I flew back home to Brussels, I arrived yesterday afternoon. I was on a 727 from Newark to Chicago then connecting to a 767 to Brussels. Out of Newark, the weather was all clear but there was a lot of traffic so we took off one hour after leaving the gate. While taxiing to RWY 4L to take off I was watching from my window seat all the planes landing on RWY 4R, there were a lot of widebodies including a United 777, a Continental 777 and a Virgin Atlantic 747-400, needless to say many Continental flights because it's a hub (I saw a lot of NG 737's at CO!). Parked on the tarmac I saw a British Airways 747-100 ! I could tell it was a 100, not a 200, because it had the thin PW engines. Can you beleive guys that BA still has 747-100 ? I also saw an Air France 747-100, a Swissair A310, US Air 737's 200 and 300 both in the old colours, and a Pan Am 727 as well. The aircraft just behind us was a Continental DC-10, followed by a bunch of Continental MD-80's and 737's. Continental has lots of 737's.
The American 727 I was on, a 200 of course, was a plane originally builf for Braniff. I could tell it came from Braniff because when I entered the plane I saw on the airworthiness certificate near the cockpit that it was a 727-227 not 223. The registration was N717AA, I just checked in a book at home, it is correct it is an ex-Braniff aircraft. That was flight 1377, I had the seat 21A, the seat I wanted, just near the wing. The load factor was about 50%. I noticed there was a rivet missing just in front of the spoiler ! So we took off at 6PM local time on RWY 4R, we turned left to a West heading and climbed up to FL 310 after going though a few clouds. I had a very nice view of Pennsylvania and Lake Erie. As we approached Lake Erie at 31000ft, there was a Northwest DC-10 going opposite direction just below us !!! Oh Boy that was exiting to see. The meal was served when we were over Lake Erie, then we headed towards Michigan just Norht of Detroit, shortly after we headed SouthWest and we started our gradual descent into O'Hare. The weather was getting bad, the captain said the visibility in Chicago was 4 miles. So we continued our descent, we were going though many clouds, it was getting gray but I still could see the cloud layers (and I was keeping an eye on the missing rivet!!!), for the last 20 minutes before touchdown I could see nothing but gray clouds. I couldn't see the ground until we were established on final and as low as 1000ft AGL, it was raining hard, I knew we were going to land on RWY 09R. There was an American 767-200 (exactly what I was going to be on next), holding short of 09R. So we landed smoothly, and we taxied to gate H10 at Terminal 3. Call me crazy, I was going to notify the cockpit crew about the missing rivet on the left wing but as I was about to deplane I noticed that neither the captain, nor the first officer, nor the flight engineer was in the cockpit. The cockpit was empty. Anyway it was a nice flight that I will remember for a long time.
I had over an hour layover before my conneting flight to Brussels so I went to the Admirals Club, I entered without any problem, and I had five glasses of water! I was so thirsty despite all the rain outside. I spotted a few planes, like I was doing the other day...lots of American MD-80's. After leaving the Club Lounge I walked to Terminal 1, yes you guesse it United's main hub. I wanted to have fun at United, lots of 737-300's, A320's and 757's, still quite a few 727's, on the taxiways I saw a 767-300, a 747-100 and a DC-10, I didn't see any United plane in the old colours but I can confirm you this: United still has 737-200's. The only United plane I saw in the old colours was a United Express BA ATP.
It was past 8PM local time (3AM Brussels time), I walk back to American at Terminal 3 to see if my flight is still on time, it said on the TV monitor Flight 88 to Brussels departing at gate K5 at 845PM ON TIME, at 9PM the plane had not even arrived at the gate !!! So I ask the agent at the gate, an nice attractive brunette, if flight 88 was delayed because I really thought so, she said "Yes a little bit. The plane is on its way" I knew we would have a delay but it wasn't saying anything about it on the TV monitor, at 845PM it was saying Final Boarding as the plane was not even at the gate. Anyway just past 9PM (4AM Brussels time!), the nice and beautiful 767-200 that would take me to Brussels came to the gate, it was still raining hard outside. Shortly after we started boarding, I had never seen a 767 as beautiful as this one, the seats were new in Business and Economy class. Do you know that American is redoing the interiors on their planes? Did I tell you that I saw at O'Hare an American 737-800?
So I took my seat, 33J, just near the cargo door where they were loading the luggages. The new seats are dark blue, the old ones are medium blue and gray, and the have adjustable headrests and it says on each seat: "Fasten Seat Belt While Seated". We leave the gate at 945PM local time (445AM Brussels time) taxi to RWY 14R, at one of the maintenance hangars near RWY 14R there was a Northwest 727 having a rest...so we taxi to the holding poing of 14R, the rain had already stopped but the captain tells on the PA that ATC won't clear us for take off for another 15 minutes because of the flow of Air Traffic. The 15 minutes are gone and we finally take off, it was 10PM local time (5PM Brussles time!). I had a nice view of Chicago at night, Michigan at night, and we leveled off at FL 370 over Canada. Dinner was served with complimentary drinks, I had a nice French red wine with my steak, and out of the window at 37000ft I had a beautiful view of Canada. At night I could still see the lakes as well as cities full of light on the horizon. Oh what a fabulous flight. After a couple of After-Dinner drinks, I get some sleep. Four hours later, I wake up, it was of course daylight already. Brussels was two hours away. Breakfast was served, I just had orange juice and coffee, after passing North of Ireland, the flight attendants collected the last items, and the captain turned the seat belt sign on. We were about to start our descent, we overflew England, Holland and we were vectored for the approach on RWY 02 at Brussels National Airport (I recognized the road I take every day when I go to work), we were given the instruction to execute a Go-Around so we few around for another 10 minutes and we finally landed on RWY 02. We wera at the gate at 2PM Brussels time.
One hour later I was home. This was a very nice trip despite the delays, I was happy.