Aug 072011

So the time had arrived, time for my second eastbound transatlantic with United in first in just under a month. However, since we’d crossed the month marker the menu should theoretically have changed, and should be an interesting flight. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the “early” flights out of Dulles – they make it far too hard to sleep normally, and they mean skipping out of the office slightly early. Oh well, nothing a little red wine can’t fix!

Despite it being the evening rush at Dulles, things were pretty quiet, and I was checked in and through security in no time at all…just in time to make it to the United First lounge (hello being the Foursquare Mayor!) and devour a good quantity of shrimp cocktail before heading for the gate. Things were quite uneventful, the crew was attentive, and doors were closed a few minutes ahead of time and we were off!

United 950 Washington Dulles (IAD) to Brussels (BRU)
Seat 1J, First Class
Boeing 777, Registration N775UA

As soon as we were off the crew sprang into action, and it was time to eat!

Appetizer: Jumbo lump crab cakes with béarnaise sauce.

This was reasonably tasty, but living so close to Maryland, I have to admit I’m spoilt. That said, neither really good, nor really bad.

Nest we moved onto the soup, which was promised as Lobster Bisque, but instead was a “seafood bisque.” Slightly uninteresting, and after a couple spoonfuls I decided to give it a pass.

Next up was the salad. A promised “Fresh seasonal greens with dried cranberries, walnuts, crumbled blue cheese and seasoned croutons.” All things considered for an airline salad, it was decent…I never understand why crews don’t get the concept of “dressing on the side” or “easy on the dressing.” Oh well, it was still pretty tasty!

Now, it was time for the main event. I mean main course…four options today:

1) Herb-Crusted Sea Bass: Asparagus with sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper rice pilaf
2) Specialty Vegetarian Lasagna: Layers of pasta, cheese and vegetables with flavorful herbed sauce
3) Grilled Filet Mignon with Roasted Garlic and Herb Compound Butter: Mashed red skin potatoes with green beans and carrot baton nets
4) Roasted Chicken with Fire Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: Cheese Polenta with wild mushrooms and ratatouille

Now, as tempting as anything with cheese polenta is, I went with my usual “sleep on plane asap” plan, and went for the dead cow. With red wine. Repeat. Never fails to deliver the expected results. Except, in this case, the cow was actually nearly perfectly cooked. Somewhere south of medium, close to medium rare, and one of the better steaks I’ve ever seen on a plane. Well done United!

Now, I really don’t remember what happened next. I blame this on the fact it was a month ago, and not on the quantity of red wine consumed at this point. I’m pretty sure I didn’t pass up the ice cream sundae…but it’s possible. I have a vague recollection of asking for the cheese plate followed by the ice cream sundae, and that I was too tired when the ice cream took so long so I passed out for 5+ hours. That may well have been what happened.

Arrival into Brussels was early, and immigration was quick, and I actually succeeded for the first time ever in getting Belgian Immigration to not speak English to me. It was a small victory, but you have to take them where you can.

Outside immigration, across to the other terminal, through fast track security (I love European airports with mobile phone scanners at security) and soon I was at the best place in the Airport: Starbucks. Now, I don’t care that the Iced Venti Americano was north of $8 – at this stage in my life (being around 2am EST) it was worth every penny.

Off to the gate, and it was time to head off to Frankfurt. Quick chat with Matt who was on his way to London City to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and confirmed everything was looking just swell. Famous last words.

Lufthansa 1005, Brussels to Frankfurt, Seat 4A
Boeing 737-500, Registration D-ABIL
Depart 8:30am, Arrive 9:30am

Honestly, there’s not too much to say here. Standard intra-European “business” class flight. The aisle seat was free, a small snack (pictured below) was on offer, and nothing too exciting. Arrival into Frankfurt was unfortunately at an actual gate, so I didn’t get the pleasure of a chauffeur transfer to the terminal.

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