Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mumbai, India (BOM) July 2008: Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to London-Heathrow international, London, England (LHR)

BA196 03JUL08 Houston intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to London Heathrow Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) 8:00p 11:05a +1 Day 777 G-VIIL

Flight Time: 8:50
Seat Map

I walked down the jetway where a lady was reuniting Duty Free items with their owners, then onto the plane. We were greeted by the Cabin Service Director and a Cabin crew. He ushered me down the first aisle to my window seat in World Traveller Plus.

It was cool to walk through the Club World class with it s 2-4-2 configured cabin with its lay flat seats, some of which faces backwards. I had flown in Club World twice before and once I got that backward facing seat. It is an odd ride indeed.

There was a little congestion in the walkway, so we waited. Once it all cleared, we continued on to the World Traveller Plus cabin which starts counting at row 21-25 and has a 2-4-2 configuration. Each seat has a TV screen and comes with a power plus which requires an adapter to use it. There is also a foot rest and a leg support.

As we were getting settled in, the Captain came on the PA and announced that the main cabin door was closed and we will be on our way shortly. He proclaimed that the weather was good in London and that our taxi would be a long one today. I figured that was the case as I had noticed earlier that we were using runway 8R for departures. This is the runway all the way on the other side of the airport.

I was taking out some stuff from my bag and I noticed that we were already pushing back. Other passengers were also still standing in the cabin. It was about 7:52p; great, we are off to an early start so we should arrive early. The Captain had said that he anticipated an ontime arrival.

As we pushed back, the manual safety demo started; I assumed that the tape was broken for some reason as the demo is usually on the monitors. As the taxi continued, I noticed that we were heading for runway 33R-15L. traffic was light today and it was 8:03p when we took to the runway and headed off to London.

In the seat back was a headset along with an amenity kit that has a pair of socks, ear plugs, toothbrush and toothpaste plus blindfolds.

As we took off down, I did notice two FedEx DC-10s at the cargo facility and an MD-11 from World Airways at the hard stand near to the cargo facility.

After takeoff, an announcement was made introducing the crew and the Cabin Service Director. She talked about the service to expect for tonight’s flight. The entertainment system started with news from the BBC, cartoons and a preview of the movies on three separate channels. For entertainment tonight, we had:

  1. Be Kind Rewind with Jack Black
  2. Over Her Dead Body with Eva Longoria Parker
  3. Married Life with Pierce Brosnan
  4. Happy Go Lucky with Sally Hawkins
  5. Flawless with Demi Moore
  6. The Other Boleyn Girl with Natalie Portman
  7. Cleaner with Samuel Jackson
  8. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who!
  9. Cartoon Network
  10. Family Comedy
  11. Sport
  12. Explore Photography

The second round of films were:

  1. The Game Plan
  2. The Other Boleyn girl
  3. Batman Begins
  4. Toy Story 2
  5. The Bucket List
  6. Jumper
  7. The Big Sleep
  8. The Water Horse: Legend of the deep
  9. Family
  10. US Comedy
  11. Schemes and Scams
  12. Drama: out of This World

For Audio

  1. High Life
  2. BBC Comedy
  3. Mark Lamarr’s Musical Journey
  4. BBC On Air
  5. BBC Backstage
  6. BBC Live in concert
  7. BBC Classical Performance
  8. Classical World
  9. Opera
  10. Side Projects
  11. Leading Ladies
  12. Heavy Metal
  13. Pianio Man
  14. Country
  15. Jazz
  16. Well Being

Then there are Games

  1. Backgammon
  2. Blackjack
  3. Chinese Solitaire
  4. Crossword
  5. Daw Poker
  6. Gold Digger
  7. Hangman
  8. Keno
  9. Slots
  10. Solitaire Snap2
  11. Tic-tac-toe
  12. Trivia
  13. Zero G
  14. Kid’s Game
  15. Twins Café
  16. Noisy Farm

There was an initial service of drink of choice as well as a packet of pretzel nuggets.
Dinner came at 9:06p; it was a choice of chicken with mash potato or the salmon with pasta; beverage of choice was also served at the same time by the same flight attendant. Came with roll, a bottle of water, a salad, with Italian dressing and dessert, plus a Nestle crunch.

After dinner, I went to the rear galley and found a plethora of snacks in their “tuck shop.” There was chocolates, oat bites, baked mini cheddar, choc chip and orange cookies and Walkers true shortbread to name a few.

