DFW13L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (9 years 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Here is the return portion of my 22 hour trip to London from DFW. My goal was to visit a certain area of Westminster Abbey, which only takes a day to do, so I squeezed it into my Monday-Wednesday off. As an airline employee, I can do it on the cheap. Here is a link to my outbound trip, which was on BA 294 IAH-ORD-LHR BA 294 IAH-ORD-LHR WTP Lots Of Pics And Video (by DFW13L May 11 2006 in Trip Reports)
AA 51 LGW-DFW Wednesday May 10th.
On-time Approx 10:30am to 2:30pm
777-223 ER N776AN (ship 7AG)
Asian configuration in first class (not the pods, but the 2X2X2 configuration)
Seat 2J (front row, right window seat)
Flight time in the air: 9hrs 40mins.
Flight booking totals: 10 F 32 C 185 Y...almost at capacity, but room for me up front! Capacity on this one was 16F 35C 194Y
I usually prefer flight 79, which departs at 2:30pm and arrives DFW at 6:30pm, which translates to 8:30am DFW time to 6:30pm DFW time, rather than this one which is 4:30am DFW time to 2:30pm DFW time, but AA 79 has been downgraded to a 767, and I want the 777!
I woke up in my very tiny 1 star hotel room near Victoria and walked to the station. I woke up at 6am, but fell back asleep for 30 minutes, which wasn't really a problem. I was out of the hotel by 6:45am and it was an absolutely beautiful morning in London. I love it in the very early morning on a clear cool day, there are no sounds on the roads yet, so there's a mystical tranquility within the otherwise bustling city.
I walked about 4 blocks north toward Victoria station and passed a park that had some fragrant flowers.
I entered Victoria station and made it to the Gatwick Express platform at 7:05, so I had 10 minutes before the train's departure. I decided I had plenty of time to grab a take-away breakfast, so I went to the French patisserie and got a pain-au-chocolat with some tea. At 7:09 I walked up to the Gatwick Express window to buy my ticket, since I had time, until some out of breath older man jumped in front of me in line desperately trying to buy tickets (they sell them on the train for no extra charge). He looked at me and said "sorry, I'm trying to catch the 07:15. I said, "well, I am too" and I walked away and just got on the train.
It left promptly at 07:15 and there was a trolley service, which I didn't remember they had on the Gatwick Express, but I haven't done Gatwick in like 2 years. I've done Heathrow a lot more often. Then the ticket agent came by and I showed her my American Airlines ID card, and she just looked at me funny. The last few times I've taken the Gatwick Express they gave me a discount of like 25%. She said now you have to purchase a "Partner" card for 10 pounds, which is good for a year, and brings your rate down from 14 pounds to 9 pounds 25p for a single. So I gave her the 14 pounds. I was a bit mad about that, because had I found that out at the ticket window in the station, I would have just taken a regular commuter train for 9 pounds. Oh well, that's life.
The train is a nice ride for about 30 minutes, and then drops you off at the South terminal. I recall there's an ATM at the entrance to the train station, so I found that before going to the North terminal. I wanted to buy some duty free, so I went to the ATM to take out about 30 pounds, as I was about out of money. The machine said "your card has been retained at the request of your financial institution." Umm...that's not good. The day before I took out some spending money when I arrived at Heathrow, and apparently that is a suspicious transaction, so my bank figured my card was stolen. I've used my ATM card in Europe on like 8-10 trips.
So that wasn't good, but I wasn't in such a bad mood that I didn't notice the Monarch flight to Holguin, Cuba on the departures board!
I took the train to the North Terminal, and saw Emirates clearly visible from the train. When we got to the North Terminal I found my way to the AA check in counter, which is outsourced in Gatwick, I think, to BA. When I got past security to the actual check-in, the agent said, "so you are desiring main cabin." I told him, "no, I thought I listed for first class. I prefer first please." I fly every week on American Eagle, which is only coach, so I think I messed up listing myself on this flight, by not paying attention to the class. He didn't know how to fix it, and even though I could have easily told him how to do it, he had to call someone, but eventually they sorted it out.
He gave me my "priority list" card and I went to security. I got through very quickly, with maybe one person ahead of me in line, and then was in the middle of the familiar duty free shopping mall in the Gatwick North terminal. First thing I did was buy a new memory stick for my digital camera, as my other one was full, and I didn't bring my laptop to download the pictures. I think I paid an overpriced rate, so I'm not going to mention the rate! I'm embarassed.
Then I bought some Toblerone for a friend who requested them. And I got a couple of toys for my nephews. With all that behind me I went for some quick spotting. It was like 2 hours until departure.
A couple BA 777s, one which is going to DFW, and at the far end is my AA 777 to DFW.
Ship G-VIIF. I saw this Monday in ORD, Wednesday morning at LGW, and then Wednesday afternoon at DFW!
There's my 777
Some regional BA flights
Then I left for one of the lounges at LGW, to use my Priority Pass. I walked into the Aviance Executive Suite, which didn't look all that exciting, so I walked across the hallway to the Delta Crown Room, which is also part of Priority Pass, and it looked much better, so I entered.
I had some breakfast there, some cereal and a pastry, with some juice. Then I had a cappucino, which I was so impressed with, I took its picture. Look at the froth in this cup, and it is from a machine. I just hit a button and put the cup under it, and it comes out this perfect.
I probably had the only AA ticket inside the Delta Crown Room! See it on the table.
The Delta Crown Room
Here I am at the gate. This isn't actually my plane, as this is flight 173 to RDU. N783AN (ship 7AN) My plane is parked next to it, but the gate was too busy with too many staff members and security, so I was afraid to take a picture out in the open. My plane looked just like this one though!
Look at this RDU, as it had just arrived. It had LOTS of cargo on board. There were at least 5 pallets of cargo offloaded from the RDU flight. That's pretty good revenue I imagine. And if the cargo loads are high, maybe thats why they continue with the 777s to RDU rather than 767.
While waiting, they announced boarding families with small children and people who needed assistance first. Then a long pause of a few minutes. Then they announced first class, followed by a long pause of a few minutes. Then they annouced business class, also follow by a long pause. After that, they paged my name. I had to wait for the agent to finish up with someone, but in front of her I saw my boarding pass...2J! First class window!
So then I boarded the flight, which boards using 2L, between first and business, and turned left to my first class seat. I would have preferred the pods (Flagship Suite) configuration, but the Asian configuration is fine too.
Here's the view of the planes parked next to us.
They were showing the soothing boarding video..water flowing, nice music. I was offered my choice of OJ, Mimosa, or Champagne once I was seated. I chose simple OJ. Then I was presented with an amenity kit, a menu, and a movie menu.
When we were about to push from the gate for an on-time departure, the video changed to the Air Show. Distance to Dallas/Fort Worth 4764 Miles. Local time at DFW 4:25am. Our route would be south of Greenland...which was a disappointment to me. I love flying over Greenland, but I've had bad luck on my last few crossings.
On the safety video, I noticed they actually picture VHF scanners, which might be new, as an item never allowed to be operated on board. As we pushed out, I noticed AA 78 was waiting for our gate--gate 62.
When the engines were started, and we began taxiing, I remembered how much I love the sound of the Rolls Royce engines on the AA 777. My flight over had been on a BA 777 with the GE90s, and I don't think they quite had the sound of the Rolls Royce. I sat over the wing, behind the engine on BA, so maybe it was my location rather than the sound.
Here are some shots of the taxi out.
How often do you see a Shorts these days?
I've never heard of this airline, but then Gatwick is famous for that!
Not a real good shot, but there's the North Terminal.
Here we've got an Air Namibia MD-11 next to a Virgin Nigeria A340. As we taxied by, I was wondering why that Virgin had some green on it. Then it finally dawned on me that it was Virgin Nigeria..my first time to see one.
OK, here's the takeoff video, which I think came out pretty well. It took me a minute to get the camera wedged in the window far enough to look back at the engines, so apologies for that. Watch the engines as they spool up and all the condensation forms inside the engine. And just listen to the Rolls Royce engines.
Here we are over Exeter, which is place I mean to visit...for geneolgical reasons. The mustard fields nearby are bright yellow.
A first view of my seat and the TV.
An overview of first class.
A southern departure route, as we basically followed the shoreline to Exeter, and then turned northwest. We flew between Cork and Shannon.
I was surprised at the beautiful china. This is the lunch setup.
The china is worth another look.
Look at the cart in the aisle. See the champagne, etc? They are doing an appetizer of Salmon.
Very rough waves crashing into the Western coast of Ireland.
I wanted to order the Salmon that was on the menu for my entree, but they were out, so I got the chicken. It was really good, served with spinach and mashed potatoes.
A good salad, made to order off their salad cart.
Then I got a very pleasant surprise outside the window. A contrail seemed to get closer and closer and bigger and bigger. Finally I could actually see the aircraft that was creating it. It got so close I could easily tell it was an AA 777! I was a bit trigger-happy with my camera, so this might be too many, but here are some really rare shots.
This is my favorite of the bunch. It's submitted in the photo queue, actually.
And here is a 21 second video of the plane. I took one that was more zoomed in, but it's too shaky, so this is the best one. I'm using a Sony DSC-1, which isn't really a video camera, so it's much better with still pictures. The video quality isn't the best, but it's decent. I couldn't get the exposure to come out any better than this. It's a rare sight for sure, so worth spending 21 seconds on!
Oh yes, remember I'm still dining. Here comes dessert and some hot tea.
