A small problem arose. My ex-husband's younger brother was due to graduate from flight school (Army Helicopter pilot) at Fort Rucker, Alabama. We wanted (obviously) to be there. The only hitch being, graduation was scheduled for November 24, the day before Thanksgiving.
In the end we came up with this godawful itinerary (booked all in L class, as K class was prohibitively expensive via MGM.):
23 November DL 353 dep BOS 1715 arr ATL 2005 767-200 DL 1517 dep ATL 2130 arr MGM 2120 MD-88 25 November DL 4062 dep MGM 0505 arr ATL 0655 ATR-72 (opb ASA) DL 835 dep ATL 0855 arr SEA 1122 757-200 29 November DL 1047 dep SEA 1310 arr SLC 1603 757-200 DL 1898 dep SLC 1655 arr BOS 2319 757-200
The original plan was to leave work at 1500 for home, and then depart home at 1515 for Logan. That was much too early for a normal 1715 flight, but knowing that it was Thanksgiving week, I did not want to make any guesses about the traffic or the mobs at Logan.
Of course, we didn't make it out the door from work at 1500, it was closer to 1520, and 1530 when we reached home. A few last things completed, we called a cab at 1535. And another one at 1536, etc, etc. The cab companies all said that none were available. We decided just to walk to the T (we had three carryons - two backpacks and a tote bag, and one suitcase-on-wheels). Typically, we found cabs at the cab stand at the hotel near the T. Why there were cabs there when the cab companies said none were available is beyond me. I have given up trying to analyze the dysfunctional Cambridge cab system.
We were out of the cab just after 1600 and at the terminal door shortly thereafter. The terminal LOOKED busy, but it was actually quite quiet. Delta did its usual bang-up job of over-staffing for the holiday. All desks were open. There were four Medallion desks open and nobody in line. We were helped 60 seconds after arriving at the line and check-in took all of two minutes. I showed my passport and quoted the flight number. C was not quite as organized and the agent said "ah, you must be C". [well I'd hope so!]
Rather than hang about at the terminal, we elected to go straight to the gate. Departure gate was C-36 (I had checked that out from work). Security was quick (and there were only two lanes open). We were nearly overrun by people coming off what turned out to be our plane. The concourse was very busy - and it seemed to be mostly teenagers and parents with babies!
On arrival at the gate area we heard an announcement. Delta had substituted a 767-300 for the 767-200 that was supposed to be on the route. It's just as well, as I had it on angelic authority that DL353 was quite oversold. Because of that, we lost our seat assignments, so we ended up with 27A&B, exit row (angelic intervention :-).
We found two seats in the gate area (that wasn't easy). We sat near a family who were complaining loudly about Delta. They were due to go to Dallas. Apparently, they showed up "just five minutes late" for their flight and Delta had given their seats away. They seemed quite put out "the plane hadn't left yet!" they said. Well, that's why you show up at the gate at least 15 minutes before flight time! I had very little sympathy for them, but I admit I'm pretty heartless. :-)
DL 353, dep BOS ontime 1715, arr ATL late 2015
767-300, no ship number, ? FA's, Seats 27 A&B. Snack.
We boarded quite early, 1635 first class, 1640 medallion. That's very early for a 1715 departure, even a 767-300 one. We went on board and got our seats down. 27A&B has just one seat in front of it (26B), so we could only store one bag down below (our small tote bag). The other bags and our jackets went overhead. Boarding went very well. The door was closed at 1708 (the aforementioned family did get on).
We pushed late, as we were blocked in by the DL 767-300ER BOS-JFK-AMS. Even after that, and quite a long taxi, we took off and were informed we'd be landing in ATL on time. Don't you love schedule padding? I noted that the flight was quite full (not completely, but I saw perhaps five empty seats in the whole cabin).
