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Denver-Uganda And Back Via ORD LHR NBO On UA KQ BA  
User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Posted (7 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 10204 times:

Early this year I decided to go on a 5-week mission trip to Uganda with my church in California. Since our group was made up primarily of college students from around the country, we decided that as a group we would meet in Heathrow and from there fly Kenya Airways as a group from LHR to Entebbe, Uganda, via Nairobi. Coming from Denver, I had a difficult decision to make. I could fly BA for around $1200 r/t on a nonstop flight, but my mileage alliance was with United, so this was not my first choice. The problem with flying United is that (because of Bermuda II) they do not have any nonstop flights from DEN-LHR. Thus, I would be forced to connect through IAD or ORD. United was also about $100 more than BA. It was still my plan to book the trip on United though, because I planned to use some of my dad’s confirmed systemwide upgrades to move up to business class.

Assuming that this was the best option and prices could do nothing but go down, I sat for about two months waiting until April to book my trip departing in July. While I waited, however, all of the upgradeable seats on the flights to London were booked up and the prospect of flying United became less appealing. On the positive side with United, I would earn 10,000 MP miles, and I would get Econ+ seating, ensuring that I would have no trouble sleeping. Yet to do this, I would have to spend $100 more than BA and make an additional stop. In the end, I decided to bite the bullet and book the trip on BA. They offered me a free night in a London hotel as well, which really sweetened the deal.

Because of our bizarre group booking on Kenya (paper tickets the whole way), we had no assigned seats prior to check in, and were required to physically check-in in LHR. This meant I would have to clear customs, claim my baggage, and then wait to recheck for the KQ flight. Considering that I would have an 8+ hour layover, this was not a huge inconvenience, but having to clear security an extra time is never fun.

As my trip neared, I began looking into my BA reservation to see the best way to earn mileage with partner carriers. I was horrified to find that a $1200 ticket was only enough to earn me 25% of my flown miles and that because of some (government?) regulations, I would be unable to earn mileage on my AA account for BA transatlantic flights. In the end, I earned no mileage at all for the trip, deciding that 2,500 Alaska Airlines miles were worthless to me.

The night before my flight I went onto BA.com and checked in for the flight. I selected an aisle seat (the site confirmed this selection) and clicked continue, but the booking program showed me checked-in with my initial pre-assigned seat selection (a window-less “window” seat according to seatguru). Clicking continue again the site said “now that you have printed your boarding pass…” at the top of the next page even though I had done no such thing. Utterly aggravated with the online check-in system I spent about 3 hours on the phone with BA staff trying to simply get a aisle seat assigned. Some of the staff were helpful, one eventually tried to call the BA staff at Denver to change my seat (the only way it could be done once I had “checked-in”). In the end, though, we were unable to get in touch with anyone at Denver, so the phone agent sent a Telex to the Denver staff to read in the morning and I went to bed hopeful that everything would work out fine, not realizing that my seat assignment would be completely irrelevant.

The next day, July 3rd, as I closed my laptop for what I thought would be the last time for 5-weeks, Gmail popped up with an email saying “Flight Cancellation.” As it turned out, my flight to LHR that day (BA218) had been cancelled with no explanation (in the email at least). I was already planning to arrive at DEN about 5 hours ahead of my flight as the rest of my family was flying to OAK on WN earlier in the day, so I slammed the laptop shut and we drove as quickly as we could to the airport.

On the way to the airport, we called the number BA had provided us and after about a 20-minute wait, we got through to an agent. I explained that I was meeting a group and had to make it to LHR that day. She booked me on an AA flight to LAX and then on BA268 to LHR. This arrangement would have worked in theory, but the flight arrived in LHR a little bit later than I would have wanted (only about 4 hours before my flight to NBO, assuming no delays). Furthermore, the agent could not give me a seat assignment for the BA flight, so I suspected it might already be oversold. I asked her to book me onto United’s one-stop service that got in far earlier (11:15 AM vs. 3:30 PM). She refused, saying that all they could do was book me onto a oneworld flight. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and 30 minutes later I was still on hold. Eventually the supervisor got on the phone and gave me the same story.

When I arrived at the airport, BA’s staff was much more helpful. I was the fourth person in line for a flight of around 300, so I was in good shape. There was one agent there, who explained that the rest of his staff would be arriving in 15 minutes, when the station opened. We learned that there was a security issue at T4 in Heathrow, forcing the entire terminal to evacuate, and necessitating the cancellation of numerous flights. Since the flight into Denver was cancelled, there was no plane to bring us to London. Similar circumstances caused cancellations for PHX and SEA flights, amongst others. 15 minutes later, the remainder of the BA staff arrived. One woman had already checked bookings from home and came to work knowing that there was room, though barely any, on BA’s flights out of IAH and EWR, but that that seemed to be it.

About 15 minutes after the staff arrived, they were able to book me onto UA’s ORD connecting service and I was off to United’s desk to check in for the flight I would initially have been on had I booked the UA itinerary. The staff there got me assigned seats in economy plus on each leg, and I made my way to concourse B to wait for my flight to depart some 3 hours later.

I killed an hour sipping soda and eating Chicken Wings in one of the Sports Bars before going up to the “Qwest Business Center” on the 2nd floor. There I was able to get on the internet and check my email. After about an hour I made my way to the gate and waited for boarding.

Tuesday, July 3 2007
Denver International (DEN) - Chicago - O'Hare International (ORD)
United Airlines 938
Airbus 319-131

N???UA
Scheduled departure: 4:53 PM, Actual: 5:00 PM?
Scheduled arrival: 8:17 PM, Actual: 8:05 PM?
Seat 6F

Even though I was not even booked on this flight until 3 hours before departure, I managed to snag a bulkhead seat, so I was more than satisfied. We left our gate right on time and taxied to runway 8 for a quick takeoff. I got an orange juice and then spend the next hour and a half reading and playing sudokus in Hemispheres. I wish I could provide a more detailed description, but the flight was two months ago and that is about all I did.