Then I slept from about 25-30W for a few hours, and woke up over Nova Scotia. It was mostly cloudy so I couldn't see. I watched a movie, and the flight attendant came by and gave me a cheese plate, with some dried fruit and crackers. The man sitting next to me woke up and started watching my movie, while listening to his MP3 player. I found that very rude and awkward. His TV was set on the Air Show. The Air Show was also broadcast through the whole flight (at least in first class) on the main screens throughout the cabin.
Then after a bit, it was time to eat again. The choice was either pizza or an Asian chicken, so I picked the chicken.
After that, it was time for dessert. I got a fruit plate, and a warmed chocolate cookie. When they started warming them, it smelled really good. I was on the front row so I could really smell the cookies!
They offered me another cookie later, but I had to turn them down.
Look at the legroom in first class. The seat leans all the way back flat.
Not the most exciting shot, but just pointing out that I had three windows!
Here's another shot showing the legroom. Funny thing is, you actually have a bit more legroom in business class than you do on a first class seat bulkhead. There is a huge difference however, in that FC has lay-flat beds, and they are configured in such a way that people can't lean back on you.
Here we are at top of descent, crossing the Red River. Beginning our descent to DFW. Our cruise started at FL 330 (for traffic) then FL 340, then FL 380 over Canada, then later FL 400.
As we approached DFW, they began displaying arrival and connection information. It's just like the airport monitors, showing all the cities and gate information. I just took this shot to somewhat demonstrate it.
We are now abreast DFW airport flying south for a north landing. My apartment is on the left beneath that first cloud. If you follow the diagonal runway down and to the left, that is runway 13L/31R. My apartment is off the end of 13L, which is why my name here is DFW13L (due to lack of creativity).
Over the top of Navy Dallas, and you can see a big blimp there on the ground, which was ready for the Byron Nelson tournament, which started the day after this shot was taken.
Lone Star horse racing track.
We crossed all lanes of traffic, and lined up on the west side runway 36L. Since we were parking at the international terminal, 36L was right next to where we parked.
Here is a video of the landing!
We parked at gate D30. It was my first time going through customs/immigration at the new International terminal. I wish they allowed picture taking in customs, because I would have loved to have shown you some shots just of the walkway from the gate to passport control. You walk through glass walkways up high in the beautiful new terminal, with lots of shops to the left and views of the airport to the right.
When I got past passport control to customs, I usually have no trouble at all, because I rarely check a bag--just have a carry-on. Usually they just motion me to the easy exit and I'm on my way, which I was expecting. Instead, he sent me to the agricultural inspection lane. It was kind of long, and there was an officer managing the line. I asked him what this line was for, and I showed him my form. It had a big "ATM" in huge letters hand written across it. I started thinking...how on earth do they know my ATM card was retained at Gatwick? Does this have something to do with it? But he said I was randomly selected..and ATM means "Agricultural Test Mechanism."
Another guy from my flight in the same situation was in front of me. He and I were both traveling with no checked luggage. Everyone else looked to be from Africa and India, and they were pulling out large bags of food. He complained that they just needed some white Americans with no wierd foods in tow to even out their statistics. He had come from Kuwait, which he said he does once a month, and was in a very bad mood. I didn't really mind it. It took like five minutes once I was helped, and they were very apologetic, and one officer even went to an office to get me a brochure explaining what they were doing.
After getting through that, I went back in security just to find out which of the BA 777s that I saw earlier that morning was the one that went to DFW. It was G-VIIF. As I said before, this is the third airport in as many days that I had seen VIIF. Here it is:
and here it is taking off:
I really hope you enjoyed reading my trip report. I certainly enjoyed the flight, and I like to put these trip reports together. American still has very good service in premium class, and I've heard that silverware is on its way back, though all my cutlery was plastic (which is why I didn't take pictures of it).
Alaskaqantas From New Zealand, joined Dec 2005, 907 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Nice report mate-
I loved the take off video... you can tell that it is a full flight!
So what is the difference between the flagship suit and the asian config.?
Looking forward to more reports!
to some people the sky is the limit, to aviation enthusiasts, its home!
DFW13L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting Alaskaqantas (Reply 4): So what is the difference between the flagship suit and the asian config.?
The Asian config is 18 seats in first (though 2 used for crew rest on this flight--even though there are only three pilots, they don't allow a passenger to sit next to a pilot in crew rest). They are 2 X 2 X 2 Lie completely flat, very comfortable, with huge amounts of storage space.
The Flagship suite is set up 1 X 2 X 1 and only 16 seats on the plane. Just one on each side and 2 in the middle. They actually swivel 90 degrees, so if you get a window, you can turn to face the window. There is a desk there and an ottoman too.
