The airline with the best average rating is Delta Air Lines with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 43 minutes.More information
Ever since I’ve moved to the USA for studies I have been able to log several new aircraft types and subtypes. I am particularly happy with the number of flights I have been on in the McDonnell Douglas series of aircraft, even though my first flight on this manufacturer was on a EVA Air flight from Hong Kong to Taipei, just weeks before they were done & retired.
Having got in some flights on the loud & classic old much loved MD-80 aircraft - MD-82 with American, and MD-83 on Allegiant - I had my sights firmly set on Delta’s MD-88s. It’s an interesting case with DL to be honest - being the last operator of the MD-90s these newer planes are being retired pretty quickly, while the MD-88s are pretty much localized to Atlanta.
Some of you may remember my happiness from the Summer 2017 trip report when Delta offered to change the MSP-BOS-JFK part of my GFK-JFK itinerary from 2 A319s and a below MCT layover for free to a flight on the MD-88, a direct from MSP to JFK. Some of you may also remember the ensuing despair when I got pretty close to the flight only for me to change to an MD-90 flight over to LGA, just so I could get to the AirBnb and rest it out before the long journey back to Mumbai, a delay in excess of 5 hours.
I knew I had to make things right. I knew I had to justify a detour from Atlanta to somewhere reasonable, before flying back to either Fargo or better, Grand Forks. With Turkish offering a very reasonable flight in to Atlanta, the ball was rolling.
The fare, while OK, was still a bit too much to justify this out-the-way routing. I considered signing up for Delta’s SkyMiles credit card even, but that was a bit of an insane stretch to get on a MD-88, even by my own standards :) I did have just enough SkyMiles to cover the one way ticket, $25 baggage and $5.60 fees.
Awesome. Awesome. It was also at this time that I found of the FAR-MIA-FAR via DFW & ORD, which included a couple of wide bodies. Good, good! Now the wheels are really turning! The hope was for an MD-88 flight between Atlanta and Miami…
…barring the first & last flights of the day between the two cities no less than 7 flights were on the MD-88, and with award availability on all! Fantastic, I was well within a shot of my first MD-88 flight! I booked a nice mid day departure:
DL2373 ATL MIA 1304 1500 MD88
I also managed to score seat 33E again, the one with the best engine view, on what looked like a fairly empty flight. Awesome!
With jet lag still messing around, in fact it being the first night: I was up bright and early at 2am for the flight. Spent some time writing & editing flight trips. I left around 1045 or so for the flight.
Being the world’s busiest international airport I was expecting a massive crowd - however it being the afternoon I knew the chances of it being relatively relaxed was also a possibility. I got there for 1113 hours, and it was the latter.
I joined a line - it moved in a steady manner. The suitcase stickers were starting to be peeled off: I like holding on to them, and some times I have had success with the explanation of why I like collecting them. ‘Honey, you don’t get your suitcase lost when the power goes out!’ said the Delta lady… Ah, I guess that makes sense. Imagine losing electricity at the world’s busiest airport!
Proceeded towards security - this is what took the most time. Took about 25 minutes to get through. Onwards, my gate was at concourse B: time to take the plane train! Had I had more time, I certainly would’ve hopped between concourses.
It was just 1hr20min till departure, and I needed to eat something quick because the last meal was lunch on TK31…
Concourse ‘A’ as in Alpha, Concourse ‘B’ as in Bravo, Concourse ‘C’ as in Charlie, Concourse ‘D’ as in…. David! The plane train at Atlanta, Delta’s home, had to have special arrangements for Concourse D because several unsuspecting passengers would’ve gotten off at D for a flight actually departing from C or E for example!
Concourse B was bustling with people, just as I expected. Almost no room to stretch even a little it felt like. Food court was jam-packed: a beautiful view of the Mad Dog t-tails was blocked by a large family traveling. Ah well. It would be a chicken burrito from Willy’s Mexicana Grill.
THE OLD WORKHORSE!
I saw aircraft after aircraft depart with quite the steep pitch up: the world’s busiest airport calls for efficient uses of standard instrument departures (SIDs). An effective flow of traffic. In the meantime, N912DL flew in from Tampa just fine. Delta use their MD-88s quite effectively out of Atlanta operating the mainline flights those are under 2 hours long with reasonable turnaround times. The 31 year old plane’s rotation looked like this:
Nashville - Atlanta DL2198 0530 0735
Atlanta - Tampa DL2607 0832 1001
Tampa - Atlanta DL2607 1045 1215
Atlanta - Miami DL2373 1304 1500
Miami - Atlanta DL2373 1540 1748
Atlanta - Philadelphia DL744 1833 2048
Other places the plane went to the following day were Madison, Grand Rapids, Dayton, Windsor Locks…. And then there are all those several other MD-88s jetting in and out of Atlanta every single day like clockwork, and still do. For what its worth every DL2373 (ATL-MIA-ATL) went on time, so I was fairly confident of a smooth trip. What a workhorse!
