Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bucharest, Romania June 2008: Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) to Houston Intercontinental (IAH)

CO59 15JUN08 Amsterdam Schipol International, Amsterdam Netherlands (AMS) to Houston Intercontinental. Houston TX (IAH) 9:50a 1:30p 762 N??159

Flight Time: 9:54
Seat Map

I greeted the greeting flight attendant on entry through the most forward airplane door. This gave me an opportunity to walk through the 2-1-2 configured BusinessFirst cabin with its 25 cloth seats. People were getting settled in and making their dinner orders as we walked through.

As I entered the 2-3-2 configured Economy class cabin, there was a bit of congestion on the right aisle, so I moved to the left aisle when I had a chance. It was strange as I made it to me seat, stowed my bag and my colleague was just showing up and he had boarded before I did.

It wasn’t until 10:02a that the lead flight attendant said that we were ready to go. The safety demo started at 7 minutes after the hour and then pushback started soon after. As I was in a middle seat, it was hard to tell what was going on outside. I did see a KLM Boeing 747-400 next to us waiting to go though and wondered if that was the one going to Houston.

It was 10:24a, when we took to the runway and was airborne quickly thereafter.

After the takeoff, the lead flight attendant made an announcement about the service to expect for the flight; first a beverage service, followed by a lunch and also another beverage service. Then midway through the flight, there is a snack service and 1.5 hours before landing there will be another snack service. He also mentioned the location of the lavatories and stressed the importance of using the lavs in your own cabin. While he was making his speech, we buzzed 10,000’ so he announced that approved devices can now be used.

A few people had already gotten up although the seatbelt signs were still illuminated. It is always interesting when I get back on U.S. airline-operated flights as they tend to keep the seat belt signs on longer. On most European airlines I’ve flown, the pilots will turn off the seatbelt signs while the airplane is still climbing.

The arrival video was shown immediately after takeoff and immigration documentation was also handed out. This is a little bit different than I am accustomed to as usually this is done close to the end of the flight after the last meal is served.

The movies started at 10:52a. We had a choice of ten channels and I thought I’d start with ‘College Road Trip” with Martin Lawrence and Raven Symone and see how far that gets me. I was a little disappointed though as the video was tracking badly L. Before the movie could start, the system was shut down.

At 11:00a, the lead flight attendant announced that he has to reboot the system and it will take about 5-10 minutes and that should fix the issue that apparently we were experiencing. He also noted that it was necessary to stow the handsets. I always wondered why that was the case. It would seem to me that the programmers could have come up with a better reboot procedure than that.

Here are the entertainment choices for today:

  1. Continental Presents House
  2. Definitely Maybe/Friends
  3. Continental Family Channel 2: The Ant Bully/Dexter’s Laboratory, Xiaolin Showdown, Sylvester & Tweety
  4. College Road Trip/Take Home Chef
  5. Horton Hears a Who!/Teen Titans
  6. Continental Presents CSI
  7. Comedy Programming: The Big bang Theory; Chico and the Man; The Game ; Everybody Hates Chris; Welcome Back, Kotter; The King of Queens
  8. The Entertainment Channel
  9. Airshow

In terms of Music selections:

  1. Opera
  2. Now & Then
  3. Ambient Groove
  4. Latin Fiesta
  5. Continental Lounge
  6. The Classics
  7. The Hit Factory
  8. Jazz Beat
  9. Continental Talk
  10. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  11. Country Roads
  12. Live Broadway
  13. Club Continental
  14. R&B Groove
  15. World Music
  16. B Tween
  17. Hindi Music
  18. Japanese Favorites
  19. Chinese Pop
  20. Shalom

For games, we had:

  1. Chess
  2. Poker
  3. Solitaire
  4. Invasion
  5. Elephant Memory
  6. Bzzz
  7. Blackjack
  8. Crave Crunch
  9. Caveman
  10. Hangman

At 11:01a the Captain announced that we were at 32,000’, our initial cruisin’ altitude; he then switched off the seatbelt signs as the flight was smooth now but reminded us to keep them buckled while seated. 9:54 is our schedule flight time with a schedule arrival time of 1:30 and we should be ontime he continued. The weather at 4:40a local time in Houston is winds are from the south at 5mph, it is warm at 79F/26C with partly cloudy skies; so sit back and relax and enjoy the flight. Welcome on board and thank you for joining us and we will talk to you once we get on the other side. As the entertainment system was down I could not tell where exactly we were at this moment.

One thing always gets me about these announcements is that do we really need to know the weather at 4:40a at our destination when we won’t arrive until 1:30p? It’s just a thought that is always on my mind when I fly. I mean he will tell us the weather once we are closer, so who cares what it is now?

The beverage service started four minutes later. All beverages are complimentary, but beer, wine or margarita or mixed drinks are 5 USD or 4 EUR. Oh, the headsets are complimentary on this flight.

At 11:15a, the entertainment system got reactivated at about which time the beverage cart arrived at my row. I hate to say it but I don’t think the reboot helped much at least not initially as the tape I was watching was still tracking badly. It got better later.

Lunch arrived soon after and offered a choice of beef brisket, vegetarian or chicken marinara. I opted for the chicken with marinara and brussell sprouts in addition to crackers, cheese, butter, a roll, dessert and a salad with Farm Kitchen Ranch dressing.

I ate heartily and fell asleep very quickly after the cleanup was done.

With 4.5 hours to go and somewhere over Northern Canada having just crossed the Atlantic Ocean just north of Gander, New Foundland, were served a small tub of ice cream with beverage of choice. I awoke and waited for it thaw out, before eating it and then falling asleep once more.

When I next awoke, it was 1.5 hours to go and they were serving a snack of a bag of potato chips, a nugget of chocolate and a warm chicken turkey sandwich with cheese. We were also served beverages.

After the cleanup and with about 0:25 to go, the lead flight attendant gave some additional information about required documentation and the arrival process. He stressed that it was necessary to remove all the liquids from your hand luggage if you were connecting to another city. Also if you are transiting to another country, it is not necessary to pick up your bags in Houston.

He also said that our estimated time of arrival was now 1:10p. It was 1:14p when we touched down.

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