As we prepared to land in ORD, I began watching out the window. I grew up in Chicago, so it was great fun to fly in over the city. We passed right over the United Center and the Sears Tower. I could see the “L” trains snaking their way through the city and over the waterways. We made a U-turn over Lake and headed west towards O’ Hare. As we were on Final, I heard channel 9 mention traffic “500 feet under you” to our pilot. A little American Eagle ERJ screamed by underneath us and lined up for an approach to a parallel runway. Our pilots were not pleased that another plane was allowed to pass right beneath us without warning or reprimand, but dropped the issue as they had more important things to deal with (like landing the plane). We were soon on the ground and taxied to the gate at O’Hare.

Our arrival gate (B10) was right by security on the B concourse, so in order to get to my departure gate (C16 iirc), I had to take the under ground walkway. This walkway is my favorite part of O’Hare. The neon lights always used to fascinate me as a kid, and it’s nostalgic to see them once again. Once I verified the location of the gate and boarding time, I rode in circles on the moving walkways in concourse C trying to perfect the voicemail message that would greet callers while I was away. I returned to the gate several minutes later and it was time to board.

Tuesday, July 3 2007
Chicago - O'Hare International (ORD) – London – Heathrow (LHR)
United Airlines 938
Boeing 777-222

N778UA Delivered: July 18th, 1996
Scheduled departure: 9:29 PM, Actual: 9:45 PM
Scheduled arrival: 11:15 AM (+1), Actual: 10:43 AM
Seat 25J

In case you hadn’t already noticed, UA938, is strangely operated by two different a/c, even though the flight is billed as a direct flight. I have heard that for tax reasons it is advantageous for United to make the DEN-ORD segment one leg of an international journey, though I’m not sure if that’s true. Nonetheless, boarding commenced, and as a premier associate (ooooooo), I was able to board ahead of the majority of passengers. I settled into my seat just over the wing and continued trying to solve my first sudoku while the remainder of the plane boarded. Flight attendants walked through the cabin distributing newspapers while the aircraft continued to board, something I’m not used to in economy. It seems United kicks its service up quite a bit for international flights. The gentleman sitting in 25G got the last Financial Times, while my seatmate, a pleasant guy from South England, snatched the last Chicago Tribune.

Time seems to pass quickly while you are staring at numbers, and we soon were taxiing for departure. The taxi (to rwy 14L, I believe) was rather long and along the way I could see fireworks going off in the distance as Chicagoans began celebrating the 4th of July early. As I was occupying the window seat, I pointed these out to my seatmate, thinking that fireworks were always worth noting. He seemed rather uninterested, though, and I realized that as an American I was probably much more excited about fireworks on the 4th than he was.

Takeoff was powerful and I watched out the window as we passed over soldier field before reaching the black of Lake Michigan. About the time we reached the Eastern shore of the lake, hot towels were distributed by one of the FAs. Beverage service followed quickly and I took a sleeping pill with my ginger ale and began watching Shooter on my PTV. The movie was decent, but was nothing to right home about. During the movie we were served dinner. I opted for the Pot Roast, which I thought was quite good. There was a salad with a balsamic dressing, potatoes, veggies, and a brownie. After the trash was cleared, I visited the restroom and took out my contacts and then returned to my seat and slept.

Before this flight I had never really had success sleeping on planes. 35” of legroom and having almost nothing to see out the window did the trick, however. I slept for about 4 hours, and when I awoke it was already light outside and we were being served a light breakfast (a fruitplate and roll with yogurt). At this point I checked for channel 9 to see if it had been turned on mid-flight (it was unavailable at ORD). It appeared to be dead-air, so I asked one of the flight attendants. He said that the captain had told him earlier that there wouldn’t be Channel 9 on this flight. No reason. Oh well, no big deal, I suppose. As is common at LHR, we had to hold for about 10 minutes before landing. Approach was to the west and we passed over downtown London before touching down smoothly on runway 27L.

After taxiing to the gate, we deplaned and made our way to customs. This was no small journey, taking the better part of ten minutes. Once I reached immigration, however, the wait was minimal. After informing my immigration officer that I would be transferring to Uganda, he proceeded to teach me a little bit of Swahili (not used in Uganda, but still interesting). Bags took about 15 minutes to come out, and once I had claimed my bags I went out to the Starbucks in the arrival lounge and waited to meet the remainder of my group.

The rest of the group was coming from LAX, SFO, and SEA. One of our group members was on the (afore-mentioned) cancelled BA flight to LHR, however, and had to connect down to LAX to get on the flight I was initially supposed to be on. I had to kill about 4 hours in the airport before the bulk of our group arrived, which was not that bad. The biggest problem with such a long wait was that I was tempted to purchase incredibly expensive goods (a combination of airport prices and an unfriendly $/£ ratio) in the terminal.

It was strange when the group arrived, because I hadn’t seen any of them in a month and a half and was now meeting them in a foreign country. As a group we took the elevators/lifts to the departures level and got in line for check-in at KQ. The remnants of the prior day’s confusion were everywhere. Along every wall people were sleeping and a massive tent with free food and coffee had been erected on the road outside.

The line took about 30-40 minutes to clear. Our check-in was more complicated than normal because we were all traveling on paper tickets without seat assignments. The KLM agent seemed competent, however, and assigned us all seats. He asked me if I wanted to sit in a window seat next to a stranger or in a middle seat next to a friend of mine. I opted for the middle seat (bad choice). Our leader waited back (for the girl on BA268 from LAX to arrive) while the rest of the group cleared security. Once through, we went to our gate at the extreme “right” side (as viewed if exiting security) of T4 and boarded not long after. I had spent the entirety of the 4th of July in England of all places, but enjoyed it nonetheless. The girl connecting SEA-LAX-LHR did make the flight, but with about 15 minutes to spare.


