787 inaugural DFW-ORD (we obviously weren't on it)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    787 inaugural DFW-ORD (we obviously weren't on it).

    As we anticipated some festivities at the gate, we got an
    early shuttle to the airport and arrived at L10 in the
    depressing part of Terminal C, where they had set up a
    somewhat gala reception for the crowd of dignitaries and
    enthusiasts who had turned up for the occasion.

    Being the custodian of my friend Annie's camera, I snapped
    a bunch of shots of the 787's first commercial at least
    visit to Chicago.

    Before the hordes debarked, we rushed off to the Admiral's
    Club, where we staked out a nice spot in the quiet room.

    At some point, on one of my trips to refill our glasses of
    the light, pineapplish house red wine, I ran into the
    happy bunch who had been on the flight, of whom I knew
    oh, maybe, 20. Friendly Skies, legalalien, techgirl,
    ParanoiaTX, and a passel of others; there were supposedly
    upward of 75 FTMMers on that trip, with more who hadn't
    signed up on the thread.

    As we were scheduled on the return to Dallas, we went
    back to L10, where we were given bags of a strange mixture
    of cheesy and caramel popcorn courtesy of Garrett, a local
    snack company. The combination (I didn't taste until later)
    actually kind of works.

    They handed out commemorative amenity kits that included
    that same Garrett popcorn (Chicago origin) and Dallas
    Popcorn Co. popcorn (from Hyattsville, MD), an iPad cover,
    and an i-device charger.

    AA2334 ORD DFW 1210 1454 788 12AB

    We got two seats in a three row, and the unfortunate third,
    an active-duty military guy who had zero idea of what was
    going on, turned out not to have gotten a kit. I offered
    him mine, which he initially accepted and then decided he
    would go back off the plane and get one of his own, which
    he eventually did, so I got mine back, though I gave it
    away to person or persons unknown.

    kiwi, the most extraordinary traveler I know, was in 6A a
    few rows ahead, and I went up there for a visit; he very
    kindly offered to let me sit in the seat (I accepted for a short
    while) and taste the festive meal (looked like Chef Boyardee
    rigatoni in tomato sauce with cheese; I declined the honor).

    It was a nice and pretty pumped crew, different from the
    inaugural one; they kept asking those who were doing the
    round trip whether their service was up to that of the
    other flight - from what I heard, the answer was yes.

    Off to the Admiral's Club right by the gate for drinks and
    chats with kiwi, who had charmed the desk into giving him
    an excess of drink coupons, so instead of the usual swill
    I asked for a Pyrat XO in a snifter ,,, and was given
    something strange, which turned out to be Captain Morgan,
    which does not go well in a snifter. I had to get a Coke to
    balance it out. We decided this was a cue to get out of
    there, so we said goodbye to Kiwi and went two terminals
    down to the Centurion lounge, whose catering is designed if
    not executed by Dean Fearing.

    The offerings included fideo with winter vegetables and
    grana, totally tasteless; short rib tacos with not so much
    short rib in them, despite which they kept running out; and
    smoked chicken enchiladas, which were surprisingly okay.
    Also surprisingly okay were refritos and surprisingly
    unokay was rice. We witnessed a couple of southern origin
    who exclaimed excitedly in Spanish "!arroz y frijoles!" when
    they saw them. Almond cake for afters.

    Given the good things I'd heard about the San Francisco
    one, and considering that Dallas is the equal of that city
    in wealth and pretension, I found the place unimpressive
    enough. On a subsequent visit the food was substantially
    better, though the boozal situation was not. Which
    included a line at the bar, which periodically went
    unattended; it turns out that you can give a roving waitress
    a buck, and she gets the stuff much faster than you can
    yourself. My drink of choice was Remy Martin VSOP; lili's a
    couple glasses of a reasonable Rhone.
    tom911, snap, legalalien and 3 others like this.
  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    AA2661 DFW SHV 1840 1946 ER4 4AC

    Adding the extra runout cut the price almost in half, so
    we ended up at the nasty, brutish, and short Shreveport
    airport, where the hotel shuttle, which came in its own
    good time, was manned by a guy and a girl who made fun of
    our decision to do the tourist thing in a has-been or
    perhaps never-was town. Turns out the girl, who I thought
    at first was the driver's girlfriend, was a hotel guest,
    here for work, who had been running errands about town.

