Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DFW-STL-ORD-PEK-ORD-DFW

DFW-STL-ORD-PEK-ORD-DFW

Segment 1 DFW-STL

Tuesday December 2



Miles down: 0.  Miles to go: 15,000
Hours down: 0. Hours to go: 31

Up at 5:00AM, at airport at 7:30, grabbed bagel and coffee at Admirals Club in Terminal C. Found out they have two showers there right by the entrance, they look nice and big. 

Flight left on-time at 8;25 on an old MD-83 with the old fashioned power ports. I didn't think to bring a converter. 

Slept on 1 hr flight. No food. 

Landed in St Louis on time at 11:00. Found small Admirals Club right by security. Sat there and worked a bit on emails. The computers at Admirals Club are not updated and not helpful. On several machines here Java was not loaded and I could not access my files from my cloud. Also Intermet Explorer was an old version and wasn't working well with Google mail. The furniture was updated and the place looked good. I should have taken pictures but didn't think about it. 

Miles down: 500.  Miles to go: 14,500
Hours down: 1. Hours to go: 30

Segment 2 STL-ORD

Tuesday December 2

Nice EMB 175 with 5 rows in 1st class with 1 seat on the left and two on the right. 



Windows are higher than normal. They take cash only if you want to buy anything. Versus on AA they do NOT take cash and it is credit only. Same parent company but different company. 

I am in 1D window. Guy to my left in 1C is so drunk and she still gave him a drink.  He gulped it down and he said it was outstanding.  Yes, gulped.  She asked would you like another? He didn't say anything because he had his headset on with metal music blasting.  She brought him another one.  He never drank it.  He passed out.  Holding the cup.  Barely holding on to it.  I was waiting for it to spill on my left leg.  We were about to take off and she came by and he is totally passed out and the cup is lurching back and forth as the plane is bumping along the taxiway and she said sir I need to take this and grabbed the cup and he lurched awake all of a sudden and some spilled. He realized it was being taken away from him so he started gulping it down.  She took away the empty cup.  He was passed out the rest of the flight.  With music blasting the whole way that I could clearly hear. 

Whole mid-section of country is under cloud cover.

Miles down: 1,000.  Miles to go: 14,000
Hours down: 2. Hours to go: 29

Segment 3 ORD-PEK

Tuesday December 2

Beijing air quality is actually pretty good.  It has been at the very highest for several weeks.




Solar activity is pretty high, might see some auroras

So the flights have been going over the North Pole


Segment 4 PEK-ORD

Sunday December 7

Left hotel at 6:30AM and there was no traffic to the airport, it only took 30 minutes.  With traffic, it would take 1.5 to 2.0 hours.  The terminal is massive.  Look at this panorama picture.


Huge sculpture and then down the escalator to the international departure area to catch the train


This is why I fly and why I try SOOOOO hard to become Executive Platinum.  Look at this line.  This is for coach check in for AA.  Look to the left, it is hard to read but there are two poles, one says business class and the one to the left of it says first class.  Totally empty.  No one in line.


Another view of same line


Here is the pole that says first class, totally empty.


Another perk of Executive Platinum is the invitation to the Cathay Pacific Lounge.  It is right next to the gate and you take this elevator up one flight.




When you go to the left, you will see a buffet area


And look further left and you will see a bar seating area, so you can look out at the planes.  There are no plugs here, so that is the bad part.  Hard to find plugs in this particular area.



Lots to drink



Tea


Liquor if you want it, too bad I don't drink


More


Snacks


Black pepper beef and Jasmine rice next to it


Peach dessert


Braised pork bun


I spy a plug


Nice business center area


Lots of attendants standing around, just waiting to answer any question you have, to bring you anything you want.  Not a surly face anywhere.  Just smiles.  No attitudes, no expectations, no standoff-ish looks, just plain "how can I be of service to you".

The upgrade list at 9:08AM, flight is at 10:10AM

Upgrade list at 9:34AM

The seats by the boarding gate.  That line is the end of the line for economy class, everyone except me.  I will be the last as I still need to power my iPhone.


E21 was the boarding gate, you can see the line is pretty long.  But that is for coach people.  The first and business class already boarded.  I stayed behind because I was low on power for my cell phone and I was plugged into the wall here.  You can see the line to the left but look to the line to the right, who are already on the jetbridge.  There is a guard station set up with tables and 8 guards who are checking all bags.


Here is the two storey jetbridge.  When you land, you come out on the first floor where you see the people, but then there is an escalator you take up.  If you look out in the distance on the right, you will see it is a little smoggy today.


More smog


Finally everyone was checked in and they saw me sitting there and they knew I was not in economy class as I had already talked to them and they knew I was charging up, so they waved their hands and said ok, come on, it is now time.

So I took a few pics before getting on





And another.  At the door to the airplane, I paused and looked out at the wing and engine.  The male flight attendant was standing there, American male, but it spoke fluent Chinese I found out later.  He say me looking out and said "big airplane".  I didn't say anything.  He said it louder.  "It is a big airplane".  I said yes it is.  I fly a lot but I like looking at airplanes like this every time I fly.  He said hmmm.  He said that is interesting.  He said there was a guy who just got back on the flight who flew in with them yesterday.  He said I don't understand why he would fly in for one night.  I knew why.  He was a mileage runner.  The FA didn't understand what I meant by that.