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User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (7 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 10200 times:

Wednesday, July 4 2007
London – Heathrow (LHR) - Nairobi - Jomo Kenyatta (Embakasi) (NBO / HKJK)
Kenya Airways 101
Boeing 777-2U8/ER

5Y-KQU Delivered: May 21st, 2004
Scheduled departure: 8:00 PM, Actual: ?
Scheduled arrival: 6:30 AM (+1), Actual: 6:20 AM?
Seat 39B

Open boarding the plane, the first thing that struck me was the smell. It just didn’t smell good… The plane was also sweltering. Hot and stinky, I was initially not delighted to be on board. These feelings were compounded when I discovered that my friend was actually seated several rows away. I had a chance at a window seat and gave it up so that I could sleep in between strangers for the entire flight. >☹ I also discovered upon sitting down that my TV screen was only working in Black and White. Immensely frustrated, I sat down and hoped the air conditioning would start working. Strangely, KQ has no personal air vents installed on the aircraft. The overhead panels have nothing but reading lights. The air conditioning was effective nonetheless, as in about 15 minutes, the plane was much more comfortable.

After about 5 minutes the smell seemed to disappear, perhaps it was that my nose got used to it, or that the ventilation system was switched on., but in either case, I was grateful. The flight attendants (wearing red uniforms, including coats for the men) began the safety briefing. During the briefing, I discovered that my video screen did indeed work when video was playing, it just malfunctioned when on the map channel. This was not an issue because the aircraft was outfitted with an LCD screen at each bulkhead as well as two in each aisle (one at the bulkhead and one halfway back) that constantly displayed the map.

After a relatively brief taxi, we took off and our pilot gave us ALL of the details of our route. (Over the English Channel, Paris, Alps, Italy, Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Sudan) I chatted with my seatmate in the window, a nice guy from St. Louis who was traveling to do mission work in a Nairobi slum. My seatmate in the aisle was a cool kid from Scotland. His group was traveling on a humanitarian trip to Malawi. I’m certainly glad I chatted with him, because he introduced me to a fantastic candy called Jelly Babies. I hope I can get a hold of them in the US. For those unfamiliar, they are essentially large gummy bears filled with jelly and dusted with powdered sugar.

Not until about 20 minutes after takeoff did the entertainment system turn on. I explored the movie offerings and selected the Last King of Scotland based on the recommendation of my Scottish seatmate. KQ uses an NVOD (Near Video on Demand System), where movies start every 18 minutes. You pick the movie and then (for instance) can wait 16 minutes for the next showing, watch the showing that started 2 minutes ago, or watch the showing that started 20 minutes ago. It worked pretty well. The movie selection was absolutely fantastic. I can’t remember them all, but there were some really good ones. Last King of Scotland. Shooter. Casino Royale. Die Hard. Another 6-7 beyond that, as well. Our friendly flight attendant brought a hot towel by before beginning beverage service. Dinner followed. I had some sort of beef, which was difficult to describe but delicious.

After my tray was cleared, I switched the movie to Die Hard (I needed more action). At the conclusion of Die Hard, I took out my contact lenses and then let my sleeping pill do its work. It didn’t really work, though, (I blame it on the middle seat) and I spent the next 4-5 hours TRYING to sleep. I faded in out pretty regularly, which is one of the most frustrating things for me. Knowing you need rest, completely prepared to rest, but unable to do so. Rhaa! At 32”, the legroom in economy is better than BA, for instance, but was still not quite enough for me (6’ 1”). My knees were pressed into the metal bars supporting my tray table for most of the flight.

Eventually breakfast was served, though I can’t remember what it was. The IFE was shut off a good 20 minutes before landing, which I felt was unnecessarily soon. Our landing was smooth, and we taxied for about 10 minutes to our gate. The gate had a perfectly fine jetway, but for some reason we deplaned via Air Stairs. (I’ll never complain.) All in all, a decent flight, though some sleep would’ve been nice.

The NBO terminal is shaped like 240 degrees of a circle with gates on the exterior. In the center of the circle is parking, and in the interior of the terminal itself are about 25 duty free shops, most of which sell the same exact things. Our group went as far counter-clockwise in the circle as possible to the Nairobi Java House, where we got on the internet and ate muffins for about an hour.

At around a quarter till eight we began looking for our gate, which was difficult. There are no electronic boards giving gate information in Nairobi, and the Xeroxed computer paper signs with gate information did not have a gate listed for Entebbe. We asked an agent who directed us to the correct gate, where we waited until the gate was changed to a different one.

Now at gate 5, we exchanged half of our boarding passes for a color coded boarding card and proceeded through the gate-side security check (at every gate in NBO). I fell asleep in the gate area, as our flight was delayed about an hour and half so that we could wait for a flight from Mumbai to connect (many Indians live in Uganda). We finally boarded as the KQ staff continually apologized for the delay.

Thursday, July 5 2007
Nairobi - Jomo Kenyatta (Embakasi) (NBO / HKJK) - Entebbe - International (EBB / HUEN)
Kenya Airways 410
Boeing 777-2U8/ER

5Y-KYZ Delivered: February 22nd, 2007
Scheduled departure: 8:35 AM, Actual: 10:05 AM?
Scheduled arrival: 9:40 AM, Actual: 11:10 AM?
Seat 12D

My seat this time was in 12D, an aisle seat in the second row of economy class. KQ stations flight attendants at the door to look at boarding passes and direct passengers to their seats. I didn’t need their help – I could see my seat from the door, but they wanted to help anyway. The FA (who would be serving our cabin for the remainder of the flight) addressed me by my first name (printed on the boarding pass) and continued to do so for the remainder of the flight, which I appreciated.

