Just a couple months after my last trip to Portland, it was time to return. And just like last time, I had a bunch of flight issues before travel.
We were actually heading up for a family wedding in the Willamette Valley an hour outside Portland, and after we booked… the wedding date changed. So we lost those bookings (though got lucky when an Alaska schedule change let us get at least one way refunded), and we rebooked for the week earlier on Southwest up with Delta taking us back… until Southwest canceled our flight up due to MAX issues. Once that was refunded, we bought a ticket on Delta going up and we were finally set.
For people who fly Delta regularly, this won’t be anything overly exciting. For those who don’t, take notice It was just another nearly-flawless Delta performance
We left home early to get up to LAX during rush hour, park at Quikpark, and then shuttle into the terminals. On the bus, our gate changed from the miserable Terminal 3 over to the much nicer Terminal 2. That was good news since we had time to kill. My daughter insisted on wearing a “happy birthday” headband even though her birthday was a couple months ago. That means we had all kinds of people wishing her happy birthday. The line minder at security even sang to her. We were through in no time.
We found our gate in the back corner of the concourse and grabbed a seat. There was enough seating, but man, was it busy in there. That place is a madhouse. Once we grabbed our seats, a gate agent named Kevin came up to me and said, “Are you the Cranky Flier?” I cautiously said yes, but I was concerned that Delta was flagging me and that’s how he knew. That wasn’t the case. He said he’d been reading the blog for years and just recognized me. I quickly warmed up, and we talked until it was time to board.
We were in Main3 for our boarding group, and I was surprised to see no crowding in the gate area at all. It was just a nice orderly process. By the time they called Main3, the last group before Basic, I was afraid there wouldn’t be room for bags. Oh, was I wrong.
September 13, 2019
Delta 473 Lv Los Angeles (LAX) 916a Arr Portland (PDX) 1134a
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 26A, Runway 24L, Depart 3m Early
Portland (PDX): Gate D3, Runway 10R, Arrive 5m Late
N315NB, Airbus A319-114, Standard Delta colors, ~95% Full
Seat 19B, Coach
Flight Time 2h6m
The retrofitted A319 is a glorious bird. The bins are just so big, and there was no problem finding space for everyone’s bags.
The cabin looks modern. We sat down in our seats to find a big monitor staring back at us. My tray table was dirty on the front but otherwise the plane looked immaculate.
Adding to the star power of the airplane itself was… a celebrity. Oscar Nuñez (Oscar from The Office) was sitting in First Class.
Once in the air, I was surprised to hear the flight attendants say that service wouldn’t begin until we had reached our cruising altitude. It took a little while to get there, but the carts came out promptly once we leveled out. I had started flipping through TV options and saw they had Shrill from Hulu, something I had heard about but hadn’t seen since I don’t have a Hulu subscription. I watched three episodes and that made the time pass quickly.
Seeing the flight attendants coming, I opened my tray table to find a wet, sticky, and disgusting mess.
What kind of person leaves a table like this?! I asked the flight attendant for a napkin, and she gave me one. But when she turned, her eyes got big and she asked if it was like that when I got on. She looked horrified, and wet some napkins to help clean it up.
With that fixed, we were given our choice of nuts, Cheez-Its, Biscoff, and Kind bars. My son and I both chose Biscoff… one for him and one for his cousin who was flying Southwest up to meet us and wouldn’t be so lucky otherwise.
I could log on for an hour of free wifi thanks to T-Mobile, so I did that while I was watching TV. It’s times like these that remind me how much I do appreciate having those separate screens.
We flew up the coast and then turned inland around Monterey. That means we were strategically positioned for an expansive view of the San Francisco Bay Area on a clear day.
It wasn’t long before we were descending into Portland. There were some low, scattered clouds that made for a scenic approach. We had to go way west and hold our altitude under 3,000 feet for several minutes, dodging and cutting through the clouds before we turned back to land.
The wedding was a success and the weather stayed clear for it. I do have to say a couple things about this place. First, the Evergreen Aviation Museum. What a great spot. Go. And bring a bathing suit because of the water park that has a 747 on top of it where all the slides start. (I didn’t go in because I didn’t have a swimsuit. Next time…)
Second, I have to give a shout-out to the Atticus Hotel. It’s not often that I have an experience at a hotel that sticks with me, but this place… words just can’t describe it. They made us feel like family from the moment we arrived. We asked the front desk agent when we arrived that first night where we should go for dinner. She said she had a great idea but wanted to make sure they could fit our group of 10. When they didn’t answer the phone, she said it was just a block away so she RAN OVER THERE. It was just so good the entire time. They remembered what we were doing and asked us how the wedding was when we returned. And the rooms… the rooms were beautiful. We had a Luxury Balcony Suite. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth the price. That’s not something I say often.
When we woke up on Sunday for the return, it had turned gloomy, and not just because we were leaving this glorious hotel. A storm front had moved in, and the rain was pouring down. It was also much chillier. We hopped in the car and drove the hour back to the airport. After dropping off the rental, we walked back into the terminal through the underground tunnel. Security was a breeze, and we were back at the same gate at which we had arrived two days earlier.
The flight before ours was boarding, so newly-vacated seats were easy to find. We sat and waited it out until boarding began. Boarding was a repeat of the way up. People weren’t crowding at all, and it was all nice and orderly.
September 15, 2019
Delta 473 Lv Portland (PDX) 1215p Arr Los Angeles (LAX) 231p
Portland (PDX): Gate D3, Runway 10R, Depart 2m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 37A, Runway 24L, Arrive 12m Late
N371NB, Airbus A319-114, Standard Delta colors, ~99% Full
Seat 18B, Coach
Flight Time 2h00m
We had pretty much the same experience going back with huge bins and friendly flight attendants… and celebrities. This time, Camryn Manheim was in First Class. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise since she’s in the new series Stumptown which is filmed in Portland. My wife said there was another guy she recognized but couldn’t place him. Apparently Delta is the airline of the stars, at least on this route.
Taxi-out was long probably because only one runway is open right now. This was good for me, because we I wanted to watch the movie Long Shot. It is 2h6m and the flight was 1h56m. The race was on.
We took off into the murk and climbed through it for awhile until peeking our heads above it at cruise. The flight attendants came through as usual, and I became a power user. I had my daughter’s TV tuned to the Rams game since she was glued to her tablet. My TV was on Long Shot. Then I broke my computer out to write this up.
Every few minutes, the flight attendants came through with water. They were a constant and welcome presence. At one point, I had to take my son to the lav. If the airplane has one flaw, it’s those rear space-saver lavs. They are so damn tiny.
We did the usual approach from the north, swung around downtown LA and landed on the north runways. This time we parked in Terminal 3. What a mess that place is. I took this photo of the hordes waiting to board after we arrived.
Sure, it looks much better than it did in the Virgin America days. There is a new coat of paint, new eateries, and a more professional look. But it’s a construction zone as they work to finally replace this thing. For now, the neck of the terminal is completely cut-off. Travelers have to go through security on the lower level and walk through the old baggage claim tunnel to get to the gates. This is a return to its roots as a true satellite building.
We navigated our way out, sat in traffic while the Quikpark shuttle crept around the horseshoe, and finally headed home. I couldn’t help but think about how much more pleasant it was to fly Delta than many other airlines I’ve flown recently. And did I mention the bins?