My cabin was only 30% full, only 11 out of 37 seats were occupied.  I had two seats to myself.  Actually, I had chosen the last row, so I had my window seat, the aisle seat next to me, the three seats in the middle, and the two on the other side of the other aisle.  I had 7 seats all to myself.  I could look out this window, then look out of that window.  It was awesome.

Remember, it is the OLD OLD OLD 777-200.  The entertainment system is LOUSY.  Really.  They even have movies from the 70's, there has been zero upgrades to this system.

Remember, no real A/C power ports, you need to bring you cigarette lighter adapter.  I forgot mine, thus I had to charge up before I got on the plane for 15 hours.


Attempt at a selfie


I had my BOSE headphones they gave me (these are good quality headphones and very nice that they pass this out) plugged in on the seat next to me

I looked out the left window and saw this plane.  Later I found out the team was playing somewhere else, so I wonder why this 767 plane was in Beijing.

Lots of other carriers

The terminal is split in two and in the middle is the train that runs to the main terminal

6,569 miles to go and we left at 10:16AM on Sunday, sorry, the iPhone does not take good pictures


Front slats extended and we just passed V1 (rotate speed) and the front wheels just left the ground. 

The air is saturated with water vapor and the air pressure turns it into a cloud.  Condensation.  Moist air is compressed and being wrung like when you wring a wet towel and the water comes out, over the cowling.  This is why I love to fly.  To capture transient and fleeting unique moments like this.  Life is very exciting.




The slat extends downward to provide more coefficient of lift (CL), see orange line.  The slat is the metal in front of the wing that extends forward, then after takeoff, it comes back and retracts and the wing goes back to the blue shape.  You can hear it as it does it.


Very smoggy


Here is a video of the seat going from sort-of-flat back to upright.  It was hard to hold the button down on the seat control and be far back enough holding the iPhone so it could capture the whole seat movement.  Sorry.


And the adventure begins


Smooth take-off, can't really see out the window, very smoggy


12 hours and 15 min to go.  It was 15 hours coming.




12 hours and 15 min to go.  It was 15 hours coming.

So let's say we have a
10 miles per hour tailwind pushing us eastward.  That means in
1 hour, we will travel an extra 10 miles, or in
12 hours, we will travel an extra (10 * 12 = ) 120 miles.

So let's say we have a
50 miles per hour tailwind pushing us eastward.  That means in
1 hour, we will travel an extra 50 miles, or in
12 hours, we will travel an extra (50 * 12 = ) 600 miles.

So if our ground speed is 547 miles per hour (see pic below), let's just round it up to 600, you can see that we just saved one hour of travel with a tailwind of 50 miles per hour.

If the tailwind was 100 mph, we would save two hours.  See the pattern?  Tailwind can be your friend.  Going westward, you can see how the tailwind is not helpful, but slows you down.



Notice the outside temperature has dropped dramatically.  Here is why.  The right side is altitude in miles.  We are about (33,000 ft divided by 5,280 feet = ) 6.25 miles up in the air and you can see from the red line that the as you go up in altitude, the temperature (degrees Centigrade) goes down.  To a point.  Then it goes up.  Then down.  Then up.  Interesting, isn't it?  I drew the green line to show you 6.25 miles and the outside temperature.





At this point after traveling 795 miles and about two hours, below was Russia and the clouds had parted and you could see snow-covered interesting formations.  It was here the plane banked 30 degrees to the left



Here you can see the 30 degree bank to the left




Now the meal service starts.  We start with the very nice menu




This was really very good.  It was fresh.  How did they do that?  I am surprised it was so fresh.


The duck was good too.  Same with rice and veggies and sauce.  




I had a dilemma with dessert.  They asked me which dessert would I like and I was temped by this mixed berry tart but they didn't say it was a mixed berry tart, they said it was a chocolate tart.  I have never had a chocolate tart.  But I really wanted the sundae.  After all, THAT is the only reason I fly American Airlines.  Yes, for that sundae.  They said you can have both.  And so I did.  They were both fabulous.




So the entertainment was awful so I decided to get some shut eye.


There was another opportunity for food and the pastrami was actually quite good.  It needed the kosher mustard to make it really New York authentic, but it did the job.






And one more opportunity for food.  I had the quiche, which was tasty.






The was a lot of solar activity and the magnetic fields of earth allowed the particles to travel into the earth around the pole area.  I took this screen shot prior to my trip.  I drew the red line to show the trip from Chicago to Beijing.



The green area shows possible displays.  I spent an hour with my head next to the window and the nice comfy quilt over my head looking out.  I saw a lot of cool stuff that is hard to describe.  White billowing cloud like material going up and down.  Sometimes there, other times nothing.  So I flew directly through the green and yellow regions and was able to see activity.


I was not able to take any pictures but here is sort of what it looked like.  There were no colors, it was all white.



The following pictures are of crossing the international dateline.  You can skip them if it does not interest you.  The dateline is 6 hours from Chicago and 3,330 miles.  



































We are now close to landing










Segment 5 ORD-DFW

Sunday December 7