Nov 192015
 

Took the MRT to Hong Kong airport, and went absolutely without a hitch. Tried to check in at the Kowloon station checkin desk, but the Air India counter was like 20 people deep, and no special lines for Star Gold or business class. Got to the airport, and things were a bit better. The agent was a bit confused – seems nobody flies to Delhi just to connect to a United flight to Newark. I’m…special. She didn’t give me any grief about my carryons, however, I asked her for blank luggage/nametags since I know Indian security likes to have something to stamp. She thought this was the oddest request she’d ever heard, but after checking my onward ticket to Newark she was ok with it.

Long line about 20 minutes for security, and another 20 minutes for immigration. Not sure if this is normal or not, but was rather surprised there were no business class lines or anything. Still had time for one more Starbucks before heading to the United Club for a pre-flight glass of wine and 15 minutes of relaxation. Got to the gate, where boarding was just beginning on time.

Air India flight 317
Hong Kong, SAR (HKG) to Delhi, India (DEL)
Depart 18:05, Arrive 21:10, Flight Time: 5:35
Boeing 787-8 Registration VT-ANE, Manufactured 2013, Seat 2F
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 97,462
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,136,068

First impression of this Air India 787 which was less than two years old, RATTY! Seems they have the same-ish hard product as Turkish A330 I’d flown to Istanbul earlier in this trip, complete with the “footsy” benches for your feet. I can just see trying to sleep in this seat setup and playing footsy with your neighbour. How hard would it have been to put a little divider in the middle of the bench?

IMG_2187

Seats were in some of the worst repair I’ve ever seen for a two year old plane. Just look at the footrest area:

IMG_2188

Welcome aboard drink, choice of hot or cold towel, but only juice or water to drink:

IMG_2189

For a five hour flight, the menu sounded pretty tasty:

IMG_2190

The horrors…not only were the nuts not warm, they were served in a bag! Good thing Korean Air Princess wasn’t on this flight!

IMG_2191

In case you are wondering what “Dry Snax” are, this is it. Crunchy and tasty, but I pretty much just picked out the cashews:

IMG_2192

The meal was served all on one tray, which was extremely packed. The bread was even left in its foil to stay warm a bit longer. I have to admit, the main course was seriously tasty, and the dessert was pretty good too. Some sort of cake with cherries in it. There were two choices of main, and I believe this was a lamb curry:

IMG_2194

Flight was very uneventful. Crew was friendly and helpful, quick with drink refills when asked, and always pleasant. They seemed almost offended I wasn’t staying in India, despite over a dozen trips in the past, including two weeks earlier this year. This crew was from Mumbai, and told me I really did have to check it out next time as it’s “much better” than Delhi or Chennai!

Landed, and had a long walk in the hot and humid terminal to the transit desk…where things got real. Real crazy. Fortunately, I had packed my patience for India, and when I was told to “go sit down, we will find someone from United to assist you” decided not to. Standing at the desk, reminding them every five minutes, and using the words “global services” I managed to get someone from United to come to the transit desk…nearly 45 minutes after landing! Had I just gone to sit down and wait, I’m sure it would have been over an hour….

When the agent did arrive, she was super friendly and helpful. First, she had to let me know some bad news. The flight “might” be delayed because it had come in with a non-functional WiFi and entertainment system. Ugh. I tried asking really nicely since it looked like there might be three or four empty seats if she could try and put me in any set of two with an empty next to it. She promised to try her best.

This is where it got much better…she insisted on escorting me from the transit desk, through transit security, through some back “employees only” corridors, up a secret elevator, and directly into the lounge. I only had 20 minutes, but she came back to get me at the end of those 20 minutes, and escorted me to the gate! Best service ever! To top it off, she’d managed to secure seats 10A and 10B for me, with a promise of nobody next to me. It’s amazing how far patience and being nice can get you sometimes! Unfortunately, there would be no WiFi or entertainment of any sort on the flight….

