Sep 4 DL 419 dep BOS 0800 arr PDX 1119 757 20D&E Sep 7 DL 242 dep PDX 1305 arr BOS 2129 757 20D&EWe booked this trip sort of on a whim. I knew that Labor Day weekend would be the middle of a big project at work for me. I was sure I'd need a weekend "away", but where? Delta obliged by starting nonstop service from BOS to PDX (ostensibly to feed its flights between PDX and Tokyo, Seoul, and Nagoya - more on that later!). In addition to starting the service (we'd seen that announcement already), DL instituted an inaugural fare - $298 round trip from BOS to PDX (so $304 once you count in PFCs). Portland is somewhere that my ex-husband, C, had been before - twice! Once in high school and once before that (he grew up south of Tacoma, which is about 2.5-3 hours away from Portland by car). C had good memories of Portland and everything we'd read about it sounded really cool. So we bought the tickets. What the heck!
When we booked the tickets online we were assigned 20D&E on both legs. I was a bit trepidatious. DL is in the middle of converting its 757s and removing part of the mid-cabin galley and putting in a row 19, just on the D-F side. So on planes without a row 19, 20 would be a bulkhead. I really don't like bulkheads, there's no underseat storage. I had been given the numbers for conversion of 757s and something like 2/3 of the 757s had a row 19 already. That's a large number, considering before the PDX trip I had only ever been on *one* 757 with a row 19!
We were up late the night before we left finishing work stuff (or more accurately, fighting Excel spreadsheets. But in the end we won!). So it was with not very much energy that we dragged ourselves out of bed at 6am on the Friday before Labor Day. We were packed and off to the airport and reached Logan by 7. We queued up in the Medallion Line, but the line was LONG. A Delta Red Coat came by and asked us what flight we were on ("419 to Portland"). He asked if we had any bags to check ("no" - who checks a bag for a four day weekend? More on that later :-). He sent us straight to the gate (C30, but I knew that already, I'd checked out the flight information online before leaving for the airport).
We debated checking out my favourite news stand (mentioned before, "News Relay"), but we decided not to push our luck (it was already 0720, boarding was scheduled for 0730 and we hadn't checked in yet!). We cleared through security. Perhaps the morning crew have more brains than the other shifts?
These security people while not Heathrow-esque at least seemed to LOOK at the screen, and when we passed a PowerMac through the X-ray, they took it off to secondary inspection and passed a nitrate sniffer over it. Lucky for me, I didn't leave the computer out in the garden the night before...
To the gate and check in. There was no line leaving me a bit worried about the long term fate of BOS-PDX. The gate agent was very nice. We showed ID and she printed out our boarding passes. I asked if this 757 had a row 19 or not. She looked and said it didn't. I then asked if we could change to a different row because I wanted underseat stowage. She moved us to row 28 (right behind the second exit row), seats A & C, and blocked off the middle seat! "You are loyal Medallion members and we appreciate your business", she said. Wow! We chuckled as we got on the plane (we boarded just a few minutes later. I declined to visit the usual filthy bathroom after security in Terminal C, I've gotten to the point that I'd rather go on board).
The plane turned out to be pretty full - all of the rows behind us had no empty seats, and the rows in front of us had only about 1 empty seat per row. C later found out why. He saw the passenger manifest hanging up in the galley with the head count (it was about 130, DL's row 19-less 757s seat 156 in coach, so 26 empty seats). I made a trip to the lav after takeoff. I even did a "no no" and visited the first class lav - for two reasons. (1) I was not going to wait behind the 2 people already in line, and (2) I wanted to see how full F was. Answer to (2) - F had FIVE people in it, not counting a flight attendant sitting down reading a magazine. Must be nice...
Breakfast came around and shock & horror, we had a CHOICE. There was either a hot breakfast or a cold breakfast. C had a hot breakfast and I had a cold. The hot breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs with sausage, potatoes, and cheese. The cold breakfast was cereal (corn flakes) with milk, a banana, and yogurt. Both breakfasts also had a fruit plate (melon & pineapple) and a cinnamon roll. I was very full after finishing my breakfast. I had brought along a bagel for us to split if we didn't get enough to eat, but we never did (C ended up eating it for dinner that evening).
The movie on the way over was "The Truman Show". If I was sitting in front (and thus didn't have to pay for it) I might have watched it, but I was not going to pay $5 for the "privilege" of watching Jim Carrey.
Before the movie started, the Captain came on the PA and told us that we were taking a northerly route and avoiding headwinds. "Great", I thought. Then he said that we were going to be arriving FORTY MINUTES early. Yikes! In the end, we ended up arriving fifty (yes, "50") minutes early.
We whiled away the flight reading and playing computer games. My one complaint was that the plane was rather cold from row 23 back (DL's air duct on the 757 is right at row 23). I wrapped myself up in two blankets in a vain attempt to stay warm. I was also rather tired but couldn't quite drop off to sleep.
We landed, as I mentioned, 50 minutes early. We were being met by a friend but unsurprisingly, the friend wasn't there to meet us. So we went to the non-secured area and called him on his cellphone. He wasn't there, so we sat down to wait. While waiting, we saw lots of people from the BOS-PDX flight coming out of the secured area. I can only speculate that their final destination was Portland, and that they were not connecting on to one of the Asian areas.
We called our friend again and he told us to meet him at the passenger pickup area, so we went through the veritable disaster area of Portland International Airport. I shouldn't say that. It's a GORGEOUS airport. PDX is just rather ripped up, is all. The shopping concourse looked nice (although we didn't have a chance to stop), but the baggage area looked almost Cleveland Hopkins like (we fly into CLE alot and it seems like there is *always* some sort of construction going on there).
