Onwards and forwards after a terrible December 18th
, lets keep going with a flight that should've been on an Etihad Airways B777-300ER, but instead was on an American Airlines B757-200. I wasn't complaining, I was just glad to have been with a solution to head home! American Airlines Flight AA54
Chicago O'Hare (IL, USA) to Manchester (UK)
December 19th 2016
1905 hours CST - 0835 hours GMT (+1)
Seat 12F, Economy Comfort
N196AA, B757-223(W) (15.2 years old)
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https://uk.flightaware.com/live/flight/ ... /KORD/EGCC
Longest narrow body flight
First Intl. flight in Y+
4th flight on Boeing 757
Find the video trip report here: Video trip report for AA54MY LONGEST NARROWBODY FLIGHT!
This was going to be my longest flight on a narrow body aircraft. With this trip, the longest narrow body flight record would've been a new one anyway, seeing as Etihad operate an Airbus A320 between Abu Dhabi and Kolkata. With the rebooked itinerary, Chicago to Manchester would be my longest flight on a narrow body. 3820 miles, 6147 kilometers. Across the Atlantic! I was glad this would be a Boeing airplane, and not an Airbus one
The B757 has been put to fantastic use by the American airlines. There are so many transatlantic routes that are operated by both variants of the B757. As far as I have heard, both Delta and United have top-notch seat back IFE on their TATL B757s, while American Airlines is a bit on the old side - no IFE whatsoever. I was quietly excited to be on a B757 again, seeing as my first ever flight since I was born was on a Royal Nepal B757. THE FORCE AWAKENS - FLY DAY!
Keeping up with the Star Wars titles, this is the last one, (promise
). December 18th 2016. It was a terrible day for my girlfriend and I. A long day with everything going wrong - flight delays, missing flights, unhelpful staff… It all turned around about 15 hours after when we got a revised itinerary all the way to Kolkata from Chicago (seeing as we made it from Fargo in the most unfortunate of circumstances). Being Christmas time, most flights out were full. I truly appreciated the fact that my girlfriend (who was traveling internationally for the first time) and I were on the same set of flights! With those in mind, we slept off peacefully in to the night.
The next morning, we woke up about 12 hours before departure for our flight to Manchester, UK. In the little time I got here and there - I figured out that this flight would actually be in Economy Plus -
more legroom the better, I guess! N196AA, a 15.2 year old Boeing 757-200W
would take us across the Atlantic. She was just about to take off from Manchester for its flight back to Chicago as AA53. AA54/AA53 are continuation of a flight from Orlando to Chicago on an A321. BAGGAGE DILEMMA?!
Breakfast at the hotel, albeit basic, was quite filling. Since we were entitled to a free breakfast anyway, we had an extra voucher to use during the long day of killing time. We had to depart at around 0930/10am - a concern that kept me from being high spirited after the rebooking was the luggage. I mentioned in the previous part that Etihad would have our baggage, and that we should be at the Etihad check in at around 11am to make sure we get them back.
Shuttle ride was a bit long - but we made it at Terminal 5 in the nick of time! Trust me, at this point I was really starting to dislike T5, but thankfully the Etihad staff were still around. The lovely young lady from Texas did her thing and helped us, while telling us how much she disliked the cold - at least it wasn’t North Dakota! She informed us to stick around for a while, it would take some time before they found our suitcases. No, we were not the reason Etihad flight EY150 was delayed by over three hours the previous day - it was unfortunately compounded by American Airlines and American Eagle's operations that blew things out of proportion.
Some spotting pictures:
A6-ETJ had flown in to Abu Dhabi as EY151.
With us being hopeful about receiving our luggage, we headed out towards the city - I quite liked the Chicago blue line metro and I wanted to take my girlfriend on it. However, a worrying thing was the fact that telephone signal was dropping. This would pose a threat if Etihad tried to call us back, they wouldn’t be able to. I think we went up to Belmont and took the train back. This worked out perfectly - onboard the inter terminal tram from T2 to T5, we got a call from Etihad! The staff member would be waiting with our luggage at the check in area.