After takeoff, the FAs quickly came around with the snack and drinks. I'll say just once that I would have preferred SkyDeli and leave it at that. :) The snack was turkey & cheddar sandwich on a sundried-tomato flavoured roll, a bag of (plain) chips, a walnut brownie (not a nut-free flight!), and an apple. I gobbled down the sandwich (mine was missing the cheese, but I was too hungry to complain) and the chips. I passed on the apple, choosing to eat the orange I brought along with me instead. A drinks service followed. I had my typical two bottles of water while C had cranberry-apple juice.
As typical for a non-movie flight, there were free headphones placed on the seat. However, there was no video playing at the beginning of the flight, and the music sucked. We took advantage of our laptop and used our DVD drive to watch a movie ("Who Framed Roger Rabbit") while everybody else was jealous. While the movie was playing, the FAs came around to take away our garbage. I was pretty impressed by how quickly they were to pick up the trash. It has been an hour in some cases on previous flights.
The seatbelt sign was turned on right on time at 1935, with final rung at 1950, touchdown at 2000. We unfortunately did not get to the gate on time. We landed on an outboard runway and had to cross the departure runway to get to the gate. There was quite a bit of traffic outbound (surprising, as we were part of a DL hub-pull, I wouldn't have thought much stuff would be pushing during a pull). We were at the gate (A something) late, 2015. We took a bit of time to get off, as many people were slow to move. We were lucky to have a long (85 minute scheduled) layover. For those people with shorter layovers .... well let's just say there were lots of inexperienced travellers abound!
We were off and on our way to the trains. The ATL airport was (predictably) hopping. By the time we made it down to the transportation level, we'd just missed a train, and another would be a while in coming. Since we had plenty of time, we decided to walk to our departure gate. I had checked our departure gate for MGM before leaving BOS and it was out in leper land (D 30-something). The screens at ATL confirmed this. Off we went.
It seemed that lots of people were laden with luggage. Luckily, most people took the trains between the concourses, meaning that the only people on the moving walkways were people like us (i.e. walkers, not standers). This led to a quick and fast-paced walk from A to D. After sitting on the BOS-ATL flight, I welcomed the walk.
C was hungry by the time we hit D concourse. He'd eaten the snack on the BOS-ATL leg, but had missed lunch so he was rather down on calories. We chose to stop at Burger King at D30. The staff at this BK were utterly inept. The idiot assistant manager insisted that his staff count out money to him (it wasn't in exchange for change, I can only assume it was to put in the safe). I understand the whole point of having money put away somewhere but HONESTLY, couldn't he have waited?? The line was stretching across the concourse!
We stood in line for ten minutes before we were "helped" by a woman who managed not to bungle our order. She was more concerned with helping her friend (who didn't stand in line but managed to get served anyways!). C ordered a BK Broiler and a drink. I didn't want anything (not having missed lunch). Luckily, our flight departed from D33 so we did not have far to go after waiting so long.
We got to the gate, and as it turned out we could have waited at BK longer. Our aircraft was there but the FAs were not there ("they've arrived, but at the A concourse, so they're making their way here right now"). Boarding was supposed to start at 2100 but it was closer to 2115 before we started boarding. C ate in the gate area while we waited.
Boarding was called. There were very few F class passengers and even fewer Medallion members. In fact, there was a dearth of Medallion members the whole trip. Obviously, all of the smart business travellers are staying home and it's only idiots like us who are on the planes. If we'd had a fare that was non-L class we would have been golden as it came to upgrades.
DL 1517, sch dep ATL 2130, actual 2145. arr MGM ontime 2120
MD-88, 4 FAs (2F, 2Y). Seats 25D&E (exit row pair)
We went on board and were seated in the exit row (row 25) on the 2-side of the MD-88. There was a loud and drunken couple across the aisle and behind a row, travelling with a 10-year old boy who they continually berated. Even worse, they smelled of booze. Doubly worse, after we arrived at MGM, they were picking up a rental car!
We pushed late (obviously), 2145, and took off just after (we were obviously at the end of the DL hub push). The FA made the announcement that due to the short flight (22 minutes) there would be no beverage service, but that the flight attendants would honor any special requests. I requested a water bottle and received it.
