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London to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Rigs

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  • London to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Rigs

    Hey guys, having recently completed a trip to the States regarding work, I thought I'd write up a TR.
    To give you a brief outline of what was happening, part of my job entails me visiting various Oil Rigs around the world belonging to one particular Petroleum/Oil company, and checking working conditions for the guys and gals who graft on there. Very rarely, maybe a few times a year do I get the treat of travelling across the globe to our African, Asian or Americas rigs.

    So I thought I'd let you guys in on how the trip goes down. Enjoy!

    Of course, being booked through the company, little old me doesn't get to sit at the back of the aircraft where he normally would, the generous people behind the desks, several pay grades above me only like the employees to travel in the finest travel conditions, and by that I don't mean Thomson Premium or Monarch Extra legroom (Which is what I would consider "fine" )

    Airline: British Airways
    Route: London Heathrow, UK to Houston-Intercontinental, TX
    Scheduled Departure: 10:00
    Actual Departure: 10:37
    Scheduled Arrival: 14:20
    Actual Arrival: 14:16
    Flight Duration: 10 hours 20 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Boeing 777-200ER (G-YMMN)
    Seat: 3K
    Class: First

    I was dropped off by a tearful wife at Heathrow at around 08:30. Having watched Deepwater Horizon she isn't exactly a fan of my occasional visit to the Gulf region, however, it had to be done, and so I headed into a bustling T5 to check-in. Having checked-in the night before, I headed to the "First Wing" at the very end of the concourse.
    Upon entering, a stern looking woman asked to check my ticket, strictly no accidentally walking to this one eh.
    After reading my ticket, and then again, looking at me, then back at the ticket again, she finally said, after what felt like 5 hours, "Pleasure to be having you today, Mr. Fitzgerald". Odd, guess i'm just not used to it, I usually get greeted by a confused northern woman working for Swissport who's profuse sweating has made her make-up run down her face.
    Anyway, I headed to drop my bag-off, which was one of the quickest processes known to man. In no time, I had my boarding pass, was through security, and found myself entering the world renowned "Concorde Room".
    A very, almost overly friendly host jumped into my path, "Good Morning sir, would you like a hand with your bags". I looked at him, confused, looked down at my laptop bag in my hand, looked at him again before replying "I think i'll be just fine, thanks". "Perhaps a drink, or a bite to eat"?, honestly, even though I was in the Concorde Room and I felt like I almost had to eat something just because, well because it's the concorde room afterall, I kindly declined. Still, he didn't get out of my face, he whipped a tray seemingly from behind his back, producing a tray full of drinks, "Bucks Fizz"?.
    Who am I to decline such an offer at 9am eh?
    So, Bucks Fizz in hand, I headed to a spare seat, and enjoyed what was a very alcohol heavy cocktail to start the morning.
    Soon after, my flight has been given a gate, so I made my way to the main lounge concourse, and found my flight surprisingly boarding at Gate A10, directly next to a flight to Manchester (home, if you hadn't figured )
    Boarding started early, and the usual BA boarding process started. However, we went down some stairs, and some more stairs, and boarded a bus. Once all the First pax had boarded, we of course had thought the doors would close, and we would be off. No no no, how wrong we were.
    The doors remained open, the temperature was unbearably hot. We remained there for 5 minutes with no movement, then a tsunami of people came bowling down the stairs, and boarded the bus. This was then followed by a second wave of pax, and so on, until 3 buses were full. Im not kidding when I say we were stood on that bus for the better part of 20 minutes, some pax even joking that we were going to drive to Houston.

