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EWR-BRU-TXL-MUC-EWR UA BusinessFirst, SN/LH Y & Berlin

EWR-BRU-TXL-MUC-EWR UA BusinessFirst, SN/LH Y & Berlin

Old Jan 24, 15, 8:36 am
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EWR-BRU-TXL-MUC-EWR UA BusinessFirst, SN/LH Y & Berlin



Usually every January I am in Paris & Berlin for Fashion Week. This year I decided to opt out of Paris (don't like it in the winter, time better spent in NY) and just go to Berlin for my good friend's birthday.
Luckily being able to plan in advance for this I was able to book a few months in advance and successfully apply my GPUs to clear from coach to BusinessFirst (on the TATL UA legs) at booking.

1) EWR Terminal C + United Club
2) United BusinessFirst EWR-BRU sCO 777
3) BRU The Loft + Brussels Airlines Y BRU-TXL
4) Berlin + Casa Camper
5) LH Senator Lounge + Y TXL-MUC
6) LH Senator Lounge MUC
7) United BusinessFirst MUC-EWR sCO 764

Revamped Newark Terminal C Food & Dining + United Club



Since I didn't have anything to do the day of leaving and given the time with the tunnels heading towards the airport I decided to take the train from Penn Station. I had only done this twice before when I was going to/from Montreal with just a duffle bag and then when I had to go out to Terminal B for my Global Entry interview.

I took a taxi to Penn since I didn't want to bring my suitcase on the subway and this was the first time I was in one of the new boxy London-esque cabs which have a big giant sunroof.



I guess I forgot how quick and easy it can be (and $15 instead of $65-$70). I have taken the subway to AirTrain to JFK once and I wasn't as fond as that. I wanted to check out some of the restaurants at EWR C as they have been overhauled by a new food vendor. When I was there the other week before flying to Telluride it was in the morning so I only visited the Cibo kiosks.



I arrived 3 hours before my flight and settled on eating at Saison which is in the C120+ section which used to be the steakhouse. Now it's a French-ish brasserie. All ordering is done from iPads, the service was pretty friendly, water and break were brought as I sat down. Ordering was easy and you pay when you order which is nice so you can get up and leave as quick as you want.
The food all tasted great, I would say the portions were about 30% smaller than I imagined. I had a roasted red pepper soup, beet salad and 1.5 glasses of wine (when you order wine it allows you to order an additional 1/2 glass then for about 35% of the glass price.



With 2 hours before my flight it was time to retire to the Cheese & Crackers Club by United so I could catch up on a few things on Hulu since I wouldn't be able to use it for a week.



Nothing to see here folks. At least from what I can recall it looks like they redid the chairs since they seemed to have much less wear and tear on them.

United BusinessFirst EWR-BRU sCO 777

It's usually fairly "easy" to find the confirmable upgrade space on flying in/out of BRU. Most of the times when I checked in the past it was sUA 777s which have the 2-4-2 "sardine can" seating in J but this would be a sCO plane that is 2-2-2 which is great so I could take a center seat and have undisturbed aisle access. Also took the front row in the 2nd cabin so I could have the larger footwell.

[IMG][/IMG]

This seatmap is from a few days before the flight but J still had a few empty seats, next to me as well which was great, the back of the bus had a several totally empty rows as well.





The crew was friendly enough, smiles and took coats but not particularly engaging. Pushback was on time thought before wheels up it was about 50 min backed up behind a line of other planes awaiting take off (we still landed in BRU early) with a flight time of 6.5 hours.

UA is giving out another set of metal tin amenity kits with destinations on them like they did last year on ex-US INTL flights...alas our flight didn't get them. But it looks like they have tweaked the existing kit a little with color piping on them and lining.



No new kit but color me happy that with the new EWR kiosks I can now buy Itoen green tea before my flights! I drink 1-2 of these a day...also kombucha which I had at the airport but I'm too afraid to take on the plane as it's already ready to burst from the fermentation.






