New York LaGuardia roundtrip on Delta 17-19 Sept 2010

I bought this ticket eight days out and it was the lowest fare I’ve gotten from TRI in months, but still quite high.

I cleared both my outbound and return upgrades at my Gold Medallion window.

All in all my flights were good.  My departure from TRI and my return from LGA were both delayed, but the schedules are so padded that I still arrived either on time, or about 15 minutes late, respectively.  The flights between TRI and ATL are all “by request only”  service.  However, on the outbound to ATL, that flight attendant did absolutely nothing – no cabin walk-throughs, no exit row spiel, no trash pick-up, nothing.  The return flight attendant did all of this and passed through the cabin taking “by request” orders.  However, on that flight, I actually dozed the entire 40 minutes.

My flights between ATL and LGA were both on old NW 757-200 (N) (5500 series) aircraft.  They are very old 752s that have been in service since before 1995.  They have very small overhead bins and still have the NW cloth seats in F, cutouts in the bulkhead in the first rows of F, and a drop-down, fabric panel separating the F cabin from Y cabin.  The legroom and service on both flights were very good.  On the outbound flight, I sat beside a Delta international flight attendant and we had no Gogo Inflight Internet, so we talked the entire way.  She also gave me some drink coupons.  The service, since it was after 8:00 pm, was snack basket and beverages only.  On the return, I had a cold plate lunch (chicken wrap or Cobb salad) and beverage service. I had pre-departure beverages both directions and the seats were prepared for boarding with the small Dasani water bottles, blankets, and pillows.

Grade for all flights = A, except for the flight attendant who did nothing, F.

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Continental 66 CLE-LHR 16 August 2009 BusinessFirst by J. Augusta

I’m way behind on my trip write-ups and may skip a few but I did want to mention my flight from Cleveland back to London last Sunday. As you may know, Cleveland-LHR is a seasonal flight and is CLE’s only transatlantic flight (since CDG was canceled after last year) and I must say these guys really take pride in this one flight.

On arrival at the airport I did not see their BusinessFirst special counter at the end of the check-in area so I went to the regular EliteAccess line to print my boarding pass. Once the agent went to check my bags and saw I was flying in BusinessFirst on the direct flight to London she went out of her way to be friendly even telling me to make sure I say hello to the concierge (calling her by name) who would be hanging out in the President’s Club until the flight. Security was a bit slow but wasn’t too bad and before long I was through security at the C terminal at CLE. CLE is a bit of a disaster area right now as they rebuild the shopping areas, and as a result there’s not much of anything open except a few random restaurants and basically no shops. I decided I would spend my time in the President’s Club while waiting to board. Upon arrival the agent at the door again mentioned to make sure I stop by to say hello to the concierge. So I walked in, had a beer, and then strolled over to say hello. The concierge was quite friendly, offered to provide any assistance I may need, checked my boarding pass/passport and wished me a good flight. I went to the bar for a few more beverages and before long we were boarding the full flight to LHR.

Boarding was in the middle door, so I made a quick left turn to reach my seat, 1A (someone had grabbed 1B before I could get to it!) I was greeted by name by the flight attendants working the section and offered a drink. I settled down with a glass of champagne and paged through a few magazines while waiting to board. The International Service Manager then stopped by with the amenity kits and menus and also introduced himself. Flight time was also scheduled to be about 45 minutes shorter than on the books, so we were due for a nice early arrival into LHR. I ordered the steak as it was the best of the options (I think I’ve been through their meal rotations several times over the past 2 1/2 years of flying them!) Before long we were heading out for the short taxi and early departure.

Once in the air the cabin crew wasted no time preparing dinner service. Warm nuts and drinks were offered (Bordeaux for me) followed by the standard app cart (veggie wonton pocket type thing, crab cake, and some soup) with loads of bread, and then the salad. My steak was served soon after the salad and was cooked a bit on the well side but still edible. I think she came around with bread and wine refills every 5 minutes, it was great service! Dessert was standard cheese cart and ice cream. I went for the ice cream and had some peppermint tea before trying to grab some shut eye. Overall the dinner service was very efficient- taking less than 2 hours from take-off. This is one of my pet peeves with night flights as often times the dinner service almost takes 3 hours so this was a welcome relief.

