This was planned to be a New Year vacation for my family, myself and my girlfriend, unfortunately, due to work commitments, it ended up being myself and my girlfriend only.
We got a reasonable deal to Orlando over the festive period on the internet, we found that we'd be flying with both Lufthansa and United Airlines.
EDI - FRA
STD - 1245
Dec 28 2002
A/C - LH ARJ 85 (reg u/k ... Sorry)
We turned up at EDI nice and early for the 1245 departure to Frankfurt and after checking in, we were assigned seats 14AC, however as luck would have it (both myself and my girlfriend work in the airport, well me at the time anyway), we were subsequently upgraded to business class and given seats 2AC. Having been upgraded also allowed us to use the bmi business lounge as well which was a nice start to the trip.
The little Avro Jet arrived early and boarding commenced slightly early as well. We hoped that we would get away sharp as we only had a 1 hour layover in AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA. The doors closed on schedule and it turned out we had a full to the brim flight, this included LH crew members occupying every single spare crew seat. Pushback was on schedule and we taxied out to runway 24 at EDI, after back-tracking the runway to use full-length and lining up, we started to taxi back to the gate. HORROR! The Captain explained over the intercom that a bag destined to LHR on the 1240 bmi flight had been loaded incorrectly on our flight and we had to return to get it offloaded. After a 20 min delay while the bag was found and offloaded and returned to it's correct aircraft, we found ourselves back at the end of the runway. Take-off was long nonetheless powerful and we were airborne.
We climbed up to 29000 feet for the 2 hr flight to AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA (I wish on hindsight that the flight had been a Boeing or an Airbus as they cruise quicker than the little ARJ 85) and were served a very tasty lunch which consisted off chicken, cous-cous and salad. Descent and landing into AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA as quick, no holding time, thank god!! We parked remote beside lots of other LH and DE aircraft, big and small and were bussed to the terminal building. My girlfriend and I had to run like the wind from getting off the bus to the next terminal to catch our connecting UA flight to IAD.
FRA - IAD
STD - 1700
Dec 28 2002
A/C - UA Boeing 772
We arrived at the gate for the flight to Washington with minutes to spare and upon presenting our boarding cards to the gate agent, we found out that due to the delay, UA had decided that we would not make the flight and offloaded us, this was not a problem as we were quickly re-instated on the flight, although we no longer had our original seats of 18AB, and were moved back to 36AB. The flight was only half full, so the doors were closed early which gave an on-time pushback for the 8hr 55 min flight to Washington.
As my girlfriend and I both had our airline staff ID cards with us, we had a quick word with the purser and were delighted to find that after the meal service we were to be moved up to row 7 in business class. The economy class service and meal in United, however I cannot fault in the slightest and I can still say that had we not been upgraded, the flight would have been more than comfortable in economy. The flight 'over the pond' was uneventful and we even landed early by 20 mins in Washington Dulles.
After de-planing, we had to wait an absolute age in the queue for immigration as there were only 2 agents checking passports for non US citizens, that coupled with the fact that United's LHR flight had arrived just before us full of British tourists (like ourselves ....) gave us close to 45 minutes queuing. After our very tight connection in AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA, I was worried that our bags may not have made the transfer but I was delighted to find that they had and we quickly cleared US customs before making our way up to the gate for the last flight to Orlando.
IAD - MCO
STD - 2055
Dec 28 2002
A/C - UA A320-200
Having originally been assigned seats 27AB for this flight back in EDI, we got to the gate and were asked if we would be willing to move to the exit row of 11 so as to accommodate a family at the rear of the aircraft. Although it meant my girlfriend being in 11F on the other side of the plane and me in 11A, we agreed as it was only a short flight down to CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO. It was nice to have the leg room and be able to stretch out. I cannot really report on much of this flight as I fell asleep just after take-off and did not wake again until the wheels hit the ground on the Orlando tarmac De-planing was quick and I was re-united with my girlfriend in the jet-bridge. We collected our luggage and due to a severe lack of taxis outside (we were meant to be staying in a hotel not too far away), we decided just to book into the Hyatt hotel within the terminal building for the night. And that was us on our vacation until the return home.
