I went to Chicago for the weekend last Friday. I was flying United in Coach class on an A320 leaving at 7:30AM. I could barely sleep the night before, owing to the fact that I was thinking too hard about the day ahead and that I had gone to bed at 1:00AM the previous night, seriously throwing off my circadian rhythm. I was finally able to get about four and a half hours of sleep and I woke up at about 5:15. I quickly took a shower and then my mom drove me to the airport. There was noone on the highway, so we got there in about 15 minutes at 6:00. I wanted to get to the airport so early because a friend of mine who was going to the UK was leaving a little bit earlier than me and we agreed to meet each other. I saw her off and then made my way over to the United terminal. There were a whole lot of flights leaving from both terminals and not one gate was unoccupied. There were a lot of people in the very small terminal and I could barely get a seat next to the terminal window. Another UA flight was leaving before me and after it taxied away the A320 I was to be on was brought out from remote parking to the gate. The check in counter opened and I tried to steer my mom over in the direction of the nicer and funnier gate agent (there is one in every terminal) in hopes of getting an upgrade. But my mom said we should just be concerned about checking in first. So when after I had said goodbye to her and I boarded and sat down I noticed one or two seats in the "Economy Plus" section of the aircraft that were not full! I didn't want to ask the FA to see if she could reseat me because two people had already settled down next to me and I certainly did not want to make them get out of their seats and potentially hate me because I went to a better part of the airplane. My seat was 11A, which unfortunately was right over the wing and compromised much of my view. It was pretty comfortable, and I had almost enough legroom (I am 5'11).
We left the gate on time and were behind a Delta 763 on its way to JFK on the taxiway. It looked splendid in the new(old) colors and I just got to see it take off by straining my view. The takeoff was fine for us, and although a little long, we got into the air with no trouble. IT was a clear day and the view of San Diego was nice as we went out over the Pacific Ocean and turned in the direction of Chicago. I could still see the Delta 763 as well, even though it was getting rapidly smaller.
After we had reached a cruising altitude, the breakfast srvice began. The choices were french toast or an omlette. I chose the omlette, which was pretty disgusting, along with everything else. No evidence of the "Taste of Chicago" promotion that was being advertised on the internet. After breakfast, the movie started. It was "My Dog Skip", and I elected not to watch it. Afterwards, though, I watched "Dharma and Greg" and some of the more logical stories on "Dateline". I like the TVs in the A320. They are flat ones that fold down from the ceiling just above the seats about every three rows and had a good quality picture.
After the shows had ended, I noticed we were on our final descent to ORD. It was a nice day there, too, and I saw a UA DC10 go right below us on its way out from ORD. We landed on the east/west facing runway closest to the terminals on the right side of them if you are facing east. Waiting right next to us as we landed to take off was a UA 747-400. After we got of the runway, it started its takeoff roll, but not fast enough to allow enough space for an incoming Brasilia to land, so the Brasilia had to do a go-around.
I arrived at UA's B terminal, and my grandmother was waiting for me there. I had told her I wanted to do some spotting at ORD with her digital camera, and she said she didn't mind. We went over to the American terminal and I got an OK view of the international terminal. Some of it was blocked by a jetway, though.
I had a great time in Chicago, and I left on Monday. My flight was UA 477 scheduled to leave at 11:57AM from the C terminal on a 757. It was foggy and drizzly at ORD, and that was creating some delays. I said goodbye to my grandparents (who I visited in Chicago) and boarded the plane on time. My grandfather had tried to get me an upgrade using his clout as an "Premier Executive" member in UA's frequent-flyer program, but the stoic gate agent said no.
My seat was 20A again right over the wing which curtailed my view. The plane was an older 757, evidenced by the older-looking seats and cracked window shutters. I was pretty uncomfortable; any type of posture in those seats make my shoulders ache becacuse they are somewhat contorted. The plane stayed at the gate for about a half-hour, waiting for connecting passengers from an arriving DC10 that parked next to us. At around 12:30 the plane left the gate, and we proceeded to the taxiway, where we waited for another half-hour. Luckily, the pilot had the ATC feed on audio channel 9, and I was able to listen to what was happening with takeoffs and landings. We were not near the international terminal, so I did not get to see any unusual planes except for a JAL 744, EVA Air Cargo MD11, and a Korean Air Cargo 742. The pilot of the JAL plane and the air-traffic controller were having a little trouble understanding each other, which was slightly disturbing.
We finally took off at around 1:05, an hour behind schedule. We were served lunch shortly after takeoff, and unfortunately the FA's ran out of a nice-looking Asian Chicken-noodle dish right before they got to my row. I got a peice of beef that was OK, but again there was no evidence of the "Taste of Chicago" promotion. The foccacia roll that we got was good, though.
The movie on the flight was "The Straight Story", about a guy who travels 375 miles on a lawn mower to meet his friend. The TVs on this 757 were not as good as the A320, and they were on the middle ceiling of the aircraft, which made them a little hard to see. The movie got boring after a while, so I turned on the audio feed of ATC anyway. I listened as we passed into the airspace of Minneapolis Center, Denver Center, Albuquerque Center, LA Center, and finally Lindbergh tower in SAN.
I noticed that the 757 was much quieter than the A320 on my flight, even though I was in the same place on both plane. It was much easier to listen to ATC and also my CD player.
We had made back about a half-hour of our delay on our way to SAN, and we landed at Lindbergh field exactly 30 minutes late. I personally did not like the previous flight, and I think I would have had a better time on American with their "more room throughout coach" promotion. But I do look forward to flying United internationally again, where they have very good service.