DL 5052 and DL 1199 TRI-ATL-RIC 31 March 2010

This was a near perfect day of flying, with sunny spring skies at all three airports.  My first flight took off at 11:26 am and landed at 12:01 pm, 32 minutes early.  It was such a quick flight there was no beverage service.

In between flights, I visited the B-10 Delta Sky Club in Atlanta for a snack, drink, and a quick bit of Internet.

My second flight to Richmond was also a very good flight for the most part.  We departed the gate and were airborne 22 minutes later.  We landed on time.  It was my first ride on an MD-90 and I thought it was very comfortable and spacious in seat 3B, more so than in some of the other Delta mainline planes.  Since the flight was short, just a little over an hour, service included the snack basket and a full beverage service.  I ordered white wine and it was served in a highball glass, which was odd, but at least it was a glass!  The flight attendant refilled my wine three times.

The only thing that bothered me is that the Gogo Inflight Internet was not working properly.  I would reach the page where you either select a pass or sign in, but when I clicked either option, nothing would happen.  I kept trying for the first 35-40 minutes of the flight.  I tried to do Gogo chat for technical assistance, but it was not functional, either.  I finally got to the log in page after numerous attempts, but I kept receiving an error message every time I tried to log in, and I tried multiple IDs and I tried to create a new account.

I was also surprised that such a short flight costs $9.95.  I had a coupon code to redeem for 50% off, but that is still steep for essentially 45 minutes of Internet time, when Gogo is actually functioning. Gogo should consider pricing their passes based on flight miles, not flight times, because the actual flight time of ATL-RIC today was just over an hour from takeoff to touchdown, not an hour and 37 minutes as published by Delta.  Flights shorter than 1000 miles should not be $9.95.

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TRI-ATL-LGA on Delta 7 August 2009

DL 5091 TRI-ATL 4:15 pm-5:18 pm CRJ-200 Seat 8B exit aisle, changed to 7C on board
DL 1792 ATL-LGA 6:40 pm-9:07 pm 757-200 Seat 4B, upgraded at my three-day window

Lather, rinse, repeat.  I have no complaints at all with Delta after flying 41 flights this year, so I really have trouble understanding why they’re not more popular with frequent fliers.  The product has improved and the service is consistent, reliable, and predictable.

The first flight was very uneventful.  We did depart late due to our late inbound aircraft, but in the big picture, it was negligible.  We took off at 4:49 pm and landed at 5:36 pm.  The beverage service was by request only and the flight attendant actually received quite a few requests.  I had seat 8B exit aisle with a seatmate, but moved to 7C aisle with no seatmate shortly after takeoff.

After deplaning, I had time for about 20 minutes in the Sky Club, where I enjoyed the spread of olives, packaged cheese, and an Atlanta Sweetwater beer.

I arrived at the gate and boarding had already started.  There was a representative from Gogo Inflight Internet handing out trial passes to try out the service.  We boarded quickly and backed away from the gate close to on time.  We had a typical ATL runway wait, and took off at 7:05 pm.  This flight had Delta TV shorts via ceiling monitors and Gogo Inflight Internet.  I had a code for a free session that expired 8/16, so I used it, instead of the card I received from the representative.  The speed was great and it really made the trip pass quickly.  The in-flight meal was a choice of a sandwich platter or grilled chicken on pasta.  I chose the chicken. Below is the photo.  We arrived at LGA 8:50 pm.  Again, another uneventful and pleasant flight.

I will take the time to give kudos to TripIt Pro, http://www.tripit.com.  I have an account and I upload my trips by forwarding my booking confirmations to plans@tripit.com.  I completed a 30-day trial for the pro version and decided to keep it for an annual subscription of $49.00 per year, which includes automatic flight/trip updates and alerts.  Below are the alerts I received yesterday, in reverse order:

DL5091 arr gate C43. 56m until dep DL1792 6:40pm term S, gate B34.  19 hours ago
DL5091 PULLED IN. TRI dep 4:36pm. ATL arr 5:52pm. 48m to make conn @ ATL. 20 hours ago
DL5091 DELAYED. TRI dep 4:49pm. ATL arr 5:52pm. 48m to make conn @ ATL. 21 hours ago
DL5091 DELAYED. TRI dep 4:39pm. ATL arr 5:42pm. 58m to make conn @ ATL. 21 hours ago
DL5091 PULLED IN. TRI dep 4:24pm. ATL arr 5:27pm. 1h, 13m to make conn @ ATL. 22 hours ago
DL5091 DELAYED. TRI dep 4:34pm. ATL arr 5:37pm. 1h, 3m to make conn @ ATL. 22 hours ago
DL5091 ON TIME. TRI dep 4:15pm. ATL arr 5:18pm. 1h, 22m to make conn @ ATL. 1 day ago

I no longer have to manually enter flight alerts at websites that offer that service! To me that is a lifesaver, because I have to enter alerts for my clients and this reduces my load!

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!