Once the plane was entirely boarded the toddler in 11E began to wail. He didn’t stop for entire flight and it seemed his mom had no idea how to quell his rage. We taxied quickly to runway 6 and took off to the Northeast. This particular 777, delivered only a few months before our flight, had a version of Airshow that I had never seen before. The map was more of a three-dimensional one, showing the route from a side-on view, with the plane’s ascent pictured. The system drew a line to our destination, though, which I did not really like, because the straight-line route was never the one we took. One other problem was that it seemed to cycle through about 6 languages, including several oriental ones. I am almost positive that no one on the plane benefited from the inclusion of these dialects – it merely made it so that those wanting to see the information in English (or Swahili) had to wait for several minutes at a time.

Not long after takeoff the friendly flight attendants brought us a sandwich and served us drinks. I then popped in some earplugs and tried to sleep in spite of the wailing child in front of me. 40 minutes later I concluded that this was a misguided effort and watched the Airshow as we descended into EBB. I believe we landed to the south (towards lake Victoria), though I am not entirely sure. As in NBO, we disembarked via airstairs. On the ground, I took a picture of the engine on our plane before being informed by a fellow passenger in a suit that photography was illegal at the airport.

We then went to the baggage building where we cleared customs and claimed our bags. The building had LCD monitors displaying arrival/departure information, yet I was quickly reminded where I was as the power went out twice while we were in the building.

Some pictures from the flights TO Uganda:



We had a great time in Uganda, though I don’t really feel I can fully describe everything that happened here. We spent 7 days in the Entebbe / Kampala area before heading North to a city called Lira. On this portion of the trip we traveled with an equally large group of college students from Makerere University in Kampala. In Lira we worked with Diocese to build a Youth Center. After two and a half weeks in Lira, we went to Jinja where we debriefed and helped organize a walk for Aids awareness. We finally returned to Kampala for 3 days before leaving for London.

All in all, the trip was very, very good. I miss it so much. At the same time, though, there were certainly times during the trip when I would have died for some conveniences we take for granted in the western world (toilets, clean water coming from the tap, washing machines, reliable transportation, etc.)

Some pictures:




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User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (7 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 10196 times:

Sunday, August 5 2007
Entebbe - International (EBB / HUEN) - Nairobi - Jomo Kenyatta (Embakasi) (NBO / HKJK)
Kenya Airways 415
Boeing 737-3U8
5Y-KQD Delivered: February 1st, 1999
Scheduled departure: 8:10 PM, Actual: 10:05 PM?
Scheduled arrival: 9:25 PM, Actual: 11:00 PM?
Seat 5F

We arrived EBB veeeeeerrrrry early, because we didn’t know what traffic was going to be like on the road, and the last thing we wanted to do was miss our flight. We go to the airport at about 4:30 PM, and the flight wasn’t for almost 4 hours. We had to wait until 5 before we could even pass through security and check in. (Yes, in that order…) Check in was not bad, though I was disappointed to find that there were no window seats available for our flight from NBOLHR, even some 7 hours in advance of departure. This time, however, I was at least able to get an aisle seat. For the flight to Nairobi I managed to get the bulkhead window on the right side of the plane. Not bad for someone without seat assignments at check-in and completely devoid of KQ Frequent Flyer status.

We made our way down towards the gates where we received the exit stamps on our passports. The gate area at Entebbe is nothing special by western standards, but is very nice by Ugandan standards. There are numerous duty free shops, and a nice cafeteria that has a big screen TV (that seems to be playing EPL most all the time). With a few hours to go before our flight, we settled down at the gate and killed time. About 30 minutes before our flight was about to leave, they called boarding, and we went through another security screening before actually entering the gate itself. After entering the gate, we were immediately escorted back into the common area and told the flight was delayed (a clue should have been the lack of a plane on the ground…). What was frustrating about this was that it appeared the KQ staff had absolutely no idea the flight was delayed until it didn’t show up on time. This is why the PA announcer still called us for boarding…the KQ staff was clueless about the delay.

They had to call ops in Nairobi before they knew that the plane was running an hour and a half behind. At this point we started to get a little bit antsy about making our flight to London, but not overly concerned. At LEAST 30 people (by our count) on the plane where connecting to London, so we were confident the plane would be held in Nairobi if worst came to worst. After announcing the delay, the KQ staff came around and passed out meal vouchers. This was appreciated, and unexpected, as it was already 9:00 PM and we were about to take a one-hour flight. In the US, meals aren’t served on one-hour flights, or at 9:00 PM, but both things seem to occur in Uganda, and we certainly appreciated the gesture. After getting a snack at the cafeteria and watching soccer for quite a while, the plane finally landed. We were screened into the Gate area, and I took the time to take a couple of pictures of the SAA 737-800 sitting on the ground. They turned out surprisingly well for being taken with a point and shoot.

After a few minutes of waiting, we finally boarded at a little before ten. The middle seat next to me was vacant, and a Middle Eastern man sat in the aisle seat. After takeoff occurred, he and I talked for most of the flight. He was from the Nairobi area and was telling me all about the city and all the reasons why next time I come to Africa I need to visit Kenya. I still have his phone number and email address, and next time I come, I’ll visit him. With all of the space and conversation I had, this flight passed very quickly. There really wasn’t much to see outside either, as the cabin lights weren’t dimmed and there is little infrastructure between EBB and NBO, so not much is lit up. Our touchdown and taxi in NBO were uneventful. When it was time to deplane, we AGAIN neglected to use the perfectly operational jetways and walked up on the tarmac. We had to walk the length of several gates along the tarmac before we reached the stairs, though, which was fun. I suppose we had been security screened, but the process still didn’t seem too secure. I could have run off anywhere in the active area of the airport had I wanted to.

