I had the great previlege to return to a place I lived during one year ( 2003 ) and I would to share with you the trip. Here it goes:
Flight: LIS/AMS - TP668
Airplane: Airbus 321-211
Durion of flight: 2:40 minutes
It was quite an excitement to return to Fresno that morning, but th day started so bad.....high winds, lot's of rain and a thunderstorm didn't helped too much that morning. We arrived to TP check-in and it was hard to pop-up our reservations, looks that Star Alliance is not working that well at least in the case of TP, but finnally we got our boarding passes all way to FAT. We went to our assigned gate that lead us to the "usual around LIS airport" bus, something that is getting worst and worst ( me has portuguese feel so ashame of that, doesn't make any sense to me AT ALL!!! ). We waited maybe 10 minutes until finnally we did our "sight seeing" around until we got to our A321. Because we used the stairs and the weather was so miserable we got some rain until we finnally made it. With all this we supposed to leave LIS at 07:45 but we found out that our plane was already delayed. Due to this huge storm our captain said that all the flights were getting delayed....I started then to think about my next flight from AMS to IAD, I had just 1 hour transit, but at the same time I relaxed myself saying that we could recover in the air. Well, our pushback came at 08:25, about 40 minutes late and adding to that the runway in use was RN21, the one that gets the longest taxiway. Finnally we took of, a nice powerfull one but really bumpy in the next 20/30 minutes when we had to cross the storm, then we arrived to our assigned altitude, 10363 meters and with the speed of 875 kms/h. After a few moments it was served out breakfast, consisted of a hot sandwish with a cake and complementary drinks....I got the coffee of course! Because I was asigned with an aisle seat I didn't have any chance at all to see how things were going outside. The flight went uneventfull all way to AMS, meanwhile I was serious concerned if we could make the connection to our next flight, I noticed that we were not winning any time.....we finnally landed in a nice sunny day at Schiphol, landing in the runway with the Terminal by our left and the final stop was at 12:05 local time. I saw my watch and we had 20 minutes to cross Terminal B to Terminal G...me my wife and young daughter. When we were ready to run a nice TP gentleman asked if we were "the family that supposed to get UA947 flight to IAD?" we said "Yes!" and he said - "I have two news for you, one bad and another ( I hope ) not so bad. First you're not going to get the flight, it's closed! Unfortunetely we cannot redirect you via any other place now, but we would like to offer you the night in Amsterdam with all the meals paid, what do you think?" well we looked to each other and said "Yeah, that looks good!!!" and the TP guy said "I was so concerned that you might be angry, thank God!!!". So we relaxed ourselfs, went to TP ticket counter and got our voucher or NH Hotel and the complentary meals.
The NH Hotel is a nice hotel about 10 minutes from Schiphol, they have a courtesy bus and when we arrived there we relaxed and rested for a while ( we had to wake up at 4:30 AM..). After that we took a walk around the area and got an excelent dinner, an excelent sleep and next morning an excelent breakfast!!!! And we were ready to cross the Atlantic.
Flight: AMS/IAD - UA947
Airplane: Boeing 777-222
Duration of the flight: 8:05 minutes
When we got to UA counter we discovered that we have been upgraded to Economy Plus, and that was great!!! A very nice leg space was awesome for our long flight. The boarding went very smooth, because we had a young daughter we boarded first and that was very cool. Because the flight was not very crowded things went quite fast, but I noticed that some passengers from Economy were beeing seated in Economy plus, so looks that back there things were a bit packed, so I saw maybe a dozen passengers comming up. We supposed to leave at 12:25 but we started our pushback at 12:15. We took off from the same runway we landed the day before and it was impressive to feel our 777 taking off....powerfull, strong! After the take-off a nice tight left turn and ready to cross the ocean. With the PTV's and the UA exclusive Channel 9 a flight cannot be boring....and it wasn't. After some time meals started to be served, choise between chicken or pasta, I had chicken that was delicious, salad and a cake, all this combined with non-alcoholic complementary drinks. Meanwhile 1:10 minutes after our pushback we were flying at FL350 and it was time to see some movies. I saw "Poseidon", "The Devil wears Prada" and "Click", all nice movies. 45 minutes latter we were flying at FL380 at a speed of 559 mph and 4:30 hours latter we got our final level, FL400 at 521 mph. The flight went smooth but when we arrived to North American continent things got bumpy and we descended to FL380 at 470 mph and 40 minutes latter we descended again to FL340 at 533 mph. Before we landed it was served a light meal to us and we started to descend to IAD afterwards. We landed in a quite wet IAD with no problems and we got to our gate.
