F9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 9 Posted (12 years 1 month 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 6999 times:
Well, it is time for our annual Christmas trip to the Bay Area, and despite my username, most of my family's flying is on United, and today was no different. We left our house at about 3:00, a little more than two hours before our departure time of 5:20. Traffic was bad, and we got to the airport at about 4:30. Driving up to the terminal, I noticed that UPS had brought in a 747, apparently for the spike in holiday shipping. We had to go to United's oversized bag check-in, because we were bringing our new puppy on the plane with us, and had to pay for it there. By the time we had our boarding passes and all of our bags checked, we only had 30 minutes until the departure, and we still had to make it through the whole security screening line, and it appeared that line would take at least 15 minutes. This meant that I had to give up on my hope of seeing Lufthansa and British Airways, both of which had planes at the airport around that time. Since we were in Business class, we got to use the priority screening line, which took no more than 5 minutes to get through. After taking the dog out of his carrier to walk through the scanning machine, we proceeded down the escalators and took the tram out to concourse B. The flight left from gate B32, so only took a minute or two to get there, instead of something like gate B61 which can take hours to get to. When we got to the gate, we had about 10 minutes until departure, and the entire plane was already boarded. We took the symbolic trip up the stairs, and found ourselves in a small cabin with about 40 seats.
One of the two flight attendants assigned to the upper deck took our bags as we came up and stowed them for us. We set the puppy on the floor right behind the seat in front of us, and then took a seat. The flight attendant then came over and presented my brother and I with a tray of orange juice and water and asked us if we would like some. We both selected Orange juice, and then flipped out the PTVs and tried to watch TV. All we could watch until after takeoff was the airshow map, which verified that were indeed in Denver. I plugged in the headphones and went to channel 9, but, nothing. Apparently we would be hearing no cockpit communications on this flight. The pilots came on and said that they were still loading cargo, and that it would probably be another 10 minutes before we were under way. 10 minutes later, flight attendants armed the doors for departure, and we thought we were ready to go. Apparently, they had found more bags, and they spent the next 20 minutes loading these. Once they finished, we began to taxied out to runway 7/25, and after a takeoff roll that was probably about 15 seconds, we were on our way to San Francisco. I was expecting a much louder takeoff than it actually was, maybe it was because we were in the upper deck. I now had some time to fuss around with the seats. They were very nice, they reclined almost to a fully flat position, and even then, there was still room for the person behind to move around. They also had adjustable footrests that would flip down, allowing you to practically make the chair into a bed. On the console between the seats were various controls, allowing you to electronically adjust lumbar and control the audio and video. The seats were nice and cushy, but were still firm enough that I think they would have been comfortable on a longer trip. They were just like this:
Just before we reached the Utah border, the flight attendants came around with more drinks. Unfortunately, United does not have Coke or Dr. Pepper, so a Mountain Dew had to take their place. I dug my book, The Bourne Supremacy, out of the bins under the windows, and read for about 20 minutes. At that time, the flight attendants came around again, serving dinner, which was smoked salmon with capers, along with a bowl of fruit and of course, milano cookies (mmmmmm). You can see two pictures of meals very similar here:
. The smoked salmon was OK, but I am a bigger fan of cooked salmon, and I also don't have a very mature palette. On the other hand, my Mom loved it. I went ahead and read some more, because since this was a shorter flight, there was nothing on TV but Toon Disney, NBC, and some Discovery Channel stuff. None of it was very interesting. Another thing I have noticed over a variety of flights with this IFE system is that the picture is never very good, often with lines going through the picture and the audio cutting out. Has anyone else noticed this? While flying just south of Reno, the fasten seat belt sign turned on, and we turned to the north, then back west, apparently avoiding some weather or turbulence. I was very suprised at this point, because our puppy, who we have had for a little over a week, had not made one noise. We were very nervous that he would be barking the whole flight and preventing Business Class passengers from sleeping, but as it turns out, no one even knew there was a dog on the plane, according to an FA. The polite FA came by again and gave me some more Mountain Dew. We then passed over the East Bay, and the pilot came on and told everyone to prepare for landing. For about five minutes, we could see nothing but the engines as we descended into the foggy, dreary bay area. All of the sudden, we broke through the cloud layer, and we were over the bay. It is always cool to come in this way, because you can always see boats out in the water, and then land just appears, and you are over the runway. It was rainy in San Francisco, and he touchdown was a little hairy; the plane kind of fell onto the ground, then the right side lifted back up, and then came down again. We reached the gate, and the pilot came on and notified the passengers that if they had connections to make, their would be a United representative waiting at the gate, telling them where to go. I thought this was a nice touch, although it may have been because of the delay. We let the rest of the cabin empty out, and once it was empty, I talked to the FA to see if we could see the cockpit. He called the cockpit on the phone, and they opened up the door and let my brother and I come in to see. It looked almost exactly like this:
Right behind the pilot's and F/O's seats were two jumpseats. If you look back to the picture of the upper deck, you can see that at the bulkhead, there are two lavatories on the right side, but nothing on the left. When you go into the cockpit, and look back and to your left, there is a large chair, and then a crew rest area, where the crew can rest on long journeys.
Overall, it was very cool. The pilots said there wasn't a whole lot that they could show me though, because they had already shut down all of the avionics. We thanked the pilots and descended the stairs, and stepped into the San Francisco air that seemed to have about ten times the amount of humidity we have in Denver. After being in that air for 5 minutes, I already felt like I needed to take a shower. In my opinion, Terminal 3 at the San Francisco Airport is ok, but the baggage claim is a dump. It is dirty, and is always packed and congested. When you go outside to wait for someone to pick you up, that person cannot stop for even a minute before the traffic gestapo pulls up in their three wheeled scooter and yells at you with their loudspeaker. Our ride had to make about 10 laps around the airport before he found us. I understand that that is their job, and that it is a security concern, but if a car pulls up and no one begins to load it up right away, they make them do a lap. But I digress. Overall, this was a very nice flight, the delay was not too bad, although I wonder if that was the real reason for the delay, because I never saw them loading bags (I did have a bad viewing angle of the ground, though). The service was excellent, and the entire crew was very friendly. I have noticed that during all of the turmoil United is experiencing, their crews have had nothing but the best of attitudes.
Hopefully you haven't had too much trouble reading this trip report, as I am sure there have been a few grammar and spelling mistakes, but hopefully you have enjoyed my first TR on a.net. Look forward to Part II, SFO-DEN on an internationally configured 777, coming in early January. If you have any questions, please reply.
Adam T. From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 957 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6590 times:
Nice trip report! And if you don't mind me asking....what kind of dog do you have? . I have a Jack Russell Terrier.....i've always wondered how she would act on a plane.
And what did you mean when you said you had to walk her through the scanner? Did you mean the metal detector or do they have a special scanner for pets? (dumb question...I know).
Anyway.......glad you had a good trip. Sounds like the 747-400 is pretty nice.
F9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 6502 times:
Thanks, he is a black lab. We tried to run him around a lot before the flight to wear him out. I think he was quiet partially because he was tired and also because he was really scared. Also, I should have been clearer, the scanner I referred to was just a normal metal detector. For some reason, they wouldn't let us put him through the xray machine .
Tbear815 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 704 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 6437 times:
For your stated age in your profile, you have the distinct talent to be an excellent and respected travel writer, if you so choose. Your trip report is far superior to those of many people twice your age. Your attention to detail and use of accompanying photos (albeit stock photos) shows top notch reporting skills. My heartiest congratulations on a thoroughly enjoyable trip report. Keep up the good work - you certainly have the ability!