Date: Mon 8 November 2004
Departure Apt: MAN
Arrival Apt: ORD
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 (G-WWBM)
Flight No: BD705
Sched Flt Time: 7h 40min
Actual Flt Time: 7h 10min
Sched Dep Time: 10:50 local
Actual Dep Time: 10:50 local
Sched Arrival Time: 13:20 local
Actual Arrival Time: 13:00 local
As usual, I used the train to get to Manchester Airport from my home city of York. I boarded my train this morning at about 5am and it pulled into Manchester Airport train station at just after 7am. I said goodbye to my work colleague (I work for the train company) then made my way to Terminal 1. Today I am flying to Atlanta to see my fiancee Sarah. My round trip (MAN-ORD-ATL-ORD-MAN) cost me a grand total of £290 including taxes!! I believe, for the miles I'm earning, I got myself a great deal
Anyway, the terminal was pretty empty this morning, and I had no problems finding the bmi check-in area. Check-in was swift, as I used the 'Star Alliance Gold' counter. I found the check-in agent very friendly and she gave me window seats on both legs. For the MAN - ORD leg I had seat 10A (New Economy) and on the ORD - ATL leg I was given seat 12A! As my flight wasn't due to board until 09:50 I headed to the Business class lounge for a light snack.
Before I go any further, I will tell you that flying ong haul from MAN on BD is a regular thing for me. I do try to use the direct bmi flights from MAN to the U.S because the customer service given in all classes is exceptional. This however is my first trip to ATL (via ORD), as I usually fly into BNA (via ORD or IAD). Also, if any of you are interested, up until today I have only ever flown on the following aircraft types: - Boeings 733, 735, 752, 762, 763, 744 and 772, Canadair CR2 and Airbuses A320, 321, 332 and 333.
Anyway, I made my way to gate '27' to find the usual Airbus A330-200 (G-WWBM) waiting, with the flight crew already on board completing the pre-flight checks.
Photo © Daniel Wojdylo
At 10:25 the announcement for boarding finally arrived and I boarded with the business class passengers. I handed over my boarding pass and flashed my 'Star Alliance Gold' card (gets me priority boarding). After a cheerful 'thank you' from the gate agent, I walked down the jetbridge to the aircraft. I was greeted there by 2 'very' nice looking flight attendants who gave me a cheerful 'welcome onboard!!'. Finding my seat, I stowed my cabin baggage and made myself comfortable. The in flight magazine 'Voyager' caught my eye and whilst the other passengers were boarding I had a quick look through.
I love flying bmi, the airline is very good. The crews are courteous, cheerful, smartly dressed and the aircraft interior is always in very good shape (mind you, the bmi A330s are pretty new). No torn seat covers or carpets on here (unlike some aircraft ive flown on in the past). Boarding was completed at about 11:40 and captain Henry Buckie made his welcome onboard announcement.
Our route today would take us out over Liverpool, Belfast then over the North Atlantic just south of Iceland. We then skirt the southern tip of Greenland before making landfall near Goose Bay. Our final stage of this leg will take us over Ontario and down into Chicago O'Hare Airport. Apart from some strong winds over Illinois, the weather forecast was predicted to be good, with a smooth ride promised all the way.
Doors were finally locked and armed at 10:50 and pushback from the gate then commenced. Our taxi to runway 24L took a couple of minutes and at around 11:05 we were airborne. Climbing out over Liverpool and the Irish sea, the cabin crew commenced the first offering of service - drinks!! This was quickly followed by lunch which for me consisted of Mixed Salad followed by Chicken in Sauce with rice. This was complemented by Chocolate, Cheese and biscuits and Vanilla Ice cream!! All very tasty indeed.
The IFE offering on today's flight was very good, with a wide variety of movies and other programming on offer, along with the usual 'Nintendo' games. My first movie today was 'The Bourne Supremacy' which I soon became engrossed in.
