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AmricanShamrok
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:56 pm

CO25: Shannon Airport (SNN) – Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
CO1183: Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) – O’Hare International Airport (ORD)


Background
It was time again for a three-week visit to my family and friends in Chicago. Our usual carrier of choice has always been Aer Lingus, especially this year because EI was once again operating the Shannon-Chicago route nonstop, 3 times weekly.

However after several months of surveying prices from various airlines (EI, AF, AA, BA, CO, DL, US, UA), it became clear that, in an unusual move on EI’s part, they were quite uncompetitive price-wise this year with the likes of AF, CO, DL & US being substantially cheaper. EI were asking for €3100 for 3 adults, 1 child (all Economy) and US being the cheapest was only asking for €1820. CO and DL came close to this fare but DL’s connection at JFK was too long and US’s lack of AVOD entertainment and reputation for losing baggage on connecting flights prompted us to book with Continental Airlines via Newark for €1863 for 4 travellers.

It worked out well for me because I got to try out CO for the first time, fly on a 757 for the first time and visit EWR for the first time.

___________________________________________________________________

I awoke at around 5am on Sunday, 19 July for our 9am flight to Newark. It was an overcast morning in west Co. Limerick before embarking on the ~1hr drive to SNN:

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The tranquil surrounds of Co. Limerick

We arrived at SNN at 6.45am having checked in the day before. As we approached the airport I witnessed a Ryanair 738 taxiing to Runway 06 so the wind direction must have changed as we departed on Runway 24. CO states on its website that all passengers originating from Dublin and Shannon cannot check-in online as documentation has to be inspected by CO staff at the airport. I tried to check-in the day before anyway and it worked except it wouldn’t allow me to print the boarding passes.

When we arrived there were 4 CO check-in desks open (Continental occupy desks 37-40 at SNN) plus the ticket counter. There were 2 desks for Economy passengers, 1 desk for BusinessFirst passengers and 1 desk for OnePass Elite members. I would clock up nearly 9000 miles on my OnePass card for this return trip.

There was quite a long line and as we entered it a woman approached us with a laptop on wheels and asked us security questions about our bags (did I pack this myself? etc.). She also inspected my passport. Once we reached the desk (about 15 mins later) we learned that flight CO25 was overbooked and they were bumping Elite members into BusinessFirst and other passengers on Skyteam partner Delta Airlines’ flight DL123 to New York-JFK. We were not affected by this but our chances of stretching out were nil as the load factor for both classes were 100%.

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Map of Shannon Airport

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Aer Lingus’ Flight Operations room

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Old Air Traffic Control tower

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“Visit Birmingham” ad

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My boarding pass

As soon as we completed check-in, an announcement was made for all passengers travelling on CO25 that the US immigration facility was now inspecting documentation this flight. We went upstairs to the Estuary Café and had a bite to eat before going through security. I also bought a sandwich to eat in-flight because plane-food doesn’t appeal to me.

There was no queue for security and we were not asked to remove shoes or belts for a change. The Airport Shopping store was full of US military personnel who were on their way to/coming home from the Middle East. I went straight to the departure lounge and browsed around.

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Our bird: a Boeing 757-224 - N29124 at Gate 7 with an EI A333 (EI-ORD/St Maeve) at Gate 8 bound for JFK

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The airbridge of Gate 6 showing its age

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I came back into the departure lounge and met the rest of my travelling party and we pre-cleared US Immigration procedures. The new US Customs and Border Protection facility offering full pre-clearance had not yet opened (we were about 2 weeks early), otherwise we would have had everything done before arrival in the US. Continental uses Gate 7 at Shannon and this was no exception this morning. Before we entered the boarding area we had one final security check of hand-luggage. I snapped a few shots before boarding was called:

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Boarding commenced at 8.20am IST (Irish Standard Time) through door 2L following the usual procedure; BusinessFirst passengers then passengers travelling with small children & OnePass Elite members and finally for people seated at the back of the aircraft forward. As we were boarding there was a call for all US military passengers to Gate 14 with their transit boarding cards.


