Day 4: Travel to Richmond, VA

This is my first WordPress for BlackBerry post! I hope it works!

I redeemed 25,000 miles for my trip to Richmond so I wouldn’t have to drive 10 hours roundtrip for a 12-hour conference. The only available outbound was the last itinerary of the day, so I booked it with the intent of standing by for an earlier option. However, today nothing earlier was for sale. I arrived at TRI and discovered my outbound was already delayed. As I was coming down the escalator toward the gate, the agent invited passengers on my flight to take the delayed, earlier flight if no luggage was checked, so I took it. Although it departed an hour and 15 minutes late, it was a good decision, as I would have misconnected otherwise.

My connection ended up taking a delay because the crew was on another flight that was diverted due to the storms. However, Delta found another crew. We departed 49 minutes late and arrived only 17 minutes late. I was very lucky.

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TRI-DTW-RIC on Delta 30 March 2011

I arrived at TRI to find out my flight through Atlanta had just been cancelled. I approached the agent and Delta had already proactively rebooked me on the 12:10 pm flight to Detroit (DTW). Unfortunately I lost my upgrade, as both flights were regional jets operated by Comair and Pinnacle.

The TRI-DTW flight boarded promptly and quickly. We departed seven minutes early and arrived 55 minutes early. The flight is blocked at an hour 48 minutes, but it’s only an hour from takeoff to touchdown. I was seated in the exit row aisle with no seatmate. We had a full bev and snack service and the flight attendant addressed me by name.  She also passed through the cabin again with more snacks.

Because we arrived so early, I was able to catch my breath, recharge, and make myself a drink at the self-serve bar in the Delta Sky Club.

I had been assigned a window seat (my preference is an aisle), but when I inquired at the gate about row 1, which is usually blocked for special assist passengers, 1B aisle was available, so I took it. This flight also boarded promptly, but was a bit slow backing away from the gate and departing DTW. We departed about 20 minutes past scheduled departure and arrived in Richmond (RIC) about 10 minutes early. On this flight, I had an “Up in the Air” type seatmate (he even resembled George Clooney! Sigh…) and a full snack service. My seatmate and I had a good time discussing travel, Europe, and wine (of course)! Upon arrival, I deplaned, visited the ladies’ room, proceeded to baggage claim, and my bag was already going around the carousel.

Grade = A+.  Delta handled the cancellation well and the service on both flights and by the ground personnel was outstanding.

Roanoke to LaGuardia to Richmond to LaGuardia to Roanoke on Delta

I flew six segments in four days trying to make up some ground from the winter: June 30: ROA-ATL-LGA, July 2: LGA-RIC, July 3: RIC-LGA, and July 6: LGA-DTW-ROA. Overall the flights were good. Some of the highlights were:

*My original ROA-ATL took a delay, so I was able to rebook myself online to a later set of flights so I would not misconnect. I also retained my upgrade.

*ROA-ATL took a 20-minute hold in the air for wind shears reported in the ATL area due to storms in the vicinity. ATL-LGA took a similar residual delay from the earlier ground hold, but both flights still arrived on time.

*All of the Delta Connection flights (ROA-ATL, RIC-LGA, and DTW-ROA) had a standard beverage and complimentary snack service except for LGA-RIC. For some reason, we got the “due to the short duration” spiel. That same flight also took an ATC delay from LGA, at 9:30 am on Friday morning, July 3.  We took off an hour late after waiting in a long line to take off.  We were 16th for departure at one point.

*I had a standard meal service on the ATL-LGA flight, choice of a chicken wrap or a pasta chicken salad. We also had Gogo Inflight available.

*I flew on my first DC-9 aircraft from LGA-DTW.  It was also my first missed upgrade of 2010. The flight was completely full.  I was something like #7 of 11 on the list with one seat open. I had exit row seat 11B aisle on the two-seat side, which was fine, as it had excellent legroom. The DC-9-30 was in amazing shape on the inside and out, but it did still have the Northwest-style cloth seats. We had a beverage and snack service.  My only disappointment was that the plane was not catered with the coach BOB snack boxes, as I wanted one and I heard someone else near me ask for one. We were probably both thinking breakfast.

*My DTW-ROA flight aborted the first landing attempt at approximately 300 feet above the ground. The pilot said that a “caution light” had come on, requiring them to abort and go through a checklist before landing.

Overall score for the six flights = B+

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.