Trip Report – The Comfy Run: Minneapolis to San Francisco

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

After disembarking quite a bit earlier than expected in MSP and knowing that I was headed to the G gates for my onward connection I headed towards the SkyClub in the F gates for a quick refresh and laptop recharge.  Just as I took a photo of the concourse (more than what I did last time I was at MSP) and started walking there, the battery in my camera died.  Thankfully I have 2 spares at any time (although this was #2 that I had just drained for the weekend).  But with plenty of time ahead of me still on the go today, I would be ok.

I headed over to the SkyClub, was checked in without a hassle at all (other than my phone screen lock happening just as I moved to scan the boarding pass) and confirmed this was the smartest place to be, as I knew there was a Club at C17 but wasn’t sure if it was easier to access G17 from that gate area.  They confirmed the smartest way was to stay put but give myself 10 minutes to walk on down to my gate.

The lounge was fairly busy for a Sunday morning but its MSP, on a morning.  The international flights have probably all touched down from Asia/Europe and all the pax are heading to their onward connections.  Ah the joys of a hub city!  The usual breakfast items were out including oatmeal and maybe it is just me but the MSP oatmeal does not fail.  It is never watery, never to thick either and at one point when i walked past I SWEAR I saw the lid bubble up and down.  I don’t know what dark magic they do in there but they are good at it.

I gave the laptop a bit of a charge and cleared out some emails prior to packing up and heading off towards the gate.  I didn’t get all that long in the club but it flew past.  Without needing to use my brain all that much I just headed out towards the gate, all the way down to the far end of the G concourse.  I picked up the pace to work off some of the snackage that had been consumed that day.

I walked past one of the new outlets that had been done up with Delta’s new concept with Ipads at every seat in the restaurant and it looked good.  I grabbed a couple of quick pictures as I was pretty impressed and I know a friend in New York had been given the full low down on the concept and he seemed pretty impressed by it as well.  Delta might be onto a winner there.  The G gates look to be under a bit of refurbishment and they must be slowly reworking the airport away from the Old Northwest days where MSP was the main Northwest hub along with Detroit.

I arrived to my gate after a quick photo of the aircraft to a teeming mass of people.  There was people everywhere.  Just crammed into every little nook and cranny.  Quite suprisingly really.  By this stage there was only a matter of minutes till boarding and they gave the pre boarding warning a few minutes later.

Delta Airlines – DL2105
Minneapolis St Paul to San Francisco
Boeing 757-200 (N615DL)
First Class – Seat 2D

Boarding: 1057 (Gate G17)
Push Back: 1133
Take off Roll: 1150 (Runway 17)
Top of Descent: 1325
Touch Down: 1349 (Runway 28L)
Shut Down: 1354 (Gate 42)

Pre boards had been called but no one moved forward.  All it did was cause an almost surge towards the front with so many people crammed into one tiny little space.  I don’t think this was a mass case of Gate Lice but more the fact that space at this gate was majorly at a premium and people were sitting on the floor everywhere or just trying to find places to fit their bodies.  When they called first class every man and his dog (yes there was another dog at the gate) seemend to move forward but with 24 seats up front today it was sure going to be full.

I arrived onboard about mid pack and even though they had only called First Class pax, one or two fromu up the back managed to sneak on.  I had to wait a bit at the door due to the line as people stored their bags etc but the thing that I love about the 757 is that they pretty much utilize door 2L, which means First Class gets the good old left turn.  Left turn into the oasis of calm.

The crew were pretty good to, helping get people settled in offering PDB once peope had set down.  A lovely, older generation, were the onboard crew today with lots of “Can I get something for you Sweetie” etc.  I think the term is “Matronly?”  They definately weren the United Granny Crews that exist but they were a little bit older.

The flight boarded  as I got myself settled into my seat with my diet coke PDB.  I probably should of gone coffee in hindsight as I was heading towards a 5 hour stop at the  end of the day, but I was already past cup #10 I think by that point (I had lost count).  I ordered my diet coke with lemon and when I heard someone elese get lime without a problem I was very dissapointed in myself for not asking for lime instead.

The boarding process was long and slow, as you would expect with this size aircraft.  I could see the lump on the rear of the aircraft so that meant GoGo enabed and also full Seat back tvs.  This was a good thing as I was determined watch Top Gun once in the air.  As the doors shut and we slowly headed off to the runway the Captain came on the horn and damn did he have the thickest Texas accent I have ever heard.

We taxiied to the active runway all the way own the far end of the runway at the 17/34 junction watching as lots of other aircraft were landing around us.  The captain came on and advised us we were #1 for take off and should be ready to go shortly.  One moemnt your in the queue behind a Delta A320, the next your airborne with a high rate of clim as the 757 went nose high and rocketed out, just as they usually do.

