Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 844 posts, RR: 1 Posted (12 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3877 times:
SNA - (UA 76) – SFO – (UA960) - CDG : 31 December 2003
UA 76 SNA – SFO
A319 : N829UA
Sked: 11:10 – 12:35
Woke up very early for the first leg of my trip out of SNA at 1110 am to SFO to connect to UA 960 to CDG. I have been assigned seat 15C which is a regular Y seat. I have asked to have a seat assigned for my UA 960 flight but was told that was not possible until check in.
Cars entering SNA were checked and the entrance to the airport was rerouted to make this possible. Airport was still quiet though since we got to the airport fairly early (before 9 am).
The UA check in was empty and i got to go to a counter check in right away. I asked the check in person if she could get me seat 16F for the SFO –CDG flight (The seat I had on the way over from CDG to SFO a week earlier). Turned out that I have already been assigned 16G ! I decided to take this window seat to have views of take off and landing that will be in the day time. Hm. I called UA at least 3 times before to get a seat with no success, and all of a sudden I was assigned 16G ? Check in was done very quickly and I found myself with two hours to spare in SNA. Though there are planes and companies we don’t see in Paris, it was pretty lacking in variety. Still loved those Aloha planes (737s), also Midwest 717. Also saw a bunch of Southwest 737s, UAs 757s and the airbus A319 that will take me to SFO, Delta 757.
Boarding was supposed to be at 1040 but this was delayed due to traffic control. Low hanging clouds over SFO and only one runway was open. Finally boarding was called at 1105.
The airbus looked very clean, doors closed at 1020, safety demo was done on the dropdown screens, and we were on our way at 1125. Take off followed an Alaska 737. The take off roll lasted all of 20 seconds.
The flight was uneventful, got served a drink and some pretzels. We flew at an altitude of 39000 feet. But the landing in SFO was most impressive. Descent commenced at 1235.The captain told us that a sistership 777 will be landing on the parallel runway with us. Saw the huge 777 N786UA flying next to us, what a sight. The 777 does look very powerful and huge. It looked almost black in UA colors because of the light…..everyone was glued to the right side windows watching the plane land with us.
We docked in gate 89 at 1248, thus we were only 13 minutes behind sched arrival time despite the late departure.
I walked to the international terminal and check out the security line, not too long it seems, and decided to go outside to smoke some cigarettes.
UA 960 SFO – CDG
UA 960 was operated by 767 300 registration N654UA. I sure miss the 777 that usually operates this route the rest of the year. Boarding was from gate G92. I looked at the plane from the terminal…I love SFO for this as you can see airplanes quite easily. Among the many UA s 777s and 747s there were LH 747 400 and EVA air 747 400. Boarding was called at 135 local time and preceded very quickly. Once aboard, the FA announced that they might be aiming for an early departure. But two pax appear to be missing (they were of course French pax who seemed to be shopping). Found my favorite seats on this UA aircraft (rows 16, A, B, F and G). Great exit seats with lots of legroom and the seats in front cannot recline too far back because of the overwing exit door.
Doors were closed at 210 and we left the gate two minutes later. Take off commenced at 227 for 43 seconds.
FA s average age on this flight was older that the flight I took to SFO a week earlier, and I might add this Paris based crew (and NY based cockpit crew) were EXCELLENT. The flight to SFO that I took was actually very average in terms of service (and the FA s not as good as the return flight). They spoke between them Dutch German, Spanish and French of course. The crew did a count down for the New Year according to Paris time which occurred not long after we departed. Another countdown was done before landing in CDG for the californians (or those in California time).Drinks and savories were served at 247. Meal service began after with Beef or pasta as the choices. I chose beef which was pretty tasty. No ice cream as on the flight CDG SFO (on that flight we got Cadbury’s crunchy). But the ginger cake dessert was pretty good and the bread was warm. The IFE worked fine (movies Caribbean pirates and others that I did not really pay attention to). This time the route map worked (it did not on the CDG SFO flight I took a week earlier), so got my tv tuned to the route map.
Some tidbits I remember : we flew over Montana into Canada over Regina. Headwind over the US but tailwind for the rest of the trip with ground speed at times over 1000 km. Altitude was 33000 for most of the way before moving to 35000 for the rest of the trip. We passed Iqaluit at 737 SF time. At 1037 pm SF time, we were approaching Scotland with a tailwind of 173 km and a ground speed of 1081km per hour.
Crew was very professional and one man in particular (the head FA ? what is the term…purser ?) who at boarding tried very hard to make everyone happy by reseating people (mother with baby to have an empty seat next to her, etc. and upgrading a man travelling alone stuck in a middle seat -- LUCKY man !). One lady FA who speaks spanish also was very professional and friendly and talked to a lot of pax often correctly guessing the language they spoke (and greet them accordingly). After dinner, crew walked up and down with water regularly. They also brought out munchies (toblerones chocolates, crackers, cheese etc.). One hour before landing, anticipated at 910 Paris time (an hour early!), breakfast was served consisting of a hot croissant sandwich containing cheese and omelette, orange juice, fruits and coffee.
We landed in snowy CDG an hour early. The T was 0 degree Celcius and it was white all over. For a full 20 minutes before landing, we were in the clouds. Gears down at 915, touch down at 920, and we were at the gate at 929. I made my way through the terminal that shames the French because it looked so outdated to baggage claim. Now in the sunniest day it could take forever to get your bags so I was expecting a long wait. But surprise, the bags came out not long after. I walked out to check out the planes parked in CDG1 and saw among others : Ethiopian 767 (to Adis Abeba), Saudi Arabian 777 (to Riyad), KL s 737s, etc.
All in all, a very good experience again with UA. The FA s again make the difference for this flight. The CDG SFO flight I took a week earlier probably had better food (because of the ice cream, i must admit) but the crew made that flight somehow less good as this flight.
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 844 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (12 years 1 month 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3563 times:
actually I rather like the 767 doing this route, though I still prefer 777. The advantage of 767 is that you will never have more than one person between you and the aisle (for those sitting on the window seat or the middle seat of the middle rows). In a 777, a person can have two others on each side as UA 777 are configured 2 5 2.
The 767 also is spacious enough for this long flight.
That is what the purser said, a Paris based crew for the cabin, and bizzarely a NY based cockpit crew (they fly them to SFO first ?). There were 3 captains present in this flight.
Aifos From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 61 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 21 hours ago) and read 3457 times:
UA Paris Base is quite important, just over 340 F/As a mix of US and French citizens. Life is hard for all the american F/As still doing a great job in spite of a dreadful exchange $ vs Euro rate (they are paid in Dollars on their UA bank accounts)! All in all, between the cuts the unions have accepted and the downfall of the dollar (close to 40% in 16 months!!!) they basically got a 60% cut in their paycheck in 2 years. In spite of all this, they keep the spirit up. A great lesson from very dedicated people.