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Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:34 am

And here I am, almost at the tail end of the summer 2016 series of flight reports. A quick recap, of sorts:
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 6: Big delays, cracked windshield, angry passengers (SG CCU-BOM B73J) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 7: Efficient IndiGo! (Mumbai to Kolkata, A320, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 8: Vistara's INAUGURAL flight out of Kolkata! (CCU-DEL, Jun '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 9: Take me home, Vistara! (DEL-CCU, Jul '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 10: Konnect, Lite, Delight...(S2 B73H CCU-DEL, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 11: Epic Lufthansa, Epic A340! (Delhi to Munich, Aug '16) (video trip report)

And real quick, the video trip report for this flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7qM_5KCYRc

To begin this report, I will repeat the last few lines of my previous report, where I just landed in Munich from New Delhi after a pretty decent flight on the A340-600:
After freshening up, I headed for security. Long lines? No problem! I had just over 6 hours to kill. I went online to check the status for my next flight: UA953 would depart from gate H2, A WHOLE TWO HOURS LATE! 8 hours in Munich Airport, let the fun and games begin……


A LONG LAYOVER BECKONED...
So, imagine what was going through my mind. More than facing the prospect of a long annoying wait in Munich, I was more worried about my connection out of Chicago to Minneapolis, which wasn’t on United Airlines, but in fact on American Airlines: 2 hours delay at Munich, meaning an arrival time of 1700 hours in Chicago, and immigration + customs taking another 1.5 hours, taking me to 1830 hours, giving me 1hr55min to get to the American Airlines terminal 3. Plenty of time, but not ideal, I felt.

But before moving on to the report itself, some pre-flight details building up to the day of. I observed on FlightRadar24 that United UA953 was generally a well behaved flight, always arriving much earlier than the scheduled time of 1500 hours, usually being anything between 8hr35min and 9hr20min in flying time (a block time of 9hr40min). There was just two days when a single B777’s rotation kinda screwed over so the flight had to be cancelled, but no delays at all.

Why United? Because of the Lufthansa codeshare. I wanted to log in an A340-600 in to Munich, at the cost of spending a lot of time in Munich, and on a United B777-200ER (LH9268). I would’ve had to wait 12 hours for a Lufthansa A340-600 to Chicago O’Hare! On the plus side, I could select a window seat for free on United’s site, I went for 34A, the first row of normal economy as opposed to the extra legroom premium economy. A few days prior, there was every indication of an empty flight (lol) since Economy Plus was pretty empty. N796UA was rotating between Chicago-Paris/Rome/Munich-Chicago flights. Prior to operating UA952 Chicago - Munich, the United app stated that the bird was operating UA971 from Rome to Chicago O’Hare. And now, skipping forward to the day of flying.

Waiting in line in security as it inched forward at a snail’s pace, I had my eyes peeled on my phone as I was freaking out so much. UA952 departed 3.5 hours late out of Chicago, at 2135 CDT hours. However, the estimated delayed arrival time was cut down to 2.5 hours, reaching at 1220 hours CEST, basically the scheduled departure time for the flight back. I tried to keep calm, convincing myself I will make my connection to Minneapolis. However, what I really wasn’t looking forward to was the 8+ hours at Munich!

QUESTIONABLE SECURITY PROCEDURES...?
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Security took around 30 minutes off of that. Pretty long lines, but all stations were opened and in service. All Indian passengers (from what it looked like) were frisked for much longer than the European/American passengers, and I was no different in this case. Not sure why, but I was pretty cheesed off with the kind of attitude we received. Or is this just normal? Perhaps an SSSS search, but I don't quite remember seeing my boarding pass being scanned, while the security agent spoke to me in a way he assumed I knew zero English. Honestly, that was the last thing I cared about. I was so not looking forward to this long wait in Munich. Tried to head back to concourse L, where D-AIHF was parked after my flight, however once it dawned on me that it might’ve been another security/document check and that there was two layers of glasses to get to Concourse L, I headed for concourse H anyway.

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A BAD DAY FOR UNITED
On to the way to Concourse H, firing up the United app showed that they were offering me different options to get to Chicago - via Houston on a B767-300ER and B737-800? Via Newark on a B767-300ER and a B737-900ER? Or via Washington on a B777-200ER and another B737-800? The case for sticking to UA953 was made stronger for a variety of reasons:
a) The domestic flights would reach much later than the delayed UA953
b) Immigration lines in the port of entry would’ve been an unknown
c) Stuck in the middle seat of a long haul flight? Oh no!
d) ALL FLIGHTS were delayed by over 4 hours out of Munich!! What was going on, I do not know!
I set an alert for UA952’s arrival, annoyingly it kept changing every few minutes, updating its delayed arrival between 148 and 152 minutes (2hr28min and 2hr32min).

