Date: Feb, 2006
Airline: AA DFW-ORD
Seat – 3A – First Class
AC – MD80
Flight time: 2:10 (not including stopover)
This was an early one, and if you know me then you know I try to never take a flight before 9am in the morning. But unfortunately I had a 0600 departure – a total beat down. My girlfriend volunteered to take me to the airport (oh man, owe her big!) and I was at the counter by 0455. I went through the F class line, and was checked in very quickly. Actually, it took a few minutes to get my passport information in and the agent asked if I had my visa in order for my final destination. Told her it was all done and she said “great!” and sent me to the gate.
Boarding was on time and the flight was a lot fuller than I thought it would be at that hour. F cabin was completely booked and we were off the gate by 0557. The F/A offered pre-departure drinks but I passed since I was barely awake. It takes me until at least 0900 to have an intelligent conversation if I have to get up really early. We took off to the north in typical MD80 takeoff fashion.
F/A’s were released and began the beverage service. The F/A took our breakfast and drink orders in F, and I have to say she was actually very friendly, efficient and professional– which you’ll get to hear more about a bit later.
I sat in my seat barely awake – kind of dozing since there was no turbulence. I thought for sure I was going to sleep through breakfast with no trouble. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the F/A from the back coming up the aisle through F class with her cart rather quickly. I thought to myself “Man, she really got stuff done quickly – most people must be asleep”. She no sooner pushed the cart into the galley when the F/A attendant grabbed it from her – and she turned around and busted a move back to economy. No sooner did she go than the F/A in front made an announcement for any Dr. or medical person on board to please ring their call button. Meanwhile I peered around my seat to see the F/A’s in back getting out the defibrillator and other medical kit at the same time someone hit their call button. I thought “uh oh – that’s not good”. Everyone was very calm – and stayed in their seats – but most of us were hoping whoever was in trouble would be ok (we had begun to talk about what could be wrong).
Five minutes passed and the plane slowed down and you could tell we had begun to circle. Uh-oh – that’s not good. Then the Captain came on and said that we were diverting to the nearest city due to a medical emergency on board. The seat belt signed came on and we headed down. And I mean – we headed down. The plane pitched to the left and we descended from 35,000 and landed in Tulsa in 7 minutes. I timed it. The poor F/A’s were trying to get things put away and with the plane at such an angle I could hear them really fighting to get it done. The number 1 F/A came on and said to please put things away around our seat if possible and prepare for landing. When we touched down we went straight for the gate at a fantastic rate of speed. As soon as we stopped the jet bridge was at the plane in probably 5 seconds. The door flew open and the paramedics came on. Everyone stayed in their seats and didn’t move waiting for the paramedics to do their work. After about 10 minutes they pulled the poor guy off in an aisle chair and began to work on him just outside the aircraft door. They took off into the airport so unfortunately none of us knew what the outcome was (prayers that he is ok).
The captain came on and thanked us for our patience (like we needed to be thanked) and advised that the emergency equipment had to be replaced and flight plan re-filed. A captain in uniform was deadheading to ORD and helped out by doing the walk around and both pilots worked on the flight plan. The F/A’s coordinated getting the equipment replaced and we were done with the door closed in 40 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. What excellent team work and professionalism. That crew really earned their money that day. We taxied at the same clip back to the runway and did a rolling take off. Breakfast was served but with heaps of apologies since the bread and other things kind of burned. No one cared since most of us had connections and time was more important than the breakfast. I was sure to tell the F/A’s on the way out they did a great job because even though that is their job they saved (hopefully!) someone’s life. We touched down in ORD just over an hour late.
Date: Feb, 2006
Seat: 10J – ORD-LHR
AC – 777
AA put us in at gate K11, and the gate for LHR was K12. There were 5 of us in First going on the flight (in business) and about 7 in the back. This is the only day flight to LHR out of ORD so it was really important that we caught it. When we pulled up to the gate it was 0924. The departure of the flight was to be at 0910. Fingers crossed as we RAN off the plane.