Flight: IAD/LAX - UA947
Airplane: Boeing 777-222
Duration of the flight: 5:58 minutes
Well I was quite frustrated to see that I was going in the same 777, but that was ok until a few moments latter. When we boarded we got welcomed by Cap. Crawford saying that soon we would start the pushback. When we expected to start the pushback our Cap. Crawford informed us that one of our cargo doors was jammed and they were going to find if we could keep going or not. Again the same nightmare came, we had our next flight our of LAX to FAT with a 45 minute transit...it looked that we were going to miss ANOTHER flight again!!! Resuming a bit we just started our pushback almost 3 hours latter with all inconvenients you might come up with. During those 3 hours inside the plane things got pretty will, people was comming to get drinks, food, etc. etc. so the tension was building around the crew. When we left it was a relief but here was nothing left, people would ask for a soda and all they got was water.....sometimes I think it would be better if the airline have a provision for a long delay why not let the passengers come out of the plane? Anyway before we took off we still waited around 10/15 minutes on the side of the runway ( I wonder why we did that???? ) and finnally we left. It was the flight that was difficult to see passing by, we were dragging all over. And to help this more we had about 128 mph head winds that even got things worst, we flew FL360 at 466 mph first, latter over Colorado we got up to FL380 and over Grand Canyon we came down again to FL340. Finnally we landed at LAX knowing that we had to pass a night there, but this was not over....our great Cap. Crawford then told us that he had to shut the engines of our great 777 and that we would get to our gate pushed by a vehicle, a few more minutes delay and we got out of LAX!!!
After that we went to UA counter and they gave us a voucher for an hotel and meals too. They put us in La Quinta Hotel, not a very good one, looked more like a special one for latinos but.....well portuguese are latinos right??? They rebooked us for our next flight at 7:57 next morning, we arrived at our hotel at 1:00 AM so, maybe 3 or 4 hour sleep and we had to go back to LAX!
Flight: LAX/FAT - UA6051
Airline: UA Express ( Full Skywest painted plane!!!)
Airplane: Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia
Duration of flight: 1:08
Well we were really anxious to get to FAT after a long trip from LIS!!! We got the last row of our Embraer and the flight went fast, we took-off direction to the Pacific, did a nice right turn and got over the Costal Mountains, a bit bumpy over it, like usual and soon we got in the smooth sky of the San Joaquin Valley. We got a bag of crackers and a drink and after some time we landed in FAT in a nice beautifull blue sky, warm weather!!! I knew this weather vey well, I felt at home then!!!
Wel after 1 week seeing friends, eating at In-N-Out, going to River Park, Save Mart Arena, shopping good stuff at Mervyns, Target etc. etc. and getting a great Tri-Tip sandwish lunch close to Save Mart Arena it was time to come back!!! Here it goes:
Flight: FAT/LAX - UA6054
Airline: UA Express ( again a full Skywest painted plane! )
Airplane: Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia
Duration of flight: 1:12 minutes
We got quite early to FAT, in the morning there are a few flights that leave and FAT can become quite buzzy. But it was ok, the return was with UA/US so at the UA ticket counter they told us that they could check-in our flight to
LAX but then we had to go to US counter and check all way to LIS. Ok, no problem.... we left FAT again in a nice morning but no sun yet. We saw the sun rising almost close to Bakersfield and after get a bit bumpy again over the Mountains we arrived over Los Angeles Valley in a layer of fog...that was a bit unusual but nothing really bad. We did the usual right tight turn to line with our runway, 24R and we landed quite short and went to our Terminal 8. Meanwhile when we were taxiing our captain said that we had to wait about 5 minutes do have a vacancy and we finnally stopped. Then it was time to get to Terminal 1, we took that LAX Shuttle, very convenient and we went to check to our US flights and that went very smooth indeed!
Flight: LAX/PHL - US1596
Airplane: Airbus A321-211
Duration of flight: 5:42 minutes
We got the US airplane still with old but nice USAirways livery. The plane came a bit delayed, about 20 minutes but the boarding went ok. Again because we had a small child we boarded first and got a nice seat. The US A321 have such a great and generous space that really helped on our transcontinental flight. We took-off from RN24L and after a nice right turn over the Pacific it was time to head to PHL!!! We flew in a very smooth FL350 all way and the flight was infact uneventfull, very, very confortable, very smooth. We saw some good sights on the flat lands of Kansas but when we were getting to PHL the weather started to have more clouds. The meals were paid, $5,00 each but that was not that bad. Me and my wife got a sandwish and our daughter got those dishes with cheese and fruit. We arrived in the begging of the night at PHL and the landing was nice with the terminal by our right. Then we had about 1:30 transit until our final flight.
Flight: PHL/LIS - US1448
Airplane: Boeing 757-200
Duration of flight: 6:40 minutes
Because it was night there's not a lot to say. Only that when I saw the registration of our 757 I was surprised, maybe it was another new ETOPS USAirways 757...but latter I realized it was one of those ex: ATA ones. Our flight was quite empty, I had a full row for myself, my ife the same and may other passengers too!!! I found the seats quite narrow and not very confortable. The plane was not old and looked in very good condition. But the service was very low, first you had to pay for the headphones, then the 757 had those screen in the aisle, so if you are in A or F seats it's quite difficult to see the movies. Then the meals were very poor, a small box with just basic stuff, very, very cheap. The breakfast was a buttermilk cake, a cup of juiceand coffee or tea......even more basic!!!! I flew with CO a few months ago and nothing to compare with!
So finnally we got to LIS, again in a very miserable day and that was it!
Resuming, TP and UA service was not bad, US was bad and the onlything in favour is the fact that you don't get delays flying from PHL to LIS, for example from EWR with CO I had to wai 1 hour to take off, with US from PHL it took 15 minutes. Besides that well you can always try US!!!
I will put the pictures latter on!