Tag Archives: hartsfield jackson atlanta international airport

Inspired by a stranger

It’s funny how someone you’ve never met before can inspire you to do something; or to do more than you have been doing. Happened to me recently on a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles. After an early morning and somewhat busy day of work, I traveled to LA to meet a friend. Upon boarding my flight I found myself seated in an exit row middle seat. I’m not complaining as getting on this flight was touch and go. I made my way to the exit row and advised the gentleman in the aisle seat that I would be seated in the center seat. He stood up to allow me access to my seat when I noticed I had seen him earlier in the day while at work. Once I got settled I said, “You were at my job earlier today.” The gentleman works for a multinational company that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites. For most of the 4 hour flight we spoke about aviation, the aerospace industry, airplanes, and all that goes into designing, making and selling them. I learned a lot! To say I was on Cloud 9 would be an understatement. When we arrived at LAX we exchanged business cards and made a point to say we would keep in touch. To keep my word, I sent a follow up email letting him know what a pleasure it was to meet and that my trip to LA had went well (was attending a listening party for the singer/songwriter Seal). In keeping his word, he responded back. It was during his response that he mentioned he had visited the AirlineGuys website and noticed I hadn’t written anything in a bit. Color me embarrassed. I thank him for the reminder and said I would “get on it.”

So, here I am writing to you because a stranger inspired me.

Happy landings,

Sylvester

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Once a Virgin always a Virgin

While standing out on the south parking decks at ATL yesterday, I realized it was one of “those” moments. We were awaiting the arrival of the first Virgin Atlantic Airways jet to arrive at ATL. Not only was this the first Virgin aircraft to arrive at ATL, it was a Boeing 787-9! As reported from the official site for this special flight this will be the “first ever gig streamed mid-air from Virgin Atlantic’s new connected 787.” The flight featured performances by 2 of the UK’s hottest acts: Gorgon City and Rudimental. We have to say the SoundCloud performances (the London Mix was phenomenal) had us dancing, albeit from home. We weren’t lucky enough to be one of the lucky passengers on board. From the sound of things fun was had during the excursion from London to Atlanta!

The Virgin brand has always been about what’s “in”, fun, hip, cool, chic, even edgy. Whether it’s marketing, advertisements, activations, the on board experience, or uniforms, they pay attention to every detail. Throughout the travel ribbon you know you’re traveling on Virgin. There’s a sense of excitement, journey, and adventure. Sir Richard Branson is the brand. He is all of the above and has done a bang up job making sure the brand remains intact. As Delta now owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, it is our hope that the little airline that has stood up to the likes of British Airways and has carved out a niche, is able to retain its brand and not succumb to any pressures to be more mainstream.

Pic courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Pic courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

This is not the first time Delta has canoodled with a Virgin. Back in the mid-90s Delta and Virgin Atlantic placed their airline codes on certain flights between London (both LGW and LHR) and several US cities (LAX, SFO, JFK, EWR, BOS, MCO). Back then Delta took the code-share arrangement one step further than placing their code on Virgin Atlantic flights: Delta actually had its flight attendants on board these code-share flights. I was lucky enough to have this experience and spent 2 weeks in Crawley, just outside of London, at the Virgin training facility. We spent a good bit of the time learning the emergency procedures required as a Virgin flight attendant. I even learned what a “torch” and a “loud hailer” were. Training was intense. We had to learn all about the different types of 747s. The 747-400’s were easier as they were standard. The “Classics”, the 747-200’s complete with spiral staircases, were all slightly different. One, G-VMIA (India Alpha), had 2 lower galleys. Highlights of the training included learning how to deliver Virgin-style service on board. They were meticulous in how to serve Virgin customers. I can clearly remember the instructor saying: “When delivering a beverage to a customer, place the drip mat (napkin) down logo facing up, facing the customer. Richard (Branson) doesn’t print these for the customer not to see the Virgin logo.” Wow! Simple concept. It’s all about the details.

My friend CLiff and me at the Virgin training facility in Crawley.

My friend CLiff and me at the Virgin training facility in Crawley.

I even had the opportunity to meet Richard at his home in Oxford during one of the summer parties given for employees of the Virgin brand empire. We were standing near the front door of his home when he just popped out! I was taken with his unassuming and down-to-earth nature. We spoke with him for a few minutes letting him know we were Delta FAs flying the code-share flights. He thanked us for our work and then went into the crowd of hundreds who were in attendance. It was very surreal. It was one of “those” moments.

Seeing the Virgin 787 land at ATL brought back many memories of my Virgin experiences. Many companies could learn a lot from Virgin on how to deliver a better experience for its customers. Looking forward to seeing their aircraft regularly grace the skies of Atlanta soon. Thanks for the memories Virgin!

#flightdecks pic courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

#flightdecks pic courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Sylvester

 

Focusing on the journey

And then there was the time…I took my last flight as a flight attendant. It was an easy trip; a turnaround. And guess who’s on my flight? The one and only Stevland Hardaway Morris, aka Stevie Wonder. He was traveling with 3 other people who guided Mr. Wonder onboard and settled into first class. I wished them all a safe and enjoyable flight as we departed for Philadelphia. The flight back to my base was full. We had just enough time in tourist class to serve all the customers and pick up. During our decent I had a lovely conversation with the customers opposite my jumpseat. They were an older couple who had been married for many years and their “thing” was visiting baseball stadiums around the country. While not a fan of baseball, I found their story interesting; here were two people with common interests, enjoying themselves, the places they’ve been, and each others company. And just like that, my career as a flight attendant ended. No water cannon salute, no paparazzi, no throngs of well-wishers. What a beautiful ending.

Moral: It’s all about the journey, not the arrival. Imagine had my last flight been overly dramatic. It may have eclipsed much of what I had experienced up to this point. I find life to be more fulfilling when focusing on the journey; the experiences, the people you meet along the way, the lessons you learn, and not the arrival at the final destination.

Safe travels!

Sylvester

Delta Sky Deck – an observation

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Observation decks are reminiscent of the glory days of flying. There was a time when people would go out to airports for the sake of watching planes from these excellent vantage points. A few airports in the world still have them. They’re definitely a thing of a bygone era.  When we heard Delta was opening “observation decks” at two locations (JFK and ATL) we were over-the-moon with excitement.

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Dramatic red tarpaulins dissecting the blue skies

On June 10, 2013 Delta opened an all-new 1,710 sq ft Sky Deck at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The Sky Deck is an extension of the Sky Club, Delta’s lounge for frequent fliers and is located on F Concourse at the Maynard JacksonTerminal.
We were given the opportunity to visit the Delta Sky Deck and here is our account.
When entering the Delta Sky Club on F Concourse our first impression was modern and clean. Once inside the Club we were greeted by an immense, 2-story glass wall which gave us a bird’s eye view of the taxiways, runways, and the airport control tower. Talk about avgeek heaven! The Club is standard in its look and feel across the Delta domestic system. There is ample seating arranged individually and group seating configurations, business center, work stations, quiet area, high top tables, bar area, espresso/coffee machine, and a variety of snacks (from sweet to savory, from healthy to indulgent). Other amenities included power ports to charge your electronic devices and free wifi. We did notice that the wifi was very slow. We surmised it may have been slow due to the number of passengers in the lounge at this time.
What makes this Sky Club unique, like its counterpart at JFK, is the Sky Deck; a partially enclosed outside seating and gathering place for Sky Club members. Cozy sofas, chairs, ornamental shrubs, and high top tables adorn this oasis. The blue sky was dissected by large red decorative tarpaulins. Members have an unfettered view of all the airport activity going on below. During our visit there was a Delta 747 destined for Tokyo, a 737 parked just below, and we even saw the Delta 767-400 BCRF plane (pink plane) taxiing by. Being on the Sky Deck harkened back to an era that no longer exists at many of the world’s airports. We both agreed that more Delta Sky Clubs should have Sky Decks.

At both ATL and JFK, Delta collaborated and partnered with Architectural Digest and designer Thom Filicia to develop the Sky Deck terraces. Many may remember Thom Filicia as the interior design expert in the highly enjoyable, amazingly energetic, Emmy-Award winning hit show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

For those who are not a member of the Sky Club, and want to have this unique experience, there are various ways to gain access. These include, but aren’t limited to: paid membership, using miles for membership, purchasing a 30-day or 1-day pass, and various options through the SkyMiles American Express Card. Please click to see what options are best for you, locations, and amenities offered at Delta Sky Clubs.
We enjoyed our time at the Sky Deck at the Sky Club on F Concourse at ATL. When your future plans take you via Atlanta and you have time, you should definitely check it out.
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Sylvester & Darin

AJC article — “Absolutely beautiful, the sheer monster size of it” — Korean Air A380 lands in Atlanta

We had the pleasure to speak with AJC aviation reporter Kelly Yamanouchi recently to discuss aviation and the arrival of the Korean Air A380…the world’s largest passenger plane. Here is the article. Thank you Kelly for helping us to spread the word on how truly wonderful aviation is.

Sylvester Pittman and Darin Topham, airlineguys

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Korean Air A380 taxis to gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Picture provided by airlineguys

 

BY KELLY YAMANOUCHI – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Airport workers stopped their tugs to watch. Catering employees came out to take a look. A child atop the Terminal South parking garage stood on a cooler for a better view. Dozens of adults pulled out their cameras and smartphones to capture a piece of history.

And, yes, time stood still.

At least, that’s how it felt to Sylvester Pittman.

“It was almost as if traffic sort of stopped for a moment as that plane came in,” Pittman recalled, savoring a moment that, for him and Atlanta’s legions of av geeks, had been a very, very long time coming.

And yes, that’s av geeks — short for aviation geeks, the tribe of airplane connoisseurs for whom last week’s arrival of the first Airbus A380 to fly into Hartsfield-Jackson was almost a religious event.

You see, for av geeks, an airplane is more than just a mode of transportation. It’s a fabulous machine. A technological wonder. A thing of beauty.

The super-jumbo Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, has been flying around the world since 2007. But the world’s busiest airport was not on its itinerary, much to the frustration of Atlanta’s av geeks.

“It seemed like it was never going to become a reality,” Pittman said.

The day finally arrived exactly one week ago when a Korean Air flight from Seoul touched down.

“Amazing,” rhapsodized Pittman.

“Absolutely beautiful,” breathed av geek Jeanene Wilson, “the sheer monster size of it.”

(How big is the A380? Big enough to carry 853 passengers, though current versions are configured to carry far fewer. Powerful enough to lift off weighing more than 1.2 million pounds.)

As you might expect, Atlanta’s enormous aviation industry supports a strong, close-knit community of passionate av geeks.

Pittman and his friend Darin Topham, both former Delta employees, run a website called airlineguys.com targeted at that community.

These are folks who track flights online and on apps, following them around the world as if the planes were celebrities. They travel to other cities just to hang out at the airport and watch planes take off and land.

Sometimes they’re stalking a specific plane, like the A380 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Sometimes they’re content to watch any plane, every plane, all the planes they can.

Av geek Chris Byington grew up in Washington, D.C. watching the Concorde come and go. On Wednesday he watched the A380’s second landing in Atlanta, marveling at how he could smell the jet fuel and see the grass ripple from the engine blast.

A 27-year-old MBA student at Georgia State, he visits Hartsfield-Jackson about once a month, just to plane-watch. “It’s just cool,” he said. “I guess I’m still a little kid.”

Pittman has flown to Los Angeles and Washington to indulge in plane spotting. Wilson likes to travel to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten to watch planes fly directly over her head on a beach near the airport.

Craig Campbell, an ExpressJet dispatcher who took photos of Wednesday’s A380 touchdown, flew to Boston this weekend to embark on a plane-spotting cruise.

It doesn’t take an av geek to understand the fascination of a behemoth like the A380. But listening to them talk planes is like listening to wine snobs wax poetic over rare vintages.

The 777? “Always a delight to see,” Pittman said.

The 747? “Never ever gets old. Just never gets old.”

The 787? “It’s a very, very beautiful plane. The technology alone makes it very special. The profile makes it top notch.”

Huh?

“The nose makes it beautiful, and how the engines sit on the wings,” he strove to explain. “The vertical stabilizer also kind of makes the profile complete.”

OK. Maybe non-geeks will see what he means once the 787 arrives in Atlanta, an event for which no date is yet set.

