This is the return journey for the report I posted which can be read here:
DATE: Monday 20th August 2007
AIRLINE: Aer Lingus
FLIGHT: EI124 (Chicago - Shannon - Dublin)
AIRCRAFT TYPE: Airbus Industrie A330-202
AIRCRAFT REG: EI
: 07:45 (next morning)
On booking the return trip on aerlingus.com in March we origionally planned to leave Chicago on Tuesday 21st but about a month after booking, after going on the website to see how the load for our flights were I discovered that the 21st was "sold out" but this couldn't be sold out already with 4 months to go could it? The calendar on the booking page made a pattern of "sold out" flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from the beginning of August. I knew then the dates weren't booked out but maybe something was wrong with the website or something. So anyway a few weeks later we got an email from Aer Lingus saying that our itinerary coming home had changed. Our new itinerary looked like this:
EI122 Chicago (ORD
) - Dublin (DUB
Departing: 16:20, Arriving 05:50
EI133 Dublin (DUB
) - Shannon (SNN
Departing: 11:45 Arriving 12:30
There was no way we were spending 6 hours at DUB
especially after an 8 hour flight from ORD
so we rang EI
and asked if what happened to our direct flight and if we could switch dates. The woman said the reason the flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were not being sold was because EI
had brought forward the starting dates of their new route to Washington to the start of August and they were short an aircraft. She said we could come back either Monday or Wednesday so we picked Monday.
So we enjoyed our visit to Chicago anyway but held our breaths because IALPA were holding a strike back home on the 21st and wondered if this would affect our flight. Sure enough one day before our trip home we got another email from EI
saying that because of the strike our flight's departure time was brought forward by 1 hour and that the outbound flight was supposedly 1 hour ahead too. Not a major difference but we left for the airport early anyway. What if we had never read that email? It was really short notice like. But I would discover later it wouldn't have made a difference. Got to ORD
at 2:30. The direct Dublin flight (EI122) was also checking in so it was fairly hectic. The EI
check-in desks had been moved from where they were a year before up next to Korean Air and I think Virgin Atlantic was at the other side. We had checked-in online so we got in the line for bag-drop (first in line
) But had to wait about 20 minutes as the check-in agents were new and were rushing to check in all the DUB
passengers as they were departing in one hour. They made an announcment that all passengers flying on EI122 were to come to the top of the queue. We finally dropped our bags and one of the new agents served us. She was a bit slow but very nice and friendly.
After check-in we went to the food court near security and had McDonalds for the last time in Chicago. We said our goodbyes to all our cousins, grandparents and uncle and went through security. The line was getting longer and longer so we said we better queue quickly. It took about 15 minutes. Our boarding gate was M12-the same as the EI122 flight. I wondered how they could have two aircraft at the one gate as EI125 was due at 15:50 and EI122 was departing at 16:20. I said I'd just watch and learn. We were among the first passengers at Gate M12, EI122 was already boarding. I saw that it was EI
-DUO, one of the new aircraft delivered to EI
earlier in the year (St. Columba/Colum):
It's now 16:00 and our aircraft still hadn't landed. As we sat we saw a United Airlines 747 (Flight UA836) arriving from Shanghai park at Gate M13.
Two British Airways planes in the background.
I said I'd take a walk around the terminal and I headed off down in the direction of M21. I passed a few USA3000 A320s, a Swiss A332 (From Zurich), a BMI
A332 (From Manchester) and SAS A343 from Copenhagen.
At M21 there were a load of people waiting to board a U5
flight and I turned back around towards M12. When I got there I noticed that EI122 had finished boarding but was still attached to the airbridge. Still no sign of our aircraft which was supposedly departing at 17:45. It was now 16:20. The screen above us now displayed our flight for the first time showing the origional time of departure - 18:45.
About 5 minutes later I saw our plane - right in front of us approaching to land. A beautiful sight here I think you'd agree:
The Dublin bound plane still hadn't pushed so I was wondering if a last minute change of gate was coming on. But it didn't and EI
-DUO pushed back just 1 minute later. Then our aircraft arrived. I looked at the reg. It was EI
St. Keeva/Caoimhe, the exact model we had on our outbound flight. I was glad we got PTVs again.