The entire time I was in Uganda, I desperately wanted to get the new Harry Potter book. Only one store in Kampala sold the book, and it was out of stock. So, as soon as I hit the Nairobi terminal, I stopped into one of the duty free stores and picked up a copy. It was the British version (expected) and was only $30, so I was pleased. My Harry Potter has a good story behind it now. I have the British version, which was purchased in Africa. We hustled to the London gate after purchasing the book and quickly got through gate-side security. After a very brief wait, we boarded.

Sunday, August 5 2007
Nairobi - Jomo Kenyatta (Embakasi) (NBO / HKJK) - London – Heathrow (LHR)
Kenya Airways 102
Boeing 777-2U8/ER
5Y-KQU Delivered: May 21st, 2004
Scheduled departure: 11:50 PM, Actual: 11:55 PM?
Scheduled arrival: 6:45 AM (+1), Actual: 6:20 AM?
Seat 25C

This plane was the very same one we flew from London to Nairobi at the outset of our trip. Boarding this time, though, I didn’t smell anything. So either I had gotten used to the smell while I was in Africa, or back in London the plane had been sitting in the hot sun all day and started smelling. After getting settled into my aisle seat (next to two of my tripmates), I immediately took a sleeping pill and tried to rest as much as I could before dinner was served. Takeoff was smooth, and we began our climb to the Northwest. The Entertainment system, as before, showed a screen that either said “unavailable” or “loading” for the first 20 minutes.
Eventually the system did load, though, and I was able to pick which movie to watch. Here were the options:
• Next
• Spiderman 3
• Ghost Rider
• Blades of Glory
• Disturbia
• Shooter
• Wild Hogs
• Antwone Fischer
• Guru
• Shrek the Third

All in all, a good selection. I chose blades of glory, a movie I had already seen, but thoroughly enjoyed. Drink service approximately coincided with the beginning of entertainment service. Again, the cabin staff was polite and attentive. Dinner service followed afterwards. I must confess that I cannot even remember what was served, though. (That’s what happens when you wait until a month after the flight to write about it). Nonetheless, I do recall the meal being just as good as any of the others.

After I finished my meal my movie froze. All Looking towards the front of the plane, everyone else’s PTV had the exact same problem…frozen. The flight attendants had no choice but to reset the entire system, meaning I lost my spot in the movie. I did get to see the boot up screen for Rockwell Collins Airshow, though, which is about as unexciting as you might imagine. I now had two options; wait for 40 minutes until the IFE system caught up to my spot in the movie or go to sleep. I chose the latter.

For the next 5 or 6 hours, I slept as best I could. I only woke up a few times, which is extremely good for me. Normally I’m waking up every 15 minutes. As we passed Paris, the sun began to rise, I woke up, and meal service began. I completely forget what the breakfast was, but it was nothing to complain about. We were making great time and were looking at a 45-minute early arrival, but we were held up in a brief holding pattern. We passed right over the city center before landing on runway 27L at 5:16 AM.

After a brief taxi we deplaned and made our way to immigration. As we had to pass through London on the return flight anyway, we thought it foolish not to spend a few days playing tourist in the city. The line here was absolutely absurd. I’m extremely glad that I was seated near the front of the plane, because the customs line got VERY long. For our entire flight and several others that arrived around us, there were 2 immigration officers working the line for non- UK / EU citizens. Strangely, the flight from Lagos had its own line that was moving equally as slow. After about 40 minutes two more immigration personnel appeared which sped things up considerably.

It took us about 10 minutes standing at the baggage claim to realize our bags were already waiting for us on the ground next to the carousel. After claiming our bags, our group split up for the last time and made our way into London. Three friends and I took the tube in, which was a fun experience. We were incredibly concerned about theft on the tube (perhaps too much so), so we were very careful with our bags. Seats were surprisingly comfortable, and the ride to Barons Court was no trouble at all.

For the next 3 days, we had a great time in London touring the city, seeing attractions, and just enjoying our re-entry into western civilization.

Some pictures from our flight back to London:




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User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 10196 times:

Musings on London:

London has the most famous subway system in the world. Though it was expensive, it was incredibly convenient. I never waited more than 3 minutes for a train (try 15 minutes on BART in San Francisco…). The system was always clean, and we had no delays. The trains were pretty slow though. This is especially noticeable on the above-ground portions of the “under”ground, where you really notice just how slow you are going. After returning home, I only now understand travelcards / oysters. I think I made it fare more confusing than it was.

The city itself was incredibly clean. People were picking up trash everywhere, which is something I wasn’t used to. This was especially true coming from Uganda, where there is no trash service. In the cleanest of areas, trash is collected and burned on the side of the road. In the other areas, it’s just ground into the soil after being walked on for years. Even compared to the US, though, London was very clean.

The city was expensive, though there were bargains to be had. We got good deals on accommodations through hostelworld.com (The ace hotel in west Kensington receives top marks) and British Airways. The most expensive thing was just going to museums. The Tower of London was $26, which is frankly absurd. It was an awesome sight, but the conversion ratio really hurts.

I already want to go back to London. Maybe its just because it was such a shock coming from Africa, but I had a great time in the UK. There was just so much to see and do that I feel like I only got to see a bit of what there was to see. On our three day trip, we were able to cram in:

Some pictures:



After spending three full days in London, I woke up and prepared for an action packed final day. I had checked-in the day prior, and had managed to snag an exit row seat for the return flight (woo-hoo). My friend who remained with me had an early flight back to SFO, so he left me after breakfast. I left my bags at the hotel, and walked through Hyde Park to the Lancaster Gate tube stop. There I bought an oyster card for the first time all trip (stupid of me to do it so late…it saved me a lot this day as I purchased three individual tickets) and left for St. Paul’s Cathedral. I arrived at around 9 and wandered around the floor and crypt. The cathedral is simply beautiful. It is a great contrast to Westminster Abbey. At 9:30 I made the climb up to the galleries where I took pictures for about 5 minutes. It was a perfectly crisp and clear day.