So there it was, I was sticking to the delayed UA953, but a long wait in Munich did not seem like fun. There was a tram connecting concourses M and H, found deep underground (unlike Paris CDG where it is pretty close to ground level, giving a view of the aircraft). Hopped onboard and made it to a pretty empty Concourse H.

Off to Concourse H...
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Blankly staring at the open space in front of me as I think of a game plan to spend 7hr45min in Munich....
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LH stock boarding pass - how I wish boarding was at 1135 am :(
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At the customer service center (which does not have enough signs around forcing passengers to take a number), I waited in line. I asked the agent for my options (if any more) and the consequence of missing my American Airlines flights… The young lady tried to be very helpful, but to no avail. There was nothing they could do about the American Airlines flight, which I knew would be the answer. Instead of looking at the worst case, I had to stay positive: we’d be delayed by 1hr40min out of Munich, making up at least half an hour in flight landing 1hr10min late, giving me about 3.5 hours to get between flights. Pretty alright, I felt.

TIME MOVING SLOW, THE MINUTES SEEM LIKE HOURS!
With my fate sealed, I just had to kill time. 0636 hours CEST, I parked myself at Gate H31, where a Thai Airways B747-400 was docking - a pretty long flight from Bangkok! At the same time, SQ328 to Manchester was pushed back and set for departure to Manchester. It wasn’t a very comfortable lie down rest on the many chairs. Flight LH1622 to Krakow, Poland was the next flight from H32, passengers were already waiting for this flight even if its departure was at 1115.
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Headed to the restroom about an hour in, and walked about in the terminal - a rain shower happened, as the weather apps predicted. It wasn’t too bad. I did some more spotting on a day that did not seem like it was going any further. Minutes felt like hours, seconds felt like minutes. I was feeling nauseous, sick and disorientated. N796UA hadn’t even begun its Atlantic crossing! Walking around, window shopping, seeing people enjoy their beer, seeing planes was fun only for a while. Just imagine a worst case scenario of most seats being taken, most sleeping pods being hogged, and a pretty slow internet connection in a warm terminal. My time at Munich Airport was less than satisfactory.

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A BIT OF SPOTTING?
I went towards the first few gates at concourse, which were separated by a glass door. As it happened, this was the area for USA flight pre-checks or whatever. Signs all around said that there would be limited eating and shopping options around. I guess it was time for me to walk to the end of the concourse: onwards to Gate H58! By this time, N796UA had begun its Atlantic crossing, and was still about 3.5 hours away. 3.5 years, rather.

BAE 146, Aegan - things you don't see on the other side of the Atlantic:
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As the tarmac dried up, a Lufthansa A340-600 showed up: nice to see! This one had come in from Newark, while a few CRJs were parked in a bay that looked like it was for small planes only.
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Lufthansa regional - all of a sudden the CRJs in this livery doesn't look too bad!
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Headed back to the main concourse H area. There were many Indian passengers around, all of them who had arrived from either Mumbai or New Delhi. A quick lunch from the Asian restaurant lifted my spirits: I was no longer hangry, just angry (a little).
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I found a spot to lay flat on, but there were many Asian passengers here: Air China’s A330-200 was parked at the gate close by.

4 hr delayed flight to IAD!
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CA962 ATH-MUC-PEK
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Tossing, turning, and lot of uncomfortable feels later, I headed towards my gate, the ones separated off as USA departure gates at 1148 hours. Just under two hours to boarding! Friendly people checked my documents, a much needed laugh later, I was waiting at gate H01/H02. Two gates being used for UA953.

One last time on the moving walkway....
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Tracking its movement, I anticipated N796UA’s imminent arrival in to Munich. I found a spot that was good for spotting. An Emirates A380 kinda got in the way, sadly I could record its arrival because it was too far away. German Police cordoned off a section of the gate. This was for the arriving passengers onboard UA952 from Chicago.
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THE EAGLE HAS ARRIVED!
Many Lufthansa A340-600s and A330-300s later, N796UA FINALLY arrived. 1214 hours, I was just glad to see N796UA turn up. Never have I been so excited to see a United Airlines Boeing 777!
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Scheduled to arrive at 0950 hours, N796UA docked in 2hr24min late. All I was hoping for a delayed on time departure of 1340 hours, while also being optimistic of favorable winds on the way back.

Headed back to the emptier gates (H03/H04) and did some spotting. This also involved a straightforward check in process with American Airlines, confirming an MD80 for later in the day (screenshots of it in the next report).
Spotting in Munich as the clouds cleared up, and N796UA arrived...
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Back to my gate 1300 hours, since boarding would commence soon. No reason was given as to why the flight was significantly delayed. I just wanted to hop on board and relax (LOL, remember this). Pre-boarding announcements were made at 1303 hours, stating that the crew had just boarded and that as soon as they’d complete checks, boarding would begin. They also stated that connections would automatically be rebooked, showing the strength of United Airlines’ app.
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Another announcement was made, requesting passengers to line up according to their groups in the dedicated lines. I lined up with my group 3, being third in line. Groups 1 and 2 were the First/Business Class and elite passengers.
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BOARDING
Boarding commenced at 1307 hours: we looked set for a 1400 hours departure!
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10th flight on the B777, 2nd on the B77E, 1st with the PW4090 engines!
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Lufthansa A320 right beside, perhaps feeling extra small :P
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Aaaaaaa almost there!
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I was onboard at 1327 hours, to no crew member welcoming us onboard. However, they were more interested in requesting us to put luggage in to the bins and seats in front of us: typical sounds on a USA domestic flight…
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3-3-3 in Y! This is nice indeed :)
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UNCOMMON SCENES ONBOARD?
I also noticed that all cabin storage bins had been closed off. All passengers had to open up the bins, put their stuff in and close it. I felt that to be a bit strange. Mind you, I was at the start of zone 3, so basically more than 2 zones of boarding still to go! Anyway, at my row 34, the lady sitting in 34C had already basically claimed her territory. No, she wouldn’t move out of her seat. How nice! And if that wasn’t enough, let me tell you about the wonderful crew members who would serve us. Sitting right behind the emergency exit seats, I could hear everything they said. So, here goes.

A FUN CREW....
First of all, the very old crew members would yell at the passengers if they did not put the stowage bins up. It also extended to the one flight attendant using the intercom to yell at the entire plane because one passenger did not put up the overhead bin. And a third incident, when she literally stormed down the aisle mumbling ‘Oh these Indians!’ Wow!
And then there was the time when she was talking about how she had to reassign seats for a couple of Indian passenger who did not want to take the responsibility of an emergency exit seat. ‘They don’t understand much…’ she concluded, as she spoke to the American passengers sitting in the row ahead. Wow lady, wow.
I was set for an interesting flight ahead, if the delay wasn’t bad enough.

Anyway, back to the seat: my seat 34A was the first of the Economy class rows, all in front being Economy Plus. I appreciated the 3-3-3 configuration, as I felt the aisles were quite wide. I also noticed that the seat felt wider than the Lufthansa A340-600 seats. A pillow, blanket and headphones were already placed: none of them were covered up in plastic to anything. So were they just folded up from the previous flight? Oh God, I hope not….

View from my seat...
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Another A340-600 for the day! Loved it.
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Legroom was pretty decent!
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Another A340! :D
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The inflight entertainment was something I was looking forward to. I looked online, and the Boeing 777-200ERs had quite a lot of content, easily allowing me to get through the 9 hour flight. However, the small IFE screen was quite unresponsive, and wasn’t very bright.

For about the 78th time the welcome announcements were made, asking us to stow our bags properly, while the flight attendant who would be ‘serving’ us asked a passenger to get up and close the over head bins. No surprise! The Captain came around and apologized for the delay (still no reason why…), and that we would make up a significant chunk of the time up, with a flying time of 8hr32min (and the PTV stated 8hr27min). Either way, this was the quickest flight of the week.

Another major point of disappointment was when I found out that despite the Captain’s announcement about Channel 9 being activated for passengers to hear exchanges between the ATC and pilots, it wasn’t turned on at all. I only heard Green Day and some rap songs that really made no sense to me (none of them do? :P ) I tried a few more times over the course of the flight, no it did not work. How unfortunate.

DEPARTURE - FINALLY! AUF WIEDERSEHEN, MÜNCHEN!
We pushed back at 1352 hours, 1hr32min late and 8 minutes before the rescheduled departure time of 1400 hours. How I managed to spend a quarter of a day in Munich till this day, I have no idea. Unfortunately, I could not take a proper video of the start up. United’s video is such that it requires the crew to me a part of the demonstration as well. Ugh. That said, I absolutely loved the PW4090 engines starting. It did feel GE90 like, but not very loud.

A hurried taxi towards runway 28R, we lined up and waited for another Lufthansa A340-600 to land, the last one I would see for a while! If there’s anything that was awesome about this flight, it was the loud PW4090 engines spooling up. As we lined up, a LOUD spool up and lot of BLACK SMOKE from the engines later, we blasted down Runway 28R and finally took off from Munich at 1406 hours! I also spotted the A350 for the third time, this one of Qatar Airways on take off!
Take off video: https://youtu.be/l191qhdlfbE
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IN FLIGHT
Fighting through some turbulence, we finally headed towards our cruising altitude of 34000 feet. Most passengers fell asleep after what I assume has been a long transit for all due to the delays. Announcements were made, focusing mostly on the wifi offering (internet surfing and entertainment), meals (lunch, and a snack 1.5 hours before arrival in to Chicago).
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There’s a small faction of us who find Jar Jar Binks’ antics so annoying that we miss it in the new movie (The Force Awakens/Rogue One). I decided to watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on the tiny United PTV screen. I was surprised this was listed under the classic movie section :P
I had to pull the window shade down because the window was becoming too warm. I was getting uncomfortable, and there was still about 7hr30min to go!
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Cabin of this birdie:
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Back to the bunch of crew members I had the ‘privilege of being served by’. A few moments after the seatbelt signs went off, a few people gathered around the emergency exit. The crew members shunned them off by saying ‘we will be stowing our carts here, please stay clear of this area’. Wait what? First they ask us not to put bags or anything if seated in the exit rows (which is fair enough, must be an FAA directive), but the crew get to stow their carts, which blocks the way to the exit AND eats in to legroom??? Wow!! Anyway, drink service began, my row was served at 1446 hours CEST. A packet of mini breadsticks was served with the drink, I was grateful to receive an entire can of Coca Cola.
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Now, continuing the list of things that did not go well on the flight: despite the continuous announcements and advertisements, wifi was non-operational. For an entire hour I got an error message. An announcement was made (both in English and Deutsche) about the non-availability of wifi ‘for the moment’. This was going against my plans - I wanted the wifi connectivity no matter what, since I knew I would get real bored… It did work after 1.5/2hrs of flying, the only package being the $16.99 one for the entire flight. A bit of a rip off, considering the wifi was out for nearly a quarter of the flight! Unlike Lufthansa were I could stream videos (which is where I found out about Metallica’s newest album), the same could not be done onboard United, strangely. Pretty unfortunate considering its price (Lufthansa was $15, with decent streaming). Ah well..
Screenshots of when it didn't work:
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And when it did work:
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Throughout the flight seatbelt signs kept going on and off due to turbulence enroute. A hurried english announcement was always followed by an equally hurried Deutsche announcement. It really did not make a difference since passengers did not bother because of how unclear the announcements were.

Jar Jar Binks got annoying (nothing new here lol), so I switched to watching The Incredibles on the IFE.
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Just under an hour after the drinks, at 1543 hours, the definite low point of the flight happened: lunch. So to begin with, the very rude crew members (who were also an extra amount of rude to us Indians), did her thing again: the lady in 34C enquired what was being served. ‘Beans’ said the flight attendant, ‘B-E-A-N-S. Please read the ingredients here if you can, I do not have all day’ before she said some more things that didn’t really sound funny. Oh well.. Anyway, back to the food. I had the chicken, or so I thought.
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The couscous salad was not very fresh, and it smelt pretty bad. Skipped it. The chicken was terrible, almost raw. A few pieces of macaroni and some sautéed spinach was present, the only edible parts of the food. I understand that I was flying in Economy after all so I shouldn’t be complaining, but come on how about making it a bit more edible?
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I had a can of Heineken beer to go along with that.
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If there was anything that was decent about the flight, it was the very fact that I was not in Munich and actually on my way to Chicago, and that the PW4090 engines were pretty loud, so loud that only using the PA systems was enough for the crew to communicate.

There was no dessert on the trays, which obviously meant ice cream. Of course, the flight attendants made sure the entire plane knew about it. ‘We will be serving you chocolate ice cream today as dessert.’ As the flight attendant hangs up, she remembers it isn’t chocolate ice cream. And so she goes back up on the PA system and says ‘actually my bad we are serving strawberry ice cream. Strawberry ice cream, not chocolate ice cream’. Honestly, what were we doing, flying across the Atlantic or listening to crew announcement ping pong…?

