Saturday, March 29, 2008

Heathrow Inaugural: Arriving in Newark, NJ (EWR)

29MAR08 Newark Liberty International, Newark, NJ (EWR)

We touched down at 12:05p with a bump as we were battered on the landing due to what I think were cross winds. The stabilizers on the wing were working overtime to doing their jobs. We landed on that runway that is parallel to I-95 heading into the city of New York.

I could see the usual fare in Newark at this time of the day; El Al's Boeing 777-200, Jet Airways' Boeing 777-300ER and a host of Continental jets all around.

We had to pause to cross the parallel active runway to allow an ExpressJet to take to the skies as well as a Q400.

Continental Express' Embraer ERJ-145 taking off

Continental Connection Colgan Air's Bombardier Q40 taking off.

After that, we headed to our gate and slowly pulled in at C-98.

It took about 15 minutes to start the de-boarding process for some reason. In the meantime, I just waited and watched takeoffs and landings from my window.
Continental Express' Embraer ERJ-135 taking off.

An American Airlines (AA) MD-80 taking off.

A Continental Airlines (CO) Next Gen 737 taking off.

A wingleted Bowing 757-200 positioning.

Eventually, it was my turn and I quickly exited.

As I walked out, I noticed that this airplane was destined for Hong Kong at 3:00p. Its routing so far had been, Houston to Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) on Thursday night, then the return trip on Friday night, then my flight and now off to Hong Kong (HKG), simply amazing...

I saw a cordoned off area and figured it must be by gate 90 for the inaugural flight later. Indeed it was, as they are preparing with some decorations, etc.

I continued on and saw some additional decorations as well. I thought, let me go see what the check-in areas are like.

On my way there, I saw Richard Quest from CNN fame walking back, I guess he is going to check out the gates and something tells me he will be on my flight today. What a job to have? I thought. The last time I saw him was in Singapore (SIN) for the Airbus A380 first flight on October 25, 2007. Today, maybe we will be on the same airplane making history together once more.

At the check-in areas, they have special areas setup that says "Heathrow Guests." How cool.

Today is really a major milestone in aviation History you see. For eons the U.S. has lobbied for additional carriers to fly into London-Heathrow and it was finally granted and today is the day Continental, Delta and Northwest begins the flights that will showcase their livery at Heathrow for the first time ever. American and United were the only two carriers with this right for eons. Continental has the honor of being the first airline to land at 7:25a tomorrow March 30. If all goes well, I'll be on that flight.

Here are the three first flights of these carriers:
  1. Continental 28 - Newark Liberty, NJ (EWR) to LHR 7:25p 7:30a+1 777
  2. Delta 1 - New York-JFK, NY (JFK) to LHR 8:55p 9:25a+1 767
  3. Northwest 28 - Minneapolis, MN (MSP) to LHR 9:30p 12:15p+1 333
So, it is a great day in aviation history!

Continental's actual first flight from Newark to Heathrow is CO18 at 9:00a arriving at 9:15p, but it does not operate today, it starts tomorrow.

I made my way back through security after check-in in at a kiosk. It was neat to see London-Heathrow on a boarding pass with a non-codeshared Continental flight number on it.

The flight is actually not showing on the Flight Information display just yet.

I then went to the Presidents Club to have a much needed bite to eat. For now I wait until the celebrations begin later today.

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