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This was my short spring break trip. I still have two trips from Christmas break I haven't typed. Oh well. I bought my ticket for $411 at UAL.com. My final destination was Amsterdam but it was way cheaper to fly to Brussels. I took the 2.5 hour train to Amsterdam and back.
I woke up at 5:30am and hit the road at 6am for the 3 or so hour drive from Iowa City to Chicago O'Hare. I only got 3 hours of sleep but oh well. I got to the O'Hare area early and so I went to a McDonald's for breakfast and drove aound a bit. I was looking for a bank so I could get some $1 coins for buying drinks on the domestic flight but didn't find any without a huge ass line inside.
Anyway, parked in Lot G, a new lot at O'Hare. I was pissed that the $9 a day lot F was closed, had to pay $13 a day. Took a bus to the airport train and on to Terminal 1. I checked in about 2 hours early at the international check-in. I had to pick a middle seat when I booked my ticket at UAL.com but the agent was able to give me a window seat. Security was no trouble since I put all my metal objects into my backpack and through the x-ray machine. It wasn't too busy either.
After check in I went over to the spot at the end of the L concourse where you can see the international terminal. There was a JAL 744 and a Korean 744. I also got a pic of this Polar 744 as it passed right by:
After a while I went back to Terminal 1 and went through the tunnel from the Puff Daddy video to the C gates where my flight left from. I actually went back to the other side again to take this picture of my 777:
Thursday, March 14
UA982 ORD-IAD 1:20pm-4:10pm
N207UA Boeing 777-200 seat 33J window
Photo © Ingo Richardt
Boarding was a big group squeezing into the gate but oh well, you get on the plane either way. It was neat to be on a 777 and kinda funny that my trans-Atlantic flight would be on a smaller plane. The 777 is like a big room that flys. I can't get over flying in widebodies.
We pushed back and took off on time. It seemed like we go to jump the place of other planes in lines. I got these pictures of the international terminal right after takeoff:
The PTVs didn't tilt like on other airlines but it seemed like you could see the picture ok whether or not the seat in front of you was reclined. They turned them on and showed some variety programming but no movies for the short flight. There was a drink and snack service and before long we were descending into IAD. I watched the airshow map most of the way and listened to ch 9 which was activated.
After landing we were taxiing around and I saw a BMI A330 up close. I didn't realize that the lettering sparkled. They should call that color Bubba's Bass Boat Blue. We did arrive about maybe 15 minutes early.
Photo © Jonathan Simmons
During my layover I rode the mobile lounges the whole time. I know for some reason that they're unpopular but you get a cool perspective of the place if you have some free time to ride them around. I actually got to my connecting gate a little later than I wanted to because I got stuck out there. I was the last one on the flight and I got the shoes off search. Oh well.
Thursday, March 14 - Friday, March 15
UA950 IAD-BRU 5:45pm-7:25am
N644UA Boeing 767-300 seat 32G window
Photo © George Polfliet
We left on time but as I heard on Ch. 9 they made us switch runways and it took quite a while to taxi to the other side of the field so our takeoff was probably about 15 minutes late.
The FA's were the old hag variety but generally professional. There was a pre-dinner drink service not too long after takeoff and they started the entertainment which wasn't too great. A lot of the flight I spent looking at airshow and listening to ch. 9 and spacing out. The dinner was pretty good. There was this cheesecake that was f--king good! Sorry that's the only way to describe it.
I took this photo of the cabin in flight:
Oh, our flight path on the way out was straight toward the Jersey shore from Dulles and then we skimmed the coastline and the Maritime provinces on our way out to sea. I saw Washington, D.C. from a distance out my window and Atlantic City and then it got cloudy.
The flight was long and there was some good turbulence because the pilot said that we had strong tailwinds. Listening to Ch. 9 there were a bunch of flights talking to each other stating their position by longitute, altitude, and how bad the turbulence was. There was a pilot speaking in German and then this good ole boy pilot comes on and says "Ya wanna say that in English so we can all understand?" The German pilot responded by saying "I vas telling in German vhat I vas telling you a couple minutes ago in English". I thought that comment by the good ole boy pilot was a little uncalled for.
Well, after a while we approached the British Isles. They served a litte breakfast that wasn't too bad. We passed south of Ireland and over Cornwall and skimmed a piece of France before entering Belgian airspace. We landed in BRU probably on time or maybe a little early.
