I flew a lot in that period, and I am going to make a trip report of everything I flew divided in sections. This third section is going to be dedicated to the return from Bangkok to Medellin. Later will come the final part, which is some domestic flights I had within Colombia.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
This is part III, the return from Bangkok to Medellin. This comes from parts I and II, the journey from Medellin, Colombia to Bangkok Thailand and the flights I had within Asia respectively, which are found here:
Part I: Colombia To Thailand (lots Of Pictures!) (by 757MDE Mar 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
Part II: Flights From BKK (FD, MH, LH Pictures!) (by 757MDE Mar 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (VTBS/BKK) - Tokyo Narita (RJAA/NRT)
Boeing 747-400 - N122UA
Seat 36K window
5:45 flight time.
I arrived to the Airport on time for check-in, looking, walking and behaving like a zombie since I had barely slept. I did the check-in and the girl in the counter said to me "what a long trip!", and yeah, I would be landing in Bogotá some 27 flight hours later, give or take, with their respective stops (and she could only see until Orlando, my last stop with United). It was going to be loong indeed, and I had already started it some hours before from Kuala Lumpur.
I was given then the boarding passes until Washington DC. The flight with United was going to be Bangkok - Tokyo - Los Angeles - Chicago - Washington DC - Orlando and in Orlando I would switch to jetBlue for the flight to Bogotá. I asked for boarding passes only until Washington since I was going to be picked up there and I should deliver stuff, thus I needed to pick up the baggage.
Boarding passes to Washington DC
I did one last walkaround Suvarnabhumi and went to the waiting room. Flight 890 was Bangkok - New York with stops in Tokyo and Los Angeles and plane changes at both cities. In Tokyo you change for another 747 (I thought it was going to be the very same one I departed Bangkok on, but it was another one) and in Los Angeles you change for a 757 to New York. I changed to a 757 in Los Angeles but I was headed for Chicago.
When I arrived the gate was already opened, there were several people waiting. There were some senior US people going back and some lemon cookie Japanese girls with little cute dresses, I gotta say I like Japenese girls. Thailand seems to be a popular destination for Japanese people, to the point that in some newspapers you can see ads in Japanese.
N122UA ready in gate
In the waiting room I was made to remove my shoes and my hand baggage was checked once again, first time I had that in Bangkok but it was also the first time that I departed in a flight bound for the US from there, even if it had a stop in Tokyo, and that was the reason. I had gone from Bangkok to the US earlier via Beijing, but changing airlines and I had the extra checks for the US in Beijing that time.
The flight had about 65% load and again I could have a full row for myself, I sat and waited for pushback. I have had my fair share of United flights now but I never seemed to get lucky with Channel 9, well, this one was the first time I got it, in fact, the Captain announced it while we were pushing back and of course, how could I refuse to tune it?
Before we took off the captain was asked the runway felt "normal" and the Captain was like "I don't quite get your question but everything seems normal to me", after that we were authorized takeoff and off we went.
Sit and ready
Taxi - Welcome to Suvarnabhumi Airport (once again)
Holding short point 19L
Lining up with runway 19L
The flight continued smoothly flying over Laos, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Okinawa and more of Japan until reaching Tokyo. There were some parts of the flight when I fell asleep (remember the zombie bit?), but I didn't want to, it was a nice daytime flight and the visibility was great. I managed to see some of Taiwan and Okinawa, and just over Okinawa I saw lots of Airplanes lower than us, I think I recognized an ANA Dash 8-Q400, while I kept listening to the ATC. The Pilots had to ask for clarification more than once over Vietnam, but I guess it comes with the territory in these kinds of flights.
Flying over Vietnam
Time passed by, meals were delivered and when I least expected it we were approaching to Tokyo, there I did feel some turbulence (Tokyo seems to be quite turbulent) and we landed nicely some 15 minutes before ETA, we went to the gate and I went to see parts of Narita I couldn't see the last time I had been through there. I window shopped at some duty free stores (they seemed to sell lots of makeup) and I confirmed that I indeed like Japogirls.
Descent to Tokyo
About to land
Konnichiwa, anatatachi wa hikoushi desu ka? Ga hoshiiiiii!
Arigatoo gozaimasu, shikashi watashi wa Koronbia ni ikimasu, sumimasen! Mata ne...
I had a couple hours before the Los Angeles flight.
