Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Operation Emergency Deployment - UA/CO 4

Operation Emergency Deployment - UA 230 

Operation Emergency Deployment - UA/CO 4 

Operation Emergency Deployment - UA 949

Operation Emergency Deployment - UA 907 

Operation Emergency Deployment - Conclusion

December 5, 2011 – UA/CO 4 (Houston George W. Bush InterContinental > London Heathrow Airport)

Houston is a huge airport.

My plane has been taxied for about 10 minutes before reaching the gate. At that time, my friend was waiting outside.

Then we proceed to the United Club (formerly known as Continental's President Club).

Unlike the formerly United Red Carpet Club, the amenity provided in this club is way much better, even before the merger.

At the least, they have shower facilities and free selected premium drinks, for free, as well as unrestricted WiFi access (no need to use a code).

This kind of United Club (I mean the Continental's kind) are the one I like the most. American airlines are being cheap - so it is not a surprise that nothing is really offered in the lounge (and this is the main reason that I don't sign up for paid lounge access). But among them (for the real, the only one that I never used is Delta SkyClub, which is because I never travel with Delta before), that "United Club" offers the most among them, especially the hot water at their shower. As far as I know, it is the best water (temperature,pressure) that I have ever experienced.

Outside United Club (With the traditional style of President Club)

View from United Club (The farthest aircraft was the one who took me to London)

Inside United Club (1 of 3)

Inside United Club (2 of 3)

Inside United Club (3 of 3)

But too bad this time, I did not spend my time for the shower.

Then we proceeded to the gate.

The passenger load for this flight was extremely. Even we left the lounge on time, the gate had begun boarding the last group of passengers already. And surprisingly, the so-called Exit Row Extra Leg Room (ELR) seats were not filled (My friend and I had B and C seats and A was occurred by someone else.) With the permission of the flight attendants (as I was aware of stories of ELR seats flight attendants would not allow people to make the change even they are empty), my friend and I basically played music chair - switching among those 3 seats.

Guitar for Music Chair? Or United Break Guitar?

The flight was serviced by a Boeing 777-200ER

This was the first time I travel with former Continental on an international destination. As my friend mentioned to me about his satisfaction with his OKC-IAH-EWR-HKG trips years ago, I could finally see if it was the case.

It turned out that it was not bad at all. 

The food was at the least edible.

In-Flight Entertainment was fully in function (and at the least, the screen knows how to move) and surprisingly, Continental has offered Chinese programing (for a Trans-Atlantic route). The offering was kind of old but at least, better than Cathay Pacifc.

(In determining this, I have taken the consideration that Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong airlines and a customer of TVB, who produces the programs. So in theory, it would be easier for Cathay Pacific to negotiate a deal and get better programing, compared to Continental).

What interesting was in most of the time of this flight, we are in fact traveling on maximum speed per Boeing's design. Based on Wikipedia, Boeing 777 (regardless of variants) can travel up to Mach 0.89 (590 mph, 950 km/h, 512 knots) at a cruise altitude of 35,000 ft (11,000 m).

But we were traveling at almost 700 mph at the cruise altitude of 38,000 ft.

So, even we had a half hour tarmac delay and holding during final descent to London Heathrow, we were arrived 1 hour earlier than scheduled.

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