Aug 192011

After a few hours of wandering around Brussels, and a quick hop back to the airport, it was time to board our flight to Ljubljana on Adria Airways.  A few things I need to admit:  part of the reason I booked this route was my plan to (eventually) fly on every Star Alliance airline.  What better time to fly on Adria than when going via their home airport of Ljubljana?  Although the main reason for this trip was to get to Iraq, the chance to go via Slovenia in one direction and Croatia in the other was irresistible to me!

The biggest downside of this flight – which I may or may not have been entirely honest with Matt about in advance – was the plane.  It was the one plane I categorically refuse to fly under normal circumstances, because I find it to be the most miserable piece of aluminum in the air:  The Canadair CRJ-200.  Miserably cramped, windows that even a little person can’t see out….basically…I can’t stand them.  That said, they promised “business class” which means they left the seat next to you open…so how bad could it be…right?

Adria 395, Brussels (BRU) to Ljubljana, Slovenia (LJU)
Depart: 20:55 Arrive: 22:35, Flight time of 1:40
CRJ-200, Registration S5-AAI, Manufactured 1998, Seat 3A

Once on-board, it was pretty uneventful. Easily the most comfortable CRJ-200 flight I’d ever taken – but hard for it not to be. There were three rows of “business” and with nobody next to me, it really wasn’t bad at all. We even got a small “snack” which I was pretty unimpressed by…but hey, compared to what you’d get in the US at this hour…not complaining to at least have the option!

I nibbled on the protein a little bit, all the while trying to avoid snickering at the wet nap, which I found absolutely hysterical for some reason.  I mean, come on, could they make the picture just a little more comical if they tried, lol! Continue reading »

Aug 182011

Shortly before we booked this trip, United had started the London-Brussels flight as a way of holding onto their Heathrow slots for the off-season.  I didn’t expect it to fit so perfectly into our needs, but there you have it.  This year was exceptionally difficult (I found) to get award space over the holidays, so this extra option really helped out.  After Christmas with family, it was time to head off on the adventure!

United 922, Washington, Dulles to London, Heathrow
Boeing 767-300, Registration N646UA, Manufactured 1992
Depart 9:46 Arrive 22:00
Seat: 6H

Honestly, not a whole lot to say about this flight. It was quite uneventful, and after the drama the year before on the same date (22 hr delay after boarding, etc) we were just glad it was uneventful. The food was pretty standard: full hot breakfast shortly after departure, and full hot dinner shortly before arrival. All in all an uneventful flight, and after several dozen trips between IAD an LHR the past few years that’s how I like them. Landed on-time around 10pm, and we were home in the flat around midnight and off for a short night’s slept before grabbing some coffee and catching the DLR/tube back to Heathrow.

United 935, London, Heathrow to Brussels, Belgium
Boeing 777-200, Registration N784UA, Manufactured 1997
Depart 13:20 Arrive 15:35
Seat: 2J

When we got to the gate for the flight, it was clear there were maybe 50-60 people on the entire 777. I’d heard rumors of rampant op-ups on this flight, but didn’t want to get our hopes up. Then, one of the agents I knew from many previous trips came over, started chatting us up, and came back with two new boarding passes…1J and 2J….yes, it’s only an hour tops to Brussels, but the op-up is certainly appreciated. That said, we weren’t the only ones. I think business was booked to 1 or 2 people, and ended up with 10-15 people in it. I suspect all elite Milage Plus members were upgraded one class.

We did our best on the short flight to do serious damage to the champagne stocks (and I do believe we managed an entire bottle) before landing in Brussels on-time and ready for a short bit of exploring before catching our 20:55 flight to Ljubljana. With 5 full hours in Brussels I knew we had time to train into the city, walk around and grab a short dinner, before heading back to the airport for the flight to Slovenia.

Walked around the city a bit, and soon, as the sun was setting, it was time to head back to the train to the airport.

Got to the airport, quick check-in, and we were in the lounge well in advance of our Adria flight. I still think the lounges in Brussels are majorly sub-par, but you can’t really complain too much – they’re comfortable enough with internet (albeit very very slow) and no shows, but it beats the alternative!

…oh and being Belgium, it wouldn’t be a pre-flight lounge snack without a tasty beer. Soon, it was time to board, and off to another new country: Slovenia!

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! Continue reading »