Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Posted (8 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 7724 times:
Here is my special p.s. inaugural report from JFK to Los Angeles, CA. Since it is a special inaugural event, I will start a new thread. Pictures were taken but I have to send in the rolls of film, but I will pose them once they come online. Well I was caught in total surprise on Friday morning, as some of you were aware, I was panicking if I was stuck on a 2-class domestic Boeing 767 on this particular flight a week ago. However, when I checked the inbound flight status, I found out that it was changed into a Boeing 757-200. I was telling myself… so it was even worst that I was stuck on a domestic 757. But then I saw the press release on yahoo airlines’ news about the official launch of Boeing 757 p.s. from LAX to JFK. Well I was still not sure because I thought United might put the plane overnight at JFK and did some PR, and flightview.com still showed UA 839 listed as a Boeing 767-300ER. I left my apartment early, so I could at least spot the incoming a/c from LAX. I arrived at Grand Central around 3:35pm and was about to catch the 3:40pm bus to JFK. Of course, I felt lucky that I took this much earlier bus, as the traffic was horrific this Friday afternoon, especially an accident. Many folks in the bus were nearly missing their flights but I arrived at terminal seven about an hour and five minutes prior to arrival. Well I missed the landing of the p.s. Boeing 757. As usual, I proceeded to the kiosk, since I had no bag to check. I clicked on the seat map and was literally wanted to show, as it showed the new p.s. Boeing 757 configuration. I immediately picked 2C and after a very moody week, I finally felt somewhat loved by God. The security line was under control and long as usual. I used the F/J line, but the agent did not seem to standby the rule strictly. She turned away some Y passengers, but let some of them stay in the line. I went to the gate 8 and saw all the festivities and many UA PR guys and gals dressing in business suits. The demo United first seats were moved to a better spotlight and one of the seats were shown in the lie flat position. Yes I got a picture of it. Then the gate was decorated with a buffet table of cheese, sandwiches, cookies, truffles, and fruit slices, as well as soft drinks, bottled Aquafina water, and coffee. But not many takers though… I had some fruits, as I was expecting a nice meal on board.
Around 5:50pm, one of UA directors for the premium transcontinental service made a short speech, which was interrupted by announcements from a nearby BA flight trying to board around the same time. He was basic telling us about the new p.s. features, as well as the usual thanks to the employees. Then the whole flight crew came out and they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The special guest today was the Asian guy from the old Star War Enterprise TV actor – sorry that I did not know whom he was, but he was the special guest for the evening. After a quick ribbon cutting ceremony, boarding commenced at 5:58pm. First class was full with two seats blocked for the PR and trainers folks, who did the RT on the same day. J was not completely full, and Y was okay full. Almost forgot here is the information of the flight –
October 29, 2004
UA 839 JFK-LAX Lv1830 Arr2138 Boeing 757-200 New Livery N510UA
Well I went in with the first crowd but was only took a quick picture of J and F cabin. Thankfully, my neighbor heading to Sydney did not show up till later. I was able to take one more picture of the F cabin. Anyway, the demo seats pictures should be better, since it was better lighted at the terminal. I settled in 2C immediately and was offered a pre-takeoff beverage. Bellini was my request and as an exception, we got them served in real glasses. The new seat was wide and comfortable with good cushioning, and as SFO1K already gave you a good description of the seat, I did not think I could top his discussion of the seat. My complaint was the loud noise that the seats made when you tried to recline the seats and moved the seats into various positions, as well as rather confusing signs. The seat cannot recline without moving the leg rest position that you have already set up, or you cannot simply recline the seat without the leg rest extending. The tray table was on the side and was quite stiff and difficult to get it out or return it. I also think a DVD player table should have been considered during the design of the seat. Anyway, the seats are comfortable and fine, despite these minor problems, but the International United First suites are still better than these domestic problems. However, it was very strange to have such a bulky seat on such a narrow plane. Well there was a full sized pillow, as well as a new kind of blanket (like International ones, not the flimsy blue blankets used on domestic flight. Tempur-Pedic(R) Travel Swedish Neck Pillow was also placed on the console, which was the most valuable and useful gift out of this inaugural flight. Almost forgot, the personal light control, as well as the F/A button, was still on the top panel, but you also got a neck-style reading light as well. After everyone settled down, one of the PR people rolled out the gift bag trolley, and I got the “goodie” bag. Here was the content as listed at UA’s official press release (and what I got in actual):
Gift bags from Madison & Mulholland: United's gift bags include various products from these companies:
1. St. Tropez self-tanning system travel kits
2. Doctor's Dermatologic Formula cellular renewal kit
3. Parker Inflection executive pen
4. Bill Rancic's You're Hired
5. Cary's of Oregon English Toffee
6. World Events Inner Circle gift certificates – James Beard House at New York City $325 Value
7. Luggage Express gift certificates
8. Grant for Men shower gel
9. “p.s.” Motion picture soundtrack CD
Then after the boarding was completed, the F/A rolled out the new amenities cart – pairs of socks, eye-shades, Tenzin’s in-flight connectivity set, Brush-up oral sample, and USA Today. I guess the pairs of socks, eyeshades, and newspapers were here to stay. However, I think UA can upgrade the socks and eyeshades to nice compact amenity kit – no need to be International style, but a small kit on a pouch with toothbrush will be nice. Or better to find a new sponsor to provide the amenity kits… I am sure many companies can’t wait to promote their products towards the relatively high-scaled clients on these premium routes. On this topic, the lavatory is also stocked with lotion and revitalizing water from H2O. I like H2O, but some folks may think they are not as up-scaled as other brands. Well it is still better than the Aquafina water used by United now. While boarding, Captain Karl J. Kennedy introduced himself to the first class passengers and made some chats with us. Door was closed early at 6:22pm, as we anticipated a long wait due to the typical evening traffic. We pushed back on time and then headed toward the queue for R/W31L. Channel 9 was available, and here was the list of planes took off before us –
KL 777 to AMS, AY MD-11 to HEL, DL 757 (462) to SFO, AZ 777 (605) to MXP, and Comair’s CRJ
We took off at 6:50pm and flew into the beautiful starry evening New York night. Flying time was five hours and thirty minutes. We flew at 35,000feet for a while, and then onto 39,000feet.
Seat belt sign was turned off at 7:01pm, and the in-flight service began immediately. Of course, more Bellini and mixed nuts for me… unlike usual, I had five glasses of Bellini champagne tonight. I had to stop myself, as I still had one more flight to go this evening. The DVD packet was sent out next. It was presented in a very beautiful leather case, as well as a pair of noise-canceling headphone (KOSS), power port, and adaptors for the power port. I highly recommend you to plug the power cord onto the power outlet immediately when you started to watch the DVD. Yes, the power outlets are like those at home, but they are not charging as fast as the outlet at home. So if you waited till the battery died before plugging into the outlet, it might take you a while before you can start watching the DVD again. So plug it in when you started to watch the movie. Here is the full list of movies and TV programs for October/November –
Die Mommie Die, Dopamine, Grand Theft Parsons, Kill Bill Vol.2, Man on Fire, Mayor of Sunset Strip, Sex and the City, Six feet Under, The Sopranos, and United States of Legend – many independence films as you notice.
For main screen, the F/As started with p.s. special short subjects first – more independence short subjects, followed the movie, “The Terminal,” and the unavoidable NBC In flight.
Meal began next, and as some of you already experienced the new p.s. service – well I flew the lunch westbound flight last week, and the meal was basically the same, except different main course choices. The wine list is the same as well.
Code: 10/04 PREMIUM TRANSCON (D01K) 103D553-2
Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noir NV
Joseph Drouhin Rully 2002, Chardonnay
Pierre Sparr Alsace 2002, Pinot Gris Reserve
Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2002
Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley Kinneybrook Chardonnay 2001
Sacha Lichine Nuits-St-Georges 2001, Pinot Noir
Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux 1999
St. Supery Napa Valley Merlot 2000
Foley Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2001
Jumbo lump crab with spicy lime dressing
Apple brioche quiche
Well, it was not warmed appetizers, like on International flights, but the crabmeat was quite nice. More generous than before, and the apple quiche is an interesting try. I guess it was an improvement.
