I write this line after finishing the report. It is SOOO long that I am deleting entire paragraphs. That's long winded.
I considered posting this in the trip report forum, but since I asked the question in the main forum and some of those who answered were new (I wasn't sure you'd see it in another forum, did you know we had them?) I put it here.
Well, I learned two main things on this trip.
But first, I want to thank all of you who replied to my question as to whether I would like my flight or not. Expecially a particular flight attendant, FlyUa. Thankyou for informing me.
The first thing I learned is that an airline is just an airline. You are going to be squashed in coach. You are going to takeoff, fly, and land. You will be on time. Or not. These things are things you can count on. Flying a blue and grey bird instead of a silver one doesn't change these things.
The other thing I learned is that, in spite of the above paragraph, ther are subtle differences that, when coupled together, can make the experience more enjoyable.
Okay, shut up Randy. Here's the trip report. Keep in mind that since I have flown AA SO MANY TIMES, I HAVE to compare one to the other to form my own opinion.
My first flight, you might remember, was DFW-IAD on a 735. UA flight 704 5 pm, N949UA. I found the gate agent, a gentleman in his mid thirties, to be very friendly and helpful and curteous. While appreciated, it's nothing new, AA agents are usually nice. We boarded- gate B31- and I quickly went to my seat. No chance of Econ plus, full flight. Not ONE empty seat. So I stuffed my bag under the seat in front of me. I like to have it accessible so that I can get stuff out while in flight. On my way down the asile, I did notice that the plane was just a tad on the dirty side; you know, crackers smushed into the carpet, stuff like that. The seats were the old style, with no movable headrest. No big deal, that's what I am used to. We were delayed. It was pouring rain, and when the left rear door (I suppose L3??) was opened to do the galley service, water flooded in. It had to be mopped. Anyhow, we pushed back and started up. I immediately read the safety card. You know, I was making my 41st commercial flight. I have those instructions memorized. But how stupid would it be if I forgot something trivial and it cost me my life? It CANNOT hurt me to go over that stuff once again. And I ALWAYS pay attention to safety demos. I then reached for the headphones. American doesn't do that. Well, they DO, but not on 727s and MD-80s. And that's what you get to Dulles. So, I got the headphones, and plugged them in. But what's this? They won't plug in. The jack was, well, jacked. It was broken, shoved back into the inside of the armrest. So, I had no audio for the flight. But, that's not a big deal, it's what I am accustomed to. So I sat there, and we taxied to the active runway and didn't even stop, just full-throttled our way into the stormy sky.
We hit some chop. Not really bad, but certainly there. Chop is okay, fun sometimes. About an hour into the flight, the first drink service was performed, followed a few rows by the meal cart. At your suggestions, I chose iced tea. It is tradition for me to order a coke while flying, I have NEVER drank anything else. There are two traditions- I always have a window seat on the port side, and ALWAYS a coke. Anyhow, I got iced tea just for a switch, and then came dinner. Chicken Alfredo. I was pleasantly surprised. The carrots were good, the sauce was good, the chicken was... pretty good. A little tough, but really not bad, pretty tasty. There was also a salad with Italian dressing (oh well) which was fresh. The tea was very weak. Given the opportunity, I would have called it glorified water, not tea.
Shortly after finishing the meal service, they collected trays and offered more drinks. After that, they came through and offered coffe or more drinks. So that's three drink services.
The flight attendants were very friendly. All were female. That's nice for me, I'm a guy, so female flight attendants are always a plus, hahahaha. Just kidding. But they actually were friendlier than many of those I have had on American flights. I cannot make so ridiculous a claim as to say that "United flight attendants are friendlier than American" based on this or any flight I take. But, in this case, they were the friendliest I have seen since Southwest.
We landed at Dulles just a few minutes early. There was an unaccompanied minor traveling with us, and the purser- a term I had never heard used in my life before she introduced herself to the passengers- handled him very well. She served two groups- first class, and this cute blonde boy. But she was really terrific with him. He was very nervous. But she took him into the terminal after the flight and found his sister in a way that indicated she truly was concerned for his safety, rather than a "let's find this kid's sis and get to the hotel" attitude.
