MSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6560 posts, RR: 51 Posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 6594 times:
Obviously, someone has to be a tad insane to attempt the following trip. It sure isn't for everyone. But man, was it ever fun!
I am doing this trip report in a different way. I am splitting things up into sections. If you are just looking at this report to take a gander at the 56 pictures, just scroll down to section 3. But if you do read the first two sections, you might be entertained.
Part 1: The Basics
My trip from New Orleans to Chicago to Dublin to London to Chicago to New Orleans took 32 hours to complete. 20 of those hours were spent inside airplanes, and the remaining 12 inside airports. All flights were on American Airlines except for DUB-LHR, which was on British Midland. Before we get started, here is a brief rundown of the flights I took...
18 April 06
AA360, MSY-ORD, MD-83
duration: 2h02 min flight time
service: pretzels and beverages for coach pax
load: mostly full, about six open seats in coach, about two open in first
AA92, ORD-DUB, 767-300ER
Duration: 7h02min flight time
service: dinner, continental breakfast, beverages
load: business class only had four pax in it, coach was nearly full, maybe five open seats at the most
19 April 06
BD124, DUB-LHR, A321
duration: 50 minutes flight time
service: buy-on-board food, drinks, and souvenirs
load: basically full, although the two seats next to me were empty
AA92, LHR-ORD, B777-200
duration: 8h04min flight time
service: dinner, snack, beverages
load: maybe 1/3 full...I did not see first, business was about half full, and coach was more than half empty
AA1124, ORD-MSY, MD-83
duration: 1h55min flight time
service: pretzels and beverages
load: only about six open seats, all in coach...first was full
Part 1: The Airlines
1) American Airlines
American did a nice job for the most part. All of their planes were very comfortable. I really appreciated those cushioned head rests for the long oceanic segments. The flight attendants were very friendly, although the service was not stellar on the Atlantic segments. On both the ORD-DUB and the LHR-ORD flights, I did not see one single f/a for most of the flight after the first meal service. The service on both flights went something like this:
:45 after departure = first beverage service
1:00 after departure = first meal service
1:15 after departure = second beverage service
1:30 after departure = coffee was served
2:00 after departure = duty free orders were taken
the next 4 to 4.5 hours = did not see one flight attendant, no water service, nothing
one hour before landing = pre-arrival snack served with beverages
Now I am not one to constantly argue and complain about a lack of service, but it would have been nice to see them come around offering water, say once every hour or even two hours, instead of sitting down reading or playing cards or doing whatever it is they were doing. But like I said, they were very friendly, so I can't complain too much. But I have to give UA the nod when it comes to economy Transatlantic in flight service. Just a little more bang for your buck.
The meals themselves were ok for the most part (you'll get to see some of them below) but I thought the catering out of Heathrow was better than the catering out of Chicago in terms of quantity. Coach passengers were offered a choice of chicken or beef on both flights (accompanied by the usual assortment of salad, somewhat stale roll, water and a dessert), and I stuck with the beef, so that I could compare the quality of the two meals. I guess both were about the same. The continental breakfast served prior to landing in DUB was very good (no pic of that one, sorry), and consisted of a warm croissant and some yogurt, and the pre-arrival snack into ORD from LHR (cheese pizza, grapes, and a cookie) was tasty and filling.
In flight entertainment did the job. I really did not mind the lack of PTV's on the 763ER since two good movies were shown (Elizabethtown and Hitch) and I had a great view of the screen (seat 25J) The PTV's on the 772 were good, but I thought the selection was kind of lacking for the "international flagship service" as they were so proud to announce in Heathrow. On the 777 I spent most of my time watching the in flight map and staring out the window as crossed the Atlantic at 40,000 feet through a cloudless sky.
As for comparing the aircraft in the American configuration, the 777 is the better aircraft in my opinion, but that does not mean that there was anything wrong with the 763. It was my first long haul 763 flight, and I was impressed. Sure it was showing some signs of wear and tear, but it was quiet and comfortable. A true pleasure to fly on. I wouldn't hesitate to take a 67 across the pond again. The T7 has all the bells and whistles and is just a huge, marvelous piece of engineering genius. The 67 is for the hard core aviation nut who realizes that PTV's don't make or break a flight. Well, not for me anyway.
The two domestic segments on the M80's were smooth as silk and pretty comfortable. I had seat 28F up to ORD and then 8F back to MSY. The MSY-ORD leg was on a newer MD-83, and the return flight was on an older ex-TWA MD-83, complete with the old TWA shaped seats and TWA beverage/food carts. I really like the Mad Dogs. I've never had a bad flight on one.
What a great little airline! Check in for BD124 at DUB was a breeze. The ticket agent was gorgeous, and she said "I hope you have a most excellent flight Mr. Oliveri!". I also need to comment on the efficient (to say the least!) boarding process. Our A321 had at least 170 passengers on it. Our flight was scheduled to depart for 11:20am, and boarding did not start until 11:00am. I was saying to myself "they'll never get this thing out of here at 11:20." Boy was I wrong. Maybe it's the better flying sense of the European folks or something, because everyone got on and into their seats in 12 minutes. 12 minutes for 170+ passengers. Try that Southwest! They boarded 17 rows at a time, starting with 17 through 34. And it worked. Unbelieveable.
The plane itself was spotless and comfortable. It was my first flight on a 321 and I couldn't have picked a better airline to fly on one as far as i'm concerned. The in flight staff were professional and very courteous. And boy did they look great in those blue uniforms and hats. Very stylish!
Honestly I didn't know much about BMI going into the flight so when I saw they offered a full menu of buy-on-board items plus souvenirs and other assorted novelties on a fifty minute flight, I was truly impressed. I ended up buying a pre-packaged cheese sandwich, pringles, and a big bottle of water. It cost about 9 Euros for all of it, but the quality of the sandwich was excellent. I saved the water bottle as a souvenir.
Overall I had a great experience on BMI. Friendly staff, clean, comfortable aircraft, and a wide assortment of things for sale, even on a flight as short as DUB-LHR. Once again, American carriers can surely learn a thing or two about in flight service from airlines like BMI. Even though BMI charged for food as do most U.S carriers these days, BMI did it with style. I can’t say the same when talking about most American carriers. So sad.
Part 2: Airports
Changing planes at ORD was a breeze connecting from MSY to DUB. On the way back, not so much. After I cleared customs and immigration (follwing the long trek from gate M4) I had to make my way to the train that took me back to AA's domestic terminal. That was about a five minute ride. Then finally back through a security line (I used the one next to the DL counter...the main AA security line would have taken a half an hour easily) and on my way to gate H13. It only took me 37 minutes to get from my 777 to my MD-80, but four things worked in my favor: 1) The 777 was less than half full so it didn't take me very long to deplane. 2) I was walking as fast as I could the entire way. 3) I was not checking bags, so I avoided the long bag recheck line past customs, and 4) the line at immigration was not too long, maybe only 20 people deep when I got there. I probably would not schedule an international to domestic connection at ORD again if it was under say 1h45m just to be safe. I hate rushing through airports. This time it worked out...next time, maybe not.
DUB was a nice, easy-to-navigate airport. The immigration staff was pleasant, as were all the people I met there. I loved the huge train station-style arrivals/departure screen in the main lobby. Security was a breeze to say the least. I loved the wide assortment of duty free stores. Also, I got some great views of the ramp from the gate area. It was just a clean, attractive facility overall. Great job, DUB!
What can I say about LHR? It was a monster! I had been there once previously on a BA-to-BA connection back in 1999, so I did not have very far to walk. This time, I was in for a treat. I had to go from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. After watching the pre arrival video on the BMI flight, it looked like it would be an adventure. Indeed it was, although like in ORD, I made it to my next flight with no problems. It took me exactly 40 minutes to get from my BD 321 to my AA 777, and that included about eight minutes waiting on the terminal bus. I don't think I ever walked so far in my life as I did at Heathrow, and boy it was worth every second. Awesome airport.
Part 3: Pictures (apologies in advance for some of the blurry shots...some of the windows were dirty and/or scratched)
1) Taxiing out to runway 19
2) Climbout over the Mississippi River
3) Making a sharp turn over the river
4) Aerial shot of MSY
5) Getting ready to cross Lake Pontchartrain
6) Super 80 coach class
7) At flight level 340
8) descending into ORD...
9) Smooth touchdown
10) Note the Sears Tower underneath the tail...a lucky shot...
11) This 763 was going to CDG
12) Cabin shot of my plane to DUB during boarding
13) Beautiful wing, beautiful sky
14) getting ready to depart...
15) and we're off!
16) just a few minutes after takeoff...not much daylight left...
17) mmm, dinner in coach
18) nothing beats a sunrise over the Atlantic
19) about two hours from landing
20) eventually the sun came out...
21)...only to dissapear as we approached a dreary DUB
22) touchdown in DUB!
23) came to a stop after 7 hours and 2 minutes in the air
24) on board my BMI A321 bound for LHR
25) LH 321 with "football nose" seen on pushback...
26) ...as well as a few Shamrocks
27) gorgeous Irish countryside
28) getting ready to cross the Irish Sea
29) the best cheese sandwich I've ever had
30) cabin shot (not a very good one)
31) the clouds opened up and afforded me some amazing shots of downtown London on final into Heathrow
32) more London...
33) more London...
34) and a little more London...
35) short finals into Heathrow
36) BD124 arriving Terminal 1
37) just boarded my AA 777 bound for ORD as AA47
38) beautiful 747-400 of Air India seen as we were ready for takeoff
39) a flock of BA jumbos
40) cruising up to FL400
41) maybe 1/3 full coach section
42) dinner time!
43) in flight map (very useful)
44) approaching the huge ice fields off the coast of extreme northeast Canada
45) simply stunning...this view lasted for hours...
46) more ice...
47) and even more ice...there had to be a few polar bears down there...
48) bonjour Canada!
49) kind of chilly outside don't you think?
