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Old Jan 8, 00, 12:40 pm
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Internets
Posts: 8,262
LAX-CDG 25 DEC 99: Storm!

25 DEC 99

My partner and I arrived at LAX two hours ahead. He’s a US citizen, I am not, so he was asked to fill out the back of the boarding pass with relatives information. I asked but was denied once again. I guess no one cares about foreigners dying in a crash… Were handed our boarding passes in Gold "First" jackets when we really were flying business….

We boarded the full 757- I don’t like this aircraft, too cramped and uncomfortable for the 3-hour flight to ORD. We noticed how about half of the 1st class cabin seemed to be filled with gay couples. Lunch was exceptional, one of these new Jacques Pepin meals, I think UA REALLY needs to keep him. Usual old Eli’s cheesecake, getting sick of it but by that time I was pretty much full.

Arrived at ORD, spent a couple hours in the RCC- impossible to find an electrical outlet to recharge the Powerbook G3 before the transatlantic flight. I had been told that the 777 to CDG was one of the old one with no power outlet/ individual monitors. I had taken a few DVDs along. We’d watch our own movies.

Upon boarding, I ask for the possibility of an upgrade to First and I am giving the usual "No double upgrade!" line… We board and sure enough, we find the old biz seats. Oh well.

Turns out that the entertainment system does not work! No films, no music. I pull out the laptop and we watch a couple of old movies on DVD,

As we were circling the Paris airport, the captain announced that the plane could not land because of a severe storm, and that we were being diverted to London.
After we landed in Heathrow, we were kept on board for two hours waiting for UA ground staff to decide on the fate of the flight. When they finally cancelled it, we were told to deplane, collect our luggage and report to the United Arrivals desk. There, a clearly overwhelmed staff of three told us that they had reserved a block of rooms in a hotel near the airport, and that they would book flights to Paris for the next day. Since it was still early in the morning and I had a meeting scheduled for the next day in Paris, I asked about the possibility of getting there by train. UA staff told me that they had tried to contact the train station but, and I quote, " Since this is Boxing Day, trains (were) not running". There was something unusual about this statement - Boxing Day is not a holiday in France- and I decided to call the train station myself. I was told by a Eurostar agent that trains were indeed running and leaving for Paris.

Faced with the prospect of spending 24 hours in an airport hotel and the likelihood of missing an important meeting, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We left the masses at the UA counter, hopped on a taxicab to Waterloo station, bought two tickets to Paris on the next Eurostar train. We left at 10:42 am and arrived in Paris at 3 pm on the same day.

This set us back 390 pounds but I hope UA will pay us back. The UA ground staff clearly lied about the train situation, I guess they did not want to bother.

A note on Eurostar: This train goes 20 miles an hour between London and Folkestone! Once in the Chunnel, an amazing 300 km/h. Those brits can’t seem to get it together.

5 JAN 00

Boarded UA947 for Dulles. Old seats (really old, the square brown ones with video monitors). Long 8 1/2 hours flight to IAD. Borderline polite staff. I am the only 1K on board but get no special treatment. OK food. Godiva chocolates have disappeared, replaced with some other brand. Jacques Pepin meal on the connecting flight 951 IAD-LAX is, however, again completely exceptional ( aside from the old Eli dessert again). This particular 747-400 aircraft continues on to Sydney a couple of hours after we land. Since it had arrived from LAX as UA 962 when we boarded, the aircraft does LAX-IAD-LAX-SYD in a row.

It takes about an hour to get the luggage, they come out dead last on the belt. Thank you "priority" tags!
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