Seattle to San Francisco
Aloft San Francisco Airport
San Francisco to Atlanta
Atlanta to Newark
Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark
Newark to Minneapolis
Minneapolis to San Francisco
San Francisco to Seattle
Sunday 3rd March 2013
After being dropped off directly in front of the Delta check in Desks I was suprised that the B terminal was absolutely deserted at this hour. Delta check in was a sea of emptiness which made things so much easier for me. I was served straight away and the check in agent double taked when she saw my Velocity card. I would assume that being Newark they rarely if ever get VA elites out here. LAX and SFO and other west coast would get them more often, the bigger airports like MSP, DTW, JFK & ATL would definately get them. I figured I was going to finally have to whip out the benefits list I had been carrying, just in case. But I didn’t need to. My boarding passes were printed quickly (again, no real card stock here) and off I went.
I trundled up to the security area and before going through into TSA land I made sure that I had packed my jacket and everything else back into my bag. Now that I was indoors I didn’t need the scarf, jacket and gloves. So that all came off, got packed away and I consolidated my laptop and liquids to the same area to make things easier on the other people in line with me later.
I walked up to the TSA and there was 2 lanes, no markings at all to either one and I have no idea if I was even walking up to the right queue at all, but they never said anything nor was it marked. Next thing I know I am standing at a checkpoint with not a single other person in line with me, but less than 5m away was a line with 10 or so people being funneled to the 1 TSA agent and 1 nudeoscope. Wierd. After about the 3rd person to get checked by the TSA I was summoned so i approached, scanned my boarding pass (they had to turn the machine on first so I assume I was first person this morning with a mobile boarding pass, then promptly watched as my phone glided out of my hand and bounced off the floor. Thanks Tmobile for suggesting the case I have on my phone as it never damages, the phone bounces and I am all good.
I handed over my license, picked up my phone and then my license was handed back to me. Maybe I should do that more often because it was the most pain free TSA I have had it the 8 months I have lived here in the USA. Things were looking up! Since there was not many people only one Nudeoscope & 1 bag xray were being operated so I got in the very slow moving line and about 10 minutes, a nudeoscope, a pat down thanks to my jeans always setting off the dectector and my backpack being double scanned I was off into the concourse.
The B gates where Delta are operating are a mess to put it simply. It is a major construction zone pretty much and it looks really run down and crap. I am not quite sure what they are doing but it can’t come soon enough. I walked up to the gate first to see if my aircraft was there (which it was), grabbed a quick photo in the dark and the rego as it was actually viewable for once and with that done for the morning, I headed off to the Skyclub for a coffee.
Though still the old fit out for the Skyclub in Newark, it does look slightly dodgy but not all that horrible really. The two things that this lounge has over some of the others I have been through that morning was a fantastic view (the sun was just rising and it was pretty awesome) as off in the Distance you could just see New York City (the Chrysler building was standing out) and a view smack dab of the rotate point for any aircraft departing Newark that morning. I had wished I had the SLR with the travel lens with me as it would of been some good shots with the sunrise right behind it. Some may have been backlit but the silohuette shots would of been perfect. O well!
Coffee in hand, Free WiFi, a quiet lounge (when I entered there was 3 people in the lounge total) and i was quite happy. As expected I almost had to fight my way in, till eventually the lounge attendant worked out I had access (this is a fun game isn’t it!). I sat down with a coffee and whiled away the hour or more I had in the lounge working on the internet. Getting through all the trip report from yesterday and overnight. Productive morning.
Again that damn trail mix got the better of me and the Oatmeal actually looked pretty decent this morning (though lumpy not watery) so Newark was looking pretty good. One thing I noticed on the coffee machine was “Whipped Coffee” I am not sure what that is, or if I should even attempt hitting that button at all in case it comes out with whipped cream on top. What can I say about the Newark Skyclub. It may look dodgy but it was pretty solid.
A few interesting conversations were overheard but eventually I looked at my watch, checked my boarding pass, saw the time we were meant to board and I hussled as I did not want to miss my flight. Silly move though.
Delta Airlines – DL5819 (Operated by Compass Airlines)
Newark to Minneapolis St Paul
Embraer – E175 (N637CZ)
First Class – Seat: 1A
Boarding: 0742 (Gate 40)
Push Back: 0806
Take Off Roll: 0819 (Runway 4L)
Top of Descent: 0920
Touch Down: 0941 (Runway 12L)
Shut Down: 0946 (Gate F7)
As I approached the gate area there was not all that many people around so I knew it was going to be an empty flight, but boarding time came and went. I was now starting to worry a little as I had about an hour on the ground in MSP and figured that this could be another day of running the concourses if things went to shit (though I had already run 5k that morning). We did eventually board about 20 minutes prior to departure and first class was half empty by the looks of it. A handful of people hit the jetbridge straight away and they probably also figured it might be full as we were all scurrying for overheard space, which on an ERJ or CRJ is PRIME!
