Well it's been awhile since I've done one of these. Just been out of the nonrev game lately, unfortunately. Time to get back in the saddle though... and no time like the present!! I was originally hoping to go to NRT, in typical fashion for me. Being a disciple to the 747-400 it's an a.nut goal of mine to get on 16 of 16 747-400's in the DL fleet. So far, 11 down - 5 to go. Initially I was going to do JFK-NRT as one of my missing 5 744's was slated to operate that flight but then B6 kinda threw a wrench in that plan when they started canceling the DEN-JFK and DEN-BOS flights due to Hurricane Earl.
But, not to be beaten by the nonrev Gods, I ended up doing a quick trip to AMS instead. Met up with a bunch of a.net folks along the way though, so had a great time. Met up with nwa757boy in DTW, CrimsonNL in AMS, and then flew AMS-IAD with UAL4life. Final itinerary:
DEN-MSP: DL M90
MSP-DTW: DL D95
DTW-AMS: DL 332
AMS-IAD: UA 777
IAD-DEN: UA 777
04 September 2010
Block Time: 07 hours, 55 minutes
A330-223, N858NW, ship# 3358
Seat: 5J, BusinessElite
Photo © Sharpshooter
The loads for Saturday were remarkably wide-open. Well, I take that back. I was *really* hoping to do PDX-AMS. I personally find TATL flights to be remarkably short so I was hoping to do the longest flight to AMS that DL has. But, no dice on doing DEN-PDX. So, next best option was to just go to DTW since it's the finest facility in the United States.
Anyhow, for those of you DL fans, I explicitly chose to route via MSP as the DEN-MSP morning flight was one of the brand-new MD90's to DL's fleet, the M9K (16F/144Y). To put to rest all the mis-information about its cabin, it does NOT yet have AVOD, nor overhead screens. Once the new suppliers are selected, then they will begin the AVOD installations. Until then though - no IFE on the M9K's.
Departure monitors in DTW after arriving from MSP. I selected DL270 given the lightest load in J-class of the four AMS departures
Two 744's sitting in static display out near Rwy 22L. Does anyone know WHY they are sitting there?!
As a quick aside, I couldn't decide between doing DTW-FRA or DTW-AMS until the night before. DTW-FRA is now operated with the IGW 76T's, of which I haven't been on yet. Only seven of them in the DL fleet, so quite the rare subfleet type. In the end though, I ended up deciding on DTW-AMS on the A330. I know I'm gonna take flak for this but - doing ETOPS on an Airbus does make me a bit nervous. I try to avoid doing it so it was quite the leap of faith for me to do DTW-AMS over DTW-FRA, haha.
767-300ER IGW (76T) ship# 1611, N1611B, sitting at the gate before its flight to FRA.
Then in a small world moment, nwa757boy and I happened to be in DTW at the same time so we got to hang out for awhile. Definitely made the long layover go a lot faster!! He was off to LHR on one of the new flat-bed 764's. Lucky guy!!
A64, my gate for DL270 to AMS with continuing service to BOM.
Ship 3358 (N858NW) at A64 prior to the fight to AMS. God, I hate those dots on the windows in DTW...
Podium backdrop at A64 for DL270.
Another view of my plane, ship 3358. I had been on 3358 once before, FRA-DTW, just back in March 2010.
I was cleared quite early, about 1.5 hours prior to departure. The gate agent asked if I'd prefer a window or aisle so I asked for a window as far aft as possible. Better pictures of the wing and engine, that way!! So, he then gave me a boarding pass for 5J and I was all set.
Boarding started about 50 minutes prior to departure. I boarded with BusinessElite preboard and got all my stuff situated at 5J, at which time I went up to the cockpit for a few minutes before departure.
J-class mini-cabin aft of doors 2LR on the A332, only rows 5 and 6
Looking aft toward the Y-cabin. Note - Y-class on the A330's is now all Delta blue leather.
View from 5J. Great vantage point - just a sun glare, blahh.
Cockpit of ship# 3358 during boarding. Excellent crew, very talkative and nice. The Captain got up for awhile to let me sit in the left seat.
