Delta to HNL, Part 1

Previously in my trip, I had an overnight stay at the Comfort Suites, where I didn’t sleep (incidentally, I’m never a good sleeper the night before I leave on a trip). Now, it’s time for me to fly on Delta from Milwaukee to Honolulu, via Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

My day started out really early (5:00 AM), after a sleepless night in my hotel (not caused by the hotel, but by my anxiousness to get out to Hawaii to meet up with my best friends in person again, and not wanting to miss a flight). I took the courtesy shuttle through the end of the night and beginning of the morning, riding with a couple of other folks who were going to LA as well.

Actually, it was a different LA to the one I was transiting through. They were on their way to Lower Alabama. Both gentlemen were from Up North, and were heading south for the Winter. It was a short drive to the airport as I was the last pickup for that round, and shortly after, my checked bag was left with the folks at Delta and I entered the airport, skipping check in since I had done so already (and paid for my bag) the night before from my phone.

Since I had a few minutes, I wandered around the pre-security area. There is a store that I like to look through when I’m at Mitchell Airport, simply because of the variety of items they have available. That store is Renaissance Books, and they have a wide selection of books to buy and peruse before you go through security. However, because of the hour, they were not open as of yet.

One other piece of advice I have to give is to, while at the airport, visit the Mitchell Gallery of Flight. It has a good variety of exhibits on the history of civil aviation, along with a small exhibit on Jim Lovell who most will know as part of the Apollo 13 crew.

The line for security to concourse D was about 3 lines deep, but was moving consistently, even with the full body scanner in action in the morning. After going through the recombobulation area, I headed to gate D43 for my flight out. If you’re in a bit of a rush and have a gate the far end of the D concourse, there are moving sidewalks available in the lower level, just follow the signs after security.

You will not miss too many shops at all, and there is a coffee shop, along with a small restaurant and news store available for you to peruse while waiting, but not as good a selection as other airports have after security.

Another note about Milwaukee – there is no free wifi available in the airport. In order to get online, you do need to either have your own mobile internet, or purchase a pass from the wifi operator in the airport, Boingo. They do have wifi available in a number of airports, including Dulles.

However, for me, I wasn’t too bothered, as it was still early in the morning, and I did have my phone with me. I spent a few minutes reading USA Today, which honestly isn’t worth $2 to buyโ€ฆat least to me. I ultimately recycled it before I got to Honolulu.

Soon after, they started calling our flight for boarding, and while I do not stand around waiting for my group to board from the minute they start boarding the flight, I do pay close attention so that I am among the first to board in my group, as that usually will ensure that I have space available in the overhead bin for my backpack ๐Ÿ™‚

Delta 1071
N946DN (previously owned by JALโ€ฆ)

Scheduled Dep MKE: 7:00 AM CDT
Scheduled Arr MSP: 8:28 AM CDT

Actual Dep MKE: 7:30 AM CDT +0h30
Actual Arr MSP: 8:18 AM CDT -0h10

boarding

This was the scene as we boarded. A couple of minutes later, I was confronted with a choice – when I went to Australia, I made it a point to ask the flight attendant upon entering the plane for a seat belt extender, which was necessary due to my extreme size. To be honest, I really should have been made to buy two seats on the flights last time. It just wound up that I was incredibly fortunate, and did not have to buy a 2nd seat.

I made the choice on this occasion to not ask for the extender right away. I figured, why not, let’s try to put the belt on naturally, low and across the hips. As it turned out, had I asked for one, I would have had to return it! The belt fitted me perfectly, which was very exciting for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Of special note on this flight was the announcement the crew made prior to closing the doors and heading out. The lead flight attendant made it a point to remind us that, even though the FAA had allowed airlines to file paperwork to allow for gate-to-gate use of electronics, it was still not official for Delta, so we had to adhere to the rule of no electronics during takeoff or landing. This was the only flight on this day that the new rules were discussed.

inflightmealThe flight to Minneapolis was delayed because of other incoming traffic into MSP, which meant that we had to get in line behind the other incoming flights and wait on the tarmac at Milwaukee, which is something that I would prefer than staying in the air and circling, wasting lots and lots of fuel in the process. The crew kept us updated as far as the progress, and after a smooth 48-minute flight, we arrived in Minneapolis, where the sun was shining.

