StarAC17
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UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:21 am

Hey all,

I'm going to be leaving Aus for a time because I am homesick and miss my family. I'm studying so I'm going to take a few terms off and head home for a bit.

I do love it here though!!

Anyways I was talking to my parents and they are looking to use their Aeroplan miles to fly me home one way and there is a lot available for the time I want to go home which is early July. The issue I have is that it is on UA and although I'm fairly low maintenance as a passenger I do enjoy the IFE and will have my laptop to substitute but it only has about 2-3 hours battery life.

I know UA doesn't have seatback IFE on the 744 which is what they show flying but how is the legroom (I'm 6'1) and the general IFE on a 13.5 hour flight?? I'm going to see if they can find something on NZ (which I like the best) but Aeroplan's website shows nothing.

I will connect to AC at LAX or SFO on to YYZ and know what that is like.
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retrolivery
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:36 am

If your parents are using Aeroplan, has any availability come up for Air Canada themselves? I know that AC034 flies direct SYD-YYZ with a stop in YVR, with AC033 doing the same on the return.

It's aboard 777-200LR equipment with AVOD, mood-lighting, etc. Much better than what you'll find on UA to be sure (although I've not flown on UA's services from LAX/SFO to Australia, it's kind of a no-brainer in this case).
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:19 am

Quoting retrolivery (Reply 1):
It's aboard 777-200LR equipment with AVOD, mood-lighting, etc. Much better than what you'll find on UA to be sure (although I've not flown on UA's services from LAX/SFO to Australia, it's kind of a no-brainer in this case).

No there is nothing for AC, those rewards seats get gobbled up pretty quickly. Been on the AC 77W (that was in J so big difference) on a YYZ-PVG flight and the mood lighting has a huge effect. AC is good because you get seat back IFE and plugs to use a laptop when in flight, also I think the Y pitch is about the same as in their transborder product which I am fine with.

I think AC has a lot of demand on that route because it is the most expensive of the options, also because it is one flight a day. If I were to pay the cheapest 3 airlines are KE, EK and NZ.
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zrs70
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:30 am

How flexible are you on your date? Are you wanting Y or C class?

On July 18, there is at least one seat SYD-YVR on AC in Y. On other dates, there is AKL-YVR on NZ in C.
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:24 am

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
How flexible are you on your date? Are you wanting Y or C class?

Probably Y, but would consider Y+ or J if it is available.

Quoting zrs70 (Reply 3):
On July 18, there is at least one seat SYD-YVR on AC in Y. On other dates, there is AKL-YVR on NZ in C.

AKL-YYZ via LAX is available on Jul 12 and 13 but ekk. 10 abreast in Y might we worse than no AVOD with UA.
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PI4EVER
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:04 pm

Tim, don't freak out about 10 abreast on the NZ 77W. Determine the dates the flight is available, call NZ and find out if the 2 seat rows in rear cabin....row 57 & higher are available....and select one of those seats once booked. Lots of room at window (cabin curvature) and aisle. Only one other person to deal with as a seatmate. An aisle seat in the center 4 seat section is convenient as well to avoid climbing over strangers to get out of your seat. As you've experienced, you just can't beat NZ service in Y. If AC is not an option due to availability, select NZ when available by adjusting your travel date. A lot is said about 10 abreast, but if you pick a good seat the layout is not an issue. I didn't feel the NZ 77W was any worse as a 10 abreast airplane than a fully packed 747. It frankly was a great flight, with comfortable seats, legroom, entertainment, food and service by a great crew. I was in Y, row 57.
I'm not bashing UA, but considering what you're accustomed to in traveling long-haul Y, I don't think you'll be happy on UA. Definitely consider buying up to Y+ for legroom, but entertainment is lacking. Food and beverage is OK but not to QF or NZ standard. Riding a 747 has its charm, but its a long ride as you know, on anything!
Good Luck with your plans,
Thomas
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:47 pm

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 5):
Tim, don't freak out about 10 abreast on the NZ 77W. Determine the dates the flight is available, call NZ and find out if the 2 seat rows in rear cabin....row 57 & higher are available....and select one of those seats once booked. Lots of room at window (cabin curvature) and aisle. Only one other person to deal with as a seatmate.

Thanks for the info, also there is the option of upgrading to Y+ on NZ also.

