STT757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 16273 posts, RR: 52 Posted (2 years 9 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 9303 times:
My Wife and I for our Summer vacation decided to head back to Santa Monica, we had a great stay about seven years ago at this upscale hotel and decided to go back. Long story short we had some issues with the hotel and one staff member in particular, after we returned home from our trip we received a phone call from someone at the hotel who apologized for our treatment. This person was excellent, extremely professional. She sent us a free night certificate (value $500), plus she gave me her phone number so when we book our return she will give us the best room for the Government rate ($249). She also gave us certificates for their spa and restaurant, looks like my Wife and I will try again sometime in the next year.
I booked the air travel with CO rewards, I was able to book my Wife and I first class on UA's P.S. flights from JFK to California for the same amount of miles as it would have cost for economy from EWR on CO. I obviously jumped at the chance to fly UA's P.S. service as we had never flown UA, the only caveat was we would have to fly into Ontario via SFO as their was no availability into LAX.
We left our home in Monmouth County NJ around 5:30 and arrived at the private lot at JFK about an hour or so later, I was impressed how fast we got there. According to Mapquest it's a 60 mile drive that should take 1:16, we beat that during rush hour by a couple minutes to which I was impressed. We used Smartpark JFK because I had a coupon from our Entertainment book for a free day, it was a good experience for us although it seemed others were complaining about some booking fee which we didn't pay. If your going to use these private lots apparently you need to book directly with them (which we did), otherwise you get hit with some sort of booking fee.
flt # 7
Gate 9 Terminal 7
departure 8:10 am
T-7 UAL ticketing area:
Sorry I didn't take many pictures of the trip to California, but I made up for it on the way back. We arrived at Terminal 7 which is looking good for it's age, at that hour of the morning there were about 6 UA 757-200s either parked at T-7 or at T-6 waiting to be towed over for later flights. My Wife and I headed upstairs to the Red Carpet Club, my only complaint about the RCC was that while it had these beautiful windows they didn't look out to anything. A few feet from the Windows was a wall, quite odd. As I mentioned T-7 is old but well maintained, I fear though for it's future if/when BA leaves. BA takes good care of the facility, and it's obvious it can't handle much more travelers than it already does comfortably. I fear that it would turn into another T-2/T-3 if/when BA leaves, too crowded and not properly maintained. While we were checking I was eavesdropping on the conversation of the traveler at the kiosk next to me, he was a CO Elite Flyer asking the agent about his mileage posting etc.. It seems there are a few of us CO Frequent Flyers who are taking advantage of UA's P.S. service.
An announcement was made in the RCC that our flight was boarding, we headed to the gate but the priority access line was roped off so we boarded with everyone else. We entered the hot aircraft, this Summer in the Northeast has been one of the hottest on record, and this day was another hot one. The female Captain came over the PA and apologized about the cabin temperature, she stated their maintenance crew was on board and it would be fixed shortly. Almost as soon as she said that the air started flowing and it began to cool off, I watched the UA maintenance crew depart and the door was closed for departure. This being my first time I UA I was excited to see if Channel 9 was on, it was!.. It was an awesome experience sitting on the aircraft at the gate monitoring the ground frequency, I listened as we we're give permission to back away from the gate. I listened as the UA flight next to us (UA # 23 to LAX) pulled back at the same time, however they reported to the controllers they might have to go back to the gate to address a maintenance issue, never found our whether they fixed it or did they indeed go back.
JFK was busy at this hour of the morning, we taxied all the way to the newly rebuilt bay runway for departure. We departed to the West and again it was awesome monitoring Channel 9 the whole time. After a powerful take off (love the 757) we headed South over Floyd Bennett Field, the Verranzano bridge, Sand Hook NJ and almost directly over our house! We we're directly over our house when we made the turn West, here's the route;
After flying on some beaten up DL 757s a few months prior and reading constant complaints about AA's 757s I was expecting these UA 757s to be similar shape, on the contrary they were in excellent shape. The panels, lighting, bins, carpeting etc.. were all well maintained.