    First, Club World, and World Traveller, all packed in like sardines. Personally, I couldn't care less, but of course for some, this would be an instant email to BA asking for some kind of compo.
    Anyway, I'll move on. We piled off of the bus, First passengers being told to board via the front set of stairs only, and nobody else. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, I was warmly greeted by name, and escorted to my seat, where one of the lovely crew took my bag from me, placed it in the overhead locker, offered to take my jacket for me and asked if I would like a beverage.
    I kind of needed my laptop, but didn't want to make it awkward, so I just asked for a water instead.
    One thing that struck me, was the size of the cabin. Looking at the seat map on OLCI, with just 14 beds, I was not expecting the First cabin to be so big, it really did shock me.
    Upon taking my "seat", like the kid at heart I really am, I immediately began playing with the controls.
    The very friendly flight attendant serving me was such a joy, like a breath of fresh air, she placed my water next to me, "Lovely, anything else Mr. Fitzgerald, give me a call". None of this standard robotic "There you go" or "enjoy" you'd get on other airlines.
    Shortly after, the same lovely lady approached me, and handed me an amenity kit by Liberty of London (A favourite of the wife, which I could then re-wrap as a christmas present , just kidding) , and a set of pyjamas, "I guessed your size Mr. Fitzgerald, i'm getting pretty good at it at my old age". I set those to one side, and plugged my phone into one of the USB ports to charge, and put the macbook on charge using the AC power in the footwell.
    I like the layout of The beds in First, the fact that they are angled away from each other means they offer pretty much 100% privacy, and it is rather fantastic to have your own "room" on a 10 hour flight.
    We were soon pushing back, shortly after the safety demonstration was shown, a flight attendant came and swiftly cleared my empty glass, and moments later we found ourselves firing down 27R.
    Shortly after we finished a long right turn, a flight attendant approached me asking if I would like a drink. "Is it too early to ask for something strong" I ask, the flight attendant smiled, "Never too early, Mr Fitzgerald", and just like that, a glass of Jacquart Rosé Mosaïque, and a bowl of Warm mixed nuts was delivered to me.
    I didn't particularly like the Hazelnuts, and so left them in the bowl. Shortly after, the same flight attendant took away my empty bowl, and replaced it with a full one.
    To my amazement, the Hazelnuts were now replaced with cashews. Nothing was said, it was just done. That is what I call service.
    The meal service onboard the flight was wonderful, the crew timed everything so perfectly.
    The amuse bouche was a Feta and Watermelon salad. Again, not being used to this, all I saw was some enormous comedy plate with a teeny tiny salad in the middle. Yes, looked fantastic, however, didn't particularly taste very good.
    Next up, crab and avocado, with a basil and lime sorbet. It tasted delicious indeed, a dining experience like no other, no restaurant on the planet can offer me anything like this.
    While enjoying my meal, I watched Hacksaw Ridge, a brilliant film I would recommend you to watch!
    Next up, Slow-Braised Pork Belly, with creamed potato and seasonal vegetables. Perfection, I think would best define it.
    I was filling up nicely, the food was good, and each course had been nicely spaced out.
    The penultimate course, a cheese plate. Manchego, Cheddar, Brie and Blue, accompanied by a lovely selection of crackers, as well as the flight attendants recommendation of a glass of Chateau Cantemerle 2008, which went down an absolute treat.
    Finally, a Wild Berry Crumble was served. This too was OK, however personally it wasn't up to the standard of the rest of the meal.

    Having had a decent scran, I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open, noticeably too apparently, as one of the crew asked if I had work to do, and if I would like a coffee to keep me awake. I kindly declined, and instead took a trip to the bathroom. The bathroom was no noticeably different, other than a few hand creams, and 2 small flowers placed above the mirror.
    Upon returning to my seat, the bed had been made. I looked around confused as to whether I was at the correct seat.
    Obviously I was, fantastic service, and so I found myself catching a good few hours of sleep.

    I awoke, eyes just barely able to see the TV, showing that we were just passing just east of St. Louis. I sat myself up, and almost immediately a flight attendant poked her head around, and asked if I was okay, and if I would like any food or drink.
    Naturally, given that I was in First, and that my body had yet to rupture like that of a pair of French Geese, I thought it would be rude not to accept the offer of an Afternoon tea.
    The Scones smelt wonderful, and they were served with Jam and Fresh Cream, very British, and very tasty. The sandwiches however, were very poor, Smoked Salmon, Cheddar and Chutney, Prawn and Ham and Mustard, identical to those you'd find on an afternoon Club Europe service. Very disappointing.
    The cup of Tea was delightful though, as always.
    I explored my way around the IFE a little more, and before I knew it, we were starting our descent into IAH.
    The descent was nothing special, and nothing to write on here, and we touched down into Houston just ahead of schedule.
    We taxied to the gate, connected to the airbridge, and we disembarked.
    Overall, a mixed bag from BA, i'm glad I didn't fork out a small fortune for it like many people had.

