UA 166 LAX-BOS 6/13 A320
This is the first leg of a 3-leg trip to IST for my fiancee's brother's wedding. (He's marrying a Turk but they both live in the US and teach at Wash U).
Instead of purchasing a tix to IST, we decided to blow out my US mileage on business class seats. Let me tell you, it's not easy 7 months out to find 2 C seats across the pond, and Turkish wasn't admitted to the *A until March. It took a week's worth of calls at all hours of the day, but we finally got seats! As a result we ended up with the following routing: LAX-BOS-FRA-IST on UA/LH. Coming back is a much more civilized IST-FRA-LAX on LH. We made a change from our original BOS flight from 164 (3pm) to 166 (red-eye) and that caused a lot of headaches for us. US didn't shaw availability but UA did, so we changed it first with UA and then called US to force the change. It took an additional hour, but it was finally done.
In addition, there were no F seats on the UA flights at time of booking, so we had to settle with coach. Originally we were in E+ on 164, and 166. However, 166 was downgraded from 757 to A320 and we were bounced out of E+ to middle seats. I tried to change back to E+, but since I'm no longer Premier, computer would not allow. Even a supervisor at LAX ATO couldn't do it.
Knowing we'd have problems, we arrived at LAX on 6/13 at 8:30 for our 10:30 flight. The regular lines were a mess, so we went to the Premier lobby. We got helped by a UGS agent, who saw that our res was cancelled. We both turned white, and I called US. Somewhow I got the INT office and asked for a supervisor and explained the situation. Turns out US never re-ticketed the UA flight after we changed it! (nearly 6 weeks). After all was said and done, we're told we're number 1 & 2 for the upgrade list, as because of our ticket, we're listed as Full Fare Paying Passengers (FFPP) and 8/12 had checked in by 9:30. Luggage was interlined all the way to IST. We saw Ian Ziering from 90210 and Dancing with the Stars.
Security was a mess at 7, so we went to 6, which was also slow, but not as bad. Inbound from PHL was late, so we departed about 40 minutes late. Our upgrades cleared, and we got 1C & 1D. Things were good!
Flight time as announced at 5:06 with Ch. 9 on. A snack consisting of a fruit and cheese plate was offered. My fiancee ate it, and I opted to partake as a pre-arrival meal. It hit the spot and was grapes, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, honeydew, 2 big wedges of cheese and 2 packages of Peperidge Farm Butterfly Crackers. Those seats are pretty damm comfortable, and go back further than US. They showed a movie, but I slept until we crossed Lake Michigan over ORD, then we picked up some bumps over Indiana and Ohio. Smooth arrival from the North into BOS.
Once we arrived we double checked that our bags would be interlined. They said yes, so we decided to head into BOS for some sight-seeing. Our LH connection was at 4pm.
We ended up taking the T and seeing Boston Common, Cheers, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Old North Church, Paul Revere's house, ate a canolli at Mike's Pastry, had lunch on the wharf and finally took the T back to Logan. During a pit stop at the Four Seasons we saw Leslie Jordan from Will & Grace and Boston Public.
LH 423 6/14/08 BOS-FRA A340-600 seats 4A & 4B
Knowing we'd have a problem checking in, which we did, I wanted to be back at BOS by 1:45 for the 4:15 flight. After needing a supervisor to check us in, and only getting 1 of 2 BP's for FRA-IST, we headed through security to the lounge. In BOS, the lounge is downstairs and had no windows or cell service. Wireless is via T-Mobile hot spot you need to pay for. There were a variety of sandwiches, drinks and snacks. Boarding was to begin at 3:40, so we head upstairs.
Terminal E's setup very much reminds me of the old US Interim terminal at DCA. The gates are close to each other, multiple boarding’s at the same time and not much seating space. Other flights around the same time included BA, IB, AC, NW, AZ, 2 Aer Lingus. Needless to say, the place was a zoo.
Boarding is delayed almost 20 minutes because even though the plane had arrived 1 hour early, it was not cleaned up to LH or the Captain's standards, so he called them back! Pre-boards are called followed by business and boarding is via 2L. We were on a 2-class A340-600 in row 4A & 4B. That is one BIG bird. German newspapers and the IHT were offered on the Jetway, and OJ or Sparkling wine were offered pre-push back. Our drink cart lady was Tina from Hungary and the meal cart lady was Astrid from Scandinavia. I think poor Tina walked her way to Germany.
Once boarding was finished we pushed-back and headed for the runway. This bird has a LOT of power, I was quite impressed. We were off the ground in less than 20 seconds, and made it to 38,000 ft in less than 20 minutes. Announcements were in German first followed by English.
An amenity kit was located in the side storage area. It consisted of socks, eye shade, toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturizer, and pads for the earphones. The entertainment system is available to us at any time, and we pretty much turned it on right after we got into the air. A broad choice of movies, television, short subjects, music and games are all yours. The controller is pretty easy to use. I watched Charlie Wilson’s War through dinner, and then started Mad Money after waking up closer to FRA.
