LGA-CVG-TRI on Delta 20 July 2009

DL 1211 LGA-CVG 6:05 AM-8:07 AM 737-800 Seat 1A
DL 6519 CVG-TRI 11:05 AM-12:10 PM CRJ Seat 8B Exit

If a day of flying could be called perfect, then today would have been that day, except for the part about having to get up at 3:00 am, that is!

I arrived at LaGuardia expecting quite a wait at the security checkpoint, but the first class/elite line has been reopened since Clear went out of business, and it was not too bad.  I passed through in about 10 minutes and had some spare time to spend in the Delta Sky Club.

When I arrived at the gate, boarding had already started.  As I got in line to board, I noticed a TSA agent randomly double-checking IDs and boarding passes and I was selected for the second check.

The only complaint I had during boarding was that the flight attendant apparently did not notice I was newly boarded, so I was never offered a pre-departure beverage like others in first class were.  We pushed back a couple of minutes early and were airborne by 6:21 am.  The flight attendant offered a full beverage and snack basket service and I made up for not having a pre-departure drink, as the flight attendant served me two very strong Bloody Marys.  We landed a few minutes late at 8:11 am, but that was not an issue for me as I had nearly three hours in Cincinnati.  I spent those hours in the Concourse A Delta Sky Club enjoying the complimentary Internet and snacks.

I arrived at the gate of my connecting flight and boarding began shortly thereafter.  We boarded quickly and the flight was full.  We pushed back on time and were airborne at 11:15 am.  I was expecting to hear the “due to the short duration, there is no beverage or snack service scheduled for this flight” excuse for no in-flight service, but the flight attendant instead offered a full beverage and snack service and gave every customer both the peanuts and the Biscoffs.  During a flight that was 40 minutes from take off to touch down, she was able to provide the full, in-flight service to everyone who wanted it.  Kudos to her for doing her job and doing it well!  We landed at 11:55 am, 15 minutes early.

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US 4165 LGA-ROA 5 July 2009

US 4165 LGA-ROA 8:19 am-10:39 am Dash 8-100 Seat 4C Exit

What a way to end my US Airways flying!  We boarded only 15 minutes before departure–and quickly–as there were only 17 passengers (of 37 seats).  Luckily I had no seatmate again.  During boarding, a passenger called the flight attendant to her row  to remove a dirty diaper from her seat area!  The flight attendant had to retrieve a plastic bag to pick it up and remove it!  Yuck!

We pushed back at 8:20 am and were airborne by 8:34 am.  The flight attendant made an announcement that adult beverages and Power Nap Sacks were available for $7.  I decided to have a Bloody and a Nap Sack, a souvenir of my last flight.  Well, catering did not provide any Nap Sacks–the flight attendant said she always asks for them and never gets them–then she gave me a full cup of tomato juice w/ice and vodka mini, after inquiring, “What liquor goes in a Bloody Mary?”  I thought perhaps she was out of Bloody Mary mix, until she came back later and apologized for giving me the wrong mixer.

On top of that, the flight attendant, nor the pilots or other passengers, had any change for my $20.  She also did not have a handheld device for credit cards, since Piedmont has not yet been provided with them, nor snacks to sell.  So she offered to sell me two more Bloodies TO GO, so I’d owe her $21, which I had.  At this point, I felt so badly for her that I gave her the $21 and packed up my two minis and can of Mr and Mrs T.

But I can’t complain, right, because we arrived at ROA early at 10:26 am.

Flight = A
Flight Attendant = C
Cleaning and Catering = F

LGA-ATL-TRI on Delta 10 May 2009

DL 427 LGA-ATL 1255A-327P 757-200 4B First Class
DL 5086 ATL-TRI 415P-519P CRJ-200 Seat 8B exit changed to DL 5762 ATL-TRI 5:18P-6:45P Saab 340 Seat 6C Exit

This was another relatively uneventful trip on Delta.  I’ve been really impressed with Delta’s consistency and upgraded service in first class.

We departed the gate on time at LGA, but took an ATC delay departing LGA into ATL.  We took off around 1:30 pm. Service in first class consisted of a pre-departure beverage, hot towels before the meal, and a meal choice of a turkey sandwich or a chef’s salad.  I selected the salad and it was accompanied by a bowl of fresh fruit, breadsticks, and a brownie.  I skipped the brownie.  This was an older 752 with overhead IFE, so I did not watch any of the television-like programming.  Although we departed later than expected, we still arrived on time.

