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  • BOM-CDG-ATL-OKC Part 1

    **Note: My understanding of the runway designations at CDG was off. So wherever I said we landed on 27L or used 9L, we actually used 26L and 8L respectively and so on... This only applies to previous reviews. Also note all times are local**

    Date: 1/14/06
    Flight: Air France AF 135
    Leg: BOM-CDG
    Seats: 44 DEF
    SDT: 2:40a.m.
    ADT: 2:55a.m.
    SAT: 7:30a.m.
    AAT: 6:55a.m.
    Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
    Reg: F-GSPD
    Dep. Weather: Warm and humid, temperature in the 80’s. Light westerly winds.
    Arr. Weather: Cold and clear. Light NE wind.

    Well, this is gonna be fun…

    So as always, our India visit finally ended and it was time to head back. Got the bags loaded into a private taxi and we headed off to the airport. Traffic was surprisngly on the light side, except for a patch where truck traffic is usually heavy. We still managed to reach Terminal 2 Section C, which is the AI section and also for all airlines whose ground ops are handled by AI. Once we got two luggage carts and piled on the bags, we headed inside, where the first security check awaited. We got into the slow line, and it seemed like it took forever to get through. We finally got the bags checked and tagged with AI security tags, then headed to the counters. While in line, I took a look at the dep. board. AI flights to HYD, AMD, CCU, DBX, FRA, LHR, the OS 763ER to VIE, the SAA 343 to JBG, TG 330 to BKK (already boarding), and some others. Finally, we got to the AF counter, where we learned the seats we had pre-booked had been given to other pax. I couldn’t believe it, this was the fourth of fifth time we had problems with seats either with AF or DL. Frankly, I wasn’t too happy about it, but there was nothing that could be done. We did get three together, in the rear cabin. Well, this is great, no window seat, and I’m stuck in a plane for 8 and a half hours. Joy. Well, you may say I need to grow up, but when I’m in a plane, a window seat is like the icing on a cake to me. Ok, no window meant good usage of the inflight entertainment system (I don’t sleep in planes unless my body gives out), reading the magazine many times over, and watching movies. That was the plan. After check-in, it was customs and immigration, then down to the mezzanine level. I decided the best thing to do was get the max out of my “visual” time while I could, so I huddled off to a nice little corner where I could watch part of the airfield (the 27 end of RWY 09-27, the taxiway linking the 2C apron to the runway) and ramp operations. Outside docked to one of the jetways was the OS 763ER, next to it an AI 772ER headed to HYD. At the very last jetway was an AI 744, it departed later somewhere. On the other side of the OS 763ER was our 772ER. I watched as some AI planes came in, after which the NW D13 to AMS taxied by at a snail’s pace to RWY 27. That was followed by an AI 744, which held short for a while as the DC 10 pilots used the runway end turnaround pad (a rounded extension of the runway end, not a side extension). Then more landing traffic, including an LH 744, some AI heavies and a Fedex heavy. Soon it was time to board. Boarding was done by zones, ours was zone four. First class and premium status members were allowed to board as they wished. After the final sec. chk. (the magic wands), we headed to the jetway. Once inside, we were greeted by both Indian and French FA’s. The rear portion of the back Y cabin remained relatively empty for a while, so I was able to peer out the windows on both sides. To our right was the OS 763ER. To our left, I could see the BA 744 in the distance. After a while, a Sri Lankan 320 pulled in to our left. The FA’s then came around with the insectiside sprays. It’s a requirement on international flights to/from India and some other countries. Time passed quickly, and with it the empty seats were all gradually occupied. The welcome announcement was made in English and French, and a recorded announcement in Hindi was also played on the PA. ‘Course, you know where my attention was . I noticed the OS 763ER getting pushed back for departure. A few minutes later, the doors were closed and we started getting pushed back, but then slowed down and stopped. Apparently, another aircraft had been pushed back behind us (AI 772ER), so we had to wait until that had cleared the area. 10 minutes later, the BA 744 taxied by, so some more waiting. Finally, the pushback was re-started. #1 was the first to get started, followed by #2 and flaps. The characteristic metallic spool-up noise of the GE’s could be heard, and we were off to RWY 27. Ahead of us was the AI 772ER. #1 for departure was the BA 744, followed by the AI heavy. We had to hold short for an inbound AI jet. Then we got clearance for lining up, after which we held for a while. I could make out another heavy holding short (likely the DL 763ER). Then engines being spooled up signalled clearance for t/o, and soon enough, the GE’s revved up to full power, with the roar going through the entire cabin all the way up to the ceiling. And of course accompanied by the sideways shaking of the cabin, . Brakes were released, and it took the fully-loaded triple just a little more than half of the 11,445 ft. runway to get airborne, nice steep takeoff angle as well. After clearing the coastline, engines were spooled back to climb power, and a sharp right turn to the NW commenced. The flight route called for a continuing NWsterly course over the Arabian Sea, then over the SWstern fringes of the Indian state of Gujarat, followed by Karachi, continuing over eastern Iran which included passing near Tehran, then a more west-northwest course to Turkey, then another right turn to head over eastern Europe, followed by Austria, southern Germany (passing very close to Munich and Stuttgart), then between Nancy and Strasbourg, and then the decent to CDG. Not much else to say about this flight, very smooth, little turbulence here and there. Meals were brought around an hr after takeoff. Ours was the Asian Veg. again, which consisted of rice and two veggies, bread, water, cheese, Indian pickle etc. Not bad, but not very good either. I did some gaming and movie watching for a while, and then dozed off. Breakfast came around about an hr and half before landing. Sorry, but the contents have faded out of my memory. Soon we found ourselves over eastern France, passing between Nancy and Strasbourg. Decent started shortly thereafter, and I couldn’t wait to get out of the plane! What, did I just say “couldn’t wait to get out of the plane?!!" Wow. Anyway, we headed just a bit south of Reims, continued due west, then more WSWesterly as we approached CDG. It was still dark outside, so I couldn’t see much other than during turns. Landings and t/o’s were to the east, so we flew past CDG on the downwind for RWY 8R. City lights and an expressway later, we breezed in for a very smooth touchdown, just felt the mains skimming the runway, the perfect greaser. Also a little pressure on my right side as some rudder correction was required. Well done by the gents up front! I heard the autobrakes as they engaged and some reverse was used for ending the rollout. Again, I was greeted by the sight of AF heavies all around, including a CX 744. We were assigned a hardstand across from 2A, and then got bussed on off. Ahh yes, seeing a GE 90 up close is another thing altogether… Woohoo! Finally, window seats on the next two flights!

