I had to travel to India for business. My first choice of airlines was NW, DL, or AA, because I could funnel all those miles to my Alaska Mileage Plan account, unfortunately, Business Class on those airlines was prohibitively expensive.
Low and Behold, United rang in at half the price of the other airlines. I jumped ship on United in 2002 after being a United fan since I started flying, and had not flown with them since. I had low expectations, and dreaded the long series of flights.
I was wrong.
From the Check-in Counter at Sea-Tac to my arrival in FRA, I was pleasantly surprised.
Flight 1: UA916 SEA-IAD, Airbus A319, N840UA
First Class, Seat 2D.
This was my first time on a 319, and only my second time on a 32x Family aircraft. My last flight on a 320 was with HP from LAS-SEA in 2002. First Class was very comfortable. We boarded on-time, and I was served juice before takeoff. Channel 9 is great. It was so entertaining. I had forgotten just how interesting it was to listen to when I used to fly United regularly. We were served a meal, the choice was a cheese omelet or a fruit plate. The omelet was delicious. I slept for the remainder of the flight, except when the attendant came around with a warm cookie and some milk. . We actually got in about 20 minutes EARLY. We arrived at gate D20, and I had to walk to C1 at IAD.... This is a looong way .
I had about 2 hours before my continuing flight departed. Not much to see in the C Terminal of IAD. The views of the runway / planes are poor, and much of the terminal is under construction. I haven't been to IAD since the mid 90's, when I was on a UA DC-10.
Flight 2: UA916, IAD - FRA, Boeing 747-400,
Seat 7A (Business Class)
I couldn't see the reg number of this aircraft, if anyone can provide it, I would appreciate it greatly .
Wow, when the gate agent called for boarding, the crowd surged towards the door, I took my place in line, and waded through the sea of passengers. For some reason, Seats 7A and 7B have more leg room then any of the other seats in that section of the cabin, including those in the rest of the row. I had to unbuckle, and step out of my seat in order to reach the seatback pocket of the seat in front of me. We departed about 5:30PM, I think that's when most of the overnight flights to Europe depart, as there were SAS, BA, CO, AA, LH, and others departing for Europe at the same time. Again, I listened to channel 9 the whole way, despite the entertainment offerings on the PTV.
My seat was a bit broken, the mechanism that controls the footrest was not functioning, but I could pull it out as long as I had the switch depressed. A choice of meals was offered, but I ended up with my second choice, some sort of chicken. It was ok, I ate it, and settled in for the flight over the Atlantic. I awoke as we had just made landfall, I'm not sure over what country, but it could have been France, or maybe northern Germany. It was dark when we landed (about 6:30 AM).
Flight 3: LH0758 FRA-MAA, Boeing 747-400 D-ABVY 'Nordrhein Westfalen'
12A, Business Class
I've never flown Lufthansa. The entire experience was pleasant, except for the transfer desk. The line was about 100 passengers long, and there were only 3 agents working. Two for the Star alliance Gold members, and one for the rest of us. I waited about an hour. My layover was about 3 hours. Finding gate B45 was a chore also. The sings for the B Gates mysteriously left out B-37 - B45 , I found a sign pointing to them, but only after I ventured downstairs.
It was nice to see so many 747's, A340's, A330's, etc, at one time. I got some good views of the former AFB when we were taxiing.
The flight boarded quickly, despite the large number of passengers. The line was orderly (actually a line, not like the crowd I experienced at IAD). The seat was comfortable, the flight crew was friendly, the meals were tasty. This was only my second time on a non-US airline (other time was on CI to/from TPE), so I didn't know what to expect. They all spoke English fine, and were very friendly the duration of the flight. The PTV was a nice, unexpected touch. For some reason I didn't think they had them, even in business, on the 744.
The flight took us over Europe, Turkey, southern Iran, Pakistan, and down the west coast of India, turning inland about half way down the coast. We arrived at MAA at 11:50PM. Customs and Immigration were painless, and I got my bag in no time.
The entire process took LESS time then it usually takes me to deplane and get my baggage at SEA-TAC... WAY less time.... maybe half the time. Oh, what AS could learn from Chennai .
I Depart on the 11th, making the journey in reverse, in fact, the flight numbers are LH0759, and UA917 .
Any word on what I can expect going though Customs/Immigration at IAD?