I deplaned and hurried to my connection.  We boarded, then the crew discovered a maintenance issue.  We sat on the plane at the gate about 45 minutes before they allowed us to deplane.  At that point, I figured I needed a backup plan just in case the flight canceled, so I proceeded to the nearest Delta Sky Club for assistance.  The club agent didn’t just back me up, but immediately put me on the next flight to TRI in seat 2A, which was listed as on time.  I hurried to that gate and discovered that the aircraft was a Northwest/Mesaba Saab 340 operating as a Delta Connection flight, my least favorite aircraft of any I have flown.  We boarded and when my boarding pass was scanned, I had been reassigned an exit row seat, which was a pleasant surprise.  Once we were aboard, I noticed that this Saab seemed to be in much better condition and more comfortable than the two previous Saabs I had flown, so I was slightly relieved.  We took off a few minutes past scheduled departure around 5:30 pm and the flight was one hour en route.  The flight attendant provided a full beverage service with Pepsi beverages as per Northwest’s contract, but Delta snacks, peanuts or Biscoffs.  The plastic drink cups were also Delta/Coca-Cola branded.  The flight turned out to be much better than I expected and we landed about 15 minutes early, around 6:30 pm and earlier than my original flight.

TRI-ATL-LGA on Delta 8 May 2009

DL 5331 TRI-ATL 5:45PM-6:49PM CRJ Seat 8B Exit
DL 1794 ATL-LGA 7:40PM-10:06PM 757-200 ETOPS Seat 3B BusinessElite

I am so lucky to fly from TRI!  There is almost always no line, no waiting for either check in or security!  I completed both quickly, enjoyed a few minutes in the TRI Business Center, then boarded.  Delta Medallions boarded first, then by zone.  We pushed back early, but took a 30-minute ATC hold.  We finally departed at 6:10 pm, 25 minutes past scheduled departure.  There was no service en route, but the flight was a quick 41 minutes, and we landed only two minutes past our original arrival time.

I made my way from C44 to E34 and my flight to ATL was delayed about 15 minutes.  When we boarded, the gate agent scanned my boarding pass and a new seat assignment, 3B, popped out.  When I got to the plane, I realized there had been an equipment change to a 757-2oo ETOPS, which has a smaller first class section, actually an international BusinessElite section, with personal IFE in the armrests, individual reading lights, and nearly lie-flat seats with leg and foot rests!  I was psyched as this was my first time on one of these birds!  And my seatmate was a Delta flight attendant who primarily works 767 international flights, so he was a wealth of knowledge.  We had  a great time chatting at the beginning and end of the flight.  During the flight, we both used our IFE.  He watched a movie, while I watched old episodes “Friends” and “Frasier.”

In-flight service was dinner:  a pasta chicken salad with grated cheese, tomato, and olives; fresh fruit (grapes and slices of peach, pineapple, and apple), breadsticks, and a caramel chocolate brownie.  I also enjoyed a few of the Rande Gerber Signature margaritas.

We took off at 8:00 pm and landed a few minutes early at 9:58 pm.  What a great ride and flight.  The BusinessElite seats were very comfortable, the service was excellent, and the company of my flight attendant friend was very nice!

TRI-ATL-PHL on Delta 5 May 2009

DL 5326 TRI-ATL 830AM – 948AM Seat 1B CRJ-200
DL 1012 ATL-PHL 1232PM –  235PM Seat 25C Exit MD-88 with Gogo Inflight Internet

Today could have possibly gone differently, but the DL agents at TRI were proactive!  I arrived at TRI and started to check in at the kiosk, when an agent asked me to approach her and told me that she was putting me on a delayed 8:30 am flight to ATL because of low ceilings/weather delays.  She was afraid the 9:50 am would also delay and I might misconnect.  So I rushed through security, hit the restroom, and boarded.  She had assigned me 1B and I had no seatmate, so I was pleased.  We departed the gate at 9:25 am, one hour late, but 20 minutes earlier than my original flight.  The flight attendant was excellent.  Although the flight was scheduled to be 37 minutes en route, she offered a full beverage and snack service.  She was the kind of flight attendant that makes the others look badly!  We arrived ATL about 45 minutes later, around 10:10 am.  And I found out later that my original flight did leave on time and arrived about 20 minutes after my new flight, but I still appreciated the TRI agents proactively trying to prevent misconnects.

