Flying LAX-IAD

Trip Start Nov 03, 2012
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Trip End Nov 06, 2012


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Flag of United States  , District of Columbia
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I had arrived into LAX at 6:11 p.m. on the seventh passenger flight of United's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Today’s the second day of revenue service for the 787. My plan was to return to IAH on the eighth flight of the new jet at 7:47 p.m. I am #11 on the standby list and the seat map shows tons of empty seats.

But my plans would change. As I walked from Gate 77 toward the United Club, I had a voicemail from Mom. She said there’s a big storm predicted to hit the Mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, the day I was planning to fly home to Washington from Caracas, Venezuela, via Houston. She suggested I fly home from LAX tonight and postpone visiting Venezuela (one of only two countries United flies to that I haven’t been to yet). I could get stranded for days in Houston if the storm causes many East Coast flights to be canceled, she cautioned. Uh oh.

I looked around Terminal 7 for something to eat, but didn’t see anything appealing. So I went into the United Club and grabbed some snacks while I figured out what to do. United Flight 1694, the 787 back to Houston, is showing 116 seats open (2 in First and 114 in Economy). It’s only booked at 34/69. I’ll have no problem getting a seat on the Dreamliner’s eighth departure – heck I would probably get my own row!

The plan was to take the 787 to Houston tonight, spend the night at a hotel near IAH, and then late tomorrow night fly to Caracas on United’s short overnight flight, arriving early Wednesday morning. I would then turn around and immediately fly home via Houston since the flights out of CCS are full the next couple days. I’d just be going to Venezuela for a couple hours to check it off my list of countries visited (it would be my 100th nation, a major travel milestone, and would leave Colombia as the only country served by United that I haven’t been to).

IAH-CCS tomorrow night has seven open seats and I’m #3 on the standby list. It’s tight but looks doable. CCS-IAH on Wednesday morning has 59 open seats and I’d be #4 on the SA list, so no worries there. My original plan was to spend two days in Caracas (Wednesday/Thursday) and fly home Friday. But Friday’s CCS-IAH flight is sold out. Caracas is not a place I want to risk being stranded if I can’t get a seat out as a standby.

I’ve been assigned Economy Plus Seat 20F on the 787 to IAH. The flight is starting to board. Yikes, I have to make a decision quickly here. I don’t want to deal with being stranded for days in Houston if this storm does have major impacts on the East Coast midweek. And it’s not ideal to just fly to Caracas only to turn around and return without ever leaving the airport. So I am going to scrap this plan and head home instead.

I canceled my LAX-IAH 787 segment at 7:19 and listed for the red-eye flight home to IAD that departs at 10:28.

Left the United Club at 8:00 and went to Terminal 6 in search of food. Found a diner and ordered a bread bowl of clam chowder. Then at 8:50 I visited the other United Club at LAX, the former Continental Presidents Club in Terminal 6. I’d never been to this lounge before. I uploaded 787 photos from yesterday, then passed the rest of the time checking e-mail and Facebook.

I received Exit Row Seat 20A on United Flight 584, a Boeing 757 from LAX to IAD. I’m heading home after six weeks of circling the globe! My trip began Sept. 25 with a United flight from IAD to NRT. I spent one day in Tokyo, then had the joy of flying in First Class on the Lufthansa Airbus 380 from NRT to FRA – my first flight aboard the world’s largest commercial airplane. I continued on to Sarajevo, Bosnia, to visit my friend Steve, followed by a trip with Mom through the other five Balkan nations (Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia). Next Mom and I visited old friends in Germany, after which I flew to Barcelona and took a 13-night trans-Atlantic cruise aboard Norwegian Epic (the world’s third largest cruiseship) to Miami with stops in the Azores and U.S. Virgin Islands. Then I made my way from Miami to Houston for yesterday’s inaugural United Boeing 787 flight to Chicago, and finally here to Los Angeles today for a second trip on the brand new Dreamliner.

It’s been quite an amazing series of adventures, but I’m exhausted right now. I’m going to stay at Mom’s place for three nights until I can settle back into my apartment Friday (it’s rented out until then). I’ll have to make a visit to Venezuela on a future trip. Just wasn’t meant to happen this time.

Flight 584 departed LAX four minutes early at 10:24. I’m about as comfortable as you could be in Economy Class here at the exit-row window with lots of legroom and nobody sitting next to me. I’m going to try to sleep.

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I dozed on and off during the overnight transcontinental flight home. We arrived into IAD one minute late at 6:24 a.m. My around-the-world trip is now complete.

I headed to the Global First Class Lounge to meet Mom and take a nap before driving into Washington to vote. I hadn’t expected to be able to vote this election due to my travels, but the timing of my return on Election Day ended up working out perfectly.

This completes by Boeing 787 Inaugural Flights travel blog. Thanks for reading!
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