DFW13L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 19981 times:
Here is the return portion of my "Quest for Charlemagne" where I flew DFW-LHR-BRU on AA/BA including Business Class on the new AA 767 seats. Click here to see that trip report
The most unique part of this trip report is that I fly BRU-FRA-DFW without flying on any Star Alliance carrier! I flew SN Brussels Airlines and connected to AA. That ended up working very well because the gates were virtually next door to each other. I'm unfamiliar with FRA, so that was a relief. Both flights were in premium classes. B-Flex on SN Brussels and First Class on an AA 777.
First, I'll start with some pictures from Brussels, which was a great city to visit.
The Cathedral in Brussels
If you look closely to the left of the spire, you'll see the moon. (It didn't come out like I would have liked)
Here's a great restaurant underneath the main square in the center of Brussels that I enjoyed. Cave du Roy.
Here's a pedestrian street of nothing but restaurants.
Most restaurants specialized in shellfish, particularly mussels.
Some also had a focus toward beer too.
OK so there are some "destination" photos. After enjoying the city for my last night, I took the train back to the airport, where I was staying at the airport Sheraton, which is located on property at the airport. All you have to do is cross the street and you are in the lobby.
The morning flights were already listed on the departure board. I had listed myself as a nonrev on the 0710 LH flight to FRA. Looking at the departure board I realized there was a SN Brussels flight at 0630 to FRA. I have flown LH before (in 1993) but never SN Brussels, so I decided to see if they would take me.
So I went here to the Brussels Airlines ticket desk and asked them if I could nonrev on their flight in the morning with my LH ZED standby ticket. They said no problem and there were plenty of seats. They were very polite, and spoke to me willingly in English, and recommended that I check in at about 5:00am for the 6:30am departure. I thanked them and was on my way.
Here are some shots from the terminal:
Quality Burger. I can't think of a more enticing name than that. I can't believe they had some empty seats. A shame I had already eaten at Cave du Roy.
The most interesting feature of the airport and one of the best reasons to stay at the airport hotel. A supermarket across the street! Water, soft drinks, and beer all for 1 Euro or less. This was built into the terminal on the arrivals level.
So the next morning, I checked out of the Sheraton and got to the Brussels Airlines checkin a few minutes after 5:00am. They are one of those airlines that wants everyone to use the self-service kiosk and I wasn't even listed for the flight as a nonrev, so I explained my situation to the attendant greeting people near the machines, and she told me to make my way to the b.light checkin, which was marked with red signs.
I went over the to the b.light checkin (b.light is their cheap economy, while b.flex is their premium economy) and the agents were very friendly and didn't mind that I was checking in with no standby listing and using a Lufthansa ZED ticket. In fact the two agents discussed between themselves and decided to put me on standby for b.flex, their premium class.
After handling that very cordially with me in English (my French isn't good enough to discuss airport standby lingo, and I don't know Dutch at all) I decided that I should check my carryon, because I was unfamiliar with European carryon luggage restrictions and knew the Brits would make me check my bag. So I checked my carryon to FRA.
They didn't give me a boarding pass on the spot. I got a pass to get me through security that said I was on standby for b.flex on the 0630 to FRA. She told me what gate it would be at, even though it wasn't yet posted, and I went to security. This was my first ever Schengen flight (intra-European) so there was no passport control or immigration procedures.
There were a few gates down on the ground level.
Here's the main terminal going toward my gate. Lots of windows here, though unfortunately it was dark due to the long dark of winter. Also, on the right, you will see a "Oneworld Charging Station" where people could charge their electronics courtesy of the Oneworld alliance. This was at about a dozen gates.
Here's my boarding pass once they called my name. Seat 6F in b.flex. It was very nice of them to seat me in their premium cabin. Also, the gate agent went above and beyond in asking me what type of seat I would like, and telling me about the flight.
Here's a good Avro shot.
My flight was on a 737-300 with winglets. A former Virgin Express plane, actually.