50) note the ice crystals on the window as we cruised over Lake Huron
51) pre-arrival snack
52) final approach into ORD
53) short final, full flaps
55) gorgeous sunset over America's heartland seen from my ORD-MSY MD-80
56) nice scene to end an incredible adventure
Well that's it, I hope you guys enjoyed this trip report, any feedback would be welcomed and appreciated!
Oldman55 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1525 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 6419 times:
Great report. Wonderful pics of Ireland and London. Two questions if I may How much did this cost? an d how long were you in the airports? third question were u given hard time by any security for such a short layover time?
too bad most of us get too soon old and too late smart
MSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6560 posts, RR: 51
Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 6241 times:
Quoting Oldman55 (Reply 5): How much did this cost? an d how long were you in the airports? third question were u given hard time by any security for such a short layover time?
It cost about $800 + tax. I had about three hours in DUB, about 2 in LHR, and about 1.5 in ORD. No one in immigration/customs gave me a hard time at all, in fact, it was a breeze. They just stamped my passport and wished me a good trip. And back at ORD, they didn't ask any questions at all, just "next in line...(stamp)...have a good day."
Shamrock350 From Ireland, joined Mar 2005, 6334 posts, RR: 14
Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 6203 times:
Nice report! I could just make out the new Wembley Stadium Arch in that picture of when you were on short finals in LHR. It was nice to hear how the bmi DUB-LHR route was seeing as I always fly Aer Lingus and have not been on bmi in a while.
SW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6321 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 6049 times:
Nice report. I flew ORD-DUB-ORD on AA 763 in December/January, and enjoyed it, particularly the outbound portion (better crew than the inbound one...but the inbound had better movies/TV shows on!). I always like seeing trip reports about trips I actually went on prior. However, you could definitely tell the different seasons - when I left ORD for DUB, it was pitch black out in winter, but as your pictures show, it was still nice and light (well...ligther) this time of year!
MSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6560 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 5782 times:
Quoting Semsem (Reply 11): From Chicago to Dublin they only give Apple cookies for desert? I noticed from London it looks very good though
Yes, the packaged cookies kind of surprised me, but they were better than the piece of mystery cake that was served on the LHR-ORD flight...I have absolutely no idea what kind of cake that was...it was a weird mix of lots of different flavors.
Tom in NO From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 7194 posts, RR: 33
Reply 15, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5707 times:
Thanks for taking the aerial picture of my house for me, Steve!!!!!
(picture #5, two streets from the levee closest to your airplane, and about an inch or so from the lake).
Quoting JetBlueAUS (Reply 14): has New Orleans and MSY made a better recovery since November 2005 (the last time I was in New Orleans, LA)?
We've added quite a number of flights since November (I have the numbers at work), and Southwest gives us back LAS, PHX, MDW, BWI, and BNA in the next couple of months. We're somewhere up over 50-60% of pre-Katrina flight levels, the parking garage is bringing in more revenue than it did pre-Katrina.
Tom at MSY
"The criminal ineptitude makes you furious"-Bruce Springsteen, after seeing firsthand the damage from Hurricane Katrina
Door5Right From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2005, 707 posts, RR: 16
Reply 16, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 5405 times:
Nice report Mr. MSYtristar. Delighted you had such an enjoyable trip and you were certainly on the right side of the plane for the run into LHR - excellent pics. If you think Bmi is good you should have flown with them two years ago when they were a superb full service airline. But I have to agree the crew look very smart.
What a wonderful, mad trip to make. I am sure you will never forget it!
Jsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2029 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 5094 times:
Great report! As I've told you before, I've do trips like this all the time. I just got back yesterday from a three-day trip to Amsterdam, flying via LHR on American and bmi. I share a lot of your observations:
Quoting MSYtristar (Thread starter): Now I am not one to constantly argue and complain about a lack of service, but it would have been nice to see them come around offering water, say once every hour or even two hours, instead of sitting down reading or playing cards or doing whatever it is they were doing.
I agree wholeheartedly. Many of the transatlantic FAs on American are actually very friendly and professional, but they never give you an opportunity to see that for yourself. On my flight yesterday, I was sitting in an exit row facing a flight attendant on takeoff, and got to chatting with her. She was extremely courteous, and stopped by several times to offer me drinks. It was great, but also disheartening to see that the rest of the passengers weren't afforded a similar service (on many foreign carriers, they would be.)
I agree again. Their corporate strategy leaves a lot to be desired, but their crews are some of the friendliest I've come across. I flew the A320 with bmi yesterday, and it was amazing how much more service they were able to offer with a fourth FA onboard (most US airlines only put three onboard, the FAA-mandated minimum.) They were able to feed and water the entire cabin - for a price, of course - in just 25 minutes on the AMS-LHR leg.
Interestingly, yesterday I ate the exact same meal on my American 777 flight that you did. I was really disappointed in the weird coleslaw-like salad... they used to offer a mixed-green salad that was better. I also noticed that the bag of raisins has been cut from the meager eastbound transatlantic "breakfast", which now leaves just a croissant and yogurt.
I'm glad you enjoyed yourself... short trips are bewildering but a lot of fun!