This trip was booked rather in haste. Not haste as in time (or lack thereof) before the trip, but time it took to make the decision and book the tickets. I described the process in detail in my Thanksgiving Trip Report.
We ended up picking Las Vegas/Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam for two reasons. (1) It would likely be warmer than Cleveland or Boston (our two other possible places), and (2) the airfares were cheap.
22 December DL 1099 dep BOS 1750 arr SLC 2120 757-200 27D&F DL 2192 dep SLC 2210 arr LAS 2237 767-300 27A&B 29 December DL 1568 dep LAS 1105 arr SLC 1323 767-300 27F&G DL 465 dep SLC 1430 arr BOS 2050 757-200 27A&C
On 5 December, I noticed that DL had added an option for upgrading online at www.delta-air.com. I resolved to try it once the upgrade window opened for our trip.
On 7 December, I priced out our itinerary and noticed that the fare was cheaper. I rang DL immediately. The reservations agent couldn't give a refund without the change fee, but would give an EMCO (electronic MCO). On December 8, the fare had gone down YET AGAIN, so we had another EMCO issued.
21 December, I tried to use online upgrade, but it wouldn't say "time limit" or "not available" (the two options the documentation listed). Instead, it said "multiple passengers". Can it not deal with multiple Medallion members travelling on the same PNR? I gave up with technology, and placed a call to DL Special Member Services at 1753. I was through to an agent immediately who confirmed seats on both legs. seats 4C&D BOS-SLC, 4A&B SLC-LAS. Our good luck on upgrades over Christmas continued from last year. I was expecting the SLC-LAS upgrade, but wasn't quite so sure on BOS-SLC.
I actually went through most of this trip duly noting things down, but I was rather ambivalent about writing the actual trip report. I don't like writing in the evening (and the outbound leg was scheduled for the evening, with the return at 9pm, so I would finish the writing in the evening). The last time I didn't write a trip report was for a July 4 trip to Cleveland (see http:// ... trip report). We got stuck both outbound and return on that one. Surely luck wouldn't strike twice!
Our departure time on DL1099 from BOS was 1750. We were aiming to be at BOS somewhere between 1600 and 1630 - very early, but with the "heightened security" due to the immigration concerns, we wanted to play it safe. We were home and ready to leave for BOS at 1530 - but there were no cabs! This hasn't been the first time we've experienced this, but honestly, if there's that big of a cab problem, why doesn't the city issue more taxi licenses? (because the cab drivers would probably revolt, that's why!). We hauled down the street (and we weren't using our suitcase with wheels, grr), and managed to grab a cab in front of the Marriott Residence Inn in Cambridge. Yeah, right, no cabs available, but plenty of them in hotel taxi stands.
We arrived at Logan just after 1600, with plenty of time to kill. The terminal was absolutely crazy - much more so than at Thanksgiving (but they weren't as overstaffed as they had been at Thanksgiving, either). Lines snaked everywhere, but the First Class/Medallion line was empty. Having obtained first class upgrades for both legs, we were both First Class and Medallion, so we got in the line. We were quickly helped, checked in one bag (we were carrying two on), and were off to Press Relay. On the way we noticed our favourite ramp lookout at Terminal C, next to the Travel 2000 store and Brookstones, was about to become a Staples Express. Wahhh. I bet they won't keep any windows! Terminal C and the retail options are much much more improved from six years ago. But honestly, couldn't they have left me *one* window?? I also noticed a news stand had moved into the formerly empty area by the gates 26-36 security checkpoint. Whoever said the economy was cooling hasn't been to Terminal C lately!
We went through security (at least they had all three lanes open), and went down to the gate, gate 30 (traditional gate for this flight). We used to take this flight alot, but stopped when we started renting cars on the left coast. It's really difficulty to get in at 10:30pm PST/PDT (1:30am body clock time), and have to drive somewhere. I'm convinced it's the loss of our patronage on this flight that caused DL to renumber the flight (from 751 to 1099).
We killed some time in the terminal, actually sitting at the gate area of gate 29 rather than gate 30. Gate 30 was incredibly hot - Boston was having relatively mild weather but nobody had remembered to turn on the a/c. Gates 30/32/34/36 were all mobbed, thus the seating area was quite warm. Gates 29/31/33/35 were much quieter, so was cooler.