We arrived at K12 only to find a flight to Fort Lauderdale. So, asked the gate agent and she said that the LHR flight did go out of K12 and we had all missed it. Nuts! It did seem reasonable for AA to hold the flight for such a short amount of time – but having been in the business and having traveled as much as I have, I know there are reasons why they don’t hold. Just couldn’t think of any good ones at the time.
Date : Feb 06
Airline: British Airways ORD-LHR
Seat – 14A - Business class
AC – 777
Flight time: 7:25
Headed to the Admiral’s Club to get rebooked. I was put on British Airways later in the day since I had a connecting flight on BA. I fiddled around in the Ad. Club for a bit then headed off to reclaim my checked bags before going to Terminal 5 for check in. My bags were spinning around on the carrousel so I picked them up and headed off for the tram. I got to T5 only to find that the counter didn’t open for another hour, so I found some seats next to a power outlet and began to do some work. Finally the counter opened and I checked in using the Business class line. I didn’t have a window seat so asked for one. The counter agent said to head off to the club and ask the agent there to keep an eye on it since there were not any available currently.
The Terrace Club was completely empty. I asked the agent about the window seat, she said it was absolutely no problem and would keep an eye on it. Advised me dinner was being served across the hall in the lounge or I could stay in the Terrace Club – however I chose. I stayed put.
About 30 minutes before departure I checked back in with the club receptionist. She smiled and said that she was able to get me a window seat and to have a nice flight. I was happy of course and headed off to the gate. I boarded straight away and took my place in 14A. The seat was backwards facing and it has been a long (LONG!) time since I had sat backwards. Pre-departure newspapers and drinks offered. Door was closed and we left about 6 minutes early.
Taxi and takeoff were superb and we headed out over Lake Michigan on our way to London. Route of flight was over Michigan, Canada, central New York, out over Boston and up north over the Atlantic. Dinner was served and I had spinach stuffed chicken with asparagus and white wine risotto – with a few glasses (or 6) of Champaign. Very tasty – very well done. The dessert was so so – I am not sure what it was – thinking some sort of fruit cake with a crème sauce. I was so tired to be honest I don’t remember many of the details. I extended the chair to its flat position and covered up. I slept from that point through breakfast and woke up just as we were landing. We landed 10 minutes early and parked remotely.
We waited on the aircraft for 20 minutes before the first bus came. The flight crew apologized and said they were not sure what caused the delay. I was the last passenger on the first bus, excited into the terminal and headed for the terminal 4 connections security checkpoint. After heading through the check point I went upstairs to BA Terrace straight away.
Date: Feb 2006
Airline: British Airways - LHR-BAH
Seat: 10F – Business Class
AC – 777
Flight time: 6.20
Once I was inside the BA lounge I wondered around until I found an available club receptionist. I showed her my boarding pass to Bahrain and asked if it would be possible for me to get swapped to a window seat. I knew from the check-in agent in Chicago that the flight from LHR to BAH was absolutely and completely full in both business and first, so I knew that my chances of getting a window seat was pretty low. I had 10F in the middle of the middle in business – facing backwards.
She searched for a few minutes and said she was sorry – but there just wasn’t anything. Then she gave me back the original boarding pass I had and as I began to walk away she said “Hang on a minute, sir, please. I think I can do much better than a window seat.” She took my boarding pass back and handed me a new one with seat 2K on it. She explained I’d been upgraded to First due to the flight being full and my frequent flyer status. I was quite happy obviously but shocked since I didn’t think BA did that sort of thing very often. Anyway – I was extremely happy, but still very tired since I’d had a long day previously. I thanked the agent and asked her where the showers were, and she pointed me off to the right place.
