For the third year in a row, we had decided to take a late Summer/early Fall vacation to Maui. Two years ago, we flew Alaska. Last year we flew United. And this year it was time to fly Delta. This, however, was the best deal yet.
While I do like flying Delta, the choice was more good luck than anything. Last December, Delta filed a whole bunch of mistake fares. We caught it and ended up with 8 of us paying a mere $161.60 each roundtrip from LA… in First Class.
Delta’s frequent schedule changes meant my parents, my brother, and his wife weren’t willing to risk the early morning connection from Phoenix to LA. So instead, they flew Southwest in the day before. The morning of the flight, I dropped my wife and daughter at the curb to meet up with them, and I took my son to park the car (at QuikPark, of course) before making my way to the gate.
Delta saves its least impressive aircraft for the Hawai’i runs. This one was nearly 30 years old with the last 18 spent with Delta. It was originally delivered to Singapore but then picked up by ATA. We boarded early and took our seats. The aircraft looked old on the inside, but the seats were pretty comfy with leg rests that extended out from the seat.
September 20, 2014
Delta 1197 Lv Los Angeles 825a Arr Kahului (Maui) 1104a
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 55A, Runway 24L, Depart On Time
Kahului (OGG): Gate 35, Runway 2, Arrive 22m Early
N752AT, Boeing 757-212, Standard Delta colors, ~95% Full
Seat 2B, First
Flight Time 4h57m
There is nothing quite as great as boarding a flight to Hawai’i, because all of the excitement from everyone onboard. Despite the early hour, I was more than happy to take a mai tai and get the party started.
We were ready to go right on time, and we moseyed on over to the
south north runway complex for departure. As usual, we took off and kept going straight until we ran into an island.
Nancy was taking care of us for the most part, and she did an excellent job. Drinks came out quickly and frequently, and breakfast was started right away. We had ordered toddler meals (a Delta thing, apparently) for the kids, and Nancy was kind enough to bring those both out first so they wouldn’t have to wait. The pancakes were a huge hit.
I, on the other hand, had the eggs. (The cereal was all taken by the time she got to me.) They were kind of runny and not very tasty, though that could have been personal preference. My dad thought his were good.
We had all of rows 2 and 3, with the seatbelt sign off, we milled around a bit. It was my dad’s birthday so we all brought cards for him on the flight. Everyone was talking, laughing, and just having a good time… too good, apparently. Nancy came back and politely told us that some people were sleeping so we should keep it down. I’m amazed she was as nice as she was about it – we probably were getting too wound up but we toned it down quickly.
We hit a little chop and the seatbelt sign went on. The pilots must have forgotten about it because it never went off again despite smooth air most of the way. Every passenger pretty much ignored it, and that is so dangerous. If the sign is on, it should be for good reason. If people get too complacent, then they may not be belted when it really matters.
This airplane just had an overhead screen for entertainment. I was tempted to watch the movie simply for the throwback – these seats still had the place for the old pneumatic headsets to plug in in addition to the not-as-old-school two prong ones – but I resisted. Instead, we all just talked and relaxed, with Nancy feeding us just the right amount of drinks as we darted across the ocean.
There was a snack basket (not a “hearty” one, I don’t believe) with the usual pretzels, peanuts, and Biscoff cookies, which are quickly teaching my son to read (or at least spell Delta). Then it was time to start our descent. We came into a nice and breezy Kahului a few minutes early.
Normally I don’t talk about the ground experience, but I absolutely have to talk about what a horrendous operation Budget was running when we arrived. In the small, cramped office (you have to take the shuttle over there), it was hot and people were scattered everywhere. We were told we had to check in with someone first and give them our name. Then we had to wait 30 to 45 minutes before they’d call us and allow us to get in the long, snaking line.
It took well over an hour to get our cars (we had two), and they even had trouble finding our reservations. I gave the confirmation numbers and they magically appeared. The place was an absolute mess. I felt sorry for the people who worked there on the front line and had to deal with this. Of course, why did we pick Budget? Because it was the cheapest. You get what you pay for, I suppose, but we rented from Budget last year as well and it was fine then.
After a very relaxing week, we hopped in the cars and began the worst part of the trip – the drive to the airport to come home.
