Continental BusinessFirst: Birmingham - New York

Airline: Continental
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Class: BusinessFirst
Route: Birmingham - New York
Date: July 2011

3:30. In the middle of the night. I hate getting up so early in the morning, but we ordered an airport transfer for 4:45 from my home to DUS. Enough time for two big cups of coffee, stowing my computer in my hand luggage, close all windows and the car was in front of the door. Of course at this time there is absolutely no traffic in the streets and we arrived at Dusseldorf international airport 90 min before departure.

Our plan was to fly to Birmingham with Lufthansa (Regional, operated by Eurowings) and continue on Continental 27 from Birmingham to Newark. The flight to EWR was only on a 757 but according to Continental's website all 757 have already been equipped with the new BusinessFirst seats, so I was really looking forward to that flight.

We had plenty of time. At first we saw that Business check In was full, so we headed towards First Class check In (thanks to BMI Gold and Lufthansa Senator) where nobody was in line. We made it within a minute and went straight through security into the Lufthansa Senator lounge for breakfast. DUS is one of the nicer lounges within the German LH network.

After some juices, another coffee, some cigarettes and something to eat it was time to go to the gate. Just a quick passport control in between with some silly questions about another passport I lost a year ago and 1 minute after we had arrived at the gate boarding started. Of course it was a bus gate. The bus took us to a CRJ 900 with the curtain behind row 7. We were seated row 5 and 6. They call it European Business Class but as you see, apart from the free neighbour seat there is no difference to Economy. Some kind of breakfast was handed out, but I was full with what I had in the lounge. Flight was uneventful, no information from the pilot where we were or which route we'd fly, it was one hour of looking stupid at the top of some clouds before we started our descent to BHX.

After our arrival at BHX there had already been announcements that people coming from DUS and continuing to EWR should show up at CI desk 55. With a small look at the arrival screen I saw that this flight had an incoming delay of 2 hrs and 20 mins. We walked to the CI, learned that the delay was not as massive as announced (it changed into a 90 min delay) and that all the information about passport etc. which LH had already collected, had not made their way into the CO system. The whole game once more.

We decided to kill the remaining time at the Servisair lounge at BHX. This lounge is basic only, some drinks, some prepacked snacks. Nothing to talk about. It is better than sitting outside with thousands of people but that's all.

We started to walk to the gate quite early and were really surprised when they started boarding at 9:45 a.m. (45 mins after planned departure but also only 45 mins after arrival). This sounded too good and in reality it took us another hour until we actually departed. With an announced flying time of 7h 28 mins we were scheduled to arrive with a delay of a bit more than one hour.

Service was slow on this flight. Very slow. It seemed as if they wanted to keep people busy as long as possible. Sorry, no picture of the food this time, but I add some pics from the menu.

They started with roasted nuts. After that they came with the appetizer cart and I took, like the most people, a bit of everything. Scallop bisque (excellent!), chicken skewer (average) and some veggie pastry with a very good coriander sauce.

The salad which followed was salad. Nothing more to write about.

Main courses: My daughter chose the shrimps and this was a good choice. I made the mistake to take the beef. It is a shame if you think that an animal had to die to end up as a piece of shoe sole on your plate. This animal died twice. One time regularly, a second time during cooking. Terrible! I ate less than a half of it and enjoyed a big scoop of ice cream with chocolate sauce at the end.

Now the most important part of every flight started. We needed some rest and wanted to sleep. And here the next disappointment showed up. The seats are good if you are in a fixed sleeping position and do not want to move until you get up. However, the tunnel your legs are in is to tight that you cannot turn your body around without pulling your legs back. This really makes sure that you cannot get into any deep sleep to relax and forget about the time difference. I must say it that clearly. From all the full flat seats I had had during my flights this is absolutely the worst one. Might be it is only on the 757 that tight, but I could not manage to get into a deep sleep. If this tightness is the price I have to pay for full flat, I would prefer flat but some slightly angeled seats compared to the ground) like AF NEV3 or the MS 777 which gives you much more space.

Finally I caught some sleep (but no good one) and woke up 1 h 10 mins before we landed in EWR. What they had written on the menu sounded perfect. But basically they served a pizza style roast beef sandwich which was typical American, but not too bad.

As planned, we arrived with appr. 1 hr delay at EWR and luckily the afternoon rush hour at immigration had not started yet. So we were out of the airport after 20 mins and sat in our rental car 50 mins after arrival. Not too bad for a New York airport with checked luggage.

Will I fly Continental again in the future? Of course. The beef was my mistake (everybody should know that you cannot eat steaks onboard a plane if you do not like it cooked to death). The seats: They are not THAT bad, but they are not really good. I think it were my own expections which had been too high and I came back to reality. I will fly with them if it fits my schedule and if the price is o.k. But at this moment they have no chance to become my favourite airline.

My way back will be LH 409 nonstop from EWR to DUS. I'll tell about it.

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