    Date: 1/14/06
    Flight: Air France AF 316
    Leg: CDG-ATL
    Seats: 34 HJK
    SDT: 10:30a.m.
    ADT: 12:05p.m.
    SAT: 2:50p.m.
    AAT: 3:35p.m.
    Aircraft: Airbus 340-300
    Reg: F-GLZA
    Dep. Weather: Cold and clear. Light NE wind.
    Arr. Weather: Cold and blustery. Wind NW at 25mph gusting to 40mph.

    And the fun continues…

    Our first stop on the CDG tour was Terminal 2A. Inside, we went through the sec. chk. then off to another bus to Terminal 2E. It was on this bus ride that I got to see the “other” side of the Terminal 2 complex, the B, D and F halls from outside. I also noticed there were buses assigned to each different AF Euro-flight as displayed on the electronic boards on the buses, some for the Malaga flight, some for the one headed to Nice and so on. Once we rounded the corner of the service road on the eats end of 2F, we headed back down to 2E, where our next flight was departing from. Since 2E’s jetways had been taken off, a temporary waiting area on the ground level of the airside concourse was furnished with seating areas and shops, a restaurant and a bar. Unfortunately, this faced the service road between the concourse and the landside terminal, so no photos. Grrr… We decided to get freshened up, and then headed off to find some food and drink. Got some great chocolate-filled puff pastry and water. Can’t go wrong with French pastry in a French airport! Much better than the 5-Euro minicakes from the vending machine. At around 10:00a.m, the fun continued. Instead of a boarding announcement, one of the gate agents announced that boarding would be delayed a little and that more information would be made available in 5 minutes. Ok, so have to wait a while, no problem. Then 10 minutes later, more information at 10:30a.m. Hmm, connecting time at ATL is about an hr and 50 min. Still shouldn’t be too hard to make the connection, as long as immigration/customs etc was fast. At around 10:35, boarding was still delayed (as was the flight obviously by this time), and more information would become available at around 11:00. I finally asked what the reason for the delay was, and one of the agents only said “technical checks are being done on the aircraft.” Hmm, so my only guess was that they hadn’t completed the required checks beforehand in which case the flight would have left on time. So a whole lot of people just gave up standing in line and went and sat down, which gave me a great opportunity to move up in the queue. At 11:15a.m. I realised that we had already missed our connecting flight from ATL to OKC (there was no way we were making it by now), even if the 343 was pushed to the limit (flying against strong headwinds doesn’t provide a chance to make up time). As I approached one of the AF agents at the podium and began explaining to her about our connecting flight and what not, a sudden rush of people caught my eye, and I immediately went back in line and snatched a spot. After some initial confusion again about whether or not the plane was cleared for boarding, we finally were given the go-ahead by the AF mechanics on board the plane. If only they had done it earlier! I really didn’t care much about it though, since there was a bright side waiting for me in the plane itself, lol. After another review of passports and tickets (for what reason I dunno), we headed through the doorway and into a waiting bus. We headed out to the east side of the terminal, then back around on the service road, on the airside where all the waiting planes were parked. Not a whole lot of variety, mainly AF and DL ‘craft. Once inside the 343, I headed immediately to the assigned seat and snapped a couple photos:

    [On board AF 316 to ATL after a one hour+ delay. DL 772ER beside us. Note the lack of jetways as this terminal gets repaired]

    [An Air France CRJ 700 taxies by. Taken aboard AF 316 to ATL]

