#938293 by SlimpyJones
10 Sep 2017, 19:31
This is Part 1 of my return trip from Mexico City!

A quick recap...

After a week of coach rides, volcano trekking, sunburn and poor attempts at Spanish it was time to head home. Mexico City was a strange one for me. It felt a lot like New York, but looked nothing like it. It's very dense, very busy and noisy and there is a lifetime's worth of discoveries to make there I would imagine.
It was difficult to get some piece and quiet being right in "downtown", so I booked a couple of out-of-city excursions. The first of which was a hike up Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl National Park.

ImageThe clouds parted for just long enough for me to get this shot

Mexico City is already at 8,000ft and the journey up to our starting point probably added another 3-4,000ft on top of that. You certainly feel the air thinning out once you're that high up. Add on a strenuous hike, and you're working hard!
It also turns out that despite being in the clouds and getting rained on, you can still get sunburnt, which coupled with the exhaustion from the hike wiped me out the next day. Still, it was good fun and I made friends with a couple from Washington DC and a few other folks on holidays from the US.

Thursday saw me on another coach ride to the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Which involved lots of walking, and even more climbing! It was a guided tour and our accompanying archaeologist really knew his stuff.

ImageWalking along the Avenue of the Dead

My last two days involved a quick trip to the Tequila and Mezcal museum next to Garibaldi Square to meet up with my new friends, and finally a trip up the Torre Latinoamericana which offered some great views of the city.

Image

There was lots more done - happy to share some more information and pictures if anybody is interested.

Home time

But alas! Sunday came and it was time to head home. My attempts the day before to check-in using the Delta App had failed, so I wondered if I had been hit with some kind of secondary screening...
Owing to this and the possibility of traffic I scheduled an Uber for a 11am pickup for my 14:55 flight to JFK. Fortunately the journey was smooth and I got into MEX Terminal 2 in a mere 15 minutes, for a cost of $95 MXN, equivalent to about £4! Can't argue with that.

Delta and Aeromexico have a pretty sizeable joint-venture between the US and Mexico and are the two major players at T2. So their large presence was no surprise. Especially judging from the huge branding in the check-in area...

ImageDL and AM check-in desks at T2

I was initially directed to use the self-service check-in counters, however I did not expect these to bear fruit owing to my inability to check-in using the App. Lo and behold, they didn't oblige and it recommended I seek assitance.

I went to the Sky Priority desk and the agent seemed to have a little trouble with my ticket. He asked where I had booked from, seemingly puzzled by something. After a good fifteen minutes or so he was finally able to check me in and issue me a boarding pass. However in order to do this he had to create a separate MEX-JFK reservation for me and linked it to my existing one. This meant that he was unable to check me in or issue a boarding pass for the JFK-LHR leg and advised me to do all this as part of my transfer. A little concerning I must add, as my connection at JFK had reduced since I booked and was now 1h 37minutes. Perfectly legal according to VS & DL...

The agent also advised me that I would have access to the Aeromexico Salon Premier Lounge, which was nice to know!

Two hours to kill...

Security was a breeze and the lounge was relatively easy to locate. My hopes were high that the time would pass quickly in the lounge. From the outside it looked very slick:

ImageAeromexico Salon Premier Lounge

The reception area was very dark but it looked very tasteful and elegant. I was also happy to receive a Wifi password as the Wifi in the departures area was "free" but only with signup.

Much to my disappointment, the lounge was exceptionally basic. There were two bar areas in the main lounge area but I was never really clear on what was complimentary and what was not. There were no menus of any kind around. There was a small spread of food in the corner that consisted of nuts, nachos and cookies. In fairness there was a decent selection of beers in the fridge that you could help yourself to (and then get the bar to open for you).

There was also a wide selection of Tequilas on the shelf but I sensed that these were for display only and not the kind that you could pour your own. I figured I could at least post a wave from the lounge and see where my inbound flight was on FR24. But the Wifi was horrendous, I could barely stay on the sign-in page long enough before it disconnected me. The lounge itself was busy with guests, but also a compliment of cleaners who were squirreling about hoovering up. As much as I appreciate the efforts of cleaning on the go, it did feel quite invasive to have someone hoovering right by your feet as you were trying to relax.

I quickly gave up and decided on a walk around Terminal 2. It was coming up to lunchtime, but I had spent all my Pesos and was saving my stomach for the meal onboard the flight.

MEX Terminal 2 is pretty dire. There was a large amount of construction work going on, and a limited number of places to eat. It was mostly the same 3 or 4 chains, and a Subway! The screens around the airport showed off their future plans for renovation. Whilst the computer renderings looked good, they couldn't start soon enough as far as I was concerned. I located Gate 54 where I was due to depart from, and decided to head back to the AM lounge for some nachos to sate my hunger.

After availing the lounge of nachos and a beer (I figured why not?) I headed back to the gate where I discovered that the Wifi actually worked far better out here! So I perched up at the gate while I watched the inbound flight from JFK pull up. The rest of the stay was pretty uneventful, although I did spy the gate agent who dealt with my ticket so I took the opportunity to talk to him to clarify what had happened. He wasn't too sure and so couldn't explain it, but it was something to do with schedule changes and the fact it had been bought through VS seemed to get something mixed up on their system.

Finally onboard

If I ever head home through MEX again, I will be shaving at least an hour off of my waiting time! We finally began boarding from Gate 54 at 14:10, 45 minutes before departure. I'd be on a 757-200 today and we boarded through gate L2. I got to turn left!

The First Class cabin had 5 rows, with the seats in a 2-2 configuration. My particular aircraft had apparently been fully renovated and reconfigured in late 2015 so the cabin looked very good. I opted for an aisle seat in the back row.

ImageView from my seat, 5B

Water bottles were sitting on the armrests, I was parched and sank mine within a couple of minutes. The Flight Attendant approached me and asked if I wanted anything, I decided on some champagne and it arrived shortly after in a plastic cup, about a quarter full. First impressions of the FA was that she was quite cold. A bit of a dragon you could say.

The First cabin eventually filled and menus were distributed, which is below!

Starters

Seared Beef Fillet
With asparagus and romesco sauce

Arugula Panzanella Salad
With yellow and red tomatoes, black olives, red onions and basil chiffonade, served with balsamic vinaigrette

Main Course

Arroz Con Pollo

Fusilla Pasta
With braised radicchio, ricotta, manchego and pecorino cheeses.

Dessert

Oreo Cheesecake

My neighbour in 5A arrived and very quickly asked if I would be willing to swap with his son, who was in 3D. I politely declined, stating that I had chose this seat specifically. He replied with "They are all the same" but in all honesty, if he wanted to sit with his son, he should have chosen seats earlier. I was in a stubborn mood. I didn't relent. I felt a bit bad but he was fine with it.
Eventually after a bit of musical chairs he swapped with 3C and he was happy. I now had a new neighbour.

Flight time announced of 4 hours 15 minutes and we were expected to get to the gate at 20:40, ten minutes early which suited me fine owing to the connection. There were a large number of connecting passengers so there was a short delay in closing the doors, but we finally pushed back at 15:10, about fifteen minutes behind schedule. The flight time would make up for the delay though.

The Delta safety video played which talked about it's partners, which included VS. It made me long a bit for familiar Virgin and I was a little sad I wasn't connecting onto them. For the curious, my reasons for connecting at JFK were threefold:

  • I am a bit of a nerd and couldn't remember what it was like to transit at JFK;
  • After my experience doing LHR-ATL on Delta One I wanted to give them a go on an overnight and...
  • When I originally booked I was hoping for some JFK Clubhouse time but a schedule change put a pin in that idea!

The IFE screen was very good. Great picture quality and the touchscreen was quick and responsive. I immediately dived into the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie I started but didn't finish on my ATL-MEX flight a week earlier. It was pretty good.

Lunchtime!

Around twenty minutes in the FA began taking meal orders from the front of the cabin. Passengers were asked their choice in the form of "Chicken or Pasta?" which seemed quite blunt. My impressions of her as a Dragon were cemented. I opted for the pasta as in all honesty, "Arroz con Pollo" (Rice with chicken) couldn't have sounded any less interesting if it tried.

Curiously, the tray arrived with my starter, but also with my dessert and a pat of butter for the bread I would get with my main:

ImageStarters

The Beef Fillets were excellent and the sauce accompanying them was delicious. The asparagus seemed far fresher than what I'd had in my VS starter a week prior. The FA then cleared away the starter plates and brought along my main with some tongs. Presumably the dish had come straight out of the oven:

ImageFusilli Pasta Main

The Pasta was also good, albeit a little oily. I wasn't hugely fond of the cheesecake, it was quite gelatinous and squidgey. The Oreo biscuit had also gone a bit floppy... :blush:

Despite her frosty candour the FA, to her credit, did a very good job of managing the meal service for a full 20-seat First cabin. I certainly wasn't left waiting for plates to be cleared away, despite being right at the back. That being said she did her professionalism no favours by making smalltalk with me along the lines of "I just want to go back home" and talking about how she really needed a vacation. Fair enough, we all do, but she made it quite clear she didn't want to be there and this isn't the impression you want to give to your customers. I asked her for another beer before heading back to my seat to recline back, and pop on the latest Pirates of the Carribean movie.

On approach

We were treated to some lovely views of Philadelphia as we began our descent toward JFK. Alas, my choice of the aisle seat prevented me from taking pictures. We flew past NY to turn around and approach JFK from the east. Lovely evening in NY, 20 degrees Celsuis and a clear sky. I certainly wouldn't have minded a rooftop bar in Manhattan at that time...

The turnaround took forever but we finally touched down at 20:40 local time and taxied to Gate B39. Anyone familiar with the layout of T4 will know this meant a fair old walk to immigration... we finally arrived at the gate at 20:58, about five minutes behind schedule.

As we got up to exit, calls went over the PA for a doctor to make themselves known if there was one. Nobody appeared to immediately volunteer so I hope that whoever was in need of help was okay.

A quick connection

Finally deplaned and the walk from B39 was a long one. Some definite powerwalking took place and fortunately I was through immigration in no time thank to Global Entry. By this time it was about 21:10 and I still had an hour or so, so headed to the baggage carousel.

Little did I know the next hour was going to be quite stressful indeed... Part 2 JFK-LHR!

:)
Last edited by SlimpyJones on 10 Sep 2017, 21:43, edited 1 time in total.
#938296 by David
10 Sep 2017, 20:12
SimplyJones

Waiting with bated breath on part 2.

I've experienced a very tight connection at JFK, getting to the gate as they were boarding and it's very stressful (and that was after originally having around a 3 1/2 connection time)

Daviid

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