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

  1. That haze (according to the TV news) is all over the western US. The mountains over Santa Fe were barely visible Monday morning, and the smell of smoke was moderately strong, but it partly cleared out by early afternoon. Looks the same this morning, but no bonfire smell so far Tuesday morning here in the northern NM mountains.

    • Alex Hill says:

      And Canada. Here in interior BC, the visibility has been limited to a mile or two for most of the last week with all flights out of my local airport cancelled some days.

  2. A says:

    The old vintage Delta IFE systems are a bit long in the tooth. At least you were on the 737-800. Didn’t we just learn that aircraft runs on-time?

  3. Took this flight last month. The security line went out to the north glass wall, then to the curb and then back again to the middle of the terminal (1 hour wait for such a small airport). Then the morning of the flight DL changed my seat from 13F to 14F (a partial window on the B738 with two lap babies in the row). Live TV was not working but I recorded the World Cup Final because you can never trust it to work. Big deal? DL claims to be the best…

    • JuliaZ says:

      I thought two lap babies in one row is illegal, unless you mean that there were 6 people in 4 seats. There are only 4 oxygen masks on each side.

  4. James S says:

    This summer has been the haziest LA summer I’ve seen in ages. Even before the fires broke out, it’s been so unseasonably humid that every day seems to be hazy. I have a view of the Santa Monica mountains from my house and I see them maybe one day a week. It’s crazy.

    As for Delta’s Terminal 3… yikes. I’m a huge fan of vintage airport terminals but that place is beyond saving. Delta sure does a great job putting up signs advertising their new facilities (“working hard every day to build you a new ticketing building!”… ok, where is it?), but they don’t seem to be able to get any shovels in the ground. Same goes for the elevated people mover that LAWA has been posting renderings of on their Facebook page for the past two years. If this were anywhere else in the US, it’d be under construction by now, but I’m sure they’re still tied up analyzing the environmental impact on the dust mites living in Terminal 2 or something…

  5. grichard says:

    You probably want to send this question to info at crankyconcierge dot com, rather than as a blog comment. Not sure what luck you’ll have, though, since they weren’t involved. Good luck!

  6. ChrisC says:

    My first flight ever was RDU to LAX in 1975 (I was 5). It was most definitely not nonstop: the United 727 (classic blue and red Tulip colors) stopped in Knoxville, Kansas City, Denver, and then Los Angeles. I remember having a whole row to myself and sleeping part of the way (a kids’ flat bed). There was, of course, no entertainment except the geography channel out the window. Different times!

  7. Steve says:

    One quibble. The 737 – 800 “leaps” nowhere, certainly not into the sky. Creeps; lumbers, perhaps, at best. Just ask one of the pilots.

    • RD Rey says:

      Not true. The 800 is a perfectly sized 737 in terms of performance. The 700 for sure leaps into the air as it has the same wing and engines as the others. The original 737-900 (not ER) does NOT leap. It takes up a ton of runway and is a pig. Maybe you’re thinking of that series. I fly the -700,-800,-900 and -900ER on a regular basis.

  8. Michael says:

    Delta FA here- the 738 is one of my favorite planes to work…once we are in the air. It is frustrating during boarding for two reasons: 1. The IFE as you saw, however I just worked one with the updated IFE so it’s coming. 2. There are SO MANY Comfort+ rows. In my experience working this particular aircraft, they often get filled with Basic Economy people because those are the only seats left. So the gate agents will attempt to upgrade anyone with Medallion status, even if they weren’t eligible for an upgrade or didn’t put themselves on the Comfort+ list. The rest gets filled with summer Basic Economy travelers (translation: people who don’t know what they’re doing). You would be floored with how confusing people find the whole ABC DEF thing….thinking C is the window, F is on the Captain’s side, etc.

  9. Martin says:

    Can someone explain why some airports the airline employee takes your bag at the check in counter, where other airports they merely check your ID then you have to walk your bag over to a different place to merely place it on a conveyor belt ? Seems rather inefficient.

    • tharanga says:

      I think the latter mainly happens at airports where there isn’t room to install in-line bag screening, so you have to walk the bag over to the bag screening location.

  10. Jan says:

    Were you in upgraded seats? My last two flights of any length in a 737-800 (one United, one American) were painful. My butt was numb after a couple of hours. They’ve gone from frugal to punitive. (both 4 hour flights, Chicago to San Diego)

  11. Kevin L says:

    I’m glad to see that there is an excess of comfort +, which is useful if they price them no more than 20% over economy.

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