Dropping the car off at Budget was far easier than picking it up, though they did ask if we had had an “incident” pointing at some chipped paint. This location makes you do a walk-around before hand, however, so we had marked it. I’m still waiting to see some unauthorized charge show up.
The Pre-Check line was short, and we found ourselves behind a couple of United pilots. My son was really taking a hard look at their flight bags, and the captain opened up a pocket and pulled out a set of wings for him. My son was very excited, though I joked that he shouldn’t tell them who we were flying home.
We walked by gate 19, where Hawaiian just set up a display talking about how OGG got its airport code. (It’s from Captain Hogg.) Then we just kept walking. Delta uses gate 35, waaaay down at the end. The airport also seems to have turned off all moving walkways so it’s definitely a hike when dragging kids with you.
September 27, 2014
Delta 1196 Lv Kahului (Maui) 1236p Arr Los Angeles 839p
Kahului (OGG): Gate 35, Runway 2, Depart 7m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 68A, Runway 24R, Arrive 9m Early
N547US, Boeing 757-251, Standard Delta colors, ~99% Full
Seat 2B, First
Flight Time 4h50m
If I thought our airplane out left anything to be desired, it was only because I hadn’t been on this airplane yet. I believe Delta has about 342 different 757 configurations (though the airline is working on standardizing), and this one was an ex-Northwest airplane in rough shape on the inside. The seats had the same blue leather on them, but they were definitely different. These had drop down Greyhound-style footrests on them with the flimsy tray table coming out of the seatback instead of the arm.
It was a hot, humid day and the air conditioning was creating crazy condensation in the cabin. The seat in front of us was a little wet, but row 4 was just a mess. The flight attendants could only assure the occupants of those seats that this would stop once we were on our way.
We closed up early and followed a United 737 all the way to LA. It was a cloudy, rainy kind of day on Maui, but that was mostly over the island. Ahead were nothing but blue skies.
Unfortunately we our takeoff roll began, it became clear that the condensation was having quite the effect on the flight attendant call system. Row 4 was flashing on and off and the chime was sounding erratically every few seconds. People seemed very concerned. After all, the last thing you want is an electrical short over the middle of the Pacific. But the flight attendants didn’t seem to think it was an issue. I assumed it was fine, but does anyone know?
My son, who had been incredibly good on the way over, was back to his more challenging ways on this ride. He didn’t want to buckle his seatbelt or sit still. We got him to do it, but not without a fight. Once in the air, the entertainment began with a fabulous milk fountain spectacular. Yeah, I thought I had unscrewed the sippy cup, but… rookie mistake. That got my son’s pants wet, and he wasn’t happy.
I did calm him down, but then shortly after, my hand struck the still half full and now unscrewed sippy cup. It was a deluge. My son was now soaked and screaming at the top of his lungs. First things first, we changed him and calmed him down. Then I grabbed a bunch of tissues and wipes and got to work. One of the flight attendants was sympathetic (clearly having kids of her own) but the other didn’t look too happy. She should have been since I cleaned it on my own.
With everything looking good, it was time for food. The tray tables had seen better days. They didn’t come out and stay in position, so our trays kept sliding off. My son had another toddler meal of chicken nuggets and tater tots which he liked. I had this big ravioli, but I only had a couple of bites before deciding it wasn’t for me.
The flight went on, and my son was not happy about it. We finally got him to hang out with my wife so that was a welcome break. I was going to kick back and watch the movie, but they had the wrong one on the overhead screen. It was supposed to be X-Men, and I hadn’t seen that. Instead, they put Captain America on, one we had actually seen one night on this very trip. So much for that. I just pulled out my computer and started typing.
Snack baskets came through again and we grabbed a few Biscoffs to bribe my son if needed. As the sun set, we hit a few bumps and that meant more protests from my son needing to buckle up. But he settled down and the lights of Santa Barbara began to twinkle ahead.
Landing was uneventful but they did park us at the dreaded Terminal 6. There’s nothing wrong with Terminal 6 but it’s a long walk to baggage claim. At least LAX has finally allowed Delta to put some color in the long corridor between T6 and T5 now. It looks much better with photos and captions of cities along the way.
I grabbed the car and then it was time to head home.