Hello and welcome to what will be a 2 part trip report of an amazing opportunity I got to experience this past winter: Weinachtszeit in Deutschland (or Christmastime in Germany). I got to go on this trip thanks to my University's study abroad program. However, the difference between a study tour and a full semester is that I only spent two weeks and was basically a tourist. Since I was looking for basically the cheapest flight possible that was still convenient, I found myself on travel sites such as orbitz and travelocity where I found a flight to Munich for under $1000. While Lufthansa flied direct from ORD to MUC, I took this as an opportunity to try something new for me: Aer Lingus. The routing is as follows:
STL-ORD AA B738
ORD-DUB EI A333
DUB-MUC EI A320
So, without further ado, sit back, relax, put your tray tables in their fully upright and locked position, and enjoy the report.
I woke up bright and early at 6 am at my grandma's house after driving 3 hours to get there the night before. I would've gotten in earlier had I not left my passport in my dorm and gone back for it. Thankfully, it was only an hour delay. I had a quick breakfast and then my mom who happened to be in town drove me to the airport. I checked my bags all the way to munich, but only got my boarding pass for the first leg, meaning I would have to go through check in again in ORD. Oh well, time to go through security. I said goodbye to my mom and headed to the checkpoint. Thankfully, I didn't have the SSSS on my boarding pass this time so security was a breeze since the lines were short. After security I headed to the gate to wait on the plane. however, right as I was about to get comfortable...
...my gate was changed. after setting my stuff down with a friend who is also going on this trip, I took the opportunity to go get some Starbucks.
after waiting and charging my phone for a bit, the aircraft arrived at the gate.
Flight Details (1/3)
Flight No.: AAL 1102
Aircraft: Boeing 737-823
Age: 7.7 years
Flight time: 1:12
Filed Route (Via Foreflight)
Actual route (Flightaware)
I waited for the passengers from DFW to disembark and for my group to be called. In 16 hours, I would be an ocean and 7 time zones away.
Soon enough, my boarding group was called and I made my way don the jetway and into the aircraft.
I sat down and saw what is become a rare sight nowadays: an MD-80 series aircraft.
Obligatory cabin shot This was a full flight
Boarding was relatively quick considering the load factor and soon enough, we were taxiing to runway 30L ahead of schedule.Click on the image below to access the takeoff video
We took off via the KSHEE4 departure and were on our way to Chicago
After we were airborne, the crew informed us there would be no refreshment service on this light due to how short it was. Personally, I believe they could've accomplished it, but it's whatever. In the meantime, I got my tablet out and experimented with AA's free entertainment that they stream over wifi. I watched A little bit of Pirates of the Caribbean and watched the Midwestern landscape below.
After a very short 10 minute cruise, it was time to begin the descent into ORD via the TRTLL4 arrival.
We turned and headed out over Lake Michigan which offered incredible views of downtown Chicago.
On approach, we were parallel with a UA A320 arriving on 27R. THe approach was uneventful right up until the point of landing. We hit hard and bounced twice before settling down on the runway. My gopro doesn't really do it justice so I have both the gopro and snapchat video below.Click on the pictures below for links to the videos
After the landing, it as a short taxi to the terminal. I did see some interesting aircraft along the way though.
The hall which normally displays flags was now decorated for the holiday season.
We walked outside security to take the train to terminal 5. Once we arrived in the terminal, the check in counter was closed, but would open in an hour, so we took a spot in line.
Eventually, check in opened and I received my boarding passes. Next stop: Dublin. Security was a breeze and soon I was looking for a place to have lunch. I found a place that served Mediterranean food in the food court just past security and chose to eat there. I had a falafel gyro with fries. I also took this as an opportunity to charge my electronics.
After eating, I filled up my water bottle and went to the gate. It would be a while before my plane arrived so I passed the time by binging Ice Pilots
on Netflix. Soon enough, our aircraft arrived from Dublin.
Flight Details (2/3)
Flight No.: EIN 122
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Registration: EI-DUZ (St. Aoife)
Age: 10.5 years
Flight time: 6:47
Filed route (via Skyvector)
Flown route (Via Flightaware)
I packed my bags and waited for my group to be called. Since EI boards back to front (after business class of course), it wasn't long until I was walking down the jetway and on to my next adventure.
It was a long walk to my seat in the back of the plane (41K) My seatmate was also a college student who is attending Northwestern. I busied myself with settling in for the long ocean crossing. Now, it was just a matter of waiting for all the luggage to be loaded underneath.