Sorry this is my only photo of the seats,
Inflight experience was great, breakfast was good (although they didn't have the sausage). We were handed the personal DVRs, that's one complaint. It gets crowded trying to juggle drinks, food and the DVR, When CO/UA merge they really need to update UA's P.S. aircraft with either Directv or AVOD (doesn't matter as long as they are seat back PTVs).
DVR plus Noise canceling headsets:
The noise canceling headsets worked so well my Wife and I are going to buy a pair for our next trip, could not believe the difference when I would take them off.
After a scenic (our country is so beautiful) trans-con trip we were on approach to SFO, I was again monitoring Channel
9 which was awesome as I listened as the tower notified us about a company 767 we would be pararrelling on landing to SFO. The tower told us not to pass the 767, we shadowed them all the way in to landing.
We had a quick connection to our connecting CRJ to Ontario.
UA's SFO Terminal:
I'm not a fan of RJs (who is?), but this Skywest CRJ was not too bad. It was showing it's age, but it was comfortable. The flight attendant was gorgeous, tall Blonde from Utah who should be a model. But I digress. It was our first trip in a CRJ, not too much different than the ERJs we have been on previously.
It was a full quick flight down to Ontario, ONT is a nice airport but they are slow. They don't need two terminals, everyone could fit into one terminal. Plenty of military personal, I guess traveling to Fort Irwin. Unfortunately our bags did not make the connection to ONT, they were still in SFO. They delivered our bags to us later in evening (10PM), I was impressed they drove from ONT to Santa Monica to deliver our bags. ONT is a nice modern airport, however it's in a weird spot for the City. It needs something other than the "10" to connect it to the city, I saw the proposed Califrornia High Speed Rail line would stop at ONT so hopefully that helps.
Here's the only photo I took at ONT, a UA 757-200 pulling in to the gate next to us from Denver.
Some photos from our time in the LA area:
The Grand Torino from, Grand Torino at the Warner Brothers studio:
Dodgers beating up the Mets:
Downtown Los Angeles from the Dodger Stadium parking lot:
3rd Street Promenade;
The trip was great, the best part was the weather. It was 100 degrees back home, but it never got above 72-75 in Los Angeles when we we're there. Beautiful, I wish I had some photos of the new Hollywood W Hotel, we went to the Spa there and the Bar. Wow, cool place.
For the return I was dreading having to get up at 5am to drive from Santa Monica back to ONT, I called UA and was able to change our reservation for a late morning departure from LAX back to JFK.
We arrived at T-6 where we checked in for UA's P.S. / Elite counters, UA has separate counters and checkpoint for it's P.S. and International First class passengers. It was my best experience going through TSA security the TSA was established, it was quick, thorough and hassle free (the way it should be). We went upstairs to UA's International First class lounge at T-7, only complaint we had to take a service elevator up to the lounge
Our aircraft that would take us to JFK;
Some other views from the lounge:
This flight Channel 9 was not activated, which was disappointing but I guess it's at the discretion of the Captain.
Yikes talk about a detour. But I guess with free tickets you can be too picky.
Atleast you managed to change to LAX on the return.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): ONT is a nice modern airport, however it's in a weird spot for the City. It needs something other than the "10" to connect it to the city,
I assume you mean 'city" as LA proper.
There are two other freeways that parallel the 10. The 210 the north and brings you into the Valley like Pasadena, and the 60 just South of the airport which brings you into downtown just like the 10.
There is even a 4th East-West freeway the 71 which you can use if you need to end up in the South Bay or Long Beach area.
Sounds like you were here when we still had the "June gloom" marine layer.
