Long and lousy trip from Los Angeles to New York
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Just had a pretty long and lousy trip from Los Angeles to New York. I was booked on the Continental 1703 at 08:30 out of LAX into EWR (New York Newark).
There was a bad weather front that had been passing through the USA and this was the cause of my lousy day. We boarded the flight on time only o be told after sitting on the plane for an hour or so, that the weather in Newark was poor and so we were going to be delayed by at least 4 hours and so we all had to get off the plane.
Although I was flying First Class, you do not get lounge access so I decided that as I had 4 hours to kill I should work to pass the time as I could not find anywhere to plug in my laptop and could not get any wireless access in the Continental Terminal. This seems strange to me as there must be loads of commuters who want to plug in and log on.
It cost a lot of money ($45) but I thought the free drink, snacks and wireless access for 4 hours would be worth it. Then less than an hour later they announced we had a slot but everyone needed to get back on the plane fast as we had to set off in less than half an hour.
By the time we took off we were about an hour and a half late. Things looked like they were going well until after 5 hours of flying we were still circling waiting to get into Newark. Then the airport was closed and we were running short of fuel, so off to Pittsburgh we went and after a lot of being tossed about we landed and refuelled, I have to admit I had no idea were Pittsburgh was but luckily found out where in the in-flight magazine.
We set off after half an hour, and were ready to land in Newark close to an hour later.
It was the first time that I have started to get scared on a flight I have to admit, and I was glad when we thumped onto the tarmac.
After all the events of the day we were about 4.5 hours late. Apparently the skies had deposited shed loads of water on the New Jersey area and the winds were very rough.It was a very long and tiring day. It took 9.5 hours to get from Los Angeles to New York.
It always strikes me as amazing at how poor the whole domestic air travel experience is within the USA.
It did make me wonder why no carrier has stepped up (or in) with a flying experience that turns the whole horrible process into something more bearable.
I assume it could be partly the fact that by law no foreign ownership of domestic airlines or foreign competition on domestic routes is allowed which stops anyone from outside the USA entering and changing the game. It is also unlikely the US carriers while make a major change as most of the US carriers are struggling with near bankruptcy or just again starting to make money after the events of 9/11 hammered their businesses.
Many flights in the USA are as long as some long haul flights from say New York to Ireland or parts of the UK.
The more I travel on these domestic flights, the more I can see why carriers like Jet Blue and Southwest did so well. They are very upfront about what they offer and are very efficient at doing it.
The cause of my grumble about Domestic US carriers is driven by part by the experience that I had flying Continental from Los Angeles to New York Newark on Friday 2 December.
The Continental flight was so close to being good, but just not quite there considering how much it costs. Though I believe these days not that many people actually pay the fare to be in First Class but are mostly there through upgrades. This may explain why the service is not as good as long haul First/ Business as on those routes they make more money as people actually pay for it!
While I got a dedicated check-in for First Class where you check-in via a touch screen system and then someone tags and takes your bags and checks ID.
This I found unusual and strange as in Europe and Asia lounge access is for all business flights, which makes some sense as people on these flights are usually looking for somewhere to work and get stuff done. Initially I decided to not pay, but later had to after we were told our flight was going to be delayed for 4 hours as there was nowhere else to plug in my laptop and get wireless access in the terminal.
The lounge was pretty good, large and with lots of space and food and drink, plus free wireless access.
The seats in First Class on Continental were much better than people had told me they would be. There was lots of room to stretch out. I am 6'2" and could not touch the seat in front of me. They had a great innovation where you can plug your normal plug in from your laptop and did not have to own or get all the fussy special adaptors you need on other airlines. The food was pretty standard airline fare, though you did get a choice of 3 main options for the breakfast (omelette, French toast or cereals). They also had a movie on demand service which seems to be quite new, and they struggled to get it working and then about 2 hours into the flight it stopped working.
The seat itself was large, and went fairly far back but was not that easy to get comfortable in to sleep. But it was very large and there was lots of space with only 2 seats on each side of the aisle.