Saturday, February 02, 2008

London Feb. 1: In Newark Airport

02FEB08 Newark Liberty International, Newark NJ (EWR)

We landed and headed to the gate. One could see a number of international airlines at the hard stand or at Terminal B getting ready to get going across the Atlantic. There were two L'Avion's wingleted Boeing 757-200, Qatar A330-200, two Alitalia's Boeing 767-300, Delta's Boeing 767-300, Air France's A330-200, Jet Airways B777-300ER, a Silverjet Boeing 767-300, TAP Airbus A310, SAS A330 and Lot Polish Boeing 767-300.

I left the Presidents Club at about 7:00p and made my way to Terminal B via the AirTrain. By 7:16p, I was in the Economy Class line waiting to be checked in. The line was not too long, but I made it to the counter in an hour as each transaction took a while as customer had a lot of bags or just had ticket issues.

As I waited in line, next to customers who were checking in for Eva Air’s Boeing 777-300ER service to Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) via Seattle, WA (SEA), I started talking to this older couple who were going to a Club Med in France via Geneva so they could go skiing. We chatted for a bit to pass the time which was good. A friend of mine called and asked if I was at a terminal, but this was not the case, so I was of no help. I was hoping to get to the Northwest World Club, but I don’t think that was going to happen as I did not see any more flights for them on the board today.

I continued inching my way up the line. When I was close to the front of the line, I noticed this passenger behind me without his shoes. I wondered why he was not wearing any shoes, but did not pay much attention to it. Later, I heard the check-in agent asking him where were they. Apparently, he had taken off since he was going to have to take them off when he entered security, interesting…

I got a trainee agent who could not do my transaction, so she had me wait for another agent. As I waited, I got to talking to a lady who had five pieces. I asked why and she said that she was a college professor in a nearby state and was taking books back to India. The Skycap who was helping her was also having a political discussion which was quite interesting. The topic was worldwide, but tended to focus a bit on the U.S. general elections coming up. He was quite knowledgeable about the world and was very strong on his points.

It was now my turn and the supervisor took care of me and gave me a window seat and said that the seat next to me should be empty to Geneva, but was assigned from there to Doha, Qatar (DOH). I thanked her then left and headed for the gate, pausing a little outside for some much needed fresh air. It was actually much warmer than I thought. Back inside, I got a call from a friend of mine who had just finished an endurance race. He was fine and was glad he had done it.

I then went through security where the lines were a bit long. I got through without any issues, well, I beeped, and I still have no idea why, so I emptied my pockets and also took off my belt and I was fine. At the gate, I finished up a call and checked with the agent as the supervisor had instructed me to do and the aisle seat was still empty so I was good to go. I then boarded.

London Feb. 1: CO661 San Antonio, TX to Newark Liberty, Newark NJ (EWR)

CO661 02FEB08 San Antonio International, San Antonio, TX (SAT) to Newark Liberty International, Newark, NJ (EWR) 12:10p 5:09p 733 N61304

Flight Time: 3:05

It was slow going, but finally I was on board. I said hello to the greeting flight attendant and waited again. This aircraft has 12 leather First Class seats with 112 cloth Economy seats in a 3-3 configuration. As I made my way down, it seemed that there was some seat confusion as passengers were showing each other their boarding passes and did not have good looks on their faces. I was glad to move away from that. The flight load was pretty light, so I am sure it worked itself out.

I settled into my window seat and had the middle and aisle open. I had no issues finding a place for my bag in the overhead either, although they were quite full.

The captain came on the PA at 12:20p and apologized for the delay advising that it was due to them arriving late from Newark. He said though that he anticipated an ontime arrival at 5:09p where the temperature is 45F and winds were from the NW at 10-15 knots.

At 12:23p, we commenced the pushback and the manual safety demo started as there is no entertainment system on this flight. We started our taxi out to runway 26R shortly after. As we did so, I saw a blue and white A319 Corporate jet as well as the same Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 with winglets from the night before, plus a military Boeing 707, which I think is the KC135, if I am not mistaken.

We held short of runway 12R and started our takeoff roll at 12:32p. It was a smooth takeoff into the sunny skies. Off on the left I could see two UPS planes at their hangar.

At 12:53p, the Captain came on the PA and said he expected no rough weather so he would turn off the seat belt signs. We were free to walk around, but should have the belts fastened while we were seated.

He also reiterated the flying time of 3:05 and added that our arrival time would be 4:35p, he also indicated the weather the same except for the temperature having increased to 47F. He said he would get back in touch with us later once we started our descent.

I saw the flight attendant pass with what looked like pizza, which is not my favorite all.

The flight attendant arrived at 1:16p with my lunch of Stefano Foods hot cheese pizza pie, a salad with Pepper Cream dressing and a KitKat.

Drink requests came immediately as I was so close to the back of the plane I think. Beer, cocktails and wine were 5 USD and beverages were complimentary. I ate everything except the pizza and the KitKat, O.K. so I just ate the salad; I must admit, the pizza did look good though.

I had just had some crackers and cheese in the Lounge though, so I was not that hungry anyways and I had some peanuts and a cookie in my bag if I got hungry before the flight ended.

After lunch, I settled back and got some work done until I ran out of battery and actually fell asleep. I awoke as we were descending and landed without incident.

London Feb. 1: Leaving San Antonio, TX (SAT)

02FEB08 San Antonio International, San Antonio, TX (SAT)

My friend dropped me off at 11:20a. I got my stuff together and headed for the check-in area. There were not many people there and I soon found a kiosk and printed my boarding pass as I had already checked in online and received a seat earlier.

I presented my documents at security and after what seemed like ages for a short line, I was through. The lady in front of me commented that soon they will ask us to take off all our clothes; I nodded and we chatted for a few minutes while waiting.

Once through, I went to the Presidents Club, showed my credentials and entered. I picked up the newspaper and the headline was Microsoft is buying Yahoo! Holy cow, I never saw that coming at all. The byline read, “so that they can compete against Google.”

I found a seat and plugged in my computer and settled in. I got a drink from the bar as well as some cheese and crackers. When I got back, I noticed that the computer was not charging. As it turns out the plugs at this station were not working. I went over and reported it to the bartender and then went searching for another plug which I found nearby. This was a good thing as I was glad I did not have to move.

I got online using the complimentary WiFi and also made a phone call I needed to make. I noticed that it was 12:07p and darted out saying goodbye to the agent who wished me a happy Superbowl Sunday. I told him I would be out of the country so I’d miss it. Come to think of it, I’ve always been out of the country during Superbowls.

I ran to the gate as I heard that it was the final boarding call. I looked out the window as well and saw that the catering truck was moving away. That was quick I thought as the airplane had only arrived at 11:45a. I guess they are trying to stay on schedule.

By the way, not having the “e” working on my computer is quite the pain…

I presented my boarding pass to the agent at the door who scanned it, took her portion and ushered me by, saying “have a nice flight as I passed.” I was still rushing and slowed down when I realized that the jetway was still backed up with passengers.

London Feb. 1: In San Antonio Airport

I am awaiting the delayed flight to Newark, NJ (EWR). I'll update this more in a bit.
Destination London via Geneva, Switzerland (GVA) on Qatar...