Trip Report #1
In August 2007, my family decided that we wanted to go to Italy. Being in the tenth grade, there were only 2 options for when to travel, Winter Break (which ran 2 weeks in December/January) or March Break (ran for 5-days in March). The later was decided because it offered a bit more time for planning and the weather would be a bit nicer in Italy. 3 cities were selected for our travels: Rome, Florence, and Venice. Airfare was booked using BTS, a travel website my mother found. I was quite happy with the routing it gave because it offered a nice variety or airlines which will be detailed in this report. It was a first for all of the airlines and airports (except for my origin), so I was VERY excited. This report will be broken into 2 different TR’s, detailing my departure segments: BUF-IAD-FRA-FCO (more on THAT later). The second will consist of the return: VCE-VIE-ORD-BUF.
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Buffalo (KBUF) - Washington (KIAD)
United Airlines Express UA7830
Flying time: 1:03 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 5A
I live just north of Toronto and the family decided to stay overnight near KBUF to avoid any potential problems on the QEW or at the border the day of travel. My mother decided to do some shopping in the morning. Now, when we woke up, I alerted my father to the fact that we had a 1-hour connection at IAD and that we should go to BUF early and see if we can get on the 10:15am to IAD. He said don’t worry about it, and so did my mother. Then I explained how if the RJ got delayed in the morning, we could be screwed. They didn’t listen. Well, my “I told you so.” moment was in the works.
We arrive at BUF at 12:15pm for our 14:20 departure. Check-in was routine, a very nice CSR asked us where we were heading and was surprised to hear Italy. We we carrying on our bags so it was just a document check, boarding passes, and off to the security checkpoint. Buffalo airport security, even at its busiest times, is a breeze. We got through in about 5 minutes with no hassle. Agents weren’t friendly, but not rude either (kind of like robots). My family went to the gate as I went to explore the terminal a little bit. It didn’t take long, and there wasn’t much action. One of the downsides of flying out of BUF is the little traffic, and when there is traffic, it is mostly RJ’s. Boarding was set for 14:05 and at that time the agent (same lady who checked us in) made an announcement that the aircraft was delayed and we would have more info shortly. About an hour later, she said that the aircraft still hadn’t arrived at IAD (where it would turn to BUF and back to IAD) and that they still did not know our departure time. I glared over at my parents, and they both had that “o crap, he was right” look on their faces. Around 3:45pm, my father and I went to the counter and explained we were on the 16:45 to FCO. A line started to form behind us as the rebooking process for many paxs began. We were booked onto the 18:00 to FRA on LH, with a 7:20 flight from FRA-FCO. Not bad, we would only be arriving as few hours late into FCO that scheduled. Or so we thought. After we were re-booked (took about 15 minutes), I went to get some coffee. I saw the F/O in front of me and I asked him what the situation was looking like. He said that the aircraft had just arrived at IAD, and they were turning it as quick as they could and that airtime would only be about 55 minutes to IAD. I thought “great, we are going to run to the LH flight when we land”. Well, the aircraft arrived in BUF at 16:50, and they said we could begin boarding in 5 minutes (I saw the ground crew scrambling to pull the bags off and everything, kudos to them). At 17:00, we began boarding and I told my father that it would be incredibly tight to get onto our LH flight. Well, after an uneventful flight we touched down at IAD at 18:00, and as we rolled out of our landing, I saw the LH 747 pushing back. Fantastic. We get into the terminal and head to a UA counter, where a rude CSR rebooked us onto the 19:20 to FRA, and subsequently a 12:00pm FRA-FCO flight (still LH).
Some shots from BUF:
Arrival into IAD:
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
Washington (KIAD) – Frankfurt (EDDF)
United Airlines UA952
Flying time: 1:03 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 5A
Well, here we are, sitting in IAD waiting another 1.5 hours until our departure to Frankfurt. I went off to explore some of IAD and returned at 18:45. Boarding began shortly after and we were ready to push at 19:25 when the captain came on the pa and announced an issue with the APU. He said that a it wasn’t starting and they were looking at solutions. About 10 minutes later he came on and said that there was an INOP valve and it needed to be replaced. He said MX was on the way. We waited and then he came on and said that after the valve replacement he tried firing it up and it didn’t work, and in his disgruntled words “they replaced the wrong valve”. Thanks a lot UA MX, now they were on their way back to try again. Well, we sat with no information for a while and then I decided to call up the UA 1-800 number as everyone was getting pissed and we were receiving no information. Well I called at 8:30pm and the lady on the phone said that at 8:40pm, the captain would have to decide between cancelling the flight o switching aircraft because of duty time restrictions. Well, low and behold, at the end of her sentence, he came on the pa. “Ladies and gentleman, we have not been able to fix the problem at this time, we have a spare aircraft being towed over now, and we will begin the process of switching aircraft”. So everyone gets off the plane and we walk a few gates over as an o/c 763 is being connected to the gate. As the flight crew prepared the new aircraft (moving catering, bags, and flight deck setup) two agents began rebooking an entire full 763. Two agents........ugh, the process was a crawl at best. About 45 minutes later (it is now 9:30pm), one agent logs out and starts walking away. The crowd gets angry, and as she walks down the terminal, I yell “your going to leave all these passengers here with one agent?”, to which she replied “yep, my shift is done”. Glad to see the UA CSR has a commitment to the passengers. Well, the one agent plugged through and told us we would be able to make our 12:00pm FRA-FCO flight. Finally, at 10:20pm, we board and then take-off at 23:00, 3.5 hours late.
The flight was a complete disappointment and poor reflection on United. The F/A’s basically got up, served a drink, and tossed a meal onto my tray table. Lovely service indeed. The food was disgusting. I took one bite of the meat and that was it. The only edible item was the mashed potatoes. I didn’t expect a culinary masterpiece, but come on. The F/A’s then disappeared for the remainder of the flight until they tossed me a stale bread roll about an hour before landing. We touched down at 12:05pm, funny, the CSR said we would make our 12:00pm flight to FCO.
In-flight (only a few, sorry):
We deplane and head over to an LH desk and the very friendly agent booked us onto the 3:40pm to FCO. Then, she gave us coupons for food, and off we went.
Frankfurt was a great airport. Lots of good spotting, but I didn’t get many pictures as my camera battery died and had to be charged. At this point I was beyond frustrated so no photo of the FRA-FCO segment, but it was a great flight in itself. I received a ham and cheese sandwich and a water bottle, on a 2 hour flight. I can usually only muster a few glasses of water on a YYZ-YVR flight on AC. I was impressed by LH, and it made me wonder how much better IAD-FRA would have been on the Lufthansa 747. We touched down in FCO at 6:00pm, exactly 12 hours after I should have arrived on UA945 from IAD-FCO. We headed to the hotel and crashed as soon as we hit the beds.
Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I hoped you enjoyed my TR anyways. I was only new to this site 2 yeas ago, so i didn’t plan on wiritng a TR of it, but wanted to share my experience. I have a few more TR’s lined up with many more pictures as I planned on wiritng for those flights. Feedback on my writing would be appreciated to improve for future reports.
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