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Trip review: My first trip in BF, EWR-BOM-EWR on 777

Trip review: My first trip in BF, EWR-BOM-EWR on 777

 
Old Feb 21, 08, 12:44 pm
  #1  
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Trip review: My first trip in BF, EWR-BOM-EWR on 777

(Note: I just got back this morning and am still burning off some jet lag, so no guarantees that I will be able to stay awake to finish this.)

I just got back from my first trip in BF on CO and have to say that I was pretty pleased with the whole experience. I was on a 777, in Row 8 on the outbound and Row 4 on the return. I burned 240K NW miles to pay for the trip. My flight actually originated in BOS, but I'm not sure that we really need a BOSEWR trip review.

I got to EWR off my connection with about three hours to kill. Since I was coming in from BOS, I landed in A and hustled my tush over to C for the new flight, where I had to clear security again. I used the lounge that was closest to my gate and was somewhat unimpressed with the ground service, which I think is more indicative of EWR than CO. The lounge agents ranged from helpful (the woman who checked me in) to indifferent (when I asked a different woman if CO had computers in the lounge). It is a big PC, but very crowded, so I decided to take a walk through the terminal. Some shopping and some of the nastiest employees at the restaurants that I have ever met.

Boarding was quick & easy, and the crew was outstanding. My long-hauls are normally on AA in biz, where the crew experienced is often mixed, so I was quite pleased with the FA's on the flight. Drinks, a menu and amenity kit were brought quickly, and I seem to remember three or four choices for dinner. Airline food is, well, airline food, but it was definitely better on Continental than on other US airlines that I have flown. I seem to remember having lamb, which was fine. Dessert was ice cream, although I was already asleep by the time it was delivered.

IFE on the outbound was weak, and if it is important to you, bring your own. Since it was an 8:40 pm flight, I didn't anticipate spending too much time watching TV, but the whole "looped movies" thing in a premium class international product is still pretty poor. There were three or four movies, as well as a couple of channels of television shows. I ended up falling asleep during the the third episode of House, so all was well. I had some problems getting the sound on in at first, so I got one of the FA's to take a look. She couldn't figure it out either, so she got one of the senior FA's to come right over. I was more than a little embarrassed when she pointed out that I had my headset plugged into my neighbor's plug. But I was happy that she was over within minutes and genuinely happy to help.

Seats: I've never been a big fan of lie-flat-at-an-angle, but I didn't really notice the slant and, frankly, I was so tired that it wouldn't have mattered, anyway. But the big difference was the width of the seat, at 22". AA is 19-20" in biz (21" in F), but those extra few inches make a HUGE difference, especially for those of us who have a few extra inches around the middle. The seat has a few pre-set positions as well as manual controls. One of the manual controls on my seat was broken, so I had to move it to a pre-set position and then use another control to manually move it back. The only thing I did not like about the seats is that there is very little under-seat space for bags, which means that they often get in the way of the seat positioning.

The Return

To say that the Bombay airport is a mob scene really does an injustice to the mob. There is construction everywhere, passengers moving around in seemingly random directions and drivers who don't even use lights as a suggestion. My driver had never heard of Continental, so we had to do a couple of laps. Once we found it, I got inside and managed to work my way toward the counter. The last time that I had been run over by so many little old ladies was in Las Vegas, when I got between them and the Wheel of Fortune slot machines. Having said all of that, the airport still compared favorably to MIA.

There was a separate line for BF which ran very smoothly. An employee at the front had a list of names of BF passengers and lounge invitations for us. Nice! I checked my bags, answered a bunch of questions about who had packed my bags and moved out. I passed through a bunch of security checkpoints, got to keep my shoes on and stumbled to the lounge, which is somewhat hidden at the bottom of the escalator.

The lounge is a shared lounge and a little small, but it was a nice haven from the rest of the airport. Drinks and snacks were self-serve and there seemed to be adequate space for a large number of passengers. I stayed for about an hour and headed over to the gate.

Boarding was also quick and started about an hour before flight time. Most people, including myself, won trips to random screening, but they only asked if my bags had been out of my sight after I checked in.

Overall, there were several security checkpoints, and I got the impression that some were there to create jobs. One of the employees told me that the last two checks were required by the US government for all passengers going to the US. Regardless, security employees were friendly, polite and efficient.

On the way back, I had the new IFE system, and I'll go on record as saying it is the best IFE that I have ever used, and this goes across a number of airlines. Movies, music and games were on-demand, with about 250 movies, tons of TV shows and a bunch of albums, from which you could choose music for a juke box. Of course, that meant that the guy next to me got to see me rockin' away to "Sweet Caroline," (C'mon, Red Sox fans. Don't tell me that you don't get tears in your eyes when you hear that. Of course, it feels a little weird after hearing that it was about 11 year old Caroline Kennedy, but that's a story for another day.). The remote was surprisingly easy to use and entirely intuitive.

Everything else was fine. Service was good, although not quite as good as on the way over (Is it really that hard to find an extra pillow, since mine disappeared?). The chicken was fine and the ice cream portions were more generous than on American (ah, the little things). We arrived at EWR 30 minutes early.

Of course, once I disembarked and got through customs, it was Newark all over. I went to the international transfer desk to try and get on an earlier flight, and once the CO agent broke away from her personal conversation, she gave me the look that indicated that I had interrupted Very Important Business with my question. I asked about getting on the 6:30 am flight, and without even checking, she said, "You'll have to pay the standby fee." Nothing to indicate that she could waitlist me, check my ticket to see my fare class, or anything else that might involve work. I hopped on the Airtrain, took a shower in the lounge and got on my original flight. And here I sit.