MCO - ORD
STD - 1300
Jan 06 2003
A/C - UA B752
We arrived at the UA check in desks very early (i.e. 0800), don't ask me why this early. We were assigned seats 14EF and were given boarding cards all the way back to EDI. After having our luggage tagged, we had to take it over to security and leave it there for them to open and search (good luck to them as our suitcases had to be sat on to close whilst packing due to the number of gifts and souvenirs). We made our way (after having breakfast in one of the terminal restaurants) to the departure gate via the monorail to wait for the next 3 or so hours for departure. I took the opportunity to take a walk and see some of the aircraft parked, I saw various UA 757s and A320s, NW 757s and DC9s, DL 767s and CO 738s, although I only took a couple of pictures as the glass in the terminal was causing bad reflections. Once boarding came, again we saw that the flight was full to capacity, though we weren't as luck with an upgrade this time. We pushed-back from the gate ahead of schedule and taxied out in the bright Florida sunshine past the little lakes and swamp areas that occupy the ramp at CO / KMCO), USA - Florida">MCO. Take-off was sprightly in the powerful Boeing 757 and we reached our cruising altitude of 37,000 feet in no time. I watched some of the IFE on this leg and watched Seinfeld and Friends. The service was good and I enjoyed the mixed meat sandwich that was served. This was to be my last flight (on the trip) with United and I have to say that I was highly impressed with the service and the food and I would most definitely fly with them again. Descent and landing into O'Hare was very enjoyable, as neither my girlfriend or I had seen Chicago before, we enjoyed the view of all the skyscrapers beneath us. We landed ahead of schedule, although this early arrival time soon slipped away as we had a very long taxi and we had to hold briefly for another aircraft to vacate our gate. We parked up next to a United B777, which I later found was traveling onwards to Denver.
We disembarked and walked what seemed like quite a long distance underneath the terminal to our next gate for our flight back to Frankfurt.
ORD - FRA
STD - 1555
Jan 06 2003
Seat - 47B
A/C - LH B744
When we arrived at the gate, there were numerous people in line to speak with the gate agents prior to boarding. We decided to chance our luck and see if we could upgrade again and joined the queue. We knew that our luck was not in before we got to the front of the queue as the agents were being very obnoxious and, dare I say it, rude to a group of Slovakian passengers who were merely enquiring as to whether they were at the correct gate or not. Soon it was our turn, and were dismissed before we could even finish the question. I don't know if LH have their own staff or use a handling agent in ORD, but their customer service was atrocious and needs a lot to be desired.
Once we boarded, we made our way down to the rear of the plane to the 2nd last cabin and took our seats. This flight was like most of the others, full to the brim, not a spare seat at all. After pushing back approx 10 mins late, we began the long taxi to the runway for departure. Take-off seemed quite long but this was due to the heavy weight. Our route took us over the great lakes and towards Northern Canada, before turning slightly south for over the Atlantic. The service was very poor compared to our flights with UA, the food was inedible, I was glad that we had purchased some chocolate bars before boarding. The flight seemed to go on forever as I was in the middle, I was so uncomfortable, it didn't help with the person in front having their seat fully reclined and my seat not being able to recline. I took my shoes off after taking my seat in ORD and I could barely get them back on after arrival in AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA as they had swollen up so much. After crossing the Atlantic, our route took us over the channel islands and Northern France before turning inland and beginning our descent into Frankfurt. Being a long-haul flight, we were blessed with not having to go into the hold for landing. After we parked at our gate in between another LH 744 and an LH A343, I was off that plane like a Bat out of Hell and was glad to have the circulation flowing again.
FRA - EDI
STD - 0900
Jan 07 2003
Seat - 9C
A/C - LH ARJ 85
After making our way downstairs to the regional departure area, we boarded buses to take us over to our remotely parked aircraft for our last flight home. Whilst waiting in the terminal, we had noticed that it had started to snow and by the time we got to the aircraft, the tarmac was already covered and the snow was getting heavier. We boarded up the rear steps and made our way to our seats. This is where I draw another blank as since I had not slept at all during my 8 hr 45 min flight to AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA, I fell asleep as soon as I had fastened my safety belt. I woke during our descent into EDI where upon I found out we had been delayed approx 50 mins in AB) (FRA / FRF / EDDF), Germany">FRA due to weather and de-icing problems, however we soon landed onto Runway 06 in EDI and taxied to gate 2, the same gate we had boarded from 10 days earlier.
On the whole, the trip was enjoyable. I shall certainly make efforts to fly long-haul with UA again, but on the same note, make constrained efforts to avoid LH in my travels again
[Edited 2004-07-04 15:19:34]