Anyway, ice cream was decent, I got two because the guy sitting in the middle seat slept through it.
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There was 5hr45min of the flight remaining. I visited the restroom real quick, Big surprise - it was in a sorry state. Headed back to my seat and got some sleep - a good 2.5 hours!
Darkened wall of the lav
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Interesting wall pattern...
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Some activity and noise (presumably over the PA system by the crew members) woke me up. It was getting to that point where I wanted the flight to get over. The window was really warm, where I could not have laid my head over. But anyway, the last service began. A snack service. The options were a turkey or cheese pretzel roll. I went for the turkey, and for once it was a decent snack, but not too filling of course. Asked if I wanted a can of coke, I was blessed with just a cup of coke… Oh well.
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APPROACH, AND ARRIVAL
The map showed that we were well within the borders of the United States. We were overlaying Michigan, as I felt the aircraft descent a little. Finally! More announcements were made about the arrival of the flight. The usual stow bags and turn devices off, recline seats, etc etc… We were overflying Lake Michigan as descent commenced for real at 1506 hours.
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Approach pictures:
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Landing video: https://youtu.be/N6EAqgpBEdE

Getting closer and closer to Chicago O’Hare, the crew members took to their stations. So yeah. I had to listen to all the life stories of the flight attendant who made this flight a very memorable one. She was so loud, I could not enjoy the descent phase. Her previous job, her home, her love for wine when not flying, her next flight to service…
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This flight had finally come to an end at 1532 hours, just thirty two minutes after the scheduled time! The might of the Boeing 777, paired with favorable winds (mind you, west bound flight!) was shown as I was no longer worried about missing my American Airlines flight to Minneapolis. The might of the flight attendant sitting in front of us was also heard as she kept chattering with the passengers (really, stuff we did not want to know about, the passengers seemed disinterested too :P ) and this was louder than the arrival announcements - I guess those weren’t too important for her!

From what I could hear in the announcement, it was emphasized that passengers were not allowed to use mobile devices at the immigration line, or risk confiscation! That's the first time I heard that announcement....
AirBerlin A330-200
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A sea of UA narrow bodies....and all of a sudden I didn't seem to mind the less than satisfactory flight I had on Lufthansa's B748i!
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T3, the American side of things! I'd be there shortly..
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We docked at gate M11 at 1542 hours (ten minutes of taxiing), beside a Swiss Air A330-300 and KLM B747…oh how I missed KLM!
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Hmm, should I have flown Swiss Air and made it earlier? Nah, I wouldn't have been on the LH A340-600! And how about this for a coincidence! I left Delhi with a Swiss A330-300 on the gate beside, and here I am in Chicago with a Swiss A330-300 at the gate beside! :P
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Disembarkation was pretty quick, which I assume was because of passengers leaving the plane as quickly as possible because of long delays!
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I overheard the Captain talking about the time gained: the crew member was surprised that the delay was only 32 minutes, while the Captain commended the Boeing 777’s abilities to make up the time!Image
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Walked down to immigration. We were close to the counters (good for American citizens, green card holders and the like), but for us international folk, we had to walk a long long way to the end of the line. A wait of about an hour and half to two hours: I would get out 6pm at the very latest, giving me plenty of time to head over to T3 for my American Airlines flight!

Well, long line, very boring, no phone in hand because they were being serious about confiscating them, no cute beagles to sniff out food stuff in passengers’ luggage… The wait dragged on and on. At 1657 hours, I made it out in to the open of baggage claim. Nope, my suitcase was not thrown out of the belt, in fact it was still there with many other suitcases off of UA953 still to be picked up. Image

I stepped out of the arrival zone, towards the American Airlines and United baggage drops. I was back in the USA! Freshened up in the restroom, kept this terrible flight behind me, it was now time to enjoy a classy Mad Dog!
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CONCLUSION
What a flight, one that I'd remember for all wrong reasons. From the high that was LH763, I did not expect too much from United anyway, however it was quite below par on every aspect. Lesson learnt - do not take a 56 minute first flight on an airline to judge an airline. The MSP-ORD experience on the A319 was quite good, but this flight was a let down.
Do not get me wrong, Munich Airport was quite decent. However, its not fun spending 8 hours with uncertainty that followed. That being said, I'm sure no one is a fan of others hogging places to sit, or lay down on.
Chicago was a bit of a mess, but that's what I'm used to now anyway....
United, United, United. First the positives: it got me to Chicago after a pretty reasonable delay, and I quite liked the seat (width, padding, legroom). The crew just came off as rude and unprofessional, the main meal was inedible, the IFE (while it had a decent collection) was slow and unresponsive. The WiFi was not the best. No Channel 9, either. The delay, I'm still not sure what happened there. For sure, some of you might tell me that this is all I get in Coach, however there are so many airlines around the world that treat folk in Coach/Economy with an enormous amount of respect. United's enemies the MEB3 are a prime example. All in all, a rather forgettable experience...
No love lost for the Boeing 777 :)

