Background: For our summer vacation, my family decided to spend two weeks up at our relatives’ lake house up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, which we usually get to in about three days via car from Washington, DC. However, my family was leaving on July 26th, and my job that summer ended on August 4th, so my parents decided to have me fly up there to join them (which meant I got out of two days in the car on the way up!). Originally, the plan was to fly into Green Bay on either DL/AA/UA via DTW/ORD/MSP/ATL and get picked up by my parents there, but we realized that I had options closer to the cabin, including Wausau and Rhinelander. Eventually, we decided on Rhinelander, about 30 miles or so from the cabin. It was hard to find flights there because RHI only gets two flights a day, both from MSP, but we were able to come up with this.
DL 1301: Leave BWI 8:45 AM-Arrive MSP 10:22 AM DL 7416: Leave MSP at 2:20 PM-Arrive RHI at 3:32 PM
However, just three weeks before I left, I did a routine check of my itinerary and noticed that DL, without warning me, had changed things up on me. Instead of leaving at 8:45, my flight was scheduled to leave at 6:25 AM! I’d have had to wake up at some ungodly hour to catch that flight, so I got in touch with Delta via Twitter (isn’t it great how you can do that now?), and after a couple back and forths, I lucked out and got this itinerary:
DL 2063: Leave DCA at 8:50 AM-Arrive MSP at 10:37 AM DL 7416: Leave MSP at 2:20 PM-Arrive RHI at 3:32 PM
So not only would I not have to wake up at some ungodly hour (I’d be waking up on par with when I’d wake up for work), I’d be flying out of DCA instead of BWI, a much cheaper Uber ride and even within Metro distance of my house. And also, DCA-MSP would be on an MD-90, and I know that DL’s MDs (albeit the MD-88s) are starting to be phased out, so it could be one of the last chances I have to take the MD-90.
At the Airport: I checked in for my flights at work the morning before, and DL’s online check-in was quick and easy. For just $15, I got priority boarding for my DCA-MSP sector so that even though I’d be in 31E, I’d be one of the first ones on and I could be essentially guaranteed space in the overhead bins. I woke up at about 5:45, called an Uber at around 6:10, and I was at DCA at around 6:40. All I had to do once I got there was print out my boarding passes, and that was quick and easy. The TSA line was slow, but painless for the most part, and one of the officers even commented on the Green Bay Packers T-shirt I was wearing by saying “You added some weapons this year, didn’t you?” I was surprised to hear a TSA officer use the word “weapon” like that, but I had a nice chat about the upcoming NFL season with him nonetheless. Interestingly enough, I didn’t need to remove my watch before going into the full-body scanner, nor did I have to take my liquids out of my carry-on.
Things starting to pick up a bit
B6 has really amped up their DCA operation as of late
On time, just as I've come to expect from DL
The TSA line looks not too bad, but it didn't move all that fast
I was airside at about 7:10, and grabbed a breakfast bowl from CAVA. Terminal B had lots of action despite being early in the morning. DCA isn’t necessarily the best airport to spot at in terms of variety, but I saw UA, AS, B6, VX, and lots of DL metal there. Before lining up to board, I took a walk around to check out who was there that morning. Apologies for the poor quality of some of the pictures, I was using my iPhone camera.
This B717 arrived from CVG the night before and was sitting idle before heading to MSP later that day
Hawaiian-style AS 738 getting to leave for SEA as AS 001, a flight I've taken in the past
UA A320 getting set to leave for the Lone Star State
This CR2 was getting ready to depart for MCO, behind it VX about to push back towards DAL
DL A320 pushing back en route to ATL
People started lining up at the gate at around 7:40-7:45, and it was announced that it’d be a full flight, so when they said I could check my carry-on for free, I immediately obliged, mainly so I wouldn’t have to haul that and my backpack around MSP for three hours. Also, they needed a few volunteers to give up their seats, but I was never going to do that. Priority boarding was very well honored, and since I was in Zone 1, I was on board at around 8:20. Legroom was pretty tight, as my knees were barely touching the seat in front of me. As promised, the flight was completely full, and I had next to me an older guy in the aisle seat and a guy who looked to be in high school in the middle. Boarding went by smoothly, and after about an 18-minute taxi (which involved lots of spotting), we took off at 9:04.
Despite being in zone 1, the line in the jetway moved slower than I thought it would
Sort of used to this interior from my previous MD-88 flights
Legroom shot, as you can see there's not much for me (although my backpack is taking up a good amount of it)
Boarding was orderly despite the flight being full
DL A321, just in from ATL (the A321 looks so good in DL's colors)
This CR9 was sitting idle until leaving for JFK later that day
UA 2042, a 753 on its way to SFO
Taxiing to the gate to prepare for its trip to DTW later on
This AA/Republic Airlines E70 was taxiing for it short trip to PHL
The Flight: We took off to the north, which meant that I got great views of downtown/northwest Washington (including my college!). Almost immediately, the flight attendants began the typical drink/light snack service, from which I got an apple juice and Biscoff cookies. Nothing much had changed from my last trip with DL in terms of onboard service, but this time I bought a flight pass for the onboard wifi so that I could get on social media, which combined with writing this report really made the time fly by. It was a great day for flying, and we got some good views of the Rust Belt area, so I’ll let those pictures do the talking.
The main campus of the George Washington University
The Burleith-Hillandale neighborhood, just north of Georgetown
The National Cathedral, as well as St. Albans' Episcopal School and the National Cathedral School, its sister school
Heinz Field, home of the Steelers is somewhere down there
Better view of the Three Rivers
Pittsburgh airport (PIT)
Food and beverage service for the flight, nothing out of the ordinary
Part of my IFE for the flight
East shore of Lake Michigan
Cabin shot above Lake Michigan
Before I knew it, we began our descent into the Twin Cities, and I got my phone out to film the landing, during which there was a little turbulence. It was partly cloudy in the area, but I still got a good view of the Minneapolis skyline and the surrounding area. One thing the flight attendants did that I’d never seen before was that one of them came down the aisle during descent asking passengers if they had connecting flights, and if so, she looked up the gate number on a tablet she had with her. I didn’t ask her for my gate number since I had three hours to kill, but I thought it was nice of her to do that. It beats having to listen to a long announcement over the PA system, where one could easily miss their gate info. Anyway, we landed ahead of schedule, and after a quick taxi, we parked at gate C9 and I began my MSP airport adventure (covered in the MSP-RHI report).
The mighty Mississippi
Our neighbor, a 717 that was interestingly enough going to DCA
One last look at our MD-90
Delta Air Lines
Washington - DCA
Minneapolis - MSP
Nothing much to say here, although I will say that the crew was one of the better ones I’ve experienced on a US domestic flight. Not like I have a huge recent sample size to compare with, but what that flight attendant did at the end with looking up the gate numbers for connecting passengers really went above and beyond for me. Had I not had such a long layover, that would’ve been critical. So that gives the crew some extra points in my book. While service-wise the flight was mundane, the timeliness and crew made it a very pleasant experience. And also, I have to hand it to DL's customer service for being so helpful to me when I was changing my flight. I will feel very confident choosing DL in the future because of that. I would consider myself a DL convert.
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