Tokyo Narita (RJAA/NRT) - Los Angeles International (KLAX/LAX)
Boeing 747-400 - N180UA
Seat 39A window
10:00 flight time.
As I said in the earlier flight, I walked around, saw stores and Japogirls and saw lots of Airplanes.
JAL duty free
ANA duty free
Anata wa utsukushii desu yo!
We boarded again, the flight was on time and this time the occupation was around 74.3232323232323232% more or less, I sat and this time the row wasn't for myself only, in the aisle a US marine sat. Pushback and takeoff as usual and I began my trip back to the American continent. Traveling to Asia I have had full day flights, but traveling to America everything goes pretty quick, if it's day it goes to night but then dawns quick as well, precisely this I experimented in this flight.
Sit and ready
The flight had moderate turbulence and the usual service, even though this time around I didn't have Japanese F/As in my sector. In this flight Channel 9 was also activated but over the Pacific Ocean there was not much to be heard, and while it was dark I slept a while. This flight went quite fast to say the truth, when I least expected we were over California in descent, and Channel 9 at its height. I don't know if it was the Captain or the First Officer, but who I heard talking as UA890 was a woman, which was cool.
Los Angeles overcast
Arriving in Los Angeles one flies over the city, and it's one looooooooong city, we flew several minutes over it until the runway just appeared out of nowhere. We landed and had a longish taxi to the gate, and this time around I got ready to run to immigration and customs as fast as I could since I had less than 2 hours to connect and I had been told immigration and customs in Los Angeles wasn't the most pleasant thing to go through, which added to my past experience in Orlando had me prepared for the worst.
Approaching over Los Angeles
Taxi (V Australia 777-300 visible)
Engines off, no more pictures since I had to run to immigration and customs and hope not to miss my next flight!
The immigration and customs experience, however, turned off to be just the opposite of what I had in mind. This time I wasn't sent to secondary inspection, and in the normal inspection I had a 20 and something years old CBP officer which was very nice and "set me free" in no time at all when she knew I had a connection, she even told me I had "quite a file" in the system but that I should be relaxed since I had got in and out of the US several times without posing any problems to the customs and that "it was a good thing". She was even kind of cute...
I got out of the terminal, went upstairs and go through the TSA check. Going through that check with 7 portable hard drives and two laptops is not the best thing to do (besides the smelly show removal and all), but anyway, I made it through, went to the waiting room and that was it, the goal had been accomplished (with goal meaning here just not missing the flight).
Los Angeles International (KLAX/LAX) - Chicago O'Hare (KORD/ORD)
Boeing 757-200 - N533UA
Seat 24F window
4:05 flight time.
Happy for not having missed my next flight, I went to the waiting room of my new flight.
A little after having sat I found out it was delayed, but just some 30 minutes.
It was pure Murphy's Law, had I been delayed in customs the flight would have arrived on time, or even earlier but well...
Time passed and boarding was called, the Airplane was FULL and lots of people had trouble finding space in the overhead bin for their baggage.
Connecting through LAX is sooo LA
N533UA ready in gate
Sit and ready
Everyone was ready, but nothing about the pushback. Some minutes after that the Captain said there was some paperwork missing and precisely some minutes after he said that a dispatch guy got into the Airplane, the guy seemed to have had just run for his life. After this we did pushback.
I can only remember there were two very good looking girls beside me (a welcome change vis-a-vis the marine of the earlier flight), and I fell asleep when we had about 20 minutes flight time. When I woke up we had flown through a good deal of the US and the descent to Chicago was being announced.
A great deal of this flight, me included, seemed to be connecting. The tighest connect was of only about 20 minutes ("if Chicago doesn't slow us down" as the Captain said) because of the earlier delay in Los Angeles. For my connection there was enough time, so I relaxed. However, when we landed, the two girls beside me jumped out of their seats as soon as they could and ran (just like I had done when arriving in Los Angeles from Tokyo). It seemed they were the ones with the 20 minutes tight connection!
Descent to Chicago (another unrecognized Airport)
I got off the Airplane, walked around a little bit and then went and sat in the waiting room. There I fell asleep until the boarding announcement to Washington woke me up (I'd have bitten my elbow if I had lost that flight for being asleep in the waiting room!). A friend almost didn't believe me when I told I had fallen asleep in Chicago because he says their chairs suck, but alas, I had been flying from Bangkok! (almost from Kuala Lumpur...)