Maintenance logbook for 3358 sitting on the jumpseat. Was cool to see a few old Northwest relics remaining!!
Once I headed back to my seat the FA's came around with amenity kids, headsets, and then took all the meal orders for the dinner service. Ordinarily I get the chicken entree but I decided to go out on a limb and order the pasta.
Menu. Slightly changed format from my previous DL international flights.
Advertisement on the bulkhead PTV. Obviously in reference to the UA/CO merger, I like the slogan!
Doors closed on time and we were on our way. Was cool to push back and see the major widebody lineup in DTW, I love the transoceanic hub time.
Pushback. The 777 behind us was waiting for our gate, inbound from ICN.
Taxiing toward Rwy 22L for departure. LH and the old terminal visible in the background.
Liftoff and initial climbout from Rwy 22L. Rwy 22R visible below the wing.
After takeoff we had some pretty choppy turbulence on climb. Went through a few cloud layers of what must have been some pretty unstable air - it was a good ride.
Climbing through a cloud layer out of DTW
VFR on top, turning toward the North Atlantic 'track'. Our shadow visible just below us, was pretty cool to see!!
Initial level-off at FL330.
Once we leveled-off, the Captain turned off the seatbelt sign and the FA's began the dinner service in both cabins. I ordered my typical Cranapple juice but thought I'd do something different so I ordered a cranapple-vodka.
Cranapple-vodka, bottled water, and warm nuts
From the menu: Tomato basil soup served with shrimp with lemon grass and marinated hearts of palm and roasted beets with blue cheese
From the menu: Mixed green salad with jicama, yellow peppers, almonds, and roma tomatoes. Served with choice of ranch or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
From the menu: Lasagne paste bites with spinach and radicchio in gorgonzola sauce, topped with pine nuts.
From the menu: Selection of fine cheeses offered with fresh fruit - Vanilla ice cream sundae with your choice of sauces, whipped cream, and chopped nuts.
I thought the pasta was remarkably good, I need to start ordering the pasta option more often!! So after dinner I brought out the TV and was going over all the AVOD selections. Not the best video offerings as I've seen in previous months, but I did watch "Avatar" for a bit. As an aside, I'm saying this on a dare of a friend of mine but - the Colonel in Avatar is a major stud. For the record.
Anyhow, I mostly just listened to some music before I went to sleep for the rest of the flight.
AVOD system main menu.
And of course, no "Hot Hits" lineup would be complete without Lady Gaga.
Globe-view of our route of flight, just prior to flying into the sunset.
Final pic out the window before it went pitch dark.
I got a few good hours of sleep on the flight but - all too soon before the breakfast service was started and I had to wake up again. That's a major reason why I LOVE going to NRT over Europe - in Biz you have enough time to get a full night's sleep, 8 to 9 hours. Going to Europe you only get 3-4 hours of sleep, tops. Talk about brutal jetlag after those short flights.
Map view, heading toward continental Europe.
ETOPS on an Airbus. Now that's just tempting fate
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the breakfast service. It was pretty good though, much higher portions than on my previous DL TATL flight on JFK-FRA. From the menu: Swiss cheese and mushroom omelet with grilled tomato, potato cake, and chicken apple sausage.
I take back all the bad things I've said about "Glee". Their songs were remarkably good... well, most of them. "Bad Romance" actually wasn't half-bad!!
Feet dry, over the coast on approach into AMS.
Final map view before the AVOD system was turned off for landing. I'm much more used to seeing the "Distance Traveled" figure north of 6000 miles. Gotta do Europe once in a grand while though!!
Landing in AMS was a bit rough. Though, come to think of it, if anyone on a.net knows - is the A330 a bit of a difficult airplane to land?? That is, to get a smooth landing in?? It seems every A330 flight I've been on - 7 of them now - they have all had rough landings.
Arrival in AMS, with the iconic ATC tower. Oddly enough, we parked on the D-concourse where NW/DL almost exclusively arrive and depart from the E-concourse, it seems.
After I cleared customs in AMS, a.net member CrimsonNL met me landside in the airport and we were able to hang out for awhile and do some spotting before I had to catch my flight back stateside with another a.net member, UAL4life.
