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TUS-FCO & ATH – Did I cry more flying Y on CO or when I got gassed in ATH? You decide

TUS-FCO & ATH – Did I cry more flying Y on CO or when I got gassed in ATH? You decide

Old Mar 9, 10, 11:18 am
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TUS-FCO & ATH – Did I cry more flying Y on CO or when I got gassed in ATH? You decide

Mrs jvquarterback and I took advantage of a relatively cheap flight to FCO (with a large YQ surcharge). We’ve recently moved to TUS and she had just taken the Arizona Bar two days before and felt like a break. Grandpa and Grandma came to watch baby jvquarterback and enjoy the sun while we went in search of 1P status and some ruins in Italy and Greece.

Feb 27
TUS-DEN UA6650
We got up early and took the 6:51 flight up to DEN on the RJ7. Arrived at the gate and were immediately called up for my first op-up in three years (last was a ORD-AMS flight where I had volunteered but they didn’t end up needing me – no status at the time). My wife added an extra segment to one of her flights last year to make 2P and this is how she was rewarded. The flight was fine. We got the juice before take-off and pretzels in flight. The seats were a little more padded but 3B might actually have more leg room than 1D and F which we were given. Nice flight – got to DEN fine.

I asked the GA if most Sat AM flights were overbooked in Y. She said yes, that Sat am was probably my best chance at an op-up to DEN. SFO too I asked – not so much she replied. Probably won’t book too many Sat AM flights in order to get an op-up though. I prefer my bed to 1D any day.

DEN-EWR UA0422
We would have liked to be 1P to use the RCC but instead grabbed some muffins and a sausage biscuit before our flight on our 757 to EWR. We sat in E+ in row 11. Flight was fine. Seats were OK. Never thought I would wish I were back on an RJ.

EWR-FCO UA3264 operated by CO
This was my first CO flight since IAH-LIM about 6 years ago. The transfer from UA to CO was a beast. Two buses and about 5 minutes waiting on one with the doors open almost caused frostbite. Just as we were about to go grab some food they changed metal on us from a 767-200 with us in 16K,L (in the minicabin with 32” pitch) to a 757-200 in 20E,F (with 31” pitch). I asked if they needed volunteers with the equipment change hoping to fly C or F via FRA but no dice.

Grabbed some Johnny Rocket or Red Robin (who can tell the difference?) and stewed about the equipment change. Got on the plane and after we pushed back some guy hurled in the exit row. We went back to the gate, cleaned and finally left an hour late without the sick dude. I took my ambien – thankfully I hadn’t taken it before takeoff like I usually do or I would have been hallucinating during the meal and may have mistaken it for something that was actually edible. It was the worst chicken and pasta I’ve ever been exposed to. It made me yearn for UA Y food. I finally fell asleep midway through a movie and slept about 5H until we were over France.

I do have to admit the entertainment system was much better on CO but I prefer a movie on my laptop and an extra inch or two of pitch.

Arrival in FCO was an hour late but customs was easy after a bus ride to the terminal. Took the slow train to Trastevere and made it to our B&B. Rome was nice but cold.

Mar 2
FCO-ATH on U2 2981
I bought roundtrip tickets to ATH from FCO for about 80 Euro each which I thought was a great deal even if we had to put up with Easyjet and could only take one carry on each. We left some of our stuff at the B&B in Rome and caught the train to FCO. Terminal 2 appeared to be used exclusively for Easyjet. Security was a breeze without the removal of shoes or even liquids. Not that either has ever or will ever prevent a terrorist event. Seems those Europeans have a little less bureaucracy in at least some areas. The GA made me fit my bag in a bin before I got on the plane. It fit – barely. We rode a bus to the plane. I think it was the last one from the terminal to the plane. We boarded and got to sit together which we thought was amazing. There were quite a few empty seats which I thought never happened on Easyjet.

The equipment was an A319 and the seats reclined (more about this on the return flight). This was my first Easyjet flight. I had flown ryanair, vueling and klm’s budget product previously. I was surprised at the lack of trying to sell me crap on the flight. I think they went down the aisle once with the lotto tickets but that was it. I was kind of bummed about the aisle seat when I first got on the plane (though I usually prefer an aisle seat) because the FA on my previous European budget flights would run me down every ten minutes trying to sell a load of garbage.

We got in on time to ATH and the flight was nice. Caught the metro downtown and our hotel was right on the square 50 meters from the metro stop. The weather was perfect in ATH the whole time we were there.

Mar 5
ATH-FCO on U2 2982
The public transport folks were marching from the square next to the hotel we were staying at, so the metro was down for the day and we ordered a taxi at 11:30 am (thru the front desk at our hotel) and went out to buy some baklava and some other treats to take with us. When we got back to the hotel to get ready to leave we read a notice at the front desk that flights from noon to 6pm were canceled as the airport workers were also striking.

