A short trip to Atlanta
by Kai Groves

Well, I had an entire week off of work until I had to start back because of switching to a new shift at work. I thought of several destinations to fly to, and eventually settled on Atlanta, to go visit my friend Sean. Here's my story.

Arrived at the airport (SFO) way early to see my friend Brie and tried to take her out to dinner (celebrating our 6-month anniversary of working here at SkyWest). She was working a position that's very hard to get away from easily. Needless to say, we didn't go out to dinner. My other friend, a ramper, was also doing a job which kept him away as well. So I sat and hung out in Operations.

Eventually the time came and I went over to Gate 79 for my flight UA865 to LAX. As soon as I got there I was paged to the podium and given my seat assignment. Got a seat in back, First had filled up.

We went ahead and boarded, and we pushed back about 20 minutes late. The flight attendants were wearing the new uniforms, which I think look absolutely fantastic. Sat in an aisle seat, my rowmate sitting in the window seat seemed disgruntled.

The flight passed by rather quickly, I took short cat naps all the way down. We finally arrived to our gate about 5 minutes to 10, 25 minutes behind schedule. My rowmate seemed even more disgruntled. We all disembarked and he moved quite quickly towards T7.

I was not far behind, and soon arrived at Gate 71. I was going to ask them to put me on the DM List for my onward flight to Chicago. My rowmate arrived right in front of me, and started to throw a fit because he apparently missed his flight. He went away quickly. I talked to the agents there and they reprinted my DM card for UA126 to ORD.

I purchased something to eat at McDonalds, then sat and waited for the next 40-odd minutes.

Soon after boarding started, I was given Seat 13B in United Business. I proceeded to board, and luckily passed the random screening. Having never been in a 777 before, it was a brand new experience. The entire trip was wonderful. I settled in and was offered a choice of pre-departure beverages. I selected orange juice and perused the entertainment in the seat pocket in front of me.

The plane pushed back right on time, and I switched to Channel 9 and listened to the plethora of planes moving on the LAX ramp. We taxiied quickly and were given immediate take-off clearance. The plane thundered down the runway and we leaped into the dark Los Angeles night. The flight time was estimated at 3 hours 2 minutes. Shortly after takeoff, we were served the making of a roast beef sandwich (build your own) along with potato salad, selected fresh fruits, and Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. I selected Ginger Ale to accompany my dinner.

After dinner, I sat back and switched between Spy Kids and listening to the European Beat channel and watching AirShow. After the movie was over, I fell asleep. I woke up as the plane started it's descent into Chicago. I prepared myself for landing, and soon enough, the plane touched down at O'Hare. We taxiied for a while, and parked at Gate C18.

I disembarked and checked the monitor for my connecting flight to Atlanta. Flight UA1268 was leaving from Gate B19. They could have put it in Siberia and it would have been closer. That also meant I had to proceed down the "psychedelic tunnel."

I made my way down the tunnel towards Concourse B. I found my gate, with easyInfo active, but no one was there. I proceeded further down, and eventually found an agent at Gate B22. . After waiting patiently for about 5 minutes with no one else around, just him playing with the printer, he checked me in.

I backtracked to Starbucks and picked up a Hot chocolate. I called my friend back home in SFO (local time in SFO: 0300), and woke him up. He's called me several times at that time of morning, so I thought turnabout was fair play. I chatted with him for a couple minutes, then let him go back to sleep   I proceeded back to my gate, sipping my hot chocolate. Finally there were agents at Gate B19. I went up to the podium, and they said they were going to give me a seat in back because it was completely empty. I had Row 22 all to myself.

I saw an Air Wisconsin RJ lift off into the cloudy Chicago morning as we were pushing back. The plane made a short taxi to the runway and took off almost immediately. I fell asleep soon after takeoff, and didn’t wake up until we were on final approach to ATL. We landed, then turned around towards the terminal to taxi. We then stopped for about 20 minutes, because our gate was not vacated by the daily ATL-SFO flight yet, so we had to wait until it pushed back. I fell asleep again until we started moving.

We then soon arrived to the gate 7 minutes behind our scheduled arrival time. I got out my Travelpro, backpack, and turned on my cell phone. Listening to the first message on my voicemail, I disembarked into the terminal and saw the person whose message I was listening to. It was my good friend Sean Mendis.

We proceeded out past security towards the MARTA station, then hopped on the train to go to his place in downtown Atlanta. We arrived at his apartment at about 10am. Sean showed me around the apartment, and then we proceeded to play with WorldSpan, and I was enrolled as a member of Delta SkyMiles, a lovely addition to my current memberships with Finnair and American   By then it was about noon, and Sean told me to get some sleep (I got only 2 and a half hours of sleep on the entire trip) I fell asleep for about 3 hours, completely exhausted from my journey.

I eventually woke up around 3pm, and Sean was still playing at the computer   We screwed around with the computer for a while, then I freshened up and prepared for the FlyerTalk “gathering” that would be taking place at ATL at around 7pm. At about 6 we hopped on MARTA, destination ATL. Sean and I agreed that I would go meet techgirl arriving from Birmingham, AL at Gate B6, since I knew her from her periodic trips to Chico on SkyWest, and he would go collect cigarman from a gate in A Concourse which I don’t quite remember. Both were connecting in ATL to other destinations, techgirl back to her home base and cigarman on to Albany, NY.

Due to the sheer enormity of ATL, I got to the gate right at 6:57pm, and the last of the passengers were disembarking. techgirl, however, was standing there, talking on her cell phone dealing with the inevitable issues at work. Her battery died on her as we were walking down the concourse, and we stopped around the middle of the terminal by Gate B25 (coincidentally, the gate I would be departing from two days later) so she could find an outlet to charge her cell phone with.

Sean and cigarman arrived a short while later, and we went to Chili’s. techgirl needed to check her e-mail, so Sean took her into the Delta Crown Room Club adjacent to Chili’s to facilitate that. By sheer coincidence, they happened to run into no one other than russ21atl! In the meantime, cigarman and I had secured a table at Chili’s, and waited for the other two to get back. Eventually they did, and we all ordered our food. We spent some time chatting about various flyertalk issues and of course gossiped about all of you on here   Well, I mostly listened because I’m relatively new. Of course time had passed and Jen needed to catch her connecting flight. It just so happened her flight was all the way out in International Concourse (E gates). So Sean escorted her off to her flight, while cigarman and I were again left alone 

We figured out the financial side of dinner and then made for the adjacent CRC to go meet russ21atl. Cigarman had some questions about upgrade certificates for him and his wife, specifically regarding flight arrangements out of Cancun. I was quite impressed with Russ’ extensive knowledge of the various rules and regulations at Delta, quite an information source that’s for sure. This specific CRC happened to close at 8:30pm, so the visit was rather short, although we stayed a couple of minutes after it closed. Russ then went to meet a flight to return an item a Medallion member had left behind a few days prior. We headed to B13 (I believe) and waited for Sean to return. Soon enough, he did, and not too long after that his flight started to board. Savvy as he his, cigarman stayed back until someone else stepped up for boarding and was “selected” for the random security screening.

After seeing cigarman off, Sean took me into the CRC a few gates away. There I alleviated my building headache with the hometown favorite, Coca-Cola. Sean had the same, plus Jack Daniels, and we proceeded to find a quieter spot of the CRC. There, we talked for a little while, then we each turned to the phones next to each of us and each made several phone calls to assorted people. I called work to see how they were doing... I believe it was one of those flow days... *sigh* too bad I wasn’t there 

Eventually we dragged ourselves back to the MARTA station and headed back to Sean’s apartment, where I fell quickly asleep.

The next morning I awoke around 9:30-10am and made myself presentable. Sean & I headed out towards downtown Atlanta, first visiting Underground Atlanta, a mall that is built around old brick streets. Right outside on the opposite end of the mall was World of Coca-Cola. Very much a tourist trap. Of course we went in, what else was I in Atlanta for? Breezed through the various historical artifacts and a live demonstration of how soda jerks made Coca-Cola at a soda fountain. Sadly, there were no free samples at that point (that was to come later). I was very impressed at their mass-marketing brainwashing attempt The tasting rooms were the best, where you could sample many beverages marketed in the United States and then another room where you could sample beverages from around the world. In the “Tastes of the States” room, I do not recommend the Barg’s Red Creme soda or the Birch soda. In the “Tastes of the World” room, I strongly recommend staying away from “Beverly,” advertised as a “bitter apertif” from Italy. Quite sickening.

We then exited into the Coca-Cola shop, where I proceed to purchase $70 worth of Coca-cola logoed merchandise. Upon exiting, Sean and I were accosted by a man who told us he had been released from the “correctional facility” a short time before. He offered to take our picture in front of the Coca-Cola sign, but I wasn’t about to let him hold my top-of-the-line Canon Elan camera, thank you very much. Sean ended up taking a picture of me with the sign behind me, and then we walked a short while and I got a nice shot of the Georgia State Capitol. We passed by the Coca-Cola museum, heading back towards Underground Atlanta, where the same guy then grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back, and expressed his interest in me. I believe my face flushed, I drew a sharp intake of breath, uttered the word “NO,” pulled my arm away, and broke out in a trot to catch up with Sean.

After that little adventure, we grabbed lunch at Little Tokyo in Underground Atlanta, and then hopped on MARTA and visited the CNN Center, where I purchased several AOL TimeWarner - affiliated products as gifts. Then we went outside and visited Centennial Olympic Park, which I thought was quite nice, but I think it lacked foliage. We toured the park, then made our way back to the Water Fountains for the 6:30pm “show”. It was quite nice, and I attempted to take several time-exposure shots of the performance. We then went back to Sean’s apartment. We were going to head back out to get something to eat, but Sean offered to make a Burmese dish called Khowsuey. It was quite delicious and somewhat spicy. Accompanying our dinner was the all-time favorite movie Airplane! It was the first time I had seen it from start to finish, and it was a riot. I loved it.

After the movie ended, Sean played around in WorldSpan, looking for bump game opportunities. After watching several international news shows, I retired to bed, because of my early wake-up time the following morning for my first ever Delta flight from Atlanta to Portland, OR.

I woke up at 5:30 the next morning, and turned my bed back to it’s former status of a sofa, in the process waking up Sean. Poor guy had gotten only 15 minutes of sleep, thanks to talking with someone up until about 5:15am. I freshened up and finished packing my roller. And then we were off. Upon arriving at ATL, we made our way to the Medallion line and cleared security easily. Then it was off to B Concourse and to the gate. Checked my status on the plasma screen and then stopped by the Crown Room for a quick beverage and a look at the controlled chaos that is the morning operations of DL at Atlanta. By the time I got back my seat had been assigned, 6B in BizElite. Of course, I happened to be SELPX’ed, or chosen as a Selectee, because I had only listed one-way (and I paid for my ticket with cash). I was the last to be screened, never mind I was the second in line to be screened, but the screener kept asking if I could let this little old lady or this guy to go in front of me. Due to my fault as a friendly person, I obliged his request each time. I was the last passenger to board the aircraft, which was ok, granted what was going to happen next.

I went down the cabin, looking for my seat assignment. The rows ended at 5 in the first cabin, then started at 10 in the mid-cabin. Was I given a jumpseat?  I asked a f/a, and she said that the plane was in a different configuration, and that the gate agents didn’t know that, so to take any open seat. I chose 10B. The plane pushed back on time, but then sat for the longest time. Eventually the captain came on the PA to announce that there was an electrical problem on board and that we would have to go back into the gate to have it repaired. So we pulled back in, and for the next two hours the power went on and off... on and off... those of us in the mid-BizElite cabin got up out of our seats and started to chat with each other. Eventually we got a f/a in on it too, and there was a sense of camaraderie in the cabin. Finally the captain announced the problem had been fixed, and all that was left was the inevitable paperwork. 15 minutes later we pushed back a second time, and actually taxiied all the way out to the runway and took off!

Once airborne, I turned on my PTV, only to find that none of the channels were available, save for the AirShow. I asked a f/a, who went to go ask the purser. Turned out the cassettes hadn’t been uploaded, and that there would only be a movie showing on the main screen. Such a drag, because I was looking forward to watching Absolutely Fabulous. Oh well. Breakfast was quite pleasant. I had pancakes with syrup, fresh fruit and a croissant with strawberry jam, along with orange juice.

Otherwise the flight was uneventful, after breakfast I settled into my seat, turned on my CD player (with the lovely Kylie Minogue crooning the tunes) and snoozed all the way to Portland. I did wake up once in a while, turned on the PTV to see where we were, then turned it off and went back to sleep. I woke up about 5 minutes before the captain announced we were starting our descent (noticed our location on the PTV), so I packed my stuff up and got ready for landing. The landing was relatively smooth to an overcast (and deserted looking) Portland International Airport.

We arrived to Gate D22 (I believe), and disembarked into a deserted terminal. I walked up and down the concourse, and found that United operated from the same area (didn’t have to go out and back through security) so I went all the way down to the SkyWest downstairs area and checked out our facilities there. I did go out of security to the Oregon Market area and had lunch at the Panda Express, because hey, I had 3 hours to burn. The security personnel that work in Portland were very friendly and courteous (as opposed to Argen-not-so-bright in SFO), I believe they’re named Huntleigh.

Finally, time to board the aircraft. Assigned seat 10F (exit row), but upon reaching my assigned seat, I find that someone is sitting in it. I give him a questioning look, but rather than deal with all the fuss, I take an entire row to myself towards the rear of the plane. The takeoff and ascent out of PDX was VERY bumpy, but eventually we passed it and for the rest of the flight it was relatively smooth. We flew over SFO and made a 180 and landed right on time. I popped out of Gate 78, completing a long loop I had started 3 days earlier. I went to visit my friends at work to see how they were doing, thus completing a very enjoyable trip and my first FlyerTalk gathering Home       Trip Reports Index       Whine And Cheez Index       Discussion Forums

Copyright  © 2001- 2013 Sean Mendis. Unless otherwise stated, the contents of this site including, but not limited to, the text and images contained herein and their arrangement are the property of the site owner. All content on the discussion forums is the responsibility of the respective posters and the site owner bears no responsibility. All trademarks used or referred to in this website are the property of their respective owners. Contact with any comments/questions about this site or its content.