itinerary was as :
AIR> May 31 UA # 473 BDL --> ORD 5:14 pm 6:40 pm
AIR> May 31 UA # 449 ORD --> SEA 7:25 pm 9:49 pm
but due to thunderstorm warnings and convective SIGMETs being issued left
and right in the Northeastern United States I decided to take earlier flights. I called United reservations in advance and asked about theavailability on the 2:42 pm flight 7171 to Chicago on a CRJ. The agent told me that there were 5 seats available so I headed to the airport right away.
After a quick rental car return I took the shuttle to the main terminal and walked to the United ticket counter and asked for a reservation change. I was expecting to be on the Chicago flight, but the agent told me that I can make it to the IAD flight. "Fine, one more leg with Ch. 9 " thought to myself and I accepted the offer.
May 31st UA 1449 BDL-->IAD 1:55pm boarding 2:25 departure.
B737-300 N326UA Channel 9 ON Seat 3A Economy Plus
Photo © G. van Beek
After the check-in it was time to get through the security. I said this on and on and I will never stop saying this , but after 9/11 security people here in US started to find a way to treat people like dirt! There was this group of two females and two kids who were traveling to all the way to Sri Lanka. (Their itinerary was something like BDL-IAD-FRA-DXB-Sri Lanka) Obviously they didn't speak English well, and the kids were having hard time understanding the sentence "lay the bag flat on the belt". The security guy thought that yelling was going to make them understand English better , so he kept yelling to this 5-6 year old kid "lay it FLAT.... FLAT.. no FLAT!!!!". Poor kid wasabout to cry.. I couldn't help it and said "Why don't you show him how to do it. Obviously he doesn't understand it". I had a dirty look, and "Don't teach me how to do my job" reply from him..
Eventually I paid the price by extensive screening with "take your shoes off, what do you have in your laptop?" type of questions. I guess he wanted to get back to me by either delaying me or making me "break".. He got my full cooperation and that was the way I got back at him.
After a brief delay, we pushed back at 2:30 pm local time. Right after push back, clearance informed us about a ground stop and cleared us to the Runway
24 hold pad via Runway 1 and taxiway C.
Initially there was a talk about a 40 minutes ground stop and we were given an update time of 1930Z at 1850Z. But, it was our lucky day and we took off
from runway 24 at 1913Z (15:13 local) with a right turn to heading 280. During the climb to FL220 under the ATC control of Boston Center we had to deviate to southwest , to heading 220, due to major build ups in the direction of flight. After a turn to Sparta VOR, we were cleared to cross Broadway VOR at FL280 and then with radar vectors, avoiding buildups we contacted Washington Center. A brief contact with Washington Center and then we were handed off to Dulles Approach which cleared us to Runway 19R approach. We took a vector for spacing just west of Frederick, MD with a turn to the West followed by a turn to the East. We landed at 19R with winds from 210 at 7 kts at 1610 local, 2010Z.
Besides a lot of Uniteds I saw an Aeroflot B767(VP-BAZ) parked at the Delta
gates and a great looking Austrian Airlines Star Alliance A330.
Photo © Richard Silagi
Photo © Peter Unmuth - Vienna Aviation Photography
It was a quick hop on the east coast , with nothing more than drinks and snack mix in the menu. As usual I was grateful for Economy Plus and Channel 9.
May 31st UA219 IAD --> SEA 4:30 boarding with 5:00 pm departure.
B757-200 N520UA Seat 9F Gate D1
Due to late arrival of the aircraft we pushed back at 5:20. Captain said that we were going to start the engine at the gate. Then it occurred to me that APU might be out of service and that could be the reason why. After the push back we headed to spot 80 and taxied to Runway 30 via taxiways Z, Y, Y11 and Q.
We were told that there was a flow control going on for the west bound departures (read, they are allowing less than usual amount of aircraft to the west) and there was a ground stop for northbound departures. We took off on Runway 30 at 2140Z , 5:40pm local time. Leaving 13000 feet we contacted Washington Center which cleared us to FL270 and FL310. I could already see some buildups ahead of us. When the captain requested FL350 we were told to wait until we switched to Cleveland Center. Cleveland cleared us FL350 with a good rate request than the hole game of dodging build ups started. We first requested direct Waterloo VOR to deviate to north a bit and that took us through the tamer portions of thunderstorm activity. It was quite bumpy going through the clouds and I heard few "uh, oh, oh my Gods" but I was having fun
As soon as we cleared that area around Indiana, we crossed Lake Michigan passing south of Kalamazoo, MI directly to just over Chicago. O'Hare looked like a beautiful flower through the window at 37000 feet. After we cleared the bumpy area flight attendants started to serve dinner. It wasn't too bad for an economy class: Garlic Bread, choice of chicken or beef with rice and carrots. Raspberry cookies. Salad with Vinaigrette dressing and butter.
As far as entertainment is concerned the F/As decided to put the tape of TV
shows first instead of the future movie "The Majestic". Besides, I really don't like watching good movies on the airplanes as the engine noise kills the concentration. So I decided to take a nap while I was listening to the Ch. 9 stuff.
Once we left the plains, there were some more thunderstorms over the Rockies and we requested FL390 which Denver Center cleared us. To my surprise this time we were taking a more southern route. Usually this flight goes through the northern portion of North Dakota, Montana but this time we were south of Jackson, WY.
We were cleared direct Yakima VOR after avoiding that line of thunderstorms and we descended just south of Ellensburg flying parallel to I-90. It was a busy Friday night arrival for Sea-Tac, just because of that tower couldn't let us land on 34R. After a nice touchdown on runway 34L we took a double right on J to cross 34R and we taxied to gate N2. To my surprise another Aeroflot , this time a 777 was sitting at the DL gates.
- It becomes a routine thing to fly when you are doing it to commute to work. I was getting tired and bored into the 5 hr flight to SEA from IAD but that's life.
- I will still fly United, collect all the mileage that I probably won't be able to use and take full advantage of upgrades to F class, Ch. 9 and Economy Plus seating.
- Flying is still my favorite thing to do..