Welcome to my next flight report. This one's about my trip to Salt Lake City, which was my first journey to the North American West and also the starting point for a long train trip back via Chicago. While the train trip was amazing and very memorable in general (except a three hour delay at the starting point in Salt Lake), it clearly doesn't belong here. However, I'll include some photos in the tourism bonus, if I don't forget it. I'll also not write about the connection flight from Newark to Atlanta, as I've covered practically the same flight only recently. My original itinerary for this trip included a CRJ900 flight (DL5131) to Minneapolis, where I would transit to a B757-200 to Salt Lake (DL829) - both new plane types for me, and another "new" airport as well. However, Delta messaged me several times about increasing delays on the first leg and offered me various options to rebook. I ended up with this itinerary, which would also lead to me arriving about one and a half hour later. I also had to wait a bit longer in
DL 2934, EWR-ATL (B717-200)Not available
DL 2076, ATL-SLC (A321-200)You are here
Still, I appreciate how proactive Delta were with the delay and how easy it was to rebook on the app.
Arriving in ATL
That day's journey began in Newark, where was able to check my piece of luggage pretty quickly, having paid for it in advance. Take-off in Newark was delayed by about an hour, though, as there was a lot of traffic at this airport. That didn't matter to me, as my connection time was pretty generous, but I'm sure other passengers had less reason to be that relaxed. It seems though that the crew were pretty proactive with providing as much information as they could, especially to those with tight connections. The captain made a few announcements, keeping us informed.
It didn't take long until I arrived in Atlanta, where they have pretty cool connecting tunnels between the concourses. For example, this one shows different pieces of Atlanta's history…
…whereas this one is executed in kind of a "forest" theme, even with sounds of birds played over speakers.
While Atlanta might not be the best or fanciest airport in the world, they sure do tick some boxes.
Another one of these "boxes" are some places in the terminal that allow for some pretty good views on the planes coming and leaving.
Boarding Time & Cabin
Before long, it was time to board. Today's bird was N327DN, an Airbus A321-200 delivered new to Delta in October 2017, built at Airbus's plant in Mobile, Alabama. Its serial number is quite special: 7777.
Boarding was quite quick, and boarding groups were respected. Still, the typical (?) Delta problem occurred, namely that the gate agents worked too fast, leading to a hold-up on the jetbridge itself. It didn't help that the flight was full as far as I could tell, with uniformed militar members constituting a large part of the passengers. Once inside the airplane, I found a cabin that still appeared to be new, and a pleasant smell of disinfectant (pleasant in our times) was present. The mood lighting added a premium flair to the cabin. (Photos without mood lighting taken in SLC).
A quick look out of my window… (seat 28F)
Each seat featured a 9-inch touchscreen IFE, a headphone jack, and a USB port. The touchscreen was quite responsive, sharp, and bright. My seat neighbor's system didn't seem to work, but apparently it wasn't too important too him as he didn't talk to the crew about it (computers do crash sometimes). Legroom was okay, I guess. In fact, it was good for me, but a taller-than-average person maybe should think about getting an upgrade to Comfort+, as they are cheaply available sometimes. Speaking of legroom, there was an entertainment box placed at my window seat, but it was too small to really bother me. The seat pocket for some reason contained only the safety card, a Flight Fuel menu, and a sickbag. Over the entertainment screen, I could also access flight and terminal information. I found the information available pretty useful; they even include a link to terminal information at the arrival airport. Their German translation was a bit weird sometimes, though - for example, they translated "registration" or "aircraft registration" as "Versandnummer" (=shipping number). On another note, the flight map was very nice and also interactive, with relatively sharp satellite images. The cabin also featured individually adjustible air outlets. In general, it was pretty clean, which I appreciated a lot.
The doors were shut on time and the safety video was screened, in which CEO Ed Bastian made a cameo appeareance. Our taxi to the runway involved a quick "visit" to the maintenance facilities, where an A220 was parked outside. Another noteable plane was Delta's breat cancer 767, the one with the pink ribbon painted on the fuselage.
