This was the trip I took last May to go on a cruise leaving from Barcelona.
ORD-LHR 747-400 (flight 298)
LHR-ORD 747-200 (flight 297)
The Chicago-London flights were about 7.5-8 hours and the London-Barcelona flights were about 2 hours. Milestones for me on this trip were:
1) 1st time on a widebody
2) 1st time on each: 744, 742, 767
3) 1st time trans-atlantic
4) 1st flight with a movie and real meal service
5) 1st time on BA
It's also noteable to point out that this trip re-sparked my interest in commercial avaition which led me to start participating in Airliners.net
I finished my final exams and headed to my sister and brother-in-law's place in the Chicago area on Wednesday the 10th. On Thursday night my sister, who went ORD-DUB the previous April, decides that we should stay up all night so we will be so tired on the plane the next day we would be able to sleep. My sister had to finish her take-home final for her law school class anyway.
On Friday my sister and I took a car out to O'Hare and checked our baggage in at the International Terminal (5). Then we went over to Terminal 3 to meet our mom who was arriving on an American flight from Kansas City-MCI. Her plane was a (surprise) MD-80 series. My mom is bound to a wheelchair so we had assistance getting her back over to Terminal 5. The train that runs around O'Hare is very convienient. Mom got checked in with BA also and then we went to the gate to wait for boarding. The equipment for this flight was a 747-400. I think 747-200's were normally used on the route so I guess we were lucky this time.
We got to preboard. Our seats were in row 32 on the far starboard side. Seating was 3-4-3 in the World Traveller section. No PTVs at this time either on the 744. The flight was not full so I accepted an offer from a f/a to sit across the isle in the center section. There were two empty seats to the left of me also in the dead center. There was a big thunderstorm going on when we supposed to take off so we were delayed about 30 minutes.
After take-off two drink services came through. 1st time I got a coke and then I got a vodka-tonic. I was asked if I was over 18 but wasn't carded. Inbetween drinks I finished off my sister's mini bottle of vodka so I had a pretty good buzz going at this time. Then dinner service came through. I had some pretty good lasagna. Later in the flight my sister moved to the seat to the left of me so our mom could have the whole 3 seats to sleep on. They started the movie, a new version of the Great Gatspy. I was not in the mood for this. I spent most of the evening listing to my CDs with the Discman I brought, a LIFESAVER! I got very little sleep on this flight contrary to my sister's theory (who also got very little sleep). Eventually it got light outside again and breakfast service started. I think I had some fruit and I can't remember what else. The BA food I had from this point on was pretty ordinary and not really memorable. They announced that we were able to make up the time we lost to the thunderstorm in Chicago so we would be arriving more or less on time in LHR. The weather forcast we recieved the previous day called for overcast and drizzle in London. So when they told us we were making our descent I figured any time we'd duck under the cloud cover. Didn't happen. I glanced over to the windows and saw aircraft hangers and other buildings quite to my surprise. I had like a 1 second warning of touchdown. After getting to the gate everyone else jumped up so we waited and then deplaned.
We had assistance at Heathrow for our Mom again. The gentleman that helped us out was very nice and helpful. Getting through immigration this way is a breeze! We got to ride in a special wheelchair equiped vehicle to another terminal building. We had some time to spare so he took us through the area with all the shops. My sister and I got a free shot of Jameson Whiskey. We got to our gate eventually and preboarded.
This aircraft was a 767. My mom and sister took two seats on the far left side and I took an aisle seat in the center section. Seating was 2-3-2. We were in the front of the economy section. This aircraft was rigged obviously because there were pieces of foam visible stuck between the bulkhead and cieling. It didn't look professionall but oh well. We did get drink and snack service on this flight that was ok.
We got to Barcelona and surprise, no jetway to deplane. Everyone else jumped up quickly and so we waited and then deplaned. Mom at this time could still walk a little and so she got down the stairs ok. I don't know what the hell they would have done if Mom couldn't walk? Another special vehicle came to pick us up. The regular passengers rode on busses. On the tarmac I saw an Aeroflot twin, I believe an A310? It was quite a sight. We were rushed through immigration again by the people who were helping mom. We then got our luggage and gave it to the cruise line people.
Our cruise was great, but I'll tell you, traveling with two female family members is pure HELL sometimes!
We were pretty pissed off with each other and, although our vacation was great, we were looking forward to going home. We got to the airport and waited in a long line to check in. We got checked in and went to the gate. This time there was a jetway!! Our flight was delayed for one reason or another making our upcoming connection at Heathrow a little too tight for comfort. The plane was a 757. I've been on United and Delta 757s and I like them. We preboarded and sat down. I had to seperate my sister and mom so I sat in the middle. The good part of this was being able to see some out the window. I saw the snow capped Pyrenees Mountains, the white cliffs, Wimbley Stadium I believe. Wimbeldon tennis complex. Very cool. We did get drink and snack service on this flight as well.
We arrived late and had a nervewracking time getting to our Chicago flight but we made it. We had three seats on the port side of the plane, the 747-200. It was definately older than the 744 we were on but the only real difference was that the bathrooms for the World Traveller Section were all in the very back unlike the 744 which had some in the middle. The movies they showed were Snow Falling on Cedars and Simpatico. I again was not in the mood for these. Thanks God in Heavan for the Discman. It stayed light out of course the whole way home. The food service and drink service were ok. I think i got some alcohol again. Finally we were over North America and after a while we were flying low over Chicagoland and landed at O'Hare.
We got through immigration ok after getting our baggage. Mom got special assistance once again. We went to the place to recheck the the bags for continuing domestic flights and they said Mom's United flight to MCI was cancelled and they said go to the ticket counter way the fuck over in the United terminal. My brother-in-law was there to pick up my sister and I so my sister stayed with the luggage and i went with mom and the special assistance guy over to the United terminal. We waited for a while in a long line and then went to another line where they eventually said to go to a gate where another Kansas City flight was going to leave. And this was before Mom's luggage was checked. So we went to the gate (luckily mom's bags got through security). I don't know what exactly went on but mom's original flight was cancelled but another flight was 'formed' somehow and left not too long after the original was supposed to leave. At least that's how I understand it. So we gate checked her bag at this gate and she got on the plane (a 727). I got to help mom aboard the a/c and I made it clear to the f/a not to close the door and leave without making sure i was off (which they almost did anyway). I would have been pissed! So from there i went back to the opposite side of O'Hare to meet back up with my brother-in-law and sister. I got to go through that cool tunnel neon light thing from the Puff Daddy video on the way through the airport i guess.
And it was finally over! Wow what a trip!
I'm sure I left out details since this is all from memory from four months ago. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.