March 7: TRI-ATL-SFO

DL 5130 TRI-ATL 4:25 pm – 5:31 pm 8B Exit

I arrived at TRI early to no line and no waiting for either check in or security.  It’s at these times that I love a small airport!  I went to the TRI Business Center to make a couple of phone calls.  For some reason, I was unable to get online with TRI’s free Wi-Fi, so I had to settle for BlackBerry only access.

We boarded early and quickly and we pushed back very early at 4:12 pm.  I had no seatmate!  We departed five minutes early at 4:20 pm and arrived at 4:56 pm, about 35 minutes before published arrival.  There was no in-flight service “due to the short duration,” but the flight attendant did pass through the cabin with cups of ice water.

Interim at the Delta SkyClub (formerly the Crown Room Club)

I met John at the B25 SkyClub location since our flight was scheduled to depart from B26.  We found a place with power outlets and enjoyed about an hour and a half of relaxation.  I had two of my own and half of John’s Atlanta Sweetwater microbrew beer.  Snacks included crackers, individually packaged white cheddar cheese, hummus in a baby food jar (LOL), olives, and Biscoffs.  I love their snacks, but they really need some plastic knives, forks, sporks, or something!  Eating olives with my fingers and dipping crackers into a jar seems so gauche, n’est-ce pas?

DL 47 ATL-SFO 7:10 pm – 9:39 pm 4C and 4D First Class 757-200 Transcontinental Configuration

While I was in the club, I realized that I left my cash at home and I was going to hit an ATM, but John said he had enough cash with him, so we went directly to the gate. When we arrived at the gate, the flight was already boarding.  I gave Breezeway boarding a whirl and it worked, the gate agent scanned my boarding pass ahead of most of the line, but John decided to wait in the long line.  When we got on board, he asked me if I felt rude using Breezeway boarding and I said no, I earned it!

When we arrived at our seats, we had a mini bottle of Dasani, a pillow, and blanket.  We received a full departure beverage service.  I had Amstel Light and John had Heineken.

We pushed back on time at 7:10 pm and were airborne by 7:28 pm.  The pilot announced our flight would be four hours 51 minutes en route with an early arrival.

Shortly after the bell rang signaling we were above 10,000 feet, a flight attendant came around and took our dinner order.  Our choices were penne pasta with tomato sauce or short ribs and mashed potatoes.  I had posted a thread on FlyerTalk a couple of days ago asking about current meals and someone had recommended the ribs, so we both selected that.  After the dinner order, another flight attendant came with hot towel service and when I say hot, I mean those towels were HOT.  We almost dropped them they were so hot.  After the hot towel service, a flight attendant came and took our drink orders and we both opted for Amstel Light this time.

Dinner arrived very soon after the drink order and I believe we selected the best option. The meal consisted of about six ounces of rib meat with sauce/gravy, a side of mashed potatoes, a side of mixed yellow squash and zucchini, a roll, a salad with creamy Italian dressing, and chocolate mousse cake.  I have to say that in my limited airplane meal experiences, this was the best airplane meal I have ever had.  The rib meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy and the side of sauce/gravy was delicious.

We did not want for drinks at all during the flight.  The flight attendants were attentive and offered us refills about every 20 minutes or so.  John and I sampled the white wine selection and neither of us liked it very much, so he went back to beer and I tasted a glass of red wine.  I actually preferred the red to the white, which is rare for airplane wine.

For in-flight entertainment, I opted for DirectTV instead of a movie and I actually remembered my Bose headphones (I never bring them for short flights.)  I watched CNN until 8:00 pm, and then switched to NBC where they were replaying the opening episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET.  I have never seen an episode of this series.  However, I don’t think I have laughed that hard in a long time.  The challenge was baking and selling cupcakes on the streets of NYC for charity.  The men raised $49,449 and the women raised $62,257 (courtesy of winning a $15,000 taste test.)  The women’s team was comprised of celebrities like Joan Rivers (comedian), Melissa Rivers (always with Joan, TV host), Brandi Roderick (Playboy model), Annie Duke (poker champ), Khloe Kardashian (reality star), Claudia Jordan (model, “Deal or No Deal”), and T-Boz (from the musical group TLC.)  The men’s team, consisting of celebrities such as Brian McKnight (R&B singer), Jesse James (from “Monster Truck”), Tom Green (comedian), Dennis Rodman (basketball player), Scott Hamilton (figure skater), Clint Black (country singer), Herschel Walker (football player), and Andrew Dice Clay (comedian), had me laughing the entire time.  Andrew Dice Clay was by far the most egotistical, obnoxious, and funny character of the entire bunch, while Dennis Rodman was just plain arrogant.  I never watch reality TV, but I might watch this again, because I have never seen anything so dysfunctional.  However, Andrew Dice Clay was fired, so the next episode might not be as funny.

At 10:00 pm, I watched “Law and Order,” a very powerful episode about child slavery, and at 11:00 pm, I watched NBC NY local news.  I took off my headphones after the news so my ears could “breathe.”

I was also able to write this trip report during the flight, because this bird has real 110v power ports, no adaptors required.