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 5):
I'm not bashing UA, but considering what you're accustomed to in traveling long-haul Y, I don't think you'll be happy on UA. Definitely consider buying up to Y+ for legroom, but entertainment is lacking. Food and beverage is OK but not to QF or NZ standard. Riding a 747 has its charm, but its a long ride as you know, on anything!

Been on the 747 a few times and there is a small novelty but I love the 777 also, if I choose UA I hope for a swap but that is unlikely. I will look again and see if the option comes up out of MEL with NZ because the alternative is buying a ticket to AKL and transiting that day or the day before which is no big deal because I think there are seat sales on at the moment.
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roseflyer
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:30 pm

I personally think it depends on if you are a good sleeper or not. On the LAX-SYD flight, the flight leaves relatively late. If you can sleep well enough on an airplane, it isn’t too bad. On the SYD-LAX flight, it leaves earlier in the afternoon, so you are awake a bit longer and stuck with general screens for IFE. If you don’t sleep on airplanes, it is a long flight and watching the 4 main screen movies can get boring.

If you want legroom, UA and economy plus is a good option as it is relatively inexpensive compared to Air New Zealand’s premium economy. Legroom on Air Canada, Qantas and V Australia is all 32''. Air New Zealand is 32-34''. United and Delta are 31''.

There are people on this forum who say that flying without seatback IFE is like punishment and that United should be bankrupted and liquidated because of it. However in the draconian days of 15-20 years ago, there was no seat back IFE on any airline. To this day, DL, AA and UA all have a portion of their long haul fleet without it (DL flies 767s and 747s on 12 hour flights without it too, and many say US airlines are horrible). IFE is nice and AVOD is better, but if you want to go home and UA is the only option, I am sure you will manage. Others have a better economy product, but economy is about transporting you from A to B in my opinoin and is miserable on any long haul flight. My personal opinion is that I would bring the laptop, and use it for some IFE, watch the main movie if you are interested and take a sleeping pill to fall asleep. You’ll wake up and be at your destination after a long arduous 14 hour flight. I’d prefer the nonstop option without IFE and mood lighting compared to a transit via AKL, but that’s my opinion.
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cedarjet
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:34 pm

I'm amazed that IFE is even a factor when choosing your flight. For one thing, it doesn't always work, whether cos the whole aircraft needs to be reset which often takes up to an hour, or the headphone socket at your seat is broken (this happens to me a lot).

But most of all, are you sure you can't entertain yourself without TV? Pretty damning if that's the case. One thing I love about flying - other than the hardware, the destinations, the view from the window - is the chance to read for hours. How often do you get to do that on the ground? A single hour is a luxury, but in flight you can read a whole book in a single sitting. Don't overlook the value of sitting and thinking about life and your journey - both in general and the specific trip on which you have just embarked.

I love catching up on movies (when the audio works on both ears etc) but having IFE has taken away some of the original charm of flying. Why not fly United and enjoy some reading time and conversation with your seat mate (UA is "the friendly skies" after all) and the view from 35,000, and see where your thoughts take you?

(And turning off the TV at home is never a bad thing either. There hasn't been a TV at Chez Cedar for six years - since I was 32 - and it has not been missed.)
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RyanairGuru
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:00 am

If you are somebody who can sleep on planes then I would personally go UA and pay for EconomyPlus ($150?)

UA aren't that bad. Is QF or NZ better? Yes. But I've never met somebody who hasn't survived UA SYD-LAX/SFO  

If you want to go home at the cheapest price using your miles and UA is the only option then book it. If you dilly dally hoping seats on other flight open up (less likely than more) you may well miss those seats. And remember what they say about beggars not being choosers....

(On that point I went to the USA on QFFF points last year. The only option was via HNL. QF's 767s to HNL make UA 747s look luxurious, but I couldn't complain because the flight cost $80)
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:31 am

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 7):
However in the draconian days of 15-20 years ago, there was no seat back IFE on any airline.

The difference is it didn't exist until then.

The biggest gripes I think people have is that they haven't implemented AVOD in the past few years when other airlines have, even on older fleets.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 9):
If you are somebody who can sleep on planes then I would personally go UA and pay for EconomyPlus ($150?)

