Dec 19 DL 323 dep BOS 0810 arr PDX 1135 757 breakfast DL 166 dep PDX 1255 arr SEA 1344 727 drink only Dec 25 DL 1449 dep SEA 1035 arr SLC 1325 727 snack in front only Dec 27 DL 1898 dep SLC 1635 arr BOS 2303 757 dinnerWhen booking these tickets, we knew we had a relatively tight timeframe for Christmas (I much prefer to take at least ten full days off). However, because I had started a new job in July, and because when we booked the Christmas tickets we didn't know what my husband's job situation would be, we chose to "play it safe" and go west only for a short time.
The purpose of the SEA visit was to visit my husband's parents and brother and sister-in-law (who live south of Tacoma). SLC was to visit one set of my husband's grandparents and one of his uncles.
Not long after we booked the tickets (through the web), a DL representative called me at home and told me that our Christmas Day flight had been cancelled. We were offered the option of changing either to DL 974 (departing SEA at 0615!!!!), or DL 1898 (dep SEA 1230). Easy choice. 0615 means 0515 checkin and departure from the house at 0430. No thanks...
The week before we were due to leave, we decided to purchase a new laptop (those of you who follow my trip reports regularly know that we purchased a new laptop not THAT long ago....). The new one had, among other things, a DVD player. That way we figured if we didn't like the in-flight movie we could watch our own (or, as in the BOS-PDX flight, knew the flight would be a long one and that there would be plenty of time for the in-flight as well as our own movie).
The day before we were due to travel, we got up early (not deliberately) and got ready so we could make our "24 hour" call (calling for upgrades 24 hours in advance). As usual, I dialed too quickly and had an agent by 0807. She put me on hold until her official Delta clock said 0810, and then came back on the line to tell me that we'd hit the jackpot on both legs. 3C&3D on 323, and opposing aisles on 166 (we hoped to swap to sit together).
We left home at 0645 for our 0810 departure, arriving BOS at 0705. Ohmygod Logan was MOBBED. Keep in mind that we had travelled on "travel days from hell" (Wednesday before Turkey Day, Sunday after Turkey Day). Those days were DEAD compared to this day. The line for coach bag check-in looped around most of Terminal C. Smart people were skycapping it and then waiting in the incredibly long lines to security and checking in at the gate. Lucky for us, we checked in at the Medallion/First Class line. It was busy, but the line moved pretty reasonably. We were checked in by 0725 and on our way to the gate (no time to waste). It took us almost ten minutes to clear security.
Our plane was due to depart from gate C32. The terminal after security was busy but not obnoxiously so. Lots of people going to Orlando or West Palm Beach (the PBI line stretched halfway down the terminal!). We got to the gate at 0735, put our bags down (no point sitting down), and they called boarding right on time at 0740. We were within the first five people on the plane. Door 2 board, which means no fighting past people in coach to get to your first class seat. Yay.
We pushed back a little late due to late baggage loading, and then got in line for takeoff. We took off from 22L and made a left turn immediately after takeoff. I took the time in line to note that first class was only about half full (!!).
The movie preview was shown ("The Parent Trap" - typical for this time of year, a kiddie movie. At least it's more palatable than "Air Bud - Golden Receiver"). After that, the flight attendants came around and took orders for breakfast. One reason I was kind of bummed about being upgraded is that I *love* DL's cold breakfasts in coach. Yogurt or banana, bagel or roll, and cereal. Well, one of the options for breakfast was "cereal" so I jumped at it. The other two options were scrambled eggs (didn't see it) and french toast (my husband had it).
Breakfast was served, and boy, it was worth the wait. My tray contained cereal (raisin bran), milk, yoghurt, and a banana. In addition, the flight attendant came around with a basket of warm breakfast breads (rolls, croissants, bagels). I had a bagel. My husband's tray had his french toast (with some kind of creamy sauce and raisins), potatoes, and sausage. He also had an offered hot croissant. In addition, we both had a fruit bowl (oranges, pineapple, melon, strawberries).
With just 13 or 14 people in the cabin, service was quick, and the flight attendants soon took the trays away. I stretched back to await the start of the movie. I've flown this route before and I know it's a long one (even though last time we arrived into PDX almost a full hour early). Obviously, the FA's know how to pace service on this route so that people don't get too bored.
The movie started, and the traditional request to lower the cabin shades came over the PA. I didn't mind terribly, figuring I'd either watch the movie or snooze. As it turns out, I watched the movie. During the movie the FAs came around every 30 minutes offering drinks (water, please!).
