Just got back from an amazing trip to DXB, and my first flights on the 777-200LR's. While 747-400 remains my favorite ever widebody, the 772LR is one hell of an amazing plane. Talk about incomprehensibly huge engines when you see them up close!! While I finally, actually, took a trip to spend some time in the destination, I accomplished a side-goal of setting a new personal record for distance and duration, with the DXB-ATL flight going slightly north of 7900 miles and a 15:15 blocktime. Final itinerary:
DEN-BWI: UA 752
BWI-ATL: DL M80
ATL-DXB: DL 77L
DXB-ATL: DL 77L
ATL-PIT: DL M80
PIT-DTW: NW CR9
DTW-DEN: NW 320
05 September 2009
Block Time: 14 hours, 10 minutes
777-232/LR, N702DN, ship# 7102
Seat: 11D, BusinessElite
Photo © Agustin Anaya
My plans for a trip over Labor Day weekend began with the idea of just doing a quickturn trip on JFK-DKR, DKR-JFK to get an Africa route on my FlightMemory map
However, given rapid bookings on the route, my plans eventually changed over to do DXB. Having perviously done two trips to KWI, I wanted to go back to the Middle East, so DXB was the easy choice, especially since it is now served with the brand new 772LR's of DL.
Ship 7103 (N703DN) going to LAX and continuing onward to SYD
When I landed in ATL, arriving from BWI, I noticed three 772LR's sitting together in front of one of the maintenance hangar. I then realized.... all four 772LR routes depart all within a few hours of eachother. DXB, SYD, JNB, and BOM, all depart in the late evening hours. Interesting aircraft utilization, I thought.
Ship 7102 (N702DN) for my flight to DXB
BusinessElite check-in line for the customer service center on concourse E
I got to ATL with quite a few hours to kill, so I ended up justing finding an unused & quiet gate area with power plugs and watching a few DVD episodes of my new favorite show until boarding time.
Departures board, showing DL8 with nonstop service to DXB
Given the relatively light load in J-class and the short nonrev list, I only used an S3 (for those of you familiar with the DL nonrev system. Never hurts to have 26 years seniority too though, haha. God how I'll miss that when it's gone!!
Ship 7106 (N706DN) just prior to departure for JNB. Can't wait to fly there!!
About 1.5 hours prior to departure, the gate agents called my name for seat assignment. I asked for a rather specific seat assignment if it was available... a window seat in the aft J-cabin, behind doors 2LR. After regarding me for a long time, wondering why quite such a specific request, the agent gave me 11D, window in the aft cabin.
Gate podium for DL8 to DXB
As for the "why" I wanted a window in the aft cabin - simple. The ATL-DXB is the only flight that has daylight, the westbound flies in the pitch dark the entire flight. So, I needed pictures out the window on the eastbound. Secondly, I love pictures over the wing and engine, so I wanted to make sure I had a good view of them, thus aft of doors 2LR, haha.
Aft BusinessElite cabin. I was *very* impressed
View from my seat, looking forward and left toward door 2L
Looking forward from the starboard aisle, toward the fwd J-cabin
After boarding and getting settled, it became rather clear that almost everyone around me were the other nonrevs listed for the flight. It seems the aft J-cabin is more unpopular with the Biz Class pax, for some reason, as the fwd J-cabin went totally full - all seats occupied. Lucky for me though, as I prefer the aft cabin anyway.
View of the cockpit - sorry for the poor lighting and blur
I went up to the cockpit for awhile and talked to the crew, all of whom were very nice. Upon hearing I was both a nonrev and a pilot myself (working on Commercial ASEL) we all had a great time talking. They all had tons of great ideas for things to do while in DXB as well, so time well spent up in the flight deck!!
Another view of the cockpit
Shortly after going back to my seat, the gate agents closed the doors and we were off to DXB, for the next 14 hours and 10 minutes.