Note: the “Scheduled Departure” should read 09:00 IST instead of 07:00

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I found the boarding process to be more relaxed than Aer Lingus with more appealing music (Day Dream Believer was one of the songs on while boarding). The cabin manager today Ms. Von Crosby welcomed us after everyone had boarded. She used humour (she advised anyone who was NOT travelling on this flight to come forward so he/she can be directed to the right gate) and informed us that cabin lights would be dimmed for takeoff and landing. Captain Tim Treasan (sp?) introduced himself at 8.46am and projected a flight time to EWR of 7 hours and 5 minutes.

The cabin door was closed at 8.53am and pushback followed at 8.57am. At this time the lights were turned off and the safety video was played. Engine start-up was at 8.59am and we began taxiing at 9.02am IST.

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When we got to RWY24 we waited for about 2 mins for an incoming Omni Air International 752 to land before us:

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The very powerful takeoff took place and we were airborne at 9.14am. We turned right and we left the Irish coastline just south of the Aran Islands. We reached cruising altitude of 34,000 feet at 9.35am IST at a groundspeed of 520mph.

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The Aran Islands: Inismór, Inismeáin and Inisoirr (from left)

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The bar service began at 9.45am IST. Like EI, soft drinks are free but there is a fee for alcoholic drinks. Each drink was accompanied with mini pretzels. Shortly before dinner the in-flight entertainment was re-started because it wasn’t working for some people. Apparently this is a common problem and happens a lot on CO’s 757s. This process took about 40 minutes. Also one of the two Economy lavatories went out of order so everyone was instructed to use the one at the rear of the aircraft. Needless to say with the single aisle, it did become a bit crowded back here especially during the bar service.

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Flightmap showing our progress just after the system was re-started

Dinner was served at 10:45am IST along with another round of drinks. Today’s choice was – surprise, surprise – chicken or beef. I ordered the beef but I didn’t eat much, turning instead to the sandwich I bought at SNN. The brownie was nice I thought.

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Non-plastic cutlery!  Wow!
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I felt CO were just as generous with legroom as EI and I found that travelling in the 757 was just as comfortable as the A330. At 11:18am IST there was an announcement that (somehow) the crew had managed to fix the lavatory and was now available for use again. At 11:30am IST the Duty Free service began. There was some strong enough turbulence around this time and the fasten-seat-belts sign was switched back on. From then on the flight was more turbulent (this was from about the mid-Atlantic) but it came in periods and didn’t last long.

After that I tried to sleep but can never really sleep on a plane. At 9.00am EDT orange juice was offered to us. An hour later, Ms. Crosby briefed us on Customs requirements at Newark Liberty International Airport. Shortly after this the final service was offered. It consisted of a heated turkey and cheese roll with ready salted crisps, German mustard and a dark chocolate cluster. Fair nice now I have to say.

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Our cruising altitude changed to 38,000 feet later on in the flight. We flew right over Boston. At 10.35am EDT the captain informed us on our descent into Newark.

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Our final approach was declared at 10.57am EDT.

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Gear down

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We landed at 11.18am EDT and spent 8 minutes taxiing. We arrived at Gate C137 at 11.26am EDT.

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El Al Israel Airlines 747 from Tel Aviv

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CO23 just arriving from Dublin

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We disembarked using door 1L instead of 2L. We were directed to the baggage hall soon after. EWR is a spacious, modern airport; I was pleasantly surprised by it. On my way I saw a sign directing all Dublin and Shannon passengers into a lane bypassing Immigration as we had already cleared it at SNN.

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After collecting our baggage and clearing customs we were led down to the arrivals hall where we dropped our bags to be loaded onto flight 1183 to Chicago. Then we had to go back upstairs and re-clear security which took about half an hour in total. I’m glad SNN now has full US CBP because having to drop baggage and go through security again was a bit of a pain. While in line for security, a TSA agent shouted “hey you in the white t-shirt, what’s your name?” I looked around and he was talking to me. I shouted “Kevin”, he smiled and walked away…not sure what that was about but anyway… After security I walked around and took a few pics. I was very impressed by EWR; there were food courts and shops where you could just sit and watch what was happening on the airfield. It provided some great views:

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Our boarding gate for CO1183 was in the same terminal (CO’s Terminal C) at Gate C90. As soon as I reached it boarding was called following the usual procedure. This was at 12.55pm EDT.

