MAN - (EWR) - LAS on Continental
Veni Vidi Vegas
I am not a pic taker really, so I hope my words will go some way to describing my experiences. We arrived at Manchester nice and early to find a shortish queue already at the counter. All passengers were greeted by a member of staff who took their passports and asked the security questions right there in the queue. He was also generally asking us about our trip and things like that, so clearly the answers we were giving would be used to determine if any extra attention should be paid to us. He was, however, very nice and in only a few moments we were at the front and checked in. We were told that we would have to pick up our checked luggage and re-check it at Newark although we were checked in on our EWR-LAS leg.
We went through to security to find a long, but quickly moving line. There were 2 young ladies near the start of the queue reminding people of the rules, answering questions and handing out plastic bags for those that needed them. After only a few minutes we were at the front, just enough time to sort things out (laptop out of bag, take off coat and belt, etc.) There were 8 or 9 xrays in operation this morning and a gentleman at the head of the queue directing people. I have heard more than a few horror stories about crowded and undermanned security points, so good job Manchester for getting it as right as possible. I passed through without a problem, though my partner beeped passing through the metal detector. This was only random however so after a few moments we were away.
Once through we had some breakfast then killed some time before heading down to our gate. Not a lot happening outside T2 this morning so I was pretty much buried in a book the whole time. We were on a 757-200 this morning, I did not catch the registration sorry, and were seated in 18A and B. Boarding was by First/Business/Needing Assistance then by rows from the rear of the plane so it was a few minutes before we got on board. There was a further random security check taking place in the jetway and again my partner was chosen! Again no problems and she was on board a moment behind me. There was a male FA on the PA (more on him later) urging people to 'Find their row and move into it, to allow people to pass' so we were seated in good time. Initial impressions were mixed. The cabin looked and smelled clean, but the seats looked quite old and were not the most comfortable. once pushed back and started, the safety briefing played on the drop down LCDs. We taxied to 23L rolled on and away without stopping. Flight was 100% full throughout so it was no rocket!
In flight the service was good. Not long after take off there was a drinks service, followed by a meal (Beef or Chicken, I had the beef which was OK) and after that a further drinks service. There was another drinks service before arrival along with a snack service (hot turkey and cheese sandwich that was lovely with crisps and a chocolate) but the FAs moved through the cabin at least 5 or 6 times in between with water and juice so a VERY good job in that respect. I stuck with water and Coke for drinks (whole can available on request it seems) alcoholic drinks cost $5 each. Despite being quite old and not as comfortable as they could have been, the seats had excellent leg room and they reclined what seemed like further than I have experienced before. This meant that I at 5"11' was easily able to stretch out fully with my feet all the way under the seat in front and get some good dozing done ( I never can sleep on planes!) The small screens are not ideal for watching movies on, but they are situated every 3 or 4 rows.Our movies were License To Wed and one other that was so average I don't remember the name! After that there was some light entertainment and CNN programming that I did not watch. Headsets were free on this leg and people were encouraged to keep them for future flights.
We were clearly queued into Newark as it was at long time between top of descent and landing. It was solid cloud from the Irish Sea all the way though, so not a lot of scenery to look at. A unique experience though, once we had our "Welcome to Newark" announcement, the FA got a round of applause. He had been making all the PAs and clearly liked his job. He had the smoothest deepest voice (think James Earl Jones) and a good sense of humour. This made a really nice change from the usual bored 100 mph announcements you normally get on planes.
The walk from our gate in terminal C to immigration took only a few minutes and it was light and clean all the way. About half of the desks were open, but that still amounted to over 20 so along with no queue we were served quickly. The immigration officer (and those manning desks near him) were polite and good humoured which makes arrival that bit better. On to the baggage hall and our flights bags were coming out as we arrived so up to this point there was no way to fault Newark! From here we needed to take our bags to the transfer belt. This was clearly in an older part of the airport, rather dull and old. There were two lines, one for connecting flights in less than 1 hour and one for those in more than 1 hour. From here we essentially walked to the front of the airport and started again, this time we would meet the dreaded TSA There was a long line to get to the xrays and the area it was in was clearly not designed for this purpose so I can't really complain too much about that. There was a large monitor playing a video on how to get through quickly and easily but it seemed not too many people paid full attention. Most would wait until getting to the machine before making any preparations which slowed the line somewhat. The TSA agents were shouting not at specific people, but in general, reminding people to take off coats etc. There was a lot of frustration in the air but it seemed that passengers frustrated the TSA, who frustrated the passengers, who frustrated the TSA and so on and so on. Not the horror story I was expecting but never in a million years did I expect ANYTHING to be done more efficiently at home than in another country!
Once past the xray, it was back into the nice clean light Terminal C at Newark. Lots of nice comfortable leather seating around gates. Sadly our flight was delayed by 30 minutes 'Due to the late inbound' but it was fun watching all the people queuing at the desk to speak to the agent. I don't know what they were asking, but a lot of people seemed to need to know! Once boarding was announced EVERYONE started for the doors. This meant the agent needed to take control and urge people to move aside and board by rows. Our flight was originally sheduled to be on a 738 but i could tell there were too many people there for that. Besides, they started boarding from row 40 and higher! Still quite a slow process and we found ourselves queueing through Business which did not make life easier for the FA trying to take pre-takeoff drinks. The cabin looked just the same as the inbound flight, though the seats looked and felt newer (we were in 18A and B again). Once seated I found out the plane had been upgraded to a 757-300 but it was still 100% full. A relatively long taxi and short queue for take off and we were away again. Service was again very good. A drinks then snack service - another nice hot steak and cheese sandwich, along with baby carrots + dip, plus a small bag of M+Ms. There were at least 3 water runs and another 2 or 3 drinks services. The seats reclined to the same angle as on the 200, the legroom was less but it was still possible to almost completely stretch out. Still OK, but after a 7 hour transatlantic flight I was tired and restless so could not get comfortable. Too restless to doze and too tired to read. It was the longest 4 hours 40 mins of my life but we got there! The film was Transformers, but I forgot to take my headset from my bag before sitting down. I would prefer to watch the film on a larger screen anyway. Headsets were a reasonable $1 each on this leg if you do not already have them. Once landed and disembarked, there was a relatively long walk to the train to baggage, but our bags arrived only a few minutes after arrival. Being an internal flight, no other checks and we were free.
All in all a good experience on Continental. Considering the fare I paid (Â£300ish booked in January) I got a very good deal indeed. Anything other than the basics may cost extra on board, but you won't go thirsty or hungry. Continental's staff seem to enjoy their job and their planes are clean and get you to where you want. And let's be honest, you can't say fairer than that! We are coming home on the same route but this time we are staying in New York, this should make the journey a little easier. I may well post a part 2 if there is any interest, otherwise I will just update this.
Thanks for reading
[Edited 2007-11-16 13:42:18]