My Other TR
's can be found here:
OKC-ORD-HNL On UA In First Lots Of Pics/Video (by Ual747 Jul 6 2008 in Trip Reports)
HNL-ORD-OKC UA 002 First Class Pics And Vid (by UAL747 Jul 8 2008 in Trip Reports)
United Economy+ OKC-LAX-SYD And Return Pics/Vids (by UAL747 Jul 4 2010 in Trip Reports)
Oklahoma Goes To Turkey (UA,LH,TK) Pics (by UAL747 Jan 11 2010 in Trip Reports)
UA Business ORD-NRT-BKK And Return (Revisited) (by UAL747 Mar 26 2009 in Trip Reports)
UA Economy Plus To Brussels (IAD-BRU-IAD) Pics (by UAL747 Mar 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
As a Star Alliance Silver Member, and a United Premier Member, I enjoy all of the privileges that come with it. No baggage fees, free domestic first upgrades, priority check-in, priority security lines where they exist, and a whole slew of other benefits. While I am nowhere near the top of the totem pole, these small things really help me enjoy my flying experience. This year however, I have not flown as much as I should, or rather, I should say that I have not flown on United as much as I should. To maintain my status, I must fly 30,000 miles a year on United or Star Alliance flights. While I have done quite a bit of flying this year, much of it has been on American. So I thought it was high time that I made use of a free weekend to secure my status for the next year.
I searched for web fares on United.com and found that OKC
and returning the same way gave me the opportunity to get the most bang for the buck. I purchased an L-Fare, for 748.00USD roundtrip OKC
with only 3 hours at LHR
. Some people outside of A.net called me crazy, I call it brilliant! I made sure to give myself ample time at IAH
to enjoy the United Club (Former President's Club), and made my reservations to head out on Feb. 4, 2012 and return Feb. 5, 2012.
OKLAHOMA CITY to HOUSTON/INTCON departing Saturday, February 4
CONTINENTAL 4953 *
Depart:OKLAHOMA CITY 7:50 AM
Arrive:HOUSTON/INTCON 9:30 AM
Award Miles: 395
* OPERATED BY
COLGAN AIR DBA CONTINENTAL CONNECTION
I arrived at the airport around 6AM. These days, I'm not so sure about the 2 hour required check-in time for international flights, but I try to adhere to it somewhat. Parked my car on level 3 of the parking garage, and made my way to the terminal.
Will Rogers World Airport has existed for a long time, but was torn down in the early 2000's to make way for an entirely new airport. The airport is constructed of stones found in the various 77 counties of Oklahoma. Here is an example of the stonework around the airport:
I made my way up to check-in. The airport was fairly quiet this morning.
Ticketing and Check-in Hall:
United Seemed Ready for Valentines day. While I think it's kind of cheesy, I guess some people like it.
I enjoy getting to use the first class/premier line for check-in, but I often question if it is really worth it. At OKC
, there never seems to be a dedicated individual to this line. It seems they go back and forth between the economy check in, and the ticket purchase/customer service lines. Often I have found myself waiting longer here than I would if I checked in through the economy line.
Got my tickets. Upon ticketing, they asked me in a funny way why my trip was so short. I told them I was doing a mileage run, and the supervisor wondered why I picked LHR
as she said they always have the highest tax and landing fees. I told her that LHR
was cheaper than any other European destination that I researched online. She gave me my tickets and directed me toward the priority security lane. Wouldn't really matter though, both lanes were pretty much empty.
Airport bar/lounge. It was closed. I guess Oklahomans don't like their liquor at 6AM!
Made my way down to the western end of the terminal where my gate would be. Was very excited as this would be my first Dash 8, and my first time on a prop in approximately 15 years. The last was an American ATR.
Here is my bird to IAH
United is the largest carrier outside of WN
. We get flights to EVERY hub in the United system, including SFO
, and EWR
. The CRJ is the morning flight to SFO
Exterior Architecture of OKC
West Airport Bar/Lounge
American to LAX
I walked up to my gate and noticed there were so many people seated there. It seemed too much for the Dash 8. I then heard an announcement that the 6AM flight was delayed, as would be the 7:50 flight. Houston was currently at a full ground stop because of thunderstorms over the area.
flight to IAH
Turns out, both the earlier IAH
flight and my flight ended up boarding and departing at the same time. In fact, we took off right behind them, chasing them all the way to IAH
, but they probably won, seeing as we were a prop. Here are the two pilots IAH
bound in their office pre-departure.
