April 27, 2002
Aer Lingus #630
SKD DEP: Dublin DUB 0650
SKD ARR: Brussels BRU0930
ACT DEP: 0650
ACT ARR: 0919
Boeing 737-500 EI-CDG (St. Moling)
Photo © Florian Kondziela
This was a spur of the moment trip to cheer me up prior to sitting exams. Return fare was 150euro. I arrived at 5.30 for the 6.50 flight and was checked in with 9A, the window exit row.
Went up to a quiet Gold Circle Lounge in the B pier, although I was going out of the A pier. Only CDG was going out from there as most of the gates were going to be occupied by incoming transatlantic traffic. Had a few cups of coffee to wake up given the early hour.
Traffic on the Saturday morning was pretty light and standard…..usual array of FR and EI jets…nothing special to note.
Flight boarded a bit later than 6.30 as was on the boarding pass. The load today was 19 passenger all in Y. No curtains or anything for this flight. It was a nice morning with bright sunshine and we headed up to cruise at 500 mph to 37,000 feet for out 1 hour flight to Brussels National.
I didn’t know what to expect for the inflight service given that my am flight to FRA I did in February was sandwich. There were 3 FA’s and only one of them worked, and he was a guy (he told me all the girls were up front complaining about men). Everything was done individually no carts were used at all. We all got muffins and as many cups of tea/coffee we wanted. He even took the orange juice that was loaded on for the nonexistent C pax and gave that to us.
Landing at BRU was ahead of schedule and very smooth. BRU was a nice airport but very deserted….the absence of Sabena’s former route network is very obvious and really very sad. Baggage was already going around when I got to the belt.
April 29, 2002
Aer Lingus #635
SKD DEP: Brussels BRU 1525
SKD ARR: Dublin DUB 1610
ACT DEP: 1520
ACT ARR: 1555
Boeing 737-500 EI-CDF (St. Cronan)
Photo © Philippe Bleus
Gosh what a disaster. I got the 13.10 train to the airport intending to get there in plenty of time to get some souvenirs and do some spotting. Ha!! That never happened. Outside some station the train stopped….and we were going nowhere…..there was no sight of a conductor or anything. So I started to pop my head out the window to see if I could see anything…nothing. There were about 5 other people in the car with me….three girls who I knew spoke some English because they asked me if this was the train to the airport. So I went up them and asked if they understood anything that was being said at the station we had just left. They said nothing was said…..now this one girl was pretty hot and she was the only one who spoke English so I had just made a new friend.
So I figured out a way of opening up the doors to this 1950’s “Brussels Airport Express” train. Old train…pneumatic doors….easy to open. So manually I opened the doors and my new friend’s traveling companion (who spoke fluent French) jumped onto the tracks to go up ahead to see if there were any conductors on the train and see what on earth was going on….now we’re sitting for about 30 minutes. Then a conductor comes along and starts yelling I am not allowed to open the doors, I can be arrested, etc…. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense…..
The girls were from Colombia and over for a while visiting and going to BCN on Virgin Express at 1430. No way were they getting on the flight now. They started yelling.
So the conductor gets on his mobile and find out a train is on its way to us from Bruxelles Midi. Anyway we all had to hop down onto the tracks with bags and all and climb back up on to another train to take us to the airport. Finally I arrived at the airport for my flight at 14.45. I checked my bag and got my very own Sabena boarding pass. A nice souvenir!! Boarding was at 14.55 for the 15.25 flight. So no time for shopping or spotting as I had to clear passport control and immigration. Boarding was already going on when I got to the gate. I boarded and took my seat. Doors were closed at 15.15 and pushback was at 15.20. I counted a load of 63 on this flight. Inflight service was biscuits and tea/coffee/beer/wine/juice. Nothing more.
I fell asleep for the remainder of the flight and we arrived into a glorious afternoon in Dublin….bright sunshine and a mild temperature.
EI did good job on these flights but the service personnel are rude at best and the FA’s never smile….seriously is that a hard thing to do?? Only exception was the lone male FA on the outbound flight.