I had decided to watch Wolverine so I finished that film and tried (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep. The recliner seats are great for day flights but I find the foot rest doesn’t quite go up enough to allow me to sleep well. I did have my eyes shut for a few hours, but I wouldn’t call it sleep. The crew waited until about 1 hr prior to landing to serve breakfast which I think was very welcome by the entire plane. This is typically another pet peeve as often times they start with ~2 hours left of flying time (if you add in the 3-hour meal, that means there’s only about 2 hours between meals!) I had a cinnamon roll and some coffee. We only had to circle a few times over south London before finally landing at LHR 45 min early. On landing we also disembarked from the middle doors. And for the first time ever on a CO flight, the flight attendants actually let BusinessElite out first thanking us all personally on our way out. Immigration had quite the queue, but I used the IRIS (eye-scanning machines) to skip the queue and proceed to wait 35 minutes for my bags. That’s another downside with the 757s- -they don’t use the bins for the bags so they take longer to unload. I met my driver right at the time my flight was scheduled to land so it was not a big deal as I still got in early.

Overall this was one of my favorite flights in a long time. It’s obvious the CLE station takes great pride in this seasonal flight and it showed. Everyone from the check-in agent to the club agent to the concierge to the gate agents to the CLE based crew were amazingly friendly. The best part came 2 days ago when I received in the mail a handwritten letter from the concierge thanking me for flying. In about 16 round trips on CO this is the first time I got a letter. Needless to say I was very impressed. We all know that it’s the little things that set airlines apart and in this instance CO came through with several of them.

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!

SFO-ATL-TRI on Delta 5 August 2009

DL 1070 SFO-ATL 12:50 pm-8:38 pm Seat 3E 767-300ER
DL 5154 ATL-TRI 9:50 pm-10:58 pm Seat 8B Exit CRJ-200

I arrived SFO around 11:30 am and checked in with the first class/elite agent, since I had a bag and wine to check. And wow, she was not very pleasant. She asked me twice if I was first/elite, as if she did not believe me. I gave her my flight information and passport and she claimed she could not find me on the flight, so I had to give her my confirmation code. Then she rolled her eyes and grumbled about me checking a wine shipper box and having to tag it fragile, although Delta accepts correctly packed special and fragile items at the customer’s own risk. After that unpleasantness was over, I went to the Sky Club outside of security to connect quickly to the Internet. I logged into T-Mobile with my SkyMiles number but the network kept booting me off and redirecting me to the regular T-Mobile login page, although the small login window said I was logged in. That was very frustrating. I gave up after a couple of tries of reconnecting, as I didn’t have much time. I proceeded to the first/elite security line, where I was subjected to a random pat down for no apparent reason, as my computer bag was not searched at all.

Boarding began with specials and passengers w/strollers/young children, then first class via the Breezeway, and then by zone. In first class, we received a full pre-departure beverage service, pillow, blanket, and mini Dasani. We finally departed at 1:31 pm, 41 minutes past scheduled departure. Shortly thereafter, the flight attendant took meal orders. The choices were a reuben sandwich or a green salad w/grilled chicken. The hot towel, beverage, and meal service followed in that order. The salad consisted of grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, cucumber, onion, tomato, olives, feta, red and yellow pepper, and olive oil balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The sides were pre-packaged breadsticks, fresh fruit, and a pre-packaged molasses cookie. For entertainment, I watched “Frasier,” the episode about when Frasier loses the wine club corkmaster election to Niles twice, resigns from the club, then tries his hand at hosting a new radio show, “The Wine Corner,” just to spite Niles. Hilarious! Then I watched “Friends” (The One with the Engagement Picture). After that, I watched an episode of “Law & Order: SVU” that somehow I’d never seen. The flight attendants offered a snack basket and beverage service about and hour and a half before landing. I wrote this trip report and listened to “Sting & The Police: The Best Of…”CD available on the in-flight entertainment system. We landed at Atlanta at 8:31 pm, seven minutes before scheduled arrival.

Upon arriving to Atlanta, I proceeded from the T gates to concourse D for my connection.  I stopped at a recharging station to charge my BlackBerry and made phone calls.  I made my way to the gate just in time for boarding by zone numbers.  We loaded up and were ready to depart, but we took a “volume” delay getting to the runway and waiting in line to take off.  We finally were airborne at 10:35 pm, 45 minutes past scheduled departure.  Although the flight attendant said no beverage service was supposed to be scheduled, she served snacks and ice water due to the delay.  We landed at 11:13 pm, only 15 minutes past scheduled arrival.

Ticket Agent and Sky Club (Non) Internet at SFO – D
Flights – A