First off, sorry about the lack of pics. My camera was not working at the time. Then again, in Y class and flying out of IAD, there wasn't a lot to take a picture of.
Date: Tue, Nov 22
Aircraft type: Airbus 319
Miles earned: 1452
Scheduled departure: 4:30 PM
Actual: 4:25 PM
Scheduled arrival: 6:29 PM
Actual: 6:05 PM
Time enroute: 3 hour, 59 minute
Reservations: I was traveling on a free ticket voucher, which I earned after choosing to get bumped from a September flight out of ASE. I booked this trip the same day I got the voucher. I tried to book it with the Red Carpet Club agent in DEN. She told me she could ticket it, but I had to book it with UA Res. So I called India, ahem, UA Res., and tried to get the darned agent to understand what I was telling her, which was quite difficult. Finally, she got me seats on the following reservation, and I ticketed it with the agent in DEN.
I was travelling with my brother on this flight, who I met in Union Station in Washington, D.C., coming off of a Greyhound bus. We took the Metro out to the West Falls Church Metro station, and boarded a packed-to-capacity Washington Flyer Coach bus to IAD. This was the first time that I have seen this bus ever full in all of the times that I have taken it. After the :25 minute bus trip, we arrive at IAD.
Check-in: I checked both my brother and I in for our flights the night before at united.com. Not only did each of us get 500 bonus miles, but the system was actually not moving at a snails-pace for once! I printed out boarding passes in 60 seconds or less, as advertised, and was ready to go.
At the airport: With our boarding passes in hand, we headed straight toward security, dreading what would be security at 1pm at IAD on one of the busiest days of the year. We didn't have any bags to check, so we were able to bypass the check-in counters altogether. Much to my surprise, the line at security was only about 20 minutes. Neither of us were subjected to secondary screening, so we breezed right through. We then boarded one of those horrid Mobile Lounge systems, and were off to Concourse C.
We arrived at concourse C at about 1:30pm, with about 3 hours left until departure of our flight. My brother was hungry, so we made the LONG walk down to Concourse D, since the Wendy's in C is not yet open (though it looks close!) We had a nice, leisurely meal with surprisingly good, efficient service (I left a nice tip) at TGI Friday's, and headed back to the Red Carpet Club closest to our gate at C7 (our gate was C11).
The Red Carpet Club was packed. I showed my card after a 2 or 3 minute wait at check-in (this is my least favorite of the IAD clubs) and proceeded to get some drinks, and get some work done. We left the club at about 3:50pm, and noted that it was even busier than we had arrived in advance of the evening's international departures, I am sure.
We then proceeded to our gate (C11) and boarding commenced promptly. The gate agent here, for the short time I saw her, seemed nice, and even took my boarding paper pass from me and scanned it under the machine for me. As a Premier, I was boarded in Seating Area 1, which was called with the 8 First Class passengers at the beginning of boarding. My brother, who is still working his way up the old elite ladder, boarded with Seating Area 3, as he had a Middle Seat next to me.
I was greeted with a very friendly smile and exchange from the top-notch purser and 2nd flight attendant, and exchanged some very brief, friendly banter with them, which caused some laughter out of them, and I headed to my seats. I was the first one in my row, so I placed my bags in the overhead bin (a big advantage of Seating 1). I noticed there were no blankets or pillows in my row, so (shhh!) I took them from the row across from mine, in case my brother wanted one. He came shortly thereafter, and by then was able to fit only one of his bags above, and had to stick the other beneath him. Normally I like row 6 on this aircraft in Y+, but they had been taken already. Row 7 was not bad, though. I plugged in the headphones, and changed my channel to Channel 9!
As evidenced above, we left the gate early, thanks in large part to the friendly, efficient flight crew. The flight attendant played the safety demonstration, and remarked, "now remember, you have the best flight crew in the air on this flight," which caused quite a chuckle out of some of the passengers.
We taxied for a bit, and were quickly in the air, climbing to our cruising altitude of 38,000 feet. The climb was smooth and beverage service began probably about :30 minutes into our flight. I chose a Diet Pepsi, and was given a bag of Pretzels, which I quickly gave to my brother, as I hate Pretzels. Those horrid Ted SnackBoxes were offered for 5 dollars and I gladyl declined having one. I did note that for once, all 4 were available. The purser put the NBC In-Flight programming on first, which oddly enough, started about half-way through. It finished, and she put on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which my brother said was not very good, so I chose to attempt (unsuccessfully) to get some rest instead. Our empty drinks were collected promptly, and I headed back to use the lavatory, surprised to find both rears were available. I chatted with the flight attendants briefly, and they said there night had just begun and they were off to Calgary/Banff for layover upon arrival in DEN, which apparently according to them has some great shopping close to the airport.
Water and coffee was offered throughout the flight, both of which I declined. Soon, we began our descent after some vectoring in MIN center due to traffic. We arrived, as evidenced above a whopping 24 minutes early, and was surprised to find out that our gate was actually available. The purser welcomed us to DEN, and instructed the pax. to clap for the "best crew in the air," which caused applause and laughter once again from the pax. The gate agent met our flight very quickly, and the door was opened and we were off. That plane was then headed to STL, according the display at the gate. We then headed to the train, which was very packed, to baggage claim to the Alamo bus, which took us promptly to Alamo-Rent-a-Car.
Notes: I was travelling on a voucher ticket here, so only paid the taxes, which is a major plus. On the downside, it limited me to the A319 flight, instead of flight 903, the 5:30pm IAD-DEN departure on an internation B777, which I much prefer, or, option 2, the DCA-DEN 5pm non-stop on an A320, as I'd much rather fly out of DCA than IAD, but I guess beggars can't be choosers!
Reservations: 0/10 (Outsourcing reservations to DEN, and lack of ability to book voucher tix. on-line does not sit well with me).
Meal: 1/10 (don't like Pepsi or Pretzels, and there was no real meal)
Check-in: 10/10, though no upgrade for purchase was offered.
Red Carpet Club: 5/10 (average, long wait to enter)
Flight Crew: 10/10
Good job, UA! I can tell the morale is changing quickly. Stay tuned for the next segment, which I am dreading, DEN-BWI.