01. Introduction: Chasing the Thanksgiving 747 (and other rare birds)
02. American Airlines 737-800 premium economy (Main Cabin Extra) San Diego to Chicago
03. American Airlines MD-83 economy class Chicago to Detroit
04. Westin DTW (standard room)
05. Delta Airlines 747-400 business class (Delta One) Detroit to Atlanta
06. Delta Airlines 747-400 business class (Delta One) Atlanta to…nowhere
07. Delta Airlines A330-300 business class (Delta One) Atlanta to Seattle
08. Delta Connection ERJ-170 first class Seattle to San Diego
This goes down in history as being the first time in my life that I’ve ever purchased an airline ticket on the day of departure. I’ve always thought how cool it must be to show up at the airport, throw down a credit card, and walk away with a ticket to a far away place in hand. So spontaneous and free…wow! But now that I’ve done it, I’m here to tell you that it’s something that I never want to do again.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the feeling of dread and anxiety was much more overpowering than the fast and free feeling of spontaneity. Much worse actually. Most of that was due to the fact that this was the weekend after Thanksgiving, which is notorious for being the most chaotic and busiest travel weekend of the year here in the US. Airports and flights are packed solid – and I’ve heard horror stories about being stranded for days when things go wrong. Being faced with the need to purchase a ticket on this day, on this weekend, at this time was a very unsettling feeling.
If you’ve missed my previous two posts, I needed to purchase a ticket from Seattle to San Diego because my delayed ATL-SEA flight meant that I was going to miss my connection on Alaska Airlines down to SAN. Since that AS flight was booked separately, and Delta was only obligated to get me to Seattle, it was up to me to figure out how to get all the way home.
First thing I did while waiting to board the ATL-SEA segment was to get on the phone with Alaska Airlines to cancel the ticket. Doing that (as opposed to just not showing up for the flight) meant that I was able to recover some of the cost of the ticket minus the penalty fees. So all was not lost there.
Then I had a look on Google Flights to see what my options were for flights from SEA to SAN that evening. I was wincing with clenched butt cheeks as I pressed the “search” button, expecting obscenely high fares, but to my amazement Delta came up as the cheapest asking only $230. Seriously? That was more than acceptable IMHO, so I switched over to the Delta app on my phone to make the purchase. Seems as if DL is serious about competing with AS in Seattle!
The only three seats left on this flight were premium (for an extra cost), but I decided to gamble on my chances and just see what they give me at the gate. Besides, I wasn’t much in the mood for spending any more money on this trip.
Seattle, WA (SEA) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Duration: 2 hours 23 minutes
Seat: 1A (first class)
I’ve never been inside the B concourse at SEA, and to be honest I was surprised at how dumpy and run down it was. All I’ve been hearing about SEA lately is how big Delta is becoming there, so I guess that I was expecting something a bit nicer. If DL wants to make a name for themselves here, they’re going to have to step up their terminal game.
In need of a seat assignment, I went to the gate about an hour before boarding was scheduled to begin. I didn’t see my name on the list of passengers awaiting seat assignments (on the overhead display), so I stood in line for my turn to talk to the agent. The guy in front of me asked her if there were any seats in first class available, and she apologetically replied that first class had checked in full. I really had no idea where I would be sitting on this flight, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if they put me in the last row next to the lavatory. Oh well – I just wanted to get home and I didn’t really care where they put me.
I approached the podium when it was my turn and I asked the gate agent about my seat assignment. As soon as she saw name, she handed me a pre-printed boarding card, smiled, and whispered that she gave me a complimentary upgrade to first class (trying not to let other passengers hear I guess). My eyes must have fell out of my head, but all I remember is thanking her with all the energy I had left in me. Wow! This was a totally unexpected upgrade considering that I currently have no status on Delta. What a nice surprise to end a long and frustrating day!
My spirits were instantly lifted at that point, and I was a pretty happy guy by the time it came to start boarding.
The same gate agent who upgraded me was also scanning boarding passes at the gate, and I thanked her a time or two again as I passed. I hope she understood how much that upgrade meant to me after such a long day. She was my hero of the day, that’s for sure.
Bottled water was distributed during the boarding process, but I didn’t really care about service on this flight. I just wanted to relax and sleep as much as possible. The driving rain outside helped to make me sleepy, and we were off and on our way up above the clouds in no time.
It was a rough and bumpy first 10 to 15 minutes of the flight, but things smoothed out nicely by the time we cleared all that rain. The service began with the distribution of hot towels, and drink and dinner orders soon followed – which kind of threw me off guard a bit. Sure I was expecting drinks, but…dinner as well?! For some reason I thought that this was going to be a true “connection” type flight, which usually means cheap drinks and a small bag of peanuts or pretzels. But dinner caught me by surprise, and even though I wasn’t hungry (I ate dinner at SEA), I had to partake in this – just for sake of making the trip report complete!
The choices on tonights flight were a chicken wrap or a farro fennel salad. I went with the salad. Unfortunately it was too large for me to finish, but it was quite good and I’d recommend it to anyone seeking a healthy vegetarian inflight meal.
The rest of the flight was pretty much a blur. I slept. Took a few pictures along the way. And slept some more. Actually, it was more of a nap really, but it felt good to close my eyes and know that I’d be home soon.
Landing in San Diego was as routine as ever, with fairly clear skies and chilly evening temps. It was nice to see the Christmas lights on the buildings downtown during the approach!
And that wraps up this quick two-day 747 Thanksgiving trip that ended up being a bit more of an adventure than I had expected it to be. Sure it was fun – but I learned a pretty important lesson about stringing together multiple itineraries so close together on a single trip. I thought my planned 5 hour layover in Seattle would be more than enough to prevent missing my Alaska flight due to unexpected delays, but apparently that didn’t work so well. I will point out that I *almost* made that AS flight to SAN though – even with all those delays, my ATL-SEA segment landed in Seattle just minutes after that AS flight took off for SAN. So close, but yet so far…
Thanks for reading! My next trip report begins soon, which involves some new and interesting aircraft types in and out of SAN for my annual Christmas trip to Florida…