I came off the plane into concourse C wondering how the heck I was going to kill 3 hours at this airport, so I decided to take a little walk. Or not so little. I figured that since I had lots of time to kill, I could easily take a lap around the airport, so that’s what I did, starting at concourse C. I used the connector to head to the G gates, and there was lots of action over there. One thing I liked was that before entering the gate areas, there was a newsstand with almost anything you’d want, like magazines, newspapers, snacks, and last-minute Twin Cities souvenirs. Smart move so that the passengers wouldn’t have to walk a long way if they needed something in a pinch. MSP had all kinds of nooks and crannies, including an exhibit about birds’ flyover paths. There wasn’t a ton of variety in terms of the airlines I saw (80% DL), but it was interesting seeing all the destinations on the FIDS, many of them (Grand Forks, Saskatoon, Bemidji) recognizable to a hockey fanatic like me. I noticed that in almost all the sit-down restaurants in the G gates they had iPads at every table, and there was an ample number of iPads at the gates, especially the international gates, a stark contrast to the A/B/C gates. The only flight at those international gates (not including Canadian flights) at the time was the DL 772 bound for HND, which was about to push back.
772 bound for HND, MSP's only Asian flight
Another 717, this time sitting idle until leaving for GRR later that day
A couple UA RJs over at the E gates
By the time I made it to the MSP Mall, it was time for lunch, so I started exploring my options. I had tons of time to kill and I didn’t feel like fast food, so I looked for good sit-down options, but lots of those were super expensive and probably not worth it. However, at the very end of the F gates, there was a relatively inexpensive Irish-type place called O’Gara’s, so I decided to give that a go. There was literally nobody at the end of the pier and it felt kind of abandoned, but I grabbed a seat close to the window and had some surprisingly decent fish and chips. While I was there, I saw a A332 in Delta colors en route to HNL stop right in the middle of its taxi, and for reasons which I still don’t know, it went back to the gate right next to the restaurant. All I found out was that it left three hours later. After lunch, I began the long march back to gate B10, via the impressive MSP Mall. I didn’t buy anything, but it reminded me of Holland Boulevard at AMS, which I was able to experience eight years (needless to say, the MSP Mall has nothing on Holland Blvd though).
MSP Mall and lunch
This A332 sat out there for a long time before returning to the gate, and left for HNL later on
For those who haven’t been to MSP before, the A/B gates are basically a farm of CR2s bound for the Traverse Cities, Grand Forkses, Sioux Fallses, and Marquettes out there. As far as regional terminals go, however, this one was probably the best one I’d been in. The gate areas were clean and had their own waiting areas, a stark contrast to the AA/American Eagle gates at DCA. Most importantly, the planes were right there, so no walking/bus ride necessary. My one complaint about those areas is that there weren’t a ton of outlets. I know these flights are shorter ones, but considering that there isn’t any onboard power on the CR2s, it would’ve been nice to have some more outlets by the gates. I grabbed a coffee and piece of coffee cake from the Caribou Coffee by the escalator to the walkway to the B gates, and found a spot by the window to work on this report and watch the action on the tarmac at the same time. Before I knew it, boarding time to Rhinelander was approaching, and I headed over to B10.
The one on the left was going to Marquette, I think (don't quote me on that)
The one in the middle was about to push back for Titletown, Green Bay
Closer look at N840AY
By the time I got there, the inbound flight from LSE had just arrived and the aircraft was getting reserviced. After three calls by the gate agent for any SkyPriority/SkyPremium members to pre-board (there weren’t any on this flight), boarding got underway. The boarding process was very efficient and I was on rather quickly, although I had to duck down the aisle to get to my seat. For this flight, I was also in the window seat (5A), this time on the left side of the plane, so I was hoping to get some good views of the Northwoods upon landing at RHI. We were parked at the gate for a while, but we eventually pushed back as the lone FA did the safety demo. The captain told us that we’d only be in the air for 30 minutes, give or take, and that he’d try and get the fasten seatbelt sign on as soon as possible. After a quick taxi, we took off to the northwest over Minneapolis’ western suburbs.
Our ride to RHI had just arrived from LSE
Tight legroom once again, good thing this was just a 30 minute flight
Our neighbor was headed to BRD (Brainerd Lakes, MN)
Cabin during taxi
Almost right after takeoff, the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off, as promised. The FA said that he wouldn’t do a full drink service due to the length of the flight, but he said that if people needed snacks or drinks, he’d individually provide that. A couple minutes later, he grabbed a few bags of pretzels and Biscoff cookies, and walked around the cabin personally asking people if they wanted them, especially the little kids. Once again, DL’s crew going above and beyond. I noticed a couple families on the flight, including a dad and his very inquisitive son (who couldn’t have been more than five) in the row behind me. He was asking his dad about everything, especially during landing. I passed the time on the flight by reading my college football magazine and looking out the window, and in almost no time we began our approach into RHI.
We passed the airport initially and turned around past the town of Rhinelander and made a smooth landing from the east. After a long taxi, we parked at the jetbridge, which was kind of disappointing because I was hoping we would deplane via stairs so I could get a better picture of the plane, but I know that they have the jetbridge for the wintertime flights. I thanked the very nice FA, and headed off into RHI’s “terminal.” It wasn’t much more than a building split in half, with an arrivals side and departure side, and a small departure lounge post-security. Our bags came out almost immediately, and pretty soon I was in my dad’s car on the way up to the cabin!
Most mundane welcome sign I've ever seen
One last look at our ride
This jetway was longer than the MSP one
This was basically the entire terminal in one shot
Exterior wasn't all that bad
Routing across the Northwoods
Minneapolis - MSP
Rhinelander - RHI
Overall, I was impressed once again by Delta on both legs, and a big part of that had to do with their FAs going above and beyond, whether they were helping passengers with tight connections find their gates, or providing snacks and drinks to the younger passengers on a 30-minute flight. I’ve always liked DL’s crews, and today was no exception. On time, clean aircraft, and a very smooth connection at MSP. Well done, DL. I think I can safely say that I’m a DL convert now!
* can't really comment on the entertainment/meal for this leg, but everything else was good
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