18 July 2000
I arrived at the North Terminal at 5:15am to check in for the 6:25am flight. Check-in was with America West, who had one agent working the CO flight and four working the 6:00am AWA to PHX check-in. I was number five in line, but didn't make it up to the counter until 5:45am due to three people in front of me purchasing tickets and an AWA agent in training working the CO check-in. As I was one of the first to check-in, my preferred seat was given to me: 10F - window behind the exit row with no seat directly in front of me. I noticed as I entered the terminal that morning that the equipment had been changed from the scheduled to B737-300 to a B737-500. I made my way upstairs at 6:00am just as boarding was beginning. Half of the passengers had yet to be checked in. The AWA flight left 5 minutes late, opening all positions for CO check-in. The flight was about 2/3 full. I had nobody sitting next to me. Aircraft pushed on time and taxied out behind Midwest Express DC-9-10 and United B757 for a take-off on runway 14R. The F/A's performed a drink service followed by a breakfast consisting of a bowl of Total cereal and a banana. The flight was uneventful and landed eight minutes early at 8:36am on IAH runway 27, but held near Terminal C for just over fifteen minutes for a gate to free up. The hold position afforded a great view of parking Antonov Design Bureau AN-124 UR-82029.
18 July 2000
I proceeded immediately to my connecting gate, jotting down about fifteen registration numbers as I walked. Boarding began at 9:00am for the full 9:28am departure to Newark. I was in a less than desirable seat: 6A, second row of coach and the seat next to the air conditioning duct, meaning no windows for that row. The female passenger 6B had trouble keeping all of her body in her own seat. She did sleep most of the flight, but did drool which made for interesting inflight entertainment. The gate agent was strict about boarding by row numbers, so I was one of the last to board. At that point, the overheads were full so my bag had to go under the seat in front of me. This along with my neighbour taking up more than her alotted space left me unable to move for 3+ hours. The aircraft did depart on schedule and we had a long taxi to runway 14L, with wheels up at 9:45am. A drink service was provided followed by another breakfast - Honey Nut Cheerios cereal and a box of raisins. A second drink service followed. Thirty minutes prior to landing, water was offered. The Flight Service Coordinator provided me with two B737-500 safety cards as well as a copy of the exit row supplement for souvenirs. The flight arrived at Newark Terminal C five minutes late at 2:10pm after landing on 22R.
18/19 July 2000
Following four hours of spotting from all three terminals at EWR and the connecting monorails, I arrived at gate 112 to watch my B757-200 arrive, completing the first leg of CO24 (SFO-EWR-SNN). I had my documents checked at the podium and got in some more spotting, with a nice view of the Continental Express ramp nearby. The flight was overbooked by approximately twenty seats. The voluntary bumping reward was a $300 travel voucher and a reroute through Paris, to arrive in Shannon 10 hours later than CO24 would arrive. They received about five volunteers and ended up bumping many passengers with e-tickets who didn't have seat assignments before getting to the departure gate. Boarding began at 6:15pm. I was in the seat I had requested at OMA - 8C - the first aisle seat in coach. Each seat had pillow/blanket/headphones awaiting passengers. As the aircraft (N17133) was configured for international operations, a larger galley and audio/video equipment was installed fore and aft of 2L/2R doors. My seat was consequently a bulkhead row, where on CO's domestic B757's, row 8 faces the open lobby area by 2L, with no bulkhead in front of it. Even with the bulkhead, legroom was still ample. After the safety video, and a twenty minute taxi and hold, CO24 departed runway 22L behind a CO Express ATR-42. Engine noise and rattling in the forward cabin was very loud. After climbout, the video presentation began with episodes of "Third Rock From the Sun" and "The Brady Bunch" along with news clips. The F/A's in Coach (which included the Flight Service Coordinator and three others) provided hot towels and amentiy kits (earplugs and eyeshades) followed by the first beverage service. Dinner was served with a choice between beef and chicken. My beef dinner consisted of beef chunks on noodles and corn, a roll, cheese/crackers, a salad, and cake. A second drink serivce followed along with the start of the movie "Here on Earth" on drop down overhead monitors. After trays were collected and a twenty minute break, duty free service began. The movie ended by the time the duty free ended and was replaced with a moving map display. The pilot announced we would arrive about 35 minutes early due to good tailwinds, making total flight time only around five hours. A drink service began, followed by a breakfast of warm croissant and cold fruit cocktail. The Flight Service Coordinator gave me a safety card and two extra coach "amenity kits." Breakfast was hurried and headsets were collected with the trays. The F/A's barely had time to secure the galleys and change from their loafers back into uniform heels before the gear came down and the aircraft flew along the top of heavy fog laying in valleys framed by bright green hills. The aircraft made a sudden final approach from the west, with the flight attendants rushing to their seats a half minute from touchdown. The pilot used heavy braking to use a closer turn-off. After a short taxi, we arrived at the terminal, deserted except for our B757 and a Virgin Express B737-400. Bags arrived the same time we did to customs. Immigration was very quick with almost no lines. No customs officers were present as I walked through the green line and into Ireland.
Overall I was very pleased with Continental, and my trip with them left me with a great impression. I'll definately use them again. I have no complaints, and found service to be better on the domestic legs than most others I have experienced (except for Midwest Express who can't be rivalled).