    After the normal comedy customs procedure as it always is coming into the States, I was met in the arrivals hall, and made the 1 hour and 20 minute drive to Galveston, where I was dropped at the Hilton Galveston Island Resort for the night. My suite had some lovely ocean views, however, I was quite tired and found myself getting an early night.

    7am, alarm goes off and I roll out of bed.
    A quick bite to eat downstairs, and i'm soon outside where a driver meets me, to drive me to Angleton Airport, just a few miles away.
    Here, I was dropped off at the Bristow helicopters check-in area.
    Check-in for these flights is very much similar to that of civilian check-in, however, you keep your checked bag until you get to the "Gate".
    On the board, many, many flights departing to various oil rigs.
    At 09:10, my flight to the Atlantis oil rig was called. We dumped our luggage into a golf-cart type thing, and we walked over to our helicopter.
    I boarded the Sikorsky S-92, and took my seat. The flight deck announced a flight time of 50 minutes, and off we went.
    The flight, was particularly bumpy, and for the first time in a while it made me a little nauseous. However, in no time, we slammed into the small helipad on Atlantis, picked up my bag from the back of the cabin and jumped off ,before another group of people got on, and headed home back to mainland for some well earned rest bite.

    After doing what I do, it was time to head to the next rig. and the next, and so I went, Atlantis-Mad Dog-Thunder Horse and finally onto Na Kita.
    After 6 days, I was done, and it was time to head home. As I've moved further east, there were no flights back to Texas from Na Kita, only to New Iberia, Louisiana.
    At 16:00, I boarded a 45 minute flight to New Iberia, Louisiana. This time, the flight was nice and smooth, and actually enjoyable, I spotted a rather large Carnival cruise ship headed West carrying I imagine many happy guests.
    After an enjoyable flight, we touched down softly in New Iberia. I was met by a driver who took me to the Doubletree by Hilton, 30km in Lafayette.
    The Suite I was staying in had a jacuzzi in the living room, strange

    The next day, it was time to travel home.
    After checking in online, and dropping my bag off, I was through security and in the departures hall in no time.

    Airline: Expressjet for Delta
    Route: Lafayette, LA to Atlanta, GA
    Scheduled Departure: 11:00
    Actual Departure: 11:06
    Scheduled Arrival: 13:47
    Actual Arrival: 13:40
    Flight Duration: 1 hour 47 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Bombardier CRJ-200 (N937EV)
    Seat: 1A
    Class: Delta Comfort+

    Due to it being such a small a/c, no First was available, but I was sat in the next best thing in DC+.
    Having watched the aircraft arrive, I waited patiently for boarding to be called, which is duly did.
    To be honest, this flight doesn't really have much for me to comment on.
    Boarding was swift, and I was greeted onboard by a very disinterested guy, who didn't really pay attention to anybody while boarding.
    I took my seat in 1A, which had slightly bigger legroom than the remainder of the cabin.
    After a quick safety demo and taxi, we were up in the air.
    A complimentary drink service was quickly started during the climb, I got a starbucks coffee which was actually pretty good, not like the false-starbucks Easyjet used to charge £3 for.
    Other than that, the flight was pretty boring.
    Watched endless fields pass by until we started our descent, and we flew straight in and made a bumpy approach and smooth landing into ATL.

    After disembarking, I headed for my homebound flight.