Fresh seasonal greens with English cucumber and croutons
Hot pine nut pesto chicken
Roasted garlic red wine vinaigrette or classic Caesar dressing
Well the salad was still pre-plated, but it was served on a larger plate, with F/As adding chicken and croutons to your liking, as well as the salad dressing boats. The seasonal greens were mainly lettuce, radicchio and some mesclun mix, plus diced cucumbers. The chicken strips were also warmed – really nice, but I really miss the soup course though.
Low-carb side alternative – broccoli and red bell peppers
Boursin cheese-cursted filet mignon with shallot herb sauce
Mixture of corn, beans, onions, tomato, and potatoes with rosemary
Spiced breast of chicken with Thai barbecue sauce
Brown rice and stir-fried shitake mushrooms with vegetables
Fusilli pasta with puttanesca sauce
Sauteed shrimp and Parmesan cheese
Well, the entrees were still the same old selections from previous transcontinental service. After going through all these troubles to change all these service, why not also changes some of the entrees. Well at least no need to deal with the disgusting Reuben sandwiches. I chose the pasta, as I had enough chicken, and the beef was a bit heavy. The pasta was somewhat overcooked at the edge, but it was decent. But United can do a better job.
International cheese tray
Camembert, Stilton and Black Diamond Cheddar cheese
Edy’s ice cream with sundae toppings
Warm chocolate bread pudding with sun-dried cherries
Fresh Seasonal fruit
The cheese and fruit cart was out first – more takers on this flight. The fruit basket had bananas, pears, oranges, strawberries, and grapes. I had a slice of the Camembert with some Carr’s crackers, as well as some strawberries. I like pre-sliced fruits better – most of us are too lazy to cut fruits anyway. Maybe United can change it accordingly – maybe cheaper for United to serve that anyway. Then the dessert cart out – I like bread pudding, and this time I had with ice cream and hot fudge sauce – much better. The pudding was served on a nice pan – sliced in front of you. I don’t know if some of you would agree, it might be better to save the cheese and fruit as a pre-arrival snack.
After the meal, cookies were served (from the inaugural buffet) as well as tea and coffee and Aquafina water bottles. I read a bit longer, and then watched three episodes of Sex and the City. The PR guy also walked by the cabin and asked us about the opinion of the new seat. He asked me to try out the seat in its flat position later. Well I did not really sleep, but the sleeper seat worked just like the new International style lie flat business class seat. This version is obviously the improved version with less of an angle, but still closed to the floor. Anyway, SFO1K had better observations than me, as he tried out the lie flat function.
Around midnight east coast time, the pilot made the pre-arrival announcement, and the box of Gayety’s chocolate truffles was passed out next. The F/A gave me the rest of the box to bring home… delicious… I had a picture of it too. Then hot towels were passed out and descent began at 8:58pm PST. The PR guy came back and passed a personal note to each of the premium passengers, which was a nice gesture. However, I will appreciate an inaugural certificate too. Ha ha… and more p.s. related souvenirs – like p.s. stickers, pins, and notepads… Gears came down at 9:17pm, and touched down at R/W25R at 9:20pm. Two minutes later, we were parked at gate 76. What a great flight and trust me… I got the full value of my $700RT ticket worthwhile – the gift bag and the new p.s. inaugural… “Priceless”… Now God please grant me the other wish in my mind! Well, I don’t think you want to hear about my TED flight to Las Vegas next – from top end to the lowest end of United’s range of service. But I was glad to report that full beverage service had resumed on the LAX-LAS flight, and the alcohol sale went well. Smart move, United!
In conclusion, the new United’s p.s. service is impressive, and if I have to fly full fare first class, United gets my vote. American better comes up with something better up front, or you can lose all your prime corporate passengers soon. If your company and you are wiling to pay a F/J fare, United’s p.s. will be the way to go. Anyway, congratulation to United for a great launching party and effort! Now the biggest challenge is to make the numbers work, to keep up the seats, and not to cut back so soon!
AAplatnumflier From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (8 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 6621 times:
UA is really cheap from LAX-JFK. In coach they are $179. It is really cheap. I spend more going to Chicago. But anyways why question it? Just take advantage of what you've got. Also cant wait for those pictures.