United flight 83
Delhi, India (DEL) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
Depart 23:35, Arrive 05:15, Flight Time: 15:10
Boeing 777-200, Registration N27015, Manufactured 2000, Seat 10A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 104,786
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,143,392

Boarded to a crew that looked incredibly grouchy, but the menu looked…interesting…

IMG_2195

IMG_2196

IMG_2197

Warm nuts were served, but warm to the point they’d lost their crunch. I passed after just a few. There was also another packaged Indian snack, which I wasn’t overly fond of:

IMG_2199

Looks like the appetizer has been upgraded…two shrimps. I took it for the picture, but still refuse to eat shrimp on a plane after getting food poisoning from it on two different occasions:

IMG_2200

Unusual indian-style salad of missed vegetables in a dressing. It was tasty, and made for a very nice change from the rather bland salads United usual offers:

IMG_2201

The lamb biryani was, quite simply, the best main course I’ve ever had on United. Just spicy enough, served with tasty raita, and I admit I ate every bite of it and considered asking if they had another. I’ve never done that before!

IMG_2202

Even the cheese selection was better than usual, and yes, I did ask for two in this case:

IMG_2203

Strangely, the only choice for the ice cream was caramel, and there were no cherries. Boo! This flight might get dinged in my 2015 sundae year in review…

IMG_2204

Slept nearly nine straight hours, which is great for me on a plane. There is something about late night westbound redeyes that not only helps me sleep really well, but helps me arrive feeling super refreshed. I guess sleep is easier because it’s 1 or 2am local time when I try and sleep, but landing, despite it being 5/6a local time it’s after noon to the body clock. I learned this when I was doing Dakar-Washington frequently, and actually don’t mind redeyes as long as they are long enough…and westbound!

Breakfast was ok…but as usual the fruit was dry. I had the omelette, the corn croquette was also pretty tasty, and the grilled veg. I left most of the carbs aside, though:

IMG_2205

Immigration via Global Entry was a snap, and was to the lounge less than 15 minutes after landing. There was a 30+ minute wait for a shower, so of course I went next door to Starbucks to inhale a quad iced espresso on ice before taking one of the best showers of my life. There’s nothing like a nice warm shower after spending 20+ hours on planes! The good news, is I checked my email while waiting, and there was already a proactive email from United apologizing for the broken entertainment system, and offering a $200 travel voucher.

Unfortunately, my connection was out of the A gates, so it was out in the cool drizzle to shuttle over to the A terminal, where I got there just as we were boarding.

United flight 3522 (operated by Shuttle America)
Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Chicago, O’Hare (ORD)
Depart 06:50, Arrive 08:18, Flight Time: 2:28
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration N647RW, Manufactured 2005, Seat 2A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 105,505
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,145,345

Extremely unremarkable flight. The flight attendant was attentive with frequent water refills, watched some tv on the iPad. There was a breakfast offered, but I skipped it since they were somehow one short, and I wasn’t really hungry since I’d just eaten. I really would have only taken it for photography purposes anyways…

Nice view on approach to Chicago:

IMG_2207

Had to hop over to the F Concourse for my connection, first time I’ve ever been there at O’Hare. Am I right it’s pretty much just for the ERJ-145s? Nice new lounge there, however, even if it was extremely packed. Good view of Barbie Jet Central:

IMG_2209

United flight 3259 (operated by ExpressJet)
Chicago, O’Hare (ORD) to Ottawa, Ontario (YOW)
Depart 10:47, Arrive 13:36, Flight Time: 1:49
Embraer ERJ-145, Registration N13903, Manufactured 2001, Seat 1A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 106,160
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,144,000

Nothing at all to say about this flight. Standard E145 flight, one pass on drinks, then then we were descending. I’ve never been on one of these planes for a flight over two hours, but can see how it would be a total nightmare.

Immigration was a bit of a pain at Ottawa – first time I’d ever been through without Nexus in over five years. Questioning was pretty extensive, and given that (a) I’d lost my NEXUS card during my last visit and (b) I was only there to change planes flying back to the US because “it’s cheaper to fly international out of Canada….yup…I got sent to secondary inspection. Ugh!

Fortunately, a quick show of my printouts, an explanation, and I was in and out in under five minutes. At least as far as secondary goes it was painless. Quick trip up to the Nexus office to retrieve my lost card, and still had time to get lunch with a friend.