My other trip reports:
2016
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 11: Epic Lufthansa, Epic A340! (Delhi to Munich, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 10: Konnect, Lite, Delight...(S2 B73H CCU-DEL, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 9: Take me home, Vistara! (DEL-CCU, Jul '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 8: Vistara's INAUGURAL flight out of Kolkata! (CCU-DEL, Jun '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 7: Efficient IndiGo! (Mumbai to Kolkata, A320, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 6: Big delays, cracked windshield, angry passengers (SG CCU-BOM B73J) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)
The pencil jet(s) for spring break! (+ Iron Maiden bonus): Delta MSP-FLL-MSP, March '16 (DL1608 video trip report, DL2027 video trip report)
De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report) (MSP-GFK video report)
Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16) (video report)
Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16) (video report)
Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)
Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y) (video report)

2012
South Africa 3: 12 days in Scintillating South Africa (Kruger, Kulula and Rand Airport, Apr' 12, LONG!)
South Africa 2: Elegant Emirates Economy! (DXB-CPT, B77W, Apr '12)
South Africa 1: My first flight on Emirates, my first flight on the 777 (CMB-DXB, Apr '12)

2011
International transit with Jet Airways (BOM-MAA-CMB, Oct. '11)
Konnecting to Bhubaneswar (9W BOM-BBI-BOM, Jul '11)
Three trips between India and Sri Lanka (9W BOM-CMB-BOM: Jun '11, Jul '11, Oct. 11)
To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)
My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)
 
caleb1
Posts: 522
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 1:51 am

Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:00 am

Please, please write to United to let them know of your experience aboard your flight to ORD! That was completely unacceptable behavior on the flight attendants' part and the company should be aware of your inflight ordeal, especially regarding the "service" provided by that particular set of crew. On average, I have found UA's crews to be civil at the very least and usually quite accommodating, but I have never encountered any FAs like the ones you described. Again, please let the company know. Thanks for submitting your report. It was very interesting and informative.
 
debonair
Posts: 2975
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:53 am

Sorry to read about your problems...

Munich Airport is the only European Airport awarded with 5* by Skytrax. But lots of things to do are outside of the Terminals, like the visitors park with exhibitions of the Super Constellation and Ju 52 (and panoramic views).
 
AA737-823
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:03 am

You know, I've enjoyed reading your trip reports this summer, so... thanks for posting them.
But I do feel like you come across as.... being pretty "high maintenance," to say it kindly.
Does sound like you got a bad crew, though. I've not been impressed by an international UA/CO crew since about 2009.
Oh, and keep complaining about the "tiny" UA PTV screens; United will replace them soon, when they reconfigure the Y cabin to 3-4-3.
At which point, we'll all be begging for the small-screen-seats to return.
 
theaviator380
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:39 am

Nice TR mate, you might as well change title to 'friendly skies with unfriendly crew'. That atrocious, unfriendly, rude and unprofessional behaviour by crew is totally unacceptable. I would have reported them straight to the Lead crew member and to the airline afterwards. Totally rubbish attitude and poor customer service. Every one has bad day at work once in a while but you can't go and speak that sort of gibberish. I always commend crew, their job is not easy at all and because of some passengers crew can lose patience but they must control their emotions. I would strongly recommend you to report this to United.

Thanks.
 
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Super80Fan
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:24 pm

That seems to the issue with longhaul US carrier flights, the hard product is decent but the soft product (FA's) are horrid. Great trip report though.
RIP McDonnell Douglas
 
ElPistolero
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:28 pm

Been looking forward to this one. Been a great list of reports, and this is a worthy finale.

AA737-823 wrote:
You know, I've enjoyed reading your trip reports this summer, so... thanks for posting them.
But I do feel like you come across as.... being pretty "high maintenance," to say it kindly.
Does sound like you got a bad crew, though. I've not been impressed by an international UA/CO crew since about 2009.
Oh, and keep complaining about the "tiny" UA PTV screens; United will replace them soon, when they reconfigure the Y cabin to 3-4-3.
At which point, we'll all be begging for the small-screen-seats to return.


I would agree on the "high maintenance" aspect if CollegeAviator had unreasonable expectations. However, it seems that LH and the litany of Indian airlines generally met or exceeded his expectations in most cases.

I think we need to move away from this notion that criticizing objectively bad service (rude FAs, inedible food) is a sign of high maintenance. Not least when other airlines have proven quite adept at higher levels of service at similar price points.

The PTV argument is a non- sequitur as well. 3-3-3 configs with larger screens exist. It's not a binary either/or.
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:40 am

caleb1 wrote:
Please, please write to United to let them know of your experience aboard your flight to ORD! That was completely unacceptable behavior on the flight attendants' part and the company should be aware of your inflight ordeal, especially regarding the "service" provided by that particular set of crew.