We were barely in the air when we started descending. Cruise altitude was 22,000 feet (I'm surprised we got up that high. I bet that's where we peaked). We landed at MGM just a few minuts late (2125 CST) and taxied to the gate. The MGM airport is TINY - just a handful of gates (five, I later learned), just one of which is jetway accessible, and that jetway was stairs down to the terminal (including a wheelchair lift for the disabled). Yikes. DL is the only airline that operates mainline jets into the airport (American Eagle operates ERJs to Charlotte).
We got off the plane and went down the hallway from the terminal to the baggage claim area. While waiting for the bags we picked up our rental car (painless). Afterwards, we went and collected our bag and headed for our rental car. The Avis station at MGM is rather tiny. Even funnier, while driving from MGM towards our hotel, we found that MGM didn't even have a traffic light, just a flashing red to the "highway".
We were in Alabama for about 32 hours, arriving 2130 on Tuesday and leaving at 0500 on Thursday, spending most of that time at Fort Rucker, Alabama. My father-in-law was at Fort Rucker for the graduation, and he had flown into MGM. We hauled him with us from Rucker back up to Montgomery Wednesday night, as we were all on the same flight early Thursday morning.
The alarm went off at 0300 - UGH, followed by a backup alarm five minutes later. A quick shower, toss the shampoo, etc, into the suitcase, and we were hauling out to the car. We checked out (the front desk of the Holiday Inn was surprisingly busy. And they were even running the airport shuttle at that hour!) and drove to the airport. We'd filled the rental car the night before so there was no need to stop at the all-night Chevron en route.
My original idea had been to drop the two men at the terminal while I returned the car, but we were so early (arriving at 0400), that we all parked the car and then walked to the terminal. It seemed as if the check-in line was short, until I realized that it snaked around and almost out the door. That was the "regular check-in" line, however, not the First Class/Medallion line! The First Class/Medallion line had exactly three people in it - C, his father, and myself! The people who had obviously been standing in line for quite a while sneered at us "jumping" in line. Membership has its privileges....
Check-in was a breeze (except for the fact that the agent left our suitcase sitting on the side for a while. I actually went back to nag her about it because I didn't want the suitcase staying behind). We actually checked in three bags - two for C and myself (we were carrying a bag for C's brother Jason, who was flying DHN-ATL on an EMB-120. The flights out of DHN are routinely restricted due to "weight and balance" and Jason did not want his clothes not to make it), and one for C's father Jon.
Checkin complete, we were off to security. Well, that was a trip in and of itself. First, they demanded that all laptops be removed from their bags and placed on the belt (yikes, what if it slides off the belt and down to the metal rollers!). Second, they were INCREDIBLY picky about things on the belt. They wanted to see my palm pilot and turn it on, they wanted to see C's cellphone and have him turn that on. They wanted to inspect all over our laptop (at least they didn't want me to turn THAT on). Honestly, I didn't feel any safer with their processing, I just felt like the staff were being self important. I might not have been so pissed if they hadn't also been understaffed. There was one agent at the metal detector, and another at the x-ray. Well, whenever something odd turned up on the x-ray, the x-ray staffer herself had to check it out (as there was nobody else to ask to look at it), stopping the x-ray belt.
Well, we had the time to kill, as we got to the gate at about 0430 and there was no agent in sight. The agent turned up about 0440 and called some standbys. Shortly after, he produced a pile of green tags (for plane-checking carryon bags). We plane-checked our laptop and backpack, carrying on just our jackets and tote bag. He announced we'd be a few minutes late as the crew got in late the night before and were legally mandated a certain number of hours of rest. Sure enough, the crew turned up - three women and one man (I later found that one of the women was the FO).
He called boarding - Medallion first (just the three of us), and then by rows. The ATR-72 actually boards from the rear, so he was calling rows 1-5, etc, totally opposite of what I was used to. Boarding was quick and we pushed at 0512, about 7 minutes late. The flight was announced as one hour en route. Is the prop that much slower than the jet? The jet was even going westbound, so I would have thought that the flight from MGM to ATL would be quicker...