    It was hot and dank and muggy and rainy, so my thought of
    going for a walk along the river was scotched by the
    prospect of some Scotch. Scotch, even bad Scotch, is good.

    The Hilton Shreveport is actually fairly nice, attached
    as many such hotels are to the local convention center,
    which hosts oil people and who knows what else. In the
    off season the rates are pretty good, and the rooms, though
    not the latest thing, are quite comfy.

    We got the corner room on the top floor, which was big
    enough. I could I suppose have spent a hundred bucks for a
    junior suite and then been upgraded to a real suite, but as
    befits a retired person I cheaped out. There was enough
    space, and the view over the city toward the bayou and the
    river might have been nice if it hadn't been raining.

    The diamond breakfast is a continental, but in addition
    to the usual run of cereal and other starchy things had
    smoked salmon for me and fresh berries for her. We were
    given the option of upgrading for an exorbitant sum to the
    full, which added eggs to order, sausage, bacon, and fried
    potatoes. Not worth it. I had two plates of salmon.

    Outside it was cool and rainy, but it sort of cleared up
    during the day, so we took that walk: it looks as though
    someone had once had big plans for the waterfront, but
    as many big plans go, they had been only partially
    implemented. Sort of sad. The place has some, although
    modest, potential.

    The Blind Tiger is said to have the best Cajun food and
    burgers in town, so we showed up at opening time, 11 I
    think, and there were already people hanging around
    waiting to be served. We decided to sit at the bar, as
    time was short. The bartender was a hoot. lili asked
    about wine, and she made a face and admitted that all they
    poured was Sutter Home, and "many of the people who order
    it don't like it." One lost sale from honesty, as lili
    stuck with water. I had a Abita double turbo something - a
    deep brown ale, thick, sweetish, malty, more a cool climate
    warmer than something you'd expect to drink in Louisiana.

    Though we'd put an expedite on our food, it was slow in
    coming and basically not worth the effort.

    Crawfish tails were salty as all getout, the breading
    overapplied but at least crunchy. A cup of gumbo was gumbo,
    though not spicy enough. I believe the food may have come
    from the same factory as other faux Cajun places worldwide.
    A request for hot sauce yielded bottles of Tabasco and
    Louisiana, both too sour and not nearly hot enough for my

    lili's burger medium-rare came brown all through with
    crispy edges. It did taste like meat, though.

    It was soon time to head back for our ride to the airport,
    so goodbye to the good bartender and the mediocre food.
    snap likes this.
  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    So we wanted the noon shuttle, and as we trudged back, at
    about five of we saw the van zooming away down the road,
    and so uh-oh, as it was scheduled every half hour only.
    Inquired at the desk, where they said she'd be right back,
    and in fact she was ready to take us at about 10 after,
    having dropped her previous guests off at lunch, probably
    at Blind Tiger, from which we had just come.

    She's a college student working on a business major, cute
    and bright and will go far.

    We got to the airport in plenty of time, especially
    considering that the inbound was stuck back in Dallas for
    thunderstorms or something.

    AA2604 SHV DFW 1328 1431 CRJ 8AC

    Every half hour they announced another half hour's delay;
    this bothered some of the passengers who had shortish
    connections. Turned out it didn't take off until about 3,
    which messed up a lot of plans. Bumpy unpleasant flight
    with no service, not the fault of American Eagle. We
    landed a couple hours and change late. When we wanted to
    transfer from the one terminal to the next, the shuttle we
    were on decided obnoxiously to break down, stopping the
    clockwise flow, and we ended up having to take the other
    train all the way around the airport, and we were sweating
    it out when we arrived in the midst of boarding.