The movie over, I pulled out my laptop and continued writing this report. Right now as I look at the 'airshow' we are showing as just east of Greenland. The time right now is 14:00 GMT and our speed is now 820km/h at an altitude of 11277 metres. We still have another 3800 km to go, which puts us nearly at the 'half way' point of this first leg. By the way, the outside air temp at this altitude is currently -47C, so I do hope there is no-one hanging onto the back of the aircraft, because by now I'm sure they would be 'solid as a rock'
Back to reality, I considered whipping out my joystic, plugging it into the laptop and having a couple of hours on Flight Simulator 9, however, this wasn't going to happen because none of the adaptors the airline provided for my at seat power supply would not fit my AC adaptor port. It seems that the adaptors only have problems fitting 'Compaq' machines, and unfortunately for me, that's what I have. So until I either get me an adaptor of my own, or get some extra batteries then I guess I wont be 'simming' while flying for real! Oh well, never mind, ill keep my laptop on for now, until the battery starts getting low.
About 1 and 1/2 hrs prior to landing, the cabin attendants handed out pizza with drinks for our afternoon snack. From then on time seemed to fly by as we started our descent into Chicago pretty soon afterwards. We made several twists and turns before flying just a couple of miles north of the airport. What a view those of us on the captains side of the aircraft had!! A few minutes later we made a sharp turn to the left, passed just to the south of Schaumburg Regl Airport (06C) with its strange yellow coloured runway, then made our final approach onto O'Hare runway 9R. We then made a very quick taxi to gate M16.
We arrived at the gate early, so I was optimistic how long id have to queue at immigration today. Well I was in for a surprise. Today I cleared immigration and customs inside 30 mins, something ive never managed at O'Hare before.
At 14:00 I was sat in the Red Carpet club on 'C' concourse. I spent my time munching pretzels and drinking ice tea, as well as trying to work out why my wireless card had suddenly given up on me!! Oh well.
Anyway, that's all for leg 1, so read below for leg 2 from Ord to ATL with United.
Outward Leg 2:-
Date: Mon 8 November 2004
Departure Apt: ORD
Arrival Apt: ATL
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Flight No: UA1182
Sched Flt Time: 2h 8min
Actual Flt Time: 1h 15min
Sched Dep Time: 15:55 local
Actual Dep Time: local
Sched Arrival Time: 19:03 local
Actual Arrival Time: local
I arrived at gate C17 at about 1520 having just relaxed in the 'Red Carpet Club'. My aircraft for this leg of the trip was a Boeing 757-200 (no reg, sorry).
Photo © Jason Bisson
I boarded and made my way to my seat - 12A (Economy+). The F/As were very welcoming and immediately helped make me feel comfortable. As soon as my baggage was stowed above me I tuned into Channel 9 on the IFE. For those of you who don't know, this is the ATC channel, my favorite IFE channel!! Boarding was completed fairly quickly, and I found that the flight was just about full.
From where I was sat I could only make out a few empty seats in ecoomy, and only 2 in first. We pushed back n time (15:55) and taxied to our assigned runway, 9L. During taxi, the captain made his welcome announcement, and provided us with details about our flight plan and weather. The flight time today was to be 1 hour 15 mins. Why it stated 2hrs 8 on the boarding area screens I don't know - maybe the schedule has some 'recovery' time built in? Anyway, after this, we watched the safety video, althought the guy sat opposite me didn't, he just buried his head into the newspaper he was carrying.
Take-off soon followed and we were airborne a few minutes later. I always notice how 'laid back' the conversations on U.S ATC is, its as if the ATC controllers are having a casual conversation with their friends over a beer!! Anyway, we had to cope with plenty of conflicting traffic for the first 20 - 30 mins of our flight, only then did we reach our assigned altitude of 37,000 Ft. After reaching our cruise altitude 'Indy Center' requested we change our squawk code to 6652. A question for all you ATC buffs, any idea why we had to do this? I always assumed we kept the same code for the entire flight.