DL 1099, sch dep BOS 1750, actual 1803 sch arr SLC 2120 actual 2117
757-200, N691DL, 6 FA's, Seats 4C&D (previously 27A&C). Dinner
We went back to the warm gate 30 at about 1715, and boarding was called on time at 1720. Note when I say "ontime" I mean 30 minutes before ETD for a 757-200/767-200, 35 minutes before ETD for a 767-300, and 25 minutes before ETD for a 727-200 and MD-88. We got on board and settled down. The FA's came around and took our jackets and took pre-takeoff drink orders.
After sitting down, we noted that this plane did not have individual air vents. It also had chinese-style text below the seatbelt/smoking signs. I sniffed through an old copy of JP Airline Fleets (that we had with us on CDROM), and it looked like this particular plane came from ATA. Guessing from the text, it looked like the plane came from Singapore. Did SIA previously have 757s, or perhaps Silkair? This plane also had the sculpted covers to the video monitors.
There were no newspapers offered by the FA's (perhaps that's only flights earlier in the day). Nor did they offer extra drinks after the first round (note that it would have been hard to get smashed on water!). Hm. Odd. DL First Class FAs have typically been very good.
Doors were closed at 1751, and we pushed at 1802. There was such a difference because of a "meltdown in bag receiving" (that was the quote from the first officer!). Once all of the bags were safely stowed, we pushed and were off towards the runway. The captain came on the PA to say that for the first part of the flight there would be 227mph headwinds. Yikes, we'll be late! But no, the captain said that this was "planned for" and he expected the winds to calm down by the time we got further west. He said we were due to land into SLC on time (thank goodness).
We were off at 1818, and after takeoff the FA's came around to take dinner orders. The three choces were steak, duck, and halibut. From the looks of things (I saw the paper the FA was noting on), they hadn't counted on many people wanting the duck. I wasn't really hungry (we'd had our office holiday party that didn't finish until 3pm, and I was eating throughout the whole thing). Luckily, because this was F, I could ask for what I *really* wanted. So I asked for just a salad, and that's what I got (well, salad and bread).
The captain turned on the seatbelt sign during the meal service - I suspect more to do with the cabin service than actual turbulence. There was some light chop, but barely enough to ripple liquid in a glass. The FA's didn't offer more drinks during dinner (well, they offered "white or red wine?" but when I said "no thanks" they didn't offer anything else). Nor did they come around offering extra bread. After dinner service (and the movie started, "Dog Of Flanders". No thanks, I have my DVD player!), the FA's disappeared into the galley. They only came around *once* after dinner, and that was after the movie. Grrr. The FA's seemed really unpolished (it's not just the water-deprived in me talking, honest!).
The seatbelt sign was lit at 2052, with final at 2104. We were on the ground at 2113 and at the gate (D6) at 2117 (a quick taxi, even for SLC). We were off quickly and on our way to the next flight.
My goodness, SLC was mobbed! I expected the gate area to be busy, as we were due out on a 767-300 (domestic), but most of the people in the gate area were heading out on 727s and 737s to ex-Western destinations. Several people were sleeping on the floor, or playing games, making me wonder how long they'd been there. I checked with the gate agent who said that the flight was "very empty", and that boarding would be a little late.
DL 2191, sch dep SLC 2210 MST, actual 2217 sch arr LAS ???? actual 2226
767-300, N?????, ? FA's, Seats 2E&F.
Boarding was indeed late - 2152 MST, just eighteen minutes before scheduled pushback. The FA's on this flight had a totally different attitude than the BOS-SLC ones. They were attentive, courteous, etc. Our jackets were whisked away without a comment (and without waiting too long, either!), and we had bottles of water to nurse (and we were offered ice, I declined of course).
The captain came on to say that it would be a quick flight - just 37 minutes. I hadn't studied my geography before I left, and I had forgot how close Nevada and Utah were. In fact, I suspect our flight went straight down (well, over!) I-15. The door was shut at 2217, we pushed shortly there after and were airborne by 2232.
The flight was just long enough for a drinks service (in both cabins, even). I got yet another glass of water (C had cran-apple juice), and then the FA's came around offering refills (I said "no thanks") and brought snacks around (where "snack" was either the ubiqutous summer harvest mix or biscoff cookies). We were barely opening our snack mix when the seatbelt light came back on (2206), and we begun our descent.
Final was rung at 2216, gear down at 2221, and we touched down at 2223. During the descent I got a chance to get my first look at Las Vegas. My first impression was that it was very very bright. There was a searchlight (which I later learned was from the Luxor Hotel), plus all of the neon!