With a slight delay, we pushed back, started engines and taxied to runway 28R. I sent a quick goodbye text to my girlfriend and readied myself for takeoff.Click the image below for the takeoff video
After the takeoff and initial climbout, the flight attendants went around with a quick before meal snack service. I had pretzels and a Fanta ( the European variety) and waited for dinner.
Turns out you can get a GPS signal in airplane mode.
I sat back and decided to watch a movie to pass the time. A word of advice: If you wish to sleep on a flight, do not watch Dunkirk
. Although the movie was excellent, it had my heart racing a little too much to sleep. About a quarter of the way through the movie, the crew came with the meals. I don't recall the other choice, but I had beef Stroganoff.
Although it looks like brown sludge, it actually tasted pretty good. I didn't really care for the salad though and the meal wasn't all that filling. Good thing I had that gyro earlier. The crew did another round offering coffee and tea. I chose decaf. After the meal, I continued watching Dunkirk
. It is an amazing movie and I highly encourage everyone to see it it you haven't yet. After a quick bathroom trip, I tried to get some sleep. However, that ended up not happening. I decided to watch another ovie. Given that it was the Christmas season, I chose from the holiday movie list THey had elf, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Polar Express
. Given that I hadn't watched The Poar Express
in a while, I chose that movie.
While watching the movie, I opened Foreflight on my phone and discovered we had a GPS signal over the north Atlantic. Who needs the moving map display when you have your own?
Around the end of the movie, and 04:30 Dublin time, the crew passed out breakfast burritos and a choice of coffee or tea. This time I chose tea with all the caffeine. The burritos were actually pretty decent, but not too spectacular.
Soon enough, the captain announced the descent into Dublin and visions of Glühwein and liter mugs danced in my head. Only one more flight to Munich. The approach was absolutely beautiful and my iPhone camera does not do it justice. Also my gopro couldnt even focus so I just decided to enjoy a landing with my own two eyes for once in a while. That doesn't mean I wasn't tracking on Foreflight though.
We gently touched down on runway 28 exactly on time. The taxi back to the terminal took a while but nothing too bad. I waited for a while for all the passengers to disembark, collected my thing, and was off the aircraft in no time. Unfortunately I did not visit the cockpit because I was tired and worried about my connection, so no pictures of that either.
As it turns out, International connections in Dublin are a breeze and nothing like the U.S. I simply showed my boarding pass and passport and the agent directed me where to go for my next flight.
It turns out that my connecting flight required a bus transfer to a small terminal that resembles little more than a shed east of the main terminal complex. This also meant I would board by airstairs.
The connection as so fast that I was waiting for my next flight less than an hour after landing.
Waiting on flight 3 of 3
It is worth mentioning that I saw the A320 in the Irish Rugby team livery. I thought that it was a remote corner of the airport and I wouldn't fly on it, but that was precisely where the terminal I was in was located. I thought about how nice it would be to fly that aircraft and I got my wish. I walked out onto the tarmac after my boarding pass was scanned and took a couple pictures of the aircraft.
Flight Details (3/3)
Flight No.: EIN 352
Aircraft: Airbus A320-214
Registration: EI-DEO (St. Sebastian)
Age 12.5 years
Flight time: 2:15
Filed route (Skyvector)
Flown Route (Flightaware)
Snapchat doesn't lie. I was just a tad excited.
There weren't any aft air stairs so there would be no under the wing shot unfortunately. I walked up the stairs and into the aircraft I was seated in 17A and it was noticeably cold (note the frost on the airplane)
It's definitely a Wintry mix in Dublin.
Obviously it was too dark and the window was frozen over so no GoPro footage of this takeoff either. We finished boarding and were quickly deiced and on our way.
Next stop: Munich. I was asleep for most of the climb and woke up during the buy on board service. Nothing is complimentary on short haul Aer Lingus, but the prices aren't too bad. I ordered a tea for 3 euros and watched the sunrise somewhere over the English Channel although I honestly couldn't tell because of the blanket of clouds below.
I fell asleep again and woke up when the caffeine kicked in. We were beginning our descent into Munich.
into the clouds we go.Click on the picture below for the video
After landing, it was a short taxi to the gate. The wings iced up very quickly as there was a light snow. We parked next to an S7 A320 and shut down.
I waited for the passengers to disembark and asked for a cockpit visit, only to be denied as the flight deck crew had already left. Oh well. I got off and went down to passport control. A quick question about why I was in Germany and for how long was asked and they stamped my passport. I thanked them, collected my bags and met up with my professor who had arrived the day before. and thus began the grand adventure.Thanks for reading and as always, comments are appreciated. Stay tuned for part 2 which will have highlights of the trip and the journey home.