Thank you for taking the time out and reading this report - I will most certainly take it up United now. As I mentioned, this was quite clearly the worst long haul flight I have been on, and I hope no one experiences this.

caleb1 wrote:
On average, I have found UA's crews to be civil at the very least and usually quite accommodating, but I have never encountered any FAs like the ones you described. Again, please let the company know. Thanks for submitting your report. It was very interesting and informative.

And it was the same for me - except the United flights before and after this were both domestic (basically regional) flights, and I found the crew to be very friendly....perhaps I was indeed flying the friendly skies! :D
Thanks for taking the time to reply, and for your advice. I will most certainly be taking it up with United.

debonair wrote:
Sorry to read about your problems...

Munich Airport is the only European Airport awarded with 5* by Skytrax. But lots of things to do are outside of the Terminals, like the visitors park with exhibitions of the Super Constellation and Ju 52 (and panoramic views).

Thank you for replying, and for your understanding.
Unfortunately, my passport did not allow me to get out of the airport for some spotting time - and trust me, that was something I was looking forward to a lot, however when it dawned on me that I needed a visa to head out, I knew I was in for a long time of sitting around in Munich. Oh well... :(

AA737-823 wrote:
You know, I've enjoyed reading your trip reports this summer, so... thanks for posting them.

Thanks for taking the time to read them, and replying to this one :)

AA737-823 wrote:
But I do feel like you come across as.... being pretty "high maintenance," to say it kindly.

While I value your opinion, I do disagree with this.
I only started flying on long hauls since 2014, and I have been thankful for any and all flights that I have come across since. Some of these flights have been on UL, EK, KL, DL, AF, LH, UA, and since this report on QR and EY (with a couple of BA flights coming up, too). Having read reports on this and others, I have had an idea of what to expect from the aforementioned airlines. I have to disagree with your view that asking for a slightly polite crew and edible food is 'high maintenance'. I even rated (my only) AF and DL internationals better than this one. A set of crew who at least respects the nationalities of passengers, and some food that can be eaten by the passengers is all that one really needs. I do not require a five course meal with a set of crew who go above and beyond on every flight. I understand that's how aviation is. What I experienced on this flight is unacceptable, and most others agree.

AA737-823 wrote:
Oh, and keep complaining about the "tiny" UA PTV screens; United will replace them soon, when they reconfigure the Y cabin to 3-4-3.
At which point, we'll all be begging for the small-screen-seats to return.

Isn't it amazing how most established airlines actually have larger screens in the 3-4-3 configuration? :scratchchin:

theaviator380 wrote:
Nice TR mate, you might as well change title to 'friendly skies with unfriendly crew'.

Thanks for the reply! I might as well just change it to 'Fying the (Un)friendly Skies... :P

theaviator380 wrote:
That atrocious, unfriendly, rude and unprofessional behaviour by crew is totally unacceptable. I would have reported them straight to the Lead crew member and to the airline afterwards.

Seeing as how I had another flight just after and I was adamant to put this behind me, I guess I will take it up with United now.

theaviator380 wrote:
Totally rubbish attitude and poor customer service. Every one has bad day at work once in a while but you can't go and speak that sort of gibberish.

This is true. However, it wasn't gibberish, this was straight up singling out a nation and its people!

theaviator380 wrote:
I always commend crew, their job is not easy at all and because of some passengers crew can lose patience but they must control their emotions. I would strongly recommend you to report this to United.

Thanks.

And so I have seen on most airlines. Indians are not known to be the best passengers, however how the crew take care of this is what makes or breaks an airline. In my eyes, I won't be flying United internationally, unless I absolutely have to. Thanks for the advice, I will take it up with them.

Super80Fan wrote:
That seems to the issue with longhaul US carrier flights, the hard product is decent but the soft product (FA's) are horrid. Great trip report though.

Summarized in one line, fantastic! :D
I quite agree with this sentiment, too...

ElPistolero wrote:
Been looking forward to this one. Been a great list of reports, and this is a worthy finale.

Thank you very much for your appreciation! I still have two parts to go - but I guess this is pretty much the climax at this point.

ElPistolero wrote:
I would agree on the "high maintenance" aspect if CollegeAviator had unreasonable expectations. However, it seems that LH and the litany of Indian airlines generally met or exceeded his expectations in most cases.

I think we need to move away from this notion that criticizing objectively bad service (rude FAs, inedible food) is a sign of high maintenance. Not least when other airlines have proven quite adept at higher levels of service at similar price points.

Thank you for backing me up on this. I try not to sound unreasonable, however it might just come across that way because I might observe some things that others won't, but that's how it is I would imagine. I feel my descriptions here were pretty accurate, and I also feel passengers should be treated with a bit more respect. For a bit cheaper I could've experienced LX, and I've generally heard good things....
Heck, I even defended SG during the long 8 hour delay, and I have received a lot of negative comments about that.