“We can only hope,” Pittman said. “And the day that happens, we will definitely be out there.”

Pittman’s affection for planes was kindled when he took his first airline flight in the summer of 1981 at the age of 16.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday,” a flight back from a summer program in Atlanta to his home in Florida, he said. “And after that trip, I knew, this was it. I was hooked.”

That summer, he also toured the Atlanta airport’s new terminal complex, which had opened the previous fall.

“We went out to the airport and rode the train from concourse to concourse,” Pittman said. The people-mover train “was very futuristic at the time.”

He knows that when most people think about air travel, they think of the delays, the security hassles and the baggage fees.

But in the community of av geeks, “We also still embrace the wonderment about what aviation is all about,” Pittman said.

“It all culminates to going down the runway and lifting off, and being free from the earth and being able to fly.”

Korean Air inaugurates A380 service to Atlanta

It had been a long time coming. The arrival of the Airbus A380 to ATL, that is. While other airports welcomed the A380 with opened runways and taxiways, ATL wasn’t ready or prepared for the arrival of the world’s largest passenger airplane.

The title of a 2005 article in AccessNorthGa summed it up: “Airbus A380 won’t be landing in Atlanta anytime soon”. During this time airport general manager, Ben DeCosta stated ATL is not approved to land the A380 and didn’t think the market could support the double-decker superjumbo. Furthermore, it would also cost millions of dollars to widen taxiways and install additional jetways to help offload passengers on this plane which can accommodate between 500-800. Back then airport spokeswoman Felicia Browder said, “It’s just not the time or place. That’s just the mind of the (airport’s) leadership right now.”

Fast forward to September 1, 2013. After a few cancelled announcements of the commencement of A380 service to Atlanta, Korean Air finally touched down at Atlanta to much fanfare.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are a few pictures celebrating the arrival of KE 35 to Atlanta.

To see the FULL celebration visit our Flickr page by clicking here. Enjoy!

An Unlikely Resting Place

An Unlikely Resting Place

Nestled between two runways, at the world’s busiest airport, you’ll find an unlikely resting place. Between the takeoffs and landings of RJs and jumbo jets you’ll find a place that’s serene, peaceful, and reflective. It’s the Flat Rock Cemetery.

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Having lived in Atlanta in the early 90s, we knew of this cemetery and the area that surrounded it. During the early 90s, and before the latest airport expansion took place, this area was home to many families. Single family homes, cottages, and apartment buildings were shaded by oaks and pecan trees. Today this area is unrecognizable. Gone are the homes, schools, parks, and most of the trees. One thing that hasn’t changed is the Flat Rock Cemetery.

We visited the Flat Rock Cemetery recently to take a look around. And here’s what we learned.

The Flat Rock Community was settled just before the Civil War by inhabitants who were farmers. In the year 1872 they establish the Flat Rock Baptist Church and erected the first building in 1875. Over the years the congregation grew. However, in the 1960s as the Atlanta Airport began to expand the congregation of Flat Rock Baptist began to dwindle. By 1970 the land of Flat Rock Baptist, except the cemetery, was sold to the City of Atlanta. The oldest marker is  from the year 1877.

Of the pics taken at the Cemetery, this one has to be the most fascinating. If you look closely you’ll see a green apparition. Not one to believe in such things, seeing this has really freaked me out. The pic has been shared with those into psychic and paranormal activity and some of the things that have come back have been interesting. One clairvoyant says, “it’s been around for awhile, seems very active with spirits (some good, some not so much), there’s an uncomfortable yet calming feeling about this pic.” We showed the pic to a medium and she said, “First impression, angelic guardianship of the souls there. Second, healing of souls there.”

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While at the Cemetery one of the most profound moments was seeing the grave markers for the Thrailkill children. Four of their children all passed away within the first year of their lives. The medium tends to think it may be one of the the children.

I know many people don’t believe in this type of phenomena, and this is understandable. All I’m doing is reporting what was observed on this visit to the Flat Rock Cemetery.

The next time you’re in Atlanta and have time we encourage you to swing by and take a look around. Not only is this a historical place and peaceful place, it’s also a great place to watch planes take off from the world’s busiest airport.

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