Summer 2009 SFO -> ORD -> WAW -> ORD -> SFO
This is my first trip report. When I initially went on this trip, I didn’t have the intention to do a trip report so the pictures may not be of trip report quality and not as comprehensive as it should be but hopefully you all will enjoy this report nonetheless. Also, any comments on this trip report to help improve my future reports are welcomed!
Anyhow, I’ve flown quite often in the US just up and down the west coast of the US with the bulk of the flying between the Los Angeles Basin and the San Francisco Bay Area. But it has been a very long time since I flew internationally. The opportunity arose to go overseas during the summer of 2009 to go to Poland for a Christian youth group conference. I have never been to Europe let alone Eastern Europe so I was very much looking forward to this trip especially to the traveling itself, taste Polish food and learning a few Polish phrases. Since there was not a direct flight from the US West Coast, the most direct way and least travel time involved I found was from San Francisco to Chicago and finally to Warsaw, Poland.
Leg 1 SFO to ORD
Date: July 22 2009
Airline: United Airlines
Flight: UA 886
I arrived at SFO around 10:30am with my traveling buddies to check in and found out that the original plane used for route (B767) was replaced by a B777. The good news was that I never flew on a B777 so I welcomed the change but the bad news was that I no longer had a window seat due to the equipment change. Instead I was seated in Economy Plus which has a slightly longer pitch than regular economy and was indeed more comfortable. Interestingly, after I returned home from the trip, I checked the registration on the plane (N777UA) and found out that it was the first production 777-200 delivered to United back in 1995!
After a delay of about 45 minutes or so, we departed for ORD at around 1:45pm and arrived at nearly 8pm. I was a bit nervous considering that the LOT flight would leave at 10:00pm and since I never been to Chicago before, I didn’t know how long it would take to transfer to the International Terminal and go through security to board.
Leg 2 ORD-WAW
Date: July 22 2009
Airline: LOT Polish
Flight: LO 004
After landing and deplaning at Terminal 1, we quickly made our way to the International Terminal and arrived at the gate with about 20 minutes to spare. Having never been to O’Hare before, it was quite a daunting task finding our way out of Terminal 1 to find the train which takes us to the International Terminal. After this adventure, I realized I need to plan on having a little longer layover if next time I ever need to connect at O’Hare.
This is our plane to Warsaw, 767-300ER SP-LPB, originally delivered to LOT on 5/12/95
Here is the shot of the cabin upon boarding and ready for pushback. Unfortunately, there are no PTV’s and just like the old days, you watch the movies on the big screen. Prior to the trip, I did some research on airliners.net and discovered that LOT doesn’t offer that much in terms of inflight entertainment. LOT really needs to improve on the entertainment system to better compete with the other European carriers.
A rather simple dinner after departure.
After nearly 8 hours of flying we were descending towards Warsaw.
Passing through some clouds on our descent and it seemed like the pilot was taking the plane on rather steep descent. Perhaps due to the lack of air traffic in the Polish airspace, the pilot was able to descend without much restriction.
Within a few minutes of touchdown, here is a picture of the beautiful Polish landscape.
Landing at Frederic Chopin Warsawa International Airport. One thing about landings on LOT Polish airlines is that the passengers always clap upon landings. From what I heard, this is to thank the pilot for a job well done.
The next day, on our way down to South Poland, we pass through downtown. Here is the Palace of Culture.
Another picture of downtown.
In my opinion, I wasn’t too impressed with downtown Warsaw. As I learned, because of the Nazi bombings in WWII, the whole city was nearly destroyed and shortly after the rebuilding during the Cold War under Soviet rule, most of the building built at that time were rather bland with not much flavor.
Passing through Krakow which in contrast to Warsaw is a rather beautiful city.
About 45 minutes away from our destination.
After traveling 9 hours on the bus from Warsaw, we finally arrived into the little village in South Poland called Małe Ciche where I stayed for 8 days for the Christian youth group conference. The nearest big town to Małe Ciche is Zakopane.
Up the slopes of Małe Ciche looking back down to the village. A very very beautiful place.
Nearby Tatra mountain for one of our hikes. The scenery in Poland is absolutely gorgeous.
Leg 3: WAW-ORD
Date: August 2 2009
Airline: LOT Polish
Flight: LO 001
Well, after spending 2 days in Warsaw and 8 days in Małe Ciche, it was time to return back to the US. Here is the terminal at Warsaw Airport.
The same plane (SP-LPB) which took us to Warsaw took us back to the US.
Shortly after lift off into the Polish countryside heading north towards Denmark.
Passed through Norway at FL320 on our way to Chicago.
Final approach to ORD. Very bumpy final approach!
Leg 4 ORD-SFO
Date: August 2 2009
Flight: UA 907
After landing at O'hare, I found myself nervously waiting to pass through customs to transfer to Terminal 1. During the summer time with so many vacationers and travelers, a layover of two hours is barely enough time to transfer from the international to the domestic terminal.
Boeing 767-300ER back to SFO. Sorry I don’t have the registration number.
Descending to SFO and here on the left side of the aircraft, you see San Jose International Airport on a hazy early evening and shortly thereafter my trip concluded.
In all, the trip to Poland was quite an adventure and very much enjoyable. Because I did my research and prepared myself by bringing my own reading material to occupy my time, I wasn’t so much bothered by the sparse entertainment system. Surely they had the standard audio selection but their movie or film selection seemed very archaic as I didn’t recognize anything that was played. However, the service from the flight attendants could have been much better. During the meal time, they seemed rather cold and inattentive to myself and my traveling companion to and from Poland. It could be that they are having a bad day but it sure didn’t make a very good first impression. One thing that made up for it was the fact that I really like the 2-3-2 configuration of the 767. I feel that this configuration makes a very comfortable setting for the passengers.
For the past couple of years, LOT has been struggling financially even to the point of bankruptcy prior to my travel during the summer of 2009. There are even talks of LOT being privatized and bought out by Lufthansa. In any case, LOT has quite a challenge ahead of them this next coming year if they are to survive.
Hope you all enjoy this report. Thanks for reading.