Return flight scheduled 1305. C's parents (who had driven down from Tacoma to see us for the weekend) dropped us at the airport at 1115 (yes, early). The Delta ticket area was humming, lots of people checking in (looks like lots of people going to Asia). The first class/medallion line had about 8 people ahead of us but the line moved quickly (yay). The agent was very nice and cheerful (although not nauseatingly so). I asked about row 19 and this time there was a row 19, so I was happy with row 20. She said the flight was "almost completely full". We explained why we were asking, and she said that the BOS-PDX flight had been *very* well received. Yay!
We wandered down to the "Oregon Market" which had of all things, a Powells Books (we had spent lots of time at the multiple Powells locations around Portland, on Burnside and Hawthorne, plus the Technical bookstore on 8th). We stopped in Powells and lucky for us, they had T-shirts (we had tried to buy one at Burnside but they were all out of our size in everything but black. Bleah. The airport Powells had the size and design we wanted so we bought it.
I should mention now that we went a bit overboard in shopping while in Portland. In addition to the many books (I mean MANY books, a good 20), we also went to the Nike factory outlet store, and I also found some Jockey shirts in a downtown store which were on firesale ($6 for 1, buy 3 get one free, usual price $12, so I got 4 shirts for $18, the same 4 usually cost $48). My in-laws also brought us a few things, one of which, luckily, was a spare suitcase. So we ended up stuffing socks and underwear into the Nike shoe boxes and tossing the boxes with shoes into the suitcase. We checked that bag and had 4 other carry ons (small ones, no rollaboards here!).
So we added our new T-shirt to the pile of recently acquired goods. We thought about sitting in the cafe area to watch the planes, but there were no window-side seats available (they were all taken!). We spent a minute watching Mark McGwire bat (he flied out) on the nearby TV and then wandered down & through security.
We walked down to gate D-6 (I should mention now that D is a wonderful concourse, very light & airy and well outfitted) and grabbed two seats by the window. Unfortunately, the only view we had was of the AA gates across the way (as opposed to the gate we arrived at, D-1, which had a beautiful view of the runway). We sat & read for a while until boarding was called. While waiting, I noticed that it seemed like ALOT of the passengers were coming off of Asian flights. You know, that "I have been on a plane for 12 hours" kind of look. When I visited the bathroom earlier I saw many people brushing their teeth (the kind of things people recently off of a 12 hour flight do, but not the kind of thing people who just arrived at the airport do :-).
Boarding exactly on time at 1235 (DL's standard for a 757 board is 30 minutes ahead). We got on and sat down pretty quickly, stowing the 2 small backpacks overhead, and the laptop bag plus tote bag down below. This flight WAS full, and full of bags, too. After a while, the FA at the boarding door was saying to people "if it can fit under the seat in front of you you can keep it, but if it will only fit overhead, you have to check it). And she did, too, much to people's despair.
We pushed back a few minutes late. Due to construction at PDX we had to be tugged out quite a ways past some orange barrels before we could spin the engines up. Once that was done, we were onto the runway and away in minutes. PDX is big enough for DL to have a decent presence, but unlike CVG and SLC during hub push, we weren't waiting forever to get onto the active runway.
Climbout was bumpy, but we climbed past that (to 39000 which is pretty high for an initial transcon run). The FAs came out and did a drinks service. On both the outbound and return, the FAs were giving the entire can without asking. Yay. After that, dinner was served. Unfortunately, due to the way they serve dinner now, we were among the last to get our meals. But the meal arrived and was worth the wait. Omaha Steak with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. OK, the spinach was gross, but everything else was GOOD! The salad dressing was cilantro (yum!), the roll was rye and came in a bag and thus was not rock hard, and the dessert was a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Seems to me like DL is putting money back into their domestic meal service (finally!).
One plus for being near the galley is that we got rid of our trays pretty quickly. No waiting for 20 minutes trying to squeeze out from under a tray to get to the lav. The cabin crew on this flight was remarkably cosmopolitan - 6 FAs, 3 male, 3 female. One of the male FAs was Indian (the subcontinent type) - not your typical blonde female (although there was one of those, too :-).
Landing was scheduled for 2129. The captain came on the PA and said we were going to be on time, that the bad weather in Boston had blown through (yay). We had a very bumpy initial descent, but once we broke through the clouds it was smooth sailing. The captain rang final at 2103 but we didn't actually touch down until 2119 (is there some kind of limit to when final can be rang? seems to me it should be about 10 minutes). Once we landed we sat on the runway for a while before taxiing over to gate C32. C and I struck gold, because we de-planed through door 2, which meant we were first off the plane, being in the second row of coach (and the people in the first row had to wait for their carryon bags to be retrieved from row 40), and some guy with big luggage was holding up the first class pax.
While taxiing in we noticed the AF plane was in. The plane used to be A310 but I guess it's switched to 767-300 recently, because it was definitely a 767-300 in. No wingtip fences, and no "Airbus Ass". :-)
We went down to claim our luggage and it took about 20 minutes for our bag to come out. But the cab line was LOOOONG... By the time our bag arrived we used our favourite trick of going to Terminal E to catch a cab. Our karma bank had a surplus in it because we had found a disused luggage cart which we used to haul our bags over (none of our bags were heavy, but they were bulky in volume). Terminal E was a ghost town. Northwest is the main tenant and Air Canada is another big presence. There were about ten cabs lined up and we didn't even have to wait one minute. If we'd waited at Terminal C, we might have been there all night (ok, I'm exaggerating, but not by much :-).
All in all, a very solid performance from DL longhaul domestic. Beats the pants off of a snack BOS-ATL and snackless ATL-MSY (my last domestic flight). The Omaha steaks are truly wonderful. Some people seemed offended by the rolls in a a bag but hey, they actually *moved*. No complaints from me. :-)
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