Overall, I was very happy with the flight. Service onboard was strong, food was fine, the seat was comfortable and the IFE on the way back was outstanding. The seat doesn't quite compare with international first at competing airlines, but for a business class product, it was more than adequate. The biggest area for improvement is the EWR airport experience, but I'm guessing that won't change anytime soon. I give the whole thing a B+/A-, with the grade on the higher end if you incorporate ticket prices into it.

Mike
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Old Feb 21, 08, 12:50 pm
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You could have taken the airside shuttle A to C at EWR to avoid re-clearing security. Unless you want to spend more time with the TSA of course. Some BOS-EWR flights actually do arrive at Terminal C currently although it seems to be totally random which ones do. With the route seemingly destined for Q400s I'm not so sure we're going to benefit from CO's intention to move all mainline service back to Terminal C though.

If you have the time, next time just head for the PC and see if they can put you on the earlier flight. On average the agents there are less Newarkish than your average GA.

Glad you had a chance to check out the new 777 AVOD system. I'm still hoping to see it one of these days.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 1:06 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
some of the nastiest employees at the restaurants that I have ever met.
Gallaghers, by any chance??
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Old Feb 21, 08, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef
Having said all of that, the airport still compared favorably to MIA.
i laughed
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Old Feb 21, 08, 1:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Lurker1999 View Post
You could have taken the airside shuttle A to C at EWR to avoid re-clearing security. Unless you want to spend more time with the TSA of course. Some BOS-EWR flights actually do arrive at Terminal C currently although it seems to be totally random which ones do. With the route seemingly destined for Q400s I'm not so sure we're going to benefit from CO's intention to move all mainline service back to Terminal C though.

If you have the time, next time just head for the PC and see if they can put you on the earlier flight. On average the agents there are less Newarkish than your average GA.

Glad you had a chance to check out the new 777 AVOD system. I'm still hoping to see it one of these days.
Now you tell me!

I actually ended up going to the PC to check on an earlier flight, but I would have been in Y (I know, it's only a half hour.), so I decided to shower at the airport and head straight to work instead of going home to shower first.

Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Gallaghers, by any chance??
Believe it or not, Ben & Jerry's. Wow, that woman behind the counter reeaaallllyyy hated her job.

Originally Posted by Pahdz View Post
i laughed


Mike
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Old Feb 21, 08, 1:52 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
Now you tell me!
I think that illustrates one of many problems with Newark. It would be a great idea if the CO.com website upon check-in with an inter-terminal connection in Newark provided a link to information about the airside shuttle during the OLCI process. That way people who don't fly through EWR at least have an inkling of the existence of the shuttle which may make the experience of transiting through EWR slightly more palatable.

Imagine if your flight had been on ATC hold for 2 hours in BOS and you had less time to make it to your international connection..
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Old Feb 21, 08, 2:28 pm
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I don't get it. Guy flies in BF from Bombay and gets a snarky agent who wants to nick him for getting on an earlier flight home.

EWR.

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Old Feb 21, 08, 3:22 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post

Believe it or not, Ben & Jerry's. Wow, that woman behind the counter reeaaallllyyy hated her job.

Oh I believe it. Worst service in the whole airport. Stupidly, I keep going back there hoping that something has changed. It's always the same. Those girls wouldn't know a proper milkshake if it as thrown at them.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Lurker1999 View Post
It would be a great idea if the CO.com website upon check-in with an inter-terminal connection in Newark provided a link to information about the airside shuttle during the OLCI process. That way people who don't fly through EWR at least have an inkling of the existence of the shuttle which may make the experience of transiting through EWR slightly more palatable.
Do they not still print the shuttle bus info on the boarding passes for connecting passengers who have to make the switch? I thought they used to in the lower left.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
I used the lounge that was closest to my gate and was somewhat unimpressed with the ground service, which I think is more indicative of EWR than CO.
But EWR is CO. Sub-par employees there should most definitely be held against CO. I agree that ground service for BF is most definitely not a CO strong suit.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 4:17 pm
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
Do they not still print the shuttle bus info on the boarding passes for connecting passengers who have to make the switch? I thought they used to in the lower left.
Hasn't happened to me recently but that doesn't mean it's not true sporadically.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by pbarnette View Post
But EWR is CO. Sub-par employees there should most definitely be held against CO. I agree that ground service for BF is most definitely not a CO strong suit.
Agreed, the first thing they could cut if they need to trim the fat is the BF concierge whom I have yet to get anything useful from besides the two luggage tags with my business card.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 5:58 pm
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its hit or miss what that shuttle out between A & C.
No one told me when I was flying a paid F ticket LAS-EWR-DCA. Took 2 hours to get from where I landed from LAS to the terminal for DCA. Grrr. then i see the stupid sign!!!

But, when I flew SAN-EWR-DCA redeye, the shuttle doesn't open til 7am(?), and my flight was at 6:55am so I had to go out and back in.

p.s. nice Trip Report. I hope I have a similar experience on EWR-TLV in a couple of months.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 6:42 pm
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Wirelessly posted (Treo 650: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; PalmSource/Palm-D060; Blazer/4.5) 16;320x320)

At the DO I asked about expanding the hours and they claimed it ran from 5:30am until 10pm (I think, the times were generous). But I remember the 7am start time catching me, same as you.
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Old Feb 21, 08, 9:13 pm
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Originally Posted by mikeef View Post
Seats: I've never been a big fan of lie-flat-at-an-angle, but I didn't really notice the slant and, frankly, I was so tired that it wouldn't have mattered, anyway.
Thank you for writing this report

To call COs BF seat lie flat is stretching it pretty far..

http://www.continental.com/web/en-US...first/777.aspx
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