Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Brussels, Belgium: Arriving in Brussels, Belgium (BRU)

19FEB08 Brussels International Airport, Brussels Belgium (BRU)

It was pretty white outside when touched down; I am pretty sure the pilots did not see anything but the lights of the runway for this landing; thank God for computers and instrument landing systems.

Our taxi in was still very foggy and a slow one. As we taxied in, the mood lighting was activated once more as well as landing music.

It was extremely difficult to see the planes that were parked at the gates.

I did recognize a Continental (CO) Boeing 767-400, an American Airlines (AA) Boeing 767-300 and a brussels airlines (SN) Airbus A330-200 at the gates as we taxied by. We pulled in next to the A330 and waited a bit as the ground handlers cleared our gate.

There was an announcement of the gates for the connecting flights to India; Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. I waited and deplaned, getting another chance to see the Premium class seats.

As we used the second door, I was not able to see the First class suites again.

I followed the signs to baggage claim, noticing that there were many signs for Jet Airways Transit passengers all over the place. Most everyone was connecting it seems. As a matter of fact, I think I was perhaps the only one who was going to Brussels from that flight. A few passengers got confused and did not see the signs, but the Immigration officers directed them back to the security checkpoints to get upstairs.

I cleared Immigration with ease; only my passport was required to do so and then headed to Customs, cleared that and arrived in the meeting area. I looked around and found the hotel board, but the phone was busted so I could not call the hotel. I got my computer out and looked up the address and ensured that I had it correct and looked for the taxi stand after using the ATM for some Euros. I also checked for Internet, found a connection, but there was a charge, so decided against using it.

Outside, it was freezing cold! There was sadly a long line for the taxi to add insult to injury. I joined it and waited. In about 15 minutes, it was my turn and I jumped in the taxi and departed for the hotel.

Brussels, Belgium: Newark, NJ to Brussels, Belgium (BRU)

9W227 18FEB08 Newark Liberty International, Newark NJ (EWR) to Brussels International, Brussels Belgium (BRU) 7:50p 9:50a+1 77W

Flying Time: 6:15

On board, I was greeted by a flight attendant who told me my seat was on the left a ways down. As I stepped onboard, I was impressed as the flooring is dark wood! I’d never been on an airplane with wooden floor before.

The entrance was at the First Class cabin called Suites. There were three rows in a 1-2-1 configuration; wow they are fantastic, I had to keep walking into the Premium Class cabin with its 1-2-1 configuration as well with the seats facing into the walkway. The wooden floors ended at the beginning of the Economy class cabin which had a 3-3-3 configuration.

I made my way through the first cabin and found my seat just outside the two lavatories. I stowed my bags and took my window seat. There were huge screens overhead as well as each seat had its own what looks like at 13” or so monitor. The seats are red with permanent neck rests and when the recline button is pushed, the entire seat bottom moves forward which makes more comfortable. The remote is under the monitor in front of you so there is no issue of accidentally touching it and also it does not take up seat width.

Passengers continued to board in an orderly fashion. I ended up switching to the row behind me as there was no one there.

Before pushback, we were given hot towels as well as a menu and a pair of gray socks and a toothbrush and toothpaste in a brown plastic hard container.

We pushed back on time at 7:50p and then the safety video started. It is a cartoon that was first done in Hindi and then in English.

As we pushed, I noticed a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 to my left and as well as an Air India Boeing 777-300ER. We then started the engines and headed for the runway. It took quite a while to accomplish this and at 8:19p, we took to the runway and airborne quickly.

The flight attendant welcomed us on board and said we would have dinner and then breakfast before landing. In addition, there would be duty free after the meal.

At 8:49p, the captain came on and said that he was expecting a smooth flight and then the turbulence started. Weather in Brussels is typical at -3C which is 26F with early morning mist forecasted for a nice day. From all of us at American Airlines (oops that was his last job he says), well Jet Airways, welcome aboard. Then a flight attendant came on the PA and said that we should remain seated with our seatbelts fastened and refrain from using the washrooms. This was done in Hindi and English.

The entertainment system is called JetScreen and has the following components:

  • Entertainment
    • Movies – Bollywood Movies (51), Indian Regional Cinema (8), Hollywood Movies (22), Jet Kids (1), Editor’s Choice (10), World Cinema (2)
    • Short Features – Hollywood (22), Bollywood (22), Indian Regional (4), Sports (6),Business (4), Music Videos (3), Jet Kids (5)
    • Music (13 categories)
    • Games (17)
    • Overhead Programming
  • News & Information
    • Live News
    • Jet Information
    • iXplor (moving map)
  • Inflight Communicator
    • Telephone
    • Seat to Seat Chat
  • Magazine Rack
    • Travel Exchange

At about 9:00p, the Captain told the cabin crew to be seated. At 9:05p the Captain reported that this turbulence would last for another 20-25 minutes then it should be fine and we will see how it goes after that. I was getting hungry so I snacked on some crackers I had. At 9:17p the Captain came on and said that the airplane that was two minutes ahead of us reported that the choppiness gets better so we should hang in there. He also says that the flight crew and the airplane can handle it, so it is nothing to worry about. Three minutes later a passenger and his daughter headed to the restroom; we were still experiencing turbulence. Moments later, a flight attendant came by and vigorously knocked on the door; eventually it opened, there were some exchange of words in Hindi and they went back to their seat with the little girl in tow crying. Just before they returned to their seat, I heard a tray crash behind me; apparently the crew had served some passengers their special meals. There was then a little argument between the passenger and the flight attendant which subsided shortly.

At 9:31p, the Captain then came on the PA and said that it has smoothed out as we’ve changed altitude. He will allow the flight attendants to continue the service, but he will keep the seatbelt sign on. If you need to use the lavs, be careful and return to your seat immediately once done. He would keep the seatbelts signs on for a bit longer.

Dinner was finally served after the turbulence eased.

I fell asleep with about 3:50 to go as I was listening to some Indian music. I felt a tap on my shoulder and I awoke to the flight attendant asking me if I wanted breakfast, to which I responded yes.

Our descent started soon after into a very cloudy Brussels area.

I kept looking at the screens showing our details and wondered where the runway was or the city below since it was all white. We kept descending steadily through the top of the clouds, but the clouds never dissipated. Within moments, I felt the four wheels touch the ground. Wow! I thought, it is just white outside. It was almost impossible to see the end of the wing.