June 10, 2002
BMI British Midland #128
SKD DEP: Dublin DUB 1520
SKD ARR: London LHR 1640
ACT DEP: 1630
ACT ARR: 1743
Airbus 321-200 G-MIDI
Photo © Alexander Jonsson
Well, unfortunately another year at TCD has come to an end and that means time to go home to New York. I considered myself lucky because back in February I has this feeling that Aer Lingus wasn’t going to be around in June and given the strike last week my feeling was right. If I had to go through exams worrying about Aer Lingus going under I wouldn’t have done very well.
I traveled once on BMI once before after coming off a Virgin flight and was impressed with the level of service.
My aunt decided that she would drive me to the airport given the late afternoon departure. And she picked me up at my flat at 1230 for the 1520 flight. Plenty of time. We flew into the airport and were at check-in by 1310. This was my first time flying BMI out of DUB and I have to say the Aviance ground agents were very friendly and did their best to get me a boarding pass for AA 107 to JFK. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to do so but I wasn’t worried because my seat was pre-assigned anyway. The boarding pass was totally illegible anyway and AA would have never accepted it, particularly because they need to print their own boarding pass to determine who gets searched.
Went upstairs for a cup of coffee as I felt bad leaving my aunt to go up to the Gold Circle lounge (despite the fact I was on BMI) and as it was my first time in the new food court I was very disappointed. There was a McDonald’s, Sbarro, Mezz Cafeteria and Ritazza coffee. That’s fine but seriously the atmosphere of the McDonald’s on Grafton street is better. The only upside is that there is now a view of the runway which I was delighted with.
Proceeded then to airside and visited Duty Free for some Bailey’s. It was about 1410 and I decided to head out to the C pier for my flight to LHR. Everything was going great until they announced a delayed departure of 1550. It really didn’t bother me because I figured I’d still have about 45 minutes to connect in LHR. The inbound aircraft arrived at 1515 and I was out at C44 (we were going from C42) and then I figured I’d mosey on down to the gate because I figured we’d be boarding soon. Well……I was wrong…….boarding did not begin until 1555. There were 6 Aviance agents standing at the gates doing absolutely nothing. Any positive comments were going out the window now. Six agents….and they were all standing there. Boarding began….no announcements were made and they were turning pax with M class boarding cards away creating a crowd at the gate. One agent was tearing cards (while 4 others stood idly by). Finally their manager came along and started to complain that the flight was late and they were trying to make up time and that people were standing around….seriously…..annoying. I made my way to 23C, the aisle seat at the exit.
Takeoff was very much later than announced at 1630 (although the 1545 EI flight was scheduled for 1745) so I was still better off. I have to say I did like BMI. Seats were comfy and not confined solely to 20 rows of C class. The onboard service was your choice of beverage and a snack. Now….this is where I say BMI are an improvement over EI….if you ordered coffee or tea you received a packet of biscuits…..if you order a soft drink or alcohol you received peanuts….EI would have only served biscuits…way to go BMI!!!
Otherwise the flight was uneventful and arrival at LHR was at 1743…..then the fun began…
TRANSIT at LHR
Relatives of mine have done the T1 to T3 connection in 15 minutes so I thought I could do the same. I went to the Flight Connections Centre and security greeted me with a well maybe you should go to the gate. The agent at the desk said well who did you fly in on and when she heard BMI she said that I had no hope of getting my bags at JFK and that they would tell me to wait for the 141 flight to come in. They offered to transfer me to 141 and I accepted (graciously as I really did not want to run to T3).
By the time I got to T3 it was 1845 and I wandered around for a little bit. I picked up a huge 2 litre bottle of water as I was very thirsty and downed a good bit of it. I wasn’t in any state to be heading into the Admirals Club as I was very sweaty and just decided to head on out to Gate 14.
