Thanks to a United travel waiver for the Northeast, Wideroe was willing to make changes to the otherwise non-changeable mistake bookings. Rather than try to call Norway, I gave their online chat a try: A few minutes later, I had a new ticket in my email and was ready to go. A quick call to United and one systemwide upgrade later, I had a seat in the business class cabin. Online check-in didn’t go so smoothly, though:
That’s not the message you want to see 4 hours before your international flight while it’s after business hours in Norway… One lengthy call to United (and some fingerpointing between United and Wideroe) later, I was able to check in and obtain a boarding pass.
At Newark Airport, security was a zoo and TSA Precheck was no better. Right as I passed through the security checkpoint, TSA discovered an abandoned bag, requiring passenger traffic in the terminal be stopped until a police dog could inspect the suitcase. This left me scrambling to get to my gate where the masses were already teeming but boarding had not yet started.
Newark (FRA) – Milan Malpensa (MXP)
Friday, February 14th, 2014
Duration: 7 hours, 19 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 767-424ER (N68061)
Seat: 2K (Business Class)
In addition to the choice of water or orange juice predeparture beverage, the flight attendants came by to offer amenity kits. Our flight featured the much-coveted (yeah… right.) hub-friendly tins:
Given the few cents necessary to acquire the contents, it’s not clear to me why United thought people would be willing to pay $20 for these.
As I had placed myself on this flight less than 12 hours beforehand, I didn’t have the opportunity to ensure I had a vegetarian meal. Nonetheless, the menu offered a vegetarian dish so I didn’t have to cobble together a meal out of the salad and sundae. The menu read as follows:
Somewhat interestingly (given there had been a slight uproar on FlyerTalk over the matter), the wine list made a reappearance. (During my trip from Hong Kong on United, the wines were conspicuously absent.)
East-bound transatlantic flights (particularly from the east coast) are meant for sleeping, but I figured I would check on the IFE during dinner. While I ordinarily don’t think much about it, given I prefer to use my laptop or read a book, this was one of the more subpar IFE experiences.
About 50(!) minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants came by with hot towels, finally providing an initial place setting an hour(!) into the flight.
Our next course, salad, took another 20 minutes to arrive, making its first appearance at the 1 hour, 40 minute mark.
The entree of ravioli quickly followed, a few minutes later.
I selected a cheese plate for dessert. Nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes since takeoff, the flight attendants made another round afterwards offering sundaes as well
When flying east across the Atlantic, I’ve tried to have one simple guideline: Go to bed before running out of Canada. I didn’t quite make it this time.
To the extent I could, I slept through the breakfast service, waking up completely only just before our arrival to Milan Malpensa.
While perhaps the Friday night departure made the cabin less full of business travelers in desperate need to catch some sleep before important meetings, I was a bit dismayed that the dinner service took about 2 hours and 45 minutes of the flight to complete.
Once in Milan, I quickly cleared Italian immigration and headed to my hotel in city center. As part of their BusinessFirst offerings, Continental had long provided arrivals lounges and day rooms in their European destinations. When I inquired on-board this flight, the flight attendant I asked interpreted it as a question about breakfast before arrival. As I later discovered by inquiring on FlyerTalk, United does provide day rooms at the Sheraton Malpensa Airport for BusinessFirst passengers, but it requires asking at the gate or lounge (rather than on the aircraft).