Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lee: PVG-ATL on Delta 18

22APR2008: Shanghai, People's Republic of China to Atlanta on Delta flight 18 in Coach

After getting checked in, I got a lounge pass to the contracted departure lounge in Shanghai. Delta offers all Skyteam Elite Plus and Business customers a lounge pass and as a Delta Platinum, I am also a Skyteam Elite Plus.

I clear customs and immigration without issues even with the 1 day stay and head to the lounge. The lounge was overcrowded and unimpressive so I decided to tour the airport. I still had these damn souvenirs to get. I ended up finding a great deal in the duty free shop for Cigarettes for my step-mom and a liquor for me. Both cost 37.00 US but it would have been almost 90.00 to purchase them here locally. After an hour and no luck with the gifts, I found a sore irony - the single largest supplier of these damn tourist trap gifts (shot glasses, etc) does not have 1 store that I found to actually sell them to the same Americans they make them for!?!

Depressed, I decided to head towards the gate as I knew we would be boarding soon. I passed the flight crew as they were heading to the gate to board and the ones that knew I was on the return trip were asking me how the layover was and the ones (like pilots) that didn't know I was on the return flight had this puzzled, deja vu look on their faces as I had been in the cockpit before departure in Atlanta 2 days earlier. Boarding was uneventful and I was happy to find that Bonnie, the coach lead FA I had gotten to know earlier on the first flight, was working my section on the return. I did have to defend my row one time to someone trying to change seats but there was no issues after that. I was fortunate enough to try both meals offered at dinner - the beef and pasta - as they had extra provisions after everyone was served. I watched several movies and ended up falling asleep after the sun had set. Our flight plan was an extremely southern route: we went out over Japan, started crossing the Pacific around Tokyo, and entered US airspace at basically the Oregon / California border. The winds must have helped the flight out. Even though we had less pax on board and had winds in our favor, we were heavier at 651,000lbs and 33,000 gallons of fuel - a fact contributed to the outrageous amount of cargo stuffed in our belly. This has been one of the top cargo performers for DL since starting.

I wake up once with some good turbulence that my seat belt has to restrain me - I quickly go back to sleep getting rocked to dream land. After some much needed sleep, I wake up to find I slept through the breakfast service and the FAs were preparing to clear the trays from the others that had eaten. Bonnie, not missing a beat, saw that I had woken up and she asked me if I was ready for breakfast. I told her yes and she quickly came back with not only the tray of food, but also a split of sparkling wine and 2 extra OJs so I could have a morning mimosa. She kept me well liquored up the entire flight, which I found as a nice gesture! I forced myself to stay awake as I could not throw my sleep schedule off anymore because I had a full week's worth of work starting early on Monday. I hung out in the galley some more to keep from falling back asleep.

After a very long 15 hours, we touched down on 27L and taxied to E concourse gate 17. Our flight would continue to TLV later that night as E17 is the only gate in ATL that has the supplemental security screening required for the TLV flight. I got home and quickly went to bed at normal time and was ready for work without incident.

I had a great time on my crazy weekend trip and I am already planning my next destination!

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