UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 10841 times:
**Sorry, but I had to post this TR in multiple posts.
As I was doing my usual UA fare checks, when all of the sudden I stubled upon some great fare deals out of JAX for the following few weekends. So, after some consideration, I decided to go on a mileage run with UA. First I checked on September 17th to see if I could join a couple of FlyerTalkers on a mileage run and go with them to DEN or something, than let them go on to LAX. Unfourtunatly the dates didn't work for me. So after some work I settled on September 24th.I immediatly called United reservations with my itinerary in mind. Talked to the agent, told him the exact flights I wanted, and requested to put the itenerary on hold so I could finalize everything would work out with the dates I had choice. He kindly put the itinerary on hold for me, followed by a "Thanks, you just made my job alot easier." After taking three to four hours making sure I had the 24th clear on my calendar, I called back United and went ahead and booked my reservation. After quite a bit of contemplation, I decided to go ahead and make the most out of this mileage run and went ahead and used some old UA frequent flyer miles to upgrade on my flights. My itinerary would be as follows-
JAX-IAD, "ExPlus" CR7 operated by SkyWest, in the ExPlus/Skywest version of First class.
IAD-DEN, Domestic-version 777, First Class
DEN-IAD International-version 777 (downgraded last-minute to a 767-300), Business Class
The night before the trip, Friday, September 23rd, I planned to get to bed by 10 or 11 as I would be waking up extremely early. However, due to excitment - as well as other distractions - I finally got to sleep about 12:30am. Earlier that evening when I got home from school I decided to give United's "easy check-in" a try. Because it was not 24 hours prior to my last flight home that day (IAD-JAX) it would only let me check-in through my DEN-IAD flights. So I printed out the three boarding passes, however maintaining my intent of once getting to the airport getting real/cardboard boarding passes.
Saturday, September 24th- "The Day":
I woke up about 5:15 to take a quick shower, get dressed, get some of my stuff together for the day, get my coffee going for the trip to the airport, and other stuff like that. After doing my pre-sceduled morning activities I left for the airport right about 5:40am. For this trip my dad would be driving me to the airport, so for the 45 minute ride to JAX we got all caught up on our "life talks". Needless to say, I had my ipod on and my headphones strung up my shirt, listening to music the whole ride- therefore just giving the usual satisfying nod and occasional "yes".. just to keep everybody happy- and in my case awake.
My dad dropped me off in front of the UA curbside check-in counters upon our arrival at the airport at about 6:25am. I had been told that the easy check-in kiosks at airports printed out the actual UA colored boarding passes, I headed straight for the kiosks. So I swiped my credit card, and it showed I was checked in as far as IAD. Well that's fine, but what about IAD-JAX?, I thought to myself. As I saw no button to check-in any further on my journey, I just went ahead and "re-printed" by boarding passes and I would go up to the check-in desk and take care of the minor setback in a minute. Well, to my great disappointment the kiosk gave me the usual cheesy, thin, paper boarding passes like most other airlines do. I'll take care of this at the desk, I thought to myself. Upon arrival at UAX check-in counter the conversation went something like this:
Guy: "Hey.. what's up?"
Me: "Yea.. the kiosk only checked me in as far as Dulles, and it wouldn't let me check in for my last flight from Dulles to Jacksonville. Also, can you please reprint my boarding passes with the actual cardboard passes?"
Guy: "Yea, absolutely. Not a problem at all. Can I see your itinerary?"
Me: *Hands itinerary and prepares for questioning*
Guy: *Has "wtf?" look on face.. "Umm.. do you realize you're going nowhere today?"
Guy: *Struggles for a minute than shakes it off and goes along* "Alright.. whatever, that's cool."
He managed to check me in for the IAD-JAX flight and gave me a real boarding pass, but neglected to remember my second request to reprint my other boarding passes. By now 20+ minutes had massed by and I didn't want to sit here and try to deal this out with the guy, so I moved on and figured I would deal with it with gate agents of other flights.
Directly after this I proceeded immediatly through security which only took a couple of minutes and headed right towards my gate.
UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 10829 times:
JAX - ORD
UA 5857 operated by SkyWest Airlines
Departs JAX: 7:24am
CRJ-70, "ExPlus" three-class configuration.
First Class, Seat 1D
After going through security I headed towards concourse B. I had never flown UA Express out of Jacksonville since they moved their gates downstairs, seperating themselves from the main physical concourse. I got all the way to the end of the B gates and found myself at a sign that said "United Express" accompanied by an arrow pointing down a staircase. I proceeded down the stairs and found myself in some kind of wierd dungeon-feeling area, with 3-4 United Express gates. I went over to the main seating area and took a seat. My boarding pass stated 7:04am as the designated boarding time, which was about 15 minutes away. Quite a few people were in line at the ticket counter, so I decided not to request a boarding pass for this flight. They agents started boarding about 7:05am, but decided to begin with a passenger in a wheelchair, which unfourtunatly took them 10-15 minutes to get him situated in the aircraft. After they were done with him, they started boarding first class along with Mileage Plus Premier, Premier Executive, and United 1K elite members. I headed up to the podium with my boarding pass, along with a suprisingly large elite crowd of 8-10 people. After scanning our boarding passes the gate agent directed outside, to which I went along. Going outside there were about 3 United Express aircraft on the ground. Two of those aircraft were new-colors CR7 "ExPlus" aircraft, both of which headed to ORD. Our aircraft was the one about 10 feet passed the other. All three aircraft were parked very close to eachother. The third aircraft was an old-colors AWAC CRJ 50-seater, situated directly across from the CR7s. This was the overnight aircraft that would run the JAX-IAD route a little later in the morning.
Headed up the boarding stairs to our explus CR7.
Even though I was looking forward to experiencing 'explus', United's new United Express product, experiencing 2 1/2 + hour flight in an express aircraft is hardly my idea of a fun ride. Upon getting situated in my window seat on the left side of the aircraft, 1D, we were offered a small bottle of Dannon spring water. I accepted, and thanked our nice young flight attendant, of which she later revealed she was DEN based.
Our crew pushed back about 7:30am, and wasted no time getting to the runway for a rolling takeoff.
After takeoff we were offered a "snack", which confused most first class passengers including myself. Why she couldn't have just said "snack box" is beyond me. Reguardless, I thankfully accepted it along with my choice of Orange Juice. She than got on the PA and announced "snack boxes" were going to be sold in the economy and economy plus cabins for $5.
The United Express ExPlus First Class snackbox.
Contents of the snackbox.
Thanks to my friendly, and extremely talkitive, seatmate, I was able to pass the flight quite quickly. I have to admit I'm not one for express flights, but the crew on this flight was amazingly nice, along with the service, and the First Class seats were very comfortable.
CR7 First Seat. Sorry for quality (or should I say lack thereof).
Before I knew it, a quarter of my journey was just about over as we were quickly approaching ORD.
On final approach into ORD.
Upon touchdown at ORD. The Air Canada hangar can be seen in the background.
Three CO mainline aircraft can be seen while taxiing off the runway.
We taxied over to the end of terminal B. Even though we had a bit of a late departure we had arrived to ORD about 15 minutes prior to sceduled arrival time, so we were left stuck in front of the gate for a little bit waiting for another CR7 to depart. We only had to wait about 8 minutes and we were headed into the gate. By the time the parking break was set we were about 5 minutes late.
With my connection time in ORD being approxamently 55 minutes, I had to hustle to get to my connecting flight to DEN, which was in concourse C. I made my way down the escilator and took a ride on the "moving platforms" underground at ORD with the neato lights I've always enjoyed when my travels have brought me through Chicago.
Once again, my gate for the upcoming flight would be at the end of the terminal. While speed-walking to my gate 3-4 gates before mine I noticed the upper-deck of a 747, but unfourtunatly didn't have time to check it out as the boarding time for my ORD-DEN flight was listed at 9:15.
UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 10828 times:
ORD - DEN
Departs ORD: 9:55am
Boeing 777-200, 2-Class Domestic-Version
First Class, Seat 3J
By the time I got to the gate area it was about 9:10am, and boarding would start in about 5 minutes. In the meantime, I walked up to the gate agent, handed her my e-ticket and kindly requested she re-print my boarding pass on cardboard. She gave me that "wtf?" look again.. followed by a distraught "sure...", but she did it for me never the less. With my new golden ticket, I proceded to the door area where I stood for just a couple of minutes until a man walked walked out of the jetway and told the agent they were ready to start boarding the aircraft. Promptly at 9:16am the gate agent made the usual "We will now start boarding our United first and United Mileage Plus Elite customers." I was about 6th in line for boarding, which went by very quickly. I quickly got settled into my seat, First Class seat 3J- left, window seat, and went up to the purser and asked if the flight crew could fit me in for a quick visit to the flight deck. She was extremely smile-y, which was quite a shocker compared to the meanies DL has. She came back a moment later, once again with a smile, and said they'd be more than happy to see me. She than escorted me up and I introduced myself. Suprisingly there was only a captain in the cockpit, the first officer must have been doing his pre-flight lavatory check. He invited me to take some pics, so how could I say no?!
The 777 is quite an amazing aircraft! And right as I stepped aboard it quickly became my favorite aircraft. The 777 interior is so huge it's unbelieveable. There's even this coffe mini-bar kinda thing between the galley and this hallway full of lavatories leading to the flight deck. As the rest of the aircraft started boarding I headed back to my seat and listend to some Radio United and Channel 9 (switched back and forth between the two channels quite a few times throughout the flight).
Once most of the economy pax got settled in a flight attendant came down each aisle bearing a small tray of plastic cups of Orange Juice and water. I took the Orange Juice, and my seat-mate took water.
I was also amazed at how clean the cabin was, and also how comfortable United's F was. Made Delta's out-dated first class seem like an absolute joke. I also noticed this aircraft was one of the select United aircraft that had the "blue" interior. I decided to take another moment to observe some more cabin features of the 777.
The "Blue" interior UA schmeme.
Sweet 777-style overhead bins.
Soon they begin the UA safety video, which I hadn't seen in months and months.
Cheesy UA safety video.
After multiple trys of getting the safety video to play,the flight crew's attempts proved unsuccessful. The purser than said over the PA "Flight attendants get in manual safety demonstration positions," and the crew began doing the safety demonstration Southwest-style.
Immediatly after pushback the first thing I noticed was the amazing power of the 777 and its engines. I knew I was in for a fun ride. For some reason our captain had this problem of missing the turns for the taxiways and passing literally a foot away from the lights on the sides of the taxiways. We headed on over to our runway, where we performed yet another rolling takeoff.
Turning onto our runway for a rolling takeoff towards DEN.
Once we hit our crusing altitude a flight attendant came down each aisle, this time with a cart. I was slightly disappointed they used the trolleys instead of doing service for first class directly out of the galley. However, as I was not accustomed to UA's First service so I was fine with it.
Our extremely nice flight attendant coming around for post-takeoff beverage service.
I figured I'd had enough coffee for the morning, so I decided to take a Diet Pepsi.
Diet Pepsi.. in an actual glass! Go figure!
When the flight attendant's were done with the beverage service another male F/A came around taking breakfast orders. It didn't take too long before he got to me and my seat-mate. "Mr. McInnes.." I was absolutely shocked! Number one being he actually pronounced my name right, and two he actually said my name! Back in the cattle car I'm so used to being referred to as "hey.. kid..", so this was completely unbelivable. Anyways, he said today he could offer me either a fruit plate or a mushroom omlet. Because I knew when they sorted out status and crap in the galley they would see me at the absolute bottom of the list, I told him I'd take the mushroom omlet but if that was unavilable a fruit plate would be absolutely fine. Around 15 minutes later they came around delivering meals to pax. Once again, it was wierd having direct service from the galley rather than my meal being whipped out of a cart.
Breakfast: Small fruit plate, mushroom omlet (w/ salsa), sasuage wrapped in ham, and potatoes.
I stayed away from the mushroom omlet, as omlet's are neccessarily my thing. But the potatoes, ham, sasuage, and fruit plate were all delicious and quite enjoyable. After they were done delievering the meals another flight attendant came around with a basket of bagels and three other types of pasteries (sorry.. forgot what the other three choices were). I obvieously took the bagel with cream cheese.
Bagel with "Cream Cheese"
After watching a show or two I decided to listen to some more channel 9 and Rock United. Before I knew it, we were already on our descent into DEN. Being from DSM and still going to DEN and HDN all the time I felt very at home as we were descending into DEN.
On our descent into DEN.
About to touch-down on the runway in DEN.
Upon touchdown in Denver.
Taxiing past the UA maitnence hangar.
The welcoming tent-like structure of Denver International.
My first up-close encounter with a JetBlue aircraft.
Much like ORD, we arrived early in DEN so we had to wait for an aircraft to get out of our gate. This time it was an A320 that we would be waiting on. Right as we got there it started pushing back and shortly it got clearance to taxi, leaving us sitting on the ground in front of the gate for only a few minutes. We soon deplaned, and I immediatly walked over to the departure information screens to check on my flight to IAD. As I had already gotten the easyupdate text message on my phone while we were on the ground taxiing to our gate, all I had to do was confirm the gate assignment and flight time (which was on time, as always with UA). I headed over to my gate promptly, which thankfully was in the same concourse so I just had to walk down about 15 gates to get to it. With my 1 hour, 17 minute layover in DEN this time I actually had time to go to the bathroom! I proceeded to the gate area, where I was immediatly disappointed...
UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 10825 times:
DEN - IAD
Departs DEN: 12:40pm
Boeing 767-300, 3-Class International-Version
Business Class, Seat 8A
As soon as I arrived at the gate area I immediatly noticed our aircraft had been downgraded from a 777 to a 767-300. Part of me was disappointed because I wanted to see what I might be experiencing next year if I take the 777 to LHR, but the other side of me was okay with it because heck, it was still business class and I would still recieve the same great UA service. I had specificly booked seat 8A because on the 777 it is in the forward business class cabin and is referred to as many travellers as the "best seat in the house", even by United's own CSRs. Right away I wanted to make sure my seat assigment held, or at least I was still in business class. I approached the ticket counter, handed the woman my ticket:
Me: "Hi. How are you doing?"
Her: "Pretty good, thank you. What can I help you with?"
Me: "Yes, I'd like to see if because of the aircraft downgrade I whether my seat assignment needs to be changed or not."
Me: *Hands her boarding pass.*
Her: "Oh.. that's a very good question. One second."
Her: *Takes boarding pass and looks up something in the computer*
Her: "Mmm.. Nope, you're all good."
Me: "Alright, thank you. Also, can you please reprint my boarding pass on an actual boarding card?"
Her: *Express "wtf?" look.*
Her: "Umm.. yeh, sure."
Her: *Reprints and hands back old boarding pass."
Me: "Alright, thank you. Have a nice day.
Her: "You too."
So I headed over to the boarding door area and hung around there while talking to a couple other a.netters on the phone for a few minutes until boarding started. Before too long, they started boarding, this time (along with elites, of course) they boarding First and Business class passengers together. I was person 6 or 7 in line. Once again, boarding went extremely fast. I got on and headed to my seat, 8A.
United Business Class seats on the 767-300.
A nice pillow and blanket to keep me company on this flight.
My seat, 8A.
Business class legroom.
Upon finding my seat and getting settled in, my and my seat-mate immediatly just clicked. We started talking about everything. She was a middle aged woman who owned a mortgage company and flew between a small Colorado city and her home (IAD) all the time. She was Premier and flew paid Business alot. (Just to give you some of her background.)
I had noticed the aircraft downgrade had induced quite a few problems among UA agents and ground crew. The meals had to be loaded through the boarding door stacked in boxes on top of carts, people's seat assignments didn't fit together, and the crews were totally screwed up as they had to pull in different flight crews for the 763 instead of the original 777. To my suprise business class was offered no pre-departure beverage, which I assumed was because of the aircraft downgrade difficulties. No worries.. all was good. Me and my seat partner were having way to much fun messing around with all the seat adjustments to even notice. After the rest of the aircraft was aboard the boarding door was closed and we were soon on our way to IAD. I don't even remember a safety video or safety demonstration being shown.. but maybe I was just having too much fun to notice.
We had another smoothe take off, as always with UA.
As soon as we got to cruising level me and my seatmate immediatly got settled in with our PTV and reclined seats.
An extremely comfortable experience with United.
As soon as the captain was done with his usual "welcome aboard" announcement the flight attendants got up and began drink service. This time they did service directly from the galley. When he delieverd the drinks, he also delieverd the ever-so controversial United Nuts.
My Diet Pepsi and Nuts while watching our flight on skymap.
After beverage service was complete a F/A came around for lunch orders. The choices for lunch today were either a warm turkey sandwich or a chef salad. I opted for the sandwich.
Lunch- Warm turkey sandwich with fruit and freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie.
After lunch me and my seat-mate continued to watch "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", which was being shown on channel 2 today. Since I had already seen it before, I decided to go in the back to check out economy.
United's Economy Class on the 767-300.
Since I had already had my share of trans-atlantic economy for the year I decided to head back up to my humble home in business class.
Reclined yet once again.
Boeing 767-300 engines.
View of the 767-300 business class cabin from my seat, 8A.
With about an hour an ten minutes or so remaining in flight time I decided to try to get some sleep. Although I did get a good 40 minutes of sleep in, I had fallen asleep on my side, leaving half of my body numb. That's okay..
Soon we were on our decent into IAD.
On descent into Washington/Dulles.
Coming in hot on IAD.
Milliseconds before landing at Dulles.
Some serious reverse-thrust action happening here.
Taxiing by a Qatar a/c that was in Dulles for some wierd reason.
Upon arrival in Dulles.. well I did lots of fun things for 4 hours. We'll leave that there. I could bore you for hours explaining what I was doing in IAD, but to save you from that I'll just move on to my next flight.
UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 10822 times:
IAD - JAX
UA 5453 operated by Air Wisconsin
Departs IAD: 9:40pm
Economy Class, Seat 1A
Boarding started promptly at 9:20pm. For this flight I was the last person onboard, but I made it never the less. This flight was the most uneventful flight of the day. Listened to iPod for an hour and a half on the way home and arrived in JAX right on time at 11:49pm.
Boeing744 From Canada, joined Jun 2005, 1873 posts, RR: 22
Reply 6, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 10758 times:
Quoting UAalltheway (Thread starter): so for the 45 minute ride to JAX we got all caught up on our "life talks". Needless to say, I had my ipod on and my headphones strung up my shirt, listening to music the whole ride- therefore just giving the usual satisfying nod and occasional "yes".. just to keep everybody happy- and in my case awake.
MH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1706 posts, RR: 29
Reply 8, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 10675 times:
The QR Airbus was probably at IAD, either for the recent UN convention or some sort of diplomatic run...
Thanks for the great trip-reports and load's of photo's to go along with...enjoyed both of them: just for my interest - on your ORD-DEN run: the breakfast was served like that, or did you "enjoy" it already before taking this picture ??? The way the sauce has been served is a no-no, IMHO...
UAalltheway From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 10611 times:
Quoting MH017 (Reply 8): just for my interest - on your ORD-DEN run: the breakfast was served like that, or did you "enjoy" it already before taking this picture ??? The way the sauce has been served is a no-no, IMHO...
Actually it was served like that, which I found quite suprising also.
Daron4000 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 713 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (9 years 9 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 10446 times:
Maybe the sauce issue happened because of turbulence. It's not as bad as when my parents flew Internatioal F and due to turbulence, teh entire cart of appetizer shrimp cocktail spilled onto the cabin floor Oh well, anyways, in domestic F, on narrowbody, they don't use the cart for drinks, but on 777, its acceptable since there are a lot of seats to serve, and then there's still the meal service. While some think that the service is rushed, I prefer a drink and then a meal to be served quickly so that I can eat and suppress my hunger I may have had from sitting in the terminal and watch planes. However, when the FA's finish this, there's not much else for them to do, but i enjoy UA's inflight entertainment and am not bothered by this, especially on short flights like ORD-DEN, where its easy, if you're thirsty to go to the galley and request, for example, a glass of water.
Boston92 From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 3390 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (8 years 6 months 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 8444 times:
Great Report even though I was unable to view any pics. Have fun on your next trip with UA as I always do! In fact, I made 106 segments for 2006, 98 of them being UA and the other 8 were AA (6) and Sun Country (2), so I am pretty much all UA, all the time!
"Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?"