This is my first trip report so I apologize if it is not that great. Also, sorry there are no pictures I will try to post some later.
The reason I traveled to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day was because I am a member of the Auburn University Marching Band and we were invited to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. We also performed in Limerick and at the Guinness Factory, also in Dublin. Out of the 350 members in the band about 214 made the trip and we were divided into seven flight groups that all originated and terminated in Atlanta. About half of us were put on flight groups one and two which both connected in Newark on Continental. Group one was on the earlier flight to Dublin that left around 7pm from EWR
and group two was on the later flight that left around 10pm. Group three flew into Shannon and connected in JFK
on Delta. Group 4 connected in Amsterdam on KLM. Group 5 and group 6 both went to Gatwick on Delta but Group 5 connected in JFK
to get to Gatwick then they both flew on Air Lingus to Dublin. And group 7 (which only consisted of about 8 people) flew the nonstop on Delta from Atlanta to Dublin. (Sorry if all of that was confusing). I was placed on group 2 which was known as the later Continental flight. At first I was mad that I wasn’t put on Delta and that I knew I was going to be flying across the Atlantic on a 757 (as opposed to the 767’s and A330’s everyone else was going to be on) but later I became excited because I am always up for new aviation experiences and I have heard that Continental has a great product so I was really excited to try it out. The only other time I have been to Europe I was on the much talked about AA RDU
March 13, 2008
We arrived at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport around 2:45pm and my flight group unloaded our bus from Auburn and collected our bags on the lower drop off level at the South Terminal side. We then proceeded up the stairs and through the Delta check-in over to the North Terminal where Continental was located. Believe me it killed me walking by all the Delta stuff knowing that I was having to take another airline but don’t worry I got over it. Checking in all 48 of us took about 30 minutes and then we breezed through security and headed out to Concourse D. Once we got to the gate we had about 45 minutes to kill prior to boarding so some friends and I went to Burger King because I had only had a small lunch and I assumed we would only get peanuts and a drink like any other standard US Domestic flight flying around the east coast. Boarding was easy and painless and we made an on time departure to Newark. The 735 was an aircraft that I have not yet flown on but although it was small and kind of old I didn’t mind it all that much. On all of our flights my group was all blocked together in the last few rows. Anyway, the thing that surprised me the most about this flight was accompanying the beverage service was a basket with a small sandwhich, mini carrots, and a small milky way bar. Since when do you get a meal flying on a one hour 45 min flight in the United States in economy? Props to Continental. However, despite the food this was probably the worst crew of the trip. The lady in the back was very rude to everyone on board, never smiled, and after the meal service we never saw her again the rest of the flight. The other two were alright but still you could tell they were doing the bare minimum. We landed in Newark 35 minutes early, around 7:30pm, which is of course kind of unusual for any of the NYC airports. We landed at Terminal A and took the bus Continental provided over to Terminal C for the much anticipated flight to Dublin.
March 13, 2008
We had about an hour and a half before we boarded so of course that excited me because this was my first time in Newark and I wanted to look around. We left out of the new part of Terminal C so it was really cool walking around and seeing all the planes going to all the interesting places Continental flies too. Despite all my travels I have never been to New York City so I was really excited that I could see the skyline and the Empire State Building from the terminal windows. Boarding began around 9:15pm and we pushed back a little late due to some late connecting passengers and Continental making sure that all their bags made it onto the plane which is very understandable. We took off and flew right over Manhattan which was very exciting and we could also see the Statue of Liberty. About 15 minutes after takeoff, the most bizarre event that has ever happened when I have been on a plane in my 21 years of flying happened. The smoke alarm went off. At first the whole cabin was looking around wondering what the noise was and there really wasn’t much panic. About a minute into the alarm I turned around and saw the flight attendant in the back waving his oven mitt across what I guess was one of the smoke detectors so I figured no big deal he just burned the food. But then the majority of the flight attendants that were not in the back galley already sprinted to the back and they all had very concerned looks on their faces. This is when panic on the plane began. I have always told myself that whenever the crew is freaking out that is never a good sign. Then the plane saw smoke. And I am sorry but no matter who you are if you are up in the air on a plane and you see smoke you are going to get a little worried. After about a few minutes of this drama the alarm went off and the flight proceeded as normal. One of the flight attendants started dancing in the aisle for everyone to try and calm people down which I thought was kind of odd but whatever. An announcement was made that one of the ovens got overheated and it was really no big deal. Big deal or no big deal it certainly had us worried for a bit. We were served dinner very quickly, I am guessing because it was already late and the crew knew everyone wanted to try and get some sleep. The choices were lasagna or chicken. I choose the lasagna which was actually very good. Everyone who got the chicken was complaining so I was glad I made the right choice. Funny thing was the side of the containers that the lasagna was in looked like they had been burned. During dinner the movie was “Martian Child” which I kind of paid attention to. After dinner I put my iPod on and tried to get some sleep. After the movie they showed a compilation of stuff which I guess is similar to Delta on Air or CBS Eye on American but I didn’t bother paying much attention. One thing that bothered me about this flight was that during Dinner and Breakfast when it was still kind of dark out the crew had all the lights on. I understand having the lights on so the crew can see what they are doing but if there is any way the lights can be dimmed a little that would be great. Breakfast which consisted of a croissant and some fruit was served about an hour and a half or so prior to landing in Dublin. We flew south of Ireland and then turned up into Dublin for landing. Customs and Immigrations processing was quick and easy except it took forever for our bags to come out. We then met up with Flight group 7 and boarded the bus to Limerick and got excited for a fun filled 6 days in Ireland.
