Cobblestone Flight Review? Well, this could be the start of a new series – clearly with inspiration from TPG, The Points Guy. But think of it as the poorer, distant cousin. Not that I don’t fly or collect points (miles, credits, red markers, whatever you call them) – but the hoarding of them that is possible in the US due to all sorts of marketing schemes just do not exist in Europe. So we have to rely on “fly ’em to collect ’em” and so the business class flights on loads of points just do not happen. Neither does business class flying on company expense to any significant extent – the dreaded company policy kicks in there. OK, on the THIRD intercontinental trip of a fiscal year, we go business. But that, voluntarily, does conflict with my family’s internal policy of keeping everyone sane by not travelling more than 50 days a year. So there.
OK, maiden voyage. In terms of blogging a review about it, at least. (My travel credentials: Twenty years of travelling fifty days a year equals something like 3 years of travel and the first year I used Tripit (which I cannot recommend enough! I even pay for Pro!), I flew 88,000 km.)
”On The Road Again” as Katie Melua sings it: Lansing, Michigan being the ultimate destination, the trip there was CPH – EWR – DTW. (Please do not ask how many airports I know as three-letter abbreviations. The answer, if I dared to make the count, would make me sound like a complete travel nerd…)
First leg, first flight review: CPH – EWR, courtesy of Continental (there’s a 2,300 USD ticket involved, of course – more on that later).
In my eyes, it must be said, Continental draws a “Fail” on the first bit – online check-in services and information to passengers. As I’ve have sneak peaked and contrasted this to Lufthansa in a recent post, I’ll skip over the details here, except that “good” seats such as emergency exit rows in Economy had an extra USD 99 price tag on them. No, thank you very much, ticket was expensive enough already (See, I said more to come? And there will be…)
Continental’s flights across the Atlantic are done on Boing 757s. This is, I understand, the smallest commercial plane capable of the distance and, occasionally I understand, doesn’t quite make it.. Not, I haste to say, that they fall out of the sky – but 4 to 5 per cent of transatlantic flights apparently have to make a fuel stop along the way. No such annoyances on the flight today which was rather smooth and got in early after the flight deck negotiating us out of a forty minutes holding pattern that would have ruined the flight crew’s efforts so far to get us in ahead of time. Thumbs up on that effort!
Seatwise, I had a mix of luck and curses. The slimline coach seats did offer a decent, if not luxurious, amount of space for my legs. The entertainment system box under the seat in front of me did not help – but having it there was a rookie-type mistake of me and will remind me to check seating on seatguru.com. Not that the not-checkin online procedure offered me much choice – 27C as I recall was the only non-99USD aisle seat available…
Co-passenger-wise, I confess to thinking “Bleep, no!” when a lady with a toddler landed on 27A. Turned out to be fine – a) the wee lad was no nuisance at all, and b) even when he sat on 27B, his legs did in no way interfere with my long legs using the space in front of that seat. Just about the only “empty” middle seat, methinks!
Meal? So-so. The lasagna fulfilled its nutritional purpose. A glass of red wine would have gone down well with it – but at 7 USD a glass? No go – not on that ticket price. I did, courteously, inform a cabin crew member that she had the misfortune of being the first one in twenty years of crossing the Atlantic to charge me for wine. She seemed genuinely surprised as United (merger effect as my ticket was a CO one) “had charged since Sept 11.” Err – roll that by me again. I do not hope that United took advantage of a catastrophe to introduce a completely non-security related money making scheme…
The entertainment system seemed ok with individual screens and selections – I can’t say more as I actually worked and read most of the way over.
Conclusion: I got there 🙂
The 757 did the job but is not the best plane to cross the Atlantic in. The smallness of it just makes it feel very constricted for an 8+ hour stint. But, I guess, better than no flight being available due to a larger plane not being booked enough to make it economically viable.
And, as a final approach bonus, I just caught a nice glimpse over the left wing of the Statue of Liberty in sunshine.