Door 2L closed
Pushback from ATL - sorry for the blur, ughhhhh
This was my first time on a GE-powered 777, much less on the LR with the absolutely gigantic GE90-110B's. The sound of them starting up was really unique, far more so than the PW or RR motors.. I'm not sure if it's a whine unique to the higher-powered GE90-110B's, or if it's common across all GE90 types. In any case, very cool sound on start-up!!
Slats still down, just after takeoff from ATL
Just after takeoff, I brought out the PTV system. For the most part, I really like the Delta AVOD, save for their moving map feature which I REALLY don't like compared to other airlines. I much prefer the version offered by NW, especially it's "free roam" feature.
Just taking off out of ATL, only 7000 miles plus change to go
Interesting feature on the moving map for the DL flights to DXB and KWI (route now terminated)
After taking my requisite pictures of the moving map, and giving my dinner order, I began going through the movie selections to find something to watch over the dinner service. While not sure, I think the AVOD selection on the 772LR is much more comprehensive and larger than the AVOD databases on the other fleet types. In any case, I about died on the spot when I saw that "TOP GUN" was one of the movie selections available. I started that up right away!!
Finest movie created by all mankind. Obviously some divine influence in its making, as if the F-14 wasn't God-like enough anyway
Zone 5 afterburner. The guy sitting across from me seemed a bit perplexed as to why I was taking pictures of a movie
Coolest Navy fighter ever?? Definitely. "Tomcats by choice, Hornets by mandate"
Alright, enough of my TOP GUN cheerleading, haha. For dinner, I ordered the chicken option as I usually do. I forgot to get a picture of it, but with the starter of the warm nuts, I got my favorite - and requisite - CranApple juice.
Soup, salad, bread, and appetizer. All very good, I'm becoming a quick fan of the DL international service.
Chicken entree. The vegetables were incredibly spicy, began to make me sweat a bit. Then again, my tolerance for spicy foods is about a 2 on a scale from 1 to 10.
After dinner, still being exhausted from getting up so early that day, I fell asleep really easily. Now, as a comment regarding the DL new BusinessElite vs the UA new UnitedBusiness, the DL product beats it far and away. Both in terms of food service and in terms of the seats themselves. Flat beds, direct aisle access, and privacy dividers. DL's seats were also a lot wider, allowing me to lay flat even with my somewhat broad shoulders. In the UA seats, I had to lay on my side a bit to be comfortable. So again, DL's J-class is *definitely* better than UA's new J-class.
Terrible sun glare, somewhere over Eastern Europe
Flying over Iraq, soon to fly almost directly over Baghdad
Zoomed in map view
Looking down over the desert of Iraq, just north of Baghdad
Just after clearing Iraqi airspace, the FA's began the arrival meal service. One of the options being a vegetarian pizza, I just couldn't pass that up!!
Arrival meal, served approx 1.5 hours to go until landing
Moving map flight stats page, on descent toward DXB
Rapidly flying into the sunset, on descent into DXB
After the trays were collected from the final meal service, I just watched out the window for near the rest of the flight. I'll back up a bit though, in regard to my opinion of the new products at UA and DL. While the DL ones are considerably nicer, they are a MAJOR pain in the ass to look out the window, having to crane your neck around so you're near looking behind you, given the angle of the seats.
Only about 20-30 minutes of daylight remaining on the horizon
Final sunset over DXB, not yet even on final approach... approx 700pm local time
Customs in DXB was remarkably easy, especially since I was one of the first off the plane. As I was waiting in line for passport control, I was talking to one of the other nonrevs. I was surprised to hear that he was doing a quickturn, just going for the passport stamp then turning around and heading back to ATL right away. I didn't give him any hell for it though, I've done that way too many times myself!!
The next day in DXB, I went around to as many of the iconic attractions and tourist spots as I could, with my rather limited time in the city. Time well spent though, I really enjoyed Dubai.
One of the most expensive hotels in the world - the Burj al Arab. Note the helipad near the spire.
Given how it was Ramadan when I visited, almost no one was around anywhere. Total ghost-town. Kinda nice for taking pictures, actually.
The Atlantis Dubai. On the immediate left of the picture is the train track that runs out to the hotel
The legendary Ski Dubai. I would have gone but... $100 bucks for 3 hours was a bit steep for me
And, of course, the tallest building in the world: Burj Dubai. Being deathly afraid of heights, I was relived in a way that you can't yet go up in the tower... otherwise I would have had to go to the observation deck and take a few pictures, haha
07 September 2009
Block Time: 15 hours, 15 minutes
777-232/LR, N707DN, ship# 7107
Seat: 11D, BusinessElitie
Photo © Sam Chui
After a great, but very quick stay in DXB, it was time to head back to the states. I was really looking forward to the flight home, given how it would set personal records for me, both longest distance and duration.
Very nice and spacious observation area adjacent to the food court
At check-in, I was surprised to immediately be given a seat assignment. I knew the load was light, but I didn't expect the agents to clear me into business class nearly 3.5 hours before departure time. That's sure a stress-reliever!!
Gate 113 for DL7 to ATL
The incredibly fancy DXB terminal building
Duty Free mall area
Duty Free mall taken from the floor above
After killing quite a bit of time in the airport on the free wifi (God love airports with free wifi) I made my way to the gate just prior to the start of the boarding process. Interestingly, the UA flight to IAD was departing from the gate right next to us, 1 hour and 40 minutes scheduled after the DL7 departure time.
Best picture I could get of our plane back to ATL, ship 7107 (N707DN)
In a bizarre moment of luck, as I made no specific seat request at check-in, I was given seat 11D again. Given how the entire flight would be in the pitch dark of night, I didn't care if I had a window or not. But, it was nice to be in 11D again, I liked the location of it as well as the view of the GE90-110B right outside.
UA 777-200/ER, N797UA, bound for IAD in approx 1 hour and 40 minutes. It's quite rare to see UA 777's with N7xxUA registrations doing flights north of 12 hours.
Looking toward the rear of the cabin, most pax still getting settled in.
Direct view forward from 11D
View from 11D looking aft toward the coach cabin
The other nonrevs very impressed with the BusinessElite seats, taking group photos
After pushback, taxi out to the runway was very fast, the pilots intentionally making a PA to inform the FA's of this, telling them to take their seats within 2 or 3 minutes. I love short taxis!! Once airborne, the purser came around taking meal orders. I ordered the chicken, as usual, disappointed to hear that they didn't have any left. Oh well, such is the life of the nonrev. So, I just got the beef option instead. Turned out to be really good as well though, I'm really not all that picky.
Soup, salad, bread, and appetizer
Beef entree. Delicious red wine, as well.
Being totally exhausted from a full day out exploring the ungodly hot & humid city, after dessert I reclined my seat and fell asleep for about 8 hours straight. That was the first solid sleep I had got in about 3 days - much needed!!
Moving map, us passing between Iceland and Greenland
Falling asleep again after my picture of the map, I probably would have slept all the way until final approach but the FA's were kind enough to wake up to see if I wanted breakfast before arrival. When given the option between an omelette and pancakes, I quickly went with the pancakes - haven't had those in forever, much less on a plane!
Breakfast service, about 1.5 hours prior to arrival back in ATL
On descent into ATL, from a very northerly track over the Atlantic
Moving map, just prior to final approach. We'd go on to surpass 7900 miles, getting very close to the full 8000. I'm not sure if we ever hit 8000 or not, but I know we got close. That's into the wind also... I was very impressed with the 772LR!!
We were extremely lucky to be the first early morning arrival into customs in ATL, beating out the flights from EZE, SCL, GRU, and others. As such, customs went VERY fast for me, as I only had carry-on baggage. I can see, though, how ATL is probably a nightmare in customs during peak arrivals hour from Europe and such.
Ship 7107 unloaded and being cleaned, after the *long* flight from DXB
Final impressions... DL has a fantastic plane in their brand new 777-200LR's. Great interiors, excellent AVOD selections, and just an overall kickass plane. Like my signature line says... 4 engines 4 long haul is obsolete. 777-200LR: 2 engines 4 longer haul