DL (opb ASA) 4062, sch dep MGM 0505, actual 0515, arr ATL late 0715
ATR-72, 2 FA's, Seats 5C&D
C noted that the next time we fly on an ATR-72, he didn't want row 5 (we were in 5C&D). The prop was right outside the window. In the event of a blade failure, it would come right in the window. Yikes. In addition, the props were NOISY, especially on takeoff and landing.
The two efficient FAs managed to squeeze a beverage service in. I had ginger ale, and C had coke (caffeine). They also passed out those "biscoff" cookies that DL is so fond of. I was getting rather hungry, and resolved to have something more substantial in ATL. The FAs commented that most of the people at the back of the plane were sleeping (or trying to) while most at the front were awake (they could tell by who had their lights on).
We landed in ATL late, about 0715 EST, and it took them quite a while to taxi to our gate and then let us unload. It was close to 0725 before we got off the plane (gate C37, the very very end of the C concourse at ATL). It was raining, so we wore rather than carried our jackets as we claimed our plane-checked bags and went inside. We started down the concourse to find our Delta Guardian Angel walking next to us. He knew our itinerary (of course), and I had been hoping we'd see him while in ATL, but didn't expect him to meet our flight. A pleasant surprise!
Our connecting flight was leaving out of E10 (yes, you read that right. A domestic flight departing out of the E concourse), so we trekked up to the centrepoint and down to the transportation level. Once again, we'd just missed a train so we walked to E. Once at the E food court, we hooked up with C's brother, Jason, who had flown DHN-ATL and was going on to SEA with us. Jason was flying on a SkyMiles award ticket (courtesy of his generous brother with too many SkyMiles to think about).
The five of us (if you missed the count, that was DLGA, C, C's father Jon, C's brother Jason, and myself) sat around in the Terminal E food court. Let me tell you, at that time of the morning there was NOT much open in the food court. It came down to Starbucks or Burger King. We chose Starbucks. C and I split a bagel and a hot chocolate, Jon and Jason had coffee and a bagel, and GA had a hot chocolate. We chatted for a while (about many things, including DL's impending 777 deliveries and the configuration of their 767-400s due next summer), and then wandered down to E-10.
DL 835, dep ATL ontime 0855, arr SEA 1125
757-200, 6 FA's (2F, 4Y) seats 29A&C. Breakfast.
The flight was called for boarding slightly late at approximately 0830. We went on board and settled down in seats 29A&C (Jon & Jason were back in 32D&F). We pushed back two minutes early and taxied out. The line for takeoff was REALLY REALLY long. The FA's came around with newspapers - USA Today (Wednesday's, I'd read it), Wall Street Journal, or the Financial Times. Typically, the USA Today went first, followd by the WSJ. I took the FT. :-)
On our way to the runway we saw lots of Airtran planes (mostly DC-9s), a few ASA CRJs, a Metrojet 737 in old USAir colors, and tons of DL planes (including three Tristars across the runway. I'd guess that they're due for retirement, either soon or they've already been retired).
The flight was pretty empty (I'm sure much more than the same flight on Wednesday, the previous day). Most rows only had four people in them (window & aisle). The seats across the aisle from us had a guy in it who was sitting in 29D. He had the HUGEST carryon I'd ever seen (obviously he did not read my "Holiday Traveller's Plea"). This thing was a 26" Pullman suitcase. It did not fit in the overhead, so he unstuffed it (it was FULL, I was surprised dirty underwear were not flying all over the cabin) and managed to shove it overhead. It took up almost an entire overhead bin. I don't know how he got away with carrying it on board. The gate agents must have been oblivious.
It took about fifteen minutes from pushback to takeoff. After takeoff the FAs did a drinks service (I begged for breakfast, they promised it was coming. I had water to stave off my hunger. Obviously it didn't work!). They cleared the drinks items and proceeded to serve breakfast. There were two choices (in coach): cheese omelet with sausage (along with a croissant and fruit bowl), or Special K cereal, yoghurt and a banana (along with a croissant and fruit bowl). As usual, C had the hot breakfast while I had the cold. The breakfast was quite filling but very low on calories. The cereal, milk, and yoghurt added up to just 230 calories. The beverage cart followed and I had more water (2 bottles, doesn't hurt to stock up).
