Date: October 5, 2003 (Sunday)
Flight Number: 1507
Scheduled Departure: 5:45PM
Actual Departure: 5:53PM
Scheduled Arrival: 7:45PM
Actual Arrival: 8:05PM
Equipment: Airbus A320
Class Traveled: F
Class Paid: F
I began my trip in my office on West 57th Street in New York City. Car service pickup was at 3:45PM. I was anticipating heavy traffic getting through the Lincoln Tunnel on the way to EWR
, so I was left my office a full two hours before my 5:45PM flight to MSP
. As soon as I walked out of the office, I realized that my expectations for heavy NYC traffic were correct. 57th Street looked like a parking lot. Not unexpectedly, my car had not yet arrived even though it was 3:50PM. I called the dispatcher and learned that the driver was two blocks away. I knew it could take him 30 minutes to traverse that distance, so I told the dispatcher to tell him to stay there, and I walked to the car. I found him about 10 minutes later, and to my delight, the car was a 1999 Mercedes S320, not the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car! I hopped in, and he pulled a U-turn. We then made our way quickly to the Tunnel and then on to EWR
. Total travel time was 50 minutes from mid-town NYC to EWR
. That was not terrible, but it was a lot more than usual for a Sunday afternoon. I spoke with the driver at length during the trip. Turns out he was from Bulgaria but had lived in the USA for 40+ years. Given his nice personality (and his car), I arranged for him to pick me up upon my return into EWR
the next day.
Upon arrival at the terminal, there was a longish line for the automated kiosks, and there was no one at the First Class counter. So I asked the next available agent if there was a First Class counter available, and she said I could come forward. She was friendly and assigned me my requested seat: 1A. I had checked seatguru.com prior to taking this flight, and I remembered (maybe incorrectly) that the non-galley bulkhead on NW
’s A320s had extra legroom. Plus, with the bulkhead, you never get a seat in your lap (or your laptop – a big problem in domestic two-class “First Class”
! I asked if my full fare First Class ticket entitled me to WorldClub access (I knew the answer was no), and was told that it did not. I only asked because I thought that she might have had an extra pass or something. You never know!!
Having no club access, I proceeded down the escalator to Cafe Formaggio, an airport bar before security in EWR
’s terminal B. With I seat by the window, I began checking out the tarmac. I spotted an AZ
772 (reg. I-DISA), an AF
A343 (could not read reg.) and a TAP plane’s tail (could not see the type) Of course I saw a ton of CO
aircraft out on the runways! I had never been to terminal B before, and given the number of international carriers here, it’s great for spotting. I am usually using terminal C for CO
or terminal A for UA
I then headed through security. The line for this is longer at terminal B than I have experienced in other EWR
terminals, but it only took 15 minutes. Upon getting to my gate, number 41, the flight was already boarding in Coach Class, so I proceeded to get on line. I don’t usually wait on line to board, especially when I’m upfront, however, the flight seemed very full, and I didn’t want to have my bag be gate checked. A friendly agent took my boarding pass, and I proceeded down the Jetway.
Upon getting onto the plane, I was a little disappointed to learn that this plane had NW
’s old domestic First Class seats. These are, needless to say, not very nice. There are no adjustable head rests, the pitch seems small and the try table wobbles since it’s not wide enough to reach the other side of the seat. (It’s making typing this very difficult.) Upon seating, I was offered a pre-departure drink, and I chose a Diet Coke. I was then offered a Diet Pepsi instead, and I was happy because I like DP
more than DC! Don’t flame me!
Taxing took some time, as it was Sunday night rush hour at EWR
. During the taxi, I saw the usual suspects including CO
777s, 757s and 737s. Also saw a LH
744 and was able to see that the TAP aircraft that I had seen the tail of from the bar was a A343 (maybe not a 343 specifically, but certainly not a A364, given the mini-engines!) Also say a Kalitta Air 742 and what looked like a 741! It had only three windows on the top level. Am I right? Or was it a 742 and the other was a 743?? What does a 743 look like? Does it look like a 742 or a 744?
Take off roll was 34 seconds from first movement to rear wheels lifting off the ground. Is that the right way to measure? Or is it until the front gear lifts? Climb provided a beautiful view of downtown NYC and Staten Island. It was a lovely fall evening in NYC.
As we climbed, I tried out the seat’s recline, and found it to be satisfactory. Not that I could sleep in it during a red-eye! I decided not to recline however as (1) I never find the need to since I find the upright position more comfortable, and (2) feel a little guilt for the person behind me. My seatmate was a man in his mid 30s reading an old Tom Clancy’s novel in paperback – Debt Of Honor. He slept a lot. The captain then announced that flying time would be approximately 2hr 35min. He turned off the seatbelt sign at FL
290 and announced our arrival approximately fine minutes early into MSP
A friendly flight attendant then came through the cabin with the beverage cart and a basket of Fisher cheese snacks and walnuts. I chose a white wine (name not provided) two bags of the Fisher snacks. I really wish they would bring back plain old peanuts onto flights. The snacks they provide often make me ill! Are the snacks cheaper than peanuts? Maybe it’s because people are allergic and peanuts and they don’t want to get sued. The FA
then showed me that a small piece of metal in my table would extend and make the table stop wobbling. This made a BIG difference. The white wine tasted like a Chardonnay and although clearly cheap, it was palatable. At this point, I was wondering if there would even be a meal. I would be surprised if, on a three-hour flight in First, there would not at least be a snack!
Upon further tasting the white wine, I realized that it was really quite sweet and that I was not enjoying it. I asked what the red was, and she replied that it was a Cabernet. I tried it, and it was better. At this point, given my view of the galley, I spotted a cart full of linen lined trays and was assured a meal was on the way. It’s not even that I was that hungry, but a flight with a meal seems nicer to may no matter what, so I was happy to see the trays.
A few minutes later, she came through the cabin with the dinner cart. No linens were laid on the tables, however the trays had white linens. The choices were ham and asparagus ravioli and chicken breast served in a tomato cheese sauce. Both were served with a roll, chocolate cake and a side salad with a cup of ranch dressing. The dressing was Naturally Fresh brand. While these meals sounded good, I decided not to eat as I had a lot of work to do and would eat at my hotel. My seatmate chose the chicken, and it looked and smelled good. I enjoyed my second glass of cabernet at this point.
Upon looking out the window, I realized that we must have been flying very high as I thought I could see the curvature of the Earth. Not like on the Concord flight I took last year, but ever SO slightly. Is it true that Airbuses fly higher than Boeings? I thought I heard that once. It was a beautiful evening over the mid-west, and the view was remarkable as the sun began to set.
The sunset began about an hour into the flight, and it was really breathtaking. As people ate their meals, the FA
continued to pass through the cabin refilling drinks, although my wine glass stayed empty for some periods of time!
As I wrote that, however, my glass was filled, so I have complaints! The ride became a bit bumpy at this point. I imagine that that was due to flying over on the great lakes. Probably Eire as we were about 70 minutes, or 500 miles, out of NYC.
At that point, I looked out the window and saw that we were hauling ass over Eire crossing into Canadian airspace along the north shore on the way to Detroit. A minute later, I saw the coast of that “lake” that sits north of Detroit is in the middle of the river between Lake Eire and Lake Huron. Is it Lake Sainte Claire? I could clearly see the outline of Windsor, Canada, Detroit and that Canadian peninsula that “sticks” in the United States. In the setting sun at clearly over 35,000 feet enjoying a red wine and the latest Chile Peppers CD
, it was a very nice experience to say the least.
A few minutes later, we flew a couple miles north of downtown Detroit, and I could clearly see Woodward Avenue and the whole spoke city. I headed to the lavatory and, on the way, asked the FA
what our flight level was. She called the cockpit and they said it was 370, so I was right; we were high up. A few minutes past Detroit, we banked right, and headed more NNW, a beeline to MSP
. There wasn’t much more the service at this point. She occasionally came trough with more drinks and wine. My glass didn’t go empty.
In about 15 minutes, we crossed Michigan and reached the coast of that big string bean, Lake Michigan, a little north of Muskegon. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as far as I could see. Given our high speed and the narrowness of the lake at this northern latitude, we crossed it in a few minutes. Looking south, I think I saw the lights of Chicago or at least Milwaukee! After that, the sun was pretty much set, and there was little more to see on the ground.
Approximately 25 minutes outside of MSP
, the captain came on announcing our decent. Five minutes later, the FA
come on and asked us to shut down any electronic devices. I find that often these announcements are made before they are necessary. However, I guess it takes people some time to actually comply. For instance, I know that we were far above 10,000 feet when we were told to shut down electronics.
The approach into MSP
was very nice. We went past the airport and then just beside downtown Minneapolis, so I had a nice view. We then circled back to the airport and were on approach for landing.
After the gear came down and we were getting quite close to the ground, the engines suddenly went full throttle, and we headed up to the left!!! Almost everyone in the plane yelped at the same time. We headed at very high speed up and away from the airport and the city. At first, I was afraid that something very bad was happening, but then the captain came on the PA. He said that, as we were landing, ATC informed him that the aircraft that was supposed to take off from the runway we were landing on had not moved and was sitting right where we were supposed to land!! How does that happen?? Anyway, we had to get into the “back of the line” and line up for landing again. This added about 10 minutes to our flight time, but I got some more nice views of downtown (albeit, again!)
We then landed normally, although we used more braking that I’m used to. We taxied to the gate quickly and I deplaned. From the gate to the baggage claim was an extremely long walk! I met my car service in baggage and proceeded to The Grand Hotel Minneapolis via a 20-minute drive with no traffic. By the way, The Grand is a very nice hotel in the MSP
Well, that’s my first trip report. I hope you all enjoyed.
Please comment. Even to tell me that my first report was terrible! Also, I asked a bunch of questions in here, and I am really interested if any of you know the answers.