Hello all! I know there is a recently posted BRU-ORD TR, but I just had to share mine as well.
This trip report is almost 2 years old, so most of my pictures will do the talking, as after 187 round trips in 2 years they kind of started to blend together.
This particular trip would be my FIRST non-rev trip. So, you can imagine I was rather nervous as it was all new to me. D1's? D2's? D2T's? What the heck? So, after being with Eagle for a month I felt that it was about time to go on a trip, especially as my birthday was the day before, and my dad's , just a week or so later.
I spent 6 years living in Waterloo, Belgium and loved it there! It really is an amazing country. A small gem that gets overlooked many times to the more commonly known, "Paris, London and GERMANY".
I looked to see how I could get to Brussels as fast as possible. unfortunately, AA88 from ORD-BRU was oversold and J was just not gonna happen. So, I knew AA flew AA172 from JFK-BRU and was so happy to see that it was open. Now, to get from ORD-JFK. At this time, Eagle flew an RJ from ORD-JFK and this was just what I needed. It was showing about 5 seats avail. But, with only one flight to JFK, it was kind of hard to have someone go standby TO JFK vice the million to LGA, so I felt safe on this chance. EVEN with it being the dead of winter, weight restriction was not an issue as the weather enroute was forecasted more or less CLEAR, and it was.
I had worked the previous night for the night arrival from ORD, AA 4053. So, as usual, our shift ends @ midnight pending any delays or baggage/cleaning issues etc... And, the morning crew for 4258 show up at 4am. With my flight leaving at 610am, I could either go back in at 210am to check myself in via the self-service machine, or, just let my co-workers do it and be an D1T in Chicago.
Showing up at 530am having called to verify I was on the flight, I got news that they were oversold! I was like SHOOT! NO!!! That was originally a prank, that turned out to be real as 5 people came in to go standby, but 9 people who were confirmed, failed to show. Thankfully, Anti-Ice was not required and as a result allowed me and 2 other non-rev's to snatch the last seats. 18ABC, SUCK on an ERJ! barely a recline and the lav as your next door neighbor.
Getting to ORD was the usual DBQ-JVL.4-ORD. Hitting the Janesville VOR, and the very common right bank to enter the JVL arrival. landing in ORD at this time of the morning was painless. What wasn't, was waiting 4 hours for my connection. I could have gone to LGA and then taken the Port Authority bus, but I decided to do that another time.
pulling into ORD
waiting for what felt like FOREVER to JFK.
I went to the gate that would ultimately be my gate and asked the agent to help me get situated for my flights to follow. She wasn't busy and walked me thru the whole process! And, as I predicted, I got a seat. Infact, the plane was very much empty and I took 3BC to JFK. The flight attendant was quite rude. "folks. I want your help cleaning the aircraft. So, remember. the seat back pocket goes. safety card, American Way, sky mall and barf bag. Questions??"
departing 22L. The pilot came over the PA and said to be ready to go, we'd have immediate take off for JFK due to time slots. he wasn't kidding. we were OUT to OFF in NO TIME
Taxiing in to our gate,
I did it, as it's recommended for non-rev's. No one else did, and I don't blame them.
arrival into JFK seemed to last forever with series of lots of banks and power adjustments.
Getting to JFK just a few minutes late was no big deal. I had another couple hours to wait.... And wait I did..
T7 to LHR, I'd later be on that flight to LHR a few weeks later.
We ended up leaving an hour late as the plane was late clearing its post international inspection. The pilot promised to make up about 30 minutes of the delay due to our light load, strong jet stream, and a little extra fuel.
(Sorry for glare!)
Finally... the standard pre-boarding announcements. And, after all the J pax's were accounted for, I heard my name paged and was just hoping I got J class. I even counted all the pax's boarding! Magically, 6A, with 6B empty.
I was sad to see it would not be the newly introduced J product. But, I was just glad to have J!