March 19, 2008
Well after a great trip in Ireland it was time to come home. I had a great time but to tell you the truth I was ready to head back to the United States. We left the hotel about 7:30am and got stuck in traffic so we were certainly cutting it close in terms of time. We arrived at the airport about 8:15am and quickly unloaded and headed into the Departures Hall. The airport was very busy this morning. I actually heard an agent say that all non stop flights to the USA were full. Continental ground operations, along with many other US carriers at Dublin, seemed to be outsourced which I guess makes since if you only have one or two flights a day. We made it through check in and security about 9:00am and then proceeded to the gate. Dublin’s airport didn’t seem to special or unique but I wish I would have had some time to look around. Our boarding card said that boarding would begin at 9:10am but didn’t actually start until about 9:30am. On the jetway we got screened again and everyone was actually onboard on time by 9:55 but the captain said we would have to wait because of last minute bags that were being loaded. I looked out the window and noticed that it was actually our instruments that were holding the plane up. We pushed back around 10:15am and were on our way to Newark. Take off was really nice as we flew straight over Ireland and it was a clear day for the most part. It’s amazing how small Ireland actually is as you can drive across it in about three or four hours and it takes around 30 minutes or so to fly across it. This was my favorite crew of the trip. The flight attendants were all relatively young and were happy to serve us and they joked around and had a smile on their face when walking around the cabin. Once we reached our cruising altitude they did a quick beverage service followed by a second beverage service that accompanied lunch. For lunch there was a choice of Chicken of Beef. The chicken was grilled and was served with mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, roll, and a very delicious cake thing. After lunch they came through with more beverages followed by the duty free cart. In-flight Entertainment for this flight included Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium which was ok then they showed Fat Albert which I opted to not watch and instead listened to my iPod and napped. After those two movies for the rest of the flight they showed the Continental collection of shows (I am sure it has a name I just have no idea what it was). It included an episode from King of Queens, Frasier, Malcolm in the Middle, some music videos and a few segments of CNN special features. About an hour and a half out of Newark we got a snack which included a very delicious hot turkey and cheese sandwich, chips, and a candy bar. Before we knew it we were descending into Newark and landed there around 1pm, about 30 minutes early. Immigrations were fairly easy despite two other international flights being processed at the same time. Once we were into the customs hall it took about 15 minutes for our bags to come out then we proceeded through customs and into the main part of Terminal C.
I must say that I was really impressed with Continental’s International product and would fly them again internationally as a first choice. The only other long haul overseas flying I have done is on American flying RDU
in 2001 and DFW
in 2004. I really want to try out Delta internationally sometime so in all honesty if I ever have a say in the matter I will probably pick Delta due too my allegiance that I have for them.
March 19, 2008
All Continental departures and arrivals to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC and one or two other places I forget depart from Terminal A so we had to take the Air Train over to A. Weather all over the east coast was pretty bad so the delays were starting to build up. I was the first one to notice we had been delayed to 4:45pm which eventually went to 5:15pm then 5:45pm. Due to Newark’s poor airport design, in the non Terminal C parts, we were confined to our little concourse because of where security was placed so we just sat around grabbed some food and chatted. I got up some to take some pictures but everyone was pretty much really anxious to get home and we were getting restless. We started boarding about 5:30pm and the pilot said our departure time was going to be delayed till about 6:15pm because the catering truck broke down on the way to the plane. Anyway after all that we had a quick taxi and were airborne by about 6:45pm and we landed in Atlanta about 8:15pm. This was another very good crew but one thing I thought was a little weird was the fact that they had five flight attendants working this flight. I got into an interesting conversation with one of them when I went to the bathroom and she told me how she was based in Newark but lives in Tampa and hasn’t been able to go home in three weeks because of spring break and all the flights have been full. I felt bad for her. After deplaning we rode the train back to the main terminal got our bags and headed to Auburn. The next day I was to fly home to RDU
for the duration of spring break but I wanted to see if I could fly out that night so I went over to Delta to see if I could move to the last flight out that night which had some room but I decided to save $50 and come back for my scheduled flight the next day.
Sorry this turned out to be much longer than I had planned but I hope you enjoyed it and feel free to make suggestions on how I can make reports better in the future.
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