I headed out for gate B28 45 minutes before departure. Boarding would start soon. Gate after gate, MD after MD. It was a unique feeling seeing those t-tail jets hanging around and proving ever so critical to Delta’s operation out of ATL.
Despite it being a mid-afternoon departure this flight was going to be fairly full.
Boarding was called on time, I was onboard at 1239 hours, 25 minutes to departure time. There were two crew members hanging around at the door, not really greeting anyone. I do appreciate Delta’s efforts in refurbish their cabins and make their planes look much newer than they are: however this one looked a little tired. No issues - I was just excited to be logging my first MD-88 flight!
Seat 33E is the third-from-last row in coach, a 2 seater. It is interesting that the MD-88 is 3-2 and B717 & MD-90 are 2-3 (facing forward) in coach. I had a solid engine view - just what I was expecting! The cabin slowly filled up.
You could tell the age through the PA systems and the loud dings - it was like a step back in time. I was enjoying every moment of it. Usual pre-departure announcements happened: there were just the 3 cabin crew on this flight.
Doors closed and pushed back just fine at 1301 hours, 3 minute before time. A smile on my face as the Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine was started up, and soon a single engine taxi followed.
There were several massive power changes along the way: almost felt like they were throttles full forward on the taxiway! Really fun. Several Delta’s along the way, I did appreciate the mood-lighting of sorts! The 2nd engine was fired up as well.
Traffic along the way
Taxied to runway 27L: in fact, they were so busy we had to line up and wait behind another Delta MD-88 which hadn’t even begun it’s take off roll yet! Check it out in the video trip report. :)
We were all lined up at 1310 hours, before the awesome sounds of 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines roared in to life and helped us take to the skies like a rocket, we were in the skies by 1313 hours. Of course, the power meant the seat was able to demonstrate it’s self-reclining capabilities. Once again, the video trip report.
Now *that's* a spool up!
As I had observed from the food court it was quite an aggressive pitch up before taking the BANNG2 SID out of Atlanta southeast bound for Miami. A slightly bumpy climb up due to the clouds, but nothing hair-raising. Or maybe it was for some, I enjoyed it.
The views outside were pretty cool with the unique clouds all over.
Service started with just the one cart being rolled all the way forward, I was served 47 minutes in to the flight: it was a ginger ale and snack mix for me.
Pretty soon we were over the peninsula - the ocean was in sight. Also flew over Tampa after a bit - this airplane flew in from there :D In fact, I saw a Southwest 737 take off from there.
A fairly uneventful flight, just the way I like it. I tried out the WiFi for free text messages that Delta likes to offer. Unfortunately it wasn’t very quick - even sending a few texts took quite a lot of work. Data streaming for the WiFi IFE (wIFE) content was sub-optimal too. That’s okay - while I appreciate Delta trying to streamline services offered, some things are good even if they are very much from 1987.
I was enjoying this flight, I really appreciated this blast to the past. I was relishing this opportunity. With all good things, and Miami being fairly close, this had to come to an end.
1hr16min in to the flight, 80 miles North of Miami, the first officer gave us more information of the flight: fair weather, some gusts of wind from the southeast, and scattered clouds. Fairly soon we went down via the SSCOT4 STAR (standard terminal arrival route) - I believe this has since been changed to SSCOT5.
We would come in to Runway 9 - the closer we got down, the louder the engines got, adjusting power for airspeed as the plane is taken out of it’s ‘clean’ configuration. A fun one!
At least this doesn't say welcome to Cleveland :)
Flew past the El Dorado furniture shop, a place where I was 2.5 years ago doing some planespotting. Good to be back! Touched down at 1437 hours, after a flying time of 1hr35min.
Taxied through towards the gate and had to hold by gate H17. Seeing as we were over 20 minutes before time, the crew were not ready for us, so we stuck around on the taxi for 8 or 9 minutes: lots of ground traffic got stuck because of us :)
Docked at the gate at 1449 hours, 11 minutes before scheduled arrival time. I took the time to figure out the hotel’s shuttle schedule - I was touch and go to make the 1515 hours.
With some sense of urgency, I disembarked, thanked the crew and was on my way at 1457 hours.
There were announcements at the Delta section of concourse H reminding passengers of where the baggage will be delivered. Neat!
Walking through the maze of pillars as I was so accustomed to Miami the last time I was here, I found my way towards the claim, and, most of them were delivered just fine.
Walking in to the tropical heat of Miami it felt like I was home, but not really.
Checked in to the hotel just fine and planned on sleeping for a long time!
I am not going to comment on the service offered, the comfort, the usual metrics one looks at during the flight itself. This flight was to enjoy a popular workhorse that now will soon be making way for the Bombardier C-Series. And oh was I a happy camper at the end of it all! Atlanta was fun to be at, once airside. Seeing all those airplanes at the world’s busiest airport - a dream come true almost. Things were efficient at Miami as well.
From one old airplane to another - I was excited for my final couple of flights back to Fargo! :)