We called EasyJet and confirmed that the flight was canceled and they rebooked us on the next flight a day later. I was pretty upset that I had received no notification of the cancellation from EJ either by text or email so I asked about the 250E compensation. They said it was beyond their control. I told them they should have contacted me earlier. They said they had done all they were going to do. We’ll see if I get around to writing a letter.

I booked another night at the hotel at a stellar rate and the folks at teh front desk apologized for not telling me about the strike at the airport earlier. They gave us a suite as an upgrade and food as well.

If I had known about the canceled flight we probably would have gone down to Sounion on a tour but we were stuck in Athens by that time. We went to check out a few sights we had missed including the Benaki Museum. Just as we were about to go in I started coughing along with my wife and a few others near the entrance to the museum. We ran in as our eyes started tearing up. It took a few minutes but we were fine once we got in the museum. Apparently about five blocks down the road was the big protest and the cops had used tear gas and we were down wind.

On our way back to the hotel we saw all the graffiti and destruction the protesters had caused. It was clear why the cops had used tear gas as the street was pretty torn up. I guess the folks working in the post office would go crazy too if we told them they actually had to work for a living and couldn’t retire after 20 years of “service.”

Mar 6
ATH-FCO on U2 2982
We made it to the airport on the Metro thanks to the irreplaceable service and work ethic of the previous days’ striking masses. Check-in was quick and easy to find as there was only one terminal in ATH. The plane arrived 20 min late and was 10 min late getting out. While we were waiting I asked the GA about rule 261 and asked for a copy of the rules for compensation in the event of cancellation. I was only given EJ’s rules and not the official EU document.

Boarding was via bus. EJ has some sort of deal where you can pay more to be the first on the plane but in both ATH and FCO it only meant you were the first on the bus so was useless. At least no one had paid for the pleasure to be the first on the bus. My wife and I were first in line as I had been speaking to the GA when people started forming the queue. The first bus left about Ύ full and I was second in line to board after the bus arrived at the new A319 so we had our pick of seats. I asked the FA what she thought and she recommended the second exit row (which would have been my pick anyway). The seats didn’t recline. I checked the row behind and the seats also didn’t recline. I asked the FA if any of the seats reclined and she apologized and said none of the seats on that aircraft reclined. I asked if that was true of all the A319 metal they had in service. She said she thought so but wasn’t sure. I checked seatguru after the flight and it looks like the seats on in the first row of the newer A319 birds EJ has in service do recline but that is the only row that does. On older versions all of the seats recline. Should have checked seatguru.

In any event we had a strong headwind and arrived 10 minutes late in FCO, though the flight was otherwise very smooth. We deboarded via bus again and made it back to the B&B in Trastevere, grabbed some incredible pasta in the Jewish Ghetto and more gelato.

Mar 7
FCO-IAD on UA0967
When I checked in online the night before we were offered an upgrade to C for 571 Euro each. We refused as this was more than what we had paid for the entire trip. I was still happy to be back in E+ after the nightmare on CO. We took the train to the airport and were running a little behind. Once at T3 at FCO we had to take a bus to T5 and directions weren’t marked very well so it took a while to find the bus. The screening process at T5 was similar to what I am used to in the US complete with the removal of shoes and all the other craziness. After that we took a bus to the terminal. They boarded GS, F, C, and 1K first then had everyone else board at the same time which sort of upset me – it lessens my 2P status (do I sound like I belong on FT now?). At the gate we went through another security check complete with pat down while they sent explosive sniffing dogs through the plane. We then took our third bus of the day to the plane – a 767-300 and we were in seats 25K and L.

The entertainment system was not nearly as good as CO and during Up In the Air the system malfunctioned and started running through all of the channels. The channel changing finally stopped and I made it through the movie with only a few other interruptions. I spoke with one of the FA about the problem and she said the purser had already reset the system once and wouldn’t do it again but she had a seat I could use in another part of the plane. I told her I would rather sit with my wife and not watch anything. Luckily I still hadn’t watched all of the movies I put on my laptop before we left and the battery lasted through one and a half movies before giving up the ghost. I also read two complete National Geographic magazines. We arrived 15 minutes early.

I was very surprised at how good the chicken and gnocchi were when they brought it for lunch. My wife’s pasta was not so good. Their tiramisu was not bad at all either. The turkey sandwich snack about an hour before landing was pretty good as well and I had my first Mars bar since I was seven. I thought they used to have almonds in them.

We landed at IAD and made it through customs and security again pretty quickly, walked to the gate and waited about 20 minutes to board our plane to DEN.

IAD-DEN on UA0903
I charged my laptop enough for one more movie and we were off on an A320. We had seats 6D and F but someone ended up in 6E so my wife took the middle. The cutout in the bulkhead made the leg room great. They played Up in the Air again and I thought about watching it but instead started writing this TR (I made it to the tear gas in ATH just before I fell asleep). The flight was smooth and we got to DEN 20 minutes early.

