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  • Delta Air Lines ATL-CVG; CVG-MDW; MDW-ATL

    Well, I haven't written a flight review in over a year. Since then I've had a few Chicago Express DSM-MDW trips (big whoop) with a FLL run (ATA MDW-FLL-IND Southwest IND-MDW) mixed in there.

    A word of caution, this flight review will have a lot of pre-trip background not having much to do with the actual flight itself.

    So let's see. A few weeks ago I was to take a church youth group going to Atlanta. For the duration of the group's stay in Atlanta they didn't need the motorcoach for anything so my boss gave me the option to fly back home instead of putting me up in a hotel down there.

    To go back to Des Moines from Atlanta would have cost about $400+ so that was out of the question. I did however find a cheap airfare to Chicago where I have family so I went that route. Ended up being $229.50, not bad for buying two days before flying. Divide that by the four nights and it's competitive with a hotel stay. He charges $80 per night so he came out ahead.

    Anyway I went on and bought the airfare. I picked an aisle seat on the first flight, a window on the second, and I didn't select a seat on the third since no windows or aisles were available. I figured I would try to fix that at check-in and also try for a window for the very first segment. I always try to end up buying from the airlines' websites so you can pick seats easily.

    On the morning of Tuesday the 15th I drove a rental car from Des Moines, IA to Okawville, IL (40 mi from STL) and checked into a hotel. Later that night the motorcoach arrived and right at midnight I left. I was pretty darn tired, not being able to sleep at an unusually early time. I drove down through Paducah, Nashville, Chattanooga and finally to Atlanta. It's not a bad drive, under 10 hours. I told the group I would need awhile to sleep at their breakfast stop, so they took an hour and a half in the Chattanooga area which was just about 7:30 am EDT. With a little sleep I was able to continue to Atlanta without any trouble, less than two hours drive away.

    I got my group dropped off downtown and headed to the airport area to hunt for a place to park. I had a list of places to call but had no luck. I ended up just showing up at a place called AirPark. I convinced the attendant that the bus would fit in two regular spaces so my company would only have to pay double the rate. Actually the bus is 45 feet long by 8.5 feet wide. It was much longer than two spaces one in front of the other but they had plenty of space in their lot so oh well. I found a place where it was out of the way. I then took the convenient shuttle to the airport.

    I deliberately booked a flight later in the day so I wouldn't have problems if there were an unforeseen delay in the drive down. As it ended up I got to the airport WAY early, like around 1pm. I got there too early for the self-service check-in to work, so I went for lunch at Wendy’s. The seating area was crowded so I ended up having to ask some guy if I could join him at his table. The nice man ended up being some sort of customer service employee for Delta so we talked a bit over our lunches. He asked which airline I was flying and where too, etc. I told him the airfare was really good and that I could have chosen AirTran for a similar price but wasn't ready to try that airline just yet. He thanked me for choosing Delta and left to go back to work. Super nice guy and a dedicated employee to babble about work while on break.

    After lunch I went outside to photograph some buses and came back to try the self-service check-in at 2pm. It allows you to check in 4 hours before departure so I put in my SkyMiles number (I'll never build up enough of any airlines' miles, but oh well) and got my boarding passes and receipt. I also changed my seat assignment to a window seat. I dropped off my bag and was surprised that I could just leave it with the checked-bag screeners. In previous experiences in other airports I was told to wait until it is screened and goes down the belt before leaving for the security checkpoint.

    I went in through security which was no problem. I found my eventual departure gate and then found the nearest bar which thankfully served Guinness on tap. I downed a few pints and eventually went upstairs in the A Concourse next to the chain restaurant to take some pictures. Unfortunately nothing really came out too well, my digital camera is only 2.1 megapixel and otherwise limited in capability.

    After a good wait the airplane showed up:

    Before too long boarding started. I knew I was towards the front so I would have to wait.

    July 16, 2003
    Delta Air Lines Flight DL 1134
    N699DL Boeing 757-232 (1999)
    Seat 22F Window*
    LV ATL 0600pm EDT
    AR CVG 0730pm EDT

    All I carried on was my backpack so it easily went under the seat. There were a couple angry people boarding this plane. There was a skirmish between an older man and a middle aged white-trash-looking woman. I didn't really catch it though. The flight attendants (who were nice in appearance, too much make-up though) were trying to speed the boarding process. They had the overhead bins up front closed because they were already hopelessly full. Despite the continuous "the overhead bins that are closed are full" announcement to this one guy, he kept opening them to check and see. When he was approached, he grumbled, "Well if people would pack them right they wouldn't be!" and stormed off to the back of the plane. I was talking to the guy in the aisle seat and we got a laugh out of his childish temper tantrum. This was really my first time seeing some major drama on an airplane, I was surprised.

    Luckily the middle seat was unoccupied so I didn't feel closed in. The "window" seat I had was actually one of the ones with the window blocked off. I should have checked with But really it wasn't THAT bad, I could still sort of see out the window ahead of me. I was so cracked out of my mind anyway from only having an hour and a half of sleep not much mattered to me.

    As far as I can remember, pushback was reasonably on-time, however we were stuck in a long line for takeoff due to some sort of weather condition as one of the pilots explained it. I managed to dose off a bit, but I was awake when we actually took off at 0710pm EDT. That was quite a ground delay I thought.

    The flight was pretty short, not much over an hour. They offered a drink and snack mix was all I think. Actual landing time was about 0825pm.