About half the fleet or maybe a bit over half has the Flagship suite, but the older 777s have the "Asian" config. I call it that, and it might not be the real name for it, but they are the older ones, and were set up for Pacific flights. At one point the pacific ones had 18 F seats and 42 C with fewer Y seats. While the Atlantic ones had 16 F 35 C and more Y seats. Now they all have 35 C and 194 Y, but 18 or 16 F seats. The business and coach cabins are identical.
Usually the ships 7AA-7AZ are typically Pacific while 7BA-7BZ and 7CA and 7CB (and 7CC when it gets delievered) have Flagship, but that's my own guess, and not completely accurate.
Fbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3732 posts, RR: 27
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Great report! Very visually comprehensive
You managed to pick up on one of the things I like about flying transatlantic...you always seem to find there are aircraft running parallel to you. I've had interesting flights next to US A330s, AA 777s and most recently a UA 767. I usually try and take a few photos but none seem to come out as well as yours.
To be honest my thoughts on AA F haven't changed much since reading this. The seat is ok (of course the FS is a lot better), the lounge is ok if there is a FL and as for the food, well anyone that serves pizza in international F deserves a good dose of Chapter 11
[Edited 2006-05-13 17:20:39]
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey
DFW13L From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting DALelite (Reply 6): once again, excellent trip report and great videos!! but food in int. first
looks cheap and they also had pizza on offer,hm?
Thanks. I didn't really think the food looked cheap. I think AA has actually improved on their First Class food, rather than cut back. But yeah I have to agree with you on the pizza, yet I'm guilty of ordering it on previous flights!
Quoting Tmarch291 (Reply 7): Its nice to see you landed in terminal D in DFW. Its probably the nicest airport terminal in the USA.
That's one of the main reasons I took this trip and took this flight (rather than one that would have had a Flagship Suite going Heathrow-ORD-DFW. Terminal D is awesome, and walking through the international arrivals hallway is just gorgeous.
Not sure I understand what you are saying, but the lounge pictures were taken from the Delta Crown Room, not the AA Admirals Club, just FYI.
Quoting Tifoso (Reply 10): I am really curious to know how you positioned your camera to shoot the videos. Were you holding it all the time or have it rest on something?
Yes, holding the camera is tricky. The camera I'm using is a small Sony DSC-1, which does both still and video..all pictures on here are from that camera. It is pocket sized, so the flight attendants don't notice it.
Anyway, the best way is to hold it in your hand. If you notice on the takeoff video, I had it actually wedged into the left corner of the passenger window and turned out so it was looking nearly straight back. That's why it takes some time on the takeoff video for me to get the engine in view. I was in the very front row of the plane, so, as you can tell from the video it's looking straight back. Watch it again and listen for the knocking...that's the camera knocking against the window. Usually I'll hold it in my hand for more stability, but I couldn't with that angle. The camera isn't like a real camcorder that would have image stabilization.
Quoting 797 (Reply 14): How luckier could you get to see another 777 flying next to you so close! Incredibly lucky!
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 766 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting DFW13L (Reply 5): Usually the ships 7AA-7AZ are typically Pacific while 7BA-7BZ and 7CA and 7CB (and 7CC when it gets delievered) have Flagship, but that's my own guess, and not completely accurate.
Excellent report. As one who has flown the 777 many times DFW-LGW-DFW in first class those pictures brought back many pleasant memories. Just fyi, AA has 16 daily 777's out of LHR. So that's good that you saw another one. I have yet to see another one even after many transatlantic and transpacific flights.
7AA-7AU, 7BW, 7BX all have the Pacific configuration on 2-2-2 in first class.
7AV-7BV, 7BY-7CC (when it comes) all have the flagship suite configuration. AA does plan to reconfigure it's 777's with lie flat seats in business class, to remain competitive. I also read that they will reconfigure all 777's in the flagship suite configuration, but that's probably not until 2007. I retired from AA in March 2005 so I don't know what the planned timetable on that is.
I'm glad you were able to make a report on this trip. There is no other way I want to fly other than first class on AA 777
Wrighbrothers From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 1875 posts, RR: 8
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Suburb trip report, nice pictures (hope you don't mind I'm using one as my background !), also nice to see staff get First class once in a while
Glad you enjoyed yourself, I must admit, i'm impressed you could do all that flying in 3 days !
Always stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone..
Fbgdavidson From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2004, 3732 posts, RR: 27
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting DFW13L (Reply 15): Not sure I understand what you are saying, but the lounge pictures were taken from the Delta Crown Room, not the AA Admirals Club, just FYI.
At that stage I was commenting on AA First in general rather than your report per se. In non-jargonese what I should be saying is the Admirals Clubs are pretty poor for international J or international F lounges. The only exceptions are at LAX and ORD where a Flagship Lounge (FL) operates as the OW Emerald / First lounge.
"My first job was selling doors, door to door, that's a tough job innit" - Bill Bailey