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Posts: 2270
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:33 am

Connecting In ATL, Right Before The Snowstorm

Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:25 am

On February 12th, at 5AM, I woke up after only 4 hours of sleep, to take the bus to MDW. After checking I had all the documents I needed, I left towards the bus stop on 55th Street. I caught the 6.30 bus #55, destination Midway Airport. After about 40 minutes, I got to the airport, not before seeing a huge line for security while on the bus, going underneath the walkway where the security line was. Anyway, having arrived at the airport, I needed to print my boarding pass, which I did at one of the self-service check-in desks DL has at MDW. I'm sure not many people (if any) connect in ATL to go to Kansas City, but how, oh how, could I refuse an MD-90, even if I had to wake up at five in the morning? I'm an enthusiast, and if I flew on the MD-90 before, I did so only once... I can't quite remember.

Anyway, the line before security was moving pretty fast, as there were about eight checkpoints you could choose from... But not before encountering an agent to check your ID... Who didn't know a Green Card was a legal form of ID for flying... At least his colleague did... And if not, I had a state-issued ID anyway, so who cares? Still, it's stupid not to know your own rules.

The guys/girls at the checkpoint seemed to care as much about security as a gazelle did about its feature as prey for lions in a prominent National Geographic documentary. At least it meant the checkpoint went quickly, even though it did not at all make me feel any safer.

Flight # 176:
MD-90, N913DN
Gate C1
Departure from Gate: 0938
Take-Off: 0942
Landing: 1213
Arrival At Gate: 1220
Gate B7

Flight #177:
MD-88, N990DL
Gate B22
Departure from Gate: 1350
Take-Off: 1503
Landing: 1544
Arrival at Gate: 1548
Gate 58

The main reason for this particular itinerary wa the MD-90. Also, I feared connecting through Minneapolis in February (although I did so coming back) thinking that weather wouldn't be an issue in Atlanta. It wouldn't snow exactly when I'd connect there, would it? Well, actually it could. In fact 70% of flights from/to ATL were cancelled that day... But I wouldn't find that out until later.

Anyway, because gate C1 at MDW does not offer suitable (or any) airport views, I chose gate B1 for my main spotting activity that morning. From this gate I could see RWY 22L, which was in use for Take-offs, with 31C used for landings. Of course I started taking pictures... Some better, some worse... If you find any text in Romanian, I beg your pardon, I had a less textual version of this trip report on a Romanian aviation enthusiast forum.

B737-300, ship 350, at B1:

Tail of ship 350 with the tail of a CRJ-900 in the background:

Ship 350, taxi out:

B737-700 (blurred), takeoff on 22L:

Canadair CRJ-900 al DL, N134EV:

Embraer 175 al DL, N206JQ:

Something new for me, a B737-300 w/ winglets, N647SW:

At 8.38 the MD-90 N913DN landed at MDW. This is the aircraft that would take me to ATL. A very nice and quite rare aircraft type, one I really enjoyed flying on.

Engine detail:

Walking around MDW, I took more pictures of activity (or lack thereof) around the airport:

Embraer 175 al DL/NW (Compass Airlines):

Overview of MDW, aka Southwest and... something else :P

Embraer 175 to LGA:

Engine as seen from seat 33A:

Runway warning, 4R-22L:

Entering active, 22L:

An MD-90 takeoff from Midway is an unforgettable event for any enthusiast. It was the most powerful takeoff I had the luck of experiencing first hand (that I remember, anyway). It was delightful; the performance of the MD-90 is superb.

I must commend the crew on this flight (ATL-based F/As and Cincinnati based pilots IIRC), one of the best domestic coach cabin crew I have seen. Witty, but not over the top, and helpful throughout the flight.

Anyway... I had no idea what the weather in ATL was like, so I was a bit surprised when the pilots announced that their trip to Midway was very bumpy in its first half, and they expected the same on this flight, due to a very strong storm system. Later on, they came back on and said: "we don't have any information on connections. We know many flights have been cancelled and we hope that none of you were scheduled to fly on these particular flights". I got a bit worried and thought... What is going on in Atlanta? Thunderstorms in February? Well, as I'd find out while walking through ATL, that wasn't it. They were expecting 5 inches of snow... Woooow! That was a shock... 5 inches in Atlanta?