    AA2331 DFW ORD 1725 1953 788 8AC

    The flight boarded close to on time, and we started
    taxiing, but then came the announcement that we'd be
    hanging around for an hour. Thunderstorms.

    Extremely poor service on this leg, nonexistent during the
    hour we sat in the penalty box despite the captain saying
    that he was authorizing a cabin service while on the ground.
    Surly flight attendants, their mood probably not improved by
    the delays - bad enough that I came close to phoning in a
    complaint, but then I gave them a pass for having been on
    their feet all day; but in general poor representatives for
    American Airlines, in contrast to most of the other crews on
    this trip.

    And to top it off, when we landed there was another 41
    minutes waiting for our gate to be ready for us.

    We got in way late, and it was dark, and any thought of a
    nice meal had gone by the wayside.

    The Westin O'Hare is also pretty nice, looking kind of like
    various other Westins. The room looked familiar, too, but
    that was because it's designed the same way as the Westin
    LAX and the Westin IAD and probably numerous others. The
    good thing is that these hotels have bar-restaurants
    designed for distressed travelers; these tend to serve okay

    We got down to the restaurant with half an hour to spare.
    The waiter was caring, competent, and unhurried. I got the
    honey soy glazed pork belly, which despite being tarted up
    with strewings of microgreens and such, I can recommend
    highly. I got a sizable end-of-the-evening serving that was
    big enough for a main dish, plus it tasted good, with the
    sweetness and Asianness understated, and lots of rich pigfat
    to adjust my attitude. lili's French onion soup passed the
    test with flying colors as well; speaking of which, I got us
    a bottle of Colores del Sol 2013 Malbec reserva, which was a
    little thin and lacking in color but respectable, better than
    most of the wine we'd had for the past several days.
    snap likes this.
  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    AA2337 ORD DFW 0825 1100 M80 21AB

    No upgrade for me, and lili had herself downgraded to keep
    me company, a nice gesture.

    Another weather-affected flight, though these tough old
    birds fly through just about anything, and though we
    jounced about quite a bit, we were on schedule for a change.

    The flight attendants were substantially nicer than on
    the previous flight, plus as the seatmate of an Executive
    Platinum I got free stuff, including free-flowing Dos Equis
    (a beer that used to be respectable but now tastes no nicer
    than Budweiser), and this tiny tube of Pringles whose list
    price is $4, or about what you'd pay per ounce for a steak
    at the Texas Roadhouse.

    AA1544 DFW IAD 1330 1726 M80 20AB

    A rematch with the Centurion, where though the menu was
    the same, the food was quite a bit better, especially the
    short rib thingies, which were packed with meat. A server
    who had waited on us cheerfully on the last visit appeared
    glad to see us, so I guess a buck tip is still considered

    Again no upgrade, but another perfectly adequate flight
    that as usual came in not exactly on time. What also didn't
    appear on time was the Westin Dulles shuttle, but it was
    okay out, and people were generally cheerful at the bus
    stop, and all was right with the world, except I wanted to
    get some food into me and get some sleep. Eventually we
    got to the hotel, which looks very much like the other
    one we were just staying in.

    It was a little beyond the businesspeople with an early day
    tomorrow dinnertime and not yet the pickup bar time, but
    still the service was slow; plus the guy who was there when
    we arrived spilled dirty wash water on me and didn't make
    any apology or even acknowledgement until I asked for a
    couple napkins to sop up the mess. Thereafter someone else,
    the black guy, very competent and cheerful, served us.

    lili ordered a cheap Barolo, which tasted about equally
    cheap and Barolo. I had a Great Lakes double dark ale that
    was very tasty but that I think must have had unadvertised
    lactose in the formula, because afterward I got really,
    really sick.