We got to the gate, all the way out on the D concourse. Yikes, did we have to hike it. We went down from the gate, through a corral of shops and slot machines (!), down a long escalator, and onto a people mover (much faster than ATL or CVG). The people mover took us to the main terminal, and we had to hike to baggage claim (which was large and VERY confusing). It took ages for the bags to come out, probably because it was so far from the plane to the main terminal. They actually started spinning one baggage carousel, but stopped it, and started spinning another. While waiting for the baggage to get sorted, we scoped out the place a bit. There were tons of ads (most of them actual videos, not just flat paper) for shows, etc, going on in Las Vegas. Our bags finally showed up, and we grabbed a cab to our hotel.
OK, OK, this wasn't actually a *flying* trip, but on this day we saw (from our car, since the museum was closed) Douglas MacArthur's Connie, and a whole gaggle of ex-TWA Tristars. The Tristars were in Kingman, Arizona, at a very old and near-abandoned airport. There were at least eight of them, in various states of disarray. None of them had their engines, but some of them had more parts of their liveries than others. In addition, we saw fleets and fleets of what looked like Jetstreams (J-31s, I suspect) in UA-Distress and NW-Airlink colours. Kingman was truly a neat place. But the town was dead (admittedly, it was Christmas day!).
This wasn't a flying trip, either. My ex-husband, C, parents, sister and I went to see a show called "Imagine" showing at the Luxor hotel. It was a near-airline experience. First, we called for tickets (reservations). Then, we had to go to the "airport" (hotel) to collect the tickets. First we went to the wrong line, then we went to a very long line. Because we were not "elite status" (VIPs), we had to queue in a VERY long line. On top of that, the computer was down, so the agents (clerks) were unable to issue any tickets (the minuses of an all-ETKT system).
Once we collected the tickets, we went to eat at a quick restaurant (due to the long line), then we went to queue up to get into the show. There was cattle call boarding (Herb!). Before sitting down, I visited the lav, to find auto-flush toilets and too-cold water from the auto-taps. Just like an airport!
To top off the almost-airline experience, the first number was to the tune of DL's old boarding music. I truly felt like I had just walked onto a plane. Oh, and the seat pitch sucked, but I was sitting at a bulkhead so I could put my feet on the wall. :-)
I collected my notes from my trip and realized I really didn't have enough to write a trip report. Nevertheless, I figured I would at least collect vital statistics on the last two legs of the trip. The worst that would happen is that I would have no interest in writing the report.
My parents were in Las Vegas as well, and their flight was due out just after us. Our flight was due out at 1105, theirs at 1145. They were on a nonstop LAS-CLE flight. We left for the airport at 0910 - very early. During our trip to Las Vegas, I was just amazed at how CLOSE the airport was to "the strip". It was barely a six minute ride. We stopped for gas en route, which made it a longer trip, and returned the car to Avis.
Check-in was almost a breeze. I had called 24 hours in advance and had obtained an upgrade LAS-SLC, but was "priority waitlisted" for SLC-BOS. The ticket agent said the waitlist hadn't cleared, but said that it would. "They're hopelessly trying to sell those last few seats", she quipped. Interestingly, the baggage belt for DL was broken (and had been for "about a week"), so we put our bags up on the scale for the agent to tag them, and then a big strapping guy with a monstrous cart came and hauled them away to take them to the correct place. I hoped. :-)
DL 1568, sch dep LAS 1105, actual 1108 sch arr SLC 1325 actual 1320
767-300, N?????, ? FA's, Seats 3E&F
My parents had come down with us to the gate, and they saw us off (very strange, as a woman of 28, to be seen off by one's parents). My mother and C took a moment to spend a few more coins on the airport slots. While we were in Vegas we managed to get away by throwing only about $35 down the drain - that's between the five of us, not each. I doubt Las Vegas sees that little gambling income from most people!
Boarding was called for first class, and before we could gather our belongings, boarding was called for Medallion members. This made me guess that our F cabin would be relatively empty (and it was, about 11 empty seats out of 24). The boarding card reader was an old one (the ticket agent had to actually rip the boarding card in half, rather than just scan it under the bar code reader).
I was carrying an extra carryon - my mother had given me a new suit for my birthday, and I wasn't about to check it (our non-hardsided suitcase was totally unsuited to carrying crushable garments without crushing them!). Luckily, the FA let me hang it up in the closet (I just hung my regular jacket over it). Pre-takeoff drinks were offered as usual.
