I had just gotten back from two straight weeks in the Bay Area and on short notice I had to go back for one last week. Being from Atlanta, DL is my usual choice but I couldn't get on a flight when I wanted to on Monday so I checked out Continental and they had room to accommodate me. With it being short notice the fares were of course high and also ones that got me upgraded at the same time. I had flown CO over to NRT and back on both the 777 and a nice jaunt across the Pacific in the 764 so this time on the 757 would knock out their whole International fleet for me. I'm only going to cover the CO portion of the trip as you can check out my experiences with DL in some of my other trip reports.
March 6, 2006
Lv ATL 1515
Ar IAH 1632
As usual I was a little late in leaving the house for the airport. I had been doing all sorts of chores around the house and yard since I was going to be away again and let time slip by.
I got to ATL with time to spare and parked on the South Terminal side since I would be coming home on Delta. I made my way over to the North Terminal and checked in through a kiosk. I took the short walk to the security lines and got in the Medallion/Elite line on that side. There was a little old lady in front of me and the woman checking tickets and such asked her if she was in First Class or was Gold Elite or higher to which she said yes. Turns out she wasn't and I asked the security person to go ahead and let her pass since the lines weren't bad but she'd have nothing of that and sent the lady on her way.
Security as usual is the standard ATL "we don't care about our jobs so hurry up and quit bothering us" routine. I took the train out to the D Concourse and chatted up a Captain on his way back over to Iraq after some R&R. I wished him good luck and made my way to the President's Club in the D Concourse.
The club is nothing special but a nice quiet area to escape the hubbub of the smallest concourse in ATL. I had a Diet Coke and read the paper before making a path towards the gate. Boarding was simple and I was on the plane in no time. I wish DL would consider the Elite line as CO uses at the gate. Of course I'm sure everyone would still crowd around the gate and make it worthless. So goes the life at a DL gate on a daily basis.
Not too much to say about this flight and I didn't even get the registration as I forgot to look for it. The seat was comfy and the bulkhead (which I'm never a huge fan of) had decent legroom. The flight left a few minutes late and we got to Houston a few minutes early. Standard domestic drink and snack service was par for the course here although CO does use real glasses once in the air compared to plastic cups on DL. The one thing that sticks in my mind was the old couple that sat behind me. The lady started bitching the minute they stepped foot onto the plane about how small First Class was and that it wasn't what she was expecting. She mentioned this throughout the entire flight and just wouldn't shut up about it.
March 6, 2006
Lv IAH 1757
Ar SFO 2012
Tail Number: 112
When I landed in IAH I had a little bit of a layover so I left the C Concourse and walked over to the E Concourse where the huge President's Club is located. I used my Amex Platinum to get in and made my way to the 3rd floor where it is nice and quiet. If you want something to drink besides coffee, tea, or water you have to go down to the 2nd floor though. I grabbed a seat by the window and used the free wireless to check email and browse the web for some stuff. After snacking on some cheese and crackers I wandered back to the gate in the C Concourse where this flight would be leaving from.
The 757 I was taking that day was one configured for international ops and had only 4 rows in BizFirst compared to the normal 6 rows. I'm not sure why this plane goes to SFO but it stays overnight and then leaves the next morning for EWR and then off to Europe I would suppose. I had read a thread on here about how some of the planes had been updated with the new IFE and VOD. I couldn't remember the tail numbers affected so I just had to wait until I got on board to find out.
I got onboard and settled into my seat and was offered a drink by the stewardess almost immediately. We were delayed in leaving by a good 15 minutes. The pilot explained how some bags had taken their time clearing Customs and were just then being loaded. Sorry for the semi-blurry pics but I didn't want to use the flash in the cabin as it was starting to get dark outside.
55" of pitch! Not too bad for domestic
A nice roomy cabin
One of the 777s (N78008) getting ready to go somewhere across the world tonight.
We finally backed out of the gate and then were told we would have a 20 minute taxi to the northern-most runway. Yippee! I just want to get there so I can get some sleep but the delays continued. We finally got out to the runway and lined up for takeoff. While sitting there I snapped a pic of a white plane (I think an A300) that was following a car with flashing security lights. Any ideas folks? Who might be operating the plane? FedEx perhaps?
Takeoff with winglets
Once e finally got to takeoff it was uneventful as the Rolls engines whined and clawed their way into the air. Not too long after takeoff the meal service started. Drinks and warm nuts came first. The choices tonight were between beef tips over rice with chili on the side or a salad with salmon. I went for the beef tips and wasn't disappointed.
While not nearly as fancy as the food on an international flight it was nice to get a decent meal. Unlike DL you still get a cloth placemat, your drink comes in a glass, and you get metal silverware versus plastic. All in all not bad though the chili was a little spicy and got my sinuses running. After dinner came the ice cream sundaes which are always good. Back when DL had domestic BizElite service to the Left Coast I always looked forward to those flights for the ice cream. Sad but true and I wasn't disappointed here. It is amazing that such a simple treat goes a lot further than a fancy schmancy puff pastry concoction.
I settled in for the rest of the flight and pulled out the PTV unit and tried to get comfortable in my seat. IIRC the seats on the 757 are like the ones in the 764s but I could be wrong. Fro whatever reason I had trouble finding the controls for the seats and finally remembered they were on the side of the seat and I could only adjust the legrest, recline, and lumbar. Good enough for me as I kicked up the legrest and reclined backwards a bit.
The PTV was one of the new ones with VOD and for the life of me I couldn't figure out where the remote for it was located. Turns out there isn't one and the whole thing is done via touch screen. Once I figured that out I was good to go and settled in to watch Pulp Fiction. The British guy next to me must have thought I was a bit disturbed when I was laughing at some of the more bloody scenes in the movie. After I finished watching that movie I continued with episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and Half Men, Joey, and Friends. At that point it was almost time to land so I packed away the PTV and got ready for the landing.
We approached from the south and came in over San Jose and up the bay to SFO. I noticed a plane coming towards us and figured they would be turning onto final beside us. The captain came over the PA and announced that the other plane would be landing beside us on the other runway and that we would be getting quite close given the small separation between the runways at SFO an that we shouldn't be worried. He wasn't lying when he said we would be close. The other plane was an Alaskan Air MD-80 series and it was probably the closest I have been to another plane in midair but it didn't bother me.
We landed and taxied quickly to the gate. Exiting the plane was quick and easy. I gathered my carry-on bag and backpack and walked up the concourse and caught the train to the rental car facility. I was on my way to the East Bay within 30 minutes of getting off the plane which isn't too bad in my opinion.
Overall Continental did a fine job on this flight. If it wasn't for DL providing me non-stops to almost anywhere I could want to go in the US I would toss more business towards CO. They have a good product and I enjoyed the time I spent with them. Other than the better legroom in this BizFirst cabin vs. a DL bird the service was pretty much the same. As with any domestic premium cabin they don’t compare to some of the ones like SQ, etc. but they are still good. Try them if you get a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed.