Monday, February 04, 2008

London Feb. 1: Arriving in Houston, TX (IAH)

04FEB08 ouston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

As promised, we touched down at 4:35p and taxied to the runway; it was not bumpy though. I could see Air France’s Boeing 777-200 leaving and heading for the runway. All the other airlines (Aeromexico, KLM, and Lufthansa), had already left.

We continued our taxi over to gate E4, so I guess that this airplane is going back to London as CO4 at 6:35p. What a workhorse!

I got off the plane after putting my stuff together and headed for the Immigration area. There were lots of other people around, some from Paris and others from Central America. It was unusual to see the citizens and residents lines longer than the visitors’ line, but this was the case. They took a slew of passengers over on another side in order to alleviate the congestion. It worked!

The Immigration Officer I saw asked me if I bought anything while I was away. I told him, “No,” as it is much cheaper at the local stores since our dollar is so depressed in value. I then made my way down to the Customs area, gave the Officer my form and left.

I repacked my stuff as no need for the jack now since the weather is now 74F. This also made it all easier to carry. I then made my way over Terminal C using the underground train. I had called Metro and checked and the bus was due at about 5:30p. I had just missed one at 5:13p, it was now 5:17p.

At Terminal C, I went straight to the bus stop and waited. I am actually able to get a WiFi signal at the bus stop, so I was working until the bus showed up at 5:30p.

London Feb. 1: CO5 04FEB08 London to Houston

CO5 04FEB08 London-Gatwick, London England (LGW) to Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 12:00 4:35p 777 N78005

Flying Time: 10:11

I boarded the aircraft after what seemed like forever after leaving the desk. I think gate 47 is the last gate on the planet…

As I was walking down, I did notice that it was aircraft “005,” which means no Audio/Video on Demand.

I got settled in and was offered an arrival drink as well as given an amenity kit and a menu shortly after. Newspapers were also offered and I chose the Wall Street Journal Europe and the Daily Mirror; I need to be balanced J. The same flight attendant also came back and took my jacket.

At 11:39a, the Captain welcomed us on board and said that he expected to leave early today as everyone was onboard and all the cargo doors are shut; this was good news. At 11:42a, the main cabin door was closed. Our departure time came and went and we were still at the gate.

At 12:02p, the Captain came on the PA and apologized saying that the London Operations were talking with the Houston Operations and we will leave soon. He did not sound too pleased. At 12:07p, we pushed back and the safety demo started in English soon after.

We taxied out and join our position on the tarmac for departure. We passed an XL Airways Boeing 737-800 with winglets plus a Nationwide Boeing 767-300 parked nxt to it. There was also a an easyJet A319 landing.

There was an easyJet Airbus A319 and a British Airways Boeing 777-200 ahead of us as well as a flybe. Embraer ERJ-190. Behind us was another British Airways Boeing 777-200 and a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300 which was actually at the gate next to us in the terminal.

It was our time soon and we took to the clear and sunny morning skies.

I had a fantastic view of the airport below as we made a hard right hand turn after takeoff. You could see the airport in all its glory below us.

The lead flight attendant gave us a welcome message and said that the movies would start in a bit. There was also a video on how to use the system playing as well.

At 1:50p the First Officer came on and welcomed us on board; we were at 32,000’ our intermittent cruising altitude. He reiterated 10:11 flying time and that the winds were 7-10 miles per and 72F; when we arrive the temp would be 78F and the winds at 15-20 mph when we arrive there may be light rain showers when we arrive we should touch down at 4:35p if all goes well.

I wanted to watch “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” and noticed that “Dan in Real Life” was playing on that channel instead. I asked the flight attendant about it when she came by offering beverage and nuts (cashews). She came back and showed me the busted tape. Apparently, the player was not working properly and subsequently it had eaten the tape which she showed me. I was already watching “Bone Dry” in the mean time.

The entertainment choices for the day were:

  1. Dan in Real Life/The Office
  2. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead/Cash Cab
  3. Bone Dry/NASCAR Angels
  4. The Drama Channel
  5. Continental Presents HBO: Big Love, Da Ali G Show, Deadwood
  6. Scenes in the Park
  7. Love in the Afternoon/Premier Destinations
  8. Continental Presents Independent Films: Paradise, Texas
  9. Continental Presents House
  10. Elizabeth: The Golden Age/Tales from the Palaces
  11. Continental Family Channel 2: Secondhand Lions/The Jetsons, Foghorn Leghorn's Fractured Funnies
  12. Martian Child/Global Trends
  13. Sydney White/The Simpsons
  14. Continental Presents CSI
  15. Comedy Programming: The New Adventures of Old Christine, Malcolm in th Middle, Everybody Hates Chris, Everybody loves Raymond, Th King of Queens, Shaun the Sheep
  16. Th Entertainment Channel
  17. Airshow

Plus ten games (chess, poker, solitaire, invasion, elephant memory, bzzz, blackjack, cave crunch, caveman and hang man) fifteen music channels.

