Jun 092012
 

This is going to be a short one…it seems when I get to the end of big trips that I get less motivated to write. Of course, some of that has to do with familiarity. Normally, my trips end with a transatlantic on United, and I’ve done so many of these by now that it’s just routine and I don’t feel compelled to take many notes or pictures. This one isn’t much different, but there will be some upcoming! I’ve accepted American’s challenge, so will likely be trying lots of new airlines in 2012 and 2013, so there will be a bit of excitement!

Up early in the morning, and no coffee in the room means I stumbled through check-out, no trouble at all, used most of my remaining cash to pay down the room, and was off to the airport no problem at all. My already good impression of Bulgaria was reinforced, and soon was at check-in.

Check-in was not too friendly, but no biggie. Checked all the way through to IAD, bags checked, and was off to security. Line was a bit long with no premium line, but still was through in under 15 minutes. Maybe I’m too laid-back lately, but 15 minutes seemed reasonable to me.

Stopped in the lounge that Lufthansa sent me to, and it was adequate. It had an awesome espresso machine, diet coke, and comfy chairs. Not too much else I could want! Waited until 30 minutes before the flight, then walked the 3-4 minutes to the gate.

Lufthansa Flight 1707
Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) to Munich, Germany (MUC)
Departure 7:15, Arrival 8:15, Flight Time: 2:00
Airbus A320, Registration D-AIPR, Manufactured 1990
Seat 3F

Got to the gate, and the queue to board was down the hall, and over 50 people deep. Grrr! There was no marked line, so being early, hyper-caffeinated by this point (did I mention the awesome espresso machine?), I just walked to the front trying hard to ignore the stares….and the one person who DID say something I just responded to in Russian. I figure nobody likes the Russians in Bulgaria, so it was safe 😉 Gate agent apologised for no separate line, beeped me in, and boarding was quick.

I was originally in 2F, but 2D was occupied by a, um “passenger of size” from France who rudely ordered me in French to switch seats with her son who was across the aisle. Um, no thanks, but after take-off we can all shuffle around I’m sure. Turned out to be a few empty seats, so I moved back to 3F while her skinny son took 2F. Being behind her size on what Lufthansa called intra-European business class would have been uncomfortable to say the least!

The meal/snack was fine, it was typical intra-Europe business class, and we landed 10 or so minutes early.

This was my first visit to the Lufthansa Senator lounge in Munich, and honestly, it was pretty good. Every other time through here has been in first and that lounge is awesome, but the business lounge really is very nice. Lots of good food offerings, great staff, and a decent way to kill three hours. I went for a few long walks from end-to-end of the terminal to stretch my legs, and the lounge had self-use lockers with keys you could leave your carryon bags in. Quite nice!

Soon, it was off to the gate and time to board. We boarded only about 20 minutes prior to the flight, due to something or other being late. The gate staff wasn’t real clear what it was, but it wasn’t a big deal. Like usual, the gate was around a thousand degrees like most gates in Germany, but it was quick at least.

United Airlines Flight 903
Munich, Germany (MUC) to Washington Dulles, USA (IAD)
Departure 11:40, Arrival 14:52, Flight Time: 9:12
Boeing 777-200, Registration N769UA, Manufactured 1995
Seat 1K

As a side-note, this was my fifth flight on N769UA, but my first since it was reconfigured. Two previous flights in business, two in first, but my first time being the 1K in 1K!

Crew was quite…entertaining to say the least. Pre-departure “champagne” was offered, and the flight attendant serving my side was an absolute hoot. She made sure to apologise that the refill took so long – “I’m not sure my Ambien from last night is done yet….I forget where I am sometimes!” LOL – I found it amusing, but not exactly comforting from a safety standpoint. For the first two hours of the flight, I’m pretty sure she told me about her ambien at least four or five times, lol.

While still at the gate, I discovered that (1) my seat didn’t recline and (2) the storage compartments didn’t open. First was completely full, and the only non-paying passenger was the pilot in a crew-rest seat. I knew better than to ask to battle the unions, so accepted that she would “make sure you get compensated” later. In the end I had to fight for it, but I ended up with 12,000 miles, which considering it was a daytime flight wasn’t too bad.

I didn’t take a copy of the menu, but that’s mostly because there was nothing exciting. If you look at my previous United First reviews, it was almost identical. For once, I went with the chicken option because it sounded good (and was) and everything else was pretty much as expected. After the meal I was tired, and since the electronic seat controls weren’t working, the flight attendants and I used the manual release to put the seat into flat position. This is where things got REALLY interesting.

One of the flight crew who was IAD-based was helping me wrestle the seat flat, and was like “I saw your shirt earlier…and I TOTALLY thought it said RuPaul.” Hahahah, um, it says RipCurl, but thanks…things were “established” from there, and I was treated extra-well for the rest of the flight. I should have asked for more of the SkyKit compensation certificates 😉

Landing at IAD was a few minutes early, CBP with Global Entry was being fussy – I think I had to use the kiosk 5 or 6 times before I finally got it to spit out a receipt…and I was reminded why I never check bags at IAD. Finally 80 minutes after we touched down, my bags came off the belt. Scuba is a great hobby, but seriously….having to check bags for it almost makes it a non-starter for me.

Hope everyone enjoyed this report – I’d love feedback. Next few weeks will be filled with random musings/etc before my next big trip begins in three weeks.

116 countries now and counting!


  2 Responses to “Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) to Washington Dulles (IAD)”

  1. awesome trip – i love your sense of adventure – my better half is not nearly as adventerous as I am, so I don’t get to do stuff like this. Recently I flew SIN CGK SYD on GA after a wonderful vacation in Bali – and I had to text every time I moved. Text me when you leave the hotel and get to the airport , text me when you are on board, text me when you land, etc. I did mention that I would be flying thru the night and would be arriving in CGK at 0030 Syd time and departing at almost 3am Syd time – but yes I want to know where you are and that you are safe.
    Its awesome to know that I am cared for – but I can just imagine the reaction if I said Bhutan, Katmandu, CMB, MLE MHE, and Sofia.

    • Thanks for the compliment! I figure life’s an adventure, and I have essentially two choices: take the risk of going out doing a big adventure, or risk the “heart attack on the couch eating ice cream” approach. Obviously based on this blog, you know which I chose! Scroll back a bit if you want real adventure and look at my Afghanistan and Iraq trips!

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