Browsing Tag: Atlanta

An American Airlines Boeing 737-800 - Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDLMultimedia

An American Airlines Boeing 737-800 – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDLMultimedia

Recently, I had the chance to fly pretty similar flights from Seattle to Puerto Rico and back on Delta Air Lines and then American Airlines.

I had not flown on two domestic airlines back-to-back with so much the same, and I found there to be a pretty stark differences.

To San Juan, I took two Delta Boeing 737-900ERs with the newest interior (one was only a few weeks old). I flew from Seattle to Atlanta (shocking), then on to San Juan. On the way home, I took two American 737-800s. One had the Boeing Sky Interior cabin, but still shared entertainment screens. The second was an older 737-800, with no sky interior and also shared screens (but more on that later). I flew out of San Juan, through Miami, and then on to Seattle.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-900ER - Photo: Jason Rabinowitz

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 737-900ER – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz | TravelCat Industries

The cost of the tickets were exactly the same: $236 each way. I also earned Alaska Airlines miles for both flights, so I didn’t care about miles on either, nor did I have any status [update: I did not realize that Delta only gave me 50% Alaska miles vs American’s 100%. Still knowing this, it doesn’t change any of my choices or opinions since I am not much of a miles guy].  I was also in window seats and had similar seat-mate setups.

I went into these flights with no expectation of doing a story, but the fact that on similar flights, there was an obvious winner, I became motivated. And yes, you will have to wait until the end to see which airline won — no cheating!

This week, Delta Airline Lines celebrated their 70th year of being Atlanta’s hometown airline. This video helps to show how Delta changed from a small presence in Atlanta, when it moved from Monroe, LA in 1941 to now being the world’s largest airline. Over the years, Delta has grown to about 25,000 employees based just in Atlanta and adds over $25billion into the local economy.

“Delta Air Lines and Atlanta have a unique partnership that has been inextricably linked to the success and prosperity of our city and our airport for nearly three quarters of a century,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “The strong relationships among companies such as Delta, state and local elected officials and civic organizations are what make Atlanta not only a global, dynamic city, but a great place to live and do business. Congratulations to Delta Air Lines, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson and all employees on the company’s 70th anniversary as Atlanta’s hometown airline.”

To help celebrate Delta created a special Coca-Cola livery on the “Spirit of Atlanta” which is a Boeing 777-200LR.

* Twitpic of the Boeing 777-200LR
* The “Spirit of Delta” 767 at the Delta Heritage Museum
* Inside look at the Delta TechOps in Atlanta
* Video time lapse of Delta planes taking off in Atlanta
* Flying a Delta Boeing 737-200 Simulator in Atlanta

A Boeing 757 with its nose off in for work at Delta Tech Ops.

A Boeing 757 with its nose off in for work at Delta Tech Ops. Click for larger.

You hear a lot of complaints from folks about companies outsourcing. In fact, its known within the airline community that many airlines not do their own maintenance. Delta Air Lines works just the opposite. Not only do they not outsource their maintenance, but they also in-source work from other companies from around the globe.

Delta’s Technical Operations (TechOps) is located on the west east side of the airport and is about 1.5 miles long. My tour guide, Anthony Black, thankfully opted for a golf cart, since we had a lot of ground to cover.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is like its own city, but so is Delta TechOps. The TechOPs is so large, it has its own credit union, mini-hospital and interior roads complete with stop signs.

Delta Tech Ops has hundreds of engines worth millions of dollars each.

Delta Tech Ops has many engines worth millions of dollars each. Click for larger.

Delta flies many different aircraft types with a variety of engines. Down a long hallway are signs with different engine-types hanging from the ceilings (photo). Engines are located all all over the facility in different states of being repaired or overhauled.

Engines are very complex pieces of machinery composed of many different odd-shaped parts. Technicians need to be very careful of labeling each part to make sure they can put the engine-puzzle back together when completed (photo). When the composite fan blades are removed, they are stored separately and not allowed to touch (photo). Just be careful… each blade is worth about $20,000.00.

When the engine is done, it is moved into one of five test cells in the facility (photo). The test cell is a large wind tunnel and each engine will be run for about 8-12 hours to simulate a flight and to make sure it is ready to go back on an aircraft.  After it gets the thumbs up, it is either placed on an aircraft waiting at the facility or packaged up and possibly shipped anywhere in the world for a customer (flight-line photo).

Delta's paint hangars have lifts come down from the ceiling (shouldn't they be called "lowers" then?).

Delta's paint hangars have lifts come down from the ceiling (shouldn't they be called "lowers" then?). Click for larger.

The facility doesn’t just do engine work. They also work on anything from replacing small nuts and bolts, adding winglets and completing an overhaul of an aircraft. About 150 different companies will in-source maintenance at the TechOps center, meaning they keep busy.

Our next stop was taking a look at the paint hangars. They have been very busy recently with the merger with Northwest Airlines, getting all the planes painted over to Delta’s livery. I wasn’t able to see any Delta aircraft being painted, but I was able to check out a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 that was in for a new coat of paint (photo). The hangars have lifts that come down from the ceiling to allow workers to efficiently paint aircraft. This saves time, since the painters are easily able to work around the aircraft with their mechanical lifts.

The Delta TechOps is one impressive place. Not only with the size of the facility, but the scale of their operations. Next time you are flying to ATL, be sure to take a look out the window and see if you can check out some of the action happening at the TechOps.

Check out more photos of the Delta TechOps.

This is the amazing view from the Renaissance Concourse Hotel next to Atlanta's airport

This is the amazing view from the Renaissance Concourse Hotel next to Atlanta's airport

I know… what am I doing talking about a hotel on my airline blog? Well don’t worry, it is totally airline related. While chilling with Delta in Atlanta I stayed at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel. Yea, the room was really nice, so was the lobby, but that is not why I am writing about it. It is located right next to the airport (and I mean next to the airport).

You are able to sit out on your balcony and enjoy all the action that Atlanta’s airport has to offer. If you aren’t an airline enthusiast, getting a room on the airport side might not suit your fancy (or ears). However, if you love airlines, you can’t find a better place to stay in Atlanta.

Sitting on the balcony, enjoying the planes, maybe add a beer and you are living the life. The only thing I wish they had was Wi-Fi (they have ethernet) internet to enjoy on the balcony.

So next time you are staying in Atlanta, be sure to stay there, you will not regret it. They even offer Plane Spotter Specials! (and no, I was not paid by the hotel to write this…I just wanted to share since it is a pretty unique experience). If you have had a hotel experience like this, please share. I would love to go visit!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for me to share some pretty cool stuff that I learned and experienced during my time with Delta.

It is too dark and rainy to get a good photo of my plane today. But this is the Delta 767 that took me to Atlanta last year.

It is too dark and rainy to get a good photo of my plane today. But this is the Delta 767 that took me to Atlanta last year.

Back at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I was looking forward to seeing the new body scanners here, but there weren’t any in my security line…I am going to have to look into that.

I am on my way to Atlanta, GA to hang out with Delta Air Lines for the day. I am going to check out how they operate and talk to some folks to find out what their game plan is for the future.

Delta is currently the largest airline in the world. How does such a large airline manage 160 million passengers per year, 354 destinations in 65 countries, 75,000 employees and a fleet of more than 725 aircraft ranging from 34 passenger Saab 340B to the 403 passenger Boeing 747-400? I am not quite sure, but I am sure as heck excited to find out.

Today, I will be flying on a Boeing 767-300 and I have the privilege of testing out Delta’s domestic first class. This is great, since last year I flew on the exact same route in economy.

Do you have any questions for Delta you would like answered? Leave them in the comments or email me at and I will see what I can do.

UPDATE: I couldn’t see the reg number at the gate, but now know it is N136DL. has some pics of her in the old Delta livery.