DEN-TUS on UA6565
We grabbed some dinner at Wolfgang’s and went to the gate to wait for the crew for our RJ7. They asked for a volunteer and I approached as there is a later flight to TUS. They couldn’t guarantee a flight until 1pm the next day so it wasn’t going to work. While waiting they canceled flights to a couple places in Montana and asked for 13 volunteers to Saskatoon for weight issues, then told the people they wouldn’t be flying to Saskatoon but to Edmonton or Calgary but they weren’t sure which (sounds like they were just trying to scare people into volunteering but who knows).

The crew finally arrived 20 minutes late and we settled into 3A and B (my wife got B and the extra legroom as she had been in the middle seat from IAD). We saw the FA give out the preflight OJ to the folks in F and wished we had gotten the upgrade. Oh well. I fell asleep about ten minutes into Kill Bill 2 on the lap top (the last of the movies I had to watch). The flight was smooth as well as I could tell while sleeping. We arrived 15 minutes late.

Grandpa picked us up along with baby jvquarterback who had fallen asleep in the carseat. We made it home and I immediately went to bed, though I did think about finishing this TR.

Last edited by jvquarterback; Mar 12, 10 at 10:20 am Reason: poor grammar and my ignorance regarding UA metal
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Old Mar 9, 10, 12:23 pm
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Excellent trip report. Thanks for sharing. Bummer on the equipment swap out. Coach TATL is bad enough but on a 757. Yikes!

I've never flown EasyJet, but am contemplating flying them next month RAK-LYS only because of the convenient timing. I'd pay extra for premium seating or an exit row, but it sounds like that's not an option... just hope to be the first few to board.
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Old Mar 9, 10, 2:25 pm
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nice report....surprised CO's food was that bad..usually it's not that bad and better than UA's....also, UA doesn't fly 767-200s anymore....it was a 767-300....
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Old Mar 9, 10, 2:54 pm
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Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Excellent trip report. Thanks for sharing. Bummer on the equipment swap out. Coach TATL is bad enough but on a 757. Yikes!

I've never flown EasyJet, but am contemplating flying them next month RAK-LYS only because of the convenient timing. I'd pay extra for premium seating or an exit row, but it sounds like that's not an option... just hope to be the first few to board.
Yeah I definitely think the seat in CO Y on a 757 was worse than the tear gas.

I'm not sure about how they board in RAK, whether it's via bus or not. If via bus then don't bother with the easy board, if via jetway it seems like it might be worth it.

Last edited by jvquarterback; Mar 9, 10 at 4:03 pm
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Old Mar 9, 10, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by jvquarterback View Post
Yeah I definitely think the seat in CO Y on a 757 was worse than the tear gas.

I'm not sure about how they board in RAK, whether it's via bus or not. If via bus then don't bother with the easy board, if via jetway it seems like it might be worth it.
I flew EasyJet RAK-MAD last summer, IIRC they did not use a bus. You walk down some stairs on the tarmac and then walk a few yards to the waiting plane. I could be wrong, that was a very stressful day.

RAK is a great city though and I hope to go back soon.
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Old Mar 9, 10, 6:09 pm
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Loved the tear gas story! You should be able to dine out on that one for a while
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Old Mar 9, 10, 7:06 pm
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Great TR thanks for posting, I don't think Mars Bars ever had almonds.

Cheers Larry.
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Old Mar 9, 10, 8:20 pm
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Thanks for the report it was a good read.

I asked the GA if most Sat AM flights were overbooked in Y. She said yes, that Sat am was probably my best chance at an op-up to DEN. SFO too I asked – not so much she replied. Probably won’t book too many Sat AM flights in order to get an op-up though. I prefer my bed to 1D any day.
You'd have to do this fast as starting March 19th there will be no more op-ups ex-TUS for UA elites
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Old Mar 10, 10, 7:06 am
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Originally Posted by fs2k2isfun View Post
I flew EasyJet RAK-MAD last summer, IIRC they did not use a bus. You walk down some stairs on the tarmac and then walk a few yards to the waiting plane.
Thanks fs2k2isfun. Sounds like EasyJet should be OK departing RAK. I think I'll give it a try.
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Old Mar 10, 10, 9:24 am
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I agree not worth the extra cost if bussed to the plane but for normal boarding it is often worth it to pay for "Speedy Boarding". Although, as a regular Easyjet user I reckon that 7 / 10 times I have been seated in the emergency exit row if I have paid for SB or not
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Old Mar 10, 10, 8:52 pm
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More on the candy bar front....

Haven't had one in years, but from what I remember from my college semester in England....

American Mars has (or at least had) almonds.

European Mars = American Milky Way = no almonds.
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Old Mar 11, 10, 9:36 am
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Great read! Multiple trip reports in one, very nice!
The up-op, metro strike, extra day in ATH, and tear gas all make for an excellent story and a great adventure.
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