Following a few days of what most people would refer to as being those annoying tourists, we called it a day late afternoon back in the apartment in Manhattan.
Starting off with some pictures at Battery Park/Statue Of Liberty & Ellis Island Train, plane, boat, cars… in this trip!
Quite interesting seeing UA24 from Shannon in bound to Newark, as it flew right over Ellis Island. How times have changed, I guess?
Lunch outside the Museum of Natural History
Went to Central Park Zoo the next day which is so unlike Madagascar…
United sent a survey which we were happy to complete:
The 3rd night:
Headed down to Brooklyn for the final morning & then Rockefeller Center for a NBC Studio Tour. Bill Hader was hosting SNL that night, and we caught them practicing this!
Indian food fix for the trip - nice person gave us free samosas, and the access code to Chik-Fil-A's restrooms!!
It was a great couple of days but it was now time to relax. Looking at the trains schedules I knew there was a slight issue with taking public transport from Penn Station. A very expensive Lyft ride was on the cards, but hey I earned some Delta points by not flying with them! :)
A LATE END, AN EARLY START?
For dinner we headed to a BBQ. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of having one too many drinks. Wow, a flight departing early in the morning onboard an A320? What could possibly go wrong? Luckily it was a more controlled situation this time - but a quick nap later we set off from Manhattan at about 0230 or 0240 in the morning, finding a Lyft was not too difficult. Got to the airport without an issue.
We got dropped off at Terminal C around 0320 hours Eastern. It felt quite spooky being the only 2 passengers on the curbside of what was a fairly big terminal building - this would of course get busier as the day would go on.
Premier Access check in on the level was empty, so we headed downstairs for the regular check in.
There was some life here, at least. We however did not risk waiting in line for actual boarding passes, we accepted our fate by taking the mall receipt/toilet paper documents.
SECURITY, AND THE WAIT
Heading back up the escalators (WTF Newark?! haha) we went towards TSA - thankfully this too wasn’t too busy. It was 0326 hours, 1hr49min to departure. However this time I was subject to an extra search (or I believe ALL laptops were rubbed for drugs…).
After TSA, this time I was subject to extra search..
UA2139 would depart from Gate C74 - but since there was some time to kill I decided to head for some gates further away - where hopefully something bigger would be around.
Unsurprisingly it was a United-only show at Newark, but a handful of flights by the other airlines if anything. A320s, B737s, B757s all being woken up from their night’s rest for a day full of flights and whatnot. It was a little cold out so the ground staff were all wrapped up. Was quite lucky to find a retro livery A320, the A320 Friend Ship in particular!
I walked up to a Boeing 777-200ER - and little did I know this plane had flown in all the way from home, MUMBAI! 14.5 hours of flying later and the passengers were still not being let to disembark for whatever reason. Measles, maybe? Whatever it may be, always nice to see a B777! Ex-Continental GE90 equipped bigly beast.
Like I said it was pretty dead at this hour. Cleaning staff were doing their thing in the waiting areas before passengers tossed their to-go bags on the seats, and clean up the bathrooms too. Shops and restaurants were still closed, but it wouldn’t be long before they’d open up. With the passengers from Mumbai about to disembark soon, it was a good idea to walk away. We walked around, largely staying out of trouble and made our way to gate C74.
Bright lights illuminated on at Gate C74, where was parked an Airbus A320: the third aircraft manufacturer on this trip. N410UA would take us over to Chicago O’Hare, the hub-to-hub being operated by a 24.2 years old A320. This was the oldest A320 I have flown on since Air India’s VT-EPI, which was itself 26 years old back in 2012! Cargo being loaded, catering truck attached, and the pilots had taken their seats up front. Everything was looking well for an on time departure.
The gate area itself was packed. Not a seat open, we had to take a chair at the dining table close by. Spent some time playing the free online games on the iPads - well something to kill time, right?!
No no no no, NO that's not how one hold's a bowling ball!
Everything looked well as pre-boarding announcements were made 55 minutes before departure time. The usual reminders, nothing extraordinary. Waited for a little bit longer before deciding to line up with Group 3 - we needed overhead space for whatever little baggage that we had. It was 33 minutes to departure.
The jet bridge filled up with passengers, because that is quite standard anyway.
It was a little chilly as we boarded the old A320: but it sure did not feel like it, for United has done a great job in keeping their cabin new-looking, although the seats are the LCC plasticky & slim seats.
A great wing view from 24A, as the B737-900ER beside us was being readied for the next flight to Chicago. We thought of taking this, but a safer connection time is always nice.
Cabin filled up, not a seat empty, most heads against walls. The usual announcements happened, boarding complete at 0507 hours, 8 minutes before departure time.
DEPARTURE - THE AIRBUS SOUNDS
Everything seemed to go just smoothly as N410UA was pushed back at 0511 hours, 4 minutes before time. It was a little bit before one of the two IAE V2527 engines were fired up, however the hydraulics made a lot of sound - kind of annoying really because I haven’t had one Airbus flight where this was as loud and pronounced. Probably more so because this was in fact a single engine taxi. But many passengers commented on this anyway. A quick look at my video trip report might help explain this…. It stopped once we got closer to the runway for take of. Got to runway 22L eventually, but there was no traffic for us to worry about.
However it was only 10 minutes after departure time did we take to the skies, and nothing too dramatic here. A quick bank to the east followed by on course to the west as we climbed up to 36000 feet.
And that’s about it for the detail, I guess. Announcements happened, while I saw what was on offer in the WiFi IFE - quite a bit going on, but of course one had to keep their own devices charged if WiFi was used. I shut off my phone & camera as I caught up with some sleep, the cabin was left darkened even during service. During service I noticed they served stroopwaffels, but we got none of them…just the juice & water for us. Apparently beer & alcohol were also served on this flight, which was interesting :) This was 31 minutes in to the flight, which meant a solid nap would suffice up until approach. This was a flight even the biggest of avgeeks would struggle to be awake for. And so proved.
DESCENT & ARRIVAL
Something woke me up about an hour later, and I knew we’d be descending soon…the same was confirmed when the captain came around on the PA system to brief us on arrival: a few clouds around, and nothing too dramatic for us.
We came down nice & easy and lined up with runway 23R, before a nice touchdown at 0623 hours. Flying time of 1hr58min, 14min longer than the opposite direction thanks to headwinds. However, the barking dog sounds came back the moment we touched down, all the way to the gate which was…amazing. The sunrise in the distance made it better - a lovely orange hue that we kept behind as the plane flew west. Single engine taxied to Gate B6…the jetBlue gate I guess! No stops along the way - and once again goes to show that taking the first flight of the day would more often than not be largely on time & with no issues. I say this on the back of a 5.5 hour delay on American Eagle…. Oh well, that’s the past.
Docked at B6 at 0639 hours, 11 minutes before time. Every little bit counts, I guess! The PTU sounds barked on, and I was looking more forward to getting off of this old A320… really weird, but it stopped once & for all, finally.
We got off at 0645 in to the brave new world that was Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 1 B….. and oh boy was it busy out there! We had just over 2 hours to make the Fargo bound CRJ-200….
Newark - EWR
Chicago - ORD
Well, nothing much to write home about at all, a pretty standard flight. Crew were OK, IFE seemed great on the phones and the refurbished cabin was quite alright. The PTU sounds were a little annoying - I know it is typical of an Airbus but this just went on an and on for a long time. Maybe the fact that I was more awake on the ground than in the air during this flight made the PTU sounds about the only memorable thing in this flight……
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