Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log : February 2008 : AA2058

AA2058 Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) - San Juan (SJU), a.k.a. The Cornflakes Special

Boarding started at 0900 at Gate D27, and I was second to take the walk down the ramp, following an enjoyable early-morning visit to the nearby Admiral's Club. I was in 5A, at the rear of the full Business Class cabin - no surprise there, as lots of upgrade requests had been showing at the gate. A choice of orange juice or water was offered once the flow of boarding passengers had reduced to the last few stragglers, and this was followed minutes later by tea or coffee. It was at this point that the Captain came on the blower with some bad news : the aircraft had a small hydraulic leak and wouldn't be going anywhere in its present condition. Current choices included a repair, which would take at least 1.5 hours, or a replacement aircraft. About five minutes later, he confirmed that the latter option was the one we were going with. Time to get off already! There was predictable, good-natured banter among some of the passengers : "My, this airport looks just like DFW!"

A new - strike that, a replacement - aircraft was towed to Gate D22 from the hangar. As I commented to my seatmate : "If it's going to happen, let it be at the home base of one of the largest airlines in the world."  The revised departure time of 1015 was further revised to 1050 and, with a sense of déjà vu, boarding got underway at 1025. The replacement 757 was very similar to its predecessor, but with minor differences of detail, and looked a bit more tatty. (Quite an accomplishment, I might be tempted to add, were I an uncharitable soul.) Boarding was complete by 1047 and the doors were closed at 1049, but with baggage loading far from finished at this point, it was 1139 before we eventually pushed back. We were further delayed at the runway holding point to let three RJs and a Mad Dog go in front of us, so that it was high noon when we eventually lifted into the air from 35L.

Hot towels were distributed as we took up our initial routing towards NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana ... wakey-wakey ) and across the Gulf of Mexico to Southern Florida. As I adjusted my watch to Puerto Rico time, I thought what an odd experience it would be eating breakfast at 2:30 in the afternoon. (Hmmm, note to self for next time : be careful what you wish for!) The meal choice was eggs or cornflakes - and you know where this is going, don't you? The eggs ran out at 5E/F, so 5A (that was me!), 5B and 6E/F had to be content with cornflakes   I also managed to get hold of a bagel and an American-style biscuit, but the flight attendant commented : "The bad news is, I have no cream cheese, butter or jam to put on them"! So the food offering on a 4.5 hour business class flight was a bowl of cornflakes, some fruit and two dry rolls - unbelievable!   My seatmate decided that he was going to write in and ask how many people ever actively choose the cornflakes - good question!

As I consoled myself with Champagne (well, Californian sparkling wine) and water, my seatmate asked one of the FAs about his connection at SJU. "We have no way of finding out until our arrival." "How come?" "The pilots are out of radio contact." Out of radio contact over the Gulf of Mexico? Are you kidding me? He asked another FA. "I can't help you with that." "Why not?" "Sir, there are 180 people on this plane." Ah - the real reason

I don't know if it was the Champagne, or the holiday mood, or whether I'm just mellowing with old age - but you know what? Despite all the little red faces on this page, I didn't let any of it get to me. I just enjoyed reading my book and looking out of the window. I even found the beige leather seats comfortable, for the first time ever.

In due course, we were on the approach into San Juan, touching down at 1800 local time and parking on-stand some four minutes later.

And the overall verdict? Four points :-

  • Technical failures happen and there's no point getting upset about them. Far better to travel in a safe aircraft than a dodgy one.

  • Even as an admirer of the US, I have long since accepted that domestic air travel in the States is usually a shabby experience by world standards, even in the front of the plane.

  • The in-flight dining experience for a 4.5hr flight in a premium cabin was abysmal - shockingly poor, for example, compared to Band 4 Club Europe.

  • The responses to a premium passenger's reasonable enquiry about his connecting flight were unacceptable.


Date : Fri 22 Feb 2008
Aircraft : Boeing 757
Scheduled dep : 0935
Actual departure : 1139
Scheduled arrival : 1600
Actual arrival : 1804
Cabin : Business Class

Seat : 5A

Flight History 2008