Hi and welcome to the third chapter of American Vacation Story!
Gone with the Wind: American Southern Story
This series will cover my annual vacation to the US in summer 2016, which contains 4 journeys in 3 different sets of tickets with 2 alliances.
As per my practice, I will reveal the routing as we go on. The series will be broken down as follows: Chapter 1 - CX890 HKG-EWR, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here] Chapter 2a - AA1615 EWR-CLT, Boeing B737-800 in Y [Here] Chapter 2b - AA5164 CLT-BHM, Bombardier CRJ-200ER in Y [Here] Chapter 3a - DL ATL-ATL, Boeing B767-200 Spirit of Delta in J/Y [Merge into 3b] Chapter 3b - UA5865 ATL-ORD, Embraer E-175 in Y [You are here!] Chapter 4a - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Flight cancelled and merged to 4b] Chapter 4b - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here]
This Chapter is divided into 3 parts: 1. Chapter 3a features a walkthrough at the Delta Flight Museum and covers my first “Delta flight” on the Delta’s first B762^^ 2. Chapter 3b is about my United flight from Atlanta to Chicago. 3. Lastly, similar to my other US domestic flight reports, there will be the Atlanta travel bonus.
Apologized that this report is a bit complicated lol Please take time!
Another destination of American Vacation Story is Atlanta and I planned to visit my friend in Chicago next. There are a lot of cheap flights between the 2 cities. Searching on Google Flights, both AA and UA had cheap fares as low as USD39. Being an UA Premier member I deservedly chose an USA39 UA flight given that I have one free checked bag!
Continuing the Story, initially I decided to try the Amtrak from Birmingham to Atlanta. Unfortunately the Birmingham Union station was closed for renovation thus the train service was suspended. At the end I travelled to Atlanta by Megabus from Montgomery.
I had unlimited seat pitch^^ It took about 3 hours to go there.
Chapter 3a: DL ATL-ATL Pre-Flight at Delta Flight Museum
As Delta is Atlanta’s hometown airline, one of my goals is to visit the Delta Flight Museum which is located at the north side of airport. I took the bus to there.
There is a 20-minute walk from the bus stop to the Museum. But Delta has those signs on the sidewalk guiding you to the Headquarters.
Delta also parked their buses outside the campus so you wouldn’t get lost.
The Museum is inside the Delta World Headquarters and you have to register at the main entrance.
After registration I went straight ahead, then turned left at the 1st crossing.
The first thing you see is the Delta Queen of Skies! But at the time being the Queen was still being relocated to her permanent place and closed for refurbishment. I could only stroll surrounding her.
It is the Boeing’s first 747-400 ever made (N661US, delivered to NW in Dec 1989). Stunning fuselage shots of the Queen^^
Tugging the Queen to the Museum is a big task so the original outdoor aircrafts had to give way for it. The DL B757 was moved away temporarily while the DL DC-9 (N675MC) was relocated behind the Queen.
Now back to the Museum, which is composed of 2 former Hangars. They are Delta's original hangars in 1940s, the oldest buildings in the Headquarters.
A kawaii Delta Mini welcomed me in front of the entrance^^
The entrance has an interesting décor. Entering the Museum I was greeted by 2 receptionists. They asked if I was airlines staff which has discounted rates. In return I joked would I be dragged out being an Alaska employee and they simply smiled. I asked where I could view the Fly Delta Air Lines sign and they pointed out at the top of office building in the back but it is employees only.
I was directed to Hangar One displaying the Delta aircrafts in The Propeller Age. A DC-3 on the left
The Travel Air 6B Sedan
You can see those vintage posters and amenities
There is a Amex sponsored theater playing the history of Delta which explains why it is called Delta
It is Delta place, advertising own co-branded credit cards is necessary.
I passed through the tunnel to Hanger Two
It highlights the development of Delta during The Jet Age
The evolution and devaluation of SkyMiles Loyalty Program
Being a former history student, I could not miss the Delta family tree…
And the map of old Delta Concourse E & F of ATL. Do you know where they located? ^^
Delta is so considerate that they put a kiosk for (Delta flights only) check-in ;)
There is a B737 flight simulator for trying. But you have to pay USD425 (!) so I gave up lol
The 1st Delta B767-200 (N102DA Spirit of Delta, delivered in Aug 1982) was waiting for me and now I was ready to make my 1st Delta flight on it^^
Flight Report: ATL-ATL on Spirit of Delta
Before boarding, #airplaneporn is a must.
