(Flown on March 7, 2017)
After three days of spotting in Miami, it was time to head back to Japan. While on my way there, I flew from Tokyo to Miami via Detroit and Atlanta, on my way back, I was only transferring once – in Detroit. I was looking forward to the flight as it was my first time onboard an MD-88.
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Getting to the Airport
I took the first shuttle from my hotel at 5AM. As such, I arrived at the airport over two hours before the 8AM departure. After checking in at the nearly empty Sky Priority lane, I went through the security.
Even though there is a separate Sky Priority lane, it merges with the non-priority line fairly early. At the early morning hour, there were not many people in the non-priority line, and as such being in the Sky Priority lane made no difference.
Once through the security, I enjoyed some lounge hopping.
First I went to two Priority Pass lounges in Concourse J – the Avianca Sala VIP and VIP Lounge by LATAM. After that, I returned to Concourse H where the flight was departing from, and visited the Delta Sky Club there.
My flight was scheduled to start boarding at 7:20AM for its 8AM departure, and so around the time the boarding was scheduled to start, I got out of the lounge and headed to gate H5 which was just a minute walk away.
At the gate, N912DE, a MD-88 was already waiting. I was glad that there was no type change since it was my first MD-80 flight outside of Iran, and my first MD-88 flight ever.
Boarding started at 7:28AM, first for passengers requiring assistance, followed by premium zone passengers a minute later. As my upgrade to first class was confirmed the day before, I headed onboard.
I settled in my seat, 1D, where a blanket and a pillow, as well as a bottle of water were already waiting for me.
Some minutes later, the cabin crew made an announcement mentioning an expected flight time of two and a half hours. At that time, the passenger next to me asked if I was from Michigan. After telling her I was from Europe and living in Japan, we chatted for a while.
With the boarding finished, the flight attendant in charge of first class came to take pre-departure drinks orders. Then, some minutes after receiving my Coke Zero, the flight attendant came back to take breakfast orders:
“Mr. Nukina, what would you like for breakfast? I can offer either cheese and egg sandwich or cereals, fruit, and yoghurt plate.”
I ordered the cereals with a glass of orange juice.
Once the breakfast orders were taken, the cabin crew went on to do the pre-departure announcements.
“Once again, please, place your airplane in… ohh, I mean, your cellphone in the airplane mode,” the flight attendant spiced up the boring announcement.
Cabin crew closed the door at 7:54AM, and eight minutes later, we were pushed back.
Another ten minutes later, we reached runway 8R and started the take-off roll. Because I was sitting in the first row with (almost) no view of the wing and due to the low height of the MD-88, the take-off run felt like a very fast (and slightly bumpy) bus ride.
Our 8:15AM lift off was followed by a sharp climb during which we were offered excellent views of Miami. However, as it was cloudy, soon those views were gone.
Fifteen minutes after take-off, the service begun. First, hot towels were handed out. Hot, as in burning hot. Then, another ten minutes later, the crew came by to put a table cloth on the tray table in preparation for the breakfast service.
In the meantime, the captain announced that we reached our cruising altitude of 31,000 feet, and switched the seatbelt signs off.
The meal service itself started around 8:50AM when the pre-ordered drinks were distributed.
This was followed by the actual meal a couple of minutes later. The meal was very nicely presented on a faux wood tray. It was tasty (there is not much that can go wrong with cereals), and the portion was large enough for that time of the day. The sandwich that my seat neighbor ordered looked very appetizing as well.
It took less than 20 minutes for everyone to finish their meal. Once the passengers finished eating, the crew came by to collect the trays and offer some more drinks.
The Rest of the Cruise
For the rest of the flight, I worked on a couple of articles for the blog – which, unfortunately, due to a computer crash, I later lost and had to rewrite – and chatted with my neighbor.
There were no personal (or shared for that matter) monitors on the aircraft. However, it had wi-fi and offered Studio One – Delta’s on-demand entertainment system accessible through personal devices. I didn’t watch any of the movies offered, but I briefly connected to the system and checked out the in-flight map.
Also, about an hour after the meal service, the crew passed through the aisle offering bottles of water.
Landing in Detroit
At 10:20AM, an announcement was made that we would be arriving at Detroit airport’s gate A31.
One of the flight attendants also passed through the aisle with her tablet asking passengers if they needed any connecting information. To save myself time later on in the terminal, I confirmed with her that my connecting flight to Narita would be leaving from gate A50.
Five minutes later, we started our descend. Another thirty fairly bumpy minutes later, the landing gear was lowered and we emerged out of the clouds.
Finally, at 10:59AM – after a flight time of 2 hours and 45 minutes – we landed on Detroit Metro airport’s runway 22R. Then, a seven minute taxi followed before we arrived at our gate.
As I only had about an hour to transfer, I did not wait for all the passengers to disembark to take cabin photos, but I visited the flight deck briefly.