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Work Hard, Fly Right Part I

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  • Work Hard, Fly Right Part I

    Work Hard, fly Right part I
    Part I: Brussels-Newark-West Palm Beach
    Part II: West Palm Beach-Newark-Brussels

    21/12/2009: CO 0061 Brussels-Newark Continental Airlines Boeing 767-400
    21/12/2009: CO 1537 Newark-West Palm Beach Continental Airlines Boeing 737-800
    29/12/2009: CO 1555 West Palm Beach-Newark Continental Airlines Boeing 757-200
    29/12/2009: CO 0060 Newark-Brussels Continental Airlines Boeing 767-400

    For Christmas I went to see my mother in Florida, being quite a busy at school this year. I didn’t get to writing TR’s lately. Having covered Delta’s several time, I decided to skip my CDG-CVG-GSP/ATL-FLL-ATL/CLT-DCA-CLT/GSP-CVG-CDG and go to my december trip. While in the states in August I was looking at different options. AA looked attractive (thru ORD or LHR, 757 on BRU-JFK so I was not a fond of that one). But prices came up the next day. KL/NW had the best price option. But there schedule was hard with nearly 24 hours from Brussels to Florida. Another option was Delta thru Atlanta, but after already 2 trips with them (nothing against Delta, just wanting to try somthing different). Soon my Mom called to tell she had a 400 dollar coupon with Continental, So Continental it was. Found tickets from Brussels to West Palm Beach. And a new aircraft type, the 738.

    This Trip report will begin 2 days in advance on December 19th. Just to tell the follow up of events that happened. On December 19th a huge snow storm hit the Ny area. With Delta and American Airlines cancelling both of their inbound flight to BRU from JFK. Continental 60 from Newark operated, but 2 hours late. Sunday December 20th. A huge snow storm hits Europe. Closing alot of airports, including Brussels where it closed at around 9:00, just 30 minutes before the arrival of Continental 60. the result was that it diverted to Frankfurt. (the plane was N68081). But in the following hours to come the storm moved eastward, in the direction of, yes, Frankfurt, closing it down. The flight back to EWR was first moved to 1345, then 1745, then cancelled due to crew issues on the inbound. They would leave the next morning from Frankfurt to Brussels before flying on to Newark. Just a few hours after the normal Continental flight to Newark according to Continental, however according to Brussels Airport, the plane was going to leave at 800 in the morning. So instructed everybody to be back by 4AM. Luckly, I was not travelling that day, as I woke up at 400 the next morning. I checked the flight status of CO 60, that was running just a 45 minutes late. Not a big deal as the turnaround is almost 2 hours. But did leave a little earlier to catch the 530 am train, An hour and a half later I was in the Brussels Airport by 7, and found out it was a very wise instict to take an earlier ride. I was wanting to use the online check in. Even when I got an email, I could not complete the check in.

    @ the Airport
    Continental would be using, as every other star alliance carrier, row 9. way in the back I noticed three desks with the sign aviapartner (CO’s handler). And a huge line, no indication anywhere After getting a security agent’s attention, I learned that the huge line was for aswell Continental’s 61 as 1970 (renumbered flight of the 20th cancellation). Yes, 3 desks handling 2 full 767-400’s. At this time the line was as long as about the length to the end of the airport. Behind the last desks. I joined the rear of the queue at 715. An hour later, I founded myself just a few meters further. But the first security check moved upwards to the end of the line and soon I got the usual questions. As time passed, I started to talk with the people around me. Most of them travelling on CO 61. I did meet some passengers who where on CO 1970 and they shared their experciences of the day before. Finally 950 reaches, our scheduled departure time. At this time I shoud have been onboard ready to leave for the flight over the pond. You probally guessed where I am still finding myself in that same line. It seemed sensefull as myself (and probaly still a lot of pax) or behind me on CO 61 that was supposed to be lifting up at this time. Having a little over 2hours connection time in Newark. All my hope of making that connection faded away, but not being the biggest problem since there were plenty of alternatives from EWR to southern Florida. At 10 I reached the desk. To my suprise the bagage tag and my boarding passed showed my original connection at 1430. When check in completed, my boarding pass showed boarding at 9. The agent went over it like this. “Boarding will be at ni… err… just be there as soon as you can at gate B40. So my walk thru passport and security had started. No time for duty free today. Before entering the security lane the Continental conciërge asked my sequence nr. wich was 175 (so still about 50 pax to show up after me). She allowed me to use the express lane. Then off I was. No time for spotting aswell. N182DN was just pushing back for its flight to Atlanta. Actually the second flight of the day, an hour earlier there was the December 20th cancellation leaving. On my way out I could see the whole bunch of Jet Airways planes, which those coming from the Us where delayed over 2 hours. There was the United 777 to Washington and Chicago. Around the B30 area there was a whole new court of shops. But no stop for me, only a quick restroom stop. At about 1020 I arrived at gate B40 and asked another sequrity questions and went straight down the walkway down to the gate, felt pretty strange being the only one in the airbridge before a long haul flight.

    The flight:
    Monday 21 December 2009
    Continental Airlines 61 (Codeshare: bmi airlines 6141, Brussels Airlines 8005, United Airlines 321
    Boeing 767-424ER N76062. Economy 32L
    09h50-11h17 (Gate B40; wheels up on runway 25R at 11h31)
    12h25-12h55 (Gate B58; wheels down on runway 22L at 12h4
    Cruising Altitude: FL 320,330 and 340
    Load factor: 100% in Y
    Est Flying Time: 7hours38minutes.