Tsully From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 651 posts, RR: 5 Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 5496 times:
Thanks for the pictures. I've been looking on a.net every day to see if anyone has uploaded p.s. pictures. Your photos are the first I've seen, other than the official UAL PR pics.
I did a presentation on United's new p.s. product for my marketing class final. Went great, and I turned the entire class into UAL fans! Many thanks to the PR people at UALWHQ who supplied me with great visuals for my project!
I can't wait to fly p.s.
I love America. I guess that makes me Bush's poodle, but I'd rather be a dog in New York City than a prince in Riyadh.
Tbear815 From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 704 posts, RR: 5 Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5483 times:
Tsully really brings back memories. I was in an advertising class many moons ago and we did a "campaign" for UA. We did a portfolio based on "Four Seasons to the Fifth Season." Incorporating the latest inflight uniform change (Jean Louis' inaugural 747 change) and the UA routes then, the market was the Hawai'i schedule and destinations. After putting the package together, we presented it with a slide/fashion show. Yes, techniques were way different in those days (And we all got an "A" for our work)!
As I see marketing strategies with the airlines these days, I look back on many things. With UA's new PS campaign, the emphasis is route specific. That's the way travel should be. Staying with UA, let's go back to the days of the "Executives" between ORD and EWR, now better yet, LGA (finally without gender discrimination). SFO and LAX - yes, the "Executives" did exist on the West Coast as well. How about the "Royal Hawaiians" to Hawaii, "Sunbirds" to Florida and Arizona, or "Royal Orient Service" to Asia. Remember "Ocean to Ocean?" The "West Coasters" were flights along the California-B.C. Pacific Coast.
Travel once had glamour. It's easy to start it all again and extremely cost-effective. It's only too bad that accounting/revenue management doesn't see how this can be done. Create a scheme that passengers will remember. Airline's "flag" routes are just as tantalizing to passengers as the named trains that used to cross the U.S. The DC-7 "Red Carpet" from the west coast to New York was the height of luxury in it's day.
All the other airlines had "mainline" names; WA's "Champagne Flights," TW's "Royal Ambassador/Ambassador" services internationally/domestically, AA's "21 Club, Mercury, and Flagship" services, and of course, PA's "President Special." These can go on and on.
Let's go back to when flying was an art form. Yes, we have the LCC's that are like busses or cattle cars. They serve their purpose. A long distance flight with some panache would make the whole industry special again. Travel is exotic, rewarding, and educational. The means to that end starts with the airline experience. Let's bring back the "awe" of traveling by air. Oh, so easily said..
Only slight refinements need to be done to make this magic we call flying happen again. Cost factors can be achieved easily. With all the fabulous legacies we have, let's make it all happen again!
Huawey From Australia, joined Oct 2004, 54 posts, RR: 0 Reply 10, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 5447 times:
Love your TR! The pics are superb!! You must have enjoyed all the chocolate truffles! They looked YUMMY!!
The seat looks like the spacebed SQ has on their Raffles Class. Is that true? I happen to dislike SQ's cushion and find it really hard and uncomfortable to sleep on. Did you happen to like your 2A seat?
I'll be doing F on SQ220/SQ996/SQ997/SQ221 in Feb and I promise to take some pictures and post my TR by then!
Laca773 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3749 posts, RR: 2 Reply 12, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5310 times:
Thankyou so much for the awesome "p.s." report and pictures. You truly do write up the best travel reports around.
Have they made any catering improvements since you took these trips? My Mom will be taking them in March and am quite interested.
Do you post your meal pics on www.airlinemeals.net ? They'd love you on that site.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1727 posts, RR: 9 Reply 13, posted (8 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 5167 times:
Sorry mate, I won't fly p.s first for a while, since they discontinued selling the $700RT "A" fare between JFK and LAS via LAX or SFO. I don't think I can justify spending miles on p.s....
I think caterings remain the same and if your mother holds an award XF or any fare paying "A" ticket, she can use the Internatoinal first class lounge at LAX (but upgrade tickets cannot use the F lounge), which is nice as well.