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Trip Report rkkwan FC report DL transcon 7/26

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Haven't done any flight review lately, but I flew FC on DL JFK-LAX last Sunday. Only my 5th time flying in the front cabin, ever, and quite a few things happened, so here it is:

Why
I had to make a last minute trip to NYC. Cheapest coach fare is about $800 on VX and/or B6. So, I decided to cash in some of my DL miles. Outbound I was in coach LAX-ATL-LGA. Return, I got the non-stop from JFK in FC for 35,000 miles total and $20 tax and $150 fees.

Facts
Schedule: Sunday 7/26 3:50p 7:20p
Flight: DL 711 (Sunday-only flight)
Aircraft: B757-200 N6705Y (ex-Song, delivered in 2000), 26F/158Y. With live TV and AVOD.
Seat: 2A

Airport Access
I took the E train to Sutphin Ave and then switched to the JFK AirTrain. I had done this once before, and this time I knew better to take the elevators from the subway to the AirTrain lobby. Don't use the escalators. [BTW, NYC Subway is now $2.25, up 25 cents. AirTrain still $5.]

Delta's transcon and some other flights now depart from Terminal 4, which is where I went directly. Trancon FC have access to Sky Clubs at T2/3, but only the KLM Oasis Lounge at T4. I decided to check out the Oasis, even though it is landside.

Oasis Lounge
This lounge is run by KLM. It's not very big and many airlines at T4 use it, but when I got there at 2:20, it was pretty empty. I used the shower (one stall inside the men's room), which was nice. Free drinks, fruits as well as some hot food - samsosa, rice and chicken. It also has a decent view facing some of the planes parked at the T4. There are 4 computers to use if one doesn't have a laptop - that's me.

Security
At 3:10p, the regular line for T4 Concourse B was horrendously long. End of line almost at the bottom of the escalators. By my estimate, it'll take 45 minutes to clear; though TSA's website said 15 on that day. Anyways, I used the bypass line and got through in no time.

Boarding
When I got to the airport at 2:20p, the monitors say my flight departs from Gate B23. I've only used this terminal once before (a month ago), so I didn't realize B23 is a bus gate. By the time I got through security, there's not even a gate number for my flight 711 to LAX. I went to B23, and was instructed to go downstairs to the buses.

That was about 3:20p and they had just started boarding the first bus. [The plane was full, so about 184 passengers, which requires 2 buses.] Unlike in China, where FC passengers are taken in a separate van, here everybody takes the same buses. I got on and the bus backed out of the "gate" at around 3:30p. But instead of driving us to the plane, it just sat there for 15 minutes! I had one of the few seats, but it was stuffy, and people were starting to complain. Turned out the aircraft had just arrived and we had to wait until they deplaned the passengers from the inbound flight.

So, by the time we got the plane on the apron (remember I was in the first bus), it was already 3:50p, the scheduled departure time. A bottle of Dasani water was provided at each FC seat, but no individual beverage service before departure.

The second bus came shortly afterwards, but we had to wait for a third bus (I assume some late connecting passengers from T2/3 and/or those that got delayed at the security at T4). And after everybody got boarded, we had to wait for dispatch to deliver a new flight plan for the crew, presumably because of the delay and the weather. It started to rain hard - the typical summer thunderstorm.

(to be continued)

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