I can in certain circumstances, night flights I usually get some sleep but one advantage I see in going with NZ is that their flights leave at 7-8pm where as UA leaves SYD in the middle of the day.

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 9):
If you want to go home at the cheapest price using your miles and UA is the only option then book it. If you dilly dally hoping seats on other flight open up (less likely than more) you may well miss those seats. And remember what they say about beggars not being choosers....

NZ has a couple of seats a few days later out of AKL so their is some options. I may book that and experience EK across the Tasman (being an A.netter and all)
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:11 am

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 10):
I may book that and experience EK across the Tasman (being an A.netter and all)

If your going across the ditch don't even consider anyone else! EK are far and away the best airline on the route, and their fares to AKL are pretty reasonably priced
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Viscount724
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:32 am

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 5):
A lot is said about 10 abreast, but if you pick a good seat the layout is not an issue.

Even the 2-abreast seats and armrests at the rear are still narrower than on a 9-abreast 777 (or 10-abreast 747). If there are any other options, why put up with 10 abreast on a 777? Air travel is unpleasant enough as it is.
 
runner13
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:00 am

WOW what did we ever do without seatback monitors. I've flown the SYD-SFO route in Y+ it's worth the 150 bucks. Very comfortable. How about this. Stay up the night before drinking all night long. Bring a good book, you know those things with paper and words in them that tell a story, and some good magazines, you know good guy magazines like Men's Health, Maxim, and Stuff. Enjoy the free flight from you parents miles and quit bitching about not being able to watch tv on the 12 hour flight. Just saying.
 
WROORD
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:38 am

Quoting cedarjet (Reply 8):
A single hour is a luxury, but in flight you can read a whole book in a single sitting

Exactly, I am baout to fly on UA from ORD to NRT on 747 and have my book and crosswords ready for the trip.It give your brain a chance to work while your body is relaxing.
 
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NZ107
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:07 am

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 10):
I usually get some sleep but one advantage I see in going with NZ is that their flights leave at 7-8pm where as UA leaves SYD in the middle of the day.

The UA flights leave SYD at 1350 and 1445 which is the same as 1550 and 1645 when converted to NZ time. There's only 3-4 hours in it.. And I wouldn't expect you to become that much more tired within those 3 hours!
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:41 am

Ok so I'm going to go with UA for this flight, how do I upgrade to Y+ because I'm going to be booking this through Aeroplan's website, and the only options are economy or first.
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PI4EVER
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:59 am

Hey Tim,
You should receive a UA confirmation/record locator you then use on the website to display your booking. You select seats from the seat mask for each flight and follow through the prompts to enter credit card info.
If you are interested in a window seat, please note only rows 19, 20 and 24 have windows.....all others are misaligned with no view other than the sidewall. If you prefer an aisle, opt for the center section but avoid row 25 due traffic to/from lav's behind you. Row 19 seats have built-in tray tables.
Layout and configurations are found on "www.seatguru.com" and "www.seatexpert.com". You can also use Google Images for pictures of the 747-400 Economy Plus cabin.
Enjoy your ride,
Thomas
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 9:27 am

Quoting PI4EVER (Reply 17):
You should receive a UA confirmation/record locator you then use on the website to display your booking. You select seats from the seat mask for each flight and follow through the prompts to enter credit card info.
If you are interested in a window seat, please note only rows 19, 20 and 24 have windows.....all others are misaligned with no view other than the sidewall. If you prefer an aisle, opt for the center section but avoid row 25 due traffic to/from lav's behind you. Row 19 seats have built-in tray tables.
Layout and configurations are found on "www.seatguru.com" and "www.seatexpert.com". You can also use Google Images for pictures of the 747-400 Economy Plus cabin.
Enjoy your ride,

I'll check it out when I book the ticket. If I understand Seat Guru the UA Y+ seat is the same seat with 3 inches more legroom, may be useful because I'm pretty tall and can get around others much easier.
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aerorobnz
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:20 pm

Avoid UA if there is any other option whatsoever. I'd rather pay for a ticket than convert miles to travel UA. I could barely cope with 3h on their 744 let alone 15h
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:45 pm

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 18):
Avoid UA if there is any other option whatsoever. I'd rather pay for a ticket than convert miles to travel UA. I could barely cope with 3h on their 744 let alone 15h

If I was paying I would avoid them also, unless they were significantly cheaper than all the other options.