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The agent just looked at our boarding passes; she didn’t scan them or tear off the stub. When I boarded the 735 (with winglets) all the window blinds at the right side of the cabin were shut. It must have been to keep the heat of the sun out, but it made it very dark. This would be my third flight on a Boeing 737-500.

The door was closed at 1.19pm EDT and that was followed by the captain’s announcement. Capt. Mark Ross was in command today and there were 2 cabin crew. About 10 mins later the crew carried out the safety demo with one crew member doing First Class and the other in Economy. There was no IFE on this flight.

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View from 15F

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We began taxiing at 1.35pm EDT and were airborne at 1.47pm off Runway 22R.
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We reached our cruising altitude at 2.25pm EDT after which the bar service began. Once again soft drinks were free and they came with mini pretzels.

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The flight wasn’t long going and at 2.13pm CDT the captain informed us of our initial descent into Chicago. His ETA was 30 mins and that we would arrive at Gate B4 in United Airlines’ Terminal 1, but we would claim baggage at Terminal 2.

We passed over Lake Michigan at 2.17pm CDT and the speed brakes were extended around this time:

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Final approach into O’Hare International Airport

Soon after making landfall west of Lake Michigan the gear was extended and we were informed that we were on our final approach. We approached directly from the east for a landing on Runway 27L. The time was 2.39pm CDT.

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Touchdown was at 2.41pm CDT with heavy braking and we were off the runway in seconds using up only about half of it (and it’s a short enough runway). We spent 4 mins taxiing and we arrived on-stand at 2.45pm CDT.

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Terminal 1, Concourse C

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Continental Connection/ExpressJet Airlines ERJ145 next to us

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The walk from Gate B4 to the CO carousel in T2 was short. We only had to go through a small glass walkway between the two terminals. We were at baggage claim about 2 mins after disembarking and I’d imagine that some people were none the wiser that we had just changed terminals.

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CO baggage claim

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We were out of the terminal within 15 minutes and caught our 10-minute drive to Edison Park on Chicago’s Northwest Side:

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Summary
Overall the CO experience was excellent. It lived up to (and exceeded) my expectations and I would definitely fly with them again, especially for the rock-bottom price I paid. On the SNN-EWR leg, the crew undoubtedly worked harder than what I’ve experienced on EI with the crew on their feet performing a service for the most part. Still can’t beat the friendliness of the EI crew though…

* PS: I’m too cheap to upgrade to Pro so if you can’t see the photos just check back in a few weeks! And apologies for the blurry pics…

[Edited 2009-08-13 17:10:15]
 
EI320
Posts: 546
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:33 am

Top class report Kevin, well done. The pics were great and the extra detail was nice.

Service on CO also seems pretty good and the silver cutlery is a nice touch.

Quoting AmricanShamrok (Thread starter):
The airbridge of Gate 6 showing its age

It's a disgrace to leave it like that, no need for it.

Thanks for posting,

EI320
 
PlaneHunter
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:59 am

Hi Kevin,

very interesting report about CO's 757 TATL service. Good to see CO has added PTVs to these long-haul birds, unlike AA or US. The main meal portion was a bit small, but the sandwich looks good.

Btw - I like that detailed datasheet.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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OA260
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:02 am

Hey great report. Nice to see a CO one. Food looks ok bit bare but you did right to take your own sandwich.

Gate at SNN sure looks weathered. A lick of paint from Atlantic Homecare is on the cards.

PTV screens decent size . Nice interior. Shame about the bathrooms but these things happen.

Nice pics of EWR also.

Well done

Philip
 
B747forever
Posts: 12855
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:27 am

Very nice TR

The pics came out good.

Seems that you enjoyed your flight with CO.

Glad that you didnt encounter any delay at EWR!


Thank you for sharing

B747forever
Work Hard, Fly Right
 
EIDAA
Posts: 446
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:33 am

Hey Kevin,

Great report there, so thanks for taking the time to put it together. CO are certainly on my list of airlines to try, so someday I will give them a shot across the pond from DUB.

Glad you had a good trip and looking forward to the return report!  Wink

Thanks
Andrew
Most Flown:- G-BUVA (20 Flights), EI-DEB (12 Flights), EI-JFK (11 Flights)
 
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aerdingus
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:12 am



Quoting AmricanShamrok (Thread starter):
While in line for security, a TSA agent shouted “hey you in the white t-shirt, what’s your name?” I looked around and he was talking to me. I shouted “Kevin”, he smiled and walked away…not sure what that was about but anyway…

Hmm, I betcha he was an A.netter!