I ran down the steps as fast as I could, got on the tube at St. Paul’s and traveled to
Tower Hill via Bank / Monument (super long transfer here). I had about an hour and a half at to see as much as I could at the tower of London before I had to leave and go back to my hotel to get my bags and leave for Heathrow. I tagged along a Beefeater tour (very informative) before seeing the crown jewels and white tower. About this time, I fled the premises and made my way as quickly as possible back through the tube to Queensway, where I stopped at a webcafe and sent a quick email to my parents coordinating airport pickup. I grabbed my bags at the hotel and walked to Paddington.

I really wanted to save money and take the Heathrow Connect, but because of the time I arrived, the next train was not leaving for about 25 minutes. In order to get to T4 once I got to LHR, I would’ve had to wait for the next Heathrow Express to arrive from Paddington. So, for simplicity’s sake, I decided to take the Heathrow express, though the idea of spending $30 for public transit to the airport still doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve flown from Denver to Oakland for cheaper than that. That said, I really did want to see what European train travel was like. (Sounds like a very naïve thing to say, since I was essentially taking an airport shuttle train, but it’s as close as I’ve come to legitimate train service).

The train left about 5 minutes after I boarded, and reached its top speed not much later. The train was really moving fast… The most exciting part of the whole journey was, without question, the bathroom’s spaceport-type door. After a stop at T1,2,3, the train arrived T4 and I disembarked and went up to BA checkin. I neglected to print a boarding pass at the web café and had trouble printing one at the machine. Even with my passport, the machine still demanded the purchasing Credit Card, which was some 5,000 miles away.

In light of using the machines, I waited in line at the extreme end of the check-in area (zone A) at the World Traveler counter. The line moved fast, and before long I was waiting in line for security. All things, considered, this process was not bad either. After about 15 minutes, I was through. Boarding (at gate 2) was still a while off, so I went to the opposite end of the terminal and ate at a pub (for lack of a better word) just at the end of the moving walkway.

I had fish and chips (how touristy of me) and read Harry Potter while waiting to hear anything about my flight boarding over the PA. I kept hearing messages, but they were very quiet, and when combined with the slight accent, I was unable to understand them. So I hurried my meal and returned to gate 2 where found a line waiting to board. I jumped right in line and was on board several minutes later. I was already seeing signs of America before I even got on the plane (University of Texas jerseys – boooo) and I was surprisingly unexcited by that. I was already missing London and I hadn’t even left.

Thursday, August 9th 2007
London – Heathrow (LHR) - Denver International (DEN)
British Airways Flight 219
Boeing 777-236ER
G-YMMD Delivered: February 2nd, 2000
Scheduled departure: 3:45 PM, Actual: 4:15 PM
Scheduled arrival: 6:25 PM, Actual: 5:42 PM
Seat 26A

I threw my backpack in the overhead compartment and settled into my “window” seat. Unfortunately there was no window, though there was one in the exit door immediately in front of me, which was convenient enough. Seats 26 A, B, C, H, J, and K were available to me at check in, and I stand by my decision. An aisle would’ve given more legroom, but past a certain point, enough is enough. There was a small jut out from the exit door that slightly ate into my legroom, but not enough to worry about. The gentleman sitting next to me was from New Mexico and had recently moved to Colorado and taken the bar exam. On the aisle was a woman returning with an entire troop of boy scouts. (The worldwide jamboree was taking place in London while we were there). For the safety video, the flight attendant, (seated right in front of us) instead of telling us to fold out our PTVs, came around the to entire row and pulled them out for us, which was nice.

After the safety video was completed, the flight attendant stowed our PTVs for us and we queued up for takeoff and departed to the west. Saying goodbye to English soil, I craned my neck to see what I could out of the window behind my seat. On this flight every single seat was occupied, and truth be told, I don’t think I saw an empty seat on a single flight throughout my itinerary (though the load factor on the Heathrow Express was probably 10%).

I read Harry Potter while we climbed. I read the british version while the guy sitting next to me read the American version. (Differences: US Version has fewer words per page, and thus around 760 pages vs. 600ish in the british version. Some words are also changed between the versions.) After we leveled off at cruise, our flight attendant pulled out our PTVs and then quickly began drink service with the rest of the crew. I was asked what I wanted to drink and then asked beyond that if I wanted wine with dinner. Though alcohol was free on KQ as well, as a 20 year old, I’m still not used to being asked if I want wine. The dinner was great. I had “butter chicken” which was essentially chicken with curry – very good. We got the usual in addition to the chicken; a roll, some salad, etc. The best part of the meal though, was the strawberry cheesecake. It was delicious!

I had already seen most of the movies on BA’s list at one point in my trip, but I had managed to avoid Next with Nicholas Cage (not a big fan) up until this point. I bit the bullet and watched it. The premise of the movie was a bit preposterous, but it was not bad all in all. Following the movie, I went back to Harry Potter. Beverage service was constant on the flight, and if you were thirsty, the crew in the galley was happy to give you anything you needed. About this time I reclined my seat and chatted with the guy sitting next to me for a while. We talked for about an hour and then I dozed for an hour or two. When I woke up, the snack service had just passed. I got up and snagged a snack box and some juice.