June 10, 2002
American Airlines #107 REBOOKED TO AA141
SKD DEP: London LHR 1830 (2000 NEW TIME)
SKD ARR: New York JFK 2115 (2250 NEW TIME)
ACT DEP: 1955
ACT ARR: 2204
Boeing 777-200 N778AN
Photo © Paul Dopson
Photo © Stephane GIMARD
So I arrived at the gate….no one was there, and it wasn’t even open….although I figured that given that is why the monitors indicate “wait in lounge.” I found this little seating area out by this abandoned looking Xray machine of UA’s and it had a fantastic view of the departures runway. Unfortunately, the viewing was rather bland….mostly BA 737 traffic with the odd 747. An SQ 744 headed out to SIN as well. I noticed that any of the people waiting around the gate had disappeared so I headed over to the gate. I was greeted by a very friendly agent and she reassigned me an exit row seat, 31A. Boarding then commenced and it was very quick given the light load that was expected.
My seat was great. I couldn’t remember whether or not AA’s 777 aircraft were those which featured windowless exit row seats. But I had a great window with a great view of the brand new Qatar Airways 332….I have to say I’m not a big Arab airline fan but I really liked the new Qatar 332.
Pushback was on time and our purser was Mr. Walker (who of the last 5 AA flights to LHR I have done he’s been on 3). There were about 50 pax in Y, 2 in F, and 8 in J.
A drinks service started off about 30 minutes out of London. I ordered a white wine ( I was thinking well if I was on CO I’d be paying for this now.) I said to the FA this was a well deserved drink and she came back with 2 more bottles. She said to me … now listen there’s plenty more where that came from and you just let me know if you need any more. Great….
I thought I’d take a look at the movies and I started out watching this movie called Birthday Girl about a British man who got a heck of a lot more than he bargained for with a Russian mail order bride service. Dinner was then served and I became disinterested in the movie and the others did not appeal to me. The same FA came around again and offered me chicken or salmon and I took the chicken. It was OK…nothing great but very edible indeed. Of course she gave me another 2 bottles of wine.
Time to settle in for the remaining 5 hours of the flight with my blanket and pillow. I managed to fall asleep for a while with my feet up on the exit door. It was pretty comfy. A lot of people had the fivers to themselves and stretched out across….I can never sleep that way so not having a fiver didn’t phase me at all. I woke up about an hour later and made my way to the back and asked for a Sprite….all the FA’s were chatting and they complained to me that they were all very bored. The same FA that gave me all the wine than said to me they were making ice cream sundaes up front and did I want one. I was like sure and I made my way up to F and I lovely sundae was prepared for me with hot fudge and whipped cream. Now that is truly a happy ending sundae as Friendly’s would call it!
That finished I still had my sprite and honey roasted peanuts to have along with all my newspapers. Meanwhile the crew came round with water and candy.
Time went by quick and I couldn’t believe it when an hour prior to landing we were served a pizza!!! Seriously for anyone stuck on GMT time it was about 2.00am and I was in no mood for a pizza. I declined and then soon after that I realized AA was the airline that gives out the cookies with the pizza. So I went up to my new friend and asked for a cookie and a cup of coffee. Of course I did not get one cookie but three and a nice hot cup of coffee to wake me up.
Were on initial approach now and coming down around Boston from our cruising altitude of 40,000 feet. The view was amazing….first Boston….then Providence and then the approach into JFK….absolutely amazing…..you could see the Empire State, all the bridges, including the GWB….just amazing…..a great end to a great ( amazing, wonderful, super, and any other adjective you can think of) flight. On finals in to JFK one FA, who worked F for the flight, came and sat down at the exit. She and I began talking and for me it was a very informative conversation. I asked her if she did the CDG and ZRH flights as well. And she explained that routes are assigned based on seniority. This I did not know. And the only way she got to fly LHR was because she took the weird flights that arrive late in the evening and depart early in the morning. Now this explained why I’ve always been impressed with the level of service on AA transatlantics.
Bags made into JFK with me for a way ahead of schedule arrival at 10.04pm. I was home in Westchester by 11.00pm. Great time considering I was due in at 10.50pm!!!
Top honors for AA on this flight and they have won me over for the final year…..no more Aer Lingus to JFK anymore!!!!!!!