On December 24th we woke up and drove the 1 1/2 hours to Charlotte from our home in Columbia SC. (CAE has direct service to ORD but CLT was cheaper). Arriving at Douglas Int. 3 hours before our 14:50 scheduled departure allowed for ample time to explore this evolving airport. I saw each type of US Airways plane except for the 762. I wandered past construction to see the RJ concourse and the new part of Concourse D. Parked at the end of the international concourse (D), set before the Charlotte skyline was a lonely A333. In addition, this part of the airport seemed to be the TSA briefing headquarters as many screeners were scattered about chatting. After gallivanting for a couple of hours, it was time for my flight to board.
United Airlines 7628 (Op by Atlantic Coast Airlines)
Scheduled Departure: 14:50
Actual Departure: 15:10
Scheduled Arrival: 15:59 (local)
Actual Arrival: 16:05
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I walked through gate A and headed to the ramp to board. A pretty blonde flight attendant greeted me and I took my seat in 1A. We waited a while for late passengers but finally joined the 7 plane queue for 18R. After about 10 minutes, it was our turn and the CRJ took off into overcast skies. We immediately turned right and climbed to FL310.
Onboard service commenced shortly after the fasten-seatbelts sign was turned off. The FA came around with the cart and snacks. I received a Sprite (whole can) and a package of "Cheddar Fetti." She came back around a couple of more times offering drinks and snacks to anyone who wanted them.
During most of this flight I thumbed through Hemispheres to find out what IFE was being offered on my next flight. I was dissapointed to see Lilo & Stitch and Blue Crush among other similarly unimpressive titles.
Approximately 30 minutes prior to landing, the FA offered mints to everyone. I thought this was a simple yet nice touch. Soon we were descending into clouds and eventually arrived into Chicago O'Hare on 4R amid snow flurries. We taxied quickly to F11 and disembarked after being thanked for flying with United Express. My family and I travelled quickly to United's mainline flights in Terminal 1. We went on the underground neon walkway the satellite gates where our flight was to depart from.
United Airlines 958
Scheduled departure: 17:00
Actual departure: 17:07
Scheduled arrival: 6:55 (local) on 12/25/02
Actual arrival: 6:48
Photo © Colin K. Work
Flight 958 was to depart from C19 which was the first gate on the right after coming up from the underground walkway. Boarding commenced shortly after we got there, and being in seat 34A, I was amongst the first to board.
After walking the length of the 763, I found my seat in the next-to-last row. I sat down and immediately tuned in to Channel 9. I was dissapointed to find out that I wasn't getting good reception and could hardly hear anything. I looked out my window and saw the de-icer spraying us down in the darkness.
We soon received clearance to "push back, tail facing north." As we were pushed back, Wall Street Journal's were handed out. After pushback, we began taxiing to 32L.
We #1 for takeoff and after about 30 seconds, we rotated. Immediately, our plane was engulfed in clouds and remained until about 5 minutes after departure.
After reaching cruise of FL330, beverage service commenced. I got a Pepsi and a savory mix. Thirty minutes later, dinner was served. Being so far back, there wasn't a choice by the time the two male FA's reached me. I had a beef in gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, salad, crackers/cheese/grapes, roll, and chocolate mousse. Everything was edible and suprisingly enoyable. During the meal the movies came on, but I wasn't interested in the selections so I read a book and strained to listen to channel 9.
Twenty minutes after dinner, the amicable FA's came around with coffee and tea and hot towels. Throughout the night, the FA's came around with drinks, making sure no one was thirsty. They also came around with duty free, but I didn't see anything I wanted. Also about this time, we climbed to FL370.
I tried to get some sleep but found it impossible in my cramped area. I watched the airshow and peered out the window hoping to see land sooner or later. Finally, the cabin lights were turned on and the FA's came around with drinks, then "breakfast-snack." It consisted of a bowl of fruit, a hot scone, orange joice, and a breakfast honey & nuts mix. It wasnt too bad, good enough for airline food.
We began our descent over Wales, and flew past London for our approach into 27L. We landed in the pre-dawn darkness of Christmas day into a VERY calm Heathrow. We taxied to K16 beside a AA777, passed through immigration, and searched for cab to take us to Gloucester Road.
I enjoyed these 2 flights and found UA's flight attendants to be better than any of the airlines I have been on. Overall, these flights receive A's for their timeliness, price, and attentive service.
Part 2 coming soon
I hope you enjoyed the report, feedback / questions welcome.