lugie From Germany, joined Jun 2013, 35 posts, RR: 0 Posted (6 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 5286 times:
Hello dear A.net community,
my name is Lukas, I'm 16 years old and from Germany. I really like aviation, so I was following your forum for a couple of months and I enjoyed the TRs most, especially as in March of this year, I would visit another continent but Europe for the first time, with a student's exchange program of my school.
Our partner school is located in Raleigh, NC, and as I'm from the Heidelberg area it was pretty clear that we'd depart from Frankfurt. After the 2-week-long school visit we'd have an eastcoast trip up north to Washington, Philadelphia and finally New York. Me being a young aviation enthusiast, I looked up possible flight routes even before our guiding teacher did and was looking forward to a route like FRA-IAD-RDU (on the 747-8!!) or FRA-JFK-RDU (with a jetBlue leg due to their cooperation with LH), but then, in January we were told our flight routes and
Outbound leg: 17th March 2013: US701 FRA-PHL -> US1084 PHL-RDU
Inbound leg: 8th April 2013: US980 LGA-CLT -> US706 CLT-FRA
even my not-enthusiast classmates were confused about the flight back, because from EWR and JFK there are actually 6-8 daily flights directly to JFK
I'm sorry I don't have too many pictures, first of all I did snap just a few and then I had trouble uploading,but I hope you still enjoy it.
so, enough about the stories before, lets start flying!!!
17.3.2013-My first transatlantic crossing.
Flight US701 FRA-PHL
Our group left our hometown at 8:00, we went to FRA by train and arrived at time and a little later we made our way over to the US Airways check-in deck. 9:30, so plenty of time. Us 15 were split up in groups of 3 to speed up the check-in progress, and me and 2 other guys were the first ones to reach the desk, where the agent bashed our dreams: "You know you will be staying in PHL this night?!" - "err, no, why?" - "the flight is delayed by three hours, so you will miss your connection" - "Sh.. err thanks anyway"
Guess which one's the only delayed flight
So, there we stood, being the first ones to experience bad news. Little later everyone had checked in and our teacher let us do what we wanted until 13:30, as boarding wouldn't start before 14:00. All the boys went to the McD's in T2 where you have great apron views and than, finally, at around 14:15, boarding started. We departed from gate C9, which is the worst for spotting planes, because it's a room without windows and when you walk to the plane, you do this on apron ground level and don't have a single chance of seeing anything but the plane's undercarriage.
At least I had a nice seat, 20H, I changed with a classmate on 21H while boarding, still window.
gate C9, bad for spotting
view from 21H with Thai heavy
Flight US701 FRA-PHL
new STD: 15:00
new STA: 19:10
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200, reg: N2xxAY (unknown)
After the mess at check-in I was so pleased to be greeted by the pretty new interior of US's A332, scheduled plane was a 333, so at least this was a nice surprise. Boarding went pretty quickly, but it still took a while until we were pushed back. And then, Cactus 701 heavy finally left Germany at 15:35 from Rwy 07C in rainy weather, which resulted in a nice condensation on our wing. The routing took us over the Netherlands, southern England and Ireland.
IFE screen with BBT
somewhere over Ireland, one of the last views of Europe
Around one hour after takeoff, food was served and you had a choice between beef and pasta. Me and my classmate sitting next to me both took the beef which was pretty good, had a salad and a rich brownie aside but all in all a very small amount. At least they were generous with drinks, you could order them throughout the whole flight duration. The IFE however was a great surprise, the screens were quite big and they had a choice of around 60-70 movies, thereof very recent ones and the same number of episodes from TV series. Whilst cruising over the Atlantic ocean, I watched Skyfall, the Simpsons movie, a few episodes of Big Bang, How I met Your Mother and the Simpsons. Therefor time passed quickly and soon I had my first view of the American continent – Newfoundland. Weather over Canada and the northern states was good, so you had great views over the snowy landscape. 1 hour before landing they handed out hot sandwiches and soon the descent started. Routing then was Long Island and then a turn to the NJ shore with landfall over Atlantic City.