The movie was "Runaway Bride". I thought perhaps they might give the movie out for free "in the spirit of the season", but obviously they weren't feeling very spirited. I was marginally interested, but not enough to pay $5 (and I'd given away my free movie coupon last flight). After the breakfast things were cleared away, I wrote my trip report for a while, and then watched "Evita" on our laptop.
Thanks to all the water I made frequent lav trips. I noted that first class was completely full (I was surprised). I actually used the "First Class Lav" once because there was a queue for the mid-cabin lav in coach, the carts were in the aisle so I couldn't get to the back, and the seatbelt sign had been turned off so I'd waited too long (I was desperate!). I did not get any funny looks from the first class FAs. On my way to F I noted that there was a VIP sitting in coach (GA had pointed her out to me when we were standing at E-10). I was good and didn't ask for an autograph.
Because we were up at 3am (CST, 4am EST), we were all pretty tired. Jon, Jason, and C all managed to get a nap. When C sleeps on a plane (not in int'l business class), it's practically a national headline. He had actually spent most of the flight reading two different issues of the Economist and sleeping. Now that's a good flight!
About an hour out of Seattle (1322EST, 1022PST), the FAs did another drinks service and handed out either Summer Harvest Mix (King Nut must be making a killing off of this) or Rold Gold Pretzels. I'd have preferred the pretzels but the FA who did our row only had Summer Harvest. I probably should have had the banana I had leftover from breakfast instead. Oh well, bananas travel (relatively) well.
Descent began a few minutes early, 1048 PST. We went through a HUGE (and grey) cloud deck. I was happy that our 757 had good instrument controls because it was no day for a visual approach. I didn't see the runway until we were about 300 feet up. We landed on 16R and then had to sit for a little bit waiting for departing 16L traffic. We taxied over to B3 and were off on our way to baggage claim.
Sunday after Turkey Day (after all the wedding festivities ended), we took C's younger brother (and new Army Aviator) Jason and his wife Megan to SeaTac. They had a red-eye (ugh) flight back to Dothan, Alabama. We left very early for the airport (1920), even though their departure was not until 2200. Of course, because we left so much time free, we were at the airport in no time at all (2000). I wanted to go in and keep them company, but the short term parking was full. We just dumped them out at the curb instead.
My mother-in-law was due to fly SEA-PHX on AS at 1045, so rather than find somebody to take her up, we just went up to SeaTac early. We arrived at 0920, returned the rental car, and were at the AS check-in desk at 0930, followed by the DL check-in desk at 0935. The DL Medallion desk did not work well for us, unfortunately. There were only two Medallion agents, and one of them was tied up (and had been tied up for quite a while, or so we were told) by a Problem Passenger who was bitching and kvetching about something. We were in line for a good fifteen minutes, and there were only five people in line when we got to the line. There were at least ten people behind us by the time we got to the front, however.
The agent was either clueless or was having a bad day. I commented on there being not very many agents and she said "well, there's four of us here" (two were Medallion, two were purchase tickets). I said there were four just on Medallion two weeks ago and she hmmed about that. She also went to look up our gate even though I said "it's B9". She eventually went through all the trouble only to say "your flight is departing out of gate B9" (duh!). She also didn't understand that we were travelling together even though (1) we came up to check in together (2) we were on the same PNR, and (3) we put our bags up together. We usually get excellent agents on the Medallion line; she was just the exception.
It was 0955 when we were clear, so we walked over to the Starbucks in the centre terminal area. My former mother-in-law and C walked to get some food (MIL got a salad, C got a sandwich). When they returned I went off to Starbucks for a hot chocolate (which was not as good as the Starbucks hot chocolate I had at ATL the week before). My parents came along shortly thereafter (they were spending the weekend with my Seattle-residing sister).
My mother-in-law went off to her AS flight (C walked along with her to her gate), and my parents, sister and I started discussing Christmas plans. We wanted to go somewhere (1) warm, and (2) cheap. Our original plans had been Florida, but the flights were relatively expensive ($300 or more, even from BOS or CLE).
My parents had been staying on a B&B in Capital Hill, and had met some people from Las Vegas. "How about Las Vegas for Christmas?" my father said. I was immediately sold on the idea (but I'm easy, and we're just trying to get 50000 miles. I knew flying BOS-LAS-BOS would get us those last few miles for Gold Medallion Qualification). We all agreed, and my mother said "but what will C think?". I said he wouldn't mind. Predictably, once he returned from walking his mother to her gate, he agreed.
The next task was, of course, finding fares. My sister wanted to fly SEA-LAS-CLE-SEA. She called the obvious choice (Herb) who quoted her $600, which was more than she wanted to pay. I knew I could do better. I shuffled my parents off to check in for their UA flight (SEA-DEN-CLE) while C, Emma (my sister), and I went to Laptop Lane to surf for fares. We nailed down $452 on UA for Emma and $230 on CO for my parents (not bad), but only $450 for us. My parents returned and agreed, so we booked the fare. I went to the Continental website to book my parents' fare and it actually went down to $198 r/t. I didn't have a UAL FF# (and my sister didn't have hers on her) so we couldn't book on UAL's website. I had actually been surfing for fares on www.flifo.com (it gives farecodes), but that website got really slow, so I went over to travelocity. Travelocity gave $350 for the same itinerary (SEA-LAS-CLE-SEA), the only difference being a SEA-SFO-LAS routing rather than SEA-DEN-LAS. I booked it. All of a sudden, our Christmas plans (which had been debated steadily for weeks) were in stone.
It was then time for my parents to go to N1 to their UA flight. We cleared security on the way to N, and took the Shuttle Train up. Wow, North Satellite is nice! There was a great food court with several options (including the bagel eatery I ended up getting a pizza bagel from), and lots of different shopping places. It's much lighter and airier than I remember South Satellite being. After I scarfed down my pizza bagel, my parents got on their 757 on their way to Denver Int'l, and C and I went down to catch the train back.
Rather than do the obvious (train to the main concourse, walk down main concourse to B, clear security at B), we took the scenic route: train to main concourse, shuttle train, then train to the end of the B concourse. We used the train to the B concourse waiting for flight 1047 before. It works well, since B9 leaves from almost the very end of the B concourse very near the shuttle train. It didn't work quite as well this time, as we walked up to B9 and we saw a 727 there. I was pretty darned sure that 1047 was a 757 (it had been two weeks previously!), so I figured the previous flight hadn't cleared the gate in time - and that was the case. We were gate changed to B3.
We walked up to B3 at 1230 to see ... Soaring Spirit, the DL 2002 Olympic Livery 757. COOL, we've never flown on any of DL's special livery planes before (even though we had a near miss with N102DL, Spirit of Delta, earlier in the year ATL-BOS). C ran off with our Nikon Coolpix 900 to take photos (thank goodness for digital cameras. If I had to pay for film I'd go bankrupt). Not long after, the plane started to pull out. Hey wait, that's my plane you're taking away! Turns out it wasn't, it was the DL flight *before* ours bound for SLC. DL has two flights that leave for SLC within 40 minutes of each other, each 757s. While the plane pulled out, C got more photos.
DL1047 sch dep SEA 1310, actual 1335. sch arr SLC 1605, actual 1631
757-200, no ship number, 5 FA's (2 F, 3Y), seats 27A&B
The inbound plane was quite late, and boarding wasn't called until 1302 (first class), followed by Medallion at 1308. I didn't stick around long enough to see when coach boarding was called. I did note, however, that the gate agents were VERY good about enforcing boarding at the right time. "no, we're not boarding your row yet". :-) We had 27A&B. No middle seat blocked for us this time - the flight was much too full. According to the FA paperwork pinned up at the front of the cabin, it would be a completely full flight.
We dumped our jackets overhead and our two carryons down below us. Mmm, I love the leg room in row 27. It took quite a while for the person in 27C to show. I was getting hopeful, but no luck. :) Many people on the flight were being bin hogs. Lots of them were just putting bags in to the overhead and not seeing if the overhead would actually closed after they put their 35" suitcase in. The FA's seemed rather passive. I would have thought they would be playing drill sergeant, trying to get people to sit down so we could leave on time.
Doors were not closed until 1335, 25 minutes late. Gulp. I was putting my faith in Mr Pratt and Mr Whitney, since we only had 52 minutes in SLC, which would be whittled to 27 minutes with that kind of delay. Typically, DL1047 comes in at C8 and DL1898 leaves from C7, but with delays, gate changes can happen. With 27 minutes, I was sure I could make it, but what about our bags? Takeoff followed, from runway 16L, at 1352.
The 757 had the new PSUs, which have the odd behaviour of the lights going off when the captain spooled the engines up. I had to press the lights to have them come back on. I do prefer these PSUs, however, as the overhead lights are somewhat directional (not as much as BusinessElite in the 767, but more than the traditional 757 PSUs). C also noted that this 757 had a new shell around the TV monitors (and we found during taxi that it squeaked during bumps). It looked like some kind of styrofoam padding to avoid head knocking.
DL started a new safety video in September, and let me tell you, I'm sick of it already (of course, we've flown 25,000 miles between September and December). Not that I can't recite the last three safety videos, but still. I just feel sorry for those poor guys stuck in the exit row, flight after flight. :-) During the safety check, we reached underneath to make sure we had lifevests (not that we were likely to be going over much water between SEA and SLC, but it's a habit we've gotten into lately).
The seatbelt light was left on for almost the entire flight, even though there was (for almost all of the flight) not much more than a light bump or two. I think it was to keep pax out of the (single) aisle. The FAs came along to do the drinks service, with obligatory summer harvest mix. My summer harvest pack only had three nuts in it (along with pretzels and crackers).
The captain came on to the PA to say that we were due in at 1630 MST. A few minutes later, at 1600, he then proceeded to turn the seatbelt sign off (since it had been on for "turbulence", or cabin service :-). Less than a minute after that, he turned the seatbelt sign back on. We had a traditional southbound approach into SLC, The captain rang final at 1616, completed a turnaround south of the airport, and landed on 34L at 1626. We pulled into our gate (C10 or thereabouts, at the very end of the C concourse) at 1631.
The FAs did make an announcement in flight that they did not know if connections would be held (*I* knew they didn't know that. It's obvious that this time of year is a low-quota for knowledgable flyers). Passengers kept asking the FAs anyways, even with the announcement! After landing, a SLC gate agent came on the PA to say which flight connections were & weren't good. He guaranteed any connection of 1645 or after (not bad for a 1630 arrival). In retrospect, this connection is a little tight. I think next time I'd be inclined to take the 1225 departure from SEA, arriving 30 minutes earlier into SLC.
DL1898 sch dep SLC 1655, actual 1659. sch arr BOS 2319, actual 2313
757-200, no ship number, 6 FA's (2 F, 4Y), seats 27A&B. Dinner.
We were off the plane quickly at SLC and rushed up the jetway (why are people so SLOW when we want to be in a hurry?) to the waiting redcoats. Many people were connecting to Boston, so we didn't even have to ask (somebody else asked). As expected, DL1898 was scheduled out of C7. This is the same gate where DL1898 was due out of fifteen days earlier (the day it was cancelled and we were rerouted SLC-DFW-BOS, see the trip report). We walked over to the gate (it wasn't far) and I asked the gate agent when boarding would begin. "It's already begun, we just boarded first class", she said. She looked at my boarding pass and said that Medallion boarding would be called shortly.
We hung out by the gate (what's the point in sitting?), and sure enough, less than one minute later, boarding was called for Medallion members. Once again, just like at BOS, MGM, ATL, and SEA, I was surprised at how few Medallion members there were. We had the same seats - 27A&B. One of the FAs came by and said that this was not going to be a full flight ("a little more than half full", she said).
