Washington to Tel Aviv, Israel in United Business
After a whole 72 hours in DC, it was time to head out again. After 4.5 weeks away in the South Pacific I came back, played a little hockey, did a LOT of laundry, worked three days, and soon it was time to head out. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. There was a bit of a snow/ice/sleet storm on the east coast, and DC and NJ were both affected. Four of the five evening flights from DCA to Newark were canceled mid-morning, and miraculously only mine was not. Living right after the Fiji Airways nightmare.
Of course, I was watching the plane. One of the things I like best about united.com is you can see where planes are coming from, and I noticed my plane kept falling further and further behind due to weather in Newark, yet my flight wasn’t delayed. Fortunately I’d booked a long connection, so I had high hopes I’d be fine. When I left for DCA, it was officially one hour late, although based on times online I was almost certain it would be at least two hours late…but I’d still be ok.
When I got to DCA, I was surprised that the remodeled half of the United Club was already open, and seemingly nobody else knew of it. Perfect for snapping a couple of pics:
I love the vintage United pics on the wall. Major kudos to United for a nice remodel. After a couple of glasses of Château le Jeff and some Tilamook cheese, we finally boarded almost exactly two hours behind schedule, just as I’d predicted.
United flight 3900, operated by Republic Airlines
Washington, National, USA (DCA) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
Depart 18:09, Arrive 19:42, Flight Time 1:33
DeHavilland Dash 8-400, Registration N342NG, Manufactured 2010, Seat 2A
It’s United Express. The crew used “weather” as the reason no drinks – even water – would be served, not even pre-departure. I asked if they would make an exception for first, and the answer was no. With a nearly one hour flight time, and almost no turbulence, I wasn’t impressed…but also not surprised. Sigh. At least we still made it to Newark over an hour before my connection. I was so glad I’d booked a three hour connection…and very fortunately to be the one flight that didn’t get canceled.
United flight 90
Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
Depart 22:45, Arrive 16:20, Flight Time 10:35
Boeing 777-200, Registration N76021, Manufactured 2010, Seat 8E
Stopped briefly by the United Club for a bit of water, and then off to the gate. The Tel Aviv gate was cordoned off by some portable walls, and there was a boarding pass check to get into the gate area. After getting into the gate, your hand luggage was searched by hand. It was a bit of ridiculous security theatre, because when my rolling bag was opened up I think they spend 2-3 seconds running their hands around the bag before letting me go. No “real” security here. Hah. As soon as they finished it was time to board.
A lovely glass of Dom Jeffignon was waiting for me, along with the menu:
I like the Continental layout on the 777, as long as I’m in the middle, because both seats have aisle access and there’s no climbing over people. To top it off my seatmate was a quite and polite person, so it seemed it would be a pleasant 10 hour flight. This was in stark contrast to the woman across the aisle from me, who was a nightmare for the crew. She was grandma, sitting with grandpa. A few rows back were her daughter and son-in-law, and somewhere around were the 6 grandkids. She made certain the flight attendant knew she’d bought 10 business class tickets, and when the kosher meal wasn’t to her liking, she demanded they get the regular meal. No matter how much the flight attendants tried to explain there were no extra meals, she went on and on about how much money she’d spent. At leas she was relatively quiet about it, so it provided a bit of free in-flight entertainment 😉
Fortunately, she was also a martyr, so eventually quieted down and sacrificed the few normal meals that were found to the grandkids while she passed out to sleep in her Coco Chanel eyeshade 😉
Meanwhile, I enjoyed some Domaine Ste. Jeff and warm nuts:
The appetizer. Nowhere up to international business class standards, but for United shockingly good. I’ll take a few pieces of salmon any day to their one prawn appetizer.
I don’t know what happened to my salad pic, but the rack of lamb was something I’ve never seen on any other United flight. It was slightly better than the usual beef options, and was a nice change.
Le fromage. Pretty good. Fortunately, tonight, I didn’t want seconds, sparing me from having to battle with the crew for it.
Tonight I went with “caramel and cherries.” I think nine cherries might be a record. The flight attendant went kinda nuts:
I slept 4-5 hours after dinner, and as hoped woke up about three hours before landing. Since the arrival time was late afternoon I wanted to wake up a bit before landing to adjust a little bit to local time, especially since I’d likely want to sleep within eight hours of landing or so.
What’s this for the pre arrival meal…more salmon with…caviar on it? United serving caviar? Is the world coming to an end???
The main was decidedly nasty eggs and potato thing, with the sugar and flour and cinnamon roll. I think I took about four bites of this yellow and brown meal before giving up.
Landed right on time, and then it was off to deal with immigration. I’d heard lots of rumours over the years about Israeli security, so was quite curious to see what it was all about. Immigration was a big non-event, and I was through in probably one minute. Couple of innocent questions that would have been at home anywhere in the world, and I was off to find cash, and a taxi in the pouring rain, to head to my hotel. I think the only thing they were curious about were all the African visas in my passport, and that was only because they cared if I had Ebola.
It was already dark when we landed around 4pm, so it was if I’d lost a whole day. We took off at night, flew through the day with the blinds closed, and landed again in the dark. Hopefully I’d slept just enough to keep going, but not enough that I’d have trouble sleeping a few hours later…