Good pics.
2016: BHX GLA KIR LCY LGW MUC VIE BA EI FR LH OS A320 A321 ATR 42 ATR 72 B738 E190 E195
 
directorguy
Posts: 1045
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:11 pm

Thanks for sharing this TR! CO looks like a decent experience-with a good book or two I could definately live through a TATL flight on their 757s. You're right about the food-I would definately eat my fill beforehand.
Great job :P
 
latinaviation
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:25 pm

A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:27 pm

Hey Kevin,
Really enjoyed the report - especially being from Chicago (but now living in Dublin). I fly CO often and their product is one of the best for US airlines. I am on EI's 147 on Monday to SFO; we'll see if the service is as good this time around.

Cheers!
 
wntex
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A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:07 pm

Great TR, really enjoyed the amount of detail you gave about the service and the flights themselves. Great pics too. I think when I get the chance, I'll take CO TATL.

Thanks for sharing with us!

WNTex
"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now." -Zig Ziglar
 
September11
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RE: A Continental Experience:Transatlantic&Beyond-pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:39 pm

Great adventure!

Quoting AmricanShamrok (Thread starter):
one of the two Economy lavatories went out of order so everyone was instructed to use the one at the rear of the aircraft.

That's not a good sign.
Airliners.net of the Future
 
MSP7378
Posts: 40
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RE: A Continental Experience:Transatlantic&Beyond-pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:01 pm

Very nice TR. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!
 
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shamrock350
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:11 pm

Nice report Kevin!

Glad that you had a good experience with CO, service sounds pretty decent.

Great photos as well.

Quoting AmricanShamrok (Thread starter):
The airbridge of Gate 6 showing its age

It's been there for as long as I can remember. I'll actually miss those airbridges when they are eventually replaced, seeing the red airbridge with "AerRianta" written on the side was always a welcome home type of thing for me.

Thanks for sharing.

Kevin
 
caleb1
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:25 am

Unfortunately, none of your pictures were able to be viewed because the bandwidth was exceeded. Would it be possible to download them again?
 
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AmricanShamrok
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:17 pm



Quoting EI320 (Reply 1):
Top class report Kevin, well done. The pics were great and the extra detail was nice.

Service on CO also seems pretty good and the silver cutlery is a nice touch.

Thanks Colm. The service is excellent; even on EWR-ORD the crew were up most of the time checking if passengers were alright or needed anything.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 2):
Hi Kevin,

very interesting report about CO's 757 TATL service. Good to see CO has added PTVs to these long-haul birds, unlike AA or US. The main meal portion was a bit small, but the sandwich looks good.

Btw - I like that detailed datasheet.

Hi PH. The PTVs were good, but not a great selection now I have to say, especially with the music - mostly targetting older generations than myself  Wink

Quoting OA260 (Reply 3):
Hey great report. Nice to see a CO one. Food looks ok bit bare but you did right to take your own sandwich.

Gate at SNN sure looks weathered. A lick of paint from Atlantic Homecare is on the cards.

PTV screens decent size . Nice interior. Shame about the bathrooms but these things happen.

Nice pics of EWR also.

Well done

Thanks Phil. Exactly, I wouldn't want the bathroom incident and PTV incident put a dampener on peoples' views of CO!

Quoting B747forever (Reply 4):
Very nice TR

The pics came out good.

Seems that you enjoyed your flight with CO.

Glad that you didnt encounter any delay at EWR!

Don't speak too soon! - the journey home was anything but uneventful - stay tuned for my return TR!

Quoting EIDAA (Reply 5):
Hey Kevin,

Great report there, so thanks for taking the time to put it together. CO are certainly on my list of airlines to try, so someday I will give them a shot across the pond from DUB.

Glad you had a good trip and looking forward to the return report!

Cheers Andrew. They certainly didn't diasppoint. On the way out at EWR we passed through the BusinessFirst cabin and it looked impressive too.

Quoting Aerdingus (Reply 6):
Hmm, I betcha he was an A.netter!