Another nice young lady helped us out - another persons’ suitcase was there too, but he was no where to be seen. She insisted to take the baggage cart all the way for convenience - only to realize these weren’t allowed on the inter terminal tram! CHECK IN, ROUND 2!
1305 hours. About six hours till we departed - out of the USA! We headed to T3 and joined a long international check in line - thankfully this was fast moving! We spent about thirty minutes in line since our baggage tags would not print. Not too bad. Once at the check in counter where we had to drop off our luggage - everything was in order. However we did have to wait for a good twenty odd minutes here.NO FRAGILE TAGS?!
When I requested for a fragile tag, the agent told me that they did not do it anymore. I decided to turn cheeky. ’Oh, so that’s why so many bags are mishandled’ I said. ‘Uhh no sir we take utmost care of the luggage while loading and it’s at the passengers risk’ said the check in lady, getting a bit defensive. ‘Right. Okay. Thanks.’, I said as I walked away. At least I was now confident we’d be on our way! It was 1415 hours.WE'RE ALMOST ON OUR WAY!
With 5 hours to kill, we went downstairs to use up the second of the three free vouchers - the breakfast voucher was of least value, so what better than using it to get some Starbucks?! A final pumpkin spice latte for the year.
Once this was done, I saw D-ABYJ, the Lufthansa B747-8 from Frankfurt preparing for its taxi from T5 to T1. I insisted we board the tram so that I could perhaps get a decent shot of it. This did not work out - D-ABYJ was already at T1, so we decided to kill time by heading all the way to the parking. A nice looking Austrian B767-300ER was parked: ULTIMATE LEVEL OF SECURITY CUTENESS!
After all the goofing around - we finally decided to head for security. 1516 hours. Under 4 hours to departure. So close! This was very quick - a cute member of the K9 family ensured we were all cleared, and so there was no need for regular security. Just the bag through the X-ray machine, no need for removing laptops, no need for removing shoes! This was great. 1520 hours, and we were airside.
Prior to the Kevin Mcallister part (where Kevin and his family spilt up before the flight to New York and Miami respectively in Home Alone 2), there were lovely Christmas decorations, and a choir who really set up a cute christmas spirit! They sang some very populars hymns and songs - every one waited to witness and experience this, even a couple of pilots! At concourse K, I did my spotting stuff as my girlfriend dealt with…there’s only so much an avgeek can not do
That’s when I decided to head to concourse L - this had a very nice view of activity going past the international Terminal 5. 1545 hours - almost time for KLM’s B747-400M departure to Amsterdam!
I found a spot right by the glass and I had a great spotting session. Prior to that, some pictures along the way:
Gonna miss the Mad Dogs and the old livery, that's for sure...
N196AA was docked at gate M1, and was pushed back at 1610. This later taxied towards gate K10. Let the pictures do the talking:
The biggies - KLM, Emirates, Delta (DL has since exited the international market at ORD, handing over the Paris CDG flight to Air France permanently.)
And this American Airlines B787 was significant. I pointed out to my girlfriend the unique nose section and engine cowlings that set the Dream)liner away from the others. We would have 2 Dream)liner flights after we get to Manchester.
American A321, ex-US Airways is my guess'If its not pointy, its not scary.'
Gotta say, after the day prior to this one, I absolutely disliked the ERJ-145....
A fantastic airplane!
Not enough B787 pictures, that's for sure...
The three liveries! Which one is your favorite?!TOO MUCH AMERICAN?
It is, it is. I too was surprised to see so many American Airlines planes. After all, this is one of their hubs. Some other stuff too. Starting off with the home airline - United!
Beastly Korean Air Cargo B777-200F
Some more American
MD-83, and a B767-300ER
Swiss A330-300 to/from Zurich
Aer Lingus A330 from Dublin
Some pictures of N196AA heading out of gate M1 after arrival from Manchester...
The Aer Lingus A330-300 chased it down
The moment had arrived - KLM B747-400M PH-BFC operating a delayed KL612 departure to Amsterdam Schiphol. Oh, how I miss the simpler times....
Not too long after - another majestic moment! Lufthansa B747-8 D-ABYM operating LH431 to Frankfurt. Oh, how I miss the simpler times.....FLIGHT TIME!
After a supper courtesy of American Eagle, we headed back to gate K10.