It was a gorgeous day in Ottawa, about 22C and sunny, and perfect for a small lunch and beers on the patio:

IMG_2212

Just to show again how sunny and gorgeous it was, one more sunny selfie in front of TD Place:

IMG_2215

Immigration back at the airport was painless, and I had 20 minutes or so before boarding, so grabbed a beer at the one restaurant inside the US Departures area. The guy sitting next to me was in a sling, and had just had rotator cuff surgery two weeks prior, so we commiserated a bit. I let him know I was up to 100% already after just four months, so hopefully left him feeling a bit hopeful!

United flight 5946 (operated by ExpressJet)
Ottawa, Ontario (YOW) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR)
Depart 17:15, Arrive 18:42, Flight Time: 1:27
Embraer ERJ-145, Registration N12175, Manufactured 2004, Seat 1A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 106,489
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,144,329

Plane go up. Consume Diet Coke. Plane go down. Arrive right on time. Connecting flight was just two gates over in the A concourse, so I had time to enjoy some of Oscar’s finest hummus and cheese cubes in the packed A Concourse United Club while waiting.

United flight 4312 (operated by ExpressJet)
Newark, New Jersey (EWR) to Washington DC, National (DCA)
Depart 19:43, Arrive 21:04, Flight Time: 1:21
Embraer ERJ-145, Registration N14573, Manufactured 2002, Seat 1A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 106,688
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,144,528

One last flight, another E145. Yes, you know how it goes: plane go up, consume Diet Coke, plane go down. 40 minutes start to finish…and with that the end of another epic trip! I promised myself I’d get this trip report done before leaving on my next trip…and…done with ONE HOUR to spare! Stay tuned..up next: Algeria, Cuba, and the Bahamas!

Nov 042015
 

I had to get up early. Way too early. When I booked this ticket, I had all sorts of options for getting from Muscat to Seoul on OneWorld with an award ticket, and the question really came down to two things: redeye flight east, or get up early and take a daytime flight. I really hate sleeping on planes if I can avoid it, so went with the oh-dark-thirty flight instead, which turned out to be a really good call.

Check-out from the W was swift, my Uber arrived within five minutes, and it was a completely effortless drive to the airport. Nice and insightful drive with Uber, and was soon at Doha Hamad Airport Intl Checkin. The Qatar business class checkin queue was completely empty, so I figured I would reprint my boarding pass on proper Qatar stock since they had printed it on generic stock in Muscat. Also switched my seat to the last row of business, hoping it would be a bit quieter back there.

No line at all at immigration or security, and I took yet my third selfie in as many months with the giant scary stuffed bear in Doha airport:

IMG_1969

It was still nearly an hour before boarding, so I had time for a proper breakfast in the lounge. Proper, because I decided it was a champagne breakfast…since it was almost noon in Tokyo after all. When a bottle of something was pulled out, I asked “oh, don’t you have Krug today?” and got “oh yes, but we don’t normally serve it unless asked for by name!” Krug obtained, it was time for a delicious breakfast. Fresh kiwifruit and pineapple, hummous, museli, olives…and Krug!

IMG_1970

I was still slightly hungry, so decided to try the warm options…grilled halloumi cheese (yum!), sautéed mushrooms, and a chocolate muffin which I decided wasn’t worth the calories after one bite. Too dry. Oh, and Krug. Definitely Krug.

IMG_1971

I still had a bit of time, so, well, yeah….Krug! The Qatar lounge is exceptional for a business class lounge, especially when it’s not too crowded, which it wasn’t this morning. It definitely was far from empty, but was quiet enough that it still felt peaceful.

IMG_1972

My gate was the same gate I’d been at a couple months prior for my flight to Eritrea, and required more or less walking halfway to to Tokyo to board the plane. By board the plane I mean the bus to the plane…at least we had a private business class bus once again:

IMG_1975

We were only about 60% full in business class today, so it promised to be a good flight!

Qatar Airways flight 812
Doha, Qatar (DOH) to Tokyo, Haneda Airport, Japan (HND)
Depart 7:20, Arrive 22:45, Flight Time: 9:25
Boeing 787-7, Registration A7-BCC, Manufactured 2012, Seat 5K

Crew was very quick with the towel (hot OR cold) upon boarding, a glass of Tattinger Rosé and some water before we pushed back right on time.

