Old May 17, 09, 2:26 am
  #2  
Flying Buccaneer
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: TPA
Programs: DL Plat, AA Plat 2MM, HH Diamond, WoH Explorist, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,199
Hello from Brussels!

Saturday, May 16

United Airlines 950
IAD-BRU
Scheduled Departure/Arrival 5:48 p.m./7:30 a.m.
Actual Departure/Arrival 6:18 p.m./8:02 a.m.
B-777
Seats 1E and 1F


At 5:03 p.m., we heard an announcement that our flight was boarding. We finished what we were doing and headed toward gate C-1. When we got there, we realized the flight was not boarding. After about 15 minutes, I asked a GA if she knew what the delay was. She explained that the ramp was closed due to lightning in the area.

With a 75-minute connection in BRU, any delay could cause problems. However, I understood the reason, and it's not like anyone could do anything about it. On the other hand, someone could have done something about the stifling heat at gate C-1. There was no ventilation whatsoever. Another reason to hate IAD!

Around 5:35 p.m., another GA arrived and announced that the ramp was open, and boarding started about a minute later. We boarded and settled into our seats. Mr. FB immediately asked, "What's the stuff you use to clean vinyl?" I had no idea, but all I could think of was Oxy-Clean. (Those Billy Mays commercials must be effective.) I wasn't sure what he was getting at until he pointed to the stains on the armrest between our seats.

The movies were sitting in front of our seats, so we had first choice. I took Australia, something I had been meaning to see for awhile. A FA came around with juice, champagne, and water. Then she passed through the aisles with newspapers. Another FA took meal orders, asked if we wanted to buy duty free, and asked if we wanted to be awakened for breakfast service.

We pushed back at 6:18 p.m. and sat there for awhile. I decided to listen to Channel 9 to see what was going on. Closing the ramp had created quite a few delays, and some planes were being instructed to shut down their engines. After our delay, the moved briskly past a long line of planes and took off at 6:39 p.m.

Once we were "comfortably airborne," I started the movie. Because it was nearly 2.5 hours long, I knew I should start watching ASAP if I wanted to get any sleep. The FAs started service very quickly, serving warmed nuts and taking drink orders.

Menu

First Course

Appetizers
Warm jumbo lump crab and shiitake mushroom
Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeno creme fraiche

Slowly braised shredded pork and caramelized onions
Cherry strewn wild rice, marjoram and a pecan balsamic vinaigrette

soup
Roasted red pepper and smoked Gouba bisque

salad
Fresh seasonal greens with red teardrop tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, kalamata olives and seasoned croutons
Served with your choice of dressing: Creamy Caesar or Asian Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

main course
Roasted Beef Tenderloin and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Kalamata olive and eggplant strewn quinoa

Zucchini and Phyllo Wrapped Chevre
Roasted hazelnuts and a balsamic vinegar and shallot reduction

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Yuzu Miso Vinaigrette
Sweet potato pie and sauteed spinach

Pomegranate Glazed Duck Breast
Jasmine cashew rice and Chinese broccoli with baby carrots

dessert

Ice Cream
With your choice of sundae toppings: hot fudge, caramel, mixed berries, toasted almonds and whipped cream

Cheese Selection
Served with red grapes and crackers
St. Pete's Blue – Faribault Dairy in Minnesota is where the award winning Amablu St. Pete's Select blue cheese is handmade in small batches, then cured and aged in the historical St. Peter sandstone caves along the Straight River
4 Year Cheddar – Widmer's Aged Cheddars have won many blue ribbon awards at the local, state, and national level. This cheddar is known for its intense cheddar flavor without all the bitterness associated with most aged cheddars
St. Rocco Triple Creme – A buttery, creamy, full flavor cheese with a subtle fruity, mildly tangy-earthen mushroom note. It is handcrafted by a master cheesemaker in the heart of Michigan wine country

The appetizer was interesting. The pork was dry and the flavor of the crabmeat seemed a little off. Maybe this would have tasted better on the ground. The cherry strewn wild rice things were more like a little cakes or baked fritters. The soup was outstanding though.

We both chose the tenderloin for our main course. The serving size was pretty large for an airline meal, and the beef was cooked medium-well. I would have preferred something on the other side of medium, but it was still good.

After the ice cream, I watched the rest of the movie. Sometime between the ice cream and the end of the movie, we encountered some turbulence that sent a stack of trays crashing. The bouncing lasted for awhile, and there seemed to be a rush of activity among the FAs that was not related to the trays on the floor. Mr. FB asked what was up, and an FA told him everything was OK.

When the movie ended, I put my seat into the bed position and drifted in and out of a 3-hour nap. I awoke in time for...

breakfast

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Omelette
Sautéed turkey sausage and Canadian bacon

Fresh Seasonal Fruit Plate with Muesli

I had the fruit plate and muesli, but I left the croissant.

We landed in drizzly Brussels at 7:51 a.m., and taxied to the gate. However, we had to wait to be marshaled into the gate, which made our actual arrival time 8:02 a.m. This was really cutting it close for our 8:45 a.m. flight to MUC, and things got worse. As we started to deplane, we were instructed to return to our seats. Apparently, the hubbub during the flight was due to a passenger who had "flu-like symptoms." Given all of the concern over the H1N1 virus, Belgian authorities had to board the plane and take the passenger of the flight.

We finally deplaned at 8:15 a.m., and to make a long story short, lines for immigration and security kept us from getting to the gate by the 8:45 a.m. departure time, much less the 20-minute cutoff. Even without the delay at IAD and a flu scare on our flight, this would have been a difficult 75-minute connection.

Thankfully, we were able to get rebooked on LH 4603, delaying our arrival into MUC by about 2.5 hours. The agent also informed us that we might not have a meal on the flight because of the late moment. We've dealt with worse! We just want to get to MUC... with our bags!
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