DL/NW 3499 MCI-DTW-PVD 24 June 2009 by VPP

Delta Airlines Trip Details….on Northwest Metal
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009:
DL 3499 CRJ900 departing MCI at 10:45 a.m. arriving PVD at 5:09 p.m. 3D to MSP, 3C to PVD

With a stop in MSP
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Total Trip Cost: $183.20, Non Refundable
Actual Airfare: $157.21
Actual Miles Flown: 1,510
Yield: $0.104 per mile (Upgraded to First Class)
Taxes & Fees: $25.99, 14.2% of ticket price

So, I relayed a great story about Delta Customer Service…and now, a truly remarkable story about how VASTLY improved the product is!

I had to take a quick spin to Kansas City and needed to get home as efficiently as possible. And actually, DL made the most sense…with a good schedule and price. So our travel manager booked me on Delta….and then she told me, “CRJ900!” I, by my own admission, winced, “Satan’s Chariot?!? A CRJ900?” I thought….and yes, a CRJ900….in Coach.

So, the trip was booked in Coach as the numbers reference. Have to admit, and I don’t believe in “flying for status,” but the way I wrote this one off in my mind was, “well, I’d like to maintain some sort of status on a Sky Team carrier, so this will work.”

I was notified I was upgraded, about 12 hours prior to departure, certainly not within the window. And as a side note, I’m fine with that. I paid Coach and was prepared to ride in Coach. But I was upgraded.

Got to the airport where NW and DL operations are combined…and still a little confusing…but I checked my bag and got on with my day.

Once on the airplane, I settled into my seat, amazed at the pen marks all over the seats, and relaxed. “Comfortable” I thought. We took off shortly and in the air, the service was excellent…the Flight Attendant, Judy, made herself known and was extremely professional and accommodating. She came by a number of times with the Delta Snack Basket as well as drinks and more drinks.

For the record, the ONE thing US Airways did have on many airlines was “the best snack basket” in F….no longer, Delta now owns that position, by a long shot.

Delta (NW Metal) CRJ900s are nice in F…there is adequate, dare I say “plenty” of seat pitch and size…and the seats are comfortable.

We arrived in MSP early and I hopped off the airplane to go get an e-mail download at the NW Club.

Went back to get on…new crew…and this time, I was in seat 3C with no seat mate. We took off and out came the cart…drinks and the snack basket. I had my usual, Club Soda with a lime and got to work. 5 minutes later, the F/A came back, “sir, for lunch today, I have either a smoked turkey sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise or a chef’s salad, which would you prefer?”

OK, STOP THE TAPE!!! Let me get this straight….I’m on a freakin’ Regional Jet?!! A Canadair?!? I’m in row 3 of 4 rows….AND I GET A CHOICE?!?!?

NO FREAKIN’ WAY!!! I HAVE to be dreaming!!!

So, I pinch myself, nope, not dreaming….and ask for the turkey sandwich. Is served with chips, fruit and a chocolate brownie. I look at it and notice it’s (a.) not insignificant in terms of size and (b.) it actually looks tasty. And so it was, tasty, bordering on really good, significant, filling, very satisfying.

I again, in my mind, think, Let me get this straight….I’m on a freakin’ Regional Jet?!! A Canadair?!?

I finish lunch, quite satisfying…and shocking…and before I can barely put my napkin down, the F/A is picking my tray up and I get to work. The gentleman in front of me reclines…and I still have room to manage my laptop and to get out if I need to. Nice!

In any case, I was impressed. And I have taken a ride on a NW CRJ900 in Y and thought it was a decent ride…certainly not like a CRJ100 or 200. My only beef would be this for the CRJ900 in First Class. I’m 6’3” and 260…and I don’t fit in the bathroom….I have to REALLY be a sort of contortionist in order to get into that bathroom.

What a great flight though! I got plenty of work done, was comfortable with space and had a tasty, satisfying lunch. Not only that, but in the future, if my routing to the west coast takes me on one of these to MSP or somewhere again, I would pay the F fare to ride in the seat.

Nice experience…one I will do again!

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Virgin America 912 SFO-LAS 7 May 2009 by J. Augusta

I decided to book a Virgin America to give them a shot on this short flight from SFO-LAS. The times paired up well with my Virgin Atlantic flight, and the prices were cheap. I booked in First Class to get the true “experience.” Check in was a breeze and so was security. I hung out at the Northwest WorldClub (or whatever it’s called now) for awhile before heading to the gate. I was quite exhausted at this point, a full 19 hours into my day! Boarding was called about 30 minutes before departure. Upon boarding, I was impressed with the looks of this plane–purple lighting. It was very trendy looking! I took my seat in the 1st row which is separated by a colored plastic, semi see-through bulkhead. No pre-departure drinks were offered but we were given bottles of water. Boarding took the full 30 minutes as the flight was quite full. After a quick taxi we were in the air and the AVOD was turned on. (Wifi is also available, but I didn’t use it.) The seats were about the same as the Delta International 757 seats- recliner style with several angles and settings available. I reclined my seat back and popped out the TV monitor to watch some live satellite TV (which worked). Drinks and a snack box (yes for a 1hr flight!) were served. I had to try the absinthe which they serve with Sprite, just to say I did! I must say it’s an acquired taste and I didn’t come close to finishing my mini-bottle. We were all laughing about how it’s not the smartest thing to serve in the air, even if this version is “only” 100 proof! The snack box contained three small tapas type items, a couscous salad, a tomato/mozzarella salad, and something else that I don’t remember. It wasn’t the best but is a nice touch for such a short flight and beats the Continental bag of peanuts. Before I knew it, we were ready to land. VX uses the B gates now so it was a small hike to baggage claim. Bags were off in short order and I shortly was on my way to the hotel. Overall this was a great experience for a short flight, I’d like to give them a shot on a transcon to see how their service really holds up.

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.