IMG_1976

Qatar’s 787s have WiFi aboard, but the price is pretty much extortion. Either you are very careful with your usage, or it’s easy to run up huge bills. I avoided facebook/graphics, only monitored emails, and did a few facebook chats, and still ran up $25 during the flight. No thanks!

IMG_1977

Right after takeoff, the windows were dimmed by the crew (override – you didn’t have a choice) and breakfast was served. Starting with some warm nuts and more bubbles:

IMG_1978

I wasn’t hungry after breakfast in the lounge, so just asked for a bowl of muesli. The crew was pretty confused by this, but after telling them I’d already had my breakfast in the lounge, the understood much better. In true Qatar style it was order what you want when you want, so they were happy to bring it.

IMG_1979

After this I watched some horrible movie I’ve already forgotten, and napped for a few hours since I’d only gotten around four to five hours in Qatar. Couple of comments on the Qatar 787. I really like the 1-2-1 configuration of the seats, since it means everyone has aisle access. (YOU LISTENING UNITED?!) That said, the seats felt pretty short and squat, and almost a little claustrophobic. That said, even at my height I had no trouble at all sleeping in them and being comfortable, and would be happy to fly them any day. The 787 is a great place, as this flight confirmed, and I was happy to arrive feeling refreshed and alert.

Upon waking, I watched another bad movie and it was time for another “formal” meal service. Although in theory it’s possible to eat whatever you want whenever you want on Qatar, I find they tend to do a formal service once or twice during long flights. You can customize it as much as you like, but they definitely gear up to come around a couple times.

This time, I asked for the Japanese sushi starter first, along with a glass of bubbles. For airplane sushi it was surprisingly tasty, and not at all dry…and the miso soup was quite good as well!

IMG_1981

Next up was a steak sandwich with a chutney. I remember it being pretty tasty, but looking at this picture I think I would rank it slightly below the Air Koryo burger. That said, in my opinion people place way too much emphasis on presentation on a plane (it’s food on a plane after all) and I remember it being tasty, so there you go.

IMG_1984

Had a few chocolates for dessert, along with, yes, more bubbles, and soon we were landing in Tokyo right on time. A few thoughts about landing in Tokyo:

Haneda Airport, like everywhere in Japan, felt horridly warm and humid to me. It was a reasonable walk to immigration, and I was a rather sweaty mess by the time I arrived. Qatar hadn’t loaded immigration cards, so we had to complete one in the arrivals hall, which wasn’t too bad, but I was getting warm and cranky. Immigration was reasonably fast, and then time to line up for customs.

One problem…two flights from Hawaii had arrived right before us, and the lines were outrageous. I got to the front, only to be told I needed a customs form…which they also hadn’t given us and nobody had told us about. Went back to sweatily fill one out, and my patience tried, walked right back to the front of the now super long customs line and just gave it to him. I think the Japanese vacationers were all too polite to say anything, and soon I was through to arrivals.

Found an ATM which accepted foreign cards, took out more cash than I thought I’d need (since I find Japan the most difficult developed country in the world to find ATMs which accept foreign cards), and went to join the taxi queue. It was late at night, so taking the bus wouldn’t be a practical option, and it was off to my hotel in the pouring rain.

Oct 132013
 

This is not going to be a photo-heavy post, mainly because there are so many reviews of United’s business/first class products out that that I think people are pretty tired of them. One thing I found lacking when planning this trip, however, were the ins and outs of Lagos airport. So, that’s where the focus will be.

First, a small note on the routing. When booking, Houston to DCA was not available for upgrade. Naturally, I started looking for options. That’s when I found out that (at least at the time) Lagos to San Francisco was LESS expensive than Lagos to DCA. Even when I added a one-way San Francisco to DC ticket onto it, it was only $100 more. I’m very close to Million Miler status with United, so the chance to add nearly 3,000 miles for only $100 sealed the day. Oh, and wait, Houston to San Francisco would be on an international 767 and San Francisco to Chicago would be on the 777 AND all upgrades will clear at time of booking. The $100 was a no brainer. Sure, it would mean an extra 12 hours en route home, but it was worth it!

