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View Full Version : Trip Report: California Road Trip Part 1



kc2aqg
04-27-2008, 01:53 PM
So I thought now that I have a little free time that I would write up my first trip report of my road trip through California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Since this is my first time narrating a trip report, I would definitely look for some feedback as to what details you would like to hear more of, less of, etc. Please remember, no name calling or ethnic slurs of any kind :P

So the morning started at a cool 3:30 AM for me. The typical wake-up, get dressed, and hop in a cab to JFK that I've done so many times before. I arrived at Delta Terminal 2 as I am Silver Medallion on Delta and can use the Medallion/First Class check-in and security lanes. I generally don't check any bags when I go for trips that are less than a week long since my ridiculous experience on AA with then losing and breaking my bag, then refusing to fix without a huge fight. As usual, I had printed my boarding pass at home, which saves me time and enables me to go straight to the security lane. As expected, at 5 AM I was the only passenger in T2 and took my time to say good morning to the DL check-in agents as I passed and wish them well for upcoming day. A quick 5 minutes through security and I headed through the walkway between T2 and T3 over to gate 17, where our 737-800 was waiting.

Delta Flight# 843
JFK-ATL
Boeing 737-800
N379DA
Departing 6:15 AM

I am one of those rare people who still loves the Pan Am Worldport. It was much more of a disaster a few years ago when Delta was in worse financial shape. Although still outdated, it's still a great facility with a ton of history. I waited by gate 17 until they called for boarding at around 5:45. One of the great perks of Medallion status on Delta is that they offer you free first class upgrades on domestic flights. I anxiously watched the flight status screen that displays upgrade list and stand-by information, waiting to see if the upgrade request would clear. I was #1 on the upgrade list (a surprising first for me) and right as the gate agent called zone 1, the cleared list appeared with me in Seat 3D. Delta's upgrade system has done a great job of preserving my preference for a window seat, I've gotten one every single time I've been upgraded. I gave the gate agent my boarding pass and headed on-board straight to 3D. As I walked on, I was greeted by a very friendly flight attendant and was given a bottle of water and some headphones. I stowed my bags and took a seat in the extremely comfortable leather seat that is Delta's Domestic First product.

For those of you who know me, I am an avid videographer when I fly. I used my mid-size 7MP Sony DSC-H5, an advanced point and shoot that takes great pictures, but even better MPEG movies. I've filmed almost every engine start-up, takeoff, landing, and shutdown that I've flown over the last two years, and this flight would be no exception. As the flight prepared for pushback, I prepared the camera with numerous batteries and memory sticks for the departure.

It was a typical pushback and engine startup, the tug disconnected and we made our way out of the Lima Alpha alleyway between T2 and T3. There were several other jets coming in from their redeyes, a few 737's and 757's as well as a 767, and also a few MD-80's waiting at the gates for their morning journeys to Florida. We taxied out on taxiway Bravo, then took a right on Juliet past T4, crossed 4L and beelined for Zulu and the end of 31L. We rolled on to 31L and throttled right up. A quick roll and we were in the air, taking the famous left turn to join the Breezy Point Climb. Since I was on the right side of the aircraft, I had a great view of the terminals and hangars at JFK as we got airborne, and then a great view of Manhattan as we climbed out through the clouds.

Once we reached cruising altitude, the flight attendant came around taking drink orders and breakfast orders. The breakfast on this flight would be fresh fruit, cerael, and yogurt which was exactly what I wanted. After eating, I settled into the seat for a quick nap and before I knew it, we were descending into Atlanta. We overflew downtown and with the sun behind us, I could see the compressor blades of the engine all lit-up which looked extremely cool. We joined the approach for runway 8L and flew it pretty smooth. We landed, taxied across 8R, and made our way to the gate in the E Concourse.

As we deplaned, I met up with my buddy who had flown in from Fort Myers, FL. We would fly together from ATL-LAX. We headed over to the food court, where we got some breakfast. As we were packing up and getting ready to go to our next gate, we looked at the flight information display (The airport flight display, not Delta's) and next to our flight number it said Cancelled! At the sight of this, we ran over to the rebooking desk where we were told that the gate assignment had been cancelled, and not the flight. Apparently this is a problem with the City of Atlanta's information boards, so thanks for the mild heart attack ATL. The agent told us the new gate and we headed down to the trains over to the B concourse.

Delta Flight# 35
ATL-LAX
Boeing 757-200
N679DA

My buddy and I headed over to the boarding gate. Because of my status, I can board the aircraft in an earlier zone, but my friend was relegated to general boarding. However, a quick explanation to the gate agent had us both boarding early thanks to the very nice agent. We took our seats in 32 A & B (no medallion upgrade this time, unfortunately). We had a small technical problem with the aircraft, and it took about 30 minutes to check it out and fix it. I wish they would have told us what the problem was, but I guess most pax don't care about the details, nor do they understanding aircraft systems & mechanics anyway. We pushed back, started up, and taxied out towards runway 8R. There was a long line for takeoff, so we waited for about 45 minutes on line and even shut one engine down and re-started it later. We joined 8R, throttled up and blasted off from ATL. A quick climbout and we were cruising towards LA.