    After this photo, my camera gave out on me and auto-rewinded. Great. Yeah, this was turning out to be just one of those trips… Anyway, after everyone was on board and all the welcome announcements had been made, the safety video started and pushback commenced. Behind us, airplanes were continuously taking off and landing on the parallel runways. All of the ones taking off had spray coming off the wings as they headed down the runway, due to the melting of the overnight frost. It was really fun to watch. The CFM’s were started up, pushback put us facing east. The flaps were set in takeoff config, and we were off. Then we turned around and took the parallel TWY westbound for a 8L departure. On the way, I saw some good planes, but nothing that I hadn’t already seen at CDG. We held on one of the rapid-exit taxiways near the 8L end, with a company 343 right beside us. That was given clearance for t/o first, and then we headed for a rolling takeoff. The condensation on the wing almost immediately started spraying back off from the wing, what an amazing sight. Especially with the sunlight on it, very nice. The 343 took its own sweet time to get to Vr, after which we got airborne, but that too very slugglishly. That felt strange since I had experienced more powerful takeoffs in the LH 340’s. (It was later I found out that this aircraft was a baseline –300, hence the sluggish takeoff). It used up a good chunk of runway as after we got airborne, I didn’t see much airport left! After continuing on the runway heading for about 3-4 min, the 180 commenced and we were headed in a westerly course. The flight plan called for a right turn soon after passing CDG (of which I had a great view-too bad my camera had to give out). Over northwestern France near Le Havre, then between Plymouth and Bournemouth in southern England. Then south of Cork, Ireland, after which the long oceanic crossing began. I don’t exactly recall where we crossed the North American coastline, though I do recall either passing over or going close to NYC, Philadelphia and other Megalopolis cities. That was followed by the Mid-Atlantic states, and a beeline to Lynchburg, VA. Continuing on a SW heading we would eventually pass close to Greensboro and Winston-Salem, Then the Asheville, Greenville and Spartanburg areas, followed by the initial approach to ATL on the Macey Arrival. Now to the inflight services. Lunch was Asian Veg. as we had requested, and consisted of the usual rice and veggies in some kind of thick gravy, accompanied by a salad with julienned carrots and some sort of squash which was slivered into multiple strands, and some small black grapes. I tried the dressing, a vinaigrette, but it turned out a bit too sour. Not that great of a salad, as is usually the case with airlines. The fruit platter was much better, pieces of Kiwi, melon, apple and pineapple, juicy, ripe and delicious. And of course the usual roll, butter, cheese, crackers etc. I either watched the Geomap or played games for most of the flight. For some reason, the camera wasn’t working or had been switched off. And of course gazing out the window, at the deep blue sky contrasting with the sunlight reflecting off the wing and Earth passing below. Doesn’t get much better than that. A very interesting moment came right after passing Philadelphia. Just as we started making a left turn, I saw a plane in the distance and it was headed in our direction quite rapidly. As it came closer to us and was about pass under (it was headed due south, while we were still turning), I was able to watch it for 4-5 seconds. It was an American 757-200, and most definitely at the minimum separation, or very close to it at least, as I could clearly read the titles, the overwing emergency exit markings on the wing and the AA logo on the tail with the Bald Eeagle. About an hr and half before landing at ATL, the FA’s came around with snack trays and bread. The snack was better than lunch. Then we were handed the forms for entry into the U.S. and for customs and immigration. Descent started at exactly 3:30p.m., directly NE of the Atlanta metro. After several turns, we started heading south over the east side of the city. A cold front had passed earlier that evening though, and winds were out of the NW gusting upto 40mph. Landing to the west meant a pretty wild ride down to RWY 26R. And thus it began, with the right turn to intercept the localizer. The aircraft got buffeted by the high winds, which was followed by three stomach-churning drops. The Atlanta skyline appeared in the distance, followed by more drops. I was loving it, I hadn’t experienced a crosswind approach like this in a long time. More heaving up and down, and then the roar of rushing air could be heard as the main gear doors opened. The ailerons got a bit of good work, however, the spoilers weren’t apparently needed. About 5 miles out from the RWY end, the plane’s shadow appeared. Then a few more drops. And yes, let’s just say that more than a few air sickness bags came into good use… Anyway, from the shadow, I could make out that our descen rate was on the high side. We passed over I-75, then came the field and RWY 26R. At the rate the aircraft was going down, I prepared myself for a hard landing, but the pilots took the strong headwind component to their advantage and made a monstrous flare, and while the aircraft did bounce back up, the main gear contact was quiet, before and after the bounce. The plane kept rolling, and the spoilers kept folding back over once every now and then while in the deployed position, fun to watch. And then just a little idle reverse to end the rollout. It was one of those weird landings that make you go “Hmm, that was interesting…” Very nicely done though! Indeed, we used only about half of the 9000 ft RWY. It was business as usual at ATL, with loads of DL/DL Conn and FL ‘craft, and then some. Concourse E had all the usuals, including the LH 343. On the south side of the field, I saw an inbound CRJ just about to land, when a sudden gust lifted the nose up by a decent angle quite abruptly. Ouch. I bet the ride in a CRJ was rougher in these windy conditions. E 16 was our arrival gate. Once inside, we headed down to passport control (permanent residents and citizens in some lines, visitors in the others) and the baggage claim (got all six bags), then to customs and immigration, where we didn’t have to wait and get our bags checked. It all took only 30 min or so. By this time, it was too late to catch the connecting flight. Had the 343 been ready at least half an hour earlier, we would have made our connecting flight to OKC. Well, anyway, we headed to the DL counters. There were other people there from our AF flight as well. We told the agent we had missed our flight. He checked to see if there was anything else available to OKC, but all flights were full. So, we had no choice but to spend the rest of the day in a hotel and fly back the next morning. The agent gave us meal vouchers which covered dinner and breakfast, and room vouchers for the Holiday Inn North. After that, he tagged our bags for the next flight out to OKC, and we left the counter to take the train to the south terminal. Once inside the South Terminal, I noticed all the baggage claim belts. We walked past all those and outside, where the strong wind was putting the windchill at a cold 35 degrees, with a clear sky and sun. Welcome to Atlanta folks! Felt more like Oklahoma City though lol. Shuttle buses from all the nearby airport hotels were in and out of the transportation plaza, and after some initial confusion as to which shuttle was for Holiday Inn North, we stepped into the right one. After a few minutes of waiting, we headed out to the hotel. I think it was I-85 that the shuttle driver took, and in less than 10 minutes, we were at the hotel. Checked in, gave the front desk guys the vouchers, and we got two rooms (I got one for myself. ). After a hot shower, dinner and watching the NFL game that was on that night, I hit the sack.

    Next: Part 2!


  • #2
    Was worth waiting for
    Thanks for visiting
    *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *