A trip back east on Mileage Plus awards to visit friends. I was finally able to find flights where they were usable. A Ted flight to DEN from PHX, then connecting to a mainline overnight to BOS. Return trip to be through ORD. A few problems occurred, but United Airlines was able to accommodate. However, not without a little friendly prompting on my part. All flights were full, or nearly full.
UA 1458 (Ted)
Seats 26 C&D (back row aisle)
Scheduled Dep: 8pm
Actual: about 1 hour late
Our flight from Sky Harbor’s Terminal 2 was delayed for a little more than an hour due to late arrival of the in bound plane. Rumor in the bar was that it was smoke from numerous brush fires around the Phoenix area that was causing the delay. We took off into the night sky on 25R. Smooth flight into DEN landing on runway 7. However, our flight to BOS was boarding and we had to ride the train to the next concourse. While waiting to get off the plane, I told the FA of our possible missed connection and she said they’re holding both BOS and IAD as they knew there were about 10 of us connecting to the two red-eyes. So, once off the plane in the A40-something gates, some of the other BOS bound pax started to run, so we did too. We got on and off the train and kept running toward the B20-something gates. My girlfriend is anti-roller bag, due to them being hard to find spaces for in the overhead bins, so she struggled with the jaunt. Also, she felt having to run was ridiculous since it was UA’s fault that our one hour plus connection was reduced to negative 5 minutes. I agreed, but when people start running, mob behavior rules. We boarded right after the other runners rather than being another five minutes had we walked. I noticed glares from a few seated pax since some had been on board for awhile.
Schedule Dep: 11:50pm,
Actual: about 30 minutes later
Plunking into our seats, we relaxed and were overjoyed to see that The Pacifier was the movie. I stuck with Channel 9. We snacked on nuts, a few minis we’d brought aboard, and some club soda from the attentive crew. More on this later. More than an hour into the flight, I was fascinated by the lighting below and to the north from huge thunderstorms. I later found out from the pilot that they were over central Illinois and Indiana. Soon after, we dozed off. I actually slept, albeit uncomfortably, and awoke to see the Atlantic Ocean below. It was misty, but I could make out small islands with quaint homes and lighthouses. An over water approach landing on runway 27. Shortened overnight flights that arrive at 6am means people are sluggish, so there wasn’t the normal rush to get off the plane. Didn’t see much of Logan except for a slew of US and B6 aircraft ready for their first flights of the day. Our travels around Boston, Newport RI, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine were a great way to spend the July 4th weekend and following week. However, the London bombings occurred on the morning of our departure. This made us skip Boston’s subway and take a taxi to the airport.
UA 537 BOS-ORD (Switched to UA 179 BOS-SFO)
Both aircraft B757
Schedule Departure: 2pm
Actual: about 10 minutes later
Seats 8D&E in E+
I called UA for a flight status about 3 hours before the flight. We were next to North Station in Boston, so both the subway and taxi would get us their quickly. However, our flight to ORD was cancelled and I was connected to customer service. I was first asked if I could make a Noon flight. No go, as that left us with a little over an hour to get there and go through security and I had no idea how the lines were at Logan. Then, she said how about 6am tomorrow? Unacceptable, as were ready to go home, had no accommodations for that evening, and were unsure of any offers of compensation by UA. So, the agent then asked if we could make a flight to SFO that left at the same time our original ORD flight. I said yes, since there was a possibility of an upgrade and I’d never flown completely cross country before. Plus, we were to connect to another Ted flight from SFO to PHX and arrive two hours later than the original routing through ORD. I also suspected that since we were traveling on saver Mileage Plus awards, UA wasn’t going to bend over backwards to help us. We got to Logan with plenty of time to spare, so had a drink the Samuel Adams bar before whizzing through security. I like that Logan doesn’t permit pax to go through security too far in advance of a flight, likely to minimize crowding. Not much in the way of interesting aircraft, but did see Alitalia’s 763 flight from MXP land about 2pm.
Once on board, I was pleased with the bulkhead, exit row seats. Seat D&E are the only seats in row 8 of UA’s non PS 752. One problem being no under seat stowage. A FA was able to find room behind the last row of F seats. This is where she also stowed some of her personal items and made it sound like pax stowage was second priority. The other problem I noticed was the very close proximity of the forward Y lavatory. This did bother us too much until the constant barrage of pax using it once the service carts had cleared the aisle an hour into the flight. Most carriers dissuade (but cannot prohibit) Y pax from using the F lav, so that those in F won’t have their experiences ruined by us poor Y folks marching up and down the aisle. I really think carriers should balance out the lavs better so there’s not people lined up in the aisle with dumb looks on their faces. I also noticed that some people seem to camp out in the lavs for a long time which didn’t worry me until they opened the door One woman with a small child was the worst offender. Twice! On a five and a half hour flight, that was really the only unpleasant moment. The comfort of seats 8D&E are compromised by the proximity of the lavatory and the lack of a real window.
The packed 752 took off from 4L without much delay. We bought snack boxes. I found the Asian chicken salad to be edible. We ordered club sodas and discretely made cocktails with mini vodkas we brought aboard. I know this is against airline rules, but $5 per beverage is a complete rip off. We brought Smirnoff and UA only serves Finlandia. I usually discretely get rid of the empties, but in the confusion of rushed tray clearing, I handed mine to the FA. A minute later he came back and said that bringing them on board wasn’t allowed. Oops.
The rest of flight was fine with two more movies and a glass of wine (served by another FA). We descended into the Bay Area and landed on 28R.
Schedule Dep: 6:30pm
Actual: on time
Boarding a little confusing as our aisle passenger next to us was already seated. She had a cast on her foot and preboarded. That really helped since we had to step over her to get to our seats and my girlfriend inadvertently stepped on her foot. During taxi, I saw EVA and Lufthansa departing, and Phillipines arriving. Our flight left on 28R and it was home to PHX.
Overall, I give UA a B minus. Reasons: a cancelled flight due to mechanical and no offer of a convenient reroute without my prompting, the FA’s personal bag stowage issue, and the other FA’s attitude about the drinks. I give the pilots a thumb's up and the same for whoever makes the decision to hold a flight for connecting pax. UA will still get my business, but being PHX based, am looking forward to the HP-US merger so I can use those miles to go to the Carribbean!