The Ohio:

Sink in the MD-90:

Wing in-flight view:

A few more, rather unsuccessful wing shots:

MD-11, UPS:

Salting the runway--this is probably when I figured it's gonna be snowing soon:

747-400 of Korean Air and 757-200 of Delta, slightly blurred:


Airtran 73G, with a 717 in the background:

717, AirTran:

Delta 757 w/ a 738 on the right side of the frame:

737-800, Delta:

767-400, Delta:

Interior of the MD-90, with its smaller overhead bins:

A few more shots of N913DN:

Two pictures showing the magnitude of severity of the ATL cancellations that day! 5 inches of snow? That must be what Atlanta gets in a year, not a day!!!

737-700, AirTran:

Delta, 757:

757s and N990DL, an MD-88, my next aircraft for the day:


Aircraft at the B concourse:

Well, basically on-time, we pushed back from the gate, to depart to MCI. However, snow had already accumulated on the wing (although it started snowing just 45' earlier), so this meant de-icing was necessary. I was surprised at how well ATL handled this, having few days in which winter takes its toll. Of course, having 1/3 of scheduled flights taking off, it means that we saved about 30 minutes while de-icing alone. Overall, it didn't help, as the tower (or ground, more likely) made what our pilot called a "faux pas": they placed an AirTran aircraft for de-icing on a taxiway--in our way! Oh well, I guess they're not used to these conditions. Soon we took off (although it took about 75 minutes from gate to take-off...), and after 1h 41' we touched down in MCI.

Control Tower, during severe snow, and low visibility:

MD-88 wing views:

MD-83, American Airlines:

Delta McDDs in MCI, probably due to ATL cancellations:

Canadairs, on in DL colors, another in NW old colors (wow, that goes way back, no doubt).

DL has much better service, and the FAs seem much nicer now than say, five years back.
Concourse B at ATL is much improved, looks much nicer now than a while back, I guess ATL leased the gates to DL completely, rather than hold them as common use (that's why I was told they looked shabby before).
Anyway, way to go DL.

I might post the return later (this was via MSP, w/ a D95 and a CR9), with fewer pics and less interesting commentary. I think I have a takeoff and landing video as well, but that might have to wait a little bit, not up on Youtube yet.

Comments, concerns, questions... Are always welcome. Thanks for reading.
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 5:49 pm

RE: Connecting In ATL, Right Before The Snowstorm

Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:22 am

Great trip report! Thanks for posting. I'd like to add the MD90 to my log someday. Not many chances to catch a ride on that plane. Does it feel more powerful than the MD88 or MD82?

I'm also curious about that special livery WN plane "Triple Crown" -- Do you know what that refers too? I miss the old WN livery. Lots of memories flying the 737-200 into DAL from SAT and TUL and sometimes IAH.
Topic Author
Posts: 2270
Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 5:33 am

RE: Connecting In ATL, Right Before The Snowstorm

Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:25 am

Quoting AALuxuryLiner (Reply 1):
Great trip report! Thanks for posting. I'd like to add the MD90 to my log someday. Not many chances to catch a ride on that plane. Does it feel more powerful than the MD88 or MD82?

I'm also curious about that special livery WN plane "Triple Crown" -- Do you know what that refers too? I miss the old WN livery. Lots of memories flying the 737-200 into DAL from SAT and TUL and sometimes IAH.


Not many MD-90s in service nowadays, and I believe a few are even being stored... But DL still has 16 flying. The trick is to find them in their schedule.

Well, in this particular case it seemed much more powerful than the MD-80 series. Of course, I flew out of MDW, so that might have had something to do with it, due to the rather restrictive runway length. I can't really comment in general, but this flight surely gave me an impression of what the MD-90 can do, even if it doesn't in all cases. It is a different beast than the Super 80s!

I'm not sure, but the Triple Crown seems to have been an award SWA won five times in a row in the 90's, after which it was retired (according to the WN website).

Oh, you are lucky! I wish I'd gotten the chance to fly on a 732. I had a flight booked in December of '05 MCI-CVG, scheduled to be a 732... Alas, I didn't get to take that flight... And now I doubt I'll have the chance again.

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