[warning - there's a lot of background story before the actual flight story]
The company I work for downsized in August from 5 motorcoaches to 2 which doesn't leave a lot of work avaliable. I got one job at another company that runs a few old motorcoaches but mostly school buses and that didn't work out. I lasted only few weeks there. I quit in time to go through some training and make a delivery for this other Georgia-based company that handles "drive-away" freight. I had a friend take me up to Forest City, IA and on the afternoon of September 16th I left with a brand-new Winnebago RV. I had no idea until that day where I was headed. It was a coincidence that the delivery was to Georgia, I could have been assigned to go anywhere in the US or Canada. The only exception is that they don't put new employees on the Alaska runs.
So I took off and made my first night stop in Dubuque, IA on purpose so I could go to a job interview in Galena, IL (15 miles away) the next morning. The next day I went to my interview and then made my next night stop in Marion, IL. I went via Clinton, IA; the Quad Cities; I-74 to Champaign, IL; then finally I-57 to Marion, IL. It took 9.5 hours driving time (I'm only legally allowed 10), partly because the speed limit in Illinois is 55 mph for RVs and some other vehicles.
On the day I took the flight, I got up early in Marion, IL and hit the road. I made my first stop 2.5 hours away near Clarksville, TN; then my next stop 3.25 hours after that at the rest stop right across the Tennessee state line in Georgia. Once you're that far Downstate Illinois, you're pretty much IN the south. From the TN/GA state line, it was only an additional 2 hours to the RV dealer in Douglasville, GA which is about 20 miles to the west of Atlanta. From waking up to finishing the formalities at the RV dealer was only 9 hours.
So there I was at the RV place with no idea how I was going to get back home to Iowa. I called my brother-in-law and he got on the internet and looked for airfares for me. It was expensive to fly back to DSM, but he found me a one-way ticket ATL-MDW for $115.50
leaving later that night! God Bless You Delta Air Lines. Not a bad fare for four hour's notice.
I had the RV place call me a taxi. It was so far out there it was a $35 cab ride (flat rate) to the airport! I got to the airport pretty early, but it was late enough (within 3 hours of departure I think) to go ahead and use the self check-in kiosk which was pretty painless.
Before I checked in, I went through my stuff to make sure I didn't have any forbidden objects. I found an exacto-knife I keep in my backback and switched it over to my checked luggage. The scary thing was that I'm pretty sure that was in my backpack the last flying trip I took [see my last Flight Review]. That was three times through security in ATL, CVG & MDW! Woops!
After check-in I went in through security which wasn't too bad and I rode the people mover to my concourse A. I tracked down the place over there that has Guinness on tap and got some average-to-good chicken wings with a couple pints. I had to get up and go mail some paperwork to the company and then walked around a little bit but then went back and sat at the bar in the same place for even a couple more pints!
September 18, 2003
Delta Air Lines Flight DL 556
N3732J Boeing 737-832 (2000)
Seat 22A Window
LV ATL 0815pm EDT
AR CVG 0902pm CDT
I had to finish the last of the pints up quickly because it was time to board. I got on the plane and wouldn't you know it I had to use the restroom right away. I used the facility and on the way back to my seat, I remember commenting to the flight attendant, "you've got a dance floor back here!" to which she chuckled. The 738 was in the Delta Shuttle layout and for some reason the last couple rows on the port side were not installed. Are they all like this?
After boarding we pushed back on time and we had a very long taxi. We took off and started our relatively short flight to Chicago. After take-off I got my GPS reciever out for a little bit:
My camera didn't want to focus on it perfectly but you get the idea. This was my view out the window as there was a little bit of light left right after takeoff:
There was a service which consisted of a drink and a bag of pretzels as I recall. I got water since I quit consuming products that contain caffeine and I'm trying to stop drinking soda-pop all together.
Before I knew it there were rooftops outside my window for another interesting landing at Chicago Midway. I got off the plane, got my bag and took the CTA Orange Line to downtown where I would stay at my sister and brother-in-law's place the next two nights.
Overall it was a great flight experience. Delta came through in every way they should have. I think this was the first time I have ever booked a one-way flight for any reason. Anyway, I ended up taking Greyhound back to Iowa which wasn't too bad on the first bus out. We made one dinner stop and then one quick rest area stop and that was it all the way to Des Moines. I had my own pair of seats that whole leg of the trip. I actually bought a ticket to Ames since that was where my car was, so I had to take a connecting bus for the short half-hour trip up there. At the bus depot in D.M. I ended up talking to someone who was on their way home from being in prison. Then the bus up to Ames stank nasty
and there were some disgusting people on it. A brief reminder from the travel gods why Greyhound is an absolute last resort if you need to get somewhere.
Feel free to comment or ask questions.