737-300 with Winglets
45 mins late
b.flex 12/48 (premium economy)
b.light about 70% full (normal economy)
For those who are unfamiliar, here's a description of the b.flex cabin and service. As you can see it's remarkably like coach, being a 3X3 cabin, but it has perhaps a bit better legroom, though I would say it's in line with AA's MD80s (which is good compared to most coach seat pitches).
The first six rows were b.flex. A customer can sit in all six seats going across, as there wasn't a pull-down console or anything blocking the middle seat as sometimes is found on European carrers. The cabins are color-coded by the cloth that hangs over the headrest. b.flex was blue and b.light was red.
Newspapers were handed out to b.flex customers but not to b.light. Food was provided to b.flex but was buy-on-board in the b.light cabin.
Finally, onward with the flight. We boarded on-time and I was pleased to find that I had a row to myself. Here's my view:
An AF Regional E-145 and a KLM Cityhopper F50 plus some others.
After boarding, the captain made some announcement that I couldn't fully understand, but I understood that the point was that FRA had some ATC or weather issue preventing our on-time departure and we would depart at 0700 rather than 0630. I was glad, at this point, that I had taken the Brussels Airlines flight at 0630 rather than the LH at 0710, because my flight home was at 1025 and I didn't know how complicated it was going to be to get to AA upon arrival at FRA.
At about 0645 it started snowing outside. The snow started coming in rather heavy and they announced that we would be even later due to our need to be de-iced.
Eventually, about 45 minutes later than scheduled, we actually pushed out of the gate. That was a relief as I was a bit nervous about my connection in FRA, but still knew I had plenty of time as long as we didn't delay too much further.
Here's a view of the terminal, that I would love to enjoy during daylight sometime. Unfortunately, sunrise was about 0800 in BRU, so it wasn't to be.
We taxied extremely fast. Much faster than I'm used to going. In fact it seemed like we were very close to an AA 767 ahead of us. I'm glad that I didn't wait for an AA ride home because the weather was deteriorating fast at BRU.
After we took off, the cabin crew (of 4) on this 737-300 started doing the breakfast service in b.flex. One thing I noticed about this crew, which was remarkable is that they learned each person's language quickly and spoke to each person in their preferred language for the duration of the flight. Even when disembarking, they said goodbye in each person's language. And they used French, Dutch, German, and English. It was very impressive.
I can't speak for the passengers in b.light behind me, but that was the experience in b.flex.
The croissant was warm when served and the yogurt was cold, of course.
An interesting advert on the box.
Everything was b.(whatever). Even the safety card was b.safe
Finally, as we were well into Germany the sun begins to rise.
Look what plane was right next to where I was parking at FRA. My AA 777!
We parked at gate C1, which is set up for Schengen arrivals (no passport control) and my AA 777 back home to DFW was at gate C6, so I had an easy connection.
Here's a shot of my plane. A former Virgin Express 737-300 with winglets.
Now for the AA 777 in First Class FRA-DFW
The whole flight was booked about 50% capacity
10hours in the air
This is my longest AA flight by distance, but not the longest in duration. CDG-DFW last January was 30 minutes longer in an 767-300.
I got lost trying to find the baggage claim since I foolishly checked my bag to FRA. I asked at an info desk and they opened a secret doorway to let me in the baggage claim area. It didn't take too long and then I was off to find the AA check-in.
There wasn't much of a line there, and when it was my turn, I made sure to show them my boarding pass from BRU, so they would know I was a through passenger (it gives me higher status on the standby list).
The last I had checked there were only 3 first class passengers booked on the flight and only 15 in business (the dead of winter--one of the reasons I chose this flight). She said the flight was so empty that the computer allocated me a first class seat upon check in. I was given seat 3A. How nice! I've never had that happen before! Usually they hang onto the F seats until the last minute. I asked the agent about my bag, which is carryon sized in the US, but I usually check in Europe. She told me it would be no problem to bring onboard. I'm thinking this is one of the reasons people still dislike Heathrow. I would have had to check it there.
So then I had nothing to worry about and started to wander the airport a bit.
They had this ridiculous amount of travel agencies on the upper level above the check-in area. It's rather obnoxious. They aren't pictured here well as I didn't want to take a picture of it. This is rather an overview of the terminal.