I fell asleep with about 5:25 to go as we were over Northern Canada. When I awoke, we were just west of Ireland with 1:20 to go; it was time for breakfast. The meal came in a box and consisted of a croissant with turkey and cheese, a blueberry muffin and a tub of orange juice. Offers of tea or coffee accompanied the meal.

The U.K. Landing cards arrived at 9:40a with a smile.

At 9:53a, the first office said we were 90 miles west of Cardiff with 250 miles to go to Heathrow; we were well ahead of schedule and were estimated to touch down at 10:30a. It was now eight minutes to 10a. There is a chance that we may hold 5 for to 10 minutes before we land, but he is not expecting this to be the case. The temperature is 17C with good visibility and light variables, referring to the winds. He concluded that in about thirty-five minutes we will be landing and the seatbelts will go on in about 15 minutes.

There was then a PA saying that the seatbelts will be turned on in 20 minutes. Use the washroom now as after the seatbelts signs are on you cannot use the washrooms. They also made an announcement about their Change for Good program which collects spare change for UNICEF. She thanked us for our continued support in the program.

At 9:58a, an announcement was made that the HiLife entertainment system will be switched off and the headsets will be collected. The last video to be show will be a video about arriving at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

The video started at 10:06a and was a cartoon which was pretty cool. The 20 minutes to landing announcement was done at 10:08a.

Mumbai, India (BOM) July 2008: Departing Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

03JUL08 Houston intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

We arrived at the airport at 4:30p, so we decided that it was necessary to park at the terminal with its $15/day charge :-(. We made our way down to the departure level of Terminal E via the ever so slow elevators. I sometimes have to wonder if the designers and implementors of the airport ever use the facility; the elevators are too small and excruciatingly slow.

Eventually, we arrived on the departure level and then we realized that my colleague had forgotten his identification in the car so we returned to get it.

Once through security, our first mission was to get tickets for the journey. We spent about 30 minutes doing that and then headed for the Emirates ticket counter at about 5:30p. We had met a few colleagues while getting tickets and they had said that KLM had a cancellation so the flights across the Atlantic Ocean were now full.

We got to the Emirates check-in area and stood on line. The agent advised us that due to the KLM cancellation, their flight was now full and our chances of making it were now very slim to none. They told us to wait anyways and see what happens.

As we did so, more passengers arrived who were late for their flight or were sent over by KLM. It was getting ugly as the agent tried to prioritize everyone. Needless to say at 6:10p, another agent advised us that we did not make it along with about ten or so other passengers.

So my quest to get on a Boeing 777-200LR has failed once more. This is the fourth time now; the first was actually on this same flight back when Emirates started service, then on Air Canada’s (AC) from Sydney, Australia (SYD), then Delta’s (DL) from Los Angeles, CA (LAX) on the inaugural. Will I ever get on a LR?

Dejected, but not beaten, we headed back through security towards the Presidents Club in terminal E. There, I tried to devise n alternative plan, which I had in mind, but had hope I would not have to execute.

Based on the time, we did not have too many choices to arrive in Mumbai at the same time as having taken the nonstop flight to Dubai. Also, since it was now so late, the Continental flight to London at 6:25p was no longer an option.

I used as well as some other tools to device a routing for which we had tickets. I had already bought some backup tickets just in case my planned routing did not work.

After a few minutes, it was evident that we needed to get on the British Airways (BA) 8:00p flight to London-Heathrow, England (LHR). It would arrive at the same time that Etihad's flight was leaving for Abu Dhabi, but it would connect to yet another BA flight to Dubai, UAE (DXB), then we can take Cathay Pacific's flight to Mumbai arriving just about three hours behind schedule.

We left the Club and made our way to Terminal D once more; outside security to the BA counter. After talking with the agents, we were able to get a seat in World Traveler Plus. We re-entered security once more and headed for the gate.

We tried to get into the Air France Lounge but we did not have adequate credentials. We then went looking for an ATM and the one we found would not accept any cards.

I did see the KLM Boeing 747-400 Combi at the gate that had broken down. And then the Emirates (EK) Boeing 777-200LR passed by as well.

It was soon time to board the flight, so we did.

It's Time for Mumbai, India

With an extra day off, it is time to go a little further. So it is off to Mumbai, India (BOM). Planned routing is Houston to Dubai, UAE (DXB) on Emirates' (EK) Boeing 777-200LR, then on Emirates again to Mumbai. On the way back it is Mumbai to Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH) on Jet Airways (9W) or on Etihad Airways (EY) and then on Etihad to London (LHR) or to JFK.

I'll see what happens in the end...