New York: October 2020
Arrived in Newark a good 15 or 20 minutes early. The flight board looks much healthier than LAX's, but the terminal still looks much the same as it did eleven months ago, with construction everywhere.
Sadly even landing 20 minutes early wasn't quite enough to make sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge, but it was pretty close. And it was still plenty early on a Saturday that almost everything was still closed aside from the hardiest of fishmongers and vegetable stands in Manhattan's Chinatown.
Fortunately it was about the right distance for a leisurely walk to Baz Bagels for brekafast #1. The Baz, their lox-and-cream-cheese-and-bagels, was superb, and the dozen bagels I ordered to take home were a much more massive box than I expected. o_0 Then a second walk for a perfect 8:55am arrival to the highly regarded Clinton Street Baking Company. Breakfast here is worth the trouble. They do a pancake that manages to be so fluffy and yet crispy, friggin' amazing. The eggs and bacon are also delicious. Throw in a bloody mary for background and well, let's just say I'm still smacking myself for taking so many decades to come here!
Next stop JFK, for the final Delta Airlines Boeing 777 flight. Not many aviation enthusiasts at the gate, and zero signs of the flight being anything special. Late found out that a Delta Diamonds group had gotten ahold of half of the first class (Delta One) seats and had their own party in the Delta SkyClub. Only a few minutes before the flight itself started boarding did the captain give a little speech, and a previously-hidden crowd emerged to take pictures with the flight crew.
The flight itself was festive, although aside from a second round of ice cream, Delta didn't have anything to commemorate the occasion. An hour or so in they had to go on the PA to ask people to stay in their assigned cabins, as people were too excited!
Five and a half hours later, a smooth landing at LAX on the customary runway 24R, and then much to everyone's disappointment-- no water cannon salute. Nor was I able to make it to the cockpit for photos due to some confusion with the over-enthusiastic ground crew... but instead they let a bunch of us on to the tarmac for photos!!!
As getting on to the tarmac is... exceptionally rare. Let's just say that was an unexpected treat, and more than made up for the lack of other celebration.
Terminal 2 at LAX is almost as sad as Terminal 4 at JFK, with the flight board looking equally pathetic. But it was still good to extract some bits of excitement in what has otherwise been an extraordinarily tough year for the aviation industry. Farwell, Delta 777, and especially SN #7101 on special flight 8777. Glad I made it onboard one last time!
Side note: some hardy souls waited the extra 90 minutes for #7101's final takeoff, to the boneyard at Victorville (VCV), just 24 minutes away. As much as I wished I had stuck around for the beautiful sunset takeoff, after being awake most of the past two days, I was just too beat to push the last few hours. *sigh*