Onboard it was good to be back in familiar territory of the Delta E75. The first domestic flight I ever had with Delta was back on a Compass Embrarer when they were operating for Northwest just after the merge. I do like the Embraer with a 1-2 set up onboard in first and 2-2 up the back. The windows are up nice and high and the legroom isnt bad (though for some reason I couldn’t move my seat allocation last night so was again in the bulkhead). There are only 2 crew onboard the small regionals of this size and it does feel like a more normal larger aircraft than the smaller CRJ or ERJ aircraft so it is a bit deceptive really.
I settled in and when PDB time rolled around, coffee was not yet quite ready so I took a diet coke instead. The crew member up front was good. No pen or paper at all for the PDB and he asked the entire cabin and got all the orders right. This was looking like a good flight. He was friendly and looked quite experienced. What I found interesting was the old Compass Airlines bad which had the Northwest widget on it. Talk about flash back.
As the flight boarded it was totally evident this was going to be an empty flight. Pretty sure that every single Delta Elite on the flight would of been comp upgraded as it was First class was half empty with all the double seats only having one person and the single seats all occupied. This is good (and it was reassured by the pilot mere moments after I thought it) because it will mean we can push on time and get out of here so I don’t have to go sprinting through MSP again.
We pushed back pretty much on time (30s off to be exact) and after a wierd sounding safety brief, a full brief from the cockpit including route info, it was time to taxi towards the active behind all the United aircraft. The sites were pretty good at Newark actually. I got a few good shots of aircraft I had not really gotten before like El Al, Air India. The New American ERJ had already left so that was a bummer but can’t do much about that really.
We taxiied out fairly quickly and the good thing with the E series jets is that they are quite spritely so it didn’t take much of a take off roll before we were airborne and climbing out over New Jersey towards MSP. Unfortunately no views of New York on my side so that was a bummer but meh! As we climbed out there was no ding to advise electronics were ok and I could hear “G” the flight attendant (name redacted for privacy) check with the crew member in the back in case he missed it and when she confirmed it, they just went ahead with it anyway. Breakfast “orders” were taken and I use “” because to be honest the only thing we ordered was a drink as everyone was getting the same cereal breakfast. G addressed every customer by name which was impressive.
I read away while getting the ipod set up and a cup of coffee was delivered after the laughable hot towell and shortly thereafter my breakfast tray was delivered. One slight issue though. This was a cold breakfast tray with cereal (which I preferred mind you) except, there was no spoon. So I had to ask for one which caused a good laugh from G and he handed over a fresh napkin roll and yes there was a spoon in there thankfully. Breakfast today was Corn Chex, a muffin, a croissant, yoghurt and fruit. The croissant was cold and looked slightly stale so I ignored that, the muffin was still in its plastic wrapper from the factory, pass. Cereal and fresh fruit it is. My yoghurt looked like it was alive as I swear i saw the foil over the top move a few times ( probably due to the pressure) but other than that the breakfast was good enough for me.
We cruised along and I just read my book while enjoying my ceral and fruit. Isn’t that what a sunday morning should be about? Relaxation. Once breakfast had been consumed and my coffee topped up countless times without merely a prompt I was content. I grabbed my laptop down and started working on the trip report some more to get it all ready to go. The seat belt sign went on and off a few times and it was due to the occasional bump but nothing huge.
Not much more can really be said about the flight as we cruised over the midwest. Snow covered land below, the occasional frozen lake and city down below. Something I hardly ever got to see. As we approached initial descent something I had not seen any crew ever do was G went through the cabin to all guests with his smart phone and obviously the Delta app, offering to look up connecting gates for them. I had done this when I first turned on my laptop but still, that is something you do not see happen all that often. This flight had turned around my weekend from a “meh” to a “yay”. I was happy to be back in the air, happy to have a coffee in one hand, book in the other and just enjoying it. We started on down and I packed up my stuff ready for when it would all happen. It looked like we were making good time, at least enough for a more relaxing connection in MSP at least.
We started descent a solid 30 mins early and with that we descended quietly and quickly towards MSP. More snow, but the sun was out, slight smattering of clouds about and we were doing a nice long circuit around the city. I had never really seen Minneapolis from the sky before so it was an interesting site. I got to see the infamous Dome where the vikings play and its inflatable roof. That was a site. It doesn’t look inflatable from the sky at least.
As we turned onto finals we descended further and it looked so quiet below. So very very quiet and sleepy this early sunday morning. With that we were on the ground. No mess, no fuss and heading for our gate. We taxiied past the Air National Guard ramp and a gleaming C47 Commando so more desires and wishes I had an SLR with me. The taxi was quick and effortless and as we docked at F7 I was looking forward to a nice leisurely layover, but not wanting to leave what had been a fantastic crew. With that the doors opened, I thanked George for his service and I headed into the terminal… right as the battery in my camera died. Plenty of time to charge that though!