After a nice, long, hot shower I wondered around terminal 4 picking up a few items for people that had placed orders, as well as bought a soda to give me a bit of a sugar shock. I fiddled around for an hour or 2 not wanting to sit down. I knew if I sat down I’d fall asleep so just kept moving. Finally boarding began and I walked up with the rest of the F and business class folks. When I got to the gate the agent scanned my boarding card, but it rejected. I thought “well, easy come, easy go!” She asked me to step aside – which was to a chair in the middle of the gate agent work area. I felt like I was being put in the naughty chair! Another gate agent came over with my boarding card, passport and other items and said that something was wrong with my bag tags in the system, but she’d fix it and I could go ahead on board. Cool – so I got up and went on.
When I got to the door a flight attendant read my seat off and directed me to another flight attendant who took me to my seat. I put my bag in the overhead and took a look around. I really liked the feeling of the cabin. The carpet was dark blue and plush – and the seats were a gray and white herringbone pattern with wood accents on the rest of the suite. On the front bulkhead there was a black and white picture – which really made the cabin seem more like a comfortable living room/study rather than an aircraft cabin.
The door was closed and as I looked around I noticed the entire F cabin was full. The flight attendants stood at the front prim and proper while the safety demonstration was played. As we began to push back – we stopped suddenly. The captain came on and advised that the tug that was pushing us back busted and they’d have to find another one. There was a 20 minute delay or so, and we pushed the rest of the way back and headed for what the Captain said was the farthest runway from Terminal 4 (sorry – no clue which one that is but sure some of you folks more familiar with LHR do). We passed a parked A340 from Virgin, a CX747, a SA747 and a QF 747 all parked, on the way to the runway. We took off straight away and made a left turn shortly after lift off.
Route of flight was over the English channel, over Brussels, through Germany, over Romania, across the Red sea, over Turkey, straight down over Iraq (over Baghdad), over the Arabian (Persian Gulf) sea, and down into Bahrain. We were at 33,000 feet most of the way until we entered Iraqi airspace where we climbed to 41,000 feet.
The meal for F class on this flight was not set. You received a menu with several appetizer, main course and dessert options. You simply ordered like you were in a restaurant and were allowed to eat whenever you chose. I asked for a couple of sandwiches as believe it or not – I was still tired and wanted to get some more sleep. The flight attendant said “are you sure, sir? We have wonderful dishes available”. Appreciate the offer, but went ahead and had sandwiches, which were an option on the menu. The were plated very nicely and came with a mini can of coke. I was called by my last name with no exceptions and the crew was extremely accommodating.
After having a bite I put my seat flat and fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later and I am pretty sure I woke up because it was pretty hot in the cabin. People had their sleeves rolled up I noticed and shirts unbuttoned (the guys). So, it wasn’t just me. With no air vents I couldn’t cool myself off any so I just stayed awake. We were over Iraq and so I knew there wasn’t much left of the flight. I asked for a few more sandwiches and had those.
The flight was continuing on to Qatar after Bahrain and so the F/A’s briefed us on the security procedures for landing as well as what was required for head count and baggage reconciliation. They had very specific instructions for those of us getting off and those staying. I usually fly Gulf Air into Bahrain so I was surprised on the security. Gulf has never had the same regulations at least when I have flown them.
We landed smoothly and taxied to the terminal. Normally I am used to deplaning via stairs and going to the terminal via bus. But, this time we deplaned at a gate – which was probably because the plan was heading out to Doha very soon after we landed. I claimed my bags, which were some of the first few on the belt. I walked out of customs and said hello to my driver from the hotel – he recognizes me now which is nice.
I would give BA high scores all the way around. Great service, great seating – business sitting backwards is loads of fun. The food was also very good and I have no complaints. AA gets high scores for the flight attendants. While the seats and the meals are pretty much what I am used to, I can’t fuss too much for them leaving us behind because I know that there are some things airlines just won’t do – and messing with airplanes going to London with a curfew isn’t one of them.
In a few days Im leaving and doing BAH –HKG – LAX –DFW , so will have to see about doing a report on those flights. Thanks for reading and sorry for no pictures.