LOS to DCA map

 

Plan was to get to the airport around 7pm for a 10:35pm flight, knowing the reputation Lagos has for being chaotic and things going wrong.  Well, that was the plan anyways.  We got a late start from the hotel, and then traffic was absolute hell.  One lesson learnt:  leaving Victoria Island during rush hour is a mess.  An absolute mess.  Took nearly two hours to get to the airport, and finally arrived around 8:30pm.  No big deal.  Said goodbye to John, and then it was into the madness that passed for check-in.

Found the queue for United Business/Star Gold,  and the whole check-in area looked like a hurricane had hit it.  Masses of people and bags everywhere, lines that weren’t really lines, and convincing the drone manning the area to let me into the business class line was work in and of itself.  Finally up to the counter, and ready to check in.  Agent was cold and unfriendly, but efficient, and check-in took maybe five minutes total.  Then, it was back through the masses of people to immigration and security.

There was a separate immigration line for business/priority, and it took maybe 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the queue.  Give the documents to one agent, he hands them to another agent, who directs you to a third agent, who finally wields the magical exit stamp.  Slow, incredibly inefficient, but stamped out of Nigeria without a single question.  Wow, that wasn’t bad at all.

Then, it was security.  No line at all (immigration seems to have done the job sorting people) and put everything through the scanner.  Walk through, and try and retrieve my bags.  Would have been easy, if the guy manning the other end of the x-ray machine hadn’t decided to pick up my iPad and start looking at it.  I asked him to give it back, to which his reply was “of course!  perhaps you can help me have a happy weekend?”  I was tired, hot, sweaty, and a bit cranky at this point, and just spat back at him “It’s MONDAY NIGHT.  It’s FAR TOO EARLY to be thinking about the weekend!” and snatched the iPad out of his hands and put it back in my bag.  It could have ended really badly, but fortunately he just gave a big laugh and said something like have a good trip.

Now, how to find the lounge.  There were no signs at all, but asked a friendly airport staff member walking by, and she pointed me up a staircase.  Finally found what passes for the United lounge, and…the air conditioning was broken.  Seriously?!  Next up, went down the hall to what I seem to remember was another Star Alliance labeled lounge, and they said no, no United flight allowed.  Um, ok.

Pull up the priority pass app, and find the lounge that is handling the Delta flight (sorry, forget the name) is a Priority Pass lounge.  Get there, and she tells me “no, no Priority Pass after 4pm.”  Ug, Seriously?  I must have made a really pathetic sweaty, tired, and cranky face at her, because she said “I will make an exception.” and let me in.  Hooray!  Finally things are looking up!  Freshen up at the sink, enjoy the AC, few bottles of water and one last Star beer, and it was time to head to the gate to board.

The gate…well it was security theatre that would put even TSA to shame.  Six or seven folks standing around checking boarding passes, checking bags by hand, and after I’d talked to three of them I’d had enough, and just sat down.  It was pretty clear I was supposed to talk to others, but nobody said anything.  It was a complete joke as far as security goes, since they had no orderly way of checking who’d they’d checked and who they hadn’t.  It would concern me if everyone hadn’t gone through a security check earlier.

Boarded right on time, and the flight was booked full in all classes.  Somehow, however, it seemed the ONE seat that would remain open was the one next to me.  This has happened to me more times than I can count recently, and clearly I’ve banked some major travel karma.  Several employees were also cleared into business at the last minute, so I’m guessing that lots of folks got stuck in the Victoria Island traffic mess and missed the flight.  We ended up leaving about 30-40 minutes late due to some sort of maintenance issue, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I had a long connection.

Across the aisle in row one, there were two women traveling together who were giving the purser an earful.  Seems they had booked an award ticket with United, and the only routing available was Johannesburg to Lagos on South African, connecting to this United flight to the States.  They were clearly not experienced international travelers, and transiting in Lagos was a recipe for disaster.  I wouldn’t recommend it to even a moderately experienced traveler based on my experience.  Anyways, seems they had been rounded up by some official types at the airport, told their transit without a visa was illegal, and there were going to be some very serious fines.  One of the ladies was walking with a cane, and said that airport security had demanded her gold watch as payment of the fine, and she was going to sue United for doing this to her.  She did eventually settle down after the purser brought her several glasses of Sprite (she was complaining she was going to go into a diabetic coma – maybe true, but she was being seriously dramatic) and was quiet the rest of the flight.  Lesson here:  don’t transit Lagos unless you have balls of steel!

