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Jacksonville-Tel Aviv-Manchester(UK)-Brussels

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  • Jacksonville-Tel Aviv-Manchester(UK)-Brussels

    Hey guys it's been a while since I wrote my last TR, so I thought i'd write one on a little trip I just got back from.
    I had meetings in Tel Aviv, Manchester and Brussels before I headed home. Unfortunately I had no input on the choice of flights, but I wasn't too upset about it.

    Here goes:

    Airline: ExpressJet for United Express
    Route: Jacksonville, FL to Newark, NJ
    Scheduled Departure: 18:50
    Actual Departure: 19:01
    Scheduled Arrival: 21:20
    Actual Arrival: 20:43
    Flight Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Embraer RJ145XR (N11107)
    Seat: 17A
    Class: Economy

    I arrived at JAX at around 1730, after checking in online I dropped my bag off all the way through to TLV. The airport was essentially dead so security was a breeze and I found myself yet again, hanging around in the JAX departures hall for around 45 minutes with nothing to do.
    Soon enough though, a small RJ hit the ground and parked itself at gate A4. A few minutes later, we were called forward for boarding through, you guessed it, A4. Boarding was relatively quick as the flight was pretty much empty, I counted only around 25 pax at the gate, and most of these seemed to be in groups returning from cruises. I was greeted onboard by a friendly flight attendant who seemed to be genuinely happy, something which is rare these days it seems, either that or she was high, and I continued down the aircraft to my seat.
    I prefer the single seats on the RJ aircraft, although the legroom is tight I find the seats comfortable enough for a flight of this duration. The captain announced we were delayed at the gate while we waited for a few pax who were running late, and just a few minutes later a very sweaty and out of breath family ran onboard. We pushed back, and made our way to the runway.
    Just minutes later, we were speeding down the runway and took off towards the North. The departure and climb was quite bumpy and the seatbelt sign stayed on for some time into the cruise before it was switched off. The crew flew around the cabin with a short drinks service, I got a coffee, this was followed by the B-O-B trolley which it seemed nobody purchased anything from.
    That is about as exciting as it got and there is nothing really I can say from this point onwards. We started our decent quite early as we approached Newark, and the captain told us we were looking at a nice early arrival, and we flew straight in to and onto Runway 4L.
    The taxi to the concourse was short and sweet, and we were swiftly disembarked.

    Soon after, I made my way through to my connecting flight.

    Airline: United
    Route: Newark, NJ to Tel Aviv, Israel
    Scheduled Departure: 22:45
    Actual Departure: 00:04+1
    Scheduled Arrival: 16:20+1
    Actual Arrival: 16:38+1
    Flight Duration: 10 hours 35 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Boeing 777-200 (N78001)
    Seat: 38K
    Class: Economy

    Believe it or not, connecting through EWR was easy, and I soon found myself at the gate for my flight. There was N78001 in all it's glory just after arriving from Beijing, getting ready for it's long flight to Tel Aviv.
    At 22:05, when boarding was supposed to commence, it was announced boarding would not start until 23:15 due a technical issue, much to the disapproval of the mostly Jewish pax. Oy vey, delayed for an hour, big whoop, it's United and it's Newark we got off lightly if anything
    My love for what used to be a great airline is fading, everything about it seems to be getting worse and worse, the ground staff, crews, aircraft, seats, food, everything.
    Once boarding was finally called at 23:15 on the dot, I boarded first as we boarded rear-to-front. I took my seat at 38K and found my tray table had been gummed to the seat by several pieces of gum, obviously from the previous flight, great. The crew didn't really seem all up for it today, obviously not too happy about the 10 hour flight they're about to get stuck on, and they weren't afraid to show it.
    The safety demo wasp played and we finally pushed back. Then, 1 hour 19 minutes late, we were climbing over the skies of New Jersey, from my window on the right side of the aircraft, I had spectacular views of New York City lighting up the night sky. This was quickly ruined as we darted into darkness in the clouds and climbed above them.
    Around an hour and a half in, the crew started their first drink service, I got myself a Beer, a Budweiser to be exact and settled myself in for the long flight ahead. Shortly behind, was the food cart, coming from the front which was unusual. Pasta or Pasta were the options as everything had run out, so Mushroom and Spinach pasta was for dinner tonight. It was the worst thing i've ever had on an aircraft, However the Cheese and biscuits were good, as was the Raspberry cheesecake.
    So, hungry, I fell asleep.
    I awoke just as we were passing over Lamezia in Southern Italy, daylight blinding me as it shines through the window.
    Still hungry, I climbed over the 2 pax sitting next to me and made my way to the galley, to find the crew chatting amongst each other. Before I could say a word, one of them pointed to a trolley with cups and drinks and said "Help yourself". Great, thanks. I enquired about something to eat, and this little brat huffed and puffed because she actually had some work to do, and dug me out this pathetic little sandwich. Better than nothing, I said thanks and made my way back to my seat. The sandwich was actually OK, not worth the effort it took to get it though.
    Before we knew it we were descending into TLV, the captain announced we had made up a lot of time en-route and were only a few minutes behind schedule.
    We flew down over the coast, the sun blazing through the window, and made a sharp right turn to line up with the runway.
    Descent was smooth, and we kissed the runway in TLV.
    A miserable F/A welcomed up to TLV and we made our way to the gate.
    I felt completely drained, almost hungover, surely the bud didn't hit me that hard
    We quickly disembarked and made our way through customs, into baggage claim where surprisingly United hadn't lost my bag in Newark and it made it here in one piece. I was then picked up and made my way into downtown Tel Aviv to my hotel.