My plane inbound DTW-AMS, ship 3358, sitting in remote parking after deplaning.
My ride to IAD arriving from ORD, United 777 ship# 2379 (N779UA)
Thanks again to CrimsonNL for driving out to the airport though, I had a fantastic - albeit very short - first time in AMS!!
05 September 2010
Block Time: 08 hours, 15 minutes
777-222A, N779UA, ship# 2379
Seat: 15J, Business Class
Load Factor -
Photo © Allan Martins Antunes
As quick aside, I'll say that AMS is a fantastic facility. Very nice terminals, great spotting, and it seems like an *excellent* place to make international connections, given how they have security at each gate. I like it way more than FRA, LHR, and CDG.
My ride back stateside, N779UA to AMS
Incidentally, I was really looking forward to the return flight as it would be my first ever transoceanic flight on a 772A. Previously, I had done a ton of transoceanics on the 772ER and the DL 772LR's, but had never been on a 772A across the ocean. Of course, it's the exact same cabin and everything but - it's the little things that matter most!!
Aft C-class cabin on the 777, looking fwd toward doors 2LR.
Aft C-class cabin from 15J
There was a bit of a departure delay out of AMS as maintenance was on board for a bit. Not quite sure what the issue was but they cycled the flaps several times, then left them in the Flaps 30 position for awhile.
Sitting at the gate in AMS. Note - slats in fully deployed position
Once we were cleared with MX, we were finally on our way - albeit a bit late. The crew did leave on Channel 9, so that was a major plus getting to listen to ATC during taxi, takeoff, and climb.
Takeoff out of AMS on ship# 2379 (N779UA)
Feet wet over the coast on my first transoceanic flight on a 772A
Moving map after just departing from AMS
After initial level-off, the FA's came around to take the meal orders. In typical fashion I asked for the chicken for my meal, despite them having a pasta option.
Initial departure from AMS was smooth but as soon as we got out overwater, it got seriously turbulent. The Captain got on the PA and asked the FA's to immediately take their seats. Luckily, there were many seats open throughout the cabin which the FA's were able to sit down right away and get a seatbelt on. What I'd describe as continuous light turbulence, occasional moderate turbulence.
Once that cleared up, the FA's continued the dinner service in the cabin.
From the menu: Smoked salmon ballotine with citrus couscous and fresh seasonal greens with classic caesar or roasted garlic red wine vinaigrette
For my drink I ordered a cranapple-vodka again but was major disappointed to hear that they didn't get any cranapple in the catering. Oh well. Instead I just tried the California white wine.
From the menu: Roasted chicken with sweet chili sauce, mixed pepper risotto, and green beans with sun-blushed tomatoes
The food was good though I tend to not like it when the chicken still as the bones. Chicken bones are pretty difficult to maneuver around with the fork and knife.
After the dinner service was over, I was asleep even before they came around with dessert. Europe jetlag is brutal!! So, for the next 5 hours or so I slept until top of descent down into IAD.
Initial descent down into IAD
Final look out over the wing before landing in Dulles
I've arrived internationally in IAD a few times previously, once from NRT and twice from KWI. Arriving from AMS I thought we would be in the middle of the European arrivals crowd - FRA, LHR, CDG, etc. Not so - customs went remarkably quick, I was pleasantly surprised.
As for the flight home, UAL4life and I were on the same flight. He ended up listing for 3-cabin F but I chose Y since I knew I was going to sleep the entire time and that way it would be free. I hate the thought of paying to sleep
True enough, I was fast asleep long before takeoff in IAD and woke up on touchdown in DEN. A lot of flying in 24 hours, more than 10,000 miles, but it was a fun trip and thanks again to nwa757boy, CrimsonNL, and UAL4life. Had a great time!!
Ship# 2369 (N769UA) after arrival in DEN from IAD
Final impressions... UA had an excellent step forward with the cabin reconfigurations on their longhaul fleet. That's only half the picture though, and they really need to step up their soft product to be truly competitive with DL and AA. DL, by a long shot, as a better soft-product than UA, in all categories. Quantity, quality, and presentation. Hopefully this will be improved upon as UA and CO move forward in their merger.