United flight 143
Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) to Houston, George Bush (IAH)
Depart 22:35, Arrive 05:00 next day, Flight Time 12:25
Boeing 787-8, Registration N26906, Manufactured 2012, Seat 1D (aisle)

Not the friendliest crew I’ve ever had, but it was a solid flight.  Once again, I managed nine full hours of uninterrupted sleep after the meal.  I’m convinced now that there’s something about the 787 that makes sleeping so much easier.  I’ll definitely go out of my way to fly it on redeyes again!  One highlight from the crew, when I asked for hot fudge and “a couple cherries” on my sundae, this is what I ended up with:

IMG_0715

 

Can’t complain too much about that!  Just like the flight to Lagos, I managed to eat, get nine hours of sleep, and still wake up in plenty of time for a small bite of breakfast.  Some cereal, fruit, and a cinnamon bun, and soon we had arrived in Houston.

Carrying my wooden carving back, I was unsure if it was something I had to declare.  Wood and things made out of wood are a bit of a grey area, so I decided to play it safe.  Last thing I wanted was to screw something up, get caught, and lose my Global Entry.  I went through the questions at the automated kiosk, and there was nothing to indicate I had to declare it.  Got a clean receipt from the machine, which meant I could walk right out, but when I handed it to the agent at the exit, I made sure to ask him “I have a carving made from wood wrapped up in this bag, do I need to declare that?”  He looked at me like I was from another planet, and just waved me through.

Off to the Terminal E United Club for a shower and several more glasses of water, and immediately felt great again.  Amazing what nine hours of solid sleep will do for you.  Off to Starbucks for some coffee, and soon it was time to board the connecting flight to San Francisco.

United flight 570
Houston, George Bush (IAH) to San Francisco, California (SFO)
Depart 9:35, Arrive 11:45, Flight Time 4:10
Boeing 767-300, Registration N669UA, Manufactured 1999, Seat 1D (aisle)

Two words:  GATE LICE.  I’ve never seen so many people crowding the priority boarding line looking to pounce the minute the agent opened the door.  I had what I consider to be the best seat on the plane, so I was in no great rush.  Boarded relatively early, and the lead flight attendant helped me find somewhere to store the carving safely after everyone had boarded.

One strange thing about this flight, the moving map on the monitor was clearly having issues:  I don’t think we were moving around THAT badly!

IAH to SFO map

Great and helpful crew, decent breakfast on the flight, and after a few episodes of Breaking Bad it was time to land already.  Arrival into San Francisco was almost 30 minutes early!  We parked at the domestic gates, and I walked around the terminal for nearly an hour before settling into the United Club for some more water and snacks before the flight.

IMG_0722

 

Yes, I admit it, I have a mild addition to the Tillamook cheese they serve in the United Club.  Especially the pepperjack which they were out of today, boo hiss!  Don’t judge!

United flight 207
San Francisco, California (SFO) to Chicago, O’Hare (ORD)
Depart 13:30, Arrive 19:39, Flight Time 4:09
Boeing 777-200, Registration N219UA, Manufactured 2000, Seat 7B (backward-facing aisle)

Turned out most of the crew on this flight was the same as my Houston to San Francisco flight.  I had to explain to several of them why I was taking such a bizarre routing, but as soon as they understood it was for more miles in addition to being nearly the same fare they understood.  Seems crazies who do such things are becoming common enough that the crews know about them.

No clue why I decided this was picture-worthy, but decided to snap a picture of the new 777 seating just for those who might not have seen it.  That goes to show just how interesting the little details of this flight weren’t!  Note the alternating frontwards/backwards seats.

United 777

 

Decent little lunch/snack that isn’t worth writing about, although the cookie was pretty tasty…to the point I asked for a second one.  Almost thirty minutes early into O’Hare, which gave me nearly an hour to kill in the United Club staying hydrated and trying to stay awake by this point.