The only thing I remember was fight between some guy and a gate agent, I remember the gate agent saying: "You have to call" and the guy saying "What a joke!" and the agent saying "Sorry" and then the guy saying "Fuck you and your mom" and walking away in fury (made me remember Blanka from Street Fighter).
Chicago O'Hare (KORD/ORD) - Washington Dulles (KIAD/IAD)
Airbus A319 - N805UA
Seat 23A window
1:55 flight time.
As I mentioned, at this time I was almost dead so I just woke up to board, be seated, buckle my seat belt and fell asleep quickly.
This flight was VERY turbulent, I know about this due to two things:
-Midflight I was woken up by a shake of the Airplane, which is very hard in me and more so in the conditions I was in that very moment, so it was a big shake.
-I had a female commuting Pilot sit beside me and she made a comment to me about it when we landed.
The Pilot was cute and she was like fighting with someone (or at least she called the person as soon as she could turn her phone on and almost cried), but I was very very tired to play gossip girl and didn't pay attention.
N805UA at gate C17
I took this one between the gate of the Los Angeles 757 and Washington A319
This one too
Washington Dulles @ C17
The flight was on time and was pretty full again with lack of overhead bin space, and this time it almost affected, I had to put my hand baggage waaaay down the aisle. I didn't take pictures or shoot videos because I was asleep, and it was night time already.
When we arrived in Washington I got my baggage and went to the curb to be picked up... I had to put 3 dollars in this machine so it would let me use a trolley.
Washington Dulles (KIAD/IAD) - Orlando McCoy (KMCO/MCO)
Airbus A320 - N475UA
Seat 17F window
2:00 de vuelo.
I thought I was going to sleep the night I arrived from Chicago, but I just goofed around and ended up sleeping a very short time, as a result, I was in Dulles the next morning with my now familiar zombie state.
I checked-in, there was a little line but not much and it moved fast.
The TSA line was something else though... that line took a long time to clear. There were a lot of Koreans for the Korean Air flight to Seoul, having been added to the visa waiver program just a little time before it was to be expected.
I finally cleared the TSA line and I rode one of the "mobile lounges" Dulles is (or was now that the Aerotrain is working) famous for.
That thing you see behind the Dash 8 is a mobile lounge, I was riding another one when I took that picture. They attach themselves to terminals, and when they're turned on they sound like a truck. I really like them!
N475UA @ gate D1
I boarded quick, I sat and we took off on time. Again, full load in the flight, and again, due to my zombie state I slept most of the flight. When I woke up I had a steep pain in my left ear. It was the first (and so far only) time I had earache while flying since I can remember, there was some turbulence and we landed on time in Orlando.
Sit and ready
Airborne. That building you see below is the Udvar-Hazy center of the National Air & Space museum. Below that roof there's a Concorde, a Space Shuttle, a SR-71 and loooots more!
Descent to Orlando
Vacating the active
Interior, people getting ready to disembark
N475UA at the gate in Orlando
When we arrived to the gate I listened to Spanish again, the girl beside me was called and she said:
"JÉ-LÓ!, dile que vaia al supeh ya tu sabeh... ahora hablamoh!"
I was getting closer to home indeed... (I hadn't listened to Spanish since the Venezuelan guys in Kuala Lumpur).
I got off the Airplane and went for my baggage, since I had to change to jetBlue and there was no automatic baggage transfer. My baggage was heavy, even though it didn't exceed any limit and I had to go to the other side of the terminal, but I didn't need to climb stairs or anything, so this time around I didn't give a penny to the trolley machine (what can I say, I'm cheap and they should be free!) and took the baggage myself to the jetBlue counter for the flight to Bogotá.
Orlando McCoy (KMCO/MCO) - Bogotá Eldorado (SKBO/BOG)
Airbus A320 - N646JB
Seat 2B middle
3:55 flight time.
I reached jetBlue's counter and the line was long, and if I had felt closer to home with the girl talking Spanish of the Washington flight, now I did indeed feel closer with the people standing in line with me. A good deal of them had their suitcases in the floor opened and they were moving stuff from one suitcase to the other trying to get them be below the weight limit. That's typical Colombian overweight, here they say that when a Colombian travels he/she doesn't just travel, but moves!
Very blurry, but the silhouettes of several overweight suitcases with their owners swapping cargo from one to the other can be seen.
I got to the agent and I didn't ask for a window seat beforehand, when I wanted to I had already been a middle one. The good news is that it was one of the higher pitch seats again, without paying.