Despite a fierce headwind the first half of our flight, we arrived SFO 23 minutes early at 9:16 pm.

If assigning a grade, I would give this flight experience an A+.  It exceeded my expectations.

LGA-TRI: A True “Beth Effect,” 1-2 Mar 2009

DL 1779 LGA – ATL 11:00 am – 1:54 pm seat 27C exit
DL 9857 TLH – ATL 7:00 am – 8:06 am seat 27C exit or 35D
DL 5388 ATL – TRI 10:00 am – 11:13 am seat 3D then 8C exit

On Saturday, I realized this trip would be a challenge due to the winter weather, but Delta had not cancelled my flights or changed my schedule, so I tried to remain positive. The elite phone lines were clogged anyway, so I could not proactively make changes for myself.

The next morning I woke up to one cancellation–my second flight on Sunday from ATL to TRI had been cancelled and I had been proactively rebooked on the next flight.

I arrived at LGA early and checked in with an elite ticket agent so I could inquire about additional options, but there were none. I passed quickly through security thanks to Clear, spent about 30 minutes enjoying the snacks and Internet in the Crown Room Club, and then went to the gate. The flight boarded promptly and pushed back within a few minutes of scheduled departure. We had our obligatory taxi wait at LGA, then took off about 20 minutes past scheduled departure, but were scheduled to arrive on time.

I was in coach and in-flight service included a full beverage and snack service, including beverages and snacks that were either complimentary or for sale. There was also Delta’s short-program in-flight entertainment with ear buds for sale for $2.00.

We started making our approach into ATL, but were turned back due to the weather and problems with ground landing equipment/technology. The pilot announced that we would try to land one more time, but if we were unable, we would be diverted to TLH. We were not allowed to land, so off we went to TLH, another 30 minutes in flight. We landed around 2:16 pm, but remained on the plane for a while until they announced we would be grounded until 7:00 am Monday morning. I deplaned with the other passengers, I stopped to ask the gate agent to make sure I was rebooked on an ATL-TRI flight for Monday, and then I boarded the first hotel shuttle available to the Residence Inn University location, one of our discounted overnight options.

Upon arrival to the hotel, we found out that the hotel was not expecting us, nor were they prepared to offer a discounted rate, but they called the general manager and he approved a rate of $99.00 per night instead of $199.00. The desk clerks quickly checked us in and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in my room, trying to relax after a stressful day. The only “perk” from this experience was the opportunity to earn a night’s frequent stay credit and points with Marriott Rewards!

The next morning I got up at 3:45 am and was downstairs by 4:45 am to take my taxi to the airport. Once there, the line started forming and became very long very quickly, as no one was able to use the kiosks to print boarding passes for this flight or any connecting flights. Once I was finally able to speak to an agent, it took him and another agent about 30 minutes to reissue a paper ticket with my new flights and seat assignments. Luckily the security line was not as long!

However, at the gate, there was a minor uproar about seating, as some of us had checked in for the new flight and been assigned different seats and some had just used their old boarding passes. So the decision was made for us to take our original seats, which worked out well, as I had originally had 27C exit row aisle, but had been assigned 35D when my ticket was reissued!

We were about to leave on time at 7:00 am, when the pilot announced we would be taking additional stranded passengers from other cancelled flights, so we departed about an hour late at 8:00 am. We landed at 8:50 am, so I still had plenty of time to make my 10:00 am connection. I proceeded to the concourse C Crown Room Club near gate 36C, as my connection was scheduled to depart C40. I spoke to one of the agents in the club about a better seat assignment and was given 8C exit row aisle instead of 3D window. I enjoyed a quick glass of water, a couple of mini muffins, a packet of Biscoffs, and then went to my gate.

We boarded a little late due to a late-arriving aircraft.  However, we boarded quickly and were ready to depart at 10:10 am when the pilot was alerted to a possible maintenance issue.  The tug driver had noticed that the toe bar looked broken, so the pilot deplaned to check it out, but it was a false alarm. So we pushed back, took a little bit of a typical ATL runway delay, and were airborne at 10:36 am.

I have to say, this was one of the best CRJ rides I have ever had. First of all, I had no seatmate, which is always a plus. Secondly, we had a very funny flight attendant, Jerry, who kept us laughing from boarding until the end of the flight. He also did not give the “due to the short duration” line, but instead, provided us with a full beverage and snack service, just like mainline coach. And after the snacks, he offered us all mints! He was an example of a stellar flight attendant who obviously loves what he does and does not use lame excuses to not do his job.

We arrived at TRI 40 minutes later at 11:16 am, only three minutes past our scheduled departure.

Upon checking my Delta frequent flier account later that day, I noticed that I received full fare Y flight mileage credit and all applicable bonuses for all three of my flights, LGA-ATL (actually TLH), TLH-ATL, and ATL-TRI.

Although I would have preferred to have arrived home on Sunday, I think Delta did a good job of handling the situation and getting me safely home before lunchtime the following day.