Ready for Takeoff for both aircraft!
Take off from OKC
I must say, I did find the Q400 quite nice on the inside. It is at least as wide as a CRJ, and the legroom was ample, and the seats very comfortable, especially for economy.
The interior was quite new and refreshing as well. I flipped through the In-Flight magazine, and it now seems that UA
is branding themselves with the 787. I've been seeing this shot of their 787 on a lot of signage throughout my trip.
Here are a few pics of the scenery in flight:
Crossing the Red River into Texas:
Entering some weather on descent into IAH
Landing video into IAH
Landing seemed a bit rough, but we were there either way. Did a very long taxi around IAH
airport and I snapped some photos as we made our way to the gate.
The only airbus I saw while at IAH
Interior of the Dash 8 while deplaning:
We arrived at Terminal A, gate 1. Upon deplaning, I made my way up to the tram and over to terminal E, where my flight to LHR
, flight 34, would depart. Gate E4
I believe this is my aircraft to LHR
. N77011. It had arrived earlier that morning from LOS
, flight 143, from Murtala Muhammed International.
Since I had about 5 hours until I needed to board my flight to LHR
, I headed over to the United Club, former Continental Presidents Club in Terminal E.
Security at Terminal E
I went to check into the club, but apparently they are still on Continental Systems as they could not just swipe my Premier card for my club passes. They had to see a receipt of purchase. I did not have a receipt, so I had to email the club representative my receipts from my phone, and he had to print them off. Overall, the staff wasn't that friendly. I apologized, but the guy didn't even look me in the eye, he just said, "That's okay, but this is why we ask you to print them off." I just said I was unaware that I had to do so, and just left it at that.
Overall, the United Club in Terminal E is very nice and clean. The decor is very conservative, especially compared some other airlines, but this is Houston, TX
after all. Culturally, it's what I'd expect. In some weird way, it reminded me of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. The Bloody Mary's they make there, are FANTASTIC!
Here are some spotting shots I took while at the club:
764 headed to HNL
Star Alliance Headed to NRT
Walked down to the gate. IAH
has these wonderful huge windows at the ends of each branch of Terminal E. Had a bit of lunch at Pappadeaux's:
I was on a.net chat while in the club, when a member asked me if my flight was still headed to Houston, or if it had been cancelled. I wasn't quite sure what he meant, then he directed me to the thread about all the snow and how LHR
had reduced capacity by 1/3. I checked CO
.com and indeed the flight was still operating on time, but just to be sure, I went to the customer service desk at the club to ask, and they said my flight was unaffected. I looked up what flights UA
had cancelled and it seemed they cancelled flights which were in markets where there were many LHR
flights, and all on aircraft smaller than the 777. I expected that IAH
and the 777 had some priority, as we were not cancelled.
Did some walking around and stumbled onto this shop that had a great selection of model aircraft, but unfortunately, they were the ones that are REALLY nice and cost around 300-400USD! But fun to look at nevertheless.
Some more spotting:
N77022 arriving for the later LHR
Here is my aircraft being towed to the gate. This aircraft is Ship #11, N77011, which arrived from LOS
early that morning.
Over the club PA, they announced that United Flight 34 to London Heathrow would be boarding in 10 minutes. So I made my way out of the club and down to the gate E7, about a 5 min walk. As I passed, I could see the flight to Amsterdam being prepared at gate E2. Boeing 767-400.