The seat is also pretty comfortable, but the controls are a little difficult to figure out. The headrest is also manual, which can add to the confusion. The one plus is that there is a massage feature, but the motor can be heard even with Bose headsets on. There are a couple of pre-set seating buttons, but even then it’s possible to keep the lay-flat button pushed and get into another lay-flat position. I tried the memory button, but it didn’t work.
Dinner was finally offered about 1 hour of flight. It was served on a tray from the carts in the aisle. Hors d’oeuvres consisted of either pistachio crusted shrimp with mango salsa and cilantro aioli or smoked duck breast with sweet corn flan and cherry vinaigrette, which we had and was delicious. It was accompanied on a tray with a salad and cheese plate consisting of sage derby, gruyere and cambozola cheese. They passed the bread basket around a few times, and it had 5-6 kinds of bread including pretzel and 5-grain. Once finished it was cleared and our entrees consisted of grilled Atlantic salmon with celeriac puree, sweet pea and fava bean jus; artichoke and mascarpone agnolotti with chunky pomodoro sauce; or beef tournedos with cilantro crust, wasabi mashed potatoes, carrot and baby bok choy. Wine was offered again, and we each had a choice of white. I had the beef, which turned out to really be a filet, and my fiancée had the pasta, which was good. An additional pass of the bread basket took place. Drinks were refilled. After we finished they cleared the entire tray.
After about 15 minutes later they came around with dessert, brandy and cognac. Dessert was duet of warm chocolate triangle and blueberry roulade with fresh mango and raspberry coulis accompanied with sliced fresh fruit. Needless to say when we finished I was stuffed and needed a walk.
I decided to go to the back and check out the lower-level lavatories in coach. The staircase down is a bit steep. There are 5 down there, and the one I picked was double the size of a normal one. It is not a problem to easily fit 2 people in there to join the mile high club. I spoke to some of the crew in the galley near the stairs and they told me they hated the 346 when they first got them, because their main Y galley is down there and the dumbwaiter often broke, which made it close to impossible to do service!
Returning to my seat, I decided to try and sleep, as we had already been up over 2 hours, and the flight was only 6 hours. It had also just gotten dark out.
The lights were turned on somewhere over Southern Ireland, and breakfast service started shortly thereafter. It consisted of juice, fresh sliced fruit, sliced roast beef and chicken breast, choice of breads, and brie and cheddar cheese wedges. Coffee and tea were also offered. A “to-go” option was also available if you wanted to sleep until arrival.
A pre-arrival video for FRA was shown as we descended and landed, and taxied VERY quickly to the A380 capable gate at Terminal C in FRA via 1L and 2L plus an air-stair at 4L (which seems to be the norm for all flights at FRA, whether at Jetway or hardstand.) We were one of the first flights in at 7am, but the South African and Air Namibia flights beat us to it. We had a long walk over to catch our connecting flight at B47.
After re-checking in at the connection desk and making sure our bags were on our flight, which they told us they were, we started the long walk over to B47, and I do mean LONG walk. We had to re-clear security. Finally we made it and went up to the Business Class lounge. We signed up for a shower, which they allowed us to use together, and then ate until it was time to board the FRA flight.
LH 3340 6/15 FRA-IST A321-100 seats 7A & 7C (business class)
Gate B47 is a hardstand gate, so we had to take a 5 minute bus ride to the plane. Boarding was via 1L and 4L. We knew to expect European business class to be unlike business class in North America. Basically, they push the armrests of the middle seat in and the seat back cushion fold down to create an additional tray table. We are also told that there is additional leg room from Y. The 4 member cabin crew is also quite junior, as compared to the BOS flight.
We were delayed a bit because there was 1 no-show, and the bags had to be removed. After that Captain Günter taxied out to the runway, and we took off without any delay. Flight time was announced at 2:15 with a flight plan down to Munich then over to Zagreb and across to Sophia before heading straight in to Istanbul. Once airborne we were offered drinks and a hot breakfast – choice of fruit crepes or cheese omelet (salty or sweet). It was accompanied by yogurt, sliced fresh fruit and the bread basket. It was really good. IST is a “No Pork” flight. The smooth flight went by ok. The flight crew came out to use the lav several times: just walked right out! The flight attendants also just walked right in a few times. I guess they don’t lock it like in the US.
Smooth landing in IST, and had to wait for a Jetway gate. We landed right after the Turkish flight from JFK arrived, so we high tailed it to immigration, but still waited for 25 minutes after purchasing our VISA for $20.
Got down to luggage and none of our bags come out! Finally check with the LH contract agents and the bags are stated to be: “In BOS BSO.” We fill out a form and are told they’d be on the Sunday/Monday flights. Needless to say, we weren’t thrilled that UA didn’t transfer them, even with an 8 hour layover.