    After a successful meeting the following day, it was time for the second(or third) leg of the trip, to Manchester in the UK.
    When I received my itinerary I was expecting a routing via London, or Amsterdam or Paris maybe, but to my surprise I was flying on my new found favourite European carrier, Monarch, who for some reason run direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manchester every few days.

    Airline: Monarch
    Route: Tel Aviv, Israel to Manchester, UK
    Scheduled Departure: 19:45
    Actual Departure: 20:12
    Scheduled Arrival: 23:30
    Actual Arrival: 23:30
    Flight Duration: 5 hours 45 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Airbus A321-200 (G-ZBAE)
    Seat: 29A
    Class: Economy

    I arrived at TLV shortly after 6pm, and checked in at one of the desks. Old school style check-in where the desks are allocated for a specific flight and not just "all destinations". I was given a window, seat 29A, dropped my bag and made my way through the uber strict security process.
    At around 19:20 boarding was called, and there was a mass huddle around the boarding gate, very unorganized. The flight seemed quite full, and this delayed this boarding process massively. I was greeted onboard by 2 very friendly flight attendants, one male one female, and made my way down the cabin. One funny thing I noticed was the age of the crew seemed to get younger the further you go down the cabin At the front, the purser and what seemed an experienced member of the crew, down near the emergency exit another young kid on his own, and I mean kid, then at the rear of the aircraft 2 even younger girls who seemed almost shy to even talk to people. Another thing that struck me, which almost worried me, was the fact the crew all seemed very tired, very clearly tired too, Im not sure how their schedule works but had they possibly done another sector before they flew out to TLV? Not sure, but either way, I would hope they got a little time to rest after. I got to my seat at 29A to find somebody sitting in it, I politely asked the man to move and he plainly refused and pointed to the aisle seat. I hated to cause a scene but I told one of the girls at the back of the aircraft, and she also politely asked him to move and he refused, she then told him in a stern voice "You have to sit in your allocated seat so if you don't move I will simply offload you" and he soon jumped out of his seat and moved to his actual seat, which was in fact in Row 6. And without a flinch, she gave a big grin and disappeared to the back again. One thing I like about Monarch is they haven't replaced their old comfy seats with the new slim line seats which give you a backache like most airlines have. The legroom was ample, and the aircraft seemed clean, albeit worn. A manual safety demonstration, and we pushed back 15 minutes late. Just under 30 minutes behind schedule, we were airborne. I hate to report I fell asleep at this point, but I awoke as we had just past over Venice. I saw behind me the crew coming through with a B-O-B trolley and I grabbed a menu, it seems they serve an entirely different food menu when flying to TLV. Nothing appealed, so I decided against it. Shortly after, one of the crew did a 100 metre dash through the cabin, holding a "love to shop" magazine asking if anybody wanted anything, giving people almost no time to stop her as she passed. The crew weren't seen again until we started our descent into Manchester.
    Before I knew it, we were descending, descent was bumpy and the seatbelt sign went on early. The cabin lights went off, and the clouds were thick so there was nothing to see apart from a big yellow sharklet lighting up every few seconds. A smooth landing, and full braking and we were soon taxiing towards the terminal. We parked up next to another Monarch aircraft, and disembarked after a long wait. Customs was hectic, but our bags were waiting for us when we got there which is always good. I then headed just up an elevator to my hotel.

