This is my first post on airliners.net. I have used the site for a few months now and have enjoyed immensely the fine photography, a/c data and forum discussions which have largely helped me overcome my quite acute fear of flying. I have flown many many times but always with a thumping heart, shut eyes and sweaty hands gripping the arm rests tightly.
With an 11 hour flight from LHR to LAX for a family wedding coming up, I realised it was time to do something about my fear of flying. My research on the net has introduced me to many helpful sites but 2 in particular really helped me. www.***********.com was of great help especially as he was a B777 Captain, and gave me great confidence in the type of a/c I was to fly on to LAX, and this site which made me realise that flying was something to enjoy and savour, rather than something of which to be fearful of….so much so that I can now admit to being a real aircraft enthusiast. Am looking forward to going plane spotting soon, can anyone recommend any good spots in the south of England. As an a/c enthusiast newbie, you’ll have to excuse my lack of technical knowledge and terminology….i’m learning. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll join in with discussions on various forum topics. But for now I’ll spectate.
Apologies for the long winded intro…..onto my flight report. Am really sorry I didn’t take any pics whilst on the plane, I heard AA aren’t to keen on in flight photography and didn’t fancy putting it to the test. Besides, writing this trip report was an after thought.
Flight 135 – AA 777-200
Departure – Sept 1st 13.35 BST
Arrival – Sept 1st 18.40 (approx) Cali time.
Flight time – 10hrs 40mins
London Heathrow – Los Angeles
Seat – 35 A (Economy I’m afraid)
On arrival at the busy terminal 3 at LHR, my Girlfriend Victoria and I quickly made our way to the AA check-in desk where we had to queue no longer than 5 minutes before reaching the check-in desk. Pretty efficient I thought. Having pre-booked our seats, we had no worries as to being split up or shoved in the middle of the 777 200’s 2-5-2 config. I had been on the AA website and already knew we were towards the back of the plane on the left hand side.
Once checked in, we went through the usual motions of security, and all credit to the thorough searches and scanning that now bestows the many millions of people who pass through LHR every year. This put my mind at ease with regards to in flight safety. Once into T3, we decided to grab some breakfast at one of the hugely expensive cafes. Had a very nice and rather posh scrambles eggs on toast with a great view over one of the T3 gates, with a Cathay Pacific B744 just arriving. We could see the crew doing there post flight checks through the cockpits windows, we were really quite close. After breakfast, we decided to head straight for our gate, as we were told it was a long walk, and I wanted to get a glimpse of our plane before boarding…..just to make sure that no-one was sello-taping anything back on that was coming loose etc….not that I would know what I was looking for. Our plane was waiting at the gate when we arrived, approx 1 hour before boarding. I wish I took and photo or plane reg number. However, everything looked good, no loose bolts or worn tyres as far as I could see. By now I was feeling rather excited about the flight, to the extent that I was forgetting my nerves about flying.
Boarding happened quickly and push back was on time. It seemed like a long taxi to get to the end of 27R (I think) where we were about 10th in line to take off. I know this because our Captain took this opportunity to introduce himself - Captain John Wilkes I think he said, but not sure. He told us we would be some minutes before it was our turn. Was great sitting on the left of the plane, as I could watch all the preceding planes begin their takeoff roll. Once the 737 before us had cleared I knew we wouldn’t hang around long and indeed after a slow left turn we made a smooth rolling start for what seemed like a really long trundle down the runway before rotating. I should add at this point our flight was almost full.
For the first time ever, I kept my eyes open on takeoff and actually really enjoyed the views as we gently climbed and made a right turn towards Scotland. I was even ready for the whole noise abatement/ engine throttle back thing about 40 secs in to the flight…that always used to get me!!!
The climb was smooth, and before long the flight attendants were out of their seats and preparing to serve drinks. I was told by a friend beforehand that American Airlines tend to use, er, how I will put, very experienced flight attendants, and this I can certainly concur with. No frills, no spills just very efficient, polite and get the job done.
About 20 mins into the flight our Captain again welcomed us on board, told us our flight time, and also that we should expect ‘light chop’ for the first 4 – 5 hours of our flight. ‘Oh great!!!’ I thought. Light chop to a Captain will probably feel more like servere turbulence for someone like me. I purchased a bottle of wine from the flight attendant (£3.00 for alcoholic drinks, soft drinks were free) , sat back and waited for the worst. In fact, I had nothing to worry about what so ever. There was indeed light chop for the first few hours, but it was indeed light, just like the whole bus going over cobblestone thing, that I was told to imagine what was happening. The turbulence didn’t even affect my enjoyment of the movie I had on – Madagascar, which was very enjoyable. With my girlfriend holding one hand, a glass of wine in the other hand and a good movie on, who am I to be scared of a bit of turbulence. Now…the return night flight…ooohhhhh, that was a different question entirely. But that’s another story.