What's an airport without a casino? This casino actually had a blackjack table in it. LAS doesn't even have that!
One cool thing about my Priority Pass membership is that they have now contracted with a few international AA clubs. Working for AMR, I am not allowed membership to the Admiral's Club. But Priority Pass gets me in. So this was my first time in an Admiral's Club as an AA nonrev.
I got out the computer to check flights and make sure I was OK. I even did a couple nerdy things like checking my work email (and answering some issues) and also taking a picture of the a.net front page just to post here. I logged into the chat room but everyone was asleep I think. It was about 1-2am Central time.
Here's a view of the lounge. It was smaller than I would have expected, espeically since they contract out to Priority Pass and Alitalia. It is located outside of security, physically just upstairs from check-in, so maybe the location slows down the traffic a bit. I'm always a bit careful with my time if I'm in a landside club, knowing I need to clear passport control and then security.
The club was nice. As you can see the dark woods and decent decor. There was no view of the airport from there. There was a self-service bar area with some snacks and a well-stocked refridgerator, etc.
So I made my way to the plane. Passport control was quick and easy. I checked the duty free but didn't buy anything. Then I got to the gate, which had its own security just for that gate, which is surprising and annoying if you like to plane-spot.
After a bit it was time to board my 777. Here are a few cabin shots.
Who needs one air conditioner when you can have 4!
An attempt at a cockpit shot from my seat. I was in 3A. The pilots used 1A as their crew rest seat.
5135miles to get home!
I didn't really get to see FRA as much as I would have liked, so I took some shots as we pushed out and taxied.
Once we got going, the 5-course lunch service commenced.
For starters I got both choices, the warm nuts and the cheese antipasto.
Also pictured are the Bose QC3 headsets that are handed out to Business and First class customers for use onboard.
They offered (and I accepted) a second bowl of the cheese antipasto. I found that I was a bit of a glutton on this flight and ate way too much!
Next came the choice in breads, and I chose the foccacia, and to accompany the bread is yet another choice: butter or branded olive oil. I chose the olive oil. I think I had three pieces of the foccacia!
Then came the other pictured item. Shrimp and salmon. The salmon was served after being shaped into a rose, served with the toast and capers and other items that traditionally come with salmon.
At this point we made landfall over the UK. I still didn't realize the magnitude of the storm that hit the UK that day (Monday the 2nd of February). One of my options returning home was to do BRU LHR DFW, and I'm very glad I didn't do that!! Here is landfall somewhere up north, maybe at Newcastle or York, and as you can see, the country is blanketed in snow.
Here's the salad, which was mixed at my seat. They ask you which vegetables to put in the salad and offer a chicken breast too. I got it all (once again the glutton).
Keeping you up to date on our progress, as we were headed northwest toward Glasgow, we passed a LH A343. I couldn't help but wonder whether or not it was LH438, which is scheduled to depart 15 minutes ahead of AA70 on the FRA-DFW route.
I'm unable to resolve the registration in this photo, so I don't know if it was that flight or another.
Next is the embarassing entree I ordered. I'm actually of the opinion that it is best to eat light meals on a plane, but for some reason I ordered this huge beef entree that you'll see in the next picture.
I actually was going to order the pasta, but ended up ordering this. Here's the description:
Braised beef tenderloin filled with sausage, offered with a red wind portobello sauce, glazed carrots and Normandy-style potatoes.
Yeah I should have had the Gnocchi.
The dish was way too much food, especially after eating all these courses leading to this point, but it was really good.
Finally the dessert. I couldn't decide between the cheese and ice cream sundae, but I went with the ice cream sundae and a Bailey's.
At this point, after eating so heavily, I was ready to sleep for a while, and actually slept longer than I probably ever have on a plane. I fell asleep at Scotland and woke up here:
The first class seat becomes a 6'6" bed and is comfortable. There's a nice pillow and blanket as well. I left my TV on the flight map, so whenever I woke up for a few seconds I could see where we were. I shut my 3 windows and slept for at least 6 hours, which was amazing for me!
Here we are entering US airspace.