Back to the onboard service. We had a beverage service only on this flight - a choice of soft drinks or alcohol, with a snack of pretzels. This may not seem much, but as it was only a 1 hour flight I don't expect much more really. After our snack, during the descent, the purser came over the PA and announced "Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall now dim the cabin lights in order to enhance the appearance of our flight attendants. Additional reading lights may be found above your head should you need them". Hehe I thought that was funny.
Back to the ATC, during this flight I heard the captain/FO of 'Jetblue 307' sharing a joke with ATC, and boy whoever was on that aircraft radio was in a real good mood!! Wish I could have been on that flight! Also another thing I heard was a pilot asking "Does anyone know what time the game starts tonight". This was followed by ATC replying, "Im not sure sir" then another unidentified pilot saying "Nine, the game is at Nine O'clock". I thought that was pretty cool.
Well, I continued listening into the ATC chatter during our descent. Our assigned runway in ATL was today going to be 27R. However about 15 mins prior to touchdown ATC changed us to a 26R visual approach. Im guessing that this was due to traffic. We had a nice smooth touch down, followed by a wait on taxiway B3 for traffic that was using 26L for take-off. We waited for 5 aircraft to depart before we could cross the runway. One thing to note, the aircraft landing behind us was told "Be aware of wake turbulence from the 757 on final ahead". We finally taxied to the gate, and I disembarked the aircraft. I eventually found the baggage carousel for our flight, collected my bags and got my ride.
Return Leg 1:-
Date: Mon 15 November 2004
Departure Apt: ATL
Arrival Apt: ORD
Aircraft: Canadair CRJ700 (N511MJ)
Flight No: UA7231
Sched Flt Time: 2h 22min
Actual Flt Time: 1h 35min
Sched Dep Time: 12:48 local
Actual Dep Time: 12:48 local
Sched Arrival Time: 14:10 local
Actual Arrival Time: 14:00 local
I had originally arrived at the ATL, booked onto UA535, a flight with a 16:00 departure to ORD. However I had arrived at ATL early so I thought id chance a standby on an earlier flight. I checked in as normal, and was placed on the standby list for UA7231, a flight departing at 12:48. I swifly cleared security, and made my way to the 'T' Gates. I was told the flight would be departing from gate T15 today. My proposed flight was soon called and I waited to see if id get on. Well, my luck was in today for sure, because my name was called during 'boarding 3'. I received my boarding pass and was surprised to see the seat id been given was in fact 1F - first class. I was thinking to myself, this cant be an RJ because they don't have 1st class. It was only when I reached the ramp that I realized I was wrong. My aircraft was in fact a CRJ700 series operated by Mesa Airlines. This would turn out to be my first trip on a '700' series, so I was looking forward to it.
Photo © Carlos A. Morillo Doria
Upon boarding I took my seat and stowed my carry on bags. There are only 2 rows of F on this aircraft and all the seats including mine were taken. We pushed back on time and I got chatting to one of the 2 flight attendants - James was his name. We pushed back on time and the captain welcomed us onboard. Following this our safety announcement was made, and it included the following line - "The smoking area on this aircraft is situated out on the left wing, those who wish to smoke during the flight please make yourselves comfortable, light up and watch 'Gone With The Wind', thank you for your attention". Hehe I thought that was pretty funny, and it certainly gave a few passengers something to laugh about.
We taxied to a holding location and had to wait there for about 20 mins due to traffic. We eventually took off from rwy 8R at 13:15. Shortly after take-off, our in flight service commenced. First, James humored those of us in the 'F' cabin by telling a joke about a deer. The snack and beverage service soon followed, consisting of a large bag of 'Chex Mix' and a can of Orange juice. Considering this was only a short flight I didn't really expect much more. I did notice however that the 'Y' class pax had to put up with those tiny bags of pretzels that have become the norm nowadays. We cruised at FL300 but the ride was quite bumpy due to turbulence.
