LAS - DFW - MAD
Hola y bienvenido to my latest TR series, covering a grand trip to Spain and India!
This is Part 1 which will cover the first 2 flights of the trip: LAS-DFW on the AA 737-800 and DFW-MAD on an unrefurbished AA 777-200. As always I include info about the destination, so after the flights I'll talk about the first 4 cities visited in Spain: Madrid, Toledo, Córdoba, and Sevilla. Spain is more beautiful than I'd anticipated, and I hope you see that in the pics.
I'll save info about Parts 2 and 3 for later...let's move on to the report! Espero que lo disfrutes. I hope you enjoy it.
FLIGHT #1: AA 70, LAS-DFW
Date: June 26, 2015
Origin: Las Vegas (LAS), Terminal 1, Gate D10
Left gate: 9:48 am (9:50 sch)
Destination: Dallas (DFW), Terminal A, Gate A15
Arrived at gate: 2:31 pm (2:35 sch)
Duration: 2h 43m
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800, N869NN
Photo © powwwiii
Photo © Sebastian Sowa
My parents have for a long time avoided morning departures since you have to get up early. But I always used to enjoy being woken up in the middle of the night and driving off for the airport...I don't know how to explain it. It's better than a night departure, for which you have to go through the entire day waiting and waiting. Anyways...
We got up at 4 am and left for the airport at 6:30, if my memory serves me correctly. Being summer the sky was already getting brighter when we woke up, but it was still a pale orange-pink as we drove off for the airport.
The airport was quite busy this Friday morning. There was a really long line for the Allegiant check-in counters, so long that it snaked outside the terminal! There were a ton of G4 departures that morning, to a bunch of cities I've never even heard of.
The AA area was busy as well, but we snagged a kiosk soon enough. I was surprised we even had to print out the check-in bag tags and put them on ourselves; I've always remembered them doing that at the counter. So we just handed our check-in bags to the rep at the counter and were off.
Making our way to security we passed by the security line for the A and B concourses. It was so long there was a guy with a board indicating where the line started (G4 operates out of Concourse A, so makes sense). Good thing we don't have to get into that line...we're headed to the D concourse. We completed security soon enough and caught a tram to the concourse:
While walking around I noticed a seating area in front of the giant facade of the concourse. What a great place to relax and watch planes! The facade faces runways 25L and R which were active. I got a good view of an NK plane in the new livery for probably the first time:
Eventually it was time to head over to the gate. I spotted this A321 in the lovely new livery taxiing in as Flight 602 from PHX:
And here's our plane. Although I have largely fallen in love with the new livery, I'll never forget the simple yet literally dazzling chrome livery.
Soon we were onboard, making our way toward the end of the aircraft. I love sitting in this part of the aircraft as you get both good views of the wing and of the land below. As I settled in I noticed there were power outlets between all the seats, which I did not expect to see on an AA 737. Also I saw that AA now offers both an English and a Spanish/Portuguese magazine - never seen this before.
Here are some pics I took while we were waiting at the gate:
Soon enough we were climbing up and away! The views were really nice, and I think we might've even passed by the Grand Canyon.
I plugged my phone into the power outlet and pulled out the in-flight magazine. As I flipped through it I was surprised to come upon a picture of an Indian store! Upon further investigation I found out it was part of an article on Chicago's diversity. A nice read.
At our cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, with the barren desert still beneath us:
Gradually the landscape started to change. Some crop circles which always remind me of Texas:
The flight is only 2h 15m in air time, so before we knew it we were beginning our descent into DFW. Spoilers were raised a bit, creating that instantly recognizable sound:
As we got closer to the ground I was amazed by how green the landscape was. We passed by forests, never-ending suburbs, and even some lakes. I already envy DFW for all the int'l airlines it's picked up recently, but now I can envy it only more
Upon landing we were 'greeted' by a recorded announcement, telling us to remain seated, etc. I don't like this at all; it feels like we've been flown here by a robot. I always love it when the FA welcomes us to the city, giving us the time and weather info, etc...
Anyways, thus commenced a very long taxi to the gate. But there was plenty to see as we taxied. The instant I spotted the Kangaroo I just had to take a pic:
And here's a row of chrome beauties, one after the other:
We even passed by the AA 787
And here we are parked at Gate A15:
Did I tell you that we had a connection time of only 50 minutes here in DFW? Well despite all the fun I was having during the taxi I was still getting anxious. I'd pulled out my phone to check the gate, then I pulled out the in-flight magazine with its DFW map to see where we had to go.
The moment we entered the terminal we ran to catch the SkyTrain over to Terminal D. It was a long ride, but the views of the apron from up there were amazing. We even got to see our plane...
