This was the second flight to be taken en-route to Las Vegas from London-Heathrow.
November 21st, 2001.
Having arrived at some remote international gate I think M20, not sure, but were parked next to a Sun Country B727-200 ( an aircraft which will be sorely missed in a couple of years or less) which had just arrived from Cancun. All I can say is O'Hare get yourself some moving walkways from this concourse of gates! The walk to immigration and customs is very looooooooong.
Otherwise O'Hare is modern and clean to transit.
Immigration and customs formalities were cleared within about 10 mins and we made our way by tram to Terminal 1s B concourse. We were going to use the Red Carpet Lounge there but it was way too crowded - it was the day before Thanksgiving after all. So we headed off to the C concourse, which was where our flight was due to leave from anyway, the lounge there is far better and affords views over the ramp, but it was night anyway, and all that was of interest was a nosed in B777-200 of United, about to depart for Paris CDG, you could seee through/Thru (in the US now) the cockpit and cabin windows that the flight crew and passengers were making their final preparations before departure. The 777 is indeed an awesome aircraft close up.
Our flight wasn't due to leave until UA711 was not due to depart until 7.45pm so we took time to relax, have tea, coffee and soft drinks, nachos and other savoury snacks before heading down to gate C19.
For any of you unfamiliar with United's concourses in the US they have these really cool flight information boards at the departure gates which show good graphics of their aircraft plus flight info such as where the aircraft is coming from, equipment type, block flight time, in flight service, entertainment and destination weather. Would love to see these in the UK.
The concourse was really busy with the pre Thanksgiving throng of families waiting to go to places such as Boise, Portland, Des Moines, Sacremento, as well and of course Las Vegas being taken care of by our B757-222 N536UA (have you ever tried to get tail numbers off a UA acft/or any at night?, it's hard - airline staff get really puzzled/amused when you ask for it).
Anyway we were travelling Domestic First for this leg, so were first to board this full looking flight. My partner and I had seats 1A and 1B just behind the forward bulkhead - which fortunately has a slight cutaway at it's base for an extra few foot inches.
I have to say it but N536UA is a grubby looking machine inside - or was on that day. Looking very tardy inside.
Blanket and pillows provided, jackets taken and pre-flight vodka and diet coke in hand I settled back into the seat with channel 9 on the coach style headphones. The crew were once again living up to their friendly skies motto and we had a very warm welcome aboard from our lady captain who advised us our flight would be 3hrs 19 mins and we were expecting an early arrival at LAS.
We taxied out at 1945 (CDT). The safety vide which is good commenced, and I was getting really annoyed by two guys who were loudly talking whilst this was on, I nearly told them to shut up, but decided to keep a lid on my feelings. I followed our flight's ATC progress, and looked out at the nightime activity of regional jets and mainliners moving around - something about aircraft at night which makes them look very beautiful.
We lined up and were airborne some 15 minutes later, and it was a cool clear night and looking back out of the window, the lights of the Chicago metro area glistened in the Autumn night as we headed out towards Moline.
Another drink after take off, this time in a real glass and a choice of flight snack either Chicken Sandwich or Chef's Salad.
I had the Chicken Salad which came with side salad and coleslaw and this was excellent. As for the Mrs Fields' chocolate chip cookie -yum! - almost tempted to ask for another one. Regular drinks top ups were offered throughout the flight.
I settled in to watch the IFE on the overhead aisle monitor, this commenced with a really good team orientated company advertisement "United we stand" which proves that after 9/11 the crews are detemined not to have their spirits broken - Lots of good clips including two flight attendants who are sisters, and also the off duty Captain who helped out at Sioux City with the DC-10 (apologies for not having his name to hand). Then into the feature movie "The Princess Diaries" I thought this might have been a duffer and wasn't going to watch it, but it was very funny, and Julie Andrews (Grandmother Queen of ficticious Euro-state) was excellent in it, as well as Anne Hathaway (Geeky grandaughter schoolgirl aire to the throne). This was followed by NBC on air which was a bit dull, and I was hoping we might get to see Frasier too, but we ran out of time, only saw the first 5 minutes of that.
Our descent into the Las Vegas area commenced, and I have to say the views of "the strip" with it's lights is absolutely amazing - an experience in itself.
Feels like you are going to land in the middle of it, which you almost do!
We touched down 3h 17 minutes after take off and were on the gate at 9.20pm (PST)
Mc Carran is a really nice airport space, it also has banks of slots to get you in the mood on arrival or for you to blow those last coins/dollars on departure!