As we were already heading south we turned right slightly after passing over the “Mall of America” below (which is funnily enough right next to the airport and apparently one of the largest shopping malls in the world (probably behind Dubai Mall.  Once we got up through 10,000 people were firing up all sorts of electronic devices and getting settled into their seat.

Lunch orders were taken back to front so my seat mate and I were served last meaning rather than the choice of Chicken & Goats Cheese pizza or the beef salad, my choices were Salad or… Salad.  It was my choice anyway so didn’t worry me in the least at all. I wound my clock back and started looking through the movies.  Now either they scaled back the amount of movies since yesterday or the 757 has an extremely cut down selection.  Damn!  I wanted Top Gun which was not one of the choices, so I shoved on some music from their selection (actually a fairly good electronic/dance selection) and just read my book as the service commenced.

Hot towels & placemats were handed out and then followed the ordered drinks.  My diet coke was even left with the Can!!! What a difference.  The lunch was handed out soon after and it seemed they were trying to feed rush everyone.  I was happy to take my time and requested some peanuts to go with my diet coke and “Beef Salad”.  The salad was more of a cold cut plate and actually pretty good.  I haven’t had potato salad in a while and this one was pretty tasty actually.

I slowly consumed my lunch (and the brownie was good and I took my time enjoying that) while reading several chapters on my book.  Once lunch was cleared away I was offered another drink and switched over to club soda while I watched a movie on the laptop and did some work as we cruised over the rockies by this stage (love the inflight map at times).  After the movie I started doing a bit of work and my eyes were having trouble staying open so I asked for a coffee to try and help.  I had a feeling I would be pounding a bit of that in a while.

The snack basket came out around the time we passed over Utah and had about an hour left in the air.  The Delta snack basket is pretty good.  Bananas were the big hit, along with the biscoffs in my holdover stash and grabbed a funsize snickers and twix for a bit of a sugar smash to keep me awake, which by this stage was making it difficult.  I was at 12 hours awake at this stage with another 8 or 9 before I would even make it back to Seattle, let alone home and into bed!

I was slowly starting to plan my afternoon as I knew I probaby wouldn’t have anyway of avoiding the 5 hour layover so just sucked it up and planned a number of things including writing a few letters, looking for a new GPS watch as my current one was finally giving it up and contemplating if i should try and take a nap.  More coffee won out.

Some coffee, a couple of Biscoff (did i mention how awesome they are?) and i was set.  As we slowly flew towards California we passed over the Tonopah Test range.  This is the place where all the aircraft were tested in the 80s and probably still tested today.  Top secret stuff happened down there and sadly it was covered in cloud.  Out of the corner of my eye at one point i saw a flash as quick as it appeared it was gone.  A United 737 passed us by nice and close but to fast for me to get a photo.  Damn.

Just before we started final descent the captain came on again turning on the seat belt sign for turbulence.  Even though it kinda went on and off during the flight they were pretty good at only having it on as long as needed.  Which is refreshing as some just keep it on for hours.  It was off maybe 5 or 10 minutes and then 20 minutes out right on time, we started final descent.  We headed on down towards the ground coming in from the South East over San Jose and Palo Alto (I think i saw the Apple HQ, not sure) and as we came over the bay area we were lining up for a dual approach (but sadly no one to race in).

As we were touching down on 28L right next to us a was a United 747 starting its take off roll.  Still in Tulip livery to.  Then I saw another Tulip livery, and another.  Still suprised to see them floating around.  By now we were on the ground, reverse thrusters deployed and coming to a stop just off one of the high speed exits.  My weekend of flying Delta was coming to an end.  I didn’t want it to end, but I was getting dead tired.  I didn’t really want to do anything but sleeep!  But i still had a 5 hour layover and a change of terminals to get through before my next flight, then 2 more hours to Seattle, then a solid hour before I would be getting home at least.  God Damn!

We pulled up at our gate pretty quick but then we sat there as the Ground crew couldn’t figure out how to get the jetway attached.  Two different attempts as we waited while they tried Door 2L.  Nope.  So they tried again at 1L.  Success.  Right next to my row almost.  Pretty soon I was walking off the aircraft and as I passed a Delta Red Coat (one of their supervisors/troubleshooters) I asked if there was an airside connection to the United Gates in T1.  Sadly no.  That meant no matter what I was clearing security again so my little ploy to get through the day on just one TSA screening was a fail.  It gave me an excuse to walk a bit all the way down to T3 rather than use the Air Train.

I wandered through T2 for a bit of a sticky beak before finally making it to the United Check in desks at T3.  Where i promptly enquiered about getting home earlier to which I was told.  “Sorry, your stuck here.”  Damn.

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