Here are once again two EI
planes side by side at ORD
- a proud moment for Ireland
-DUO left (already pushed back), EI
right (parking at Gate M12):
-DUO had left (I didn't see it takeoff because we weren't facing whatever runway it tookoff on), I decided I'd stroll down the opposite way, towards Gate M1. Gates M10 & M11 were taken up by two BA
772s bound for London (LHR
was hosting Air India AI127 from Mumbai via Frankfurt (Or else it was AI125 from Mumbai via LHR
?). As usual Air France had M7 (AF50 bound for Paris), gates M4
-M6 were empty and M3
had LOT Polish Airlines (don't know if this aircraft was bound for Warsaw or Kraków) and M1 & M2 had two American Airlines 767s (I think from Frankfurt and Paris). I then turned back to our gate. The International Terminal at ORD
is massive. Takes about 10 mins to get from M1 to M21. I got back and just watched planes taxi, takeoff and land. Mostly AAs and UAs. The weather this evening is overcast and the clouds were getting more and more heavy, winds were NE. Storms were expected later on that night and thought they'ed get here before we departed but they didn't.
Finally, boarding commenced at 17:50 with the usual procedure; Premier Class and parents with young children first. We boarded under this heading even though the youngest child travelling with us was 10. We took our seats, mine was 23K. Boarding was fast and before we knew it we were on our way. We left the gate at 18:43 and taxied along the Apron Taxiline and Taxiway B, over the bridge crossing the highway leading to terminals 1, 2 and 2. There was no runway congestion and we were cleared for immediate takeoff on RWY 32R at 18:51. This flight was captained by John Naughton and the first officer was again a Brit - Martin Lee. Joan Sherwin was the head of cabin crew. Bar service started 20 minutes after takeoff and we reached cruising altitude of 39,000 feet at 19:18 CDT. Meals were again the usual Chicken or Beef. These were served at about 20:00 CDT. I said I'd try the beef lasagne even though I usually didn't like "plane food". It was ok but the cheesecake and mint after kinda made up for it.
It was now dark outside and we passed over one big Canadian city judging by all the neon lights but I don't know what one. In-flight movies offered were Shrek the Third and Lucky You. I watched Shrek (which wasn't as good as the last two) and then went to sleep.
I slept for about 2.5 hours and woke up at about 04:00 GMT. It was still dark outside when I lifted my window blind. The airshow was showing that we were 30 minutes early. and due at SNN
at about 07:15. The flight was smooth with only minor turbulence after takeoff. Dutyfree started soon after I woke up. The rest of the flight was fairly uneventful. About an hour and a half before landing we were served breakfast with tea/coffee and a scone with jam. I wasn't hungry so I didn't eat it. I decided to pass on the tea/coffee too but I had the orange juice that came in the little cup. The crew then finally came around with UNICEF donation bags - most people seemed to donate something. First officer Lee briefed us on our descent at 06:50 and the airshow was now showing that we were 14 minutes ahead of schedule. As we approached the Irish coast we spotted an aircraft about 5-10 miles to our right. It was heading southeast and didn't manage to see what the carrier it was. The contrails left behind by it came into our path and we went right through them.
The clouds below us were overcast. I always hated landing home to a bad day. It's depressing especially when you're after coming from three weeks of constant sunshine and 35 degree temps. But the clouds broke up as we got nearer. We descended over the Loop Head peninsula - stunning views. We flew right over the Moneypoint powerstation and down towards Tarbert, Co. Kerry where I go to school and I saw a few local landmarks from where I live. It was obvious we were approaching RWY 6 (incidently the same runway we left on three weeks before, unusual because Ireland's prevailing winds are southwesterly favouring RWY24 most of the time).
The descent was steep. Most of my family were complaining their ears were popping but that never happens me for some reason. The landing was really rough. I think it was the hardest landing I had ever experienced. Joan Sherwin then thanked us for flying with EI
, wishing us a safe onward journey and advised all those travelling onwards to DUB
that the aircraft would be on the ground for 45 minutes. About two minutes later she came back on and said that they would actually be on the gound for 30 mins. We passed an Aer Arann ATR42 parked on the tarmac away from the terminal. Can anyone tell me why? I know they weren't operating scheduled services from SNN
at the time...
We parked at Gate 11. Strange as there were gates available closer to the main body of the airport. There was a Continental Airlines 752 in from Newark and Delta Air Lines 764 from Atlanta along with two or three Ryanair 738s. No sign of the American Airlines flight AA256 from Phoenix via ORD
which was due in the same time as us. We preceded to passport control where we ran into difficulty with Mom's US passport. The officer which I had seen at SNN
for years said he'd clear the rest of the flight and for her to take a seat. She got it sorted out anyway while we collected the luggage. There was just our flight collecting luggage but a FR
flight from London (STN
) was due within a few minutes. We went through customs with no hassle and met our relatives who had been waiting for us. We went upstairs for some breakfast and then headed back on our 1.5 hour journey home. As we were leaving the terminal building we saw the AA
752 approaching RWY6 from PHX
, 45 minutes late.
So thats both my TRs done for my trip to Chicago 2007. This year we are going around the same dates but this time the flight will be via DUB
. So until then, hope I didn't bore you to death with my long report! Comments and feedback appreciated.