Saturday, January 21, 2012

Israel Trip Report Part 8 – Continental BusinessFirst Tel Aviv to Newark

Trip Report – Israel 2011
  1. United #1273: Orange County, CA (SNA) to Newark, NJ (EWR)
  2. United #90: Newark, NJ (EWR) to Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV)
  3. Tour of Jerusalem and Bethlehem
  4. Tour of Caesarea, Rosh Hanikra, and Acre
  5. Tour of Petra
  6. Tel Aviv
  7. Grand Beach Hotel Review
  8. United #91:  Tel Aviv, Israel (TLV) to Newark, NJ (EWR)
  9. United #311:  Newark, NJ (EWR) to Denver, CO (DEN)
  10. United #403:  Denver, CO (DEN) to Orange County, CA (SNA)

Part 5 – Continental BusinessFirst Tel Aviv to Newark

Continental Boeing 777-200ER
Seat:  2L
Cabin:  BusinessFirst
Date: 01/17/12
Scheduled Departure:  11:10pm
Actual Departure:  11:16pm
Scheduled Arrival:  4:19am (01/18/12)
Actual Arrival:  4:45am (01/18/12)

Boeing 777-200

The flight home boarded on time and I was first on board to head to my BusinessFirst window seat in the second row of the cabin.  My jacket was taken and hung in the closer even before my bag was placed in the overhead bin.  Menus were promptly distributed and drinks proffered and I selected champagne.  As the flight was departing late at night the flight attendants asked for our dinner selection before the doors on the plane were closed. 

Menu Page 1

Menu Page 2

Passengers were still boarding the place as two ground maintenance staff entered the flight deck.  Soon after one of the pilots headed farther back into the plane with a set of manuals – that is never a good sign.  It turns out that four of the eight bathrooms on the plane were not working.  I talked later to one of the pilots who explained that there was a considerable debate about proceeding forward with the flight given the malfunction but the flight was completely full and they had no idea how long a repair would take.  I’m glad they decided to proceed with the flight. 

Shortly after takeoff the drink and dinner service started.  Warm nuts were served with my glass of Cote-du-Rhone.  The nuts had too many walnuts for my taste and the wine was good but very tannic.  The salad with mozzarella and tomatoes followed quickly.  The salad and dressing were good, however, the cheese and salmon appetizer was rather inedible. 

First Course Salad

I selected the herbed of chicken provençale for the entrée.  The chicken was actually very good.  Typically airline chicken can be rubbery but the jus helped keep the chicken breast moist.  The white wine risotto was tasty as well, although, it was a little stiff to be a true risotto.  The greens were ok and I avoided the sautéed mushrooms.  The description included leaks but I didn’t taste any in the dish.  I was a little disappointed that no garlic bread was available on the flight, and the bread service overall was lacking as the attendants only came by once to offer something. 

Herbed Chicken Provencale

The cheese plate included was a nice break after dinner and included some blue cheese, swiss, brie, and chevre. 

Cheese Plate

The ice cream sundae cart passed through to finish off the dinner service and I opted for fudge and cherries.  The customer service of the staff was decent.  They were professional but not friendly or approachable – similar to domestic flights. 

Ice Cream Sundae

Dinner service finished up in about 2 hours which left almost 10 hours remaining in the flight.  The seat was the same as on my flight to Tel Aviv so I reclined it all the way.  The second row of seats has a much smaller foot space than the first row.   It was actually very cramped for me when lying down to try and have both feet in the space which required that I had my legs bent most of the time.  I would definitely recommend selecting a seat in row 1 on Continental’s 777.  I was able to fall asleep quickly and was passed out for about 7 hours. 

I woke up about three hours out from Newark with my sinuses and ears plugged up.  I had hoped my ear infection had cleared up but the pain was making me doubt it.  I watched a few of the Pixar movies available on the AVOD system while waiting for breakfast.  Meal service started about 1.5 hours before landing with two plates.  The first includes yogurt, granola, fruit, and tomatoes, cheese, and avocado spread.  I avoided the salmon but the rest was good. 

First Breakfast Course

I opted for the hot meal, a sun-dried tomato omelet with potatoes and zucchini.  While the potatoes and zucchini were good, the omelet was disgusting.  The texture, taste, and consistency were all bad.  The omelet had so much oil and butter that about two tablespoons of liquid were at the bottom of the dish.  It ended up giving me an upset stomach. 

The Bad Eggs

The flight landed smoothly albeit late.  I was able to deplane quickly as I was at the front of the plane and headed towards passport control.  There was another international flight that landed about the same time as ours from India and the line to get through passport was already long.  Only two border agents were working at 5am.  Thankfully, two more agents arrived within 30 minutes and started to process the line faster.  I had to grab my suitcase once through passport control to then proceed through customs.  Although I had no food items on me I was selected to go through the extra screening line adding another 15 minutes of waiting before getting out of the secured area.  My bag was tagged all the way through to Orange County but I did have to recheck it at a transfer desk.  I had a suspicion that something would go wrong with the transfer.  

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