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Old 12-28-2013, 03:27 AM   #31
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Monday 4 November – part two: this isn’t anything like Virgin Atlantic…

We took the Skylink one stop over to the C terminal, where we’d be flying out to Honolulu from, and we quickly found our gate. We were told by the gate attendant that we’d be best getting food at the terminal, as they didn’t have that much of a supply on board, and they may run out. That announcement was made to everyone a number of times, something that really shocked us. I could never imagine Virgin Atlantic or British Airways doing that – they would seriously be lynched by their passengers. It would be the first of many differences we’d notice today between airlines in the UK and the USA…

We headed off to try and find something, and the prospect of a tuna salad at TGI Friday’s takeaway bar seemed like a good one to me, although they didn’t actually have any left, and the only other options were meat, so we found a sandwich bar, and both got sandwiches, some chips, and water.

With that done, we headed back to TGI Friday’s to have breakfast, as we figured we should fill up before we boarded. The view from our table….



We both went for the Friday’s egg breakfast, fluffy scrambled eggs with breakfast potatoes, wheat toast, and seasonal fruit. It’s served with your choice of sausage and bacon, so I obviously opted out of both, while Mark had both, including my helping.



Now tell me, where’s the sausage on this plate? I have never seen sausage look like this before.



It wasn’t bad, although the scrambled eggs weren’t particularly good. Thankfully, by putting them with the breakfast potatoes, they were fine.

Once we’d finished, we headed over to the gate, where we were just 15 minutes away from boarding, so we didn’t have long to wait, and thankfully for this flight we were group 1, so it wasn’t long before we were on board, and found our seats in the Main Cabin Extra part of the plane…



It wasn’t quite as good as Premium Economy in terms of leg room, but heck it was much better than the more cramped conditions in the rest of the aircraft behind us, and we could live with this for the next eight hours.

The donkeys were a bit reluctant to go into the overhead compartment…



When it came to take off, as you can see from these photos, it was starting to rain outside in Dallas, so we were quite glad to be leaving, and heading off to warmer climbs again.



Once we were up in the air, I was able to get a few photos of Dallas, before the low cloud completely enveloped us… It was certainly a grey day here.



A few miles further on, the cloud broke, and suddenly you could see Texas laid out beneath us in all its glory, and it really brought it home to you how big this state is, and how little there really is here. There were just vast expanses of absolute nothingness, with perhaps one road to be seen in the middle of it all. From up here, you could also see how beautiful the landscape was, with different colours and textures to the land.



Then the drink and food service started, and because we were close to the front of the plane, we were fine as far as food went. I opted for the fruit and cheese plate, which was very pleasant:



… while Mark got some Chex Mix….



… and some fruit and nut mix…



I have to say that we were a bit surprised and disappointed with the food offer on this plane, bearing in mind it’s an eight hour flight. It’s a far cry from the hot meals, with a choice, that we get served up by Virgin Atlantic. Now while I can understand that you might get away with this on a domestic route, if that’s what all your competitors are doing, I hope to goodness that they don’t serve this up on their international routes, because they’re competing against other airlines who do so much more.

Now frustratingly, I can’t tell you where the remaining photos were taken, as this is where American Airlines (and I suspect various other airlines in the US) are still in the last century. They only had central video screens at the front of the Main Cabin Extra area – five in total, but no seatback monitors and of course no pause, rewind, play functions, like we’re used to with Virgin Atlantic. Now the reason I can’t tell you where these photos were taken was because as soon as the film started (the Lone Ranger, which I didn’t watch), you lost the map showing you where you were. So here’s a set of photos probably from Texas/New Mexico/Arizona/California – you get the general idea of where we were, even if I have missed some states out… and apologies if I have!



As we flew and flew and flew over the land, it really emphasised to me just how big the States is. It’s quite an eye opener to see it from up here, and really does bring into focus for me just how tiny the UK actually is. I remember being told once that the UK would fit inside Florida, which gives you an idea of the relative sizes of our two countries…

On the subject of it being an old aircraft, when I went to use the restroom, I genuinely had no idea how to flush the thing, as a) there was no sign to help you, and b) I don’t think I’ve used a restroom this ancient in… well actually I don’t remember how long. I used to get through flights without using the restrooms until a couple of years ago, so I probably last encountered toilets like this maybe in the 1980s or 1990s. I had to apologise to the woman who came in after me, and she said she wasn’t sure how to flush it either. When she came out, she’d figured it out, and shared with me, so at least then I know…

Next: Hawaii looks amazing!
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Old 12-28-2013, 04:56 AM   #32
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Wow, frankly, I am appalled by the conditions on that flight! I mean, seriously, they might run out of food on an 8-hour flight??? And no individual TV screens? That alone would ensure that I wouldn't book my flight with them. Maybe it's because I'm used to the amenities on transatlantic flights but if I'm gonna be crammed into a tiny airplane seat for 8 hours on end, I at least want enough food and some decent entertainment
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:14 AM   #33
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Mark was served a sausage patty. They can come that way or as links.
I am surprised that American would use that old of a plane for that long of a flight! Not very good PR they'll be getting from this TR!
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:38 AM   #34
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Great pictures! Sorry about the food on the plane and the condition of it! Welcome to America!
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:47 AM   #35
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That is pretty sparse offerings for an 8 hour flight. Budget cuts. Ugh. At least there was a reward in that you were going to paradise!

Sausage patties are quite common around here and you usually have a choice between those or links.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:13 AM   #36
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Welcome to America!
Yep! Enjoy our ancient aircraft and terrible service. Doesn't surprise me at all! When I first flew Virgin Atlantic (over 10 years ago now) I was thrilled with all the little extras you get! And when we flew Air Canada, just to Toronto - short flight - even that was outstanding!

