We waited for quite some time. However my friend’s ballsy Snapchats from the immigration and customs line painted a grim picture - he had been waiting in line for over an hour, while it was just about 45 minutes since we touched down - Etihad’s pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi surely helped, big time! Luggage taken care of, we decided to take the tram towards some of the parking ramps, while we waited for Y.
Unfortunately, there was nothing too interesting at gate M16 - just a JetBlue ERJ-190. It was at this moment Captain Y called me up saying he was finally released from the long lines of immigration - I recommended him to ditch his Star Alliance status for once and fly Etihad from Tokyo to Chicago. Works, right? :P
A plane from far-ish!
Criss cross! :D
It was a nice little reunion with Y - of course we had to hit Starbucks for a quick evening snack (as Etihad would call it due to Abu Dhabi time), or light breakfast to be precise. He had some time to get to Minneapolis (on a United B737-700 with Scimitar!), while we’d have a later flight but all the way up to Fargo.
CHECK IN OF SORTS, & SECURITY…
Printed out some more boarding passes and headed for security at 1040 hours. Security took its own time because of the shooting that had just happened in Fort Lauderdale.
Inside T3 - spent way too long in here…..
Heading to Concourse K
Our flight would depart from the dreaded Concourse G, but there were other pressing issues, such as the departure of JL9, the B777-300ER to Tokyo Narita. The loud GE90s whirred in to life and made that loud sound I was taking about.
Some activity around K -
It was pretty slow at Concourse K, very different to just a couple of weeks ago. Other than the arrival of a couple of Chinese carriers (the China Eastern B777 being loud, again). We decided to head to Concourse L, to my favorite spotting location. We meet again, Tango Golf!
Quite honestly a bland livery here…
Hmmm, memories of AA54?! :D
AA B73H and KE B77W
This was a very good choice, with the light being perfect and many planes going by! In addition, a nice view of A6-ETG as it was (yet again) delayed at Chicago O’Hare. I was hoping tot are a picture of its departure, but that never happened.
Warbler LLC Gulf Stream G550 - seen from Concourse L
And now, please allow ETG to be the background for ALL pictures here :)
Super 80 - a sight soon to be gone, one of just 40 (at the time)
UA ERJ-175XR, AA ERJ-175, the latter had a bit of a long flight from Mexico
Trans State Airlines/United Express ERJ-145
AA B76W that would later head to Paris CDG
AA old livery and new livery B737s and B6 A320
UA851 to Beijing
Promise, this is the last of American you will see :P
Hainan B787 from Beijing
SkyWest (Delta) CRJ-200ER
I was keeping a close eye on our plane: N939AE was coming in from Rochester as AA3297. As it arrived, we headed back to Concourse G. 1253 hours
Of course, it was at this very moment that EY150 back to Abu Dhabi was pushing back and firing up its engines. Its a good thing I had a decent view of the B777-300ER take off in to the blue skies over Chicago……the last time I photographed A6-ETG!
The final leg home - hopefully uneventful? N939AE would take us across to Fargo, ND
The mall receipt that we printed off as we were entering T3
Things were a little slow to get things started, for some reasons bags weren’t being loaded till we actually boarded. Not sure if this is SOP, but it was weird, seeing as it wouldn’t help OTP all that much. Boarding was called at 1312, we went through the tiny jet bridge on to the aircraft.
The flight attendant was not around. We took our seat 13C and 13B, although it was a mix up as some mother with her infant was supposed to be seated on 13C, but was unhappy that my girlfriend was with me….and that the aisle seat by her husband was empty so… I’m still not quite sure what happened there.
Extra legroom seat…
Observing the operations at Chicago, Envoy Air has a pretty interesting set up. Among other things, I noticed the small pushback tug of sorts - it literally looked like a segway that was used to push planes back for departure.
Captain gave his briefing - we were about 4 or 5 minutes behind schedule, but the ‘quick’ 1hr40min would be at 37000 feet, enabling us to make up the lost time. Fargo was reporting light snow showers and temperature of 9F (or -13C in normal terms). Everything went smooth, and doors were soon armed.
Pushed back at 1344 hours, 11 minutes late. The engines were soon fired up as we beat a couple of United Regional Jets to the departure sequence.
On the way to Runway 28R, there were mostly regional jets of United and American, and the odd Delta CRJ.
Took off at 1353 hours in to a very calm day over Chicago, and set a West/North West course for Fargo. More of those automated announcements came on as we raced our way to 37000 feet.
The only flight attendant on the flight, Hector, didn’t have much to do, and yet he kept everything to a minimum. Helping out with baggage a little bit here and there, and of course not being around to welcome passengers onboard. Delta usually does a much better job here….anyway, the flight itself felt like it was going on forever, despite it being ‘quick’.
Anyway, I got my pretzel and ginger ale snack at 1407 hours. Once all the trash was picked up, the flight attendant just disappeared. I tried to catch some sleep but with minimal success. My girlfriend whipped out her iPad, and there we were playing Xs and Os. The further west we flew, the snowier it got. Not fun at all!
2-1 configuration of the ERJ
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
Descent started at 1504 hours, about an hour and ten minutes since take off. Windows made for a very grim scene - there were ice crystals! It was largely overcast outside as we cut through the clouds on descent.
Once we dipped under the clouds, imagine my sadness as I saw the snow clad plains of North Dakota - I was well and truly missing home.
We made a smooth touchdown on Runway 18 at 1528 hours, a minute before time. The runway had some snow blown over from the sides, making it a little slippery.
Taxied to Gate 1 (surprisingly) even though the flight attendant announced it would be Gate 3….and that they were based out of LGA!
Disembarked in to the cold jet bridge, where the flight attendant once again did not bother greeting the passengers, but was fixated on checking texts. Priorities, right?!
Picked up our luggage, reunited with my girlfriend’s great uncle and we hit Five Guys - yes, I totally missed having a delicious burger, how American of me?! :P On the way to Grand Forks, I took the opportunity of being heavily antisocial, and I slept it off in the backseat. Jet lag was real!
Chicago - ORD
Fargo - FAR
Aaaand that’s it! An uninspired end to a great trip, but I was so glad it was that way. I didn’t want any more drama especially on the way back. Shout out to American Airlines for making things easy at bad times (despite being crappy on ground at ORD on the way out) and with the Etihad codeshare. Also a shoutout to American Airlines for pulling the plug on the latter recently, making such easy connections a thing of the past. Uneventful flight which was pretty ideal, however the crew member Hector definitely seemed out of it for the most part. I guess that’s just the way it is.
Thank you all for reading this exhilarating series of reports! It definitely taught me a lesson or two (being patient and not departing out of ORD in the winter), but it also gave me the chance to see new things - Qatar Airways, Doha, and Manchester were pretty fun! It wasn’t too long until after I came back to GFK did I start thinking about the plans for the upcoming summer. With a sub $800 price tag on the international ticket, and an Iron Maiden concert in Minneapolis, things started to look interesting. Stay tuned for the Summer 2017 series of reports! :)
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