If you live anywhere in the South, youâ€™ve likely heard the old joke that says “whenever someone dies, they donâ€™t go to heaven (or that other place), without connecting in Atlanta!”
Having spent 14 years living in various southern cities and connected through Atlanta more times than I care to remember, thereâ€™s no doubt the scene at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) the other weekend is one that wonâ€™t soon be forgotten.
A peak into an empty “C” gates at ATL, thanks to an airport worker who allowed this pic while the door for employees was open.
Recently, I needed to take a number of flights for family reasons, and in the current coronavirus climate, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My adventure took meÂ through one Delta mega-hub (Atlanta ATL) to another (Minneapolis MSP), where typically the flights would be full. However, this time they were only about 25 percent occupied. The ATL to MSP flight, usually an A321 or 757, had been replaced by a smaller 737-800.
No passengers and just 2 pilots occupy the “Plane Train” level at ATL below the C gates.
Atlanta currently has multiple concourses closed with fully sheetrocked walls and security doors to allow only airport and airline staff to enter. The â€œCâ€ and â€œEâ€ terminals were just empty shells. TV screens packed with flight info now had just a couple active monitors.
BONUS: Feeling the impact of COVID-19 on the US Commercial Airline Industry
The food court in the E terminal had just one restaurant open: McDonaldâ€™s. They were so happy to see anyone that they gave me 10% off my McDouble — that 20 cents will go far someday, I just know it! You know itâ€™s bad when even airport concessions start discounting prices.
A beautiful day and location for a run – Photo: John Huston
It is said that if youâ€™re running around on the fifth runway at Atlantaâ€™s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) youâ€™re having a very bad day. Either your plane has just crashed or youâ€™re about to be arrested and sent to jail for a very long time.Â Orâ€¦ maybe thereâ€™s something else going on that has the makings of a very good day.
I had the opportunity to run The Mayorâ€™s 5K on the 5th Runway at ATL on August 27. The race is an annual fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and sponsored by Delta Air Lines among others. Itâ€™s the one day a year where mere mortals, like me, can be out there laying down shoe rubber in the same place where the big jets lay down tire rubberâ€”without getting arrested.
On your mark… – Photo: John Huston
This is the third year for the race. I hadnâ€™t heard about it until recently, but once I did, there was no way I could resist the chance to participate.
There was one sort of catch, however. The race had to be over and the runway completely cleared by 8:00 a.m. You know, so the planes could land and stuff. Which means things began very, very early.
At the Qatar press conference on January 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, with LAWA Director Deborah Flint, His Excellency GCEO Akbar Al Baker, and Qatar’s VP for the Americas Gunther Saurwein (L-R) – Photo: John Nguyen | AirlineReporter
Qatar Airways held a press conferenceÂ on TuesdayÂ to highlight the carrier’sÂ entry into the Los Angeles market, with His Excellency, Qatar Group CEO Akbar Al Baker, providing his insights into the new service, as well has having some choice words regarding what he views as an unwarranted attack on his airline by the three big US-based carriers. AirlineReporter was on hand to live-tweet the event, and Al Baker did not disappoint.
Delta flight 2014, the final scheduled DC-9 (reg N773NC) flight, pushed back from the gate at MSP – Photo: Chris Spradlin
It was a cold day in Minneapolis, the coldest in decades. Despite the bitter temperatures, spirits were high at Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport (MSP) as Delta Air Lines was preparing to operate their final scheduled McDonnell Douglas DC-9 flight. As the aircraft touched down after the first flight of a two-leg ceremonial routing, the sendoff began and the DC-9 would soon be history.
A small gathering of Delta pilots, flight attendants, and tech ops were on hand to say goodbye to an old friend. A banner commemorating the DC-9 was hung on the wall for all to sign as passengers and employees indulged in the decorative DC-9 cakes. Before boarding, a ground operations employee shared some final thoughts about the DC-9, slipping up and saying “on behalf of Northwest Airlines,” which really sums up the history of the DC-9 at Delta.
Born 48 years ago, the DC-9 has outlived many other fleet types since its introduction with Delta in 1965. The DC-9 was once before retired from the Delta fleet in 1993, but was introduced again in 2008 after the merger with Northwest Airlines. Northwest also inherited their DC-9s via a merger, this time with Republic Airlines in 1986. The airframe which operated the final flight, N773NC, started its life with North Central Airlines in 1978.