Check-In Area for Flight 34 to LHR
HOUSTON/INTCON to LON / HEATHROW departing Saturday, February 4
Depart: HOUSTON/INTCON 3:41 PM
Arrive: SUN 5 FEB
LON / HEATHROW 6:50 AM
Seat(s): 24A NONSTOP
Award Miles: 4834
I was one of the first people to board, so I walked down and into the aircraft and was greeted by a flight attendant and shown which direction to go for my seat, 24A. I stopped and snapped a pic of the Business First seat:
Close up of 764 Raked Wingtip:
Business First was nice, but nothing spectacular. Of course, I wouldn't turn it down if offered. I sat down at my seat and started to take some pictures out of the wing. I took this picture:
...........and as soon as the shutter clicked, I was startled and jumped as I hear, "HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! WHY ARE YOU TAKING PICTURES?" - An older (late 60's) flight attendant approached me. At first, I wasn't sure what to say because in my mind, I was going, "Why not?" Then I figured out I guess she found what I was doing as suspicious. So I just kind of blushed, smiled, and said, "I'm an aviation nerd, and I post pictures to an aviation website. Is it okay if I take pictures?" - It was weird, the feeling I had. I was sort of angry and embarrassed, like a kid that just got yelled at by his mother. She replied, "Oh, okay, I just saw you clicking away and wondered why." She left it at that. She was working my side and section of economy the entire flight. I went out of my way to be nice to her, saying please, thank you, and smiling whenever I could, but she must have been in a really bad mood. Though, I watched her interact with others during the flight, and she wasn't exactly friendly to them either. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but sometimes these older FA
's do not have the right attitude for the job. I really try to keep myself from making that type of judgement, but many of the older employees do not go the extra mile to offer a smile or polite attitude.
----As someone would say on here, "She is old, her attitude was not friendly, she would not make a good wife." LOL.
Economy was almost completely empty. The entire row, 24 A-K was empty! I should have sat in all the seats throughout the entire 9 hour flight! It really was a very light load, though Business First was completely full. Lots of upgrades I bet.
Doors closed on time and we pushed back:
Taxi was long, we taxied and took off from runway 33R, which is IAH
's longest runway at 12001ft.
Some pics from Climbout:
I am always amazed at how the 777 wings flex, and how enormous they are. I also get a kick watching that inboard aileron go at it. Such an amazing machine. I've been on so many 777 flights, but they never get boring to me.
The airshow had a bit of a problem calculating our altitude:
The captain said it would correct itself after reading flight data from the cockpit, but it never did. According to it, we crossed the Atlantic at 50ft the entire way!
Flight started out with a drink service, so I indulged:
The bloody mary seemed to be the theme drink of this trip.
Lots of room!
I believe this system is the same system being installed on Pre-Merger UA
777's. I had about 185 choices in movies, including movies that were not new releases, but classics. There was a large music selection, and also a short program selection. Everything visual is divided into movie/show categories, so it's easy to find something you like, and enough programming to never have to repeat anything. This has come leaps and bounds since my first flight on a 777 back in 1998. Really enjoyed it, although, the touch screen function gets annoying as it isn't very sensitive.
As the flight progressed, so did the turbulence. In fact, I don't think there was one batch of smooth air the entire flight. It was light to moderate chop the entire way into LHR
, which was kind of annoying. At one point the captain asked the flight attendants to be seated and they suspended dinner service. After about 20 min, the service began again. It was cloudy most of the way, so I didn't get many good shots, but here's what I have:
Dinner was typical US airline fare, it wasn't bad, not that great either:
Chicken Stir Fry:
About an hour from LHR
a "snack" was served. Fruit and a croissant:
After breakfast was served, UK Landing Cards were distributed:
I filled it out, but wasn't sure if I needed it or not. In fact, I wasn't sure how I would be handled in the UK. I believed I was a passenger in transit, but I did not have physical tickets....
When we reached London Airspace, we were told by our captain that due to the closure of one of the runways, and the low visibility and snow, we would be in a holding pattern for 20 min, well, that ended up being about 50 min of holding. I didn't mind at all, as I got to see quite a few aircraft flying around. Unfortunately, it was too dark for my camera to pick up, but we were all in the same boat trying to get into LHR
Finally, we made our descent into LHR
First Aircraft to welcome me to LHR
, a Thai A346:
seemed to be a ghost town. Yes there were planes at the gate, but hardly anything was taking off or landing. There were no planes on the taxiways, none taking off, it was so un-Heathrow! The weather actually didn't seem too bad either, not much snow on the ground, but I think they were just trying to be extra cautious by reducing the number of flights by 1/3.