Newfoundland! Finally the american continent
some airport in the nortehrn USA
Long Isalnd coastline while descent into PHL
Few minutes later, after some turns we were on final approach to PHL and then, 18:45, we touched down on American ground – Rwy 27R.
Philly skyline on finals to PHL
reverse thrust! we have touched down at PHL
For the most of us it was the first time ever and after some minutes of holding on a taxiway, we reached the gate at 18:55ish. Deboarding went pretty quickly, however, in the terminal there was a huge chaos because people like us who had missed their connections were handed out boarding passes and hotel/meal vouchers. The arrival area of PHL’s international terminal is very nicely designed in my opinion and CBP/ESTA went very smoothly.
After having heard –errm, not the best things- about US, I was a little bit afraid of the overnight stay, like, they’d give us the cheapest hotel or even letting us sleep in the airport. It was however a positive surprise when our teacher told us we were going to the airport Hilton. This hotel is in good condition and at a very convenient location. The room I slept in had a direct overview of PHL’s Rwy 17/35, sadly there were only landings at the 35 end. Does anybody know if taking off in the 35 direction and landing in the 17 direction is restricted? We all had a good, though short night (jetlag) and enjoyed the great breakfast next morning.
view from hotel room... this isn't ATL, is it?
Our substitute flight now was US1096, another flight ran by a mainline US Airways E190, leaving PHL at 15:50 and arriving at RDU at 17:00. So, at 12:30 we took the shuttle to the airport…
After a short drive we arrived at PHL’s Terminal B and our teacher went to the check-in desk quickly to inform them about us being a huge group, so we sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. After around 30 minutes she was still discussing with US staff and we slowly realized that there was something not quite right, so two girls made their way over to our teacher to ask her what’s wrong. They came back minutes later and just said “We aren’t flying today.” We all were “Are you kidding”, because, hey, it was maybe 13:30 so nobody would say: We are flying tomorrow, especially as PHL-RDU has around 10 daily flights. But, there was no discussing. What had happened?
Our teacher had received the BPs the evening before, but when she arrived at the desk, the agent told her that flight #1096 only had seats for eight of us left, and that the rest of us should have been flying flight #1094, which – and that’s the problem – leaves PHL 13:35, so pretty much exactly in the moment when we learned that. Now, US wanted our teacher to send away half of us and just pay the overnight stay for the other eight, but she refused to either let us fly or let us stay without guidance; and she did her best, because at the end US payed another night in Philadelphia, this time the Sheraton four points PHL.
We got up early, 4:45 this morning, and at 5:30 we boarded the shuttle to the airport. The whole group was a little anxious and nervous as we got closer to the terminal, and our teacher – down with her nerves – said, if this wouldn’t work out a third time, she’d just hire a coach. One reason more to be nervous – who’d prefer a 7-hour coach ride over a 1.5 hour hop, especially as an enthusiast, especially on an E-jet – I love those planes!
This time however, everything went fine, we had checked in within minutes and at 6:10 we were in the line for security. After that, we had some time left in the terminal until 7:05, when boarding started on gate C6. No mainline flight today, but an Embraer nevertheless
Flight US 3239 (operated by Republic Airlines) PHL-RDU
Aircraft: Embraer E175 reg: unknown
My seat on this flight was 4C, and it is pretty much the perfect place. It is the first seat in the economy cabin, and as first class has a 1-2 layout, you have eternal legroom. Also, you still have good views out of the window, and seat width on the E175 is 18.25” and you feel the difference to the 17” on the A332.
the door didn't stay open, of course
However, there was nothing to see out of the window, clouds everywhere, just some pretty formations with the sunrise. According to the flight deck, flight lvl was 27000 feet. Clouds were so bad, you were diving into them 3 seconds after liftoff from PHL’s 9L and exited them 5 seconds before touchdown.