At 2:14a, the lead flight attendant came on and said that they were having trouble with the tape and "Dan in Real Life" will b on channel 2 and the original Channel 2 movie will not be shown.

Next were three appetizers; a demitasse of potato and truffle soup accompanied by a savory
vegetable and mushroom filled pastry and peanut marinated chicken breast skewer with coriander sauce. This was very tasty!

The vegetable salad with vinaigrette dressing followed and then the main course of halibut and shrimp over rice and spinach. It was not as good as I expected and I am guessing that the reason for this may be that there was just too much butter in the sauce and there was just too much sauce as well. This is a rarity as this meal choice is usually quite good.

After that was cleared away, I had crackers and cheddar plus some fruits (pineapple, cantaloupe and grapes) with choices of after dinner drinks which I declined.

It was now time for dessert, so I had vanilla ice cream with thinly sliced nuts, strawberry and two cherries. I was so full, so it was time to get to sleep, although I was falling asleep during the service anyways. A bottled of water was placed in my seat and it was now time to lower the shades and recline the seat (it reclines to 170 degrees).

I awoke when we were passing across the southern tip of Greenland; it was a really beautiful day so you could see the terrain. There were lots of mountains, but all covered with snow. One could also see a few glaciers, plus a few lakes. I even saw a runway with a little settlement next to it. It was a quiet and peaceful sight.

I fell asleep and awoke when we were just crossing into the U.S. over Cleveland, OH. I really needed to use the lavatory at this point. I then came back and did some work on the computer and some reading as well. I did not feel like looking at any more entertainment options. I saw a passenger watching a movie on what looked like a Zune I think.

With 1:29 to go, we were served an arrival snack of a fruit plate, a chocolate, smoked salmon and a sandwich pate and a glass of water. It was all very good and really hit the spot after this long flight.

With twenty five minutes to touchdown, the Captain came on the A and said our descent would be bumpy and we could expect touchdown at 4:35p; temperature is 74F, winds are at 25miles from south and we were 175 miles from the field. I got the computers powered down and prepared for landing. One of the flight attendants also brought back my jacket.

London Feb. 1: Leaving London-Gatwick, London, England (LGW)

04FEB08 London-Gatwick, London England (LGW)

I arrived in Gatwick at about 10:15a. I disembarked and made my way to the North Terminal where I checked in. I got a seat in BusinessFirst, so I was given a FastTrack sticker as well as an invitation to the Emirates Lounge.

I cleared security with ease as most of the flights had already gone for the day, so the airport is less of a zoo…I checked out the bookstore for a bit and then went to the Lounge. I got to working and forgot about breakfast. By the time I got there, they were clearing it away. The lady said they would have lunch out shortly, but that won’t help me as I’m leaving in a few minutes. They did have some cold stuff so I had some chicken, salmon, some fruits and a slice of brown bread. I was kind of mad at myself as I had skipped breakfast so I could enjoy the one at the lounge; oh well…

I was having issued with first connecting to the wireless and also connecting to the office network which was a bit sketchy. So a few of the things I had planned on doing, were not done at all.

Boarding of the flight was announced, so I left at about 11:15a. This gate is at the farthest end of the airport and took forever to get to. Once there, I showed my documents and boarded, picking up some magazines as I did so. There is a good one worth reading called WTF, no, it is not what you think it means. It means “What’s the Future.” Always makes for a good read.

London Feb. 1: London, England

04FEB 08 London, England

I got up a little later than I had planned at 8:30a maybe as I fell asleep and was not able to set an alarm last night. The god thing is that I’m well rested having gotten seven hours worth of sleep.

I got my stuff together and headed out, catching a train to Victoria station and arriving at 9:42a. The next Gatwick Express train to Gatwick was at 9:45a. I also noticed that the next Southern train was at 9:47a so I rushed over to my secret kiosk, quickly bought my ticket for 10.90 GBP after waiting for the persons who were there before me. I ran to platform 18 after putting my ticket in the machine (I actually put the receipt in first) and boarded the train via the First Class cabin. A minute later, the door closed behind me and we were on our way.

The train pulled out promptly at 9:47a and would make two stops before Gatwick Airport. I relaxed for a bit as I watched Air New Zealand’s Boeing 747-400 descending into Heathrow airport; it was arriving from Los Angeles, CA (LAX). This is the same airplane that came from Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX) and will do the return trip as well. I wonder how many passengers go to the U.K. via that route? I then got my computer out and started to work on a project that I needed to finish up.

On this train they kept announcing that the train would split at a particular station, so you should ensure that you are in the right car. They even had it on a LCD that is in each of the cards. The handrails in the cars are also color coded. I say this as the conductor came through the train and asked for tickets. The guy across from me that also got on in Victoria needed to be in cars 1-4 and did not move from our car, car 7 until the conductor told him to do so. I guess people don’t listen.