There was no IFE on this aircraft, presumably because it was a CRJ it is not specified. However I think audio should at least be provided. As there was no audio (especially ch9), there was no way to track my flight. Instead I just dug my head into the 'Hemispheres' magazine and tried to pass the time that way. It soon became time to start our descent, and the FAs made sure the cabin was 'secure' for landing. We approached O'Hare over the north of the city then turned for finals onto rwy 27L. As we approached, I spotted an AA Boeing 737 on my right, on finals to 27R. Our landing soon followed, and we exited the runway at taxiway 'Kilo', followed by a short taxi to gate F12A, where we arrived at about 14:00, bang on time. I exited the aircraft, gave my thanks to James and made my way into the terminal. Apart from the turbulence, this was a pleasant flight.
Here's a few of the aircraft reg's I saw on the ramp at ORD as I disembarked.
Photo © Paul Leach
Photo © Marty McGuire
Photo © Cary Liao
Photo © Danny Fritsche
Return Leg 2:-
Date: Mon 15 November 2004
Departure Apt: ORD
Arrival Apt: MAN
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 (G-WWBB)
Flight No: BD706
Sched Flt Time: 6h 56min
Actual Flt Time: h min
Sched Dep Time: 18:35 local
Actual Dep Time: 18:35 local (take-off 19:10)
Sched Arrival Time: 08:05 local (next day)
Actual Arrival Time: 08:25 local (next day)
After taking the 'ATIS' to T5, I passed thru security, visited the 'U.S VISIT' kiosk, then went and made myself at home in the SAS lounge near gate M13. Im a 'Star Alliance Gold' card holder, so I get access to most lounges on the Star network, which for me is good, considering I only travel in Biz class when I'm on a reward ticket. At all other times, like today, I fly 'Economy' and just keep earning the miles!! I spent a few hours spotting planes, eating various snacks, drinking whatever I could get my hands on and playing games on my laptop. I made my way to gate M16 at 17:15, and waited for boarding to commence.
My aircraft today
Photo © Ian Haskell
Boarding started at about 17:30 and I soon found myself strapped into my seat, this time 35G, an aisle seat near the rear galley. As per usual, the bmi flight attendants made me feel at home straight away. The flight tonight was not full, in any class. There were a few but not too many seats empty throughout the aircraft, giving people the opportunity to move to other seats if they wished. Our boarding was completed on time and we pushed back at 18:33. Tonight we had wished to use rwy 27L for take-off but our captain told us there were about 30 aircraft dotted about the airport awaiting take-off clearances, so instead he elected to use rwy 14L. This meant we had to endure a 30 minute taxi to reach this runway, and therefore delayed our actual take-off until 19:10. Ahead of us in the take-off line were an Aer Lingus A330 and a LOT B767.
Photo © Doug Owens
Photo © AirNikon
Our take-off was uneventful (I watched it on the front view camera) and a quick climb to our cruise altitude of 39000ft soon followed. Our flight plan tonight took us over Toronto and then onto Newfoundland. After this we were due to skirt the southern coast of Greenland, the north coast of Northern Ireland, then finally pass over Glasgow and down on into Manchester. About 20 mins into the flight, the IFE was switched on and I commenced watching my only movie choice - Collateral. The bar service followed, complete with a bag of 'nibbles'. While drinking, I browsed the dinner menu. Out of the choices available I plumped for Macaroni Cheese. The meal was good as was the service I received before, during and afterwards.
Soon after the meal I fell asleep, waking later on in the flight when breakfast was being served. I opted for the cheese toastie, and this was complimented by a fruit bowl and coffee. The time now fast approaching 7:30am, we soon started our descent into Manchester. At 8am, we started our final approach, having being held in a pattern over Liverpool for nearly 15 mins due to traffic. I watched our landing on the forward view camera, and this gave me a great view of rwy 24R looming closer ahead of us. A smooth landing soon followed, followed by a taxi to Gate 27, arriving there a little late at 08:25. Overall, as usual, a great flight again on bmi. If you still haven't flown them, after all the reports about them here on A.Net, then I suggest you give them a try, as you wont be disappointed. Until my next trip, bye for now.