sunrise between two layers of clouds
diving into clouds for RDU
. Inflight service consisted of a run of drinks in Economy, however in First, people could order complimentary snack boxes as far as I could see from my spot. Soon we were asked to prepare for arrival and this pretty short flight came to a smooth end on RDU’s 23L. After a short taxi we arrived at T2 and left the plane.
our ride from PHL
We made our way to the baggage claim, but, before even arriving there, we met our host families. What surprised me about RDU T2’s concept is, that the baggage claim is on landside of the terminal. As we were supposed to arrive Sunday and had already missed a day at our school, we were driven directly to class, so another premier for me: The first (and most probably the very last) time to go to school on a plane!!!
What followed now were two weeks of a totally new experience in American host families, going to a high school, making new friends and seeing a lot of a beautiful city and her surroundings – Raleigh NC.
April the 2nd however, it was time to say good bye as the German part of the group embarked on their trip to the east coast metropolitans – Washington, DC, (our beloved) Philadelphia , and finally New York City. I had hoped that at least the first leg of the trip, Raleigh-Washington would be a flight, but we went by bus. It wasn’t that bad though, time’s flying when you’re having a good time, and I had a great time with my friends discovering those cities. Especially New York was unforgettable, we visited for example Empire State Building by night and really had a trip we’d never forget.
8./9.4.2013-Back to Germany!
But everything comes to an end, so on April the 8th our trip was slowly coming to an end. We had packed our bags the evening before and used the last hours in NY to walk over to Times Square a last time – only three blocks from our hotel – until at 11:30 we were picked up by the shuttle bus that drove us to LGA. This was the thing I still didn’t quite understand, US is a Star Alliance member, so isn’t there a codeshare that makes it possible to fly back to FRA out of EWR with LH or UA or JFK on SQ or LH? There wasn’t or at least not in our budget (we payed 550€ for 4 single legs, thereof 2 transatlantic!) so at 12:30 we were dropped off curbside of LGA’s terminal C which I shared between US and DL and, at the moment, a pretty huge mess.
LGA curbside and ATC tower
Check-in went smoothly and we used our plenty of time to eat and drink our lunch. We went into security around 14:00, so one hour prior to boarding time, but there were huge lines and it took until 14:40 till we all had passed the check.
view over DL gates just after security check at LGA
Our teacher let us stroll around in the terminal for the last 20 minutes, then we met at the gate, C37. I was pleased when I saw that our plane would be N733UW, the Pittsburgh Steelers logojet. However C37 is in the far left corner of the new US finger so it was nearly impossible to take a pic of anything but the tailfin.
N733UW, Steelers plane
once again, our ride to CLT
Flight US 980 LGA-CLT
Aircraft: Airbus A319, N733UW
My seat on this flight was 17C, the IMO worst seat on the whole trip – I just don’t like aisle seats, in the Embraer with the 2-2 configuration and the big windows it wasn’t that bad, however I still had some views. After boarding had finished, we taxied to the runway and 15 minutes after schedule we took off from rwy 13. The departure was very cool, at first we banked to the right and then made a huge turn left towards the south. While banking left you had a view over the runway we had departed just moments before, but I wasn’t able to take pics. Of course this flight was the one with the best views, it was clear most times, we flew over Manhattan, later DC (announced by the quite talkative cockpit crew) and, of course, my two classmates on 17A and B were sleeping 80% of the flight time!!! So I entertained myself with the drink service and the free and fast inflight WiFi.
from inside, even yellow winglets!