Boarding was quick and we were on our in no time, and air born rather quickly (maybe 10 minutes?).
Reading thru the menu I was overwhelmed with the choices and ate everything I ordered as I didn't really find anything appetizing in AA's terminal in JFK.
The J class entertainment system. very interesting. The Bose headphones were an amazing touch. So much so, I went and bought the QC 2's, and recently upgraded to the QC 15's WHICH ARE INCREDIBLE!!!
I fell asleep shortly after the dinner service, and woke up near Europe. (about an hour out from BRU)
Breakfast was great, but would later just be the same across the fleet in J class.
Landing in BRU was in darkness, so pictures are limited.
Thankfully, having flown up front, and arriving just in between the African continent flights, and other US flights. the line for customs was not long. And, one thing that totally blew my mind! I had called the Brussels AA station manager a few days before my flight to ask if me flying into Brussels in the morning, then returning that morning to Chicago would be an issue for customs. She promised it would not be, but would greet the plane with my name on a sign to assist if need be. Getting off the plane, there was the station manager, and the sign! I could not believe it. nor, the gorgeous Flemish lady who went with it (sorry, no pic!!). Customs didn't care, but I didn't want to take any chances. I ended up spending about 120 euro's on "groceries" and bought some waffles for the lady who helped me as a thank you gesture for her help.
I had to go back to wingtip's restaurant to see how terminal A looked after so many years. And, the view still never ceased to amaze me. Nor did the chocolate croissant. Well, truth be told. the restaurant never made good ones. But, having waited 5 years, it tasted amazing.
After an hour of enjoying the views, I went downstairs to check in and the same lady recognized me and called me to the front of the VERY long line and said, "I told you I'd take care of you. So, please. take this seat and enjoy it! And please come back home soon!" So, trading another 2 J class seats to myself, for the waffles. I made my way thru passport control, duty free and then security.
Now, picture this. Some exhausted looking 20 year old. walking thru the airport with GROCERY BAGS full of foods/snacks and a book bag full of neuhaus chocolates. People of course wanted some, jokingly.
Boarding happened right on time, and the gate agents told me they moved a passenger so I could sleep, and then said that the sun will be shining on the other side of the plane so it'll be a little darker for you. Again, Belgium is a gem in Europe!
The purser came by and we talked for a few minutes and took my order. Oddly enough, he heard about my story while talking with the station agents or F/A or something and ended up giving me some "strong coffee" and a lighter, faster served meal so I could sleep most of the way there.. Oh, I slept alright. I think the coffee was 80% Bailey's! I woke up to find us getting served lunch. Wow. did I feel so much better having slept for 6 or so hours.
my coffee lol
final for ORD
landing in ORD was quick, and same with clearing customs. Except a red flag poped up or something. They asked me a bunch of questions why on earth I took this trip, why, at my age flying in J and so on. I then said, "would me being an airline employee be an issue?"
-Oh, you're one of them. Well.. NOPE! I'll see you in a week I imagine when you come back from China or something right?" (laughing)
-Oh you know it! see ya later!-
seeing a flight I used to work all the time when I worked @ ORD, KLM611 to AMS!
Now, I went to T-3 and re-cleared customs in the employee lane and caught my DBQ flight. I got back to my apartment 20 minutes after landing in DBQ and went to bed. Woke up the next day and went to my morning class, then drove home to give my surprise gifts to my dad for his birthday. I had the boarding passes in an envelope saying, "your crazy son!" He was stunned I was not in DFW for training as I told him- my whole family knew though!-. Then he opened the wrapped gifts and was speechless... A definitely worthwhile trip.
ROTATE! AA4045 to DBQ
Short final, rwy 13.
My time with AA I flew to Brussels 4 times. Only once in Economy. I'd give the sevice an overall 9/10 for service, comfort, timeliness. the last 1 pt goes towards that delay in JFK.
questions, comments, concerns are welcomed!! Thank you for reading!
[Edited 2010-09-21 04:01:50]