I can't help but think of the Grace Jones song "I've Seen That Face Before" when it comes to this UA menu. I've had everything on it before but I decided to go for the chicken since it can be the more interesting option listed when done right...which it was.



I greedily ate the chicken, it was moist, the beans had flavor and the greens were great. I would have had seconds if offered. As for the rest of it there was a decent amount of prosciutto, the melon was sweet. Salad was lackluster. They had the ice cream sitting out on the cart for about 10 min while they did the cheese cart which meant when we got it they were already getting warm/soft.

I'm not a big breakfast eater so I can't cry over not having a hot breakfast of eggs and what not. But for me on this it was nice all the melon was ripe and not crunchy like honey dew can be in cheap fruit salads. The granola is crud but the yogurt isn't bad. They also brought around cinnamon rolls and croissant which I skipped.



Touch down in a still dark Brussels hoping I have enough time to properly visit The Loft and take a shower...
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Old Jan 24, 15, 11:06 am
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The Loft BRU & SN Y BRU-TXL



We landed about 20 min early in BRU which put my connection time to 2:10. I was the 2nd person off the plane and didn't waste time making my way down to passport control as I saw several other planes parked and there was another UA (IAD I guess) flight as well as Ethiad plane that were making their way there. I spent about 20-25 min in line. Interestingly enough it's only been in BRU & LHR (for arriving in Europe) where I've actually had the immigration officer ask me where I was coming from, going and purpose of my visit. Arriving straight into TXL, FRA, CDG never have said anything other than Morgen or Bonjour. Leaving ARN the guy seemed irritated he couldn't find my stamp as when I arrived into Sweden and had to show him I arrived at CDG 6 days before.



In any event this gave me enough time to make it to the lounge and freshen up and relax for a bit. You make an appointment for the showers when you enter at the 2nd desk with all the tablets. There was no wait so I was taken right in. They have a sound system in there where you can pick different moods like Energetic, Relaxing, Upbeat, etc. There are 3 dispensers in the shower that each have a slightly different color liquid but no labels as to which was body or hair. Another thing is the door to the shower opens outwards so you really can't put the towel down there outside of the door to stop on because when you open the shower door when you're finished it will just push it away and end up getting the floor just as wet.







Food and drink were pretty standard European breakfast things. They did have some really great bread. The bar area was self serve with plenty of booze out, but all the glasses were in that section so if you wanted to get juice you had to get a glass from there and bring it back over to the middle where the juice was kept next to the cheese and cold cuts.
Lots of power points, some comfortable seating with some chairs that have 3 tall sides for a nice little nook of privacy. They also have 4-5 nap cabins that I didn't look in but I could tell only one was in use since they have green/red lights on a display.

Flight scheduled and took off at 9:45 and they didn't display the gate information until 9am so at that time I took off from the lounge since I wanted to visit the gate and ask about my ticket.



I don't like booking SN via UA for a few reasons(although it is worth putting up with if it means confirming my TATL J upgrade). Booking on UA the cheapest fare class you can get to use a GPU still is W which means maybe a $1400 rt ticket vs. $900. The SN fare is listed on the UA codeshare as W but always books into their cheapest fare class which means no seat selection in advance and you'll always be in the back half of the plane.
When I checked in on UA I was finally given a seat assignment which put me in the 2nd to last row of the plane. This flight is almost always operated by an A319 so when I went to look at the seatmap my row didn't exist on that plane which made me nervous, even a dummy booking on SN's site showed that plane the day before. I had Wifi on the UA fight and looked at FlightAware when crossing over and it then updated to an A320. When I got to the counter I asked if I could have an aisle seat and I got bumped up 5 rows.
The other issue was that my BP didn't scan into the security fast track lane which *G flying SN Y should get (when I did the opposite way TXL-BRU-EWR earlier this year it worked with the SN issued BP). I could tell something at the lounge was up too since she scanned it with the non-entry beep and then she looked it over and saw the *G on my BP and manually punched something in.