As we had taken off 15 minutes late I wasn’t expecting at all the announcement around 16:00 “we are starting our approach to Charlotte, please fasten your seat belts, and so on” and really, minutes after we broke through the NC clouds on finals for CLT, 15 minutes before schedule plus 15 minutes of delay at LGA = 30 minutes less flight time than calculated, and that on a 2-hour flight!! We touched down on CLT’s rwy 23 and made an absolutely breathtaking braking performance – you were honestly pulled out of your seats by the power of the roaring reverse thrust. We were once again docked onto a gate in the outer corner, this time of the B-concourse at CLT. We now had an overlay time of 1.5 hours until boarding, so we made our way to a restaurant to eat a really American burger one last time, before we met at 18:45, 15 minutes before boarding.
and a last time, from CLT's central "plaza"
Philadelphia Eagles logojet
On the way over to the international D-concourse, I spotted the Philadelphia Eagles logojet, and I have to say that US is doing a very good job with their special paintschemes. We did some rituals – going to toilet a last time on American ground – before boarding started for flight 706 back to Germany. The boarding process went quickly, but upon entering the cabin, you felt like being smacked in the face by a tropical heatwave.
Flight US706 CLT-FRA
STA: 10:15 (+1)
ATA: 10:15 (+1)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 reg: N2xxAY (unknown)
I guessed the temperature inside at around 35°C and I had sweat on my forehead until I had put my roll-in in the overhead luggage compartment and settled down in my seat, 29A.
View from 29A, flight# 706
Me and my seatmate, a classmate once again (btw I was lucky, all the time I had seats next to classmates, they even were all good friends. One guy always had a single seat far away, e.g. this flight the whole group was spread in the 28 and 29 rows, he was in 36!) were thinking about the reason for the unnormal temperature and were concluding on the outside temperature (30°C were announced after arrival from LGA) or the PTVs, when there was an uncomfortable announcement from the flight deck. Obviously there was a problem with the engines and therefore the a/c wasn’t turned on yet. So we waited minutes and minutes, the STD had just passed as there was another announcement: The engine problem seemed more serious now and the passengers on the right hand side could watch the engine being started from outside! Again some time passed and you didn’t see anything move but the ailerons flipping up and down and I prepared myself for an announcement like “Leave the plane, we’re not flying today”, when suddenly the engines spooled up and in this moment the PTVs quit their service. We were pushed back moments later and the F/A came into action, executing a manual security demo as we rolled to the run. I have to say, I was pretty nervous before this takeoff, after all the engine issues, but at 20:15 local time we started a not too powerful, but short nevertheless, takeoff roll from rwy 18C and climbed out over the Charlotte suburbs.
Shortly after takeoff from CLT
bye, bye Charlotte
some city lights, IFE was still crashed, so no clue
45 minutes later, dinner was served, choice was between chicken and pasta, I took the chicken, which was again ok, but not very much. Drinks were served several times, and after 1 hour of flight, the IFE system had been rebooted. I started to watch some episodes of How I Met Your Mother, but when we passed Newfoundland, heavy turbulences started, seatbelt signs stayed on for almost an hour. Those turbulences were quite heavy for a few minutes and I switched to the map because I got quite sick. The next 3 hours I was trying to get some sleep until there an arc of light formed over the eastern horizon.
sunrise over the northern atlantic
I stayed up from that time on and watched the sun rising from a whole different point of view. Around 1 hour before landing, the crew did their “breakfast service” which was a joke I think. It consisted of a choice of coffee or OJ and one cinnamon muffin. A little later we began our descent and the captain made the announcement therefor, but also as a service for the American passengers, gave information over the result of the NCAA March Madness final match. Nice touch IMO.
At 10:15 then we finally touched down on FRA’s new rwy 25R and taxied to the gate where we could leave the plane 15 minutes later – back in Germany.
...and T1 with sistership at the left
SQ A380 at FRA
After baggage claim and customs we made our way to the train station, and took the ICE back to Mannheim, where we were awaited by our families.
Those three weeks were an unforgettable time for me, and I really enjoyed flying. US Airways isn’t that bad as their reputation as I think, but they could work on their meal service, especially on intercontinental flights.
All in all however, experiencing the American aviation was great, I was so impressed by the huge amount of regional flights, something that is impossible in Germany because of the huge taxes.