After the movie ended and the traditional rush to the lavs did as well, there was a quiet period in the cabin (my husband watched a movie on his new DVD player, I did some puzzles). Then, about 90 minutes before landing, the FA's came around with a small snack (cheese & crackers with fruit and a small piece of chocolate) and drinks (more water!). Very tasty (cheese was yummy). And then I fell asleep. :-)
Landing into PDX was a few minutes late, likewise to the gate. We got off the plane quickly and went out to the "Oregon Market" to try and find something to eat and to browse Powells bookstore. We liked the look of a pizza place but the pizza we wanted was "cook to order" and meant a 15 minute wait. Since it was 12:05 and boarding was scheduled for 12:30, we didn't want to cut it that close (in retrospect perhaps we should have). We settled for Wendy's instead (boring but filling).
Our plane arrived in from CVG late and thus was late boarding. There were several unaccompanied minors on this trip. The pilot himself took one set under his wing (and they got to see the cockpit before takeoff! Of course, it's only a 727 :-).
We boarded first (being in first class), and got on board to find that this 727-200 had not had the interior refit. Its colours were right out of the Brady Bunch! Oranges and yellows (we took photos, they were so disgusting). While the coach passengers were boarding, the cockpit crew was spooling up and down the number 3 engine. The F/E came on the PA and told us that there was a "problem with the indicator" and they were "just testing the engine to make sure" (after we reached SEA, I overheard the cockpit crew telling the ground crew that the number 3 engine needed some serious attention).
Time en route was listed as 27 minutes. There was no service at all in back, and drinks and peanuts/pretzels in front (and barely time for that!). I was quasi surprised they didn't try "fast break" but with only 27 minutes in the air, I'm not too surprised....
We arrived late at SEA due to a late departure from PDX (due to engine testing!), but only by a few minutes. Hubby's father was waiting for us at the gate (we don't usually have people meeting us), and we quickly went to baggage claim (but were smart and did the rental car thing first). Bags came along, and off we went.
Dec 25 DL 1898 due to dep SEA 1230 PST and arr SLC 1530 MST
We managed to obtain upgrade 24 hours ahead by phone (no surprise, I would think that Christmas day is a quiet day to travel!).
We left for SEA early, as we had my husband's brother and his wife along for the ride. They had a 1111 AS flight to Burbank. We returned our rental car (one person at the Avis counter) and checked in quickly.
We saw hubby's brother and sister-in-law off on Concourse C and then went to Concourse B. The plane for our flight arrived from ATL about 20 min late, so we boarded late.
Totally full flight - surprising, because as I mentioned before, I would have thought that Christmas Day would have been a quiet travel day!. Also, as I mentioned, we obtained upgrades without a hitch which made me believe the flight was less than full.
We were booked in 4A&B (note, row 4 on DL 757s sucks for watching anything on the screens). A guy across the aisle from me grabbed a SkyDeli snack (and later asked the FA if she had anymore! See, Wayne, it's not just me who likes SkyDeli :-).
The served snack in F (and yes, the SkyDeli guy ate that too!) was a chicken & rice salad (mostly chicken and rice with a little bit of lettuce, carrots, and green onion) with a creamy oriental salad dressing. It was VERY good. Also on the tray was a warm roll (garlic stick?) and two truffles. I had milk (yet another funny look for asking for milk!) and hubby had a Coke.
We landed a few minutes early and deplaned. The baggage claim was CRAZY, ten flights on one carousel. OK, five of them were Skywest flights, but still...
Dec 27 DL 1898 due to dep SLC 1635 MST and arr BOS 2303 EST
Called on Dec 26 and !! managed to obtain an upgrade. That's four for four on this trip!
Arrived at SLC airport early (1450 for 1635 departure). Checked in quickly and then made a phonecall or two. We went down to the gate which was deserted, but inhabited by a plane. Checking of the monitors revealed that the plane bound for 1898 (arriving from SEA) was actually outbound to JFK instead. Odd. Equipment was still 757 and I later found out that it had arrived from DEN about 1430. N602DL.
We were first informed of delay "until 1700". The original excuse (given privately by a CSA) was "waiting for crew", and then "maintenance". Two guys were seen mucking with a rivet gun near the rudder. I deduced this to be an APU problem ("we could have flown with the problem unfixed but we'd rather fix it here in the hub"), but it turned out to be the rudder (or so the captain later told us).
Announcement was made that the coach would be "snack only" (VERY weird, we've taken DL1898 a bazillion times and it has ALWAYS been dinner in both cabins). The ground staff suggested that coach pax go and pick up food. Later, they announced that the reasoning was because ATL had called and told the SLC ground staff to pull all hot meals off of the flight (whether other flights were affected we didn't know). A cold snack was substituted.
At 1650 we still didn't know anything but the mechanics were still working feverishly on the plane. At 1700 the departure time was very quietly changed to 1800 (no announcement made, even!!). The monitors in the terminal were changed and actually said "closed" (i.e. departed). We grabbed a pizza (split a small one) to hold us over, as it was obvious we weren't going for a while.
I asked the ground staff what our options were and they reserved two seats for us on the morning SLCBOS flight (the minus about that flight is that it departs SLC 1000 and doesn't arrive into BOS until 1635, i.e. in the middle of rush hour and missing all day at work). Another option was mentioned: a late SLCORD flight, spend the night in ORD, and then AA or UA first thing.
At 1730 an announcement was made that the mechanics had "finished their repairs" and "were just waiting for the okay from Atlanta". Progress at last! I should mention that the main CSA (named Joanne) did a TERRIFIC job with this flight. She remained upbeat and friendly, never snarling or snapping. I thanked her (and the redcoat) for her attitude.
1800 rolled around, and the DL redcoat who had come to staff the gate made another announcement: while fixing the first problem they found a second problem. This one was with the elevators. She said "at least two hours" to fix, possibly more. Many passengers tried to rebook (hubby and I decided that since I had to be at work the next morning, we'd be better off gutting it out). Total passenger count was only about 75 to start with.
I managed to secure meal vouchers for us. (I also tried to get crown room passes but they said "no"!) Problem: my husband only really wanted a snack and I didn't really want anything. Never mind that, but we didn't like the food options in Concourse D. So we went off down to Concourse C to our favourite SLC eatery (a bagel place). Hubby had a bagel sandwich, and we also bought a half a dozen bagels. In addition, we got some yoghurt (for me), milk (me again), and a couple of large bottles of water. We spent about $18.50 of the $20 of funny money that DL had given us. Waste not, want not. :-)
1940 and back to our gate (D3). The redcoat said that we might be pulling another 757 (apparently 757s start arriving in SLC to remain overnight around 2015 and we could have one of those). 2000 and the elevator problem is pronounced "fixed" with a departure time of 2047 (and arrival in BOS around 0300, UGH).
This time they meant it. We boarded around 2020. Hubby and I settled into 4A&B (those horrible movie watching seats again). I usually take the aisle but I chose the window this time. I wanted maximum sleep time and minimum interruption.
Pushback "on time" and we were airborne by 2047. Only about 50 people were onboard (so we lost about 25 of the original set). It made for a VERY light load and fast climb out. I was hoping it would mean we could have a quick trip over to BOS but I guess there's only so far you can push the PW2037! Time en route was 3hr 45 min.
My husband chose to eat while I got my eyeshades out and snoozed (he had swordfish. Other choices were chicken & couscous or Thai beef). All in all I managed to snatch between 60 and 90 minutes sleep. The pilots and FAs were very good about not making any announcements (many people must also have chosen to sleep). Headsets were given out for free in back (don't know about drinks), and they played both movies (Air Bud and Parent Trap).
I woke up about 40 minutes out of BOS totally parched. The FA quickly brought me an 8oz bottle of Delta water. Not long after I finished that, the seatbelt sign came on. I watched the lights out the window for a little while and then the captain rang final.
We landed just before 0300, deplaned quickly (amazing how few people are in Terminal C that late at night!), and scooted off to baggage claim. The bags were sporadic in coming (just one guy on duty perhaps?), but we finally got all of them and headed to the curb. Not much of a line (yay), and we got a cab and made it home by 0330.
I can count my number of DL maintenance holds in excess of 30 minutes on one hand, and that's in five years of Medallion flying with them (Turkey Day 1994, we got stranded overnight in CVG. June 1995, we were 90 minutes late leaving SLC on DL1898. May 1997, we were 90 minutes late leaving CVG en route to SEA. And this flight). That's a pretty good record for a large amount of flying.
I was still surprised that we managed to upgrade on all legs (leaving us almost entirely depleted from segment upgrade points for the year). The load factors on all flights were impressively high except the one I was expecting to be busy (DL1898 SLC-BOS).
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