People talk about Gate Lice and the issues with the 5 boarding groups on UA. Well this was worse. The second they started making an announcement everyone just got up and decided to make about a dozen lines. There is a priority boarding sigh that was for the Business and Fast Fly or some type of class where you get fast track and priority access. One of the GAs was milling about trying to check that people were properly in that line and I said "Is *G okay for this?" and he said yah sure and waved me in.

The flight was fast they came through with a cart but most people didn't even take anything to drink let alone buy a snack.

Touchdown on time at Tegel and off the plane. Could see the carts come through with the bags from the plane right below us and it took another 10-12 min after that before the belts started moving. *G Priority tags didn't mean anything in this case.

As expected a quick 20 euro taxi ride and I was back home at my pied-a-terre in Berlin, Casa Camper.

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Old Jan 24, 15, 2:45 pm
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Can't keep up with you JVPhoto but loving the fact that I have another one of your TRs with your usual excellent pics to enjoy!
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Old Jan 24, 15, 3:07 pm
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Think we could have done without the photo of your feet (with their bizarre widely-spaced toes which made me feel quite queasy!), but otherwise thanks for a useful TR so far.
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Old Jan 24, 15, 5:33 pm
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Very nice report as usual, and I'm amazed at how fast you get them up

Seems like you had a pretty decent flight on United, and those GPU's seem to come in very handy. Can you get them instantly upgraded when you book the cheapest coach fare or do you have to book a more expensive ticket?

The LOFT Lounge looks quite spectacular and is a massive upgrade over the old lounge which was downright awful. I've made myself the promise to never visit Brussels again, but seeing your pictures kind of makes me tempted to go there just to try out the lounge. Hmm, tough decisions.

Looking forward to the rest!
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Old Jan 24, 15, 7:07 pm
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Originally Posted by JVPhoto View Post
So did you redeem MP miles at < 1 cpm, or pay cash.
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Old Jan 24, 15, 9:52 pm
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Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
So did you redeem MP miles at < 1 cpm, or pay cash.
was just about to mention how bad of a deal this is!

Love the TR though!
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Old Jan 25, 15, 1:41 am
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Excellent pics and TR so far! Glad you got to put your GPU to good use. Seemed like a good BF experience.
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Old Jan 25, 15, 5:13 am
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Originally Posted by 1P View Post
Think we could have done without the photo of your feet (with their bizarre widely-spaced toes which made me feel quite queasy!), but otherwise thanks for a useful TR so far.
Sometimes I feel that way about the TRs with a scattered plate of food and the close up flash.
But guess who hardly ever has to bend over to pick something up if I drop it when I'm at home....my Mom was never thrilled when I would do that with forks or dish towels in the kitchen.

Originally Posted by LH4116 View Post

The LOFT Lounge looks quite spectacular and is a massive upgrade over the old lounge which was downright awful. I've made myself the promise to never visit Brussels again, but seeing your pictures kind of makes me tempted to go there just to try out the lounge. Hmm, tough decisions.

Looking forward to the rest!
I would be curious to see it during lunch/evening time simply becsuse I think it had the chance to differ compared to the breakfast available for every single other European breakfast be it hotel or airport.
The showers were great to have TATL but I'm curious to see if they redo the small crappy lounge in the INTL terminal. I think this would be great say if someone was connecting from the East Coast and had a few hours before a flight to Africa.

And yes you can't use it on the cheap fare classes. I know W is the lowest but is still on average a couple hundred $ more than if the discount fares are available. If R inventory is present at booking it'll clear then however I think if it ends up coming down to the door closing and there are 4 on the list and 2 spots it then takes into account who bought a higher fare class (along with GS over 1k status).
Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
So did you redeem MP miles at < 1 cpm, or pay cash.
You can't pay cash! So I earned 57 miles by using my MP Explorer card.
While most would laugh at using the miles my friend text me a few weeks ago if she could use 10k UA miles on something that wasn't a flight (she flies DL). So if you're never going to redeem enough miles to make it worth it I could see a very infrequent flyer on UA who is still part of MP doing it. Is that a huge number for something to be used system wide across the airport? Probably not.
I'm not sure if you can split the bill between miles & $ but each line item has the miles price so you could always do 2 orders.