LA tends to have late summers (i believe I read Sept is the warmest month) and its been in the high 80s and 90s for a couple weeks now.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): We went upstairs to UA's International First class lounge at T-7, only complaint we had to take a service elevator up to the lounge
You can always use the (larger) Red Carpet Club which is on the same level as departure concourse accross from gates 71.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): Long story short we had some issues with the hotel and one staff member in particular,
Out of curiosity which SM hotel did you end up at? I recall you asking for information a couple months back.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): When CO/UA merge they really need to update UA's P.S. aircraft with either Directv or AVOD (doesn't matter as long as they are seat back PTVs).
Well in fairness its the same thing on AA for example with personal players.
However the next move for p.s. I believe will be moving the IPTE product over once the widebody fleets have been converted.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): They don't need two terminals, everyone could fit into one terminal.
Traffic is down at ONT as the Inland Empire region which was basically fastest growing area in California has suffered greatly with the housing crisis. LAWA has looked at consolidating facilities but the cost of moving folks somewhat exceeded cost benefit while burdening airlines with even higher cost which have already risen as boardings plunged.
However over time as the economic and population center continues to shift East in LA, the airport should see a resurgences of passenger activity. (Its quite busy for cargo already being UPS Western hub).
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
IrishAyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 1731 posts, RR: 5 Reply 2, posted (2 years 9 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 8479 times:
Thanks for the TR! I've always wondered what United P.S. is like on-board. Doesn't seem like it is documented much via TRs. I haven't devoted much time to study the revenue demands between high O&D markets like NYC-LA/SFO, but I always imagined that it must be quite competitive between CO, UA, DL, and AA, and UA is the only one that has "marketed" a unique brand that flies between these regions. Interesting that no other carrier has launched a similar product or have tried to out-compete them with a superior offering. You would think that the others, with such strongholds over the NY markets compared to UA, would try and do something like this to edge them out.
Quoting STT757 (Thread starter): We were handed the personal DVRs, that's one complaint. It gets crowded trying to juggle drinks, food and the DVR, When CO/UA merge they really need to update UA's P.S. aircraft with either Directv or AVOD (doesn't matter as long as they are seat back PTVs).
Yeah, I agree that the DVD players are outdated. I remember trying one on Air India's business class a few years ago, and frankly, having to "borrow" a personal DVR from an airline with pre-selected films kinda put me out of the mood for watching anything. I mean, you might as well bring your own portable DVD player with movies you select if that's gonna be the case. With a PTV in-seat screen, at least all you do is look straight ahead. The pic you took of the United DVR does not make the product look very impressive.
Continental is such a great airline...they'll totally bring their IFE over to UA without a problem.
TOMMY767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 6180 posts, RR: 9 Reply 3, posted (2 years 9 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 8107 times:
Great report! A user needs to do an across the board comparison between AA, UA, DL, and VX in biz between JFK-LAX/SFO. I got upgraded a few times with DL on LAX-JFK and one time it was with the enhanced biz elite product which is very similar to what you received on UA: Menus, appetizer, dinner, noise canceling headsets, AVOD, sundaes, cookies. It was a really great product.
"Folks that's the news and I'm outta here!" -- Dennis Miller
ChopChop767 From Italy, joined Aug 2010, 226 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (2 years 9 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 6699 times:
Thank you fellow Monmouth County traveler for posting such a great report. Well, it's been awhile since Monmouth has been my address, but it's still home for me!!!
I've always wanted to try this service!!! I've heard that it was outstanding from family members and frankly THE BEST transcon service. The only time that I had the opportunity to fly this route, usually we flew out of EWR, it was back when UA was still flying 767-200s on the route. Obviously, I wasn't complaining at all as I was really looking forward to the old C class seats. Well, UA changed the equipment to a 777, which was still pretty nice. I was also connecting to the puddle jumper for ONT (Claremont, CA), which is a convenient little airport.
Thanks again for posting the great pictures and report. How were the loads? With so few seats available, I've heard that the flights are almost always full. From your mileage situation, it seems like that isn't the case?
Glad to see you had a great time in LA, what a wonderful place to visit, and with a great ride there and back, all the makings of great vaca.