A Delta 737-800 Brings Me Home From the Carolinas (Trip Report)

After a week bouncing around the Carolinas, it was time to come home. As is always the case when we return from visiting the in-laws in North Carolina, we had the choice of a connection from Wilmington or a nonstop from Raleigh/Durham. And as usual, the nonstop won out. Delta wanted only $199.20 each for the early flight home (American no longer has a morning flight), so we jumped on it. This was one of those flights that was perfectly fine with only a couple minor snags, but it wasn’t particularly memorable in any way. I suppose that’s how I want all my flights to be.

Normally when we fly back in the morning from Raleigh/Durham, we drive up the day before and stay the night at the Four Points. It wasn’t showing available, so we went to the Aloft instead. We weren’t there for long, however, since we had the alarm set for 4:45am. We left at 5:30am, returned the rental car, and took the shuttle over to Terminal 2. Once upstairs, we found an inexplicably long bag drop line.

We had paid for the two bags ($25 each) the night before when we got our boarding passes, but we had to wait in this lengthy queue just to drop them off. Well, that’s not entirely true. We could have gone to the skycap — they were inside telling people there was no line but a tip was customary — but we saw the line moving fast so just stuck it out. In about 10 minutes, we had a friendly agent saying that line “was nothing” compared to other days. I wonder why that’s the norm over there.

She took the bags and we headed through security. Then we wandered to our gate where boarding had just begun. When they called group 3, we walked on and took our seats: two rows of window/middle just behind the wing.

August 11, 2018
Delta 1192 Lv Raleigh/Durham 7a Arr Los Angeles 915a
Raleigh/Durham (RDU): Gate C7, Runway 23R, Depart 3m Late
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 34, Runway 24R, Arrive 12m Early
N3749D, Boeing 737-832, Standard Delta colors, ~99% Full
Seat 21B, Coach
Flight Time 4h27m

I’ll admit I didn’t think Delta needed new uniforms, but the flight attendants really did look sharp in their plum-colored garb. They were also annoyed and busy since apparently the gate had been randomly upgrading people into Comfort+ and not giving them new boarding passes. There were multiple instances of people with boarding passes for the same seat, but fortunately the flight attendants have devices where they can now look up the manifest with seats right there. They were professional, but it was hard to hide their frustration at how it was being handled upstairs.

I settled in and got a bit nervous when I saw this image on the screen in front of me:

Sure enough, my angst was justified. The flight attendants said that the screens weren’t working and they’d try to reboot again in the air.

Even with the seat confusion, we were able to push back only a couple minutes past departure time. A line of storms had rolled through overnight, but by the time the sun came up, the winds were calm and we leaped skyward in a hazy sunshine.

A little while later, the flight attendants came through with drinks (I had water) and a choice of snacks (Biscoff, granola bar, or snack mix). I asked if they had given up on the in-seat video and she apologized saying they had. I was bummed, but she reminded me that I could log on to Delta Studio on my computer and watch a ton of movies there. I had forgotten about that for some reason, and I was a bit surprised they didn’t announce that to the entire airplane. Then again, maybe they did and I just missed it since from my seat, the announcements were hard to hear.

I pulled out my laptop and flipped on Game Night (not as terrible as my usual choices), and was glad to see that power outlets were there. My only complaint is that it kept disconnecting me from wifi every so often for some reason, but other than that, this worked perfectly well for me to get my entertainment fix.

For the next couple hours, we just cruised in mostly calm skies with an occasional view of a small storm off to the side in the distance.

The flight attendants came through again with a second round of drinks. I hadn’t had one in awhile, but this time I went with a ginger ale. (I took snack mix too, but that was snagged by my daughter.)

The ginger ale paired quite nicely with that week’s monster earnings issue of PlaneBusiness Banter. (I had opened that up on my laptop before departure so I wouldn’t have to go online.) That kept me busy for a long time.

Once we got into California, the haze set in. I can only assume this was from all the wildfires burning throughout the state. It felt like flying into Mexico City, or maybe LA 40 years ago. The air was thick. You can barely see a mountain poking out above the wing in the photo below.

We landed early and had a slow taxi back to our gate in Terminal 3. Terminal 3 remains in desperate need of help. I can’t wait until Delta gets that project moving. I did, however, enjoy the walk through the vintage tunnel to baggage claim. A couple minutes later our bags were there and we were on our way home.

Did anything go wrong? Sure, there were some minor annoyances, but in the end those were drowned out. It was just a nice ride home… from what I can remember.

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