Originally Posted by reverted View Post
Glad you got to put your GPU to good use. .
So far so good for the past year and a half batting 100% as I'm flexible and only using them when I can confirm at booking.
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Old Jan 25, 15, 5:24 am
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Casa Camper, Berlin (Mitte)





Guten Morgen (well sorta). As I said I'm here celebrating a birthday for a friend who is a DJ, so after a 3 hour power nap following Berghain I'm waiting on someone I shoot with every time I'm here.



(Most of this I'm lifting from a previous TR...I'm approaching about a dozen times staying at the hotel.)



I started staying at Casa Camper in 2009 when I came here for the first time (I actually flew EWR-BRU-TXL and walked right by the gate I took that trip from BRU and got a little sentimental) when I was working as a buyer for a online fashion retailer and we were attending a giant trade show at Templehof called Bread & Butter.

As its name would suggest it is owned by the Camper shoe brand which operates this hotel in Berlin as well as one in Barcelona. I absolutely love it.
You can see in the photo the rooms have giant windows that face out over Weinmeisterstraße and into Berlin. Don't worry about that if you want to sleep in as they have mechanical shutters that you can totally black out the room.
There is no bathtub (my only gripe) but the rainfall shower with a door that shuts to create a sauna is amazing...as is the floor to ceiling window (frosted in the right spots) that's in the shower.





One of the best features is the 7th floor cafe that is available 24 hours a day...FREE OF CHARGE. Breakfast you can also have them make you eggs or pancakes if you'd like which is available until about 11 on weekdays and 2pm on weekends. After that they change it out and typically always have 3 types of sandwhiches, 3 types of sides/salads, some sweets, some smoothies, espresso machine, beautiful teas, fresh juices...and then from about 4pm-10pm they unlock the honor bar off to the side. Not really a full meal, but great to snack, get a lite bite or in the case of winter not having to go out in the cold when you're hungry or thirsty.



There's also a small fitness center (a few cardio machines and a resistance band weight contraption) which attached to it has a sauna (just have front desk turn it on takes about 20 min to heat up) and a nice spa like lounge with tea and iced mint water.



[IMG][/IMG]





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Old Jan 26, 15, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by JVPhoto View Post
Sometimes I feel that way about the TRs with a scattered plate of food and the close up flash.
But guess who hardly ever has to bend over to pick something up if I drop it when I'm at home....my Mom was never thrilled when I would do that with forks or dish towels in the kitchen.
Agreed. I think it's much worse with people who post pictures of their messy hotel rooms in trip reports :P

Oh well other than that, the report looks good so far. Must say that you have a good taste when it comes to hotels. The Casa Camper looks pretty decent, though I'm not very likely to stay there since I usually go with the Club Carlson properties whenever I visit Berlin. Cheap and always easy to get the 2-for-1 weekend rates.
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Old Jan 27, 15, 1:34 am
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Berlin











I've lifted some of the photos from previous trips and with that I will give a run down of places/things I've been coming back to for the past 5 years as a creature of habit.

Spreegold for lunch/juice if around Mitte/Alexanderplatz.
Dudu in Rosenthaler Platz trendy and good, call in advance.
Pan Asia in Mitte is also another decent group/dinner/fun choice.

Co Co Banh Mi off Rosenthaler while Vietnamese owned/operated I still keep going back and then find again that it's all pretty bland and plain, even spicy isn't spicy here.


Alpenstueck in Prenzlauer Berg I had my birthday dinner at last year and was one of the first places my team ate in 2010...nice design inside, great staff, clean and minimal in food and presentation. Great experience.

ManNgo on Mulackstraße in Mitte is a vietnamese place with great pho as well as shakes, juice and other Vietnamese dishes.

A bit further down on Mulackstraße is Mamecha Green Tea Cafe which I will go to a few times during my visits. Small and cozy but with a little bit of Japanese sterility have great teas as well as some small Japanese bites.


