August 28, 2005

First 747 ride

I took my first ride in a 747 Friday night from Washington Dulles to LAX. The airplane was a United Airlines 747-400. The size of the 747 at the gate compared to other aircraft was awesome. United used two doors to both board and unload. The aircraft was one third empty which made it very nice. They needed 12 flight attendants to support this aircraft. United has problems though.

The aircraft arrived in Washington from L.A. one hour late. This sucked because we blew off a trip to the NASM annex to make the original 5:40 time. Then we were almost two hours late getting out of Washington. We ended up spending 4 hours in the airport. The 747 is fast, with a 100 knot head wind, the actual flight time was only 20 minutes longer then the eastbound flight I took on an Airbus 319 last week.

The in-flight entertainment system was pretty old video monitors and pull down screens. I figure just replacing these systems with LCD and a fixed project screen would save United 500 lbs of weight per flight. The people in the back of the plane did not get to see anything because it was broken.

I really like monitoring the air traffic control audio on channel 9. I am glad the captain left this on during the flight.

I set in economy plus where the seats have more room. The exit row by the center galley is the golden leg room area. The seats in business class were awesome..

United now also has no free meals. Meals now cost $5. I have to say that for $5 I thought the food was a little better.

The problems continued at L.A., evidently no one told the ramp crew we were coming, as they were not prepared to park the aircraft when we arrived. The automatic parking system was inoperative. This added another 30 minutes to the flight as we waited for the ramp crew to tow the aircraft the final 150 feet to the gate.

I think the 777 has more comfortable seats and in the entertainment system is the best with the screens build into the seat in front of you.


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