Once the snack service was through, I watched highlights of the FA cup on TV. I’m trying to get more into the Premier League, so these highlights were fun because they helped give me an overview of English Soccer. While I was watching the highlights, we began our descent into Denver. The highlights went round by round; as the rounds progressed, fewer and fewer teams were left and it took less and less time to cover each round. Just as the finals were about to come on I had to stow the TV and prepare for landing.  Sad

We lined up for a landing on runway 8. The wind was blowing to the North though, so the plan felt a little squirly as we descended. The pilots handled the crosswind with ease, though, and we touched down without trouble. The three of us in our row chatted with the flight attendant in front of us as we taxied to concourse A. He commented on his experience working on different a/c types, his favorites, flying with celebrities on board, past visits to Denver, etc. It was fun to hear his experiences, and he definitely provided us with exceptional service throughout the flight.

As I disembarked, I went right up an escalator and completely avoided the main concourse A gate area. I walked through the second (or third) floor of concourse A before crossing the air bridge to the main terminal. Customs were there, and they certainly were not fast. I probably waited for about 35 minutes, then claimed my bags, and rode home. Smarte Carts were free in the international baggage claim, an international touch. Go outside the magic doors an they’ll charge you $2.

I left the airport at about 7:15 PM, and was back the next day at 5:00 AM for a flight to Hawai’i! 26,000 miles in 2 months.

Thoughts:

On British Airways:

I’m still frustrated by how poor the frequent flyer program is. Earning 25% of mileage flown is just insulting. The check-in process was infuriating my first time through but better the second. Still, though the system is not intuitive. Even after you have checked in, when you log in to BA.com it asks you to check in again.

The BA staff (in person) handled the cancellation very professionally and did what they needed to in order to take care of me. BA staff at Heathrow was just fine, and onboard service was excellent.

BA flight times between Denver and London are perfect. Leave Denver at 8:15 PM, fall asleep, wake up for a landing around 11 in London. You feel like you are still in the same time zone (almost). On the return, you leave in the afternoon and have to toughen up and stay awake for as much of the flight as possible. You land and are through customs by about 7:15 PM (1:15 AM in London). Drive home as safely as possible and sleep just like you were still in London and stayed up late. You get to sleep in longer than you’d expect and jet-lag is minimal the next day.

On United:

United’s service was fine, though I definitely feel BA’s was better. It’s not that UA failed to do anything; it’s just that BA’s cabin crew did so much more. Granted, I was asleep for much of the United flight, which might mean the cabin crew did exactly what was necessary, but I still felt that the service was superior on BA. Mileage plus is just so much better than BA for economy travel, though. If United starts a direct DEN-LHR service following the suspension of Bermuda II, the decision will be a difficult one. Superior Service or Superior Value.

On Kenya Airways:

Kenya’s service was overall excellent. Cabin Crew was very attentive, food was good, and the planes were clean. Delays were a bit of an issue, though we had so many delays in Uganda, I didn’t really even care about the flight delays. I’m a bit frustrated that in the 21st century, we weren’t able to have etickets with seat assignments, but that is not a huge concern, as we were unusual travelers.

Thanks for reading my very, very long report. It’s taken hours upon hours to write. I hope you’ve enjoyed it; please respond with any comments or questions!



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User currently offlineKhaleej777 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2007, 90 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 9753 times:

F9Widebody/Kyle,

Thanks for sharing such a detailed account of your travels - sounds like an amazing trip! Congratulations as well on your work in Uganda which looks really worth while.

I'm glad you enjoyed London and BA, despite the difficulties at the start of your trip. Looks like you were fortunate enough to be in the UK for the 4 days or so this summer when it wasn't actually raining - nice timing!

Thanks again for taking the time to write the report - look forward to hearing of your next flights.

Best wishes, Khaleej777


User currently offline9V-SPJ From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 752 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 9624 times:

Excellent trip report! Loved all the details. Uganda is a fascinating country! Although I have never been there, I took a history class on it!
Cheers!

9V-SPJ


User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27027 posts, RR: 58
Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 9173 times:

Hey very nice TR and congratulations on your work in Uganda. It must be very rewarding to do such a thing. Uganda looks like an amazng country and quite scenic.

Thanks for sharing

OA260


User currently offlineRyanair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 9019 times:

This is a great trip report, very well wrote. Uganda sounds like an intresting place.

User currently offlineSemsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 8921 times:

I liked the King of Scotland which shows life in Uganda during Amin. How is the weather there. I was told August is the best time to go. What vaccinations do you need? Very interesting read. Thanks.

User currently offline5YKQW From Kenya, joined Feb 2007, 44 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 8701 times:

Great report and thank u for giving KQ a thumbs up. NBO airport is undergoing major expansion hence the occassional confusion. Must agree with u that the info boards work infrequently but hopefully these problems will be solved once terminal 4 opens.

User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (7 years 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 8249 times:

Thanks for all of the comments so far.

Quoting Semsem (Reply 8):
How is the weather there. I was told August is the best time to go. What vaccinations do you need?

Weather was very good...we were just entering the rainy season...so it rained in the afternoons 1 of every 3-4 days. Uganda is right on the equator, so the temperature barely changes. It was always between about 72 and 80 Fahrenheit while we were there.

As for vaccinations, I received Yellow Fever, Typhoid, a Tetanus Booster (necessary regardless), and a TB / Whooping Cough vaccine. I also had had a viral meningitis vaccine earlier that they would've suggested I get.

I also took anti-malarial medications twice daily while I was there and for four weeks after I returned. Our pastor got a BAD case of malaria on the way back and spent about a week in a London hospital.

Quoting 5YKQW (Reply 9):
. Must agree with u that the info boards work infrequently but hopefully these problems will be solved once terminal 4 opens.

Didn't even know they were opening a new terminal; all the more reason to fly to NBO.



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User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8549 posts, RR: 55
Reply 11, posted (7 years 1 week 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 7966 times:
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Great TR, very interesting indeed.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
In the end, I decided to bite the bullet and book the trip on BA. They offered me a free night in a London hotel as well, which really sweetened the deal.