I had some extra time to spend in the Delta Sky Club near B10.  That is the small club, but it was a light crowd in the late morning.  I checked delta.com and saw my upgrade changes were absolutely nil.  I ended up being something like number six of 17 with no seats remaining!  I relaxed and ate pretzel mix and had a couple of Bloody Marys.

Boarding began promptly at gate B11, with first class and zone 1, then zone 2, etc.  Although first class was full, coach had 42 empty seats, including the middle seat in my row, so the guy in seat A and I in seat C were able to spread out, which was nice.  And the MD-88 exit row legroom was very good.

We pushed back on time and took off around 1:00 pm for a flight time of approximately 1 hour 25 minutes.  We had a full beverage and snack service in flight, but I had also purchased a sandwich before boarding, because I knew I’d be in coach.

The highlight of my trip today was that I finally got to try out the Gogo Inflight Internet service on my new iPod Touch for $7.95.  It took the iPod a few minutes to connect, but once the connection was made, all I had to do was open the Safari, log into the Gogo account I had set up in advance, and I was off!  I was able to send and receive e-mail, as well as surf the Internet and make posts to a frequent flier forum, Facebook, and Twitter.  Having the Internet made my flight go by so quickly and I felt like I’d accomplished something, too.  I will be a Gogo customer again every time it is offered.

We landed on time around 2:30 pm, but we did have to wait about 5-10 minutes for our gate, A13.

Upon deplaning, I passed through security, to zone 2 ground transportation to catch my shuttle to Dollar for my rental car to New Jersey.  I was nervous at first, because I am not confortable driving in areas with which I am not familiar, but the drive to Toms River was quite pleasant and I had no trouble getting there with Gigi, my Garmin nüvi®.  Once I exited the Philadelphia metro area, the 45-50 minute drive on Route 70 East was very rural and relaxing, until the Toms River area, where I finished my drive in on Route 37 East.

TRI-CVG-LGA on Delta 24 April 2009

DL 6027 TRI-CVG 615P-720P seat 12A EMB-145
DL 1218 CVG-LGA 800P-1005P seat 3B First Class 737-800

This trip was flawless.  I arrived at TRI about an hour before my flight, reprinted my boarding pass at the kiosk, and passed quickly through security.  I spent about 15 minutes in the TRI Business Center, aka our lounge, except without food.  Apparently most of the power outlets in there are not operational anymore, as I tried three cubicles, no go.

We boarded quickly, pushed back about 10 minutes early, and were airborne about five minutes early.  In-flight service was by request only.  We landed at 7:01 pm, 19 minutes earlier than scheduled, which gave me a quick 15 minutes in the Delta Sky Club in Concourse B at CVG.  My snacks included a glass of Chardonnay, chicken salad, chickpea salad with yogurt drizzle, and mixed nuts.

When I arrived at my gate, the plane was already boarding.  When I arrived at my seat, there was a pillow, blanket, and mini bottle of Dasani.  The flight attendant took my pre-departure drink order and I had an Amstel Light.

We pushed back early and departed about 10 minutes past scheduled departure.  In-flight services consisted of a full beverage and snack basket service and Delta television, which included “How I Met Your Mother,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “Delta Destinations.”  The snack basket contained Twix® bars, Biscoff cookies, Pretzel Crisps®, and peanuts. I had two of Delta’s signature margaritas made with tequila and Rande Gerber Midnight Bar Collection MixWe landed at 9:37 pm, 28 minutes early, which might be a record into LaGuardia!

12 Days of Travel: Day 8 (Part 2)

Delta Sky Club
The Delta Sky Club in PHL, although small, really rocks.  Snacks included hummus, crackers, cheese, and olives.  Yum!  And of course, adult beverages and Internet are complimentary for members.  I closed down the club, so I proceeded to Terminal F to the US Airways Club to enjoy the rest of my pass.