He probably saw me on CCTV taking photos down at baggage claim (where technically I wasn't supposed to be) and figured, that's an A.netter anyway. Hello security lad if you're reading!

Quoting Directorguy (Reply 7):
Thanks for sharing this TR! CO looks like a decent experience-with a good book or two I could definately live through a TATL flight on their 757s. You're right about the food-I would definately eat my fill beforehand.
Great job

Indeed. Although I think most airlines' Y class meals are gone to pot anyway.

Quoting LatinAviation (Reply 8):
Hey Kevin,
Really enjoyed the report - especially being from Chicago (but now living in Dublin). I fly CO often and their product is one of the best for US airlines. I am on EI's 147 on Monday to SFO; we'll see if the service is as good this time around.

Chicago's my second home - my mother is from there. I know a lot of people who connect to ORD and gave nothing but good reviews before I went. At least you're guaranteed the new cabins now for your trip to SFO!

Quoting WNTex (Reply 9):
Great TR, really enjoyed the amount of detail you gave about the service and the flights themselves. Great pics too. I think when I get the chance, I'll take CO TATL.

Thanks for sharing with us!

I must admit I thought going transatlantic on a 757 would be a bit crammed but it wasn't bad. I'd definately recommend them to you.

Quoting September11 (Reply 10):
That's not a good sign.

No it was not!

Quoting MSP7378 (Reply 11):
Very nice TR. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

Thanks MSP!

Quoting Shamrock350 (Reply 12):
Nice report Kevin!

Glad that you had a good experience with CO, service sounds pretty decent.

Great photos as well.

Cheers Kev.

Quoting EI320 (Reply 1):
It's a disgrace to leave it like that, no need for it.



Quoting Shamrock350 (Reply 12):
It's been there for as long as I can remember. I'll actually miss those airbridges when they are eventually replaced, seeing the red airbridge with "AerRianta" written on the side was always a welcome home type of thing for me.

I think the whole pier should be redone. They've done a great job transforming the landside part of the airport but I think the gate area is in need of renovation. If they extended the new gate area around Gate 14 to the rest of the concourse and painted the airbridges in the SNN colours (better still, find advertisers), then we'd be sucking diesel!

Quoting Caleb1 (Reply 13):
Unfortunately, none of your pictures were able to be viewed because the bandwidth was exceeded. Would it be possible to download them again?

Eh, no  Silly I'm a student, and times are tough for me to be upgrading and paying so much a year for photos I only upload once. Just come back in a few weeks I'd say...
 
flynlr
Posts: 204
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:27 pm

this appears to be mostly a Photo trip report.. but with the pictures unavailable. I am unsure of the
point of this TR.
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AmricanShamrok
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:17 pm



Quoting Flynlr (Reply 15):

Nope, this TR was designed to give information in writing and information through photos. I've already explained the situation above.
 
Eirules
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:55 pm

Excellent trip report Shamrok

I have always found CO to be very professional, but perhaps a little unspectacular! I'm flying to DCA with them in October and looking forward to it even more now I've seen your report, nice pictures (though the food lookks a bit dodge!)

Well done again
Andy
The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live....
 
T8KE0FF
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:06 pm

err... maybe upgrade to pro?
 Wink
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AmricanShamrok
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:26 pm



Quoting EIRules (Reply 17):
I have always found CO to be very professional, but perhaps a little unspectacular! I'm flying to DCA with them in October and looking forward to it even more now I've seen your report, nice pictures (though the food lookks a bit dodge!)

Thanks for that Andy, maybe next year I'll chance US  wink   Silly
 
ewrkid
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:50 pm

Very Good TR!!

I saw the report when you were able to view the photos and it looked great =).. CO is a great airline and I'm glad to say that they are my home airline!!! I myself just flew CO across the atlantic and back and had a great experince with them!!


Keep the good TR's coming!
EwRkId
 
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AmricanShamrok
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RE: A Continental Experience: Transatlantic & Beyond - Pics

Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:12 pm



Quoting EwRkId (Reply 20):
Very Good TR!!

I saw the report when you were able to view the photos and it looked great =).. CO is a great airline and I'm glad to say that they are my home airline!!! I myself just flew CO across the atlantic and back and had a great experince with them!!


Keep the good TR's coming!

Thanks Kid! Big grin
I'll definately fly them again.

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