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United SFO-LAX

Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:46 am

United Airlines
UA 806
12th August 2002
San Francisco International (SFO) - Los Angeles International (LAX)
Boeing 737-522 N910UA
Coach Class Seat 8B
Scheduled Departure Time: 1100
Actual Takeoff Time: 1124
Scheduled Arrival Time: 1228
Actual Landing Time: 1210

We arrived at the United check-in desks at 0930, and our luggage had to be put through an additional X-Ray before it could be checked in. There was a lot of security going through to the gate area - very reassuring as the night before the flight CNN were reporting a terrorist threat to fly an airliner into the Golden Gate Bridge. We got our boarding passes at 1000, and went through to the gates. Waiting for us was N910UA with 'Shuttle by United' branding.

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Photo © Chris Coduto

United's terminal at SFO is modern and pleasant, with good views of the runway being used for landings. American airports really do make Gatwick and Heathrow look like dumps, and SFO is no exception - everything is so clean and efficient.There was a screen at the gate saying 'United 806, Boeing 737-500, Beverage Service Only, XX Minutes Until Boarding'. At 0929, boarding was announced for First Class rows 1-2, followed by rows 12+ at 0930 and rows 3-11 at 0931! It seemed that all US non-citizens plus a few random US citizens were selected for search at the gate. My mother and I are Irish, so we were searched. We had to take off our jackets and shoes, plus our bags were looked through. Some people were acting as if it was a real annoyance going through all this, but I'm very pleased to see heightened security measures. Anyway, we walked down the jetway and boarded the plane, where the FAs greeted us. There were headphones in the seat back pockets. The welcoming announcement from the flight deck mentioned that if anyone wanted to follow along, ATC is on Channel 9. I was really pleased about this because no aircraft I've been on before has had this feature. We taxied to the end of the runway, but at 1110 it was announced because of congestion at LA, we're going to have to wait 14 minutes. At 1118 the cabin crew were told to take their seats for takeoff, but still we didn't go anywhere. I had a good view of SkyWest (United Express) turboprobs taking off from 1L. At 1124 I heard 'United 806 cleared for takeoff runway 1R'. We rolled onto 1R and thrust was applied without stopping to line up. We used about half the runway before rotating, and making a right turn soon after we were up - I assume this was because of planes coming from 1L. About 10 minutes after takeoff the FAs came around and asked us what we wanted to drink, then brought it from the galley with a pack of pretzels. I prefer this instead of using trolleys. If anyone reading this knows the UK comedy show 'Smack the Pony', the FAs looked like the women from the program! We cruised at 33,000ft. One thing I noticed whilst listening to channel 9 was that the controllers sometimes made mistakes, such as saying 'American 806, sorry, United 806'. I've spent a lot of time listening to ATC in London and have never heard anything like that before. I know it's not a big deal, but I just thought it never happened at all! We descended to 12,000ft and started the visual approach to 24L. I thought almost all planes use ILS if the runway they're approaching has it fitted, so either I'm wrong or our plane was an exception!. This was then changed to 24R at what I'd guess to be around 1,000ft - lots of turns had to be made quickly as the runway was coming closer and closer. Landing was fairly hard with quite a lot of reverse thrust used. We taxied to the gate and disembarked. At the front of the plane the FAs were chatting to the flight deck crew, and not saying goodbye and thank-you to the passengers which I thought was quite rude. The bags came after a couple of minutes wait, and when leaving the terminal we were asked for our baggage receipts to check the bags were ours, which had never happened to me before. The final part of my trip, a Virgin A340 LAX-LHR, will be written up in a couple of days.

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RE: United SFO-LAX

Tue Sep 03, 2002 4:07 am

Nice report. What was the difference between UA and UA shuttle and why did they stop it?
DC-10's Forever
"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
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Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2000 11:11 am

RE: United SFO-LAX

Tue Sep 03, 2002 5:11 am

You obviously were on a "Shuttle" plane without a galley or cart service.When I flew UA Shuttle in '00 that's how it was. People slammed shuttle,but I enjoyed it,especially the boarding process. Too bad they canned it. I'm going thru SFO enroute from SEA to LAS next month , and I'm looking forward to it because it's the only UA hub I haven't been to.
Champagne For My Real Friends,and Real Pain For My Sham Friends
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Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2001 4:38 am

RE: United SFO-LAX

Tue Sep 03, 2002 8:02 pm

Hi Shamrock_747,

Thanks for this very nice trip report !

Regards, SN-A330

I would rather be flying...
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:57 pm

RE: United SFO-LAX

Wed Sep 04, 2002 2:48 pm


Visual approaches are typically made when conditions are good enough. While the pilots are typically tracking the ILS as they fly the approach, it means they do not have to operate under IFR separation, which means that you can, for example, have parallel approaches in progress (since the crews, by taking a visual approach, have accepted 'see and avoid' for the other aircraft).


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