Monday, February 02, 2009

London/Berlin Jan 31, 2009: London-Heathrow (LHR) to Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)

CO33 2FEB09 London-Heathrow International, London England (LHR) to Houston-Intercontinental, Houston, TX (IAH) 8:40a 1:40p 777 N78017
Flight Time: 9:48
Seat Map

We boarded the plane at 2:30p (It was going to be 3:00p, but it was changed for some reason). Once onboard, the Captain notified us that our original crew would be illegal if we left with them in charge so we had to wait for a new crew. He explained that they were on their way and were expected in about 30 minutes. The current crew had started boarding in order to help expedite our departure.

I looked out the window and saw snow on the wings and realized that we had to get decided at some point.

As I was really tired, I fell asleep, but awoke each time an announcement was made. One of them was that the crew was delayed due to the weather and security issues. I believe they eventually arrived at about 4:30p or so. The illegal crew ended up flying as passengers back to Houston on the same flight.

Immigration documents were passed out as we waited.

The crew was great as they kept us informed and apologized for a situation that was not in their control.

We had to get deiced and that cannot be requested until the doors are closed which occurred at about 4:45p or so I think. We got our deicing at 5:30p or so.

We then had to get anti-icing that would last for about two hours or so. This stopped ice form forming as we taxied out to the runway.

At 6:07p, we left the gate, 9:27 after the 8:40a departure time. We took off at 6:26p after carefully taxiing to runway 9R.

Quickly after takeoff, the crew served drinks, lunch and ice cream. Basically they served three services into one. This was necessary as everyone was tired from waiting and I guess hungry too.

There were meal choices of chicken or beef. I opted for the beef with mash potatoes. The light at my seat was not working as my entertainment system needed to be rebooted. So sorry about the dark picture. There was also a salad with a roll, crackers, cheese and a brownie.

I fell asleep soon after. I awoke somewhere over Ontario, Canada did some computer stuff, watched a few podcasts, read and then went back to sleep.

About an hour from landing, we were served a warm turkey and cheese sandwich with a pack of potato chips and a choclate bar.

We soon started our descent. I arrived at IAH at 9:41p, 8:41 late, but home.

London/Berlin Jan 31, 2009: Airplanes snowed in at Heathrow

I think the British Airways Boeing 777-200 started skidding...

That's the crashed British Airways 777 in the distance on the right.
A littel icy for flight; deicing a must.

Here you can see how much larger than the Boeing 737 is the Airbus A380. That clear area in the middle is the just cleaned runway. The airport was closed at this point while the cleaning occurred.

The trucks cleaning the runway.

Icicles anyone?
The snow on this A340-600 is impressive I think.

Anti-icing the wing of the Continental Boeing 777-200ER before the transAtlantic voyage.

London/Berlin Jan 31 2009: Heathrow Airport is snowed in

2FEB09 Heathrow-International, London England (LHR)

It was 8:06a when the train pulled into Heathrow. The train driver announced that if you were going to Terminal 4 you would have to get off here as the train was going to Terminal 5 instead of Terminal 4.

Reluctantly I got off the train. I asked the attendant on the platform what was going on. He advised that there is a train still blocking the track between Terminals 1,2 & 3 and Terminal 4.

I was directed to go upstairs and find my own way to Terminal 4. Another agent upstairs told me to go to the Underground stop and then take the Piccadilly Line to Hounslow (first stop from Heathrow) and then take the train in the other direction for one stop. I thought to myself, that there must be another way to get there. I walked over to Terminal 3 arrivals area, got on a queue for a cab. This looked impossible as it was a long queue and the cabs were few and far between.

I then went to the Central Bus Station, but there was no way to get from there to Terminal 4 either. Reluctantly, I went back to the Underground. When I arrived there, I told the operator where I was heading and he let myself and others through without paying. When I got to the platform, I had just missed a train.

The next one was not for another 20 minutes at least. It finally arrived and I got off at the next stop with about 1/2 the train as well. The sign showed that the next train was for Terminal 5. I cautioned the waiting folks about taking this train.

Soon, the sign indicated that a train for Termina 4 and Terminal 1, 2 & 3 was on its way. It showed up and I got to Terminal 4 at 9:11a.

Once in Terminal 4, I made my way to check-in. My original flight was at 8:40a, but I knew that it was delayed. I checked in adn then cleared security.

There was no gate assigned, so I looked around for a bit. The airplane was there, but it was sitting out by the hard stand.

There was also many other airplanes, just sitting around as well. Some from the night before.

Kingfisher Airlines A330 at the gate.

A Virgin Atlantic Atlantic Airbus A340-600.

Northwest Airlines Airbus A330

Qantas' Boeing 747-400 at the gate.

I went to the Holideck Lounge and sat impatiently enjoying the ambience. I got accustomed to seeing “Please Wait” on the signs.

No worries as I was using the Holideck Lounge so I had complimentary Internet and I had eats at my disposal; I think I gained at least 5lbs!

I took some pictures during my time in and out of the Lounge. You can see them here.

At 1:30p, we got a gate. It was originally going to be gate 14, but the CO19 to Newark-Liberty (EWR) was still there so it got changed. Oh, by the way, the airport was freezing; I guess they lost power to the heater or something. I've used this terminal several and it has never been this cold.

While waiting at the gate, I did see a KLM Boeing 747-400 pull up! I have no idea why it was there. I know they have an A330 on the route (London to , but the B744 was a surprise.

London/Berlin Jan 31, 2009: Let it snow

The platforms on the way to the airport from Paddington station.
The platform on the way to the airport from Paddington station.
The platform on the way to the airport from Paddington station.
The view of the platform from the train.
A small park in Central London.

The snow was above my ankles.  It had snowed constantly since about 6p the night before.

London/Berlin Jan 31 2009: Leaving Central London, England

2FEB09 Central London, England

I awoke at 5:00a and was really tired. At 5:4a, I departed and headed for the tube station. It was still snowing outside with the same intensity as it did last night.

I got to the tube at 6:00a after trudging through the unplowed snow.

There was a worker writing down the current status of the trains. Almost all of them were either suspended or delayed.. The Distric Line westbound was running, so I swiped my Oyster card and headed downstairs.

After waiting for 10 minutes I realized nothing was moving, so I headed back upstairs and asked the agent how to catch the #15 bus to Paddington station. He gave me directions on how to get there, I did and waited. No bus showed up for 15 minutes, so I decided to take the next cab.

There were two other guys at the station and we decided to share the cab. This was at 6:30p. When the first guy got off, he gave the other guy 4 GBP, when that guy got off, he gave me 10 GBP. As we drove through the city, the traffic was light, I saw no buses and the streets were unploughed.

At about 7:00a, I made it to Paddington, paid the fare of 15.20 GBP and added a nice tip for the driver, thanked him and alighted. My fun morning continued at Paddington when I saw signs and were told that the Heathrow Express was not running. Luckily the Heathrow Connect was running (still don’t get that). I was told to make my way to the track 11, they are not even selling tickets.

I ran to the track along with other commuters and made it into the train. The operator finally came on the PA and said that the train was delayed as there was a broken down train blocking the path to Heathrow. He said we would not move in the foreseeable future. There were moans and groans from the occupants of the train when he said this.

I went and checked the cab lines and it would have been about two hours I think as the line was very long and there were limited cabs. No shortage of people to share with though. I then headed back to the still waiting and sat down as this was the only way out of town.

After about 30 minutes, the train moved and we were on our way. You can see some pictures of the snow along the way.