Welcome to the second (and last) part of my Atlanta trip report "mini series." This time we'll be heading back to Newark on a 717-200, a plane that probably is not particularly rare for Delta, but still not very common throughout the world. And member of the dying family of aircraft datin back to the DC-9s and ultimately to the DC-8s of the 1950s. So this flight, in a way, was something special to me.
Despite booking relatively late (well, for my standards), I was able to secure a window seat on the left side, which features rows of 2 (in a 2-3 config). From seat 23A, I hoped, I would have a nice view of the engine and the wing.
So let's jump straight into it, shall we?
Upon entering the cabin, I found welcoming plush seats that provided a great sense of space. The interior was quite old, as expected, but that's the point, isn't it?
Legroom was very adequate as well, seats were plush. Heck, this is almost as good as First Class! Wonder how that is.
Ok, I'm obviously kidding. Above photos were taken in a 767 exhibit in the Delta Flight Museum. If you want to see more of my pics from that, be sure to check out the bonus section in this flight report.
My flight back to Newark began- in the baggage claim area.
No, I'm not kidding this time. That's were my hotel shuttle dropped me off. I think there's some construction going on at the moment at ATL airport, which is why shuttles can't go to the departures side. No big deal, but slightly confusing, especially as the baggage claim area is thus pretty much "open to the public."
The signs aren't quite helpful to get from the baggage claim area to the security checks, but I guess that's not necessarily a route many people would take. After some initial confusion, it was quite straightforward, though.
And yes, I like those technical bloopers and stuff :P (We're all just human…)
The waiting time for the regular security lane was displayed as being 15-30 minutes. The line processed quick though, and I could have been through in no time if I hadn't made a totally obvious mistake that led to my bag being scanned another time…
Off to the PlaneTrain… The flight would depart from Concouse C.
Getting somewhat hungry and still having about an hour until boarding, I got myself something to eat at one of the numerous shops in the concourse (that would be called "Terminals" in other places just for their size). A positive of Atlanta is surely that many of these restaurants feature nice views of the tarmac. By the way, the cable running from the jetbridge from the parked Embraer - is that an electricity cable so that the APU doesn't have to run all the time?
From another window, the outside exhibits of the Delta Flight Museum on the other side of the airport could be seen (photo taken with a lot of zoom).
Anyways, soon it was time to head to the gate, C50, located at the very end of the concourse.
I didn't like the gate area a lot. There were enough seats on this ocassion, but it was almost completely windowless. This made it appear very bare and also blocked the view to the outside. But hey, at least there were some nice marketing photos of Delta planes to "lighten up" the area a bit.
Today's ship was N970AT, a Boeing 717-200 delivered to AirTran in December 2001, making it 18 years old at the time of the flight.
That means that it's legally allowed to drink alcohol and drive cars in most places, hopefully not at the same time… When AirTran was taken over by Southwest, N970AT's new owner decided to lease out the complete 717 fleet to another operator of that type, Delta, to streamline the own fleet. And that's how and why the plane was transfered to Delta in September 2014 and has been flying for that airline since. (Dates taken from planespotters.com).
As there was no way to see the 717 that would carry me to Newark, please accept this one instead.
I know, only Delta planes as far as the eye can see!
As the flight was completely full and overhead luggage space in the 717 is obviously limited (coming out of an era in which checked baggage was still free…), the gate agents began searching for volunteers to check their bags as soon as Main Cabin group 2 was called. I was in this group, and decided to volunteer for that. Why? The experience on the flight to Atlanta was smooth with the gate-checked suitcase, the plane was going to my final destination, and, finally, I kind of felt like having a hands-free experience on this flight. I still could put my jacket on the overhead bins, though.
Boarding itself was delayed by about 20 minutes; the reason given for that was that the crew hadn't arrived yet. When they finally arrived, boarding started in about 5 minutes time, and progressed approximately as good as on the outbound flight: orderly and quick until the gate desk, only to wait in the somewhat claustrophobic jetbridge for a while. Breaking news: Delta totally owns this place. And they really love to print their awards and stuff on their aircraft.
With seating arranged in a 2-3 configuration, this is for some reason the other way round compared to the MD-80s/90s. Legroom was adequate (as far as I can judge it), but the cabin was noticeable not the newest (see the window shade in photo 4). Still, there was Wifi in the cabin and power sockets between the seats. Even though I had a neighbor in the aisle seat, it didn't feel particularly cramped. The tray table featured a unique release mechanism that you have to pull upward to release the table. It was sufficiently clean, as was the rest of the cabin, even though attention to detail was missing a bit.
The release mechanism for my tray table, however, was slightly broken - it worked, but a piece of the plastic clip was broken off, and someone wittingly used it to dump their (small) garbage there. That's where the attention to detail mentioned above would come into place, I guess. The window wasn't exactly the cleanest, either.
I appreciated the adjustable headrests, though. The seats in general look pretty much like those I've seen on long-haul flight reports of DL. However, I think I would prefer some different upholstery than leather, as this can get somehow sticky. On another note, the ceiling panels seem to be new: they feature Wi-Fi signs (and individual air vents) and LED reading lights that were really bright.