Was loving the celebration mode at ORD - amazing, I was absolutely hating ORD not more than 24 hours ago....
Headed towards Gate K10 - no aircraft was present. So where was N196AA?! Fearing another delay, I tried to stay calm. There was the Iberia A330-300 at the departure gate K13, all set to depart. It was quite hilarious to see ground staff close the forward cargo door, only to reopen it because their clipboard was left inside the cargo hold
Some others in the vicinity:
MD-83 HELLO PENCIL JET!
While the pretty Iberia bird departed (some lovely sounds being made by the GE CF6 engines), N196AA showed up. I have no idea where she was parked, but hey she docked at the gate, just 55 minutes before our departure time
. Heading back to Gate K13 while the pre-boarding announcement was on, it was unsurprising to see that the gate had no place to sit. We sat on the floor.
Our birdie - looking quite sleek BOARDING BOARDING BOARDING!
The golden words sprouted: ‘we would like to begin boarding for American Airlines flight fifty four to Manchester’.
This felt like a moral victory for us, after having been delayed so much. Business class first, followed by the rear end of Economy, and then it was our turn. 1854 hours, we were in line for boarding.
Putting behind the rather mediocre flight I had with American Airlines in May, and the rather atrocious state of affairs the previous day, I was quietly excited for my longest flight on a Narrow Body! It was time to make the most of the lost time.
Long line in the jet bridge -
I was onboard at 1858 hours, seven minutes prior to departure time. No, there wasn’t a crew member at the doorway. I took my seat 12F, which had a fantastic view of the starboard Rolls Royce RB211-535E4B engine.
Wasn’t too alarmed by the lack of IFE - I was fortunate to have someone sit beside me…her second flight in the middle seat. Besides, I was glad I had so much legroom! Business Class however, had PTV screens. The overhead TV screens were showing some ads of American Airlines. The crew, when they showed up, had a great Christmas spirit going on. They were cheerful, chirpy and helpful.
Doors armed at 1922 hours, and pushback commenced at 1925 hours, twenty minutes after scheduled departure time. An American B777 was pushed back, so I guess we just blocked its way for a while. Firing up the two engines sounded like things just out of heaven - a low rumbling hum!
So close, so close, so close...
Taxiing to runway 28R was just under 20 minutes. Thundered down the runway at 1946 hours - to the lovely sounds of two Rolls Royce RB211 engines whirring their way in the cold air, decimating the peace that was around in Chicago O'Hare, as we took off in to the starry skies over a well lit Chicago. I absolutely loved the sounds of the engines. It was so easy to fall asleep to! Announcements made were through the automated robot voice… no surprise there, I guess.EPIC engine roar take off!INFLIGHT!
of Economy Comfort on these B757s are the power ports under the seat - two ports for three seats. However, these were taped off and not available for use, unfortunately.
However, this was nothing to be unhappy about. I was very excited to be onboard this flight as I was finally heading home! Once these announcements were complete, the movies began, starting out with the new Pete's Dragon.
The captain came over the PA and gave us some quick details of our flight - we were cruising at a rather low 27000 feet. We were expecting to land in Manchester at 0820 hours, an overcast day with a temperature of 6C was awaiting us.
I received my dinner at 2017 hours CST - an ode to the new year?
The two crew members serving us were very cheerful, and played along with the Christmas spirit - they had very cute rice lights lighting up in different colors! A nice added touch
I opted for the roast chicken meal. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the two choices for supper, the other being pasta.
The meal came with a relatively fresh salad (carrots, cabbage and cucumber), a small bottle of water, a pre-packaged brownie, cheese and crackers.
The main course itself consisted of rosemary roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables. Pretty standard fare on a TATL route, but this sure did taste pretty decent!
With this flight, I had the chance of trying out the three major American carriers on a Transatlantic flight. Suffice to say, this supper slotted in to second place, behind Delta’s lunch on CDG-ORD and way ahead of UA’s lunch on MUC-ORD. Well done, AA! Oh, there was a can of Heineken beer involved, too. No IDs required
Once trays were cleared away, there was another beverage service. I had some apple juice.