    As usual, Continental boards thru the 2L door. I was greeted by 2 flight attendents who immediatly directed me to seat 32L. Which is in the second Y cabin. The first Y cabin looked very empty. I suppose alot of people haven’t boarded yet. The rear Y cabin had more pax in at the time. My neighbour was already seated. After I settled me in I started talking to my neighbour. I already knew that we were not going anywhere soon. And I was going to loose my tight connection in Newark. While waiting I saw an American Airlines 757 N510AA almost over 4 hours delayed from JFK. At 1040 the captain came on to tell we would have a short flight time of 7hours and 38 minutes. So was there still a chance? At 1117 we pushed back and the saftey video started. Suprising enough our comepeting carrier on this route. Jet Airways 228 to Newark was still at the gate being ready for pushback. And in no time we were on our way to runway 25R for takeoff at 1131. While we rolled out I noticed the 2 A310’s and 1 A330 from our governement.

    Continental does have PTV on its long-haul flights. However on the 764 there is still no AVOD. There are about 8 movie channels that loop around in a loop of 2 hours. There were also about 20 audio channels. I watched the inflight map and listened to the channel club continental for the most of the flight. Video choices were quite limited, none of my interest. Ifcourse there was always the window.

    Meal selection was chicken or beef. I chose the chicken which tasted good. An hour and a half out of Newark we were served a hot cheese sandwich. Which actually was the best sandwich I had ever eaten. Every 30 minutes F/A’s came around with water en orange juice. Which was a very nice extra service.

    After the meal service I went to explore the cabin, I personally think the 764 is my favourite aircraft because it has 777-style interiors, but still gives the wonderful 2-3-2 abreast. Also Continental fitted them out so you would have a standing area and lavatories without getting in the crew’s way. All lavatories are at the 3L/3R door. After this I went to the back and had a nice talk of some of the F/A’s. They were actually supposed to be on Sunday’s flight. But due to the bad weather, they got to be rescheduled. One of the F/A’s (I’ll refer him as J.) would be working my return flight a week later. Also a first timer on a TATL flight we had a complete male crew working in Y. All in all I found this crew dealt very professional despite the mess in Brussels.

    Fast enough we were already starting our decent. Continental show’s for every international destination a movie how to get thru the airport and some city information. This is a very nice touch. Then just around some mountains between Albany and New York it started getting very bumpy, this all the way down into the EWR area. We touched down on runway 22L at 12h50. About 25minutes late, making up about an hour since our departure. At 1255 we taxied into the B-concourse, I suppose they dock us into the B concourse because most of the 764 departures are around 18-1900. After docking in I was allowed to make some quick pictures up front and in J. Business class looked very nice with only 1 seat in the middle. When I left the airplane. A few flight attendants found out that Sunday’s flight was delayed another 2 hours. Making it arrive at 1700. They were joking about how that crew would be so done and how they were glad their pairings were changed.

    Already have been in Newark several times I was quite optimistic about making the connection. Immigration was a breeze, and my bag was the first one on the carrousel. After customs and baggage recheck. I was on the monorail to terminal C by 1320. 10 minutes later I joined “another” long queue for the security. Making me clear this by 1405. Thankfully, gate C74 was not that far and I joined the boarding queue by 1415.

    The flight:
    Monday, December 21 2009
    Newark (EWR/KEWR)-West Palm Beach (PBI/KBPI)
    Continental Airlines 1537 (Codshare Air Canada 2225, United Airlines 3511, Lufthansa 7706)
    Boeing 737-824 N76515. Economy 18F
    14h30-14h37 (Gate C76; wheels up on runway 22R at 14h53)
    17h36-17h53 (Gate B6; wheels down on runway 27R at 17h29)
    Est Flying Time: 2hours22mins
    Cruising Altitude: FL 360.
    Load factor: 100% in Y
    Displays a map on which the great circle path for one or more routes is plotted and calculates the distance along each route. Ranges from one or more locations may also be plotted, along with go/no-go areas for ETOPS operations at various rule times.

    When boarding the plane I was handed free headsets. I found my seat with the seats next to me already to be occupied. There was no overhead space neither. My bag was stowed in the very back of the plane. About 15 minutes later we were ready to go. Runway 22R was used for takeoff. Being on the “F” side of the plane, this made some nice pictures. Traffic was mostly Continental. On a few exceptions, of what I believe, a DC-8. Takeoff was very bumpy. It felt like we where skidding of the runway. But thankfully we did not. We turned Immediately to the right giving a view of EWR.

    Soon the meal service started, actually the beverage service. Continental does only serve free food on mealtimes. Which I do not think that’s such a bad idea. After only having to pay for a cookie on a 3-hour flight from JFK to Miami. In flight Entertainment consisted of the new DirectTV. Which First class passengers get free, for Economy class. It was 6 dollars. 6 Dollars just seemed to much for a 2hour flight. So I ended up staring at the advertisement.

    At 1700 we started our decent into the PBI area. We came from overwater giving us views of the whole Palm Beach area. Touchdown was at 1729. We taxied onto the ramp where we waited for 15 minutes because there was a flight to IAH still at our gate. At 1753 we finally reached gate B8. Besides us was another 757 registered N14115 pushing back to EWR. By the time I got to the back to get my bags and got off it was already 1805.

    Baggage claim was a breeze and surprise, surprise, … My bag actually made it down to PBI aswell. By 1840 we where in the car and by 1900 we were in Palm Beach Gardens.

    As a bonus I would like to give a list of regs I spotted in BRU, EWR and PBI




    My Total travel time was about 21hours and 30mins.

    Thank you for viewing and stay tuned for part II PBI-EWR-BRU on Continental.