US Airways Club Terminal F
The agent who greeted me at the door was very nice and checked on my flight for me, but the US club just can’t stand up to the Delta club.  Snacks included cheese and Cape Cod potato chips (which they no longer have on their planes)! Neither adult beverages or Internet are complimentary, so I had to use my own, paid T-Mobile Hotspot service.  Basically their club is like their first class offering, you get a larger, more comfortable seat and that’s about it.

US 4257 PHL-ROA 8:20-9:55 pm Dash 8-300 Seat 11C Exit
This was a great little flight!  Everyone was boarded in about 15 minutes and we pushed back from the gate about five minutes early.  We were airborne by 8:25 pm, absolutely no line, no waiting at PHL!  The flight attendant provided a full beverage service.  We landed one hour 11 minutes later at 9:36 pm.  Quick, easy, and early, just the way I like it!

Now I am at my home away from home, Roanoke, another night in the Hampton Inn, same exact room as Sunday night!

12 Days of Travel: Day 8 (Part 1)

US 250 PHX-PHL 9:05 am-4:49 pm A321 Seat 2D First Class

Pre-Departure
I went to usairways. com to get flight status information and when I entered my flight number, I got an error message. However, when I searched by city pairs, it was there.  Go figure.

US Airways Club B-Gates, PHX
The free Internet in the club in PHX was awful.  One was required to view an ad to connect, then there was this awful ad bar at the top of every page.  Most of the web pages I needed to access would not load properly or at all.  I tried both IE and Firefox.  This was very bothersome.

However, the club employees were very nice.  The agent who sold me the day pass was very welcoming.  Another guy kept coming around like a flight attendant collecting trash, making small talk, and asking guests if they needed anything.

The morning snacks were standard offerings – yogurt, fruit, and muffins.

In-Flight
The boarding process and push back were both on time, but I’m amazed that they are able to pull it off as passengers just hover/crowd around blocking the boarding area, despite the fact that there is zone number boarding.  The line to board also moved so slowly.

We took off at 9:23 am.

Once at the appropriate altitude, we were given a hot towel service, then drinks were served.

The meal choices were:

1. Tomato basil quiche, two sausage links (no thanks!), a salad with a package of dressing, and a roll with butter.

2. Deli platter – a variety of cold cuts, two kinds of cheese, lettuce, tomato, one Dijon mustard packet, a roll with butter, and a fruit plate – all the fixings for a sandwich but without substantial bread to do so.

I selected the deli platter.  This time there was real cutlery!

I overheard a man in row three ask for another roll and mustard for his deli plate, as I guess he was trying to make sandwiches out of the meats and cheeses.  The flight attendant apologized and said, “We don’t have extras, we only have one of everything.”  After she left, the man said to his seatmate next time they’d try Virgin.

In coach, the In-Flight Café options and snack boxes were available for purchase, but as usual, they announced that there were not enough meals for everyone.

An hour and a half before landing, the flight attendant brought out the snack basket:  French Onion Sun Chips, Fiesta Snack Mix, mini pretzels, Biscoffs, and granola bars. She said we could take all we wanted.

I will say the in-flight service today was much better than the outbound.  The flight attendant was more attentive.

However, the one thing that bugs me most is the removal of the power outlets.  I can live without IFE and bring my own, but not having a source of power for one’s own IFE or computing is very disappointing.

We landed early at 4:32 pm.

12 Days of Travel: Days 4-7

April 4, 2009

Not much to write about here!  Spent a lazy day in Yonkers, NY, at my fiancé’s apartment while he had to work from home!

April 5, 2009

US 4175 LGA-ROA 1:40 PM-3:58 PM  Seat 4C Exit Dash 8 -100

We boarded and departed the gate early.  Our actual takeoff was at 2:02 pm and we landed at 3:52 pm.  We had a full in flight beverage service and I bought a Bloody Mary for $7.  I tried to buy a Power Nap Sack just to see what it looked like, but when the flight attendant went to get me one, she discovered they had not given her any to sell.  Note to US Airways:  You can’t sell them if you don’t have them to sell!

I after arriving in Roanoke, I had to pick up some items at Macy’s and fill my gar with gas before heading to the Hampton Inn.  I stayed in and ordered Domino’s.  I also had an awful case of insomnia and could not sleep.

April 6, 2009

US 4465 ROA-CLT 5:35 AM-6:37 AM Seat 11 C Exit Dash 8-300
US 307 CLT-PHX 7:30 AM-9:06 AM Seat 2C First Class A321

It took me only 20 minutes to drive five miles, reprint my boarding passes at the kiosk (as my faxed ones were messed up), and pass through security!  I had plenty of computer time in Roanoke.  We boarded quickly at 5:20 am and the door was shut at 5:29 am. We pushed back at 5:35 am and took off 5:41 am.  There was no in flight service.  We landed five minutes late at 6:42 am and arrived the gate at 6:50 am.

I made my connection to PHX, but the flight was already boarding, as I had to hike from gate E32B to B5! The aircraft was a new A321 and was completely booked in both classes (volunteers were sought). Because I arrived later in the boarding process, I had to put both of my bags under the seat because no overhead space remained. There was no offer of a pre-departure drink for me. We backed away from gate on time and took a departure delay. We took off at 7:53 am.

It was very bumpy the first 15 minutes.  I had to ask the flight attendant for a free blanket stashed over 1D/F as they were not provided in each seat as the pillows were.  When I pulled out the new tray table at my seat, I noticed it was narrower and curvier than the tray tables I was used to.  The new seats were two-tone royal blue/gray, firmer, narrower, with headrests.  Before the meal, we received a hot towel service.  Our breakfast was served on a plastic, paper-lined tray that was wider but shorter than new tray table.  I chose the omelette (lactose intolerant friends–cheese inside, be warned!) with diced green/red peppers on the top, potatoes, one link sausage (it looked more like kielbasa or italian but small), a croissant, and a bowl of grapes/strawberries on real dishes.  The funniest first class moment for me was when I discovered that the cutlery was silvertone plastic, not metal.  The food was edible, but very ordinary. US Airways is still behind Delta, Continental, etc., in both presentation and food quality.  I received a second drink, but after that, the flight attendants spent most of the time chatting in the galley as I dozed for about an hour and a half.  I was not asked if I wanted anything else until my seatmate got the flight attendant’s attention by waving at her about 35 minutes before landing, nor did the she pick up my empty cup and trash until that time.  She was quite surly and matronly and did not seem to enjoy her job.  We landed at 9:10 am, only four minutes past scheduled arrival.

In the afternoon, I had lunch with five FlyerTalk forum participants at Sam’s Café, a wonderful Southwestern grill restaurant in Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix.  I had the tuna and it was incredible!  In the evening, I attended the opening session of my conference and finally got to sleep!

April 7, 2009

Today was my conference, so I was in and out of sessions all day.  I must say the food at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort  is wonderful, as are the hotel grounds.  Scottsdale/Phoenix are beautiful this time of year!

14 March 2009: SFO-CVG-TRI

DL 1836 SFO-CVG 11:34 am – 6:55 pm 737-800 Seats 1C and 1D

Wow, this flight was almost a mirror image of my outbound flight except for aircraft type, which is how it should be – consistent, reliable, and comfortable. We pushed back on time and were airborne by 11:45 am. Upon reaching 10,000 feet, we received our hot towel, beverage, and meal service. The meal choices were the same as the outbound, so we chose the ribs again instead of penne pasta with eggplant tomato sauce. It was just as good this time as the first time. That chocolate mousse cake is RICH. We also spent the flight watching satellite TV as we were not interested in the movies, and I worked on my trip blog (I will let you know when it’s posted nationally!) We had plentiful beverages served throughout the flight.  During the last hour, the flight attendant came around with the snack basket and more beverages.  We landed about 10 minutes early and John walked me halfway to the A concourse! Our inbound plane was his LGA outbound plane, lucky guy!

DL 6138 CVG-TRI 8:05 pm – 9:08 pm EMB 145 Seat 12A

Not sure why as it was about half full, but this flight departed about 20 minutes late. However, flight time en route was only about 35-40 minutes, so we still managed to arrive a few minutes early. The flight attendant offered a water only beverage service “due to the short duration,” but it was better than nothing! The funny part about this segment was our arrival at TRI. There was a crowd of about 75 people at baggage claim, which is a rare sight at little TRI. It seems that there was an NAIA track and field event being held locally and of course, the start of NASCAR week, which meant more inbound travelers than usual on a Saturday evening, and three flights (DL, NW, and US) had arrived around the same time. Now that was some “excitement” for sure!