Friday, June 12, 2015

Past the 200K Miles Mark - Boarding

Flight #111 - United Airlines 90
Newark (EWR) – Tel Aviv (TLV)
Thurs, June 11, 2015 
Depart: 10:45PM / Arrive: 4:20PM
Duration: 10hr 35min 
Aircraft: Boeing 777 
Seat: 21F, 21J and 21K (Economy)
Earned: 5,692 miles 
Lifetime Miles: 204,839 miles

This past Friday early morning, somewhere I passed the 200,000 lifetime miles flown mark. If I had to guess it was somewhere around the eastern tip of Canada.

Given I'm still a good few months before my 4th birthday, I'm on a pretty quick climb towards Million Miler status. But I anticipate our family flying will slow down quite dramatically once I go into Kindergarten, as my teachers will not be pleased about missing school for family trips. Nevertheless, I think it's quite the milestone for both myself and my family.

Besides the milestone, the actual flight itself was both good and bad.

First, just before 5PM the evening of our departure, we received a notification that our 10:45PM flight was delayed 1hr 50min. The delay wasn't actually too bad though. Because United gave us enough advance notice, we were able to squeeze in and enjoy a proper final dinner at Madangsui in Koreatown before we prepared to leave for Newark Liberty International Airport at 9PM.

When we arrived just before 9:40PM, the entire airport was empty, except a skeleton crew and a handful of Tel Aviv bound passengers. We had no wait in the security line and enjoyed an almost empty United Club Lounge (though we had to share the family room with a family of 5 and a bunch of smelly diapers). We decided to head over to the gate around 11:30PM as we were scheduled to depart at 12:45AM, and we remembered it always took extra time due to the extra security screening at the gate.

It wasn't until we arrived at the second security checkpoint (Israel bound flights have an extra screening) at Gate 138 when my father noticed that there were no Hasidic passengers around. Normally, a direct flight to Israel is at least 50% Hasidic passengers, but there wasn't a single one in line with us that evening.

It then dawned on my parents that since the flight was scheduled to arrive Friday at 4:20PM (and was delayed by almost 2 hours), this particular flight was less attractive for those practicing Sabbath (where you should not be active after sundown on Fridays). Something important to keep in mind for future flights...(not having to push or fight our way to the gate past the gate lice. No issues of being seated next to a woman delaying boarding. Plenty of overhead bin space for everyone.)

But the issue at hand was that we were waiting in our Group 2 Boarding lane at around 12:30AM when the gate agent got on the speaker and announced that there was a mechanical issue with the APU (auxiliary power unit), so there would be an additional delay with no update on timing. People just fell down to the ground in disappointment, maintaining their place in line. This wouldn't normally worry my father, but there has been a recent history with United, Newark Airport and cancelled Tel Aviv flights - see article here.

But then around 1AM (much earlier than we anticipated), we started boarding. However, as you can imagine, I was fast asleep in my father's arms as it was way past even my delinquent bedtime. I definitely did not appreciate being woken up from my beauty sleep, just to sit back down.

Here's how the United Flight Status update emails went that night for our 10:45PM scheduled flight:
  • 2:37PM - Flight delayed to 12:05AM
  • 4:49PM - delayed further to 12:35AM, arriving 5:40PM
  • 8:41PM - reconfirming 12:35AM, but arriving 6:16PM
  • 12:33AM - delayed until 1:00AM
  • 1:15AM - delayed until 1:30AM
  • 1:39AM - delayed until 1:55AM
  • 1:55AM - delayed until 2:10AM, now arriving 7:51PM

As you can see, the notifications became pretty pointless by 12:30AM.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment