Flight CO 44 EWR-MXP
I arrived at Newark International just before 4PM for my 6PM departure to Milan. I was headed to Italy for five days to attend a friend's wedding and do some shopping. Terminal C wasn't all that crowded, except for the security checkpoint line, but it seemed to be moving rather quickly. I picked up a boarding pass at the many E-Service Centers scattered throughout the terminal, passed through security (I had a rollaway only) and went to the large President's Club between C2 and C3. I watched a little CNN and had a tomato juice, spotted some planes, mostly Continental 737's, 757's, and two 777's parked at the new C3 concourse. They were going to London Gatwick and Paris. At 5:30 I walked over to gate C-73, one of the first gates in the C1 concourse and proceeded to board the Continental 767-200ER. The plane had a light load. According to the senior flight attendant, there were 98 passengers in economy but the BusinessFirst cabin was full. I took my seat in Row 24D. The cabin was spotless, airy, and the cabin smelled new. The 777 style interior on this plane is unique. Continental I believe is the only airline to fly the 767-200 with this feature. It was the first airline to order the -200 in a long time. Scheduled departure was 6:00pm but we had a ground delay. There were 16 passengers joining the flight, connecting from St. Louis. We pushed back from the gate at 6:37pm, but taxied out to the runway and we were airborne at 6:48pm. The take off roll was long and smooth and powerful. We banked to the left on take off and headed out over the industrial parks surrounding the airport and north over Harlem and lower Westchester before heading out along the Atlantic coast over to Cape Cod and Newfoundland, before beginning our crossing. The flight attendants apologized twice for the delay in departure but assured everyone the flight would arrive at Malpensa Airport on schedule, at 7:55am. The cabin crew distributed eye shades, free headsets, and the inflight entertainment system began about 20 minutes into our climb to 39,000 feet. All 767's in the CO fleet (-200 and -400) have PTV's as do the 777's. Drinks and peanuts were followed by dinner, lasagna al forno or chicken marsala. I chose the lasagna which was average but filling enough. Had a small bottle of wine and fell asleep. The
seat next to me was free so I had sufficient room to make myself comfortable for the 8 hour journey to Italy.
About 90 minutes out of Milan, breakfast, consisting of a warm croissant, Danon blended yoghurt, OJ and sliced fruit was served. We began our descent 45 minutes before we were scheduled to land. According to the sky map, we flew over Southern England, crossed the channel, and flew over France and Eastern Germany before heading directly south into Milan over the alps. Cabin announcements were made in English and in Italian. One flight attendant announced her name and said she spoke fluent German, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Descent into Milan was smooth until a few minutes before touch down. The city was shrowded in fog and light rain. It was choppy but manageable. We landed at 7:44am and taxied to the B-5 gate, passing a United 767-300 which had obviously just landed minutes prior from Washington DC (Dulles), several AZ 767's, two parked 747-200's, and one MD-11 then another, and a third. We also taxiied past an Air France A320, Swissair A319, Lufthansa A321, and a British Airways 767-300. There were also many AZ MD80's. The crew thanked us for flying Continental, welcomed us not just to Milan, but to Italy, and unfortunately, minutes later, a 24 hour air traffic and airport worker's strike began so it took 2 hours to leave the airport, on the Malpensa Express train.
Malpensa Airport was nice enough. Clean, modern, and surprisingly efficient. I had used Milan's other airport, Linate many times on flights from within Europe.
Continental's service was pleasant, efficient, I slept for three hours, and the ride was smooth.
Milan/Malpensa to Newark, NJ
I got up at 5:00am and took a taxi from my hotel to the rail station and got on the first Malpensa Express train to Malpensa Airport. I arrived at 7:06am and checked in for my flight. Check in was long. It was in the same area as the Delta flight to JFK, United to IAD, and AZ to Boston and JFK. At 8:15, I headed for the gate, the same one I arrived in, B-5. Boarding began at 9:20 but interestingly enough, I saw the 767 arrive from Newark and watched it taxi to our gate. It landed late, at 8:15 but they cleaned and catered it quickly. It was clean inside and obviously ready for the journey home. This time the flight was nearly sold out. Just one or two seats free at the very back. We pushed back four minutes early (the flight attendants seemed to rush the passengers to take their seats, stow their luggage, and get ready to go). They were polite though. We taxied out to the runway, it was sunny. We were #3 for take off behind an Alitalia A320 and an Alitalia MD11. Take off was smooth and powerful and we seemed to not turn at all. About 30 minutes into the flight, the pilot welcomed us again and told us the duration of the flight would be slightly shorter, owing to our early departure and calmer head winds. We would land at Newark at 1:11, 39 minutes ahead of schedule, which was supposed to be 1:50. I was happy, since I wanted to get home in time to have a mini break from my vacation before going back to work. The IFE system began and I watched the sky map. It showed ground speed, air speed, and the usual info. Lunch was served around 90 minutes following takeoff, consisting of beef tips or chicken kiev. I opted for the beef. Took a nap, read my book, ignored the movie altogether, but watched an episode of Frasier. Around 2 hours out of Newark, a sandwich was served. Cabin crew also passed out drinks midflight. We landed at 1:01pm, and taxied up to Gate B-56.
Again, an excellent, uneventful flight on Continental.