    Airline: Delta
    Route: Atlanta, GA to London Heathrow, UK
    Scheduled Departure: 17:55
    Actual Departure: 18:30
    Scheduled Arrival: 07:25+1
    Actual Arrival: 07:52+1
    Flight Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
    Aircraft Type/Reg: Boeing 767-300ER (N175DN)
    Seat: 6A
    Class: Delta One

    I headed straight for the Sky Club next to gate D12. The staff inside seem friendly enough, but they definitely dont care as much as those in the CR.
    As it was lunchtime I thought i'd check out the food options, which were minimal to say the least. I had a Chicken and Cranberry salad, with a coke.
    With a few hours to kill I started typing up reports and doing other bits of work to pass the time.
    Nothing particularly interesting happened during this period of time.
    Before I knew it, I was headed towards Gate F5.
    SkyPriority pax were boarded first, and an uncontrolled bundle of passengers threw themselves at the gate attendants, both SP and non-SP. Without trying to fix it, they just boarded everyone. Chaotic start.
    I was greeted onboard by a friendly flight attendant to directed me to my seat. I took my seat, and made myself comfortable, the Delta One suites being noticeably more claustrophobic to those of BA First. The layout is a lot more simple, however the finishing touches do not compare to BA. Delta One suites however, are also very private especially for those in window seats, which is good. I put my jacket and laptop in the overhead locker, and started playing with the IFE. The amenity kit, which was placed on my seat, was placed in my bag and moved to one side. It didn't take long to complete boarding, and we soon pushed back from stand, playing the safety demo on the TVs.
    Once this had finished, the flight attendants passed the cabin, offering passengers a beverage. A glass of the champagne went down nicely, as we queued up for take-off.
    Shortly before we lined up on the runway, the crew passed the cabin collecting empty glasses, and soon enough we were bounding down the runway. The noise on these old birds is tremendous.
    Shortly after departure, the crew handed out some warm nuts, and asked if I would like on of the "Signature" cocktails. I accepted, and I was not disappointed, although quite strong, it was good.
    For starter this evening, it was Pickled Gulf White Shrimp, with a selection of warm breads. It was delicious.
    I am very disappointed with DL's IFE, it really is sub-par compared to a lot of airlines, however, the Delta One noise cancelling headphones are magical, tried and tested thanks to the person who's snoring is so incredibly loud a few rows behind me.
    Next up, Lemon Pepper Chicken Breast, stuffed with goats cheese and mushroom, with rice. This was also delicious, very high quality of food being served on Delta.
    Next, a cheese board, and a fantastic glass of Quinta do Noval 10 year old Port, which complements perfectly, and goes down an absolute treat.
    In terms of the flight, it was pretty standard. By around 8pm Atlanta time, 90% of the cabin was fast asleep.
    A small slice of lemon cheesecake and another glass of port, and I get tucked up into my bed, finish off a few more things to type up on my laptop, before catching a few hours of sleep. The beds in Delta One are OK, but, for somebody of my size, squeezing into a 6'3" bed is far from comfortable, especially compared to the BA First beds which are a whopping 6'8". Ignoring the length, the actual beds themselves were quite comfortable.
    The cabin was pitch black, which made for very ambient sleeping conditions.
    Shortly before passing the West coast of Ireland, I woke up. The Delta crew were also on the ball, and I was quickly offered some breakfast.
    A Sausage and Leek Omelet with creamed spinach, and a selection of fresh pastries, with a nice strong coffee.
    The pastries were good, everything else was comparable to one of those awful pre-order breakfasts you can get on a UK charter airline.
    The cabin seemed busier now than last night, but the crew were very attentive, even giving me another refill of coffee during the descent.
    Shortly before arrival, during a long right turn in which we could see the Olympic Stadium and the O2 Arena, the crew cleared everything away and prepared the cabin for landing.
    After the wonderful views of London, we touched down on 27R, and then taxiied for around 6 hours, to the other side of the airport at Terminal 4.
    After what seemed an eternity, we parked up at our stand, and disembarked.
    The equality comical T4 customs, was packed, even the EPassport gates were busy, so after around 40 minutes I was able to collect my bag, and head outside to a patiently waiting wife

    Again, a very mixed bag from Delta, pros and cons to both DL and BA.

    Hope you enjoyed reading guys, comments welcome!!!

  • #2
    An good read, particularly on your helicopter experience. You have one heck of an interesting job!