by Bruce K.
Thu., Apr. 7
DL5083 dep XNA 07:10 arr ATL 09:59
DL1677 dep ATL 10:50 arr ORD 12:00
Fri., Apr 8
DL1977 dep ORD 18:05 arr ATL 21:10
DL5059 dep ATL 22:05 arr XNA 22:57
Actual IRROPS return:
Sat., Apr. 9
DL3225 dep ORD 06:05 arr CVG 08:26
DL6264 dep CVG 09:30 arr XNA 10:22
A last-minute trip for a personal appointment, I would not have chosen this particular itinerary or carrier. I did look online and it was the cheapest fare – AA and UA direct would have been $300 more because it was inside of 24 hours. I was concerned that 51 and 55 minutes might not be enough time to change planes in Atlanta. But it wasn’t up to me – the client travel agency did the booking. At least I was able to credit it to my SkyMiles account, where I have no elite status.
Thursday morning, the taxi to the airport dropped me off at 06:25. XNA is still a sweet little airport with a minimal TSA presence. Magnetometers but no full body scanners. Yet. My stuff and I went through without issue.
Boarding was an “all” call at 06:55 and we pushed back on time. This was a Mesaba-operated CRJ-200 and the seat was a small fit. Beverage service was a half-can and a choice of cookies (Biscoffs), peanuts (dry-roasted) or pretzels. We landed on time in Atlanta and pulled up to our gate at the end of the D terminal. I made it to the gate at A in 15 minutes, which gave me enough time for a coffee.
The O’Hare flight was called on time. One passenger tried to board ahead of his zone and was turned back. My seat was behind the exit row, a window. Another small seat, I really don’t like the MD-88! We pushed back on time, but sat at the end of the taxiway for ten minutes before the Captain announced that we were being held by O’Hare for flow control. He said he was on with the Delta dispatch office to find out if we would go back to the gate or would wait and that it could be as much as 90 minutes. It ended up being 40 minutes of penalty box before we headed to the runway. Arrival was 46 minutes late.
For the return, I dropped off the rental car at O’Hare at 14:30 (the appointment finished earlier than I expected) and the shuttle dropped me off at terminal 2. While eating cheese cubes in a full RCC, my phone rang at 14:53 to inform me that my 18:05 departure was canceled. I called Delta. A pleasant operator (Southern accent) informed me that I had been protected to the soonest available – the next morning. I headed to the gate, but there was no one there. At the nearby SkyClub, where the club angel was able to print a “distressed traveler” coupon and I headed to the Marriott Courtyard.
Saturday morning, 4:00 wake-up call and their shuttle dropped me off at 4:55. A long line of sailors was arriving at the same time to access the USO. All clutching their manila folders and huge duffel bags. And all so young!
Security at Terminal 2 was slow, taking 20 minutes. They switched the line at the last minute, pointing us to the imaging machines. The woman ahead of me opted out and insisted on a private screening. She gathered up her stuff and was led elsewhere. I also opted out, but let them do it there. I was pleasant and smiled so no hassle and no attitude from anyone. The pat down was 90% thorough, narrating what he was doing as he did his thing. I was able to keep an eye on my buckets of stuff on the belt. He did not “meet resistance” and I was cleared.
From this point, everything was standard. Boarding on time by zone, small seat on the CRJ-900 with a wide-hipped seatmate. On time into CVG, where I transited from one end of Terminal B to the other. The gate agent called our flight early, where the 11 of us boarded the CRJ-200. Everyone had a row to themselves. Full can beverage service with peanuts. We landed 20 minutes early into XNA where my taxi driver was waiting for me.
Summary: I was on three different aircraft (2 x CRJ-200, MD-88 and CRJ-900) and all had very small seats, though they were all clean with a noticeable lack of duct tape. Pleasant gate agents and flight attendants. The IRROPS was handled as smoothly as I’ve ever experienced. I was very pleased that the pilot came out of the flight deck to welcome passengers after each of the four flights (where I thanked the ATL-ORD for keeping us updated). Overall grade: B-. I think CO’s planes have bigger seats.
XNA now offers free wi-fi, but ATL, ORD and CVG still do not.
Total Trip Cost: $ 875.47
Actual Airfare: $ 774.58
Actual Miles Flown: 2021
Yield: $ 0.383 per mile
Taxes & Fees: $ 100.89, 11.52% of ticket price
**Beth’s note: I checked and the CRJ-200 seat width is comparable to those of other domestic carriers that use that aircraft. However, the MD-88 seats are narrower than those of American.**