FLIGHT #2: AA 36, DFW-MAD
Date: June 26, 2015
Origin: Dallas (DFW), Terminal D, Gate D36
Left gate: 4:17 pm (3:25 sch)
Destination: Madrid (MAD), Terminal 4S
Arrived at gate: 8:19 am (+1) (8:00 sch)
Duration: 8h 39m
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200, N762AN
Photo © Jeremy D. Dando
Photo © Yanick Hug
When we reached the gate 3/4 of the passengers had already boarded. Then to my horror I discovered that a school group would be traveling with us! Isn't that ironic, considering I'm a student myself? Well it owes to one negative experience in 2009, flying ORD-PHL with UA. We were flying with a rambunctious group of students. Due to turbulence on our approach into PHL, some of those kids got sick, and the other kids literally yelled to the FAs that their friends were 'barfing.' TMI...
At this perfect time someone in the family had to use the bathroom really bad... I used the time to run over to the window and snap a pic of our aircraft. It's in the new livery, which, as much as I love it, I don't really like on the 777-200:
We ended up being among the very last to board, behind the school group. As I'd expected they were seated in the very back of the plane, and we were seated just ahead of them... Wait, how did we end up sitting here?
Naturally we'd booked the trip several months in advance, through some travel website I've never heard of before. Well things got messed up in AA's reservation system, and we couldn't reserve seats for this flight. We called the website, AA, and even IB who was codesharing the flight, but they couldn't do anything. Finally, a week before departure, we called AA to discover there was a separate confirmation code for this flight! Using it we could select seats, but by now all the seats were taken...
Moral of the story: if you're going to use a travel website, make sure it's a good, well-established one!
Well here we are, we made it to our connecting flight! I settled into my seat and looked around to get a feel for this aircraft. PTV's pretty small, and there's a projector on the bulkhead...how retro! Meanwhile the exit signs are in both English and Chinese...guess we know where this plane is designed to fly.
The captain came on the intercom to tell us he just had some 'paperwork' to complete, then we'd be on our way. Well then another announcement came, telling us maintenance had to take care of an issue. Then another announcement: a plane in MAD needs a part, and it'll take 15min for the part to be loaded onboard...
Finally everything was taken care of and we began taxiing to the runway, nearly an hour late. To my astonishment the people on my right left the window shade closed for take-off! No announcement was made to keep the shades open, but the fact that someone would choose not to look outside during one of the most exciting parts of a flight is mind-boggling. I should be sitting at the window...
As we climbed to cruising altitude the entertainment system was switched on. It's just as I'd remembered it...AA used to have a online simulation of the PTV on their then-flagship 777s. I had explored this simulation back when AA flew ORD-DEL, a route I was fascinated by. For a time it was one of the only nonstops between the US and India.
I navigated my way to the movie I wanted to watch and discovered that the entertainment system wasn't on-demand! There was an option either to watch the movie from the point it was at, or to wait 20 minutes until the 'next showing'. Oh well, I'll wait...
I went over to the 'AA Info' section, but everything was unfortunately 'coming soon' (yeah right). But then we hit some heavy turbulence, so heavy that some people sort of screamed. Now that was some good entertainment
I was watching the movie when dinner arrived. I think there was an option between chicken and pasta, and I went for the pasta. It was too cheesy for me. Meanwhile the bread roll was pretty cold, and the cheese that came with the crackers didn't taste great. At least the dessert, a brownie, tasted delicious!
After finishing the movie I explored the other categories of the 'Video' section. I found a nice Rick Steves documentary on Palestine. As we left North America for our transatlantic crossing I decided to get some sleep, so I'd be ready to explore Madrid the next morning.
Unfortunately I couldn't sleep too well, which made for a dreadful few hours. Here we are inching our way across the ocean:
As we neared the Iberian coast it came time for breakfast. Boxes were handed out which contained a rather cold muffin, yogurt, granola, and dried berries. It ain't a hearty English breakfast, but I did enjoy making a yogurt parfait.
For whatever reason the PTVs got reset, so the map now showed us having started on the tip of Portugal. If only the flight were that short!
The day before I had watched a YouTube video of a wing view landing at MAD, so I wouldn't feel as bad not being next to the window The people on my right finally lifted up the window shade, and I was able to catch some glimpses of the arid landscape. As we neared the runway I prepared for the notoriously hard 777 landing, but we landed remarkably smoothly.
I also already knew about the wavy, colorful architecture of Terminal 4S, but it was still a sight to behold. The support bars and wooden ceiling remind me of KUL.
It was a long walk to immigration, but immigration itself went by quickly. (On a related note, I was surprised we didn't have to complete a landing card.) Then we headed to baggage claim. Those light discs on the right ceiling remind me of LHR: