OK so I am writing this at 5am from my hotel bed in Madrid - don't seem to have cracked the sleep-cycle thing yet - maybe the trip report will explain.
No pics as yet - I'll have to arrange that when I get back to LA in 2 weeks.
So I was the designated travel planner for friends of mine who are getting married in Spain next Friday (9/27)- and I was supposed to find the best fare LAX-MAD / BCN-LAX.
Options were quite extensive at various points during the last 4 months of planning: AA via MIA, IB via ORD and AZ via BOS/MXP were all reserved at one pont or another but the eventual winner was EI via DUB.
The website didn't allow the purchase of a though fare LAX-MAD (that was only available for a couple of UK cities - note to self: check out EI when flying 'home' to Warwickshire via BHX...)
fare was $595 roundtrip LAX-DUB-LAX, while IB and AA were asking for $860 for LAX-MAD/BCN-LAX, so even though we had to construct our own itinerary it turned out to be cheaper - plus we'd get a whole day in Dublin, hurrah!!
I used award miles to purchase my EI ticket, so the OLCI wouldn't let me access my reservation or enter my API - the 3 others I had persuaded to fly this itinerary had no problems at all with it.
We gathered at TBIT at 14:15 for our 16:30 departure to DUB to find there was no queue for 'Web Check-in' and only a handful of other pax in the Economy queue (who by the sounds of their 'sweet and soft' Irish accents were definitely Ulstermen....ahem )
Check-in was very quick and I asked the agent which aircraft would be flying the service today and he replied, 'an Airbus' - OK, I thought, I am obviously not wearing my a/net credentials on my sleeve, so i asked if it was EI-DUO? 'That was yesterday', came the reply, 'tonight will be -DAA...'
shucks - oh well maybe on the return trip I'll get the famous -DUO!
Boarding commenced 45 mins from departure from gate 101 - the furthest southerly gate at TBIT - and we passed a BA 744, LH 346, CI 744 on our way to boarding. The bride-to-be in our group is Asian, and a mad CI agent was trying to collect his straggling pax for their TPE service which was already closing - as he ran towards us he was screaming at our friend with a thick Chinese accent, 'Chi-na Air-rines! Chi-na Air-rines!' and beckoned her to follow him to the TPE flight - she was very offended - talk about profiling: even with EI tags plastered all over our carry-ons!
There at the gate I met a mate of mine who just happened to be booked on the same flight - heading up to Ballymena upon arrival at DUB - what a coincidence!
|EI-DAA on stand at LAX|
Upon boarding I was immediately taken by how clean and modern the cabin appeared - I had been expecting something a little shabby after all the talk on these boards about the seat covers and the IFE and the general state of the older 332/333s in the EI fleet. Or maybe it just seemed clean and modern after my brush with NW the previous week on their crappy 757s and DC-9s!
Seat 36B was my selected seat - I wouldn't have wanted to be any further back because it seems like the cabin floor begins its upward slope towards the rear at precisely this point , and I doubt if my 6'2 seatmate and I, at 6'3, could have comfortably sat without overlapping our shoulders further back.
I was also surprised by the huge crew rest capsule in the middle of the M-cabin - something I had not really seen on the seatmap.
Aer Lingus A330-200
Seat 36B - moved to 35D
Actual pushback: 16:23
Crew appeared nice and cheery as expected and I was a little disappointed that my seat cushion at 36B was covered in a blue fleece blanket - obviously there had been some kind of spillage on the previous sector and they had to cover up the 'stain' - i didn't investigate what it was!
I moved across the aisle to a free seat in the middle section adjacent to where I had been - that meant I could also chat to the couple getting married in 35A and 35B plus our other wedding guest in 36A, but we could all stretch out a little more for sleeping.
|EI 144 pre-departure at LAX|
Take-off was very quick and we launched into the darkening Pacific skies - a 'storm' (Los Angeles-speak for 'rain shower') was on its way in and the temperature was due to plummet and the weather become generally miserable for a few days.
Drinks service was swift - even though the announcement about the bar being closed when the meal was being served seemed rather curt and officious. It had the desired effect though, because I ordered my G&T and red wine in 1 go - as the wine was rather 'lively' it was a good call to pour i and let it breathe for the 25 or 30 minutes until the meal was served! Dinner for me was beef stew with pasta, a small salad and something sugary for dessert - this is LAX catering so definitely nothing to get excited about. Surprisingly, none in our party chose the chicken, so nothing to report there.
Drinks were actually a good deal if paying in dollars, as the US dollar had just dropped significantly against the Euro and the conversion was about Euro1 to $1.20 on EI whereas we'd be getting Euro1 to $1.45 elsewhere durg our trip - maybe EI should offer currency exchange on board!
Bathrooms were clean and well-stocked - they even made an announcement about all M-class toilets being located in the centre of the cabin and the rear of the cabin was a crew work-space ONLY! and that the cross-over aisle at the toilets was the place to cross-over and not to use the rear galley for this purpose - again a little officious, but I kind of liked the idea of corralling the pax in their area and having a proper work-space for the cabin staff.
There was an announcement also about water being available in the front galley at door 2 - of course I had to investigate immediately and was very pleasantly surprised by a whole 'midnight snack' set-up with Cheddar slices, multi-grain bars, chocolate-chip cookies, water bottles and juice all available and for the taking. I have only seen this on long-haul business class before on BA, KL and UA - hats off to EI - although the low-cost formula is very much in evidence, they still provide a strong sense of having thought of everything.
The IFE was actually quite good - it did take us a few minutes to realise that it was not touch-screen (duh!) so everyone around us was happily into their films while we were still prodding the menu screen, oops!
The movie selection was average - coming back the movies looked much more engaging - and frankly I am happy for that as it's a longer daylight flight. Now if we just get DUO I won't have to worry so much if I start a movie I end up not liking....
Turbulence began over Vegas and continued throughout the flight at various points - I had forgotten how an autumn transatlantic crossing can be with a strong tailwind - in fact the airshow arrival time kept being brought forward throughout the flight due to this.
We also kept climbing at various points which interrupted my sleep somewhat.
After a fitful night, we were served breakfast and began our descent into Dublin, shortly after crossing the western coast of Ireland near Shannon.
We passed the city and began a wide turn over the Irish sea with the city off the port side, to our delight bathed in glorious sunshine!
Touchdown was rather abrupt and we began a long taxi up to the gate.
There's more to this trip - but I'll complete it later if anyone has any interest...above is a quick preview pic of the next sector on IB to MAD...