The air show went through different European languages, and I took this one specifically to show you the "Michigan See" for Lake Michigan!
The UK was blanketed in snow, and you can see the US was also blanketed in snow, at least up north of Chicago it was.
I had slept through the mid-flight snack of a cheese plate and also some Lindt chocolates, but when I was awake the flight attendant brought the box over to me and offered me some.
I haven't mentioned it yet, but the AA cabin crew were very nice. One of the best crews I have had on a DFW long-haul flight. In my other trip report DFW-LHR on the outbound of this trip, that crew was excellent as well. They were friendly and with a keen eye for service.
Shortly after that, a flight attendant came around and asked if I would be interested in a light meal. There were three flight attendants rotating through the first class cabin, one of which was the purser.
The choices for the light meal were The pizza with a salad or Asian chicken. Since I have a soy allergy, I went with the pizza.
I was surprised to see the iced tea served with mint leaves. They kept my iced tea refreshed as well. One of the good culinary symbols of America, or more likely the Southern part of America, served in a classy way in first class on a flight to Texas. I liked it!
And that was followed by a warmed cookie and a cup of tea. Of course, being the glutton still, I didn't refuse the offer of two cookies rather than one!
I like this 3D map. We are getting close to home, but that's ok.
As we begin the descent, they start showing arrival information.
Connecting gate info
And then I decide to point out a few more features of the seats...so here you go. I haven't pointed out the desk very well. Once I actually put together a presentation for school using a desk on a 777 in the Flagship configuration like this on a ORD-LHR flight. You can swivel the seat to face the desk.
This is facing forward, looking to the left. The desk folds out from here.
A view facing the desk with the seat swiveled where you are seated facing the windows.
And the desk is extended where I am filling out my landing card.
And here is a shot of the legroom and the ottoman. When the seat is reclined into a bed, the ottoman is the bottom part of the bed. It has a seat belt in case you know someone seated in steerage that wants to come visit you. Also, I've seen a husband and wife use the other seat so they can have a meal facing each other. The seats face each other and the table is designed to have plenty of room for two setups on it for this purpose.
Finally I am forced to face my seat forward and in the takeoff/landing position. We are in the DFW area descending toward Love Field on downwind for 35C.
Love Field. We are probably over my house here.
The new football stadium in Arlington. At this point we are on final for 35C.
Back in DFW with all the AA metal. We are parking at D30.
A familiar sight at DFW. A bunch of shiny MD80s.
A view of my plane from the customs arrival area above the gate area. There are two of these angled corner gates at DFW, and they say these two gates (D15 that KLM uses and D30 that AA uses) are the ones that are A380-ready. They can handle the size of the A380 due to being on a corner.
Now I'm about to brag about entering the USA via DFW's Terminal D. This was the best experience for me yet, but it's always a good experience. First of all you saw the picture just above. Here are pictures facing the other direction.
These pictures show what a nice, bright, refreshing experience it is to enter such a cheerful place after a long flight. That adds a lot to the atmosphere.
Now, we had arrived long enough after KLM and before LH and other European arrivals (2 of 3 LHR flights cancelled and the remaining one--AA767 was hours late). I was in the second to last row of first class, so I was one of the first to arrive at customs.
I physically had to wait for one person ahead of me at passport control. When it was my turn, he stamped my declaration slip and told me welcome home. I had no bag to claim so I exited customs immediately. The only time I stopped walking other than to take those three pictures was to wait for one person at passport control. It was literally less than five minutes from the jetbridge to being finished with customs and immigration.
I have had the same experience on AA79 from LGW or LHR before, which arrives at the same time as one Mexico flight, but that's it. Once I had a longer wait arriving on AA49 from CDG.
Usually it is very swift and pleasant arriving at DFW's Terminal D.
Anyway, that wraps up my trip report I think. So thanks for reading. Please leave a comment if you feel inclinded to do so.
Smi0006 From Australia, joined Jan 2008, 1525 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 19727 times:
Great trip report!!!
Brussels airlines looks fantastic! I am really disappointed that LH purchased them would loved them to be in oneworld seemed to me to be a perfect fit for all, especially if jet airways had joined also.
AA first looks like a decent product, however I feel it needs some minor changes to bring it to its full potential:
AA really needs to update the crockery to something more modern and stylish, the presentation of the food is rather good but let down by the dated crockery. And no mugs!! They may be okay by American standards but not so for other areas.
The first seat looks fantastic! really unique and very practical (Is it fitted to their entire 777 fleet?) but the surfaces need to be redone to make it more stylish and create that truly premium image (new table tops and get rid of that print on the shell) things like that something cheap and easy enough to do I would imagine.
Richcandy From UK - England, joined Aug 2001, 718 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 19628 times:
Great trip report and great pictures.
Just for info Quick is a fast food burger chain who has restaurants in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The author Bill Bryson said in one of his books that it should be short for quick get me a bucket.
Flanders From Belgium, joined Oct 2008, 116 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 19245 times:
Hi Matt, I just had a good read! Really enjoyed it, both parts 1 & 2! Pictures, videos and the non-aviation related information make this really a great trip report!
Glad to see you enjoyed Brussels. I've the impression that lots of Americans visiting our continent skip this wonderful city in the heart of Europe and I wonder why... Last Monday I was going home from BRU when I met a large group of Americans at the BRU airport railway station... heading straight for Amsterdam. I thinks that's a pity...
I've never flown SN Brussels myself but - based on your report - I am amazed by the high quality of service they seem to offer. And I guess this can only improve more once the airline is owned by Lufthansa! I'm not a big fan of the B.Light and B.Flex strategy but the B.safe, B.sweet, B.warm,... that's some nice marketing!
Ps76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 19077 times:
Just to say many thanks. I haven't flown American Airlines for many years but it still looks like a pretty nice product.
The Brussels report was also a nice addition. I have no idea how non-revving really works but I feel I really need to find myself a job in the aviation industry so I might one day be able to try it out(!)
Globetraveller From Germany, joined Apr 2008, 379 posts, RR: 20
Reply 8, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 18952 times:
Hi there Matt,
Thank you for posting such a great trip report. The pictures were amazing and the detail was impressive too. I guess you were lucky to be able to non-rev in First Class, but in these times of Economic gloom I am sure there will be more spare seats at the front of the plane anyway.
LHR777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 17210 times:
Very nice photos and a fab trip report. Although I work for CO and we have great service, I'm an ex-AA'er and I do miss flying AA First Class from LHR. Your pictures brought the memories flooding back!
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): It has a seat belt in case you know someone seated in steerage that wants to come visit you.
That's actually not permitted - passengers must stay in their ticketed cabins. The purpose of the guest seat is so two people can dine together, or have a meeting, should they so desire.
Airbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4253 posts, RR: 51
Reply 17, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 16663 times:
that's a great report on AA! And SN also of course.
I really like the food offered by AA, it looks very tasty. And to finish with a Baileys, that would me choice also
btw, you got automatically a seat in F since there was space available, do you know if this is a normal procedure with AA? Does this also apply to non-revs working for other oneworld partner airlines?
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
Definitely. I'll be back when the AA 777 goes to BRU!
Quoting Ps76 (Reply 7): I have no idea how non-revving really works but I feel I really need to find myself a job in the aviation industry so I might one day be able to try it out(!)
Nonreving can be stressful, but if you plan well and your luck holds, it's a great benefit. Great enough to keep me at AA earning less than I should earn to be able to do this. Speaking of planning nonreving now...I'm going to Las Vegas this weekend and bought my tickets for this trip. Now the flights I'm on are oversold! So I planned well!
Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 8): but in these times of Economic gloom I am sure there will be more spare seats at the front of the plane anyway.
Good point. But also the time of year has a lot to do with it as well.
Quoting Longhornmaniac (Reply 9): Fantastic read!! SN looks like a great little airline. Pics and videos were stunning, as always!
Thanks Cameron. When's your next 777 trip report?
Quoting Triple7man (Reply 10): Thx for posting this TR. I always enjoy reading your TR's on AA
Quoting Carlisle (Reply 11): Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter):
Some also had a focus toward beer too.