Video of the departure: http://www.jetvideos.net/video/view.php?id=264

This bird was not PTV/AVOD equipped which was a disappointment, but since I was up at 3:30 AM, I went to sleep for most of the flight. I woke up about an hour before we started the descent, and my buddy and I talked a bunch, messed with our cameras, and discussed our plans for the road trip. We descended into the LA area quickly through the mountains, joined the approach and landed on runway 25L. We crossed 25R, and taxied straight into the gate. Overall it was a pleasant flight, though as expected, the FA's in coach were not as nice as the earlier one in First. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Video of the arrival: http://www.jetvideos.net/video/view.php?id=265

We exited T5 and made our way to the Hertz Bus which took us over to the Hertz rental car center. We spoke with the agent who was very friendly. She informed us that they were mostly out of cars and that they had a Pontiac G6 (thanks, but no thanks), a Minivan (definitely not) or a brand new Mustang Convertible that was just released into the motor pool. It was a little more expensive, but we sprung for it.

I will continue the trip report when I have some more focus. Next is the road trip itself and the return trip back through SLC on the MD-90.

RDU-JFK
05-05-2008, 02:12 PM
I am one of those rare people who still loves the Pan Am Worldport. It was much more of a disaster a few years ago when Delta was in worse financial shape. Although still outdated, it's still a great facility with a ton of history.

I'm with ya--it's a terminal with a great history.


Did you stop by Santa Barbara/Carpinteria/Ventura area?

T-Bird76
05-06-2008, 12:19 PM
Good report Andy, however I'm very surprised that Delta is running 737s to LA while AA has widebody's and UAL has the PS product. A 737 just can't compete..but then again there's reasons why I fly AA over DAL ;)

Matt Molnar
05-06-2008, 01:24 PM
I think DL has reassigned all their 76s for Europe services, except for a few domestic routes out of ATL, ATL-JFK, ATL-LAX, probably a few others.

Also, nice report, Andy.

PhilDernerJr
05-06-2008, 06:17 PM
Good report Andy, however I'm very surprised that Delta is running 737s to LA while AA has widebody's and UAL has the PS product. A 737 just can't compete..but then again there's reasons why I fly AA over DAL ;)

I don't see what the difference is on that route? The DL 737s on that route has TVs, which AA and UA don't. It's not that long of a flight where you really need a widebody to stretch your legs. My opinion at least.

T-Bird76
05-06-2008, 07:30 PM
[quote="T-Bird76":f508a]Good report Andy, however I'm very surprised that Delta is running 737s to LA while AA has widebody's and UAL has the PS product. A 737 just can't compete..but then again there's reasons why I fly AA over DAL ;)

I don't see what the difference is on that route? The DL 737s on that route has TVs, which AA and UA don't. It's not that long of a flight where you really need a widebody to stretch your legs. My opinion at least.[/quote:f508a]

Phil that's incorrect...not all the DAL 737s on that route have PTVs, overhead TVs yes but its not a definite you'll have a PTV btw all of AA's 767s and UAL PS 757s have IFE and on AA's 762s and 763s you do have your own TV if Biz and F on every flight.

Transcon routes are heavily traveled by business travelers and the ability for a business traveler to secure a seat upfront rather then in the back makes a big difference in the carrier they choose. A 767 or a PS 757 offers much more premium inventory then a 737. The fact is flying a 737 or an A320/319 across the country isn't the best course for the bottom line either, that's why most airlines have stopped. Matt is right, most of DAL's fleet is now flying overseas leaving them with a shortage of widebodies for such routes.

kc2aqg
05-10-2008, 10:12 PM
Thanks for the good feedback guys. I'm still planning to write up the last three parts, but haven't had much time in the last few weeks.

As far as transcon fleets go, I was definitely a little disappointed that DL stopped sending 757's and begin sending 737's. There's much less upgradeability on these routes running the 737. But DL is in fact refitting a bunch (if not all) of their 737's with leather seats with inflight AVOD/Live TV, so eventually the experience will still surpass that of AA/UA. I really don't see much difference between the first class products of UA, AA, and DL. Obviously anyone would rather fly a 767 or a 757 over a 737 on a transcon route, but it's not so bad if you're up front. No matter what, if you're in coach, even in a 767, it's not all that pleasant for a 5 hour flight...

T-Bird76
05-12-2008, 09:47 AM
I really don't see much difference between the first class products of UA, AA, and DL.

Andy have you flown AA or UAL's F class product on a Transcon route? AA's Flagship Service is more then normal Domestic F class expireance. The seats are lay flat sleepers with PTVs and Bose Headsets, the dinning expiance along with the wine choice has been award winning for the past couple of years. As for UAL the PS service in F is truly second to none. You have your own sleeper suite comparable to an Intl suite, PTV, and white glove dinning service.

While I agree for the tourist class passenger DAL's TV's will be a plus ut for the seasoned Biz traveller TV's mean very little, we want a front seat. Frankly a leather seat is BS...the only reason leather seats are being installed is they are much easier to clean then cloth seats hence the long term expense is far less.