My personal choice of airline from Aus/NZ to North America is NZ.

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 18):
I'll check it out when I book the ticket. If I understand Seat Guru the UA Y+ seat is the same seat with 3 inches more legroom, may be useful because I'm pretty tall and can get around others much easier.

I'm having an issue getting Y+ more less general seat selection as the tracking ID number isn't working on UA's website. Is this because I booked through Aeroplan??

Any Ideas on how to resolve it so I can get the seat that makes me sleep the best.
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PI4EVER
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:08 pm

If you have a UA MileagePlus account, log in using your account # and future bookings will display. If no UA account,
you need the 6 digit/letter "record locator' for UA. It is a separate confirmation/reference # to the AC/Aeroplan booking record.
If AC/Aeroplan cannot identify the specific UA RLOC, call UA, provide the flight #, date of departure and your name so the UA agent can display your booking. They'll provide you with the RLOC for future use and help set up your Y+ seat assignments/purchase over the phone or let you access your booking to handle it yourself by using that RLOC. Look at the seat map for your specific flights ahead of time to determine what seats are available in Y+ if you elect the phone agent to handle for you.....like asking for a specific row, seat #, window, or aisle etc to insure you get your best seat request.
Good Luck, hope this helps getting you set up for your UA flights.
Thomas
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DocLightning
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:15 pm

Quoting StarAC17 (Thread starter):
I know UA doesn't have seatback IFE on the 744 which is what they show flying but how is the legroom (I'm 6'1) and the general IFE on a 13.5 hour flight?? I'm going to see if they can find something on NZ (which I like the best) but Aeroplan's website shows nothing.

I flew UA from SFO-SYD in 2008. On the outbound leg, the interior of the aircraft had not been redone since the early 1990's (the seats were newer, but the bins, bulkhead covers, etc. were all old). IFE consisted of CRT monitors mounted in the ceiling (most of which were severely discolored) and the old-fashioned tri-color projectors. In our section, the screen had broken off the bulkhead and was replaced with strips of white computer paper. Channel 9 is pretty much useless because from about an hour out of SFO until maybe an hour out of SYD there is no radio traffic.

On the trip back, the interior had been redone, so at least it wasn't 20 years old, but there is still no IFE other than the overheads. Standard UA seat pitch in Y is 32", IIRC.

The only reason I was on UA was it was a "free" mileage flight. I say "free" because it still cost $300 in fees, but that's much better than the $1500 base fare I would have paid. Their onboard product is just not competitive with any other transpacific carrier.

No matter which airline you fly, it's a horribly long flight. My advice is to get someone to prescribe you some sleeping pills to knock you out for most of the flight (flights to the North American continent tend to leave in the afternoon and arrive in the morning of the same day, but fly overnight ["time travel"]). There is only so much pain that the AVOD can alleviate. You will eat two meals aboard the aircraft, so again, even if the food is horrible, you'll live. What winds up making a bigger deal is that you will have to clear US customs if you fly UA to a Canadian destination. I would suggest going with AC for that reason alone, not to mention mood lighting, better soft product, and AVOD.
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StarAC17
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RE: UA MEL-SYD-LAX/SFO How Bad Is It?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:22 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 22):
No matter which airline you fly, it's a horribly long flight. My advice is to get someone to prescribe you some sleeping pills to knock you out for most of the flight (flights to the North American continent tend to leave in the afternoon and arrive in the morning of the same day, but fly overnight ["time travel"]). There is only so much pain that the AVOD can alleviate. You will eat two meals aboard the aircraft, so again, even if the food is horrible, you'll live. What winds up making a bigger deal is that you will have to clear US customs if you fly UA to a Canadian destination. I would suggest going with AC for that reason alone, not to mention mood lighting, better soft product, and AVOD.

I have done it both ways a few times so I know how long it is, actually the eastbound legs I find go faster usually. Because its using Aeroplan, I basically have to choose what is available and NZ or AC isn't listed as an option.

I will be transiting in SFO and will get on an AC flight from there so the US customs clearance I will have to deal with regardless which is no big deal as I usually get whisked through without any issues.

One other thing regarding UA's baggage rules, what is the limit and how much is the extra bag fee? I will be checking 2 bags.
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