Got off the plane and went into the concourse. Bruce Springsteen's "The River" was playing on the PA speakers. This was a long concourse with no windows. I stopped in one of the bathrooms to go no. 2 and then finished going down the very long concourse and cleared immigration and customs. I got the "You're an American? You can go right through" treatment. The only word the immigration officer said to me was "Okay". Got my bag off the belt and walked out into the terminal without customs inspection.
I took the mainline rail down to the Midi (Zuid) train station where I connected to my train to Amsterdam where I spent most of my trip.
I got back to Brussels on the Monday afternoon before flying out the next day. After doing a couple things in Brussels I went to my hotel to sleep a little. I woke up around 9pm and couldn't sleep after that! In my hotel I watched The Sopranos in English with Dutch (I think) subtitles. I watched the bad movie Carpool uncut and in English which was ok for foreign tv. They also had 2 BBCs in English and a CNN. The music channels play mostly popular English videos too. Wow, long night. Since I didn't sleep, I checked out at 6 or 7am and headed to the airport by train.
I got to the airport way way early and I had to wait quite a while for the ticket counter to open which it did three hours before the flight. Before that I ate a little snack for breakfast and took this photo of my 767:
I checked in and went through the passport control as soon as I could. At check-in they asked some unusually in depth security questions. They were also asking for volunteers to give up their seat since it was full. I still don't see why you have to go through a passport control to leave the country? Well anyway I went in and then cleared security and then hit the duty free shops to buy gifts for my family members.
I walked to my gate area and waited a long long time. They had all the flights leaving for America depart from the extreme end of the concourse and they were checking boarding passes to keep people on other flights out of that area for some reason.
There were several 767s leaving for America from AA, DL, CO, and UA. Once the CO left they brought our 767 up to that gate from where I had photographed it earlier and it had presumably arrived.
Tuesday, March 21
UA951 BRU-IAD 11:55am-3:00pm
N662UA Boeing 767-300 seat 24A window
Photo © Stephan Tophoven
Boarding was ok. When I got to my seat I was pleasantly suprised to learn that I was in the last row of Economy Plus! How about that! It's a little nicer because there's a bit more leg room and it seemed like the seat reclined a bit more than usual. I don't know how I got Economy Plus. I picked that seat off the seatmap at UAL.com when I booked my ticket.
Anyway, Ch. 9 was turned off but I was planning on watching one of the movies "Hearts in Atlantis" anyway. We left on time and flew north toward Newcastle, England. We flew over a bit of Scotland and completely north of Ireland on our way out to sea.
While making landfall on the English coast I saw this KLM 767 pass below us:
This was the first time I've seen another airliner this close to me in flight other than while on approach.
They served the lunch which was ok and they turned on the entertainment. I watched my movie and ate my food. I had some wine with my food and the old hag FA asked me how old I was--I'm almost 22. This has never happened on any of my flights this year! After my movie was over I actually fell asleep, which may have been helped along by my lucky Economy Plus seat's recline ability. As well as by the wine.
After I woke up we had already made landfall over Canada:
We made landfall near Goose Bay and flew pretty much straight in toward Dulles. I flipped through the tv programming since the movies sucked.
Before long we were landing in Dulles:
We went down to the US customs area. Those who were terminating there at Dulles were to take a mobile lounge to the main customs area at the terminal but those with connections like me proceded through. I was rubber stamped trough US Customs and I wasn't inspected.
I had a little time so I did some mobile lounge riding. I got a quick bite to eat at Burger King and then boarded my flight to Chicago.
Tuesday, March 21
UA1241 IAD-ORD 4:35pm-5:39pm
N662UA Boeing 767-300 seat 28A window
This was the same plane that brought me in from Brussels. This flight was the only one of my flights that wasn't very full. It was pretty uneventful. Pretty much on time.
There was a drink and snack service. I got a rum and coke and offered to pay for it but they FA just gave it to me which was nice. If she was in a position to give me the drink, why not pocket the $4 then? I wouldn't have known the difference.
Well I arrived in Chicago and got my luggage. Some jerk off tried to sell me a copy of The Onion which they give away for free. He blabbed something about homeless people and then I let him know I knew it was a free paper and he quickly moved along.
I got my car out of the expensive ass parking and drove downtown where I got free street parking for the night I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law and their adopted cat Cosette.
Hope you enjoyed,