United flight 1717
Chicago, O’Hare (ORD) to Washington DC, National (DCA)
Depart 21:05, Arrive 23:51, Flight Time 1:46
Boeing 737-800, Registration N11206, Manufactured 2000, Seat 2E (aisle)

The last of several un-noteworthy flights.  The most noteworthy aspect of this flight is that I discovered BBQ Pop Chips in the snack basket.  I’ve never had them before, but I have to admit, they go rather well with the pre-mixed margaritas United serves on board.  I admit I had at least three bags, at which point I lost count.

Landed at DCA about 10 minutes late, and was home about 15 minutes later.  In the end, it was well worth doing it for the extra miles, especially since it was all in business class and almost all on widebodies which meant significantly more comfort.

I was home for just three days, before heading up to Provincetown, Mass. for my birthday and the long weekend, then home for two weeks before heading back to West Africa again….until the next post!

Oct 112013
 

So, yeah, this is a bit overdue, but things have been crazy with two trips to West Africa the last month, a trip to Provincetown, Mass. in between, and things being crazy at the office. Hopefully I’ll get these cranked out pretty quickly, since I have two trips to Hawaii and two more to San Jose, California coming up in the next month thanks to the United $10 mistake fare!

A couple of months ago, my good friend John (who’s written a guest blog here before on Air Canada) told me he’d be making two trips to West Africa for work in the coming months, and since I’d never been to any of the countries he was going to he suggested I come along. I didn’t have too much planned at the time, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get a bit of an inside view on the place, so I jumped at the chance. The first trip would be a long 5-day weekend trip to Lagos, Nigeria and the second trip would be Cotonou, Benin and Accra, Ghana for four days. I decided to extend the second trip while I was in the region, and planned stops in Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire as well. Soon, the time to go was near!

United flight 356
Washington DC, National (DCA) to Houston, George Bush (IAH)
Depart 15:17, Arrive 17:24, Flight Time 3:07
Boeing 757-200, Registration N523UA, Manufactured 1990, Seat 3E (aisle)

Not terribly much to say here – it was a standard domestic flight, a cheerful pre-merger United crew, despite the fact the aircraft was older than dirt. Arrived into Houston on time, and had a few hours to kill in the United Club. Boarding was delayed about 30 minutes for the flight to Lagos, but soon we were settled in and it was time to go.

United flight 142
Houston, George Bush (IAH) to Lagos, Nigeria (LOS)
Depart 20:15, Arrive 14:50 next day, Flight Time 12:35
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Registration N45905, Manufactured 2012, Seat 1D (aisle)

This was to be my first flight of any real length on the 787, and fortunately my three short 2-3 hour domestic flights had clued me in that row 1 was the place to be.  All seats in business class have the same pitch/legroom, but the footwells in row 1 and row 4 have double the space for your feet due to the way the seats are staggered.  It’s a good thing, because it was going to be a very long flight and I was planning to get lots of sleep.  The planned flight path:

IAH to LOS flight path

Continue reading »

Jul 042013
 

Flight 2

United Airlines flight 32
From Chicago (ORD) to Houston (IAH)

Depart 11:31 Arrive 14;08, Scheduled Flight Time 2:37

Boeing 787-8, Registration N27901, Manufactured 2012, Seat 4A

Miles: 925
Total Miles Flown this trip: 1,737

Flight Time in Air: 2:05
Flight Level: 40,000 feet
Departure Runway: 14L
Arrival Runway: 26L

Time Elapsed since trip start at 07:00 Thursday July 4: 8 hours 22 minutes

Actual Departure Time: 11:35 – 4 minutes late
Actual Arrival Time: 14:22 – 14 minutes late

Departure Gate: B17
Arrival Gate: C14

DirectTV: no
Channel 9: no
WiFi: no

Pre-Departure Beverage: offered anything, chose Bloody Mary

Meal: “Shrimp salad or chicken sandwich with soup” – went with the chicken sandwich and soup…and some relatively drinkable red wine of course! It was more of a calzone/stuffed pizza thing, but it was pretty tasty!

Other Notes: I slept half the flight…I’m already exhausted from the early morning and this is only the 2nd of 15 flights. I’m gonna be dead! I don’t know if it was the turbulence or the plane, but the 787 seemed really bumpy in flight.

20130704-144154.jpg

20130704-144204.jpg

20130704-144215.jpg

20130704-144224.jpg

20130704-144233.jpg

20130704-144241.jpg

20130704-144311.jpg