While on our way, however, the flight crew did take the time to do a quick snack service, which in the morning consisted of a Biscoff cookie, and your choice of Coca-Cola beverages (of which I chose water).

Layover in Minneapolis

In my original plan, I only had about a 30 minute layover in Detroit, but thanks to my calling Delta and talking to a supervisor, I was able to get this particular flight arrangement, where I was able to transfer directly from the Milwaukee-Minneapolis flight to the Minneapolis-Honolulu flight via Los Angeles, instead of leaving things to chance with Delta transferring bags and making the flight in such a short time.

I have to give huge thanks to the person I spoke to – they not only waived the change fee, but they managed to get it that I didn’t have to pay the fare difference either. Epic WIN!

Of course, had I followed the original plan, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the awesomeness that is MSP. I actually lived in the Twin Cities for a bit of time while I was in college at the University of Minnesota, and it is certainly an area that I love to be in. One other small advantage, and one that I think Aussies would love to hear for shopping purposes – clothing sales are not taxed in Minnesota! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, my layover started out with visiting the restrooms. I then stopped at the lottery vending machine that was there, buying $5 worth of scratch off tickets. In the end, I won back $2 of the $5. After I bought the tickets, I discovered something that I never remembered in my previous trips to Minneapolis, since I had not had time to explore the airport too much.

takeoff

In concourse D of MSP, there is an upstairs viewing area available where you can look out on the planes, and watch takeoffs and landings on runways 12L/30R and 4/22. This is the transport and radio geek in me speaking, but I would love to have a way that you could plug your headphones into a jack and listen to the tower frequencies. ๐Ÿ™‚

However, the folks at MSP do make it easier for you to do that, as they do offer free wifi – the only thing you have to do is view a short ad for one of a number of sponsors, and you’re connected throughout the airport. Using the free Wifi, I was able to use the LiveATC app on my phone to listen in to the MSP tower without using my data plan.

After watching a few takeoffs and landings, I started walking around the concourse in search of breakfast and lunch. I wound up finding out another way that Minneapolis-St. Paul is superior to Milwaukee – the sheer quantity of shops and restaurants post-security. I stopped at one of the shops to pick up some souvenirs for myself and my friends (including a keychain shaped like Minnesota that has a very large sticker on it proclaiming that was made in Canada).

snoopyflyOne of the things, while I’m talking about the Minneapolis airport, that I love is the fact that there are two of the Snoopy statues that were created and decorated in 2000 to celebrate the life of Charles Schulz (a Minneapolis native) in the airport. The first one that I spotted was the one in the central mall, which I believe would have been designed by someone at Northwest Airlines.

charleysI then made my way to the central mall area, where they had a fully-featured food court, including one of the best sandwich shops out there – Charley’s Philly Grill, where I had a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich and hash rounds. I enjoyed my meal at a window seat in the food court, which again looked out on the tarmac and runway 4/22.

travelsnoopy

Once breakfast was done, I continued moving around the airport. I had enough time that I was able to do a full lap of the airport, aided by the moving sidewalk, making travelling around there such a breeze.

During my lap of the airport, I came across two things in Concourse A – first, was the travelling Snoopy right by the kids’ area. The second was a taco stand. But it was no ordinary taco stand; it was a place called Maui Tacos, and as you’re travelling along the moving sidewalk (which features a British lady informing you that the walkway was moving), there’s a huge map of Hawaii along the wall, showing off surfing spots around the islands.

Strangely, it only included Sunset on the North Shore, and not Waimea, Haliewa, or Pipeline. I’m thinking that was due to space ๐Ÿ˜‰mauitaco

I wound my way back to the end of Concourse G, at gate G22, stopping off at Subway and getting myself something for lunch to enjoy sometime later in the afternoon, probably in Los Angeles. At the gate, and this is something else that is cool, you had a bar set up where you could use some iPads that were put there as a courtesy of the bar (you could order food and drink from there and pay using your credit card).

Eventually, it was time for the ground crew to call our flight for boarding, and we started to make our way into the plane, and to get settled in for our flight to Los Angeles.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, there was something else happening. What happened would completely change the complexion of the day, and I’ll get into how it impacted on my trip next time.

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