You can expect another TR later this year, covering one of the most attractive airports of Europe: My family’s summer holiday in August, FRA-LIS-FNC and FNC-LIS-FRA
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked my first one,
Luftfahrer From Germany, joined Mar 2009, 988 posts, RR: 2 Reply 1, posted (6 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4886 times:
Congratulations on your first trip report Lukas - very well done! It reminded me quite a lot of my initial entry here a few years ago, also featuring a school exchange trip to the US around the same time of the year and being around the same age.
I can definitely relate, haha. Delta was our carrier of choice, which I had already flown on before both domestically and internationally at that time, so nothing too exciting. It was a purely fare-based decision, however the class after flew on BA and AA, and the following one on UA altogether with some exciting stopovers and aircraft... oh well
I remember having a very short first night in America, too. But I was so excited that I was wide-awake the next morning Returning to Germany was a different story, the more so as we left from the westerly state of New Mexico...
Quoting lugie (Thread starter): my two classmates on 17A and B were sleeping 80% of the flight time!
I think I would've have bumped my classmates out of their seats if they had started sleeping.
Believe it or not, I have almost experienced this myself before, on a bog-standard flight from STR to SXF on 4U. They were trying to start the engine, which failed. LH Technik came on board and we were on our way shortly after.
Once again, thanks for posting this report and welcome to the forum.
lugie From Germany, joined Jun 2013, 35 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (6 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4083 times:
Quote: Congratulations on your first trip report Lukas - very well done! It reminded me quite a lot of my initial entry here a few years ago, also featuring a school exchange trip to the US around the same time of the year and being around the same age.
Thanks a lot! I'm glad you liked it. I really think going on a student's exchange is a great experience and something completely different than e.g. a vacational or business trip
Quote: In my experience, even the cheaper hotels (or motels, for that matter) in the US are very reasonable. Hilton and similar luxury accommodations must be even better, though.
Yes, actually later on our trip we had more budget hotels, as we had to pay them ourselves and they all were still alright, nice and clean.
Quote: Once again, thanks for posting this report and welcome to the forum.
Once, again, thank you, and, yes, I'm sure I will have a good time in this great forum. Thanks by the way for the link to your TR, it was very interesting.
joacocifuentes From Argentina, joined Sep 2012, 106 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (6 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3651 times:
Hello Lukas! Amazing experience ha? Although the route you have taken is interesting, I'd have rather taken that Lufthansa 747-8 haha, I guess the improvement between this beauty and other 744 is very impressive. Last time I flew them was 747 who has already been set up with the new economy cabin, from EZE to FRA.- Also is great to have another underage trip reporter!
Rayzor1700 From United States of America, joined Mar 2012, 12 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (5 months 4 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 2709 times:
I really enjoyed reading your report, thanks for posting! I find it very interesting because as you may know from my comment on my recent report that I will be doing the opposite next year, my first flight outside the US continent to Europe (Italy tour) with other people from my school. I am really hoping to fly a Lufthansa 748, or at the least a foreign carrier (and please something bigger then a 757). But besides that I'm going to try to make sure I have a window seat, I don't know what I'd do without one haha.
lugie From Germany, joined Jun 2013, 35 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (5 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2217 times:
Thanks for the nice comment Paul,
I hope for you that you will maybe be able to fly Lufthansa. The 757 is a beautiful aircraft I think, but I wouldn't like flying it transatlantic. I think it rather belongs to US transcontinental flights or over here flights from central Europe to the Canaries or Iceland. You are going with your class to Italy? Should be looking forward to it, this is unique as I've already mentioned and great fun. I hope you'll like Europe,
lugie From Germany, joined Jun 2013, 35 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (5 months 3 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 1965 times:
yes, I head great fun over there and I really want to come back again. Maybe next year my parents are thinking about going on a west coast trip in summer vacation, however, flights to SFO or LAX ar very expensive since I have two siblings who are younger than me and therefore come with us. We will see, maybe we even get a multi-leg flight and come through ORD. If not, Chicago and its O'Hare airport are two places I really want to visit later when I earn my own money, that's sure!