The IFE was already active and ready to use from the very beginning. The film and TV show was very impressive. You won't get bored on a Delta flight, except if you don't like movies or fly on them 24/7.
I decided to watch The Lion King. Although the new version was also available, I wanted to rewatch the classic cartoon one, something I haven't done for many years now. It was definitely worth it.
The Flight & In-Flight Service
Suburban Georgia soon vanished under a layer of clouds that wouldn't disappear until well over the Rockies…
Time to talk about the inflight service. As usual on Delta domestic flights, it consists of free soft drinks and packaged snacks such as Cheez-its, Kind bars, Biscoff cookies, and salted almonds. On flights with similar lengths as this here, there are also options for purchase, e.g. alcoholic beverages, boxes of more packaged snacks, or sandwiches. On this particular flight, there were two snack rounds; cabin attendants encouraged passengers to pick more than one option. There was another round of water somewhere above Kansas. As I noticed that it doesn't really make a difference price-wise if one gets food at the airport (EWR, ATL) or on the plane (Delta), I decided to try one of their BoB options. The turkey sandwich was kind of tempting, but ultimately I went with the cheese plate. It does look different in the menu, but the difference isn't too great in my opinion. The fruit and cheese plate for $8,99 contained three pieces of cheese, grapes, apple slices (both pretty fresh), crackers, some dark chocolate, and a lot of unsalted almonds. Even though they swapped the cheddar piece for another piece of Colby Jack, I was pretty satisfied with it all. When the FA with the complimentary option trolley came, I went with a black tea, which was interestingly served as a cup of hot water with a tea bag. I was also asked if I wanted to have something else, which is why I got another package of salted almonds (for later ;) ).
I also visited the lavatory that's right in the middle of Economy class. It was cramped, but at least it was still noticeably new and sufficiently clean.
The second snack service came as a surprise to me. I got a coke and a Kind bar. There was a good amount of ice in the coke.
Finally, the clouds disappeared (somewhat) and opened up some pretty amazing views of the Rockies below.
Soon after, the cabin was "woken up" and it was time for the descent into SLC.
Salt Lake City
Turning right, we approached SLC from the South. Some views of Salt Lake's suburbs. Quite a different landscape compared to Atlanta or New Jersey!
However, we didn't instantly land, but made a turn over the marshlands and part of the Great Salt Lake, approaching the airport from the North now. Coming in pretty low over the lake, it was time for touchdown before I knew it.
After a pretty smooth landing…
… we taxied for a while through the airport, where nothing much was going on. Just a few Delta planes at their gates, Delta maintenance facilities, and a Southwest 737 taking off in the distance.
From then, it took surprisingly long to reach the parking position, but that was no problem as we arrived ahead of schedule.
A last look at the plane after thanking the crew and disembarking. An interesting thing is that DL's catering in SLC is apparently delivered by Newrest, which is a successor company to CIWL who operated the Orient Express back in the days! (Nowadays, they mostly provide services to ÖBB on their NightJet night train connections.)
The airport was easy enough to navigate, and though it obviously isn't the nicest or most modern airport in the world, it does its job. Exiting the secure area led me to the main hall of Terminal 2, where both the baggage claim and the check-in facilities can be found. The baggage claim area felt a bit confined, but the baggage was delivered fast enough, and I was on my way to the city. The TRAX light railway station wasn't the easiest one to find. There are signs, but the suggested path leads one through several parking and bus places. And that the station is located at one end of the airport doesn't really help, either, when in doubt if one is still on the right path. After quite some walking, the rather small structure of the station appeared in front of me, along with a train to the city.
This wraps it up for today. Thank you for joining me on this flight. See you around, and stay safe and healthy.
PS: See the tourism bonus for some impressions of the train rides on the California Zephyr and Lake Shore Limited.
