Somewhere in april I booked myself a little trip to Las Vegas with United Airlines through Connections.
Time departure (scheduled): 12h00 (CET)
Time departure (actual): 12h07 (CET)
Time take off: 12h11 (CET)
Time arrival (scheduled): 14h23 (ET)
Time arrival (actual): 14h09 (ET)
Seat: 13J (business class)
Load: F: 80% / C: 70% / Y(+); 70%
1) Prior the flight
Arround 07h30 I left my home for an half an hour drive to Brussels Airport. This time I would place my car in the Car Hotel. After finding the car hotel (just follow the diversion) I left my car behind and hopped on a shuttle to the airport itself.
I checked the load of the flight through KVStool before I left home and saw that there were plenty of seats available in the C cabin. Knowing that UA sells those seats for a reduced price I decided to go early to the airport to grab such a seat. At the UA ticketing desk I asked for the upgrade and they told me that the fare was 506 EUR to upgrade my flight to business class. The connecting flight to Las Vegas didn't have business class but only an Economy Plus section. This added another 42 EUR to the fee. But hey, since i'm above 2m tall I'm happy to accept it. After chosing seat 13J for the flight to IAD and giving me a aisle seat for the connecting flight in economy plus new boarding passes were issued. Unlike some other airports the ticketing desk at BRU still uses gold boarding passes for premium classes and regular blue ones for economy (plus). The friendly staff told me that the checkin would be opened in about 40 minutes and that she would check me in allready so I could only drop my bags.
After grabbing a coffee from Starbucks (damn, they have really good coffee) I went to the dedicated bag drop line where I waited a bit till it finally opened at 09h sharp. While there were people working at the economy line and the business line I had nobody working the bag drop line. Finally another one showed up and got me through pre security screening. I left my bags and finally went tot the dedicated Star Alliance lounge. Star Alliance carriers are using the BMI lounge and compared to other lounges (BA / Jet Airways) it was very disappointing... It was very small, only a small offering of some crackers, a bit of cheese and some beverages were offered. I don't know if free internet was available but I was able to connect to a Telenet hospot which didn't cost me anything due being a Telenet customer.
A bit before boarding started I went to the gate where preboarding just had started. Since nobody needed to use preboarding actual boarding started with First/Business/UA elites and Star Alliance Gold. I quickly grabbed my seat and was pleasant surprised that the seat next to me remained vacant. UA is still using the old C seats but I'm happy with that, they are very comfortable and have plenty of leg room available. Even when someone in front in reclining you still have plenty of room available. UA is also still using the old IFE system with some films and series on loop with a very tiny and bad quality screen. Fortunately UA is upgrading his long haul fleet but the 777 fleet will be last to be upgraded. It will probably take a while before we see those planes on the BRU-IAD route.
A pre takeoff beverage was offered with a choose between orange juice and "champagne" (which is actually American sparkling wine) or water. Strange thing is these beverages were offered in plastic cups while real glass was used inflight. Also a newspaper was offered in the premium cabins and the remaining ones were distributed through economy plus.
After a short taxi we could turn directly on the runway and starting takeoff. I love it when you don't have to wait. After a short and powerfull takeoff we were airborn in no time. Soon as we reached 10.000 feet the flight attendants started with a beverage service. I choose for a gin with tonic. The gin was emptied in glass of ice and topped with a bit of tonic and after that the can of gin was taken... Hmm... Bad start... I do like gin tonic but I don't like a bunch of gin with a drop of tonic. The second time I ordered another one but requested to mix it myself. Much better so Lunch service started soon but since I'm not that fond about airline food I just declined any food and started to watch some series on my netbook.
The staff was very friendly and very dedicated, one seemed to be a bit worried that I didn't want to eat and came to ask on a regular base if I didn't want anything to eat... After I explained that I just don't like eating on a plane he seemed to understand it and decided to let me alone. He mentioned if he changed my mind that I just needed to call and he'll make something for me. Love that dedication! You can say a lot about UA but certainly not that they aren't dedicated to do their jobs! At least in the C cabin...
After a pleasant flight with only a bit of turbulence we landed ahead of schedule in Washington DC. After passing immigration (which took rather a long time this time due the fact that several other planes had landed) I collected my bad and but it on another belt for my connecting flight. TSA screening went very smooth and I only had to wait a minute or so. Apparently the metal detectors were this time set on a higher sensitivity since they beeped when passing through. After taking of my belt it seemed to work and they adjusted the machine after me (It beeped with every single person passing through).
I checked where my next flight would leave and went to the Red Carpet Club to rest a bit and enjoy a drink.
I'll continue the next parts in other threads.
Legroom in business class on a UA 777
A quick view on the engine
A view that will be gone in the future... VLM Airlines
The entertainment setup during the flight :mrgreen:
And then the problems started...
Registration: N407UA (Need to check this) changed to other plane.
Seat: 07C (Economy Plus)
Load: Y: 100%
When boarding was supposed to start nothing happened. A lot of people were standing at the gate but nothing seemed to be hapening. Hmm, not good I thought. After a few moments an annoucement was made that boarding was going to start. Finally everyone got on board of the Airbus which was 100% full, no single seat available. Again nothing happened and a mechanic showed up to check something in the cockpit. He and the captain disappeared and a few moments later an announcement was made that there was a technical issue with the plane. The indicators for the left wingtanks did not seemed to work so the flightdeck didn't get any information about the quantity of fuel remaining in the tanks. They told us that they were trying to solve the issue but that chances were slim that it would work out. Again after some waiting another annoucement was made, this time it was that the plane was grounded and was not going to leave. A replacement aircraft would be available within a couple of hours, everyone was asked to deplane and wait at the gate for further information.
After deplaning a final annoucement was made that there was indeed a replacement aircraft on his way to IAD and it was going to fly us to LAS. I went back to the red carpet club and asked to be informed if news was available about my flight to LAS. Finally an annoucement was given that the gate had changed and the aircraft was due to arrive arround 20h00. Boarding should start arround 20h40.
At the gate no aircraft was to be seen but finally the flight arrived. After a quick cleaning we were allowed to board and the same crew from the grounded plane went inside. The captain appologised and said that he was going to try to catch up some lost time but that the main priority was safety. During the flight every beverage and snack was free of charge as a form of compensation. The captain gave us on a regular base some information about an ongoing NBA game (he seemed to be a fan) and we arrived actually a bit sooner than planned in LAS (although still a few hours behind original schedule).
Just before deplaning the crew annouced that everyone was giving a compensation and needed to go a website to get it. A nice gesture (although the options given were no good for an foreigner like myself).
After grabbing my bag I got a cab and went to THEhotel @ Mandalay Bay were I would spent the next couple of days.
Unfortunately no pics from the second flight but instead a couple of Vegas:
THEhotel entrance through Mandalay Bay
Part of the lobby
Part of the lobby
Mandalay Bay pool area
Some of the species in the Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay
Some parts of THEsuite @ THEhotel
And a final picture:
Empty streets in Las Vegas...
I had a very good time in Las Vegas but unfortunately (or lucky for us, tourists) Vegas is indeed hurting. I've been in Vegas before and it was extremely slow compared to my previous stay...
A return trip will follow later
[Edited 2009-06-16 02:41:28]
[Edited 2009-06-16 03:11:45]