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Topic: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: OB1783P
Posted 2012-11-17 18:16:26 and read 4034 times.

Back in 2004, on an Alitalia 777 from EWR to MXP, I watched a movie called Man on Fire which made me think that Mexico city was a place best avoided. This week, I changed my mind, and I am glad I did. I wonder how many people that scary movie has kept away from an enchanting destination.

In order not to lose too many vacation days, I had this week off approved at work a long time ago, but I had no plans. Two weeks ago, I had to decide whether I would stay home or go somewhere else. I found a good rate on United.com and I booked a round trip from IAD to MEX, with three full days to enjoy the city (4 nights). On the way down, I selected a connecting flight because the nonstop was late in the evening. I picked the nonstop on the way back. There were window seats available on two of the three flights. All flights ended up quasi-full. I didn't check in any bags.



I got up at 3:00, arrived at IAD at 6:00, and parked in the long term lot. The web site had not allowed me to print my boarding pass at home, and I couldn't do it on the kiosk either. The agent who came to my rescue explained that it was because of a single letter difference in spelling my first name between my passport and my reservation (I was born Olivier but I have been Oliver in this country for many years). This hasn't kept me from printing boarding passes before. Security was relatively fast, but not as fast as the last time I flew out of Dulles - a real ghost town in the late evening. On that evening in September I was underwhelmed with my first visit to a lounge. I still had a free pass today, so I decided to give the lounge another try. It was a different lounge (no stairs down after checking in), and it was relatively more welcoming.


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NOV 10, 2012
UA775 IAD to IAH
8:10 - 10:39 (on time)
A320
Seat 26E


Boarding was quick and orderly and we were greeted by a very attractive mature (but not elderly) attendant with wonderful period hair from the days when engines left trails of smoke. She was well made up too. I had a dreaded 'middle' seat, and we were urged to keep the windows closed, therefore the opportunities for photos were few. The service was limited to two drink passes.


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The passenger on the aisle must have been anticipating a tight connection at IAH, so she asked the attendant with the Dina Merrill hair a question about gates. The attendant answered in a delightful way that 'United and Continental have recently merged, and I'm still a stranger in Houston myself, but the gate agent will be there to help you, I promise.' She proved, if needed be, that customer service is not so much a matter as helping versus not-helping. It's all in the how. This was clearly an original United aircraft (A320) and an original United crew. Within the constraints of a domestic flight in Y without food, it was perfect.

I hadn't been in Houston in a while, but it appeared quite unchanged.


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I had lunch in the nice food court in the E Terminal, and I waited for my flight at Gate E5 (next to the Gate E4 which figured in my aborted UIO adventure and my only night spent sleeping on a metal bench, a few years back). Here it is, like it used to be:

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NOV 10, 2012
UA1088 IAH to MEX
11:54 - 14:24 (on time)
B737-500
Seat 31A


Boarding was very quick and a tall male attendant courteously found a spot for my bag (I was in the last row, on the side with the locked bin).


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Again the service was kept to a minimum: two drink passes. I could tell from the upholstery that this had been a CO aircraft, and I presume the crew was once CO as well, but the integration is now so complete that there was no difference in the flights (miss the CO food...).


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The photo above shows the Chapultepec Park. The structure at the bottom right is the Castillo, a beautiful castle which would almost qualify as a 'spotting' place.


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In Mexico City, I had planned to take the Metro, but I found a better option, a little pricier, but still quite affordable at $3. It is the Metrobus. You need to put money on a magnetic card at a machine, but it is all fairly clear. The bus dropped me less than two blocks from my hotel in the Centro Historico, a wonderful, huge, and captivating district.

I crammed a lot in those 3 and 1/4 days.


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Time flies, and now it was the day to return to cold Pennsylvania. As you can see the Centro Historico is still asleep at 7:30 in the morning:



But I was able to catch the Metrobus all the same. And I had printed my boarding pass easily at an Internet Café. Go figure...

MEX on the international departure side is quite impersonal. The food choices are limited and overpriced. I should have had breakfast before going through security. Maybe next time. There is little opportunity to see aircraft movement, as far as I can tell.