Interesting side note: the 717 seems to have a different system for the emergency oxygen masks: they don't really drop down, it's just a cabinet that opens, revealing the masks and the oxygen generator. You have to pull them to you all the way yourself.
Engine view from seat 23A (for a better view I would recommend a seat farther back, as I had to turn around quite awkwardly to take this photo).
We pushed back somewhat delayed, but the captain accounced that we would still be able to arrive in Newark in time, or in fact, even a little ahead of time.
Taxiing was kind of long and revealed… mostly Delta planes, of course. But at least some other airlines were present too, for example American Airlines, Southwest, Spirit, Virgin, and Air France. Still, two of the other airlines mentioned are either SkyTeam members and/or Delta partners in different ways.
"Fly Delta Jets"? I already am in one! ;)
As we lined up on the runway, a Southwest 737-700 was landing on the parallel runway.
Take-off was otherwise uneventful and smooth… a few turns here and there, and soon we were on the direct trajectory that would take us to the NYC area, as the sun was slowly beginning to set.
I pulled down the window shade as most people did and try to rest/sleep a little. At some point, the drinks/snacks service arrived, and I went with my usual black coffee (pretty nice for airplane coffee), but a Kind bar this time. All in all, a very enjoyable snack.
Meanwhile, it was seriously getting dark outside.
Some random photos of nightly Virginia/DC/Delaware/Pennsylvania, I'm not quite sure. If you're flying on a 717 and really want to look down at the landscape, I would recommend a seat behind (or significantly in front of) 23A; the wing was obstructing the view quite a lot. Compared to the MD-88, the engines were considerably quieter, albeit still very noticeable.
As we were descending, we flew past EWR and made a turn over Teterboro Airport - pretty similar to my flight with United in Premium Plus on their 787-10 from Frankfurt (you can read that report here if you're interested). But this time I sat on the right side on could enjoy great views on the NYC skyline in the night. My camera kind of gave up on these photos, I hope they are still somewhat enjoyable.
Before I knew it, it was time for the landing, which was quite nice and smooth. One (in numbers: 1) person began clapping but soon stopped, noticing how awkward that was.
The taxi to the gate was quick, and it didn't take long until the disembarking process could start. Exiting through the front door, I said good night to the flight attendants and the pilot standing there and headed out into the considerably colder Jersey air circulating through the Newark jetbridge.
On a side note: The arrival gate was 42, the exact same gate my little journey started. Also shame on me for not taking a picture of the airplane; perhaps I was somewhat tired and not exactly on the top of my game.
As DL2142 is a domestic flight, I would theoretically have been good to go just like that. However, I had to pick up my gate-checked suitcase (see above, not Delta's fault this time) first. And I didn't really mind, as I was kind of flexible with my plans this evening. Finding the baggage claim area was pretty straightforward. The luggage from all arriving flights, at least in this terminal, arrived on carousel 2.
And why not, when the rest of the baggage claim area looks like this?
But in the end, my suitcase arrived very quickly. Finding the AirTrain, however, wasn't that easy; the signage could be improved, I think. After almost taking a wrong turn, I managed to find the station, where one person was working (?) just calling out that this was the AirTrain station to the other terminals and the train station. As I already had my train ticket, I passed straight through.
In no time I was at the airport railway stations, where trains to different locations such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, or Boston depart. See the gallery below for the very logical track numbering at the airport station. Finding information about the next trains wasn't exactly a breeze either, as someone thought that displaying ads on 90% of all installed displays was a good idea.
You don't have to freeze while waiting in the cold (or wait on the bridge, risking missing your train when it's coming): There are heated waiting rooms on the platforms, which also have restrooms. And finally, there was some useful information about the next departures as well.
This concludes this report. Thank you for coming along on this very average, but ultimately uneventful and satisfying flight. I know that domestic Delta flight reports are plenty on here, so I think this one here was worth reading. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here - I'm looking forward to hear from you all. See you next time!
Delta: Again, I was quite satisfied with Delta. The aircraft was old and that showed, but generally the cabin was quite comfortable. I especially appreciated the adjustable headrests. The cabin crew did a great job as far as I can tell, and the catering was good for this flight duration. Other airlines offer sandwiches or even hot meals on flights this length; they might operate in other regions of the world, but as this is not a US-specific rating, I can't give more than 7,5 points on the meal/catering.
ATL: All in all, traveling from Atlanta airport was a pleasant enough experience. Except from the construction that seems to be going on, it was sufficiently easy to use and to navigate. Because the airport is divided into different concourses, it appears relatively compact and still offers a good choice of different shops, cafés and restaurants. Some gates, however, "suffer" from obstructed views of the tarmac.
EWR: Arriving in Newark was a "normal" experience, in a good way. There is nothing really negative to say, except maybe for the slightly confusing signage in some parts (of Terminal B). The usual advantage of Newark, i.e. good access to various places in the Northeast, are naturally true for this flight report as well.