The rear economy class cabin of the AA 772 was very nice. In the 2-5-2 config and well designed overhead storage, it felt extremely spacious, yet the dark blues, greys and blacks gave it a rather cosy and somewhat executive feel…even in economy. Blankets, cushions, leather adjustable headrests and what seemed like masses of legroom…(even for my 6ft 2 inch frame) made for a very comfortable journey. I understand that AA are in the process of abolishing their extra legroom and will have done so to all there 777 fleet by Christmas. Shame.
Lunch was served about 2 hours into the flight, and very nice it was too when you consider it was a reheat job. We both chose chicken with some veg, which came with a little bread roll and stuff. I cannot remember what came for dessert but I remember it was also quite palletable – if that helps.
As we approached the southern tip of Greenland the cloud cover below us began to break and I got my first ever glimpse of icebergs floating just off the coast. By the time we crossed over the coast of north west Canada, the sky was clear and we were afforded an unbroken view of the ground for the entire rest of the journey which was just fabulous. The PTV in the backs of the seats had a flight map and info channel which listed points of interest that we were due to fly over or close too. I never knew North Dakota could offer so much. So once Victoria had gone to the toilet somewhere over Saskatchewan, I shuffled over from my aisle seat, into her window seat where I greedily remained for the duration of the flight, my face glued to the window, watching the fascinating sites slide away below me.
The IFE on this particular flight apart from one good movie was not up to much. In fact, what was shown was completely different from the listings in the in-flight-mag. One episode of Friends and 2 episodes of Two and a half men was the highlight. No major problem for someone like me who was glued to the window, but for someone who does this flight regularly i would imagine the lack of decent entertainment could be off putting when it comes to choosing which airline to fly with again. But hey, this was economy!!! So I made do with the scenery below, the free headphones and the cheesy elevator music emanating from one of 6 or 7 music channels on offer.
It was somewhere over Nevada that it happened……the smell of Pizza started to waft from the rear of the cabin, not a smell I was expecting but indeed a welcome one. Having been some 6 or 7 hours since lunch, most of the cabin were awoken by their noses, and we didn’t have to wait long until our mini cheese and tomato pizza and another bottle of water had arrived. Ok, this was not gourmet, but I have to confess, there was something nice about having pizza towards the end of the flight, to both wake us and fuel us up for the onslaught that is LAX.
Descent began shortly afterwards and soon we were given spectacular views of the San Bernadino Mountains (I think ) not far below us. Beyond that I could see what appeared to be a thick brown blanket of fog….ah…Los Angeles I assumed, and as we dropped down into the smog at about 5 pm ish LA time, it became hard to see the tips of the wings at times, such was the thickness of the smog. Once LA became visable again, I was just astounded by the sheer size of the place. The last 10 minutes or so of the flight as we approached LAX seemed a little bumpy but not in any way too bad, and I wondered if this may have been wake turbulence from a large jet in front of us in the landing pattern….any thoughts??? I was amazed however at just how slow the Captain seemed to be bringing us in……but It was very interesting watching as he repeatedly deployed the air brakes (don’t know the technical name but the largish flaps that extend from the upper surface of each wing) and each time we could physically feel the aircraft drop speed very quickly, to the extent that it even made passengers lean forward slightly as the brakes were deployed.
Touch down was very smooth, and thrust reverse was deployed and the aircraft seemed to be coming to a stop nicely. Then, interestingly (well, to me, and this may be normal) the Captain seemed to stamp on the wheel brakes, and I swear I heard the tyres momentarily lock, before throwing the plane into a sharp right turn to taxi off the runway. This kind of manoeuvre was not something I had experienced before, and although it didn’t seemed to worry anybody, I was just curious as to why the Captain did this…..maybe he needed to may a particular taxi routing…..
Anyways, so there we were…at LAX…safe and sound, and overall a very pleasant and enjoyable flight. For long haul, I could defiantly recommend AA and will be choosing them next time when I next fly to LAX, probably a family christening will be the next thing. I hope you enjoyed this report. Apologies, again, for my inexperience in both writing and aircraft information and terminology.
By the way, since that flight, I have endured 5 further flights, and am proud to say that I am now extremely comfortable with flying……for me that’s a really big thing.
Best Regards Matt