How's that for a milk run, folks?
Ok...My dad (now retired UA) earned a free BP6 pass since he didn't take any sick time in 1992. No one else in our familly could use it, so rather than let it go to waste, I was allowed to use the pass. This was my Christmas gift in 1992. Needless to say, it would be my first trip to Deutschland, and fuckin'-a...I was goin'. Berlin, baby....
Ok...5/11/93...a Tuesday...I was almost 20, not quite legal drinking age. The day before I finished my final exams, finishing my sophomore year at Willamette Unv. in Salem, OR. My parents drop me off at PDX early that morning for my long journey.
PDX-SFO (can't recall flight details)
- early morning...easy on, quick flight down to SFO. Maybe first class, I don't know.
UA #930 747-200...Gate #55, Int'l Terminal (now vacant T2)
I clear security into what I thought (and still do) a very classy international terminal. I remember seeing the small outdoor courtyard, looking down to the arrival area, and walking around. I saw a UA 742 heading to SEL and MNL (#807 I think it was) and then a KE 747 (which had World Cup 1992 logos on it...could have been 2002, but I think 1992) and then I saw BA #286 to LHR, and also JL to NRT.
I was given a seat in business class...seat #12A I think. We departed on time, and rotated off 28L on time. I arrived the next morning in LHR and proceeded to the transit lounge at LHR in T3. I called my uncle before my flight to TXL.
UA 727-200 !!!!!!! Yeah, baby!!!!! Legacy Pan-Am all the way!
Quick flight to TXL...first class. Weird flying on a 722 in Europe...up until this point, I usually flew 722's between PDX and SFO.
I arrived in Berlin for the very first time. Tegel seemed like a nice airport. This was 3 years after "wiedervereinigung" (reunification). I went to the information booth, and was able to get one hotel one night, and then another hotel the next night. I would only stay in Berlin two nights on this trip, and then back home! Yeahhh!!!!!
After a kick-ass time in Berlin...now my favorite city in the world...and seeing the Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, the Reichstag (pre-glass dome) and a brief venture into the former East Berlin, and Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, I had a blast. Oh, yeah...I drank like a rock star, too.
On the way home...
UA 727-200 (early morning flight)
I was given a seat in first class. Before takeoff, I was quickly offered a glass of champagne. My virginal champagne experience...wet and moist and very tasty, and yearning for much, much more. I had one more glass prior to arrival in LHR. We flew over the former DDR and then south of HAM, and I recall looking out of the window to see if I could make out the old BRD/DDR border. I didn't see it, but the desire stuck with me, and finally saw it in July 2004. Anyway...we quickly arrived in LHR.
UA #919 742
N4718U (I have a picture and scale model of this same a/c)
Gate K14 (now 314 at LHR..after they screwed up the gate numbering)
Old UA livery
Since I was standby, I wasn't sure how I'd get home. I figured via SFO again. But, the agent said she'd put me via IAD, and I was on cloud 9! I had never been through IAD, and I was ECSTATIC to be able to fly through a new airport!!!!!!! Again, a virginal experience, but unlike the champagne, it wasn't moist and wet and enjoyable. I was not given C or F, but instead was over the right wing of the 742, with my right foot underneath the #3 door. There was a very small pinhole leak in the door seal, but damn...my foot was NUMB when I got off the plane in IAD!!! We departed to the east, off 9L I think. A flight attendant was across from me, her name was Kris...GORGEOUS, too. I had a lunch, and there was a miniature bottle of wine, which I rapidly consumed, adding on to the champagne from the TXL-LHR flight. We flew between Nova Scotia and Maine, and then near Bar Harbor, ME, and then into IAD. I wasn't that familiar with the IAD area at the time, but I learned we landed on 19L, and parked on C1. We cleared customs and I was on the people mover, and saw our beautiful bird, N4718U and snapped a picture. I can't remember if we cleared customs right there in C back then, or if we had to go the main terminal.
It was this flight, and the flight out, that set my love for IAD to this day. I prefer to fly to Europe now on UA via IAD...instead of nonstop from SEA or SFO or LAX on any other airline.
747-200 (continuation flight of MAD-IAD)
I was given business class, on the right side of the aircraft. I had a window seat, and recall pushback. I remember seeing the leading edge slats being extended, and #3 and #4 startup. We taxiied out to 19L, same runway I arrived on. Cool takeoff, to the south of course, then right towards ORD. Quick flight, and again I was given more alchohol to consume, adding on to my consumption starting in TXL. We came in over Lake Michigan, landing on 27R. I knew this, and quickly informed the guy sitting next to me, who was amazed I knew that. Yeah, well...I'm an aviation geek, dude!!!!
First class, leather/vinyl seat. Right side of the aircraft. I REALLY MISS FIRST CLASS ON THE UA DC-10!!!!!!! Enjoyed a powerful takeoff off 32L (standard departure for NW bound fllights from ORD) and settled in for my last leg of the flight. I had some meal, can't recall. I was offered a drink, again. I had always wanted to try Southern Comfort. Without question...on a domestic US flight...sitting in FIRST CLASS in a leather seat...UNDER AGE...I sipped (ok, I slammed the first one) a SC on ice. I proceeded to enjoy one or two more. Amazing...good times! I was on top of the world!!!!
We began our descent into PDX over Pendleton, and landed on 28R. I forget the gate, but PDX was VERY different in 1993, long before the remodel. I will say this...I'm pretty sure I stumbled off the plane, through the jetway, and I wonder to this day why my parents never commented on me being hammered getting off a flight.
Time of my life...it only lasted 4 days in all, but I'll never, ever forget it. To this day, I LOVE Berlin, Germany...I eventually went back in July 2004 and was stunned at how much had changed there in 11 years. As I mentioned, IAD is still my preferred gateway to Europe.
Thanks for reading...and letting me share a great trip. Sorry, no pictures...but they're forever ingrained in my mind. Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed sharing it.
[Edited 2006-03-03 07:52:55]