After being thrown off my flight to Istanbul, settling on a new flight plan to get me to my ultimate destination of Baku was no easy task. It was late in the day and most flights had already departed. I saw there was a flight to Washington leaving in 30 minutes, a connection to Kuwait City with plenty of business class availability, and then a connection to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, getting me into Istanbul with some time to spare before my new flight to Baku one day later.
The Global Services agent who dealt with onboard situation on the Istanbul flight handed me off to a colleague, who began grumbling that the routing was no good and that United owed me nothing….I told her to pick up the phone and call back her colleague if she had any problems, for his instructions were to accommodate me on the flights I wanted to Istanbul. She sighed and rebooked me.
Rebooked, I darted over to the Newark – Washington Dulles gate where an agent had a first class boarding pass waiting for me—my upgrade had cleared on this short flight to DC.
Once in Washington, I had to check in for the flight at the gate and with only a 30-minute connection and a light load on the flight, boarding was complete by the time I reached the gate. The agent, a familiar face, checked me in for the flight and assigned me an aisle seat in row 8.
By this point, I was wiped out and still visibly distressed from the incident on the Istanbul flight. My heart was beating as I proceeded down the jet bridge—I wanted no more drama: I had not sought it in the first place.
A smiling FA was at the aircraft door and must have seen the stress across my face, welcoming me onboard, taking my boarding pass, and walking me over to my seat. He asked if it had been a long day for me, and I simply said, “Unfortunately, yes.” Empathetically, he patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you tonight Mr. Klint.”
That meant a lot, particularly after a crewmember had blatantly lied to get me off a plane just a few hours earlier. The seat next to me was occupied so he offered me a move to the center section of four, where I would have my seat and the seat next to me open. I accepted his offer.
The flight was operated on a 777-200 with a 2-4-2 configuration in business class and staffed by a legacy United Airlines crew. When the cabin is not filled, the four-seat center section is a nice place to sit because the open adjacent seat can compensate for the lack of storage areas in each individual seat.
The same smiling FA brought over an amenity kit and menu for me and offered a choice of champagne, orange juice, or water. Prior to pushback, the purser came through the cabin to take meal orders. Having boarded late, I had not had a chance to review the menu.
The purser was a nice older man—we chatted later—but he had little finesse. Rather than greet me by name and introduce himself as the purser, he simply said, “What’s your first and second dinner choice this evening?” That’s just not the way to start a conversation with premium class passengers, but I understand he wanted to get through the cabin with all the orders before pushback so we could be fed quickly and then sleep.
Whenever I fly in business class (BusinessFirst as United calls it) on a three-cabin aircraft, I will always ask the purser for soup, if there is some leftover after serving first class passengers. Soup is my favorite component of an airline meal and I find that soup is extremely difficult to screw up. I was curious to see how the purser would react, but he said “sure thing.”
We pushed back a few minutes behind schedule but during his in-flight announcements the captain informed us we would arrive into Kuwait City about 30 minutes early.
Service began promptly after we leveled off. Hot nuts and seltzer water to start, followed by an appetizer of jumbo shrimp and a green salad with mozzarella balls and olives. Nothing remarkable, but perfectly satisfactory—balsamic vinaigrette dressing is always appreciated. The breadbasket appeared too and I loaded up on garlic bread.
The main course was tremendous—I chose the grilled fillet of Amazon Cod with plum jus sauce, plantains, and green beans. It was light, healthy, and flavorful—perfect for an 11pm dinner. Note that the menus specified that no meals on this flight to Kuwait contained pork.
I had a glass of Chateau Martinot 2012 Boardeaux with dinner, even though one of the white wines would probably have been more appropriately paired with the fish. Again, nothing spectacular but it was satisfactory. The FAs were attentive during the meal service to keep drinks and bread refilled.
Figuring the purser had forgotten about the soup, I was about to flag him down when he sheepishly came over to me and said that there was one bowl of lobster bisque soup left, but that he dropped it in the galley…I chuckled and thanked him for trying to which he responded with a shrug and a smile.
Outside of some vegetables in the United Club and a bag of snack mix on the Newark-Dulles flight, I had not eaten since breakfast so I did take both the cheese plate (very standard brie, cheddar, and chamber) and an ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream, walnuts, chocolate sauce, and whip cream.
During the meal service I watched Jack Reacher and could barely keep my eyes open till the conclusion. Not a bad movie, but certainly not one I would have paid to see in a cinema.
In a rather surprising Singapore-esque touch, I got up to use the lavatory and when I returned my bed had been made—not bad at all. With the light load one duvet had been placed down as a mattress pad and another one to cover me. The cabin was a cool temperature so I had no trouble falling asleep and did not awaken until we were about and hour and a half outside of Kuwait City.
Though approaching evening in Kuwait, breakfast was served and I was in the mood for it—United’s standard cheese omelet, potato broccoli wedge, sausage, and cooked tomato are comfort food for me and I gobbled it down along with a side of fruit, yogurt, and hot cinnamon roll. I know that belly button on the sausage looks disgusting below, but it was a very nice breakfast.
It was already dark when we landed in Kuwait City—a whole day had gone by. The flight continues from Kuwait to Bahrain before returning to Washington Dulles again via Kuwait. Upon landing, a member of the Kuwait ground staff came onboard to tell passengers continuing to Bahrain that they would need to disembark with all of their belongings but that if they stayed in the special transit gate outside the jetbridge they would not need to clear security again.
The same crewmember who warmly greeted me was standing by the door to say goodbye and I breathed another sigh of relief as I stepped foot into Kuwait—I had never imagined I would fly to Istanbul via the Middle East, but I had just had a good flight and was now well-rested and calmed down from my traumatic incident the day prior.
Read the rest of my trip report to the Caucasus!
Thrown Off a United Airlines Flight for Taking Pictures!
Washington Dulles to Kuwait City in United Airlines BusinessFirst
Six Hours in Kuwait City
Pearl Lounge – Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait City to Istanbul in Turkish Airlines Economy Class
Istanbul to Baku in Azerbaijan Airlines Economy Class
Baku – A City of Illusions?
Review: Park Hyatt Baku
Baku Metro (Pictures)
Overnight Train from Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia
Pictures: One Day in Tbilisi, Georgia
Overnight Train from Tbilisi to Yerevan, Armenia
Feeling at Home in Yerevan
Yerevan to Istanbul in Armavia Economy Class
The Flight Home from Istanbul…