Wednesday, August 23, 2006
STD - 11:30
ATD - 11:41
STA - 16:40
ATA - 16:24
Flight time - Estimated: 12:10 - Flight time - Actual: 11:43
Seat - 18D
Payload - 80 percent Y - 70 percent F.
Aircraft - Boeing 777-224ER
Aircraft Registration - N78005
My one week in Israel was already over and it was now time to fly back to the United States. My mother and sister were to fly BA (to JFK via LHR) that day. Their flight was a bit earlier than mine (08:05 departure). We agreed to leave to the airport together and I would wait around for my flight once they were off. At 04:05, the cab driver pulled up in front of my aunts house, and, as we were saying our goodbyes, he had the nerve to say in Hebrew, "Come on, can we please get moving." He was most unpleasant. What a jerk. What a nice way to start off our long day of travels. We loaded our, what seemed to be, endless number of suitcases into the back of the minivan cab.
Please let me note that somehow, my mother ALWAYS manages to find a ton of things to pack in the maximum number of suitcases when travelling; especially to Israel. Being that I was in Israel for a single week, I naturally brought one suitcase and a carry on. There was no chance I would be travelling with one piece of luggage today. I wouldn't be saying, "I've got just one bag to check", when asked by the agent at the airport. I would be checking two, and in fact, they would BOTH be my mothers luggage, rather than my lone bag. Whatever, she is my mother afterall.
Anyway, we arrived at TLV's Terminal 3 just past 04:30. It seemed to be very busy for this hour. I assume it was due a number of flights to European destinations. My mother and sister weren't able to check in for about 55 minutes. We went down the elevator to the arrivals level and sat at this cafe kind of place. I sat and listened to my iPod and couldn't stop thinking about flying a Triple Seven for the second time in one week. After they finished, we headed back up to the departure level and they got on the security and check in line. I sat and waited. Once finished, they came over and we said our goodbyes, etc. I would sit in that same seat, on the departures level, reading "Plane Insanity", for the next three and a half hours. 08:30 came around and, slowly, passengers began to arrive to check in for CO 85. I got on line, answered various, strategic security questions, and moved on to the check in line. It must have been twenty minutes before anyone would check passengers in. Once I got to the front, I gave my mothers two bags and waited for the agent to respond. Well, it turned out that one of the bags was overweight. Wouldn't ya know it! So what must I do? I am instructed to go around the corner to pay for the overweight bag. OK, not too bad. Well, not until I got there. There was a middle-aged woman arguing with the agent about her flight and ticket and status, etc. Joking aside, I waited in that line for forty minutes. When it was my turn, I walked up, payed the guy with my card and was finished in three minutes. Back to the check in counter I went, and retrieved my boarding card from the agent. It was now about 09:20. So I speed walked to the security check point where there was NO line whatsoever, got my passport stamped, and walked down the terminal "connector." I snapped a few photos which are in my other trip report. Upon my entrance into the duty free area, I took one more photo and after this, my battery died on me. Damn! How could I forget my other battery in NY?! I bought a few things in one of the James Richardson duty free stores and proceeded over to "Hall C." There are big letters indicating the halls of departure gates. See the last photo in my other trip report to see what I mean. My gate was C07, so I walked over to it. It was the last one on the left. The last one on the right, C09(?), was occupied by an LY Boeing 747-400, 4X-ELA, which was boarding for LHR (LY315).
I sat and waited at my gate. I went into this cafe kind of place, where I noticed my crew was sitting and eating. I stood like a statue, staring at N78005 for a good twenty minutes as well. Finally, 10:45 rolled around, and boarding commenced. Since 18D is close to the front, I was one of the last to board. Again, I did my ritual; right hand on fuselage. I was greeted by a tall, male, Israeli flight attendant. He too looked young. However, I was told that if you are Bilingual (Hebrew, in this case), you can work this flight as young as twenty years old. He too didn't bother to really check my seat or anything. Rather, he put his hand down the aisle. After I put my bag on my seat, I found the ISM, a rather young looking Jamaican. He spoke no Hebrew. He couldn't have been any older than twenty eight years old. Interesting, for such a senior route! He advised me to wait in the BizFirst galley until he returned from the flight deck. He told me to come right up. I entered the flight deck and found my four pilots who would fly me back home today. Once again, forgive me, but I forgot the fourth pilots name. Whats wrong with me?! He stepped out, and similar to one of the FO's on my first flight, let me sit in his seat. Anyway, as I entered, veteran Captain Ollie, First Officer Chip, and First Officer Brian all welcomed me with hand shakes. Captain Ollie and Chip, together, said, "Come on in, have a seat, sit down." I did so, with pleasure. Brian, who was seated in the fourth pilots seat, behind the "conventional" pilots seats, spoke to me about my interest in aviation. Surprisingly, all three of them did NOT fly in the Air Force. They all trained at private schools. About fifteen minutes of chatting terminated by the gate agent entering the cockpit and saying, "Captain, you're all ready to go." There was no, "OK, lets fly to Newark" this time, however they all wished me well with my aviation plans, and I thanked them. I headed back to my seat. I was pleansantly surprised to find a whole row to myself for todays flight (the three middle seats).
We pushed quickly and taxied to Runway 26. I always found the taxi time from Terminal 3 to Runway 26 to be rather long (for a relatively small airport). There wasn't any traffic ahead of us. We powered down Runway 26 and were airborne in 47 seconds. Gosh, do I LOVE the sound of GE90's at take off!
Like my first flight with CO, the drink service commenced within twenty minutes of departure. I had a Sprite and peanuts.
About twenty minutes after this, Lunch service commenced. They offered beef lasagna or chicken with cous cous. Stupidly, I took the beef lasagna. It was very filling and mediocre, I couldn't even finish it. That's a first for me.
The flight seemed to pass very quickly, and before I knew it, we were passing Greenland. It really sucked to not have my camera working. I played some video games, streched out on my three seats and watched the airshow. Somewhere along the line, when I was getting some shut eye, the cabin crew must have passed out some tuna sandwhiches. For me, they opened the tray table and put one on it. Well thats what I woke up to, at least. How nice of them! I took a bite and threw the rest out. Normally, if the passenger is sleeping, they just pass by. Hmmm, thanks to whoever did that. I streched my long legs a bit and got some water from the rear galley. We were just reaching North American territory now. I watched some more airshow, listened to my iPod and read my book.
About 95 minutes before we landed, the crew served some sort of sandwich. It was like a rubberized grilled chicken sandwhich. Had an interesting taste though. We made our way down the Hudson River, banked to the right a few times, and at 16:24, touched down smoothly on EWR's Runway 22L. We crossed 22R and taxied over to gate C121. There was a bit of a wait, but nothing too long. Once the door opened, I made my way up the escalator and over to immigration. I waited on a long line, which moved quickly. I walked up to the counter.
Here's what transpired:
Him: "What country are you coming from?"
Him: Frown and nod of the head and stamping of my passport.
Me: "OK, thanks."
I walked over to another escalator and down I went to the baggage claim carousel. It was like a mad house. I think it's due to a large number of CO's flights from numerous destinations, arriving all at once.
I waited for my (wait, my moms) bags for about thirty five minutes. I got them and walked to the customs line. The guy didn't bother pulling me aside, thankfully. Boy was I relieved. If my mothers bags were going to cause me one more ounce of trouble today, I would have just tossed them. haha
Out I went to the greeting hall and searched for a cab. I ended up taking a yellow cab from one of those organized lines across the street from the terminal.
And that was the end of my short, one week trip to the holy land.
CO, I must say, is just an amazing airline. There's no question, they've got my business for my future flights to Tel Aviv, or anywhere for that matter. If I had to improve one thing, and this doesn't bother me much to begin with, it would be better food. I have to say the best part of my flights, aside from meeting the pilots and visiting the flight deck and flying on my favorite airplane; the Trip Seven, was the friendly and I mean friendly, cabin crew. Way to go CO!
I hope this wasn't too detailed. I promise pictures, and better ones, next time.