The sounds of the RR RB211 engines whirring away made for a very chill background as my girlfriend and I watched a couple of documentaries about India’s Frontier Railways on Netflix - the Maitree Express from Kolkata (India) to Dhaka (Bangladesh), and the Samjautha Express from Delhi (India) to Lahore (Pakistan). Two very entertaining hours and a lot of railway stories, this flight was passing by pretty quickly. I was loving it.
The flight passed through without too much of a hitch - very smooth and very calming (the sound of the RR RB211 engines, of course). We passed over a snowy Nova Scotia and over the Atlantic.
IFE controls -
Lights were dimmed for the most of the flight, but very few passengers were awake and doing their own thing. Seat pockets had both an English and Spanish magazine featuring Casey Affleck. While flipping through the magazines I noticed that American Airlines has a grand total of 931 planes in their mainline fleet (51 of which are B757-200s, and the largest A320 family fleet), and 628 in the 'American Eagles' fleet. A total of 1559 planes in the fleet! The second movie that was being played was ‘Focus' featuring Will Smith and Margot Robbie.
Pillow and blanket for the long haul..
0708 hours GMT - I received my breakfast box. "Good morning!" said the lovely flight attendant. "Would you like to join us for breakfast?" I gladly accepted the box. The continental breakfast contained an orange & cranberry muffin top, dried fruits (cranberries, apples and blueberries), cereal and yogurt. Are you seeing this, Lufthansa?
People slowly getting active...
As the boxes were being cleared away, I made a quick restroom visit - this was kept very clean, even at the closing stages of the flight. DESCENT
Land ho! We saw Ireland wake up to the sunrise, as some lights were still on. The joys of a sunrise flight! A beautiful orange line divided the horizon of the blue skies and dark land. The Captain came back over the PA at 0738 hours. We’d arrive in just over half an hour, while the weather held station.
i always enjoy the sunrise from a plane, especially when its just your 'typical' transatlantic flight. Check out these pictures -
We cut through some reasonably thin clouds, and circled for a bit over Manchester. As we dipped below the clouds, the first thing I noticed was the fact that people were driving on the right side of the road. And by the right side, I mean Left Hand Drive ARRIVAL
The outskirts of Manchester were awake as we flew over the M60 and M67 highways. My first time in to the United Kingdom, even if it was just a transit!
We lined up with Runway 23R and touched down smoothly at 0810 hours, a whole twenty five minutes before time. Hey, I didn’t mind arriving this early, especially after the delays of the previous flight! Landing video
Other than a plethora of Ryanair planes, there was an Emirates B777-300ER and a Lufthansa Airbus A380-800, the latter which was a surprise. I later found out that this was because of……. http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ ... e-12351447
Wonder what this is...?
After some more robotic announcements, the crew member informed us of the time and thanked us for choosing to fly American….urhm, yeah about that
We taxied to Gate 54 in terminal 3. I was a little nervous about how I’d be able to go from T3 to T1 without passing through immigration. Engines cut out, the ground staff got to work and unloaded all bags - no threat of a strike on the day! Things were going swell.
We disembarked and headed through T3. N196AA would later fly to JFK as AA211.
FlyBE regional birdies
I wonder how long this sign'll be around for...
My concerns of the transit were soon quashed as I saw signs for transit passengers divided by airlines. With the Qatar Airways flight coming up next, I was looking forward to just heading through transit security and freshening up. CONCLUSION
I quite liked what I experienced onboard American Airlines’ long haul product. Sure, there was no IFE. Sure, I was in Economy Comfort which helped legroom. However, the food was nice, the flight was on time, and the crew nice and spirited. Bring it on, Qatar Airways!My other trip reports: 2016Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16) (video trip report)Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with N891GA, to divert or not to divert (LAS-GFK Nov '16) (video trip report)Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with Allegiant! (Part 1, many pictures) (video trip report)The day I flew the world's most popular plane (GFK-FAR-CKN-GFK, C172)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 14: Delta Connection, a quick hop in the Midwest! (MSP - GFK, Aug '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 13: Super old, Super 80, Mad Dog Across the Midwest! (AA ORD-MSP, Aug'16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)) (video trip report)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)
)Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16)
)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)
)2012South 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)2011International 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)