That is TOO funny.
I'm glad you caught that. Nobody else has mentioned it!
Quoting LHR777 (Reply 12): That's actually not permitted - passengers must stay in their ticketed cabins. The purpose of the guest seat is so two people can dine together, or have a meeting, should they so desire.
I was very lucky not to have planned to go through LHR on the way home. I did enjoy my flight, thanks.
Quoting UAL757 (Reply 15): I really liked the mint in the tea, it's so classy.
Yes I'm glad they did that too. Another item that I forgot to mention, actually I forgot to mention it in both trip reports, is that on the descent they also provide sparking water with a wedge of lemon it it to perk everyone up. That was also a nice touch.
Quoting Zillox (Reply 16): Great Trip report Matt!
Thank you for rating the Brussels airport!
Thanks. I really liked your airport. As I said I wish I could have been in the terminals during the daytime, but I'll have to save that for next time. I am considering going back when the ORD flight upgrades to 777 at some point.
Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 17): btw, you got automatically a seat in F since there was space available, do you know if this is a normal procedure with AA? Does this also apply to non-revs working for other oneworld partner airlines?
The way it works with AA is that you request the class of service in your nonrev listing. AA charges a fee for this type of flight, and coach is cheaper, business class is more, and first is more than business.
With oneworld carriers it is strictly coach only. Sometimes at AA they will slide someone into business, but it's rare. Also, with British Airways on transatlantic, out of 4 trips, they have accommodated me in World Traveller Plus 3 times, which is their upgraded coach. It's still coach, but it's much nicer than World Traveller. I have friends who have flown BA transatlantic many more times than I have, and they have yet to be put in WT+. Maybe I'm just lucky.
Quoting LHR777 (Reply 18): When I worked for BA and non-rev'd on AA, it was Y class or nothing.
That's usually the case. Every once in a while a friendly agent will put an offline nonrev in business, but it's rare. I noticed it happened on one of the DFW LHR flights the day before I flew outbound on this trip. And I've seen it on the daytime ORD LHR a few times, AA90, which sometimes has low bookings.
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 739 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (5 years 5 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 16336 times:
Quoting DFW13L (Reply 19): That's usually the case. Every once in a while a friendly agent will put an offline nonrev in business, but it's rare. I noticed it happened on one of the DFW LHR flights the day before I flew outbound on this trip. And I've seen it on the daytime ORD LHR a few times, AA90, which sometimes has low bookings.
It usually is economy class when you non rev on another airline but there are exceptions. I flew an ID90 on SR FCO-ZRH and was put in business class. On a 1hr 15min flight they served us lunch. And last year I was flying on a Oneworld partner JL BKK-NRT and was put in business class along with other non revs. On AA you can list for your preferred class of service, subject to availability and your classification on the standby list. I am very blessed to be able to fly as a non rev. If you have flexibility it is a great way to travel.
FRAspotter From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2347 posts, RR: 9
Reply 24, posted (5 years 4 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 14876 times:
I've flown both AA70/71 countless times over the years and have never had it as empty as you say. FRA (if you can't tell from my username) is by far my favorite airport in the world. This past January, I was actually upgraded from Y to Buisness class due to the agent assigning my seat to both myself and 1 other guy. However, with my Gold Status, they put me in 9G in Buisness Class. Those Bose headsets worked WONDERS! I was amazed... I've had AA's famous onboard Pizza many times in Y and Business Class. Glad to see that it was still available to First Class. I have to admit, this is the best airline food I've ever had. The usual "Beef, Chicken or Pasta" just don't cut it...
"Drunks run stop signs. Stoners wait for them to turn green."
LAXdude1023 From India, joined Sep 2006, 7512 posts, RR: 24
Reply 25, posted (5 years 3 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 13368 times:
As always excellent TR Matt!
Being the AA and DFW nut that I am I always look forward to them.
Im flying LAX-DFW-FRA on AA 70 May 8 and Im super stoked about it. Sad thing is that Im only going to FRA for one night for some plane spotting. I actually have to be in London for work so Im flying there the next day and taking AA137 from LHR-LAX.