My fiancé, Ruby, was feeling homesick again, and since she had five days off of work coming up, she asked me if I wanted to go to Phoenix again. I had to work on Wednesday, so it would only be a two-and-a-half day trip for me, but of course I said yes -- especially knowing it would be a chance to fly the 767 on the way back!
For those of you who haven't read my trip reports before, I'm a Customer Service Agent in ATW for the company handling Delta Connection and United Express. As such, I have non-rev travel benefits on Delta, so I have to plan carefully and make sure I list myself on flights that have many open seats. I found an itinerary that looked pretty good, ATW-DTW-PHX and PHX-ATL-ATW on the way back. The first leg only had three open seats on it, but I knew we could get there through Atlanta as well, so I wasn't too worked up about it.
I worked from 4 a.m. until noon, then rushed back home to pick Ruby up. She had everything packed up, including our Bichon-Maltese dog, Dust Bunny, whom she dyed Delta blue for the occasion!
Getting ready for Dust Bunny's first plane ride!
Sunday, 04 November 2012
Delta Connection, operated by Pinnacle Airlines
From: Appleton, WI - Outagamie County Rgnl. (ATW), Gate 3
To: Detroit, MI - Metro/Wane County (DTW), Gate B11
Equipment: Bombardier CRJ-200
Departure: 2:32 p.m. (2:00 p.m. scheduled)
Arrival: 4:21 p.m. (4:06 p.m. scheduled)
Duration: 49 minutes
A view of Delta's ticket counter at ATW.
Nearly everyone was already checked in by the time we got there, so there was no line at the ticket counter. I used the kiosk to print our seat request cards and bag tags and walked around to the other side of the counter to throw them on the belt. The bags weighed about 12 lbs. a piece and one of them is carry-on size, but I really hate carrying them through the airport -- it really puts a cramp in the plane spotting!
Our Pinnacle CRJ-200 parked at Gate 3.
A United Express (ExpressJet) ERJ-145 just seconds away from taxiing out.
Once we got past security, I talked to a friend who was working a UA Express flight and she told me that our CRJ had suffered a bird strike on the way in. Regardless of whether or not there's any visible damage, a bird strike requires an inspection from maintenance, which meant this flight was going to take a delay. The mechanic must have been nearby because we started boarding shortly after our scheduled departure time.
If you love spotting, you'd love ATW. The entire terminal, except for Air Wisconsin and airport admin. offices upstairs is ground level, which makes for some amazing photo ops -- especially if you happen to be there when the occasional 757 or 767 NFL charter comes in.
We were cleared onto the flight and got seats 6C and 6D. I call row six on the CR2 "the non-rev row," because the seats are blocked from booking and standbys usually sit in them. Across from us, two other non-revs were occupying 6A and 6B.
Stepping onto the CRJ.
Once everyone was seated the captain explained the reason for the delay, saying " We had a bird strike on the way in here. You don't need to worry -- the aircraft is just fine, but the bird didn't fare so well."
It's always nice when the crew has a sense of humor! Because we were late turning out of the gate, Delta's next flight from MSP, a SkyWest CRJ-200 was forced to park at Gate 5.
The view from 6D.
We taxied over to Runway 3, which requires the longest taxi out of the four runways ATW has. I commented to Ruby that I felt like we were on WN with how fast the captain was taxiing. He also announced that we changed our routing to a more direct one, in order to minimize our delay.
The sky over Wisconsin was clear as we took off, but as we approached Michigan, the cloud layer became more-and-more thick. As is the case for all flights over 250 miles, this one featured a beverage service, along with a choice of Biscoff cookies, pretzels, or peanuts. I had a Coke and a Biscoff, Ruby had a Fresca and a Biscoff and we got a cup of Aquarius water for Dust Bunny.
The Lake Michigan coastline near Whitehall, MI.
Somewhere over Michigan.
The obligatory legroom shot.
Ruby altered our 'DOCS OK' stamp. I like it better this way!
We descended from our cruising altitude of 25,000 feet and the fasten seat belt sign was turned back on. Most of the approach into DTW was obscured by clouds like this:
We landed in between banks at DTW, but it still took a few minutes to get rampers over to our gate. Upon taxi into the gate, it took a few more minutes to get an agent to drive the jet bridge up to us. Typical DTW, right? Since we did not have a connection for four more hours, Ruby and I waited for all other customers to deplane. I like it better that way -- nobody behind you rushing you along and it gives us time to thank the crew on the way out.
