Trip Report: Barcelona to Newark via Zurich
My Easter trip to New York started with an early morning 4:30am taxi to Barcelona airport. I had been counting on taking the Aerobus, which I had wrongly assumed to run 24 hours a day. Thankfully the staff of the hotel I was staying at informed me that the first bus left at 5am, and even showed me proof on a tourist map.
I realized that I probably could have still made my 6:25am flight taking the 5:00am Aerobus, since there was no traffic, and security went quickly. Still, I didn't want to stress about missing my flight, and therefore missing valuable time in NY. So taxi it was, and with the extra time in the airport, I was able to pay a visit to the Pau Casals lounge. It's one of the common lounges from AENA, the Spanish airport operator, and is a cut above the smaller lounges like the ones in Valencia or Ibiza, in that they had a bit more food like ham and cheese.
Still, much of the food comes in single-serve packages, leading to a somewhat cheap feeling.
Soon it was time to board the short Barcelona to Zurich flight, by bus.
I slept through the whole flight, but did wake up to get my "chocolate corn bun," which appears often on SWISS flights. Since I ate in the lounge, I saved the roll in my bag. This came in handy later after I landed in Newark and needed a quick snack. It actually wasn't as dry as I had remembered it to be.
In Zurich, I was able to use the really nice Senator Lounge by the E Gates. They have cool features like made-to-order eggs for breakfast, and I took advantage with sunny side up eggs. And pretzel rolls! The main downside of the lounge was that due to the big bank of flights leaving for the US in the morning, the lounge was quite crowded. This was partly because the dining area, in particular, just didn't have enough tables, and also because inconsiderate (mainly American, I think) travelers, put their baggage on neighboring seats, preventing people from sitting down not only at their own table but at the ones next to them.
My layover wasn't too long, so off I went to my plane bound for Newark. I was excited because this was my first time flying a Boeing 767-400! Not many of these were made before the model was discontinued: only 37, all operated by either United and Delta.
The 767s are the most comfortable aircraft to fly in Economy class in United's fleet, because they have wide economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. The seats are about an inch wider than in aircraft like United's 787 with 3-3-3 seating (in a cabin designed for 2-4-2), or the new 777-300ERs and reconfigured 777-200s with 3-4-3 seating (in a cabin designed for 3-3-3).
Meal service started with pesto breadsticks. I got my usual order of still water with lemon.
For lunch, there was a choice between curry chicken korma, vegetable curry, or spinach ravioli. I was very impressed that two of the three choices were curries! I chose the chicken korma, which I quite enjoyed. The sauce was flavorful and the chicken plentiful. Even the grain salad (this time couscous) wasn't as bland as it usually is, with enough dressing to give some flavor to the mixed greens. For some reason United always seems to expect us to eat those lettuce leaves without any dressing.
Dessert was a "honey and stem ginger" ice cream with candied ginger pieces. It was delicious! I appreciated such an interesting flavor. A little bottle of water was served too.
I watched "Phantom Thread" on this flight, one of the many Oscar-nominated films offered on the very clear seat-back screens, then slept.
The pre-arrival snack was the turkey and cheese sandwich that United has served for years and years (Though in a previous generation this sandwich came with potato chips and a chocolate, but no more.) The flight attendant remembered that I always ordered water with lemon, and proactively offered it this time! But I decided to mix it up and get an orange juice and tea.
This was a perfectly pleasant flight, with friendly service and good food. I haven't been left with any negative criticism the last few years flying United Economy class.