-aisle plane…

Doors closed (whoosh)

I noticed the masses of people standing around waiting to board. At first, I chalked it up to the “gate lice” phenomenon, but a closer look revealed that there weren’t nearly enough seats in the boarding area. I figured about 60-70 seats were there. Our 757-300 seats 224. The gate agent told us it would be a full flight, so we were very close to that number. They obviously don’t have to have enough seats for every conceivable plane at each gate, but it seemed like that situation wasn’t completely thought through. I counted this as MIA’s only setback worth mentioning.

Delta Air Lines 1951 MIA-ATL
Scheduled: 16:50-18:53
Actual: 17:06-18:36 (wheels up/wheels down); 16:48-18:45 (gate to gate)
Boeing 757-351 (N585NW)

When I booked these trips, I kept my eyes peeled for any remotely interesting options. Flight 1951 immediately stuck out, practically begging me to take the opportunity. Honestly, who could say no to a ride on the Flying Pencil?    So I was definitely looking forward to this date with the king of narrow-bodies.

Here I am in the beautiful seat 37F

Lady Penelope (G-VFAB) greets us as we taxi out

Then came the famous powerful takeoff usually associated with the 757. I think this plane is one of the more underrated ones out there…almost as if it’s working behind the scenes that are set by 737s, A320s, and regional jets. It’s a versatile plane that does its job reliably and without complaint. To that last point, I saw where it’s only had eight hull losses since it first flew in 1982—just one more reason to be impressed with this aircraft.

Up we go…again…for the third time…

A last look at MIA

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB / KSFB)

The coastline and the Atlantic

As we made our way through the Florida skies, I spied a Southwest 737 tagging along beside us. I grabbed my camera, got it in the scope, and pressed the shutter—nothing happened. Instead, a red icon depicting an empty battery blinked at me.    I cursed the luck and immediately turned it off, hoping to let it rest and scrape up enough power to coax out one last picture that I really wanted…

The boys up front guided our flying pencil down to the ground and we meandered about for a few minutes before finding a gate. We pulled in at Concourse A, which meant that I had to zip over to Concourse E, and then back to B, where my plane would depart. Why all that scooting, you ask?

The love affair continues…

Delta Air Lines 1259 ATL-OKC
Scheduled: 20:35-22:01
Actual: 20:37-21:24 (wheels up/wheels down); 20:23-21:34 (gate to gate)
McDonnell-Douglas MD-88 (N930DL)

There were three occurrences of note about this flight. The first was attempting to sit in my seat, 20E. A lady was occupying it when I arrived there. The encounter went as follows:

Me: “Excuse me; that’s me in the window seat.”
Lady: “Oh? You have E too?”
Me: “Yes.”
Lady: “I don’t think so…” (we pull out our boarding passes)
Me: (looking at her boarding pass) “Ah, that’s for 22E.”
Lady: “Really? Where am I now?”
Me: “20E.”
Lady: “So…(looking back) where am I supposed to be?”
Me: (gesturing beyond a couple in row 21) “Right behind these guys.”

An explanation ensued about how the row numbers didn’t match from one side to the other, which led to her confusion. Now, why she’d look at the left side for her row number to her right side seat piqued my curiosity. And while it’s true that the row numbers didn’t match, I looked across from my row and saw 21, not 22. Oh well; people are allowed to be confused or in a hurry once in a while!   

The second happened just after we took off: I noticed a particular Boeing 707 with Qantas paint all over it…gee, I wonder whose plane that was?   

The third was the rough air that shook us as we powered through it—more than normal, but nothing I couldn’t type through.

Looking out at MD-90 N927DN

The rest of the voyage was unremarkable, but pleasurable. With that, my quick run to Miami came to an end. So, what did I learn, other than to charge my batteries?
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:00 pm

Airport Conclusions

MIA: The obvious disappointment was that I couldn’t explore the airport in its entirety. Mind you, even with enough time, I think I’d need to fly three airlines to do it. But for what I did see, I was pleasantly surprised. I just had a good vibe about the place—there was some intangible quality that MIA seemed to have nailed. At 1.2 miles in length, Concourse D is another nice walking spot for me, but I’d likely be singing a different tune if I was up against the clock. In terms of looks, I can at least approve of the airside North and South terminals. (Fancy that—the two most recently redone portions of the airport are the best-looking.) Landside is nothing special. There appeared to be many shopping options, but I couldn’t speak about the food as I didn’t have any.
They could pay a little more attention to the boarding areas, though…

Coming up next: One if by Land, Two if by Sea-Tac

Tigerguy’s Tales:

The Top Ten (Leg 1): Texas Two-Step (by Tigerguy Jun 26 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: DFW, IAH
The Top Ten (Leg 2/7): How To Book... (by Tigerguy Jun 29 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: LAS, with SLC
The Top Ten (Leg 3/7): Masochism For Dummies (by Tigerguy Jul 2 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: ORD, JFK, ATL, with LGA
The Top Ten (Leg 4/7): Phoenix Rising (by Tigerguy Jul 5 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: DEN (A/C), PHX
The Top Ten (Leg 5/7): Dash To The Rockies (by Tigerguy Jul 8 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: DEN (B)
The Top Ten (Leg 6/7): SoCal (by Tigerguy Jul 11 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: LAX
The Top Ten (Leg 7/7): NorCal (by Tigerguy Jul 14 2011 in Trip Reports) Featuring: SFO
Jet Be Nimble, Jet Be Quick! - A DC-9 Story (by Tigerguy Oct 6 2011 in Trip Reports)
The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me (by Tigerguy Dec 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
Paying The Piper: A Mini-TR (by Tigerguy May 12 2012 in Trip Reports)

The Next Ten (Leg 1/8): Triple Seven, Twin Cities (by Tigerguy Jun 30 2012 in Trip Reports) Featuring: MSP
The Next Ten (Leg 2/8): Masochism For Dummies II (by Tigerguy Jul 3 2012 in Trip Reports) Featuring: LGA, CLT
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:41 pm

I have been enjoying following your TR's! Very entertaining writing, which makes the "run of the mill" domestic flight reports interesting!

The second happened just after we took off: I noticed a particular Boeing 707 with Qantas paint all over it…gee, I wonder whose plane that was?

That was mine...I'm raising support for fuel so that I can fly it home   
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RE: The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:47 pm

Quoting technobie (Reply 2):

Thanks for following along! I realize this slew of domestic flights doesn't have the exotic flair of a widebody to some far-off land, but I enjoy them all the same. So I try to present a bit of the spice wherever I can--with varying results.   

Quoting technobie (Reply 2):
That was mine...I'm raising support for fuel so that I can fly it home

I think I can send a dollar or two your way...   
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:24 pm


Thanks for giving us the next part of the airport tour.
Too bad you where not able to catch a look in concourse J. A very nice piece of architecture.
Great news to see you've got the sky interior of the DFW-MIA sector

Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
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RE: The Next Ten (Leg 3/8): Miami Nice?

Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:16 am

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 4):

Greetings once again. It always disappoints me when I have to leave something by the wayside, but it has to be done here and there. At least I can say that I saw a majority of the place and I have an excuse to go back someday and see the rest.

As for the 738, I just couldn't get past the seats. As far as comfort, they were alright. But I don't have near the same reaction with the United cloth seat as I do with the AA seat. They just look so tired. This isn't to say the UA seat isn't tired-looking either, but it doesn't look out of place. Really, I think they could take a page from their competitors' playbooks and go for leather.
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.

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