My flight to London was relatively uneventful.
We left the house at 2:00 (early, so as to allow for traffic due to the 405 Wilshire exit closure) and arrived at LAX at 3 (exactly 3 hours before my flight departed). Check-in was fine, although I did have to use the most confusing self check-in kiosk I’ve ever seen (there were no instructions as to how to operate the passport scanner). While waiting in line for security, I encountered two other travelers on the same trip. After security, we went toward the gate and found the Alumni Association’s tour leader, Alex.
The plane boarded relatively quickly and left on-time from LAX. I was seated in a middle seat, but ended up switching with a gentleman so that he could be with his son and wound up sitting next to Harris (my roommate for the trip). The pilot enabled United’s “From the Flight Deck” audio, so Harris (an Aerospace Engineer) and I both listened to the radio traffic. Except for some flap about a plastic bag somewhere on the tarmac, the radio traffic was as you would expect. I was ammused by the sign-off that the tower would have with each plane: “Good day”.
I was very impressed with the selection of TV and Movies available on the flight. I first watched Ocean’s Thirteen (which I had not seen before), followed by Star Trek (hello Anton!). Meals were served during the first movie. I had requested a Kosher meal, which was correctly served.
The meal was prepared by a company called KoshAir and consisted of chicken rustica, fruit, a roll, and a brownie. The chicken rustica was chicken (fairly good) and pasta (fairly terrible). The roll was good, but the brownie was dry. Overall, I’d say it was decent for airline food. The meal also came with an interesting insert, which I have transcribed below:
This Kosher meal is prepared under the strict constant supervision of the Kashruth Department of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
All dishes, flatware and trays used for this meal service are new and have never been used before. All meat meals are Glatt Kosher. Bread and rolls are Hamotzie. Cake, as well as the bread and rolls are Pas Yisroel. Dairy meals are not Cholov Yisroel unless they are clearly marked as such.
When you received this meal, it should have been over-wrapped and sealed with an imprinted “KoshAir OU” plastic film. If there is a hot entree served with this tray, it should be presented to you in a double wrapped and sealed package with a “KoshAir OU” label. These imprinted and sealed packages are your assurance that the foods were all produced under OU supervision. Only trays which are sealed in our imprinted film and entrees that have not been opened are guaranteed to be OU Kosher.
Our kosher meals and trays are delivered to the airline’s designated in-flight catering service kitchen, where the product is stored in a freezer until it is needed for meal service. Green salads cannot be frozen, therefore, KoshAir is unable to provide a kosher salad with this meal request. The in-flight caterer should ensure that your tray service is presented to you completely defrosted and that any hot entree is fully heated.
We wish you a pleasant journey and a hearty appetite!
Prepared by: MilMar Food Group, LLC. One 6 1/2 Station Road, Goshen, NY 10924
Breakfast was also served. The Kosher breakfast (again from KoshAir) consisted of turkey and pastrami on challah…yum!
As we got closer to Europe, I started to listen to the “From the Flight Deck” audio again. Irish air-traffic control was fairly difficult to understand. British air-traffic control was easier, though Heathrow put us in a holding pattern for about 20 minutes (why can’t they figure out how to schedule flight patterns better?). I don’t think I’ve ever been in a holding pattern above a US airport (that I know of) unless there was a major problem.
After (finally) landing, everyone got through Border Control and Customs without incident. A short drive (in a Mercedes bus) and we were at the hotel.
The Orientation meeting was at six, but by the time it was done, I was ready to fall asleep. I uncharacteristically fell asleep by 7:30.