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NOV 14, 2012
UA822
10:05 - 15:09 (on time)
A319
Seat 27F


This is the flight where I felt like food was lacking, and I posted in the Civil Aviation forum upon my return, with some interesting replies. Otherwise, it was another smooth, full flight. The only noticeable element was a sarcastic edge to some of the announcements, such as: "please remain seated until the aircraft is at the gate. We wouldn't want you to get hurt now that the safest part of the flight is over." I noticed those little ad-libs several times, but they were within the realm of good taste.


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We landed at the same time as a flight from Jeddah and one from London. Inside the midfield terminal, the traffic management was severely stressed. Rude voices were commanding the passengers to go this way and that way (easy when you grasp the people movers situation at IAD and you understand English, not so when you don't). That was not a fine welcome and it was followed by a 75 minute wait for immigration, where many windows were not open.

Well, if you believe - as I did wrongly - that Mexico City is ugly, unsafe, and unworthy, please follow my example. Fantastic food, marvelous sights, and all quite safe and affordable too. Thank you, Mexico City, for wonderful short vacaciones.



[Edited 2012-11-17 18:22:01]

[Edited 2012-11-17 18:27:15]

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: fxramper
Posted 2012-11-17 21:00:00 and read 4034 times.

Fantastic report and excellent photo quality. Top notch sir.   

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: CV990A
Posted 2012-11-18 05:17:36 and read 4034 times.

Great trip report- thanks!
Agreed- Man on Fire was a great movie, but Mexico DF remains one of my favorite cities, and it has been way too long since I've been back.

Quoting OB1783P (Thread starter):
Well, if you believe - as I did wrongly - that Mexico City is ugly, unsafe, and unworthy, please follow my example.

Can you please talk to my wife- she falls firmly into that camp...

Oh- and that pic of the Chicken Mole is just mean. Do you know how hard it is to find a good Mole around here?  

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: lychemsa
Posted 2012-11-18 05:39:29 and read 4034 times.

I went to Mexico City in 1982 and really liked it.

We flew on a Pan Am 747 from New York with a stop in Houston

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-11-18 14:44:23 and read 4034 times.

Hey

Interesting report and pics.
Glad to see the 735 in the log.
Interesting to know that UA had leather seating as well (IAD-IAH)

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: turk223
Posted 2012-11-18 15:38:23 and read 4034 times.

So gald to see another also impressed by Mexico City; we also did a three-day trip and had a wonderful time!

Seeing the three differnet interiors, I wonder if the "new" United will standardise the cabins?

Nice report!

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: EWRkid1990
Posted 2012-11-19 07:38:23 and read 4034 times.

The United interiors confuse me. Back in May and June, I flew BOS-ORD on a PMUA 757 in the newest colors (CO with United titles), but the cabin had the old UA interior, like your A319 did. In June, I flew EWR-ORD on an A320, in the old blue and white tulip livery, but the interior had the really nice blue leather seats like yours on IAD-IAH. ALL of the PMCO aircraft still have the blue fabric seats. I'm wondering why the A320's have this seemingly new interior that doesn't seem to be present in the rest of the fleet. Are these blue leather seats going to be the new standard? If so, why weren't they installed on the new 787s? Awesome report, though.

-EWRkid1990

Topic: RE: IAD To MEX With UA, Muy Bien Gracias
Username: totesen
Posted 2012-11-19 23:34:38 and read 4034 times.

I am very glad that you liked Mexico City, and discovered that it is an enchanting place, hope you where able to visit the condesa/roma bohemian but chic neiberhoods, as well as polanco and reforma... The thing i love about this town is that, because it is so big, there is always something for everybody.

Quoting OB1783P (Thread starter):
There is little opportunity to see aircraft movement, as far as I can tell.

Too bad the airport doesnt stand that good. MEX terminal 1 does suck, and i cant understand why they blocked the windows, it used to be a place with great view´s of the runways, but the idiotic owners of AICM decided to block them to give the building a taller appearance from the exterior, T2 isnt bad, its actually quite good from a passenger stand point, although bad planning makes operations a completly different story but i do try to avoid AeroMexico´s rude and overpriced service in favour of the cheaper and better service that Volaris and Interjet offer.

GREAT TR!, very glad to see a TR to and from Mexico city, and i actually loved your report, lots of pictures and very detailed!. hope you enjoyed México, and i do hope that more people like you discover that it has a lot to offer!.


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