Good trip to Washington, very good.
Flight home, UA flight 1455 A320 departing 5:35 pm.
We got to the airport. I took a picture of the airplane, N460UA. I checked in with a very UNfriendly woman working gate D5. She was not interested in anything concerning ME. So, I stepped to the side and waited to board. I am getting out of order here, sorry. We boarded thirty minutes before departure. I got on only to find the A320 SPOTLESS. That was one CLEAN airplane. We pushed back and sat for nearly ten minutes on the ramp. We started up, and I was astonished at how quiet those magnificent V2500s are. That is the quietest airplane I have ever flown, hands down. I thought the DC-10 was quiet. Ha, not like this. I was in row 17, near the engines.
The coolest thing happened. The LCD TV screens flipped down from the ceiling. THAT was cool. They did the safety demo ON the TV. It was terrible. When eithher engine started, the audio from the safety video got very scratchy. It was impossible to hear, no actual words were coming out, just this terrible buzzing. The flight attendants apologized for it.
We taxied, flaps went to fifteen. I had found all of my headphone equipment in working order, and of course HAD to put it on channel nine. That's a United thing, American does not do that at all and it was so cool. We were cleared. I took notes, we took off runway 19L. At 17:54:10 we began the takeoff roll. 40 seconds later, the rear wheels were off the ground. At 55:15 we were told to climb/maintain one- zero- thousand and contact departure. I didn't know what these things meant before this flight, I learned so much.
About an hour into the flight, the TVs came down again, and they showed the movie- Legend of Bagger Vance. I didn't watch, the first ten minutes bored me to death. Meals came. Guess what it was? Chicken Alfredo. The EXACT same dinner as the previous flight. But, this time I had RANCH dressing. I also chose coke, as per tradition. They served the whole can. I had another can. They served me TWO WHOLE cans of Coke. I was happy. They again did three drink services.
These flight attendants were also very friendly. I did have a chance to get up and use the restroom on this flight. I hadn't had the opportunity the other time. The restroom was unique. Those vaccum flush toilets are... a breezy experience, even standing next to the sink. If I was old enough to wear a tupet (I'm only 18) I would have emerged from that restroom sans hair.
This flight was not so full. I had an empty seat between me and the other gentleman, so I stuff me suitcase in under the MIDDLE seat after I returned from the restroom, freeing up much needed legroom. This craft, N460Ua was delivered last June, and was so clean. It had the new seats, which are just about as comfortable as the old ones.
The Airbus is quieter. Not just the engines. But also wind noise going by my window. One thing I did NOT like was that the windows are tiny. But, after much hating of Airbus and anything they did, I found that I liked that A320 better than... just about anything else I have flown on. It was so pleasant. It's so much more modern. From that strange toilet to the way the reading lights are turned on by touchpad, it's sleek and modern. I congratulate United for picking the A320. I really didn't expect to like it, I had a preconceived notion about Airbus products. It was quieter than the 735. Far better than the ancient cutting- edge- at- it's- time 727.
I have checked schedules for their flights in May DFW-IAD. Unfortunately, they are only doing a 733 and two 732s. But that's okay. If I am fortunate enough to get to go up there again in May, and Dulles is an option, I will probably take United. Because, while they got me there just as American would, they WERE a little bit better. Better in that the flight attendants were very friendly on both flight. Better in that the captain talked a lot. I like that. I like him coming on the PA and talking about the plan, the turbulence, et cetera. I also liked their choices of music. Modern on some channels, relaxing on others. They even plyed music over the PA while at the gates. American NEVER does that.
I was impressed. That's the end of my report.
Sorry it was so long, but I really wanted to give a huge thanks to those who told me what to expect, I changed my plans based on your suggestions and it was a very enjoyable experience.