Bonus : Click here display hide
I chose to travel back by train as it was kind of a dream for me to do so. It wasn't the cheapest experience ever (especially as I booked less than a week from the day of departure), but it was well worth it. Even though the journey didn't begin exactly in a nice way: the train was delayed by roughly three and a half hours in SLC, pushing the departure time from 3:30am to 7am. Plus, the Amtrak station in this town is just not very nice, unfortunately… Anyways, though I don't know the exact consist of the train, I can tell you it was pulled by two Genesis diesel locomotives and otherwise consisted of Superliner double-decker equipment. It wasn't the newest or most modern equipment, but nice enough. One noteable thing is that the transition between cars is located on the upper deck. The train also had a somewhat antiquated, but otherwise pretty nice lounge/sightseeing car.
The landscape started off as being rather monotonous. However, as we neared Colorado, more and more interesting rock formations and finally the Rocky Mountains appeared.
The landscape was pretty dramatic at some points… Denver was reached late in the evening, and then I slept through almost all of Nebraska, waking up shortly before Omaha. Luckily they don't do any announcements from about 10pm to 7 in the morning.
The California Zephyr also features a fully-fledged dining experience with food made on the train (instead of reheated microwave meals like on the Eastern routes…). The steak and the burger made on Amtrak seem to have quite some reputation, and rightfully so, even though the steak was a bit too well done for my taste - medium rare probably would have been the better choice.
Unfortunately, they had to close the dining car due to corona (for that reasons, they also had paper napkins and plastic cutlery for most of the trip…). However, meals could still be enjoyed in the lounge car or in your compartment. This is the burger, which was honestly great.
Also, very nice cheese cake, included in the sleeper fare, just as all meals and (non-alcoholic) drinks.
The Union station in Chicago.
After spending some days in Chicago, it was time to travel further Eastwards. As the Pennsylvanian train from Pittsburgh was canceled (leading to my reservation on the Capitol Limited to make no sense), I could be easily rebooked to the Lake Shore Limited to New York. This train leaves Chicago every day in the evenings and is composed out of Amfleet coach cars and Viewliner sleepers. Half of the train is split off in Albany to continue to Boston.
Some of the cars appeared to be pretty new and nice, such as the dining car. Unfortunately, theey don't feature a full dining experience on this route but just the "Flexible Dining" microwave meal options, which, in my opinion, leave a good amount to be desired compared to "Traditional Dining." This is especially a pity since the new dining cars feature large full kitchens.
Cruising along the Hudson river… I guess the scenery could be way more beautiful, either when it's green or really snowy outside. (Unfortunately, my camera battery died and I forgot to bring the charging cable. This left me with my phone only, which seemed to be overtaxed by the movement of the train.)
Arriving in New York's Penn Station with its dark and low platform level.
I've never seen the station so empty!
The Northeast Corridor were severely cut down due to the current situation. Northeast Regional and similar trains were only running about every two hours. As the Lake Shore Limited arrived on time (yay!), I was able to get rebooked to the earlier connecting train, which meant that I arrived back home two hours earlier than I had planned. This concludes my short travel bonus. I think it's a bit different from what we're used to on this website, but I hope you enjoyed it anyways.
Delta Air Lines
Atlanta - ATL
Salt Lake City - SLC
Delta: Another good flight on Delta. Major points of criticism would be the somewhat average legroom and the narrow lavatory in the A321, but these are minor points in my estimation. Cabin crew did a good job, entertainment was excellent, catering adequate, even though some airlines in Europe and Asia might offer something more substantial on flights this length - I guess in an American market context it was good. The BoB option I tried was good as well and reasonably priced in comparison to airport food.
ATL: Okay airport in general. I like how it doesn't appear that big as it is divided into several smaller concourses. Good selection of food and shopping places, enough seating areas, and also quite some good spots for planespotting.
SLC: A solid airport as well. Reasonably efficient and well connected to the city via TRAX light rail. I imagine that some parts of it can get crowded at times, and the walking connection to the TRAX station is not that great; but these points could change when the new terminal opens (slated for opening next year - let's see how that goes).
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