    The next day, I had a very brief and somewhat pointless meeting and then made my way back to the airport.

    Airline: Brussels Airlines
    Route: Manchester, UK to Brussels, Belgium
    Scheduled Departure: 17:45
    Actual Departure: 17:52
    Scheduled Arrival: 20:00
    Actual Arrival: 19:58
    Flight Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Airbus A319-100 (OO-SSV)
    Seat: 7A
    Class: Economy (Flex&Fast)

    I checked in online, and headed straight for the bag drop. Flex&Fast is almost like a premium economy, offering fast track and meals.
    I was quite late, so rushed through security and headed straight for the boarding gate. Boarding had nearly finished by the time I got there, and I rushed down the jetway. I was greeted onboard by a very friendly crew, and I took my seat at 7A. The flight was nearly empty and I had the row to myself. Soon after I sat down, the door closed and we pushed back. The crew did the safety demonstration(as well as all other announcements) in 3 languages, English, Flemish and French which was pretty cool. The crew all seemed fluent in all 3 languages.
    The seat I was in was a convertible business seat, so the middle seat was alot narrower, and the armrests did not move, however the seat was comfortable enough for an hour long flight but the legroom was terrible. After a short taxi, we found ourselves climbing and turning towards Southeast.
    The crew quickly started the inflight service, "Flex&Fast" pax being served a free drink with a Waffle, the rest of the pax being offered a B-o-B service. I got a coffee, and to be honest, it was really good, as was the waffle. I asked one of the crew for another waffle and coffee and she eagerly produced them to me within minutes. The flight passed quickly and we soon started our descent, the crew made a final offer of drinks and waffles, which of course I took it (honestly it's probably the best waffle i've ever had), this time I was sensible with Water. Descent was bumpy but we flew straight in, quite fast down onto the runway. After a short taxi, we found ourselves at the gate. De-boarding was quick, and I said goodbye to the crew and made my way towards customs/baggage claim. After what seemed an eternity waiting for baggage, I was on my way.
    Brussels Airport still seems pretty eerie after what happened, the outside of the terminal covered in stacks upon stacks of flowers and letters and pictures, it was very moving, and I felt almost obliged take a moment to observe it all.

    I then headed to my hotel in the city for the night.

    Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!

  • #2
    Sounds to me like you'd benefit greatly from teleconferencing, especially considering that whoever books your flights values you so much that they shove you back in 38K. If I was needed in 3 countries, it would be business class or nothing.


    • #3
      Originally posted by ATLcrew View Post
      Sounds to me like you'd benefit greatly from teleconferencing, especially considering that whoever books your flights values you so much that they shove you back in 38K. If I was needed in 3 countries, it would be business class or nothing.
      Click image for larger version

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      Um, someone better check on that one over there - because I am pretty sure he'll need a skin graft, considering how brutal the roast was!
      Whatever is necessary, is never unwise.


      • #4
        Originally posted by AA 1818 View Post

        Um, someone better check on that one over there - because I am pretty sure he'll need a skin graft, considering how brutal the roast was!
        Wasn't meant to be a roast, just seems odd that someone who is evidently such an in-demand professional get stuck way back there someplace. Truth be told, our friend seems to have a "fondness" for painful flying. I seem to recall he once took four flights on three airlines plus rented a car do get to MCO from SFO rather than book a direct SFO-MCO.


        • #5
          Nice flight review UAL Lover. I was in Terminal B last year (November, to be specific) and in the international concourse of Terminal C, they had these construction walls right smack dab in the middle of the concourse which made for really narrow spaces to walk on either side.

          That was also my first time at EWR. There will be a flight review coming soon with a whole bunch of photos as it was another trip to India.