About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

22 February 2012

The long route to San Francisco

When I was looking for flights to SFO from South Africa, I had only one requirement - only deal with American airports once. traveling via Europe was a bonus.

On the surface, the end route was reasonable, JNB - MUC and MUC - SFO. I did discover that the Munich - San Francisco flight stopped in Chicago, but since it was the same flight number, and I had no changes indicated on my ticket, I didn't think I had to get out of the plane.

I was wrong. Despite having the same flight number, not only did you have to deplane, but the Chicago - San Francisco route was on a different plane altogether. I must admit that it was pretty efficient - immigration (without any hassles), followed by a change in terminals, the long laborious security check (for the first time, I had no extra screening ... that was nice) and I had enough time to dart into the lounge for a drink and a visit to the toilet.

I was also very impressed with United. The last time I flew intercontinental with United, I was stuck in the middle seat (in a cluster of 5) in the middle row. This time I was surprised at the amount of legroom on both flights as well as the general facilities (as can be attested by the number of movies i watched) and service. It seems, that on United the old timers get the international flights while the newbies get the domestic as there was a considerable gap in the average age of the flight attendants!

There was also a stark contrast in the airports. Munich is modern, with lots of space and gleaming glass and steel. Both Chicago and San Francisco are old concrete behemoths, crowded and feels a bit creaky and worn down.

Ultimately, it was a long trip, about 10:30 hours to Munich, about 9:30 to Chicago and the last leg was about 4:30 hours. Added to that, there was the transit time and the general airport waiting, and it was about 36 hours in total. So, in hindsight I should have taken the Frankfurt route, even though I am not too big a fan of the city ... lessons for next time.

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