Well, I figured out I didn't need my landing card. In fact, if I would have had return tickets already, I doubt I would have needed my passport! I went down a long, dark, and narrow corridor at T4
to the very small transfer area, where I was given the most "intimate" frisk of my life. The guy reached inside my pants! He actually put his hands in my pants and tugged on my underwear. I was a little shocked, but too tired to care. Not like I could make a fuss about it anyway. Since I did not have any checked luggage, I simply went to the Star Alliance transfer desk and picked up my tickets, which were printed on Continental Airlines card stock. I was actually shocked they were on card stock still!
Funny enough, it seems that the name United is taking a lot longer to rub off over at LHR
than it is in the states. Obvious since it is an outlying station, but most things were labeled or called Continental, not United. If United was mentioned, it was always made to sound as if United was a partner airline, not THE airline. Not that I really care, it's just interesting to see how the brand has or hasn't acclimated in all areas. After the transfer, I went up to the terminal, again through some dark hallways. T4
really needs some updating. Ceiling tiles falling out everywhere, holes in the wall, not a great first impression, but I do realize that LHR
is one of the busiest airports in the world too.
Didn't really have too much time to do anything but spot a little and get a bite to eat, then it was back to my gate, (Gate 7) for the departure.
Some spotting photos:
United 777 N77009 arriving from EWR
. This aircraft will take me to Houston as UA035.
LON / HEATHROW to HOUSTON/INTCON departing Sunday, February 5
UNITED 35 *
Depart:LON / HEATHROW 9:20 AM
Arrive:SUN 5 FEB
HOUSTON/INTCON 1:45 PM
Seat(s): 17A NONSTOP
Award Miles: 4834 ECONOMY
Meal: LUNCH, SNACK
* OPERATED BY
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES AS
By this time, I was getting VERY tired. Things started to become a blur, and I just wanted to get on the aircraft and sleep. The departure lounge at Gate 7 was crowded, as it was also next to a food kiosk and dining area. Air India had 3 flights there along with Jet Airways and Kuwait. Everyone was in line trying to get some food. I noticed that many of them had special vouchers from their respective airlines, so I'm figuring these people were stuck at LHR
due to the reduction in flight numbers. The boarding went very quickly for my flight. In fact, this flight was also VERY empty. I had a person seated in my row with one seat in between us, but he found an entire row to himself so I had my own row to myself again, which was nice. It's nice to be able to spread your carry on luggage out like your computer and cameras.
My flight being prepped to IAH
On board, the flight crew was much younger, and quite a bit more friendly. It's nice to see even a smile, and they were full of them. A few pics on board and taxiing to the runway:
It's a big airplane!
This was the ONLY aircraft on the Taxiway while we were taxiing for takeoff. A DL
767-400. So weird to see LHR
We taxied directly from the gate to the runway and did a rolling take off. No stopping or waiting:
Lunch was some sort of chicken, wasn't very good though on both flights, there was a choice, I guess I chose poorly both times:
Take off was smooth, and we headed Northwest on our way back to IAH
. I fell asleep shortly after dinner. I slept from Ireland to Detroit. It was a good sleep, but I woke up and was still tired.
Here's our flight path:
About an hour and a half out of Houston, we were served a snack, which was a hot sandwich with cheese and chips and a piece of fruit. THIS, was actually pretty good.
Crossing the Lousiana/Texas boarder:
US Customs Landing Card:
Slowing down and descending into IAH
First sighting of the Gulf of Mexico:
Houston, the oil capital of the world:
Pulling up to the gate (777 adjacent would be departing to LHR
Back on US Soil:
Customs was easy, though a few of my fellow passengers who were British were throwing a fit at security about having to take their shoes off. Like, a REALLY big fit. Went through a full body scanner which was very easy, and went on my way to the Club lounge. I was in a daze as I was so tired, it all had felt like a dream. Hung out at the Club until it was time for my flight to OKC
. Was a Dash 8 again, though we are supposed to be getting some mainline IAH
flights soon to OKC
. We kept getting updates on the Superbowl during the flight. Was fun.
Overall, a pleasurable experience. I think UA
are still working out the kinks on integrating systems, and it will be nice when it is all one airline. Of course, the older FA
's and ground staff weren't that friendly. I wish airlines would do something about this, but how can they? Not sure, and maybe it's common workplace ethic in many industries in the US.
Well, hope you enjoyed. Please comment/ask Questions!