The door was closed at 1106, and we were off shortly. One of the most peculiar things on this (otherwise boring) flight was that the safety demo was done BY HAND. On a 767-300! Even odder, the *audio* from the taped safety demo was playing, but not the video. I cannot remember the last time I've been on a 767 where the safety demo has been anything but a pre-recorded audio-visual experience. The FA's were prepared, however, so it must have been common knowledge that this plane's video system was out.
The captain told the FA's to "take their seats". Some captains say "ask our flight attendants to please prepare the cabin", others say "flight attendants, please make your final preparations", while another set just say "flight attendants, please take your seats". This captain was one of the latter. I wonder why captains differ. Do they not want to alarm the travelling public?
Another thing we noticed was that the safety card in my seatback pocket was for the wrong plane! It was for the 757, not even any 767. It's ok, I could recite the damned thing backwards (and if I couldn't, I could steal one from any of the other 11 empty seats). I did, however, mention it to the FA so she could rectify it for the next flight.
The quick flight was soon coming to an end. I was actually in the lav when the seatbelt sign went on (argh, I was trying to be back in my seat before then!). We began descending at 1258 MST, and came in over Provo, final at 1308, and touchdown at 1316. After we landed, the FAs read out gate information. We were due into D8, with Boston departing out of D3.
We got off the plane and made our way to D3 (no uniformed Delta agent to meet our flight). We got there to find (1) FIVE agents behind the desk, (2) no flight number on the monitor, and (3) a zillion people queuing for what I thought would have been a relatively empty flight. I got one of those bad feelings. These people were all going to Las Vegas (wait, I just CAME from there!). I asked at the gate, and surely enough, we'd been gate changed to D13 (at least it's on the same concourse).
We hoofed from D3 to D13 and saw ..... "XNLD". Uhoh. I asked the agent at the next gate over, and surely enough, DL465 SLC-BOS was cancelled. Yikes. Back to the Information Counter to get more Information. C suggested I ring the DL special member services, and I did, to find out that we'd been accomodated on DL1898 leaving later that afternoon (1635). The agent on the phone got us two seats together, in first class (4A&B).
I went back to C who was still in line. We found out that 1898 was our best option, but that it would be delayed "a couple of hours" due to "a maintenance problem" (the agent at the Info counter didn't have any further information). I asked for and received meal vouchers ($6 each). I also asked for Crown Room passes, and didn't get them (no surprise). Here it was, 1345, and we had hours to kill until the 1635 scheduled (and 1830 estimated) departure time. What to do?
Well, it was Salt Lake City. Why sit in the airport when there's family in town. We called C's uncle who suggested that we go and visit his recently released-from-hospital Grandmother. Before leaving the airport, we stopped at City Deli at the top of the D&E concourses. We had fake money to burn! The guy working at the counter was hilarious. He suggested some very devious ways to reach the maximum amount without going over. We ended up getting a roast beef & provolone on sourdough sandwich, minestrone soup and crackers, extra bread, milk, lemonade (a BIG one), and a bag of chips. Our total came to $11.98 (out of $12). Waste not, want not. :-) :-)
After finishing lunch, dinner, whatever, we piled into a cab and made our way down to Grandma's. She was shocked to see us, but very pleased. We whiled away 90 minutes there before leaving to go back. C reasoned that he did not want to be away past the scheduled departure time, because if the airplane were to go early, we'd be STUCK. So we knew we'd probably be forced to spend two hours in Salt Lake City airport. Oh well, it's better than *five* hours.
We were back at the airport for 1620, and made our way down to gate D3. The agent was making announcements that the plane was "waiting for a part" and that it was coming "from Dallas". Hello, isn't Salt Lake City a maintenance base? What would be in Dallas that wasn't in SLC? It seemed very odd. Even stranger, the agent said "it's a thirty second fix". What fix with a part that has to be flown in from Dallas is that quick of a fix?? I asked tons of people what was wrong with the plane, but nobody knew. The closest I came was a FA who said "it's something to do with keeping the plane level".