A new-ish bar has opened on Augustraße 2 call August II that is very intimate (the bartenders are friendly, know one of them) with big leather chairs/couches, red lampshades, etc.

I actually didn't do too much new stuff or adventuring on this trip since I was only here for 5 (well now 6 because of the weather in NY) and most of the time I was sleeping from 7am-1pm and 4pm-9pm.

My "nephew" is about to turn 2.


Thursday night wouldn't be complete in Berlin without the smoky and sweaty Chantal's House of Shame at Bassy Club.


Leaving lab.oratory (usually just Lab) at 4am on Saturday morning the line at Berghain was only 4-5 people deep. In 24 hours it gets to about 200 people deep with the door policy of no rhyme or reason. It's notorious for turning people away and doesn't care about age, race, social status or not letting in one or two people from a group of 3-4. Fortunately for me given my friends here I have never had to worry or deal with any of that as we are able to walk right in. However, I wouldn't let that deter people from trying to go, it's really quite insane to just check out/try. You probably have a better chance getting in being a 50 year old couple on Holiday than 3 22 year old friends on school holiday. One of the best memories there is seeing this late 50s woman dancing in her black dress and white pearls at 7am on Sunday morning.


Love running into friends regardless of which form they have taken that night.


Tram cushion or the print on my Trapper Keeper school binder from 1990?
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Old Jan 27, 15, 8:28 am
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Originally Posted by JVPhoto View Post
Luckily being able to plan in advance for this I was able to book a few months in advance and successfully apply my GPUs to clear from coach to BusinessFirst (on the TATL UA legs) at booking.
What is it about BRU and upgrades? When I was using * to get back forth to Italy a few years back, I was always able to snag an up-grade to BRU at time of booking whereas if I went through MUC the upgrade was always confirmed after checking in, if at all. I guess it's still more or less the same.

Really beautiful shots. I love the wine glasses. Thank you.
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Old Jan 28, 15, 1:15 am
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Lufthansa Senator Lounge Berlin / Lufthansa Y TXL-MUC / Lufthansa Senator Lounge Munich

So I was supposed to leave on Tuesday but anyone who isn't in a coma knows the weather situation that NYC was to get hammered with.
That being said I took advantage of calling right before they started canceling flights and got swamped (plus had started to give waivers) to change my flight.
I was looking at things Wed-Fri through BRU/LHR/FRA hoping I could find some R space to have my GPU moved over to confirm BusinessFirst. I actually found it on the MUC flight, so I kept my original times and flights just a day later.
The plane actually has been sitting in MUC since it arrived from IAD on Tuesday morning.

This gave me an extra day to relax and see some friends.
Back to Mamecha Green Tea Cafe in Mitte!


I had been working on about 25 hours of sleep total since I got here on Thursday so it was nice to have a day to sleep in and be listless in bed.

The call to UA was pretty quick and they got it done.
However, it was from here where I spent the next day worrying. I didn't get LH conf # in my account but I was able to get my new UA ticket number. I wanted to check that things were fine on the LH site so I called in. They only were able to see my TXL-MUC flight, they didn't see anything about going forward. A few calls back and forth to each to try and see if there was some way this could sink up I just retired to the fact that I eventually at T23 got my BP for the LH flight and I'd just figure it out at MUC. I was most worried that if for some reason I had an extra leg that wasn't synched to UA they would think that I was a no show for TXL-MUC and give away my BF seat.
Then I worried I would have an issue getting my bags checked through so I went to TXL a little bit early. I only had 5euros on me so I asked for the hotel to call a cab that would take card, of course he picks me up and says it is broken so after a quick stop at the Sparkasse in Rosenthaler Platz we were on our way to Tegel.
I gave the GA my passport and said I was flying to Newark through MUC and he said...no I just see a flight to MUC. But he said if I had my other flight info he could tag it through...which he did and based on that was somehow able to print my BP for MUC-EWR.
*sigh of relief*







Can't wait to use this in the summer!