Thank you very much to all of you for reading this report! :D

Regards
CA
 
jeffrey1970
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:28 pm

I very much enjoyed reading your TR's, and watching your vlogs. Good job.
God bless through Jesus, Jeff
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:27 am

jeffrey1970 wrote:
I very much enjoyed reading your TR's, and watching your vlogs. Good job.

Thanks for giving it a read, and I appreciate your time! :)

ericalexandre76 wrote:
I gave up on reading this TR shortly after departure due to an overabundance of whining, but did you get some cheese with that?

Thanks for reading at least part of it.
Overall this flight was terrible, and if you had continued to read on you would have found that the meal was inedible and the staff continued on with their exceptionally rude behavior. I find this unacceptable for a long haul flight such as the one I took.

Funny how this is the only trip report you actually commented on :)
 
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mke717spotter
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:49 am

Nice trip report and pictures!
CollegeAviator wrote:
The couscous salad was not very fresh, and it smelt pretty bad. Skipped it.

I had this on my UA ORD-LHR flight back in May, except I thought it was pretty good!
Will you watch the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions on Sunday? Only if coach Eric Mangini resigned after a loss.
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:47 pm

mke717spotter wrote:
Nice trip report and pictures!

Thank you very much for reading this flight report!

mke717spotter wrote:
CollegeAviator wrote:
The couscous salad was not very fresh, and it smelt pretty bad. Skipped it.

I had this on my UA ORD-LHR flight back in May, except I thought it was pretty good!

I usually quite like couscous salad. Unfortunately, this was just dry and not fresh. Not a good day to be flying United, I guess :(

CA
 
KLDC10
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:59 pm

I've enjoyed reading your previous trip reports. Having done so, I'm not sure where these accusations of high-maintenance/elitism are coming from. I think you generally judge airlines very fairly. And let's not forget that even the cheapest ticket on a transatlantic flight costs hundreds of dollars - it isn't too much to expect that you might receive a smile and some fairly decent food.

Your experience was, to put it lightly, unfortunate. The crew seemed to be incredibly unhelpful and rude - common courtesy costs nothing. Frankly, the food looks absolutely disgusting as well. I wouldn't have eaten it, but then it seems like you might have received a rude remark had you handed the tray back untouched.

I've only flown United once. I stick with Delta/KLM/Air France because their service is consistent and predictable. I'm sorry you had such a terrible flight.
DC9/MD90/MD11/F70/BAE146/Q400/737/738/739/752/763/772/A320/A321/A332/A333/E190
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:19 pm

KLDC10 wrote:
I've enjoyed reading your previous trip reports. Having done so, I'm not sure where these accusations of high-maintenance/elitism are coming from. I think you generally judge airlines very fairly.

Thank you very much for reading this report, and also being the voice of reason. I too have no idea how asking for some decent food and not rude crew is too much to ask for, is coming off as high maintenance.

KLDC10 wrote:
And let's not forget that even the cheapest ticket on a transatlantic flight costs hundreds of dollars - it isn't too much to expect that you might receive a smile and some fairly decent food.

Very true. There are much better options out there, and seen from my previous experiences on LH/DL/AF. I understand the pressures cabin crew go through. It might not be their day, and may not crack a smile. However, is it too much to ask for a crew who do not single out and pass derogatory comments about one nationality in particular? I found that to be quite terrible, and unacceptable.

KLDC10 wrote:
Your experience was, to put it lightly, unfortunate. The crew seemed to be incredibly unhelpful and rude - common courtesy costs nothing. Frankly, the food looks absolutely disgusting as well. I wouldn't have eaten it, but then it seems like you might have received a rude remark had you handed the tray back untouched.

Very true. I probably would've gotten some personal attack had I not touched it at all. Its just the way it is, I suppose :(

KLDC10 wrote:
I've only flown United once. I stick with Delta/KLM/Air France because their service is consistent and predictable. I'm sorry you had such a terrible flight.

I agree to this. And now with Jet Airways perhaps coming in to the picture too....ahhh, I can't wait for the day I finally fly MSP-AMS/CDG-BOM, with the EU-BOM route being on 9W :D

Thanks for checking this out!

Cheers
CA
 
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CollegeAviator
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Re: Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)

Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:26 pm

Ah, so I did miss out on uploading a few pictures from the very of this flight - I took one arial shot of ORD while on approach:
Image
Image

Furthermore, I have taken it up with United, let us see what happens next. Keep watching this space!

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