Indeed, a sausage patty. McD's serves those up for breakfast and they're just about the only patty my kids will eat.

See, that's why we think it's so cool that you can take a train and in 2 hours you're in another country. And then you drive for like 5 more hours and you'll have driven through like 3 or 4 countries! Whereas, yes we go in/out of different states, but we're still in the US. It's just not as exciting as your situation with Europe at your doorstep.
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Old 12-28-2013, 10:39 AM   #37
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You had SO much more room at your seat than I had on British Airways on my long flight to South Africa. I guess comparable to the seats behind you on this flight. It really is appalling how the service and amenities on domestic flights just keeps getting worse and worse. I understand many airlines (I think American is one of them) are about to take another step backwards by adding more seats to most planes and reducing personal space even more. On the last cross-country flights I did there were no seat-back screens on either American or United, and I barely could manage in the seat. I'm under 5' tall, so how anyone else folds themselves up to fit I can't imagine. From my limited experience, Jet Blue has the best seating arrangements and all of their planes have video screens.
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:58 PM   #38
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Wow, frankly, I am appalled by the conditions on that flight! I mean, seriously, they might run out of food on an 8-hour flight??? And no individual TV screens? That alone would ensure that I wouldn't book my flight with them. Maybe it's because I'm used to the amenities on transatlantic flights but if I'm gonna be crammed into a tiny airplane seat for 8 hours on end, I at least want enough food and some decent entertainment
Sadly.... and maybe I'm wrong here... as I don't have that much experience with American long haul internal flights (let's face it really there aren't that many apart from the Hawaii ones), I don't think any other operator would have been much better.

The conditions are nowhere near like the transatlantic flights, but then again, American put their brand new planes on that route (I've seen the adverts over here and they are very nice) to compete with the likes of Virgin and BA, who do have the individual TV screens, meals included etc. I really wish someone like Virgin or BA would start running flights to Hawaii, as I think that would really shake things up on that route.
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:01 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by cubfancolleen View Post
Mark was served a sausage patty. They can come that way or as links.
Cool - thanks for helping out with that.

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I am surprised that American would use that old of a plane for that long of a flight! Not very good PR they'll be getting from this TR!
I was surprised, but from a couple of other people we spoke to, I think this is sadly fairly standard for American flights to and from Hawaii.
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:06 PM   #40
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Great pictures! Sorry about the food on the plane and the condition of it! Welcome to America!
I must admit that was one of my first thoughts. Honestly, you guys really do not enjoy luxury on your trips around the States, do you?
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:07 PM   #41
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That is pretty sparse offerings for an 8 hour flight. Budget cuts. Ugh. At least there was a reward in that you were going to paradise!
That's what we kept telling ourselves. We've decided when we go back to Hawaii, we'll fly from LAX, as that will only be a five hour flight. Maybe in the intervening time, things will improve, but I'm not holding my breath....
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:09 PM   #42
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Yep! Enjoy our ancient aircraft and terrible service. Doesn't surprise me at all! When I first flew Virgin Atlantic (over 10 years ago now) I was thrilled with all the little extras you get! And when we flew Air Canada, just to Toronto - short flight - even that was outstanding!
We were impressed with Air Canada as well. Hmm... not sure it's worth flying up to Canada to then fly down to Hawaii though.

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Indeed, a sausage patty. McD's serves those up for breakfast and they're just about the only patty my kids will eat.

See, that's why we think it's so cool that you can take a train and in 2 hours you're in another country. And then you drive for like 5 more hours and you'll have driven through like 3 or 4 countries! Whereas, yes we go in/out of different states, but we're still in the US. It's just not as exciting as your situation with Europe at your doorstep.
Ok, I'll give you that - it is more exciting to drive through countries than states... or in the case of Texas, have stayed in just the one state...!
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Old 12-28-2013, 01:13 PM   #43
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You had SO much more room at your seat than I had on British Airways on my long flight to South Africa. I guess comparable to the seats behind you on this flight.
Probably - obviously we didn't see how small those seats were, but it was definitely worth the extra money to have that additional legroom. That's why I didn't go with Hawaiian Airlines, as they didn't have that option and I read that their seat pitch was 30". On Virgin/BA, it's 32" in Economy and even Easyjet, our low cost operator here, has a seat pitch of 31". There was no way I was putting up with that little space from Hawaiian for such a long flight.

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It really is appalling how the service and amenities on domestic flights just keeps getting worse and worse. I understand many airlines (I think American is one of them) are about to take another step backwards by adding more seats to most planes and reducing personal space even more.
Hmmm.... that's interesting, as all their videos talked about ensuring that all their fleet had the extra legroom seats (I can't remember what the official name for them was now ), which would actually mean less seats on board....

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On the last cross-country flights I did there were no seat-back screens on either American or United, and I barely could manage in the seat. I'm under 5' tall, so how anyone else folds themselves up to fit I can't imagine. From my limited experience, Jet Blue has the best seating arrangements and all of their planes have video screens.
Interesting about Jet Blue. We haven't flown with them since 2008, when they introduced fees for luggage shortly after our flight. We tend to go with Southwest for the free bags, but I'll certainly keep them in mind in the future. I don't think they fly to Hawaii sadly....
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:02 PM   #44
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I haven't flown American in a very long time, and now I don't think I will ever fly them! I can't believe they told you they didn't have enough food for an 8 hour flight! That's crazy! Our airlines are really lacking!
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Old 12-28-2013, 03:04 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by KMB733 View Post
I haven't flown American in a very long time, and now I don't think I will ever fly them! I can't believe they told you they didn't have enough food for an 8 hour flight! That's crazy! Our airlines are really lacking!
It certainly didn't fill me with any confidence...
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