A friendly FA welcomed me with drinks^^
The first class cabin
Seat pitch is good
Since there is no IFE, it has a LCD TV broadcasting programs
View from the wing
Following is the Y cabin
The Y seat pitch is also generous
Nice to see the legacy Airfone on the seat back^^
The cons of this plane is lack of toilets because the rear cabin exhibits the Delta Uniforms and aircraft models
Deplaning, a nice FA welcomed me at the gate in front of L-1011^^
The next checkpoint is the gift shop to buy some Delta souvenirs. It has those unique accessories made by the recycled life vest^^
Bearing the risk of being dragged out of the Headquarters, I quietly strolled around the campus after the Museum visit.
Delta mottos are everywhere.
And I found the Fly Delta Air Lines sign which has been there since 1950s!
To conclude, despite the B762 is a bit dated with lack of individual entertainment and toilet, the seats are spacious, clean and comfortable. The FAs were very friendly :P
The Delta Flight Museum is fantastic! It has a very thorough exhibit showing the development of Delta. I highly recommend this place if you are in Atlanta! It also reinforces my thoughts that Delta is the best among the 3 legacy carriers.
Leaving the Delta campus it was time to have OLCI for my next day UA flight. I had been awaiting this moment because this was my first time being eligible for complimentary upgrades. I opened the United app to see if I could make it. Luckily enough UA automatically cleared my upgrade and put me on seat 1B! Wow my 1st time in first class on a USD39 domestic flight!
Afterwards I grabbed an Uber to the east side of ATL for another purpose of my trip: to see the infamous neon Fly Delta Jets sign tops the Delta Tech Ops Hangar since 1968. It is stunning at night!
Last view of the neon sign from the Intl Terminal carpark
Backed to the new Intl Terminal I had a short stroll inside. It features the fancy ceiling lightening
I took the shuttle return to the Domestic Terminal
I was dropped at the Domestic Terminal South and here is the first part of flight report
Chapter 3b: UA5865 ATL-ORD Pre-Flight
On the day of departure, I took the MARTA to the airport 2 hours prior to take off as more than one Atlantan told me clearing ATL security is very fast…
On my way to airport, suddenly one of my friend called and told he would get married and invited me to attend his wedding in Sep. As in Atlanta, I changed my way to the CNN Center instead of ATL for buying him a very Atlanta gift (which later proofed that it was a BAD idea).
This side incident means I would arrive ATL late
At a result I arrived at the airport at a very tight 50 minutes before departure and I rushed to the north side
In ATL both departures and arrivals are on the same floor. To get to the check-in counters from the MARTA station, you have to pass the baggage claim.
The United counters. My first time using the Premier Access lane and it was very fast
According to UA website, the domestic min check-in time with checked baggage is 45 minutes. Sadly when I did my kiosk check-in, I should have just missed the min time and the system denied my check in!!!
The only thing I could do was to seek help from the UA agent, but she was battling with a messy couple which I had to wait for minutes
My turn and I told her my situation. She typed my reservation in the system and it was locked as expected. She explained I had passed the check-in time and then blamed it was my fault arriving so late and added she would not help me lol
Knowing that the agent was not in good mode, I changed my strategy by kept saying sorry and explained my English was very poor and 1st time in US lol She said since today the flight arrived and would depart on time, she could not override the system.
Ultimately my “poor English” worked, the agent became sympathy to me and helped me to reschedule a flight. She mentioned the next available flight departed at 19:50 where my baggage could board. She checked and tagged my baggage with a "Star Priority" tag ironically @@
But for passenger she could only put me standby on that flight since all flights to Chicago were full tonight. Besides she put me on the earliest flight next day departed at 5am. She handed me the BPs for tonight and tomorrow flight.
As my situation became fait accompli, I texted my Airbnb host subsequently and asked if I could stay for an extra night (glad they provided unlimited support!!). I also informed my friend I could not arrived Chicago that night. My friend was shocked and googled my flight. Live from Chicago: I was the only one standby on tonight flight
Although I made myself in trouble, going outside and having a break to relieve myself was necessary
It was time to go airside for standby. Passing the American counters
The atrium landside
The TSA lines were very long. A lot of passengers attempted to cut the lane and claimed that they were going to miss their flights (what???) During queuing I had a brief pray to Mr. Oscar for granting a seat. Awkwardly in my turn the front passenger’s backpack stripes were accidentally stuck inside the scanner during the inspection and the scanner was eventually broken down lol The TSA staffs had to crawl into the scanner for rescuing the bags which caused extra screening time.