    When we got to Cincinnati they appealed to the passengers not making connections to show some courtesy to those who did have tight connections (with the delay) by waiting on the plane for a while to speed up the de-boarding process for them.

    When me and the other guy were waiting (I still had time for my connection) the same man and woman got into another argument about her not being nice and waiting on the plane for the connecting passengers. She went on for a little bit about how she paid her airfare and should be able to do whatever she wanted.

    Not long after that I finally got off the plane and saw this woman in the jetway. To get a rise out of her I can't remember what I said exactly but I mocked part of her argument. At that point I think she thought I sympathized so she made a comment about "Damn Jews!". I followed up with "Oh, you're real classy lady, real classy." Then she started to go off on me with the same old "I paid my airfare" B.S. I was able to slip in (it's hard to argue with a woman) that she had a nasty mouth and I ended the argument by pointing at her and then, on an air banjo, playing the first part of "Dueling Banjos" while sounding out the tune, "Der ner ner ner ner ner ner ner ner..." and walking away. That shut her up.

    After that incident I walked to the boards to find my connecting flight cancelled. Grrr.... On the subway train thing I ended up talking to some of the other passengers from my flight about what the deal was with the white trash lady. Some people.

    July 16, 2003
    Delta Air Lines Flight DL 6244 (operated by Atlantic Coast Airlines)
    Cancelled - "lack of equipment"

    I called a friend of mine from Cincy who I actually hadn't seen in a while and arranged to be picked up. I still got a hotel voucher that I didn't use and a meal voucher I planned to use the next day. It all worked out.

    The next morning I got to the airport and checked in only about an hour ahead of time. I got to the security checkpoint and found a huge ass line. Luckily, they opened up the barriers and let a big group of us from the back jump to the front where they made available some extra screening stations.

    My gate wasn't too hard to get to since it wasn't in the Comair area, although I missed the opportunity to photograph one of those buses though.

    I got to the gate and volunteered to be re-booked on an O'Hare flight leaving not too much later if needed but it ended up not being necessary. I would have gotten some travel credit or something like that. I was assigned a seat and boarded right at the end.

    July 17, 2003
    Delta Air Lines Flight DL 6121 (operated by Atlantic Coast Airlines)
    N411FJ Dornier 328JET (2000)
    Seat 1B Aisle
    LV CVG 0852am EDT
    AR MDW 0912am CDT

    I got to my seat to find someone already in it but all I did was show my boarding pass to the fa and she made the guy move. I sat right behind the cockpit and it was interesting watching the pilots do some of their stuff while still at the gate. The door was closed before pushback though.

    The fa was kind of indifferent and the nasty thing was that although she was reasonably attractive, you could tell through her stockings that she needed to shave those legs! Eeww! A lot more than one or days too many had gone by I tell you. The fa's jumpseat was right by me too.

    There was just a typical drink and cookie this flight I think. Later in the flight I gave the fa my $10 meal voucher in case she could use it. Someone should get the $10 from the airline I figured. I should have had my friend pull off in downtown Cincy to give a bum my hotel voucher the night before, but oh well.

    The flight was quick and arrived ahead of schedule. I love this type of plane since you pretty much have to go outside to get on and off of it. I got this quick photo after stepping off in Chicago:

    I walked to the bag claim at the nice Midway airport and no more than a minute after I got there my bag came out. Compare this with the HOUR it has taken on two separate occasions within the last few months while arriving on Chicago Express. That's another story.

    Before long I was on the CTA Orange Line headed for downtown. I had a nice three day stay in Chicago. Very early on Sunday the 20th I headed back for the airport. It was too early for me to fool around with public transport since I wanted to maximize the time I could sleep the night before, so I took a cab. It was $20 some dollars, but what can you do?

    At check-in I asked to be moved out of the middle seat I was pre-assigned to and I was given an aisle seat very close to the front. I checked my one bag again and unlike Atlanta, I did have to watch it get x-rayed before leaving for security. Hmm. I got to the gate area ok and waited a bit for boarding. The security checkpoint was quick at that time of day. Then when boarding started, I waited until the end since I was seated right up front.

    July 20, 2003
    Delta Air Lines Flight DL 433
    N399DA Boeing 737-832 (2000)
    Seat 3C Aisle
    LV MDW 0610am CDT
    AR ATL 0910am EDT

    This airplane was in the Delta Shuttle layout so even seat 3C was plain old economy class. It is nice being up front though just so it's easier to get on and off and the lav is close.

    The flight was pretty much on time on both ends. The service was a drink and a cookie. They showed some sitcom that I had never seen before but was ok. Then some VH1. Nice to have video on a short domestic flight.

    I got this picture of the plane after arrival:

    After arrival I went on the moving walkways down beneath and went through a long mostly empty passageway to the main terminal. I got my checked bag after a short wait and got on the private parking shuttle without much of a wait either.


    This was a good trip I guess. Once again I burned myself playing with the itinerary trying to get on different aircraft types (and I had already been on all three types). It worked out pretty good all things considered, but it really would have been different if I didn't happen to have connections in Cincinnati. On board service was great on mainline Delta but on that ACA flight that FA really seemed to have a bad attitude, not to mention her legs! I hope I have learned my lesson to avoid making unnecessary connections just for the sake of getting on different aircraft types.

    Comments are welcome.

    Van Hoolio's Photos