TXL is pretty sleepy at 5am. The lounge opens at 5:15. Yes there are lounge lice.


Boarding for the 6:10 flight was at 5:40 so that gave 15 minutes to scarf down some frühstruck.

I love that herbed curd!


As most flights from Tegel have their own self contained gate with security it is pretty easy to get through. Once I was through 1 min later boarding was started for Business Class & *G.
I've taken the 6am flights before which are nice because they never seem to be THAT full and even in Y everyone had a middle seat free so in essence the entire flight is a 50min intra-EU J one.
Oh me so corny!

The flight had LH streaming personal device entertainment but I didn't use it.
Landed a few minutes early in Munich, swapped to the non-Schengen H section and headed to the lounge.
Pretty much same stuff on offer at TXL but the eggs were out now plus they have the shakes and smoothies like FRA.
Has filled up now around 8:15 but still enough seats and things.
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Old Jan 28, 15, 5:48 pm
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United BusinessFirst MUC-EWR sCO 767-400



Boarding was listed as 8:30 so about 8:20 I left the lounge. I didn't think I would do much checking out of the terminal but forgot how nice it was. Haven't been here since 2004 when I had a connection from the West Coast to Italy so that I could study abroad.

Like in Frankfurt you enter an area where they check your BP/passport for the US bound flights. There is also the additional security question podiums that took all but 1 minute.





Boarding was just a few minutes late and done through 2 adjacent gates with Group 1/2 in H02 and Group 3-5 in H01.

For the 764 they had both doors and jetways attached. It says *G on the forward one which I thought was kind of interesting...if you are *G but sitting in Y I don't think it would benefit all the much boarding through the premium cabins and then having to go back.





I like this cabin set up with the 2-1-2 config (along with the sCO 777 2-2-2) so that I can grab a middle section and have undisturbed aisle access.



Also a lot of times you have the benefit of being able to be served drinks and ask for things from other side as the FAs are coming down doing service.
I got a little bit worried we may be delayed when I got on and noticed there was no water in the lavs. The Captain & FO were both out there in the galley and I heard them say "still no water pressure?"
With that being fixed in the next 15 min as the doors were closing we were about 10 min late pushing back and then had a few minutes sitting and taxing to the end of the runway to de-ice for about 10 min and wheels were up about 50 min behind listed departure time.

The purser/INTNL service manager on this flight was the same one I had this summer flying EWR-HKG!



Nuts were warm, soft & chewy why can't they just leave them cold so they stay crunchy??
The salmon was good and happy they had the wasabi mayo over the other sauces typically rotated.
This was probably the best salad in terms of the greens, it made me think of the 50/50 mix things I buy at Whole Foods. The basalmic I thought was the safe choice but should have gone for the passion fruit.
As I have many times before was very please with the cioppino.
Cheese cart had at least 4 cracker options and 5 cheeses with flags stating what each one was. I had this very mild with a little tart, bleu-ish thing. The grapes were super plump and crunchy.



The cantaloupe was perfectly ripe and sweet. The chicken bouquet wasn't that bad this time in that the dough wasn't hard as a rock where if you try to cut/pull it apart you may fling it across the aisle.





9 hours later we were on the ground in New York.
Getting through customs with Global Entry was a breeze and then it was about 30 min until getting the bags. 20 for them to start coming out with little effort put into *A priority tags. We landed in B which is not the "United" terminal like all of C is and a lot of times I attribute this to the delays as it seems like in C you can get on your way in 15 and in B it is 30-45.

Our original time to land was listed as 11:45 arrival so I made a Carmel reservation for 12:30 and of course put in my flight info. I went to the app at about 1:50 once I had my bags to request the car and it showed my resv as CXL.
I called in and the woman said:
"Well you were listed as a no show, so you should have called if you were going to be late."
I was on an airplane...
"Oh yes, ya"
Isn't that why you ask for the flight info so you can monitor delays and what not?

From that it was fine the car would be there in 5-7 minutes it wasn't a big deal.
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