At the gate next to us was N606LR, a plane I've worked on many times and also flown once, from MSP to GRB.
Usually when I go to DTW, I eat at National Coney Island, a place I rave about all of the time (if DTW is on your itinerary, you HAVE to stop there!), but since I had eaten there about a week ago on another trip, I decided to have another old favorite, Taco Bell, while Ruby had a Quizno's sub. After our dinner by the iconic DTW water feature, we made our way over to gate A12 for our flight to PHX.
As you might imagine, having a blue dog draws a lot of attention and many people in Detroit asked to hold her or get their picture with her. A few people even asked if that was her natural color!
Sunday, 04 November 2012
Delta Air Lines
From: Detroit, MI - Metro/Wane County (DTW), Gate B11
To: Phoenix, AZ - Sky Harbor Int'l. (PHX), Gate 19
Equipment: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 7:46 p.m. (7:35 p.m. scheduled)
Arrival: 9:14 p.m. (9:09 p.m. scheduled)
Duration: 3 hours, 28 minutes
I didn't take many pictures in DTW for two reasons -- one, the infamous dots all over the windows makes it impossible for the camera to focus and two, it was nighttime while we were there, which limits photo opportunities significantly. However, I know I took a picture of our 737, but it seems to have disappeared.
A lovely 75' at the gate next to us, taken through the A12 jet bridge window.
We were assigned Economy Comfort seats, 11D and 11E. I really wanted a window seat, and looked around after boarding to see if there were any available, but it would've meant splitting up from Ruby and sitting next to her was more important. I got a chance to snap a couple of pics out the window before our seatmate arrived and blocked the window for the rest of the flight.
A view of the first class cabin.
We were treated to the new Delta safety video on this flight, which you can view here and here (there are two versions). We were shown version one on this flight. Many passengers were laughing during the video, so it appears to be a hit.
Taxi was relatively short for DTW and we passed by a few CRJs and MD-88s before we were airborne. This aircraft was equipped with the older overhead LCD monitors, which is still quite sufficient for a flight of this length. "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" was shown, along with an episode of "Two Broke Girls." Something else was shown afterwards, but I had a hard time staying awake by then, since I'd been up since 3 a.m.
This flight featured dinner selections from the EATS menu, along with complimentary beverages & pretzels, peanuts, and cookies. I ordered a Canada Dry ginger ale this time, along with the Biscoff cookies, while Ruby had a Minute Maid cranberry apple juice and cookies. Later, a second service was offered, this time with just water and coffee. I took a cup of joe, in the hopes that it would keep me awake the rest of the night. I probably needed about five cups, actually.
We made our decent into Phoenix over the east valley, which is typical for a flight this time of night (morning arrivals use the approach over west Phoenix, unless winds determine otherwise). We flew over Scottsdale/Rural Rd., the Montezuma Castle, Arizona Highway 143 and finally landed on Runway 26, in one of the smoothest landings I've ever experienced. When you're so used to flying in regional jets as I am, it feels so nice to land in a mainline jet!
We taxied into Gate 19 at Terminal 3, next to a Delta Connection (SkyWest) CRJ-700 that was overnighting there before a flight to LAX the next day.
My attempt at an exterior shot of our 737. Sorry for the poor quality.
There was a 757-300 waiting for a red-eye flight to DTW when we arrived that I also tried to take a picture of. That one was even worse than the 737 shot, so I won't even bother posting it here.
After claiming our bags, Ruby's mom, Jennifer, took us to a Tempe Fry's Marketplace for some dinner items. Fry's is part of the Kroger chain, so it's very similar to their other nameplates, like Ralph's, Smith's, etc. I love shopping at Woodman's in Appleton, but Fry's is one of the things I miss the most about Arizona. We got some Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese and went home for dinner. We ended up staying up until 12:30, so I guess the coffee worked!
Well, this concludes part one -- I will be writing part two, the return home, in a couple of days, but please give me your thoughts in the meantime. I hope you enjoyed reading!