Hello and welcome to another Flight Report! This report will document a trip I took earlier this year to Moline, Illinois.
Background: I was travelling to the Moline area for a job interview. Because of my trip's timing and how close in my ticket was booked (three days prior to travel if I'm remembering correctly), flying out of Ithaca (my preferred airport) was not an option – all Delta flights were sold out, and flying American or United would mean a double-connecting itinerary. So, the travel agent booked me out of Syracuse, routing SYR-DTW-MLI-MSP-SYR (I will only be reporting the MLI-MSP leg). Much to my surprise, I was booked in F on the two outbound flights, my first time flying in the front cabin. I did not take many pictures of the first two flights as I wanted to take advantage of the (slightly) increased space to go finish going over some material for my interview the following day.
A real cup of coffee somewhere between Syracuse and Detroit.
After finishing my interview, it was time to start heading back to the airport. I had a bit of extra time however, and decided to drive through Le Claire, Iowa. If anyone has watched American Pickers on the History Channel, Le Claire is home to the main Antique Archaeology store – unfortunately I didn't have enough extra time to actually visit.
Entering Le Claire, with the Mississippi river to the right.
Outside of town I was greeted by the stereotypical Iowa corn fields (at least I think they're corn fields).
Back on I-74 south, over the Mississippi River towards the airport.
The Flight: I arrived at the airport just over two hours before the flight. I returned the keys to the rental car then headed for the check in area. I was pleasantly surprised by cases of airplane models across from the counters.
The case even included some fictional airplane/airline combinations, including this Continental A340-300.
The model cases reminded me of the ones in Albuquerque, pictured below when I was there in 2013.
Also in the check in area was a bubble display of a terminal concourse, with a variety of models around.
I then headed for the security checkpoint. It was very obvious that I was clearing security at an off-peak time of day, as I was literally the only passenger anywhere near the checkpoint. Once through, I was approached by a United employee who asked if I was on the about-to-depart Chicago flight. I shook my head, then the agent closed that flight. I guess that flight left with at least one empty seat.
The terminal at MLI is spacious and modern, while maintaining the feel of a small regional airport. The terminal is officially split into two concourses, the ground-level concourse A and elevated concourse B. My flight to MSP would leave from gate B9, the same gate at which I had arrived the previous day.
Since I still had a while to wait until my flight, I took a seat near the window to watch any aircraft movements.
A C-130 doing touch-and-gos on runway 9…
…and on runway 13.
MLI has a very interesting runway configuration: three runways, 5/23, 9/27, and 13/31, all of which intersect at the same point. The only other airport I can think of that has three runways intersecting at the same point would be ABQ, but even that is ruled out now that runway 17/35 has been closed. Are there any other airports with this configuration?
Right on time, N8884E arrived from MSP on runway 13. I was curious to see if the scheduled 25 minute-turn time could be accomplished, so right when the CRJ-200 stopped at the gate I checked my watch. After the inbound passengers had deplaned, I boarded with Zone 1 (I guess my ticket included priority boarding, probably an extra bonus for having part of my itinerary in first class) and quickly took my seat in 10D.
Sure enough, as my watch passed the 25 minute mark, we were being pushed back from gate B9. We then began taxiing to the end of runway 13.
After a few minutes of waiting, the captain announced that we would be waiting another 15-20 minutes before departure due to congestion going into the MSP area. Sure enough, after 15 minutes had passed we were airborne.
Turning to the north near Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The 274-mile flight passed very quickly, and we were soon approaching MSP.
(Sorry for my finger appearing in these next few shots. It was pretty turbulent on final.)
Final approach for runway 12L.
Landing on runway 12L meant we had a very short taxi to gate A3. Pulling into the gate.
Valet-tagged bags were already in the jet-bridge elevator by the time I arrived. I grabbed my bag, then went to get a coffee at the Caribou near the tunnel to Concourse B.
A view of N8884E resting at A3 after our flight. The jetways visible here on the alley-side of Concourse B have since been removed to allow for the larger CRJ models to park at Concourse A gates.
I grabbed some dinner, then went and sat at gate C24 to wait for my flight back to Syracuse. I had a great view of planes exiting runway 12L, which were visible for a few seconds before disappearing behing the C23 jetway.
An arriving Delta MD-90.
An arriving domestic 767-300, N130DL. I would actually be on what I think was this frame's last flight less than a month later, scheduled to go DTW-SFO (report on that ordeal here).
I was then treated to the arrival of Icelandair's flight from KEF, which that day was operated by their special "Hekla Aurora" liveried plane.
Moline - MLI
Minneapolis - MSP
MLI is a great regional airport. I wish I had taken some pictures of the airside terminal, but alas, this flight took place before I was posting flight reports here. There are two news / snack shops post-security, as well as a full restaurant/bar. There also is free Wi-Fi throughout the terminal.
Skywest was about as good as can be expected on completely full 40-minute CRJ-200 flight.
MSP continues to be one of my favorites, with ample amenities and food options.
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