    Her main course was a quite good burger and fries; mine was
    the sirloin strip with chive mash and onion strings, only $4
    more than the burger (on the room service menu it's twice
    the burger). Turns out that it's a half strip, an inch thick
    but bisected widthwise, just a perfect size for a light meal.
    Its vegetable was a leek and oyster mushroom stew that was
    just brilliant, especially with the decent demi-glace that
    had been splashed over. I presume you get the full steak
    from room service.

    It was a relatively sleepless night - I started off sick
    sick sick and progressed to sick sick and then just very
    queasy. I wasn't eager to get on another plane, but those
    segments kept a-callin'. So the 0600 shuttle was the next
    order of the day, and it came way too soon.

    AA2275 IAD LAX 0750 1027 738 6F, 3A

    Tiffany was a bright and outgoing attendant; the other FA,
    whose name I've forgotten, was having a seriously bad day
    and did beverage and snack service only with the greatest
    reluctance and in fact offered me no drink at all. I didn't
    bother her, as I was in somewhat fragile condition and
    didn't want to bother my seatmate too much.

    After that flight, we rejoined at the club, which was
    oversubscribed, and it was a while before we could find a
    place with plugs to sit at, and when we did, it and the
    adjacent table were sticky with spilled drinks. At some
    point cleaner and more agreeable seats opened up, at
    which point miraculously a staff person swooped down and
    cleaned up our previous spot.

    AA2876 LAX SAN 1255 1341 EM2 7AB

    This of course leaves from the commuter terminal, and so
    we bade goodbye to the club and took the bus over there.
    Turns out there is another club there, small but reasonably
    stocked; I got us a couple glasses of red wine, and soon
    enough it was time to board our next half-hour leg, which
    was unnotable, there being little or no Weather in this part
    of the world, and the local flight attendant being at
    least outwardly cheerful.
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    lili got her chariot out of hock and drove me to my next
    haven, the Four Points Kearny Mesa, which I find agreeable
    enough, despite its sparse interpretation of Spanish patio
    chic. The room came with two beds, so I invited her to stay
    over, but she had been gone from home too long.

    One last meal together, with me eating most of the stuff,
    at Wa Dining Okan, a mile down the road from the hotel in
    a crowded but unspecial-looking strip mall. This is the
    southern California version of an izakaya; the food is not
    cheap but mostly pretty well executed. The waits can run
    close to an hour - the place is tiny, and the reputation
    is exalted, and most of the dishes are done to order.

    We started, or I did (no way would she eat any of this
    stuff) with a special of scallop sea urchin carpaccio: the
    scallops were good for modern scallops, not nearly so nice
    as those from my childhood or any time before about 20
    years ago; the uni were way small and of variable quality.
    Too much soy sauce. Nice try, but not so special.

    lili got to go to town with the soy-sauce braised pork
    belly, which I thought not tender enough and not fatty
    enough, but the flavors were good.

    Fried shrimp were pretty good, the shrimp very tasty but
    brined so the natural sweetness was no match for the salt.
    Also, they had been butterflied, which lifted the shells
    from the meat and made them crispy almost like puff pastry,
    but the meat itself was a bit less tender than I'd have

    Chicken thigh and green onion skewers were just what you'd
    expect and rounded out lili's meal.

    Special pudding was not so special - rather bland but not
    unpleasant, notable for being drowned in some black
    molasseslike substance.

    I had Sapporo beer throughout the meal.

    The wine lili got was sweet and obvious and not altogether
    too bad, better than coach wine and not so good as first
    class wine. It was Sutter Home.

    Everything except the special carpaccio was reasonable in
    price. Everything was good but not exceptional.

    After dinner, we said goodbye and I got dropped off.
    Bedtime was nice. Late checkout was nicer.

    After which I continued on a segment run that, when I
    started writing about it, I realized to have no interest and
    no didactic value to anyone, so we shall end here.
    coflyer2 and Dublin_rfk like this.
  6. Dublin_rfk

    Dublin_rfk Gold Member

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    Now that's a trip report! (Multi page and thread.)
    violist likes this.
  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Thanks. It was an enjoyable little trip.

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