Boarding proceeded, and there was the usual gaggle of incapable travellers. They finally all got over their fits (and the copilot also said we were "waiting for a few last bags". This made me hopeful that my two checked bags would be waiting at BOS) and we pushed at 1659, taxied past Concourses A & B, and took off from runway 34R at 1715. We didn't actually see Soaring Spirit at SLC, but I'm not too surprised. We didn't have any time for sightseeing. The FA's surprised me and actually checked passengers to see if seatbelts were fastened.
After takeoff the FAs did a drinks service (I had water), and passed out summer harvest mix. They collected the garbage from that, and then did a dinner service. I've been on other eastbound services where there is no initial drinks service due to the short flight. This one was scheduled for exactly four hours (or so the captain said).
Dinner choices were chicken (in some kind of sauce) with green beans and mashed potatoes, or steak (Omaha Steak) with creamed corn and carrots. To accompany the entrees were a sunflower kaiser roll, salad composed of lettuce and cranberries with a raspberry viniagrette, and a slice of chocolate mousse cake. C and I both had the steak. The green beans on the chicken entree looked positively nuclear. The FA's started serving without carts (for the first few rows) and switched to carts further back. Two FAs did dinner (one starting at each end of the cabin) followed by two FA's doing drinks (ditto). I had lots of water.
The movie was "Bowfinger", and while I like Steve Martin and I think he's usually pretty funny, this one got pretty bad reviews (or so I saw). Anyways, with the laptop along, it wasn't like I was lacking in things to watch. I settled down to watch "Monty Python's Life of Brian". I like this movie, but what I *really* want is "Airplane" and "Airplane 2". Nothing like a good crash movie (or book) during a flight to freak out your neighbours.
I was surprised - we had the same neighbour in 27C on both SEA-SLC and SLC-BOS legs. I don't know how she managed to get the exit row. She clearly did not have any kind of elite status (she'd never seen Omaha Steak before, and said "wow this is a pretty big meal for airplane food". No, actually, that's the USUAL size). She also had a monstrous rollaboard which she put under the seat in front of her SEA-SLC which blocked most of the floor in front of her. Not my problem - we'd be out the window before she could even gape. She also pulled her monstrous rollaboard and stuck it in the aisle while we were taxiing at SLC. She was all nervous that we wouldn't make the connection. Thirty minutes, at SLC? Clearly not an experienced DL flyer!
We passed the time by watching various videos on our laptop/DVD player (which our rowmate was quite jealous of, I should note). Descent began a few minutes early, 2247 (the captain had said we'd land by 2315). The seatbelt sign followed at 2251, with final just eight minutes later, 2259. Gear was lowered at 2309, and we landed at 2311 and were at gate C36 two minutes later. C36 was our departure gate for our BOS-ATL flight the week before. Very alpha-and-omega like.
When we got into the terminal, there was a fire alarm going off, just like the week previously. The terminal was very quiet, mostly because they'd stopped letting new people into the gate area. We went down to the baggage claim and stood right by the door where the luggage comes from. The claim started going and we received our big green suitcase rather quickly. It was much longer before our second bag (full of dirty clothes) arrived. It's a new bag, and not covered with our typical bumper stickers, so I didn't even recognize it when it came out on the belt.
We were outside and in a cab (there was no line!!) at 2332. Unfortunately, we had the cabbie from hell. First, he took the Ted Williams tunnel without asking us (no, excuse me, Logan to Cambridge is NOT quicker via the tunnel, and trust me, I *know* that construction doesn't start until 2400, so don't pull that one on me). Then he proceeded to go a roundabout way to Cambridge because the Storrow Drive exit from I-93 was closed (and I bet if we'd taken the Sumner there would have been signposts to that effect). Lastly, after we pointed out our house to him, he managed to miss it by half a block. Needless to say I did not tip him well.
Apart from the brainless DL agent at SEA and the moronic cab driver, a very good trip.
Next trip (and report): BOS-SLC-LAS-SLC-BOS, Christmas.
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