Once cleared the security, you will see these exhibits along the hallway
The tarmac view. The DL MD90s line-up at Concourse T South
I walked towards north. The Concourse T North is mainly housed for AA and UA
An AA E175
Live from Chicago again: my friend googled out there was another ORD flight which had been delayed for 5 hours. He believed many original passengers should have changed their flight thus it should have seats available. He suggested me chasing the agent to board this flight
OMG ATL has smoking rooms!!! :D (Girls you are too small to enter except 18 :P ) I did not visit it as it was more important to go to the UA gates for standby then
The UA gates are located at the North end of Concourse T. Passengers sat aside and waited
I found my gate and approached the gate agent. She took my standby BP, typed and searched in the reservation system. I hadn’t ready to voice out the seriously delayed flight, the agent interrupted and asked if I was willing to take that flight. Absolutely! I only wanted to be in Chicago tonight so why not.
I was given a new BP and the nice adjunct gate agent directed me to board. Aha I now flew ahead of my baggage!
Flight Report: ATL-ORD on United
It was another E175 (N106SY) with 2 FAs on duty. They welcomed me at the door
The cabin was less than half full. How many of them were the original passengers? ^^
I found my seat 15C
View from the wing
The overhead lights
IMO seat pitch is always good on an UA E190
The seat back materials
The half-empty flight means I would not have a seatmate. I slid to the window seat once door closed
We pushed back at 19:25. Following was preflight safety demonstration
Taxiing. Passing the Delta Hangars we had seen before
Pilot made announcement with apology for the serious technical delay. He then introduced the first half of flight would be stable, but we would experience turbulence in the second half.
We were ready… A DL MD90 was about to land
And took off! Bye bye the Delta Queen!
We immediately turned north and flew outer edge of Atlanta
Beverage services started once levelled off and I requested OJ. A snack mix was also distributed.
After that I went to the toilet. The door shot outside the toilet
The toilet was clean and tidy
I connected to the United Wi-fi which was work. Standard programs selection.
Time to flip through the seat back materials
It was interesting to see United provided each passenger a phone card holder (but now they cutback lol). I asked the FAs for more packs to my friends’ children hereafter during deplaning
Flying over Indy. The FAs walked through the cabin giving the water.
Jokingly the United app popped up that I got upgraded for my tomorrow standby flight lol
Soon we were descending. We had a U-turn over DPA for approaching ORD from the West
Eventually we touched down on runway 10C at 20:12. The pilot made another announcement that Chicago was now 70F and we had to wait awhile on the tarmac since the gates were full.
During taxiing UA texted me that my baggage would arrived late and informed me to seek help at ORD.
We arrived at Terminal 2 10 minutes later.
Passing the first-class seats
The FAs gave me a goodbye and thanked for flying with United. They also advised me to go to the CS counter for tracing my baggage.
Compared with Terminal 1, 3 & 5, the Terminal 2 airside looks a bit compacted thanks to its low ceiling.
The Delta Sky Club
My baggage had not touched down yet, so I walked around ORD. Terminal 2 airside
I headed to Terminal 1 through the airside connector.
Concourse B airside
I met Ms. Dinosaur finally :)
I took the escalator downstairs. United was already pumping the Polaris advertisement albeit it was not launched until Dec.
United should be very proud of being the official airline of Team USA
The famous Light Inside at Terminal 1.
I went landside. It was so few people and quite at Sunday night
I went down to the baggage claim. I followed the FAs’ advice heading to the CS counter.
A friendly agent with heavy Latin accent greeted me and I showed him my mobile text message. Based on the city name he advised my baggage would arrived on carousel no. 3.
I reached to that carousel while my baggage hadn’t shown up as expected. I went outside to recharge myself. Meanwhile an UA agent came and asked for a light, and we chatted. Hearing my story, the agent said I was very lucky as the ATL-ORD flights are always full on Sunday night.
My “priority” baggage was finally rolling out 30 minutes later…
I picked my baggage, took the escalator up and grabbed a Lyft to my hostel.
Atlanta is a special place to me which I had desired to visit there long time ago. This is the first US city I knew since my birth because HK won its first Olympic Gold medal there in 1996. 20 years later I travelled and spent 4 days here.
Stunning day and night view from my Airbnb apartment
Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola. The World of Coca-Cola
Atlanta is also the world headquarter of CNN. The CNN Center
As Atlanta is MLK’s hometown, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site could not be missed. I had not imagined I would stand in front of Mr. and Ms. King one day!
Another standard domestic flight on UA which is smooth and comfortable. The cabin and toilet are clean. Good seat pitch with standard seat back materials. The crews are friendly and informative. We arrived within the rescheduled flight time. For ATL, security lane could be very long. The Terminals are clean and smoker friendly since it has smoking rooms.
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