I wandered the concourse (leaving C with the bags), and noted that most of the airport monitors were wrong. They still listed DL465 listed as "on time" (departing at 1430), and DL1898 was either not listed, or was listed as "on time". I stopped to chat with a red coat in front of the Information desk. He and I had a good time shooting the breeze. A woman was bitching at him saying she wanted a "rebate" because her flight would be "two hours late". Hello, lady, I've been in Salt Lake City since 1:30. Don't tell me about a rebate. Anyways, I'd prefer base miles. :-) The red coat said that a message would be sent to Atlanta asking for all passengers to receive some acknowledgement. I knew what that meant - a letter from VP for Customer Service Vicki! I wasn't bitter about it, but the bitching woman was positively aghast.
The only place that DL screwed up on on the cancellation of DL465 was not ensuring the monitors were correct. I understand that the monitors are not under their control, but until we left the airport, the monitors listed DL465 as gate D3 and not "cancelled". I also don't understand why the agents at D3 said DL465 was gate changed to D13, as opposed to just "cancelled".
DL 1898, sch dep SLC 1635, actual 1853 sch arr BOS 2259 actual 0159
767-300, N???DZ, ? FA's, Seats 4A&B. Dinner
After spending many unexpected hours in Salt Lake City Int'l Airport, I was incredibly pleased when boarding was finally called. We went on board, and I found we were in the not-very-reclinable row of first class (last row). I found out later that when they rebooked us, they didn't rebook us in "V" class (first class upgraded), but rather in "F" class, so we got a pile of bonus miles (whoopee).
The FAs took our jackets and my garment bag, and brought us over some water to drink. There were many flight attendants in first class, including four of them from LAS-SLC (who had been scheduled to go with us on DL465 SLC-BOS). Some of the FA's were even incognito (in other words, flying plain clothes). Of course, when dinner orders were taken, those FA's got last choice. The flight was announced as "totally full" (although I did see one empty seat in economy).
Oddly enough, just after pushback, one of the FA's made an announcement that said "for those of you unfamiliar with the 767, a safety video ...". Um, hello? Those *unfamiliar* with it? The whole point is that EVERYBODY is supposed to watch the video. I don't care if you just got off another 767-300 flight (I did!), you still should watch it!
We pushed back at 1853 and took off at 1907. After takeoff, the FA's
quickly came around offering drinks and putting out tablecloths for
dinner. The FA's were very personable and accomodating, much more so
than on DL1099 outbound. The three choices, which were well described
(not just "fish", "beef", or "chicken") were:
chili-crusted filet with pasta/orzo/rice of some kind and veggies
roasted chicken with roasted veggies
A woman in the row in front of us had apparently also been booked on DL465, and had requested a veggie meal. Her veggie request didn't make it onto DL1898, but the FA's gave her the chicken and veggie meal, just removing the chicken. She seemed happy with it.
After taking orders, the FA's brought out the appetizers on a tray, along with silverware wrapped in a napkin (the napkin was sealed with a bookmark, of course). They also brought out drinks, which were pre-poured (the woman across the aisle from me had ordered a beer, which she received, half in a glass, the rest still in the can). The lid of my water was even pre-cracked!
Dinner was brought out shortly thereafter. The FA's did a great job of keeping drinks full (no matter what you were drinking), and they offered multiple kinds of bread, including garlic, sourdough, and wheat (and offered seconds). The salad was standard (with raspberry viniagrette). The obligatory sundae followed, once again in glasses rather than dishes.
Before takeoff, one of the FA's announced that because of the delay, free headsets and drinks would be offered (whoopee, I get that in first class anyways!), and they also said they would be showing two movies: Inspector Gadget (no thanks), and Thomas Crown Affair (I saw it already, on a flight in November). I skipped Inspector Gadget, but watched some of Thomas Crown, falling asleep towards the end.
The captain kept very quiet throughout the flight (thank goodness), and the next announcement was when the seatbelt sign was lit at 0030 in preparation for descent. The captain rung final at 0040, and we touched down at 0053, arriving at the gate at 0059. Luckily, the airport was downright empty. We hauled off to baggage claim, collected our bags, and were in a taxi less than 18 minutes after touchdown (and that's arriving at C33, which is one of the least convenient gates in Terminal C).
I am really quite amazed at the difference in service on DL1099 to DL1898. I don't even have any reasonable explanation for it. If I had paid for first class on DL1099 I would have been rather put out. Everything else went according to plan, however. I'll even say that the delay in SLC was a blessing in disguise. It isn't every day that you get to see your grandmother(in-law) on a moment's notice.
Dare I say it, I don't have another trip planned. I'm going to have to hustle to keep Gold Medallion next year, though, so I'm sure it will come at any time.
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