- Nice one, can't really refuse that withe the £/$ exchange rate at the moment.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
having to clear security an extra time is never fun.

- Agreed.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
The night before my flight I went onto BA.com and checked in for the flight. I selected an aisle seat (the site confirmed this selection) and clicked continue, but the booking program showed me checked-in with my initial pre-assigned seat selection (a window-less “window” seat according to seatguru). Clicking continue again the site said “now that you have printed your boarding pass…” at the top of the next page even though I had done no such thing. Utterly aggravated with the online check-in system I spent about 3 hours on the phone with BA staff trying to simply get a aisle seat assigned. Some of the staff were helpful, one eventually tried to call the BA staff at Denver to change my seat (the only way it could be done once I had “checked-in”). In the end, though, we were unable to get in touch with anyone at Denver, so the phone agent sent a Telex to the Denver staff to read in the morning and I went to bed hopeful that everything would work out fine

- Sounds messy and quite complicated.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
This walkway is my favorite part of O’Hare. The neon lights always used to fascinate me as a kid, and it’s nostalgic to see them once again

- I remember this from the first ime I flew into ORD with UA, used to love seeing it.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
Thursday, July 5 2007
Nairobi - Jomo Kenyatta (Embakasi) (NBO / HKJK) - Entebbe - International (EBB / HUEN)
Kenya Airways 410
Boeing 777-2U8/ER


- Big plane on this route.

Quoting F9Widebody (Thread starter):
On this flight every single seat was occupied, and truth be told, I don’t think I saw an empty seat on a single flight throughout my itinerary

- You answered a question I had planned to ask  Smile

The pic's in London were great, looks like you did loads.

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 12, posted (7 years 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 7398 times:

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 11):

- Big plane on this route.

Yea, it was planned to be smaller (I believe), but it was an equipment upgrade.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 11):

- You answered a question I had planned to ask Smile

All flights DEN-EBB were totally full, save for perhaps the rear of coach from NBO-EBB, which I couldn't see. On the return, I can't comment on the last row or two of the EBB-NBO flight or the rear section of coach NBO-LHR. LHR-DEN didn't have an empty seat in coach.



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User currently offlineIndio66 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 475 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 12 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 7097 times:

Nice report - sounds like a fun trip.

Loved the picture of the Texas Embassy. I ate there over a decade ago - I think that meal is still coming up on me!


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9661 posts, RR: 52
Reply 14, posted (6 years 12 months 16 hours ago) and read 7097 times:

Thanks for the trip report. I usually don't read a full trip report about an economy trip report without tons of pictures in the text, but your standed out.

I'm glad BA handled your cancellation well. They did their best job possible last time I flew them and two planes broke down and we were stuck in LHR overnight.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineB747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17067 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (6 years 11 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6752 times:

A really well written TR.

Enjoyed to read it.

The pics are really great.

Thank you for sharing.

B747forever.



Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (6 years 11 months 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6604 times:

Thanks for the comments!


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User currently offlineSwallow From Uganda, joined Jul 2007, 555 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (6 years 11 months 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 6235 times:

Quoting F9Widebody (Reply 1):
I believe we landed to the south (towards lake Victoria), though I am not entirely sure

If you descended over Lake Victoria then you landed from the south. It is one of the most picturesque descents I have had the privilege of experiencing. Flying in from JNB, you descend for 20-30 min over Lake Victoria with the sun setting over the lake, smoke rising lazily from the various islands dotted across the lake while fishermen paddle their boats. As the plane gets lower and lower over the water you may think you are landing on the lake, when suddenly land appears and the plane touches down. The runway ends near the lake shore. I have heard pilots from both KQ and SA say that this is one of the most beautiful landings in Africa that they do.

Quoting F9Widebody (Reply 2):
We arrived EBB veeeeeerrrrry early, because we didn't know what traffic was going to be like on the road, and the last thing we wanted to do was miss our flight

The Kampala-Entebbe stretch is only 20 miles but can take up to one hour depending on traffic and road works.

Quoting F9Widebody (Reply 1):
We had a great time in Uganda, though I don't really feel I can fully describe everything that happened here. On this portion of the trip we traveled with an equally large group of college students from Makerere University in Kampala. In Lira we worked with Diocese to build a Youth Center.

Glad to hear you enjoyed our homeland. Makerere is my alma mater. And thanks for blessing the youth with a new building.

Quoting F9Widebody (Reply 1):
there were certainly times during the trip when I would have died for some conveniences we take for granted in the western world (toilets, clean water coming from the tap, washing machines, reliable transportation, etc.)

The things we take for granted... until they are not there!! I can relate.

Quoting F9Widebody (Reply 2):
At LEAST 30 people (by our count) on the plane where connecting to London, so we were confident the plane would be held in Nairobi if worst came to worst

KQ may delay you but they will hold your connecting flight till you arrive in Nairobi. Kudos to them  Smile



The grass is greener where you water it
User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (6 years 10 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5903 times:



Quoting Swallow (Reply 17):
If you descended over Lake Victoria then you landed from the south. It is one of the most picturesque descents I have had the privilege of experiencing. Flying in from JNB, you descend for 20-30 min over Lake Victoria with the sun setting over the lake, smoke rising lazily from the various islands dotted across the lake while fishermen paddle their boats. As the plane gets lower and lower over the water you may think you are landing on the lake, when suddenly land appears and the plane touches down. The runway ends near the lake shore. I have heard pilots from both KQ and SA say that this is one of the most beautiful landings in Africa that they do.

I can imagine! Unfortunately, I think we landed towards the south and instead just saw Victoria on the horizon once we landed. We flew more over Kampala before turning South towards EBB.

Awesome to see an A.netter from Uganda!



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