With my boarding pass in my hand I went to the TSA line, and boy was I happy it was the last time I would have to go through the TSA for some time.
I cleared it and moved into the AGT train, ate something and just chilled and connected thanks to the free WiFi.
N646JB at gate
We boarded and took off on time. I had a middle seat, and this time around the guy in the window didn't seem as friendly as the Malaysian when I had the middle seat on board AirAsia, and since I was still a zombie I rather put my camera away and slept all the way down to Colombia. There was an actress called Ana Soler pass the aisle, she's Puerto Rican if I am not mistaken but quite recognizable in Colombia (not that I cared).
jetBlue 1783 to Bogota, Colombia
I was woken up by the touchdown at Eldorado Airport some hours later.
We parked and I saw the Captain, and by chance he was the very same guy of the jetBlue flight I have had three months earlier, I talked to him about this and he sort of remembered:
"You're the picture guy, right?" (referring to the 10 bucks picture).
I got in a bus to the terminal and the actress was ranting about unemployment and some guy, while some people going to Medellin were worrying about their connection (I was going to Medellin as well, but not that day). They lot their connection indeed since immigration was SLOW that night... I cleared it, got a cab and rode away.
Bogotá Eldorado (SKBO/BOG) - Medellín (Rionegro) José María Córdova (SKRG/MDE)
Boeing 737-700 - HK-4608
Seat 2F window
0:30 flight time.
I spent some days in Bogotá again, and it was time to finally fly back home.
As in the way out, this time I had the freedom to choose which Airline would I use in the BOG - MDE leg. I chose Aires since I had never flown in a 737-700 and to see how were they doing with their sort of recent start of jet operations (they had a been a Dash-8 only Airline until some months earlier).
I did check-in and I forgot again to ask for a window seat but fortunately I was assigned one.
I watched the traffic for a while and cleared security (way less bothersome than the TSA one) and went to the waiting room, the Airplane was nowhere to be seen.
They announced there was bad weather in Rionegro (Medellin's main Airport is actually located in a town called Rionegro) and that the flight would be delayed. I was getting ready to watch the assassin horde go for some good ol' gate agent bloodfest, but everyone was actually pretty calmed, meanwhile I just kept watching the traffic and other business (namely pretty girls) until the Airplane finally appeared, in total one hour delay.
Very nice 737 in the gate
We finally boarded and I was greatly surprised when I saw the load was pretty good, some 76.8% which was unexpected since I had been having reports about dismal loads for Aires in their first months of jet operations. Fortunately things seemed to be turning for the better.
We did pushback and taxied to runway 13R, took off and turned right.
Sit and ready
Taxi, N161BS of Avianca titleless
Fokker 50 of Avianca approaching to 13R while we hold short
Photo © Andres Ramirez
The flight seemed WAY TOO SHORT for me, coming from where I was coming. They gave the usual juice, we made descent and landed on runway 36. They have some punctuality issues at times, but Aires and their 737-700 was a good experience and the price wasn't bad.
Engines off, gate 9
Cockpit, thanks to the crew!
Photo © Andres Ramirez
At gate 9 getting ready to go back to Bogotá
When we arrived some girl shouted something to a F/A about the delay, but I could only think on getting my baggage back and get home finally, after some 3 months faaaaaaaaaaaaaar from it.
Twelft flight BKK - NRT:
-Takeoff from BKK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjdx_MIqXaQ
-Landing at NRT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYiS8orIuIo
Thirtieth flight NRT - LAX:
-Airplanes at gates in Narita: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDsU2qZIP88
-Takeoff from NRT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fc1vF1qW1c
-In flight while dawning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6qeJLsAPUg
-Landing at LAX: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqt7JnGE1rc
-Taxiing at LAX: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHAQgAkeK7E
Fourteenth flight LAX - ORD:
-Takeoff from LAX: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlZ82htVJxw
-Landing at ORD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JiQDAQNmv4
Fifteenth flight ORD - IAD:
-Nil (I was ZZZzzzZZZ)
Sixteenth flight IAD - MCO:
-Takeoff from IAD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBM1TW-O7co
-Landing at MCO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvJCXSHYymo
Seventeenth flight MCO - BOG:
-Nil (I was ZZZzzzZZZ)
Eighteenth flight BOG - MDE:
-Takeoff from BOG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaqH0IZZOMI
-Landing at MDE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGqEcSjP16I
TO BE CONTINUED
Next, part IV and final: Flights within Colombia