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Posts: 1443
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 9:55 am


Wed Jul 23, 2003 8:30 am

My family and I arrived at PIT just before 7 a.m. There wasn’t a sole in line for United’s ticket counter. The line for US Airways down the hall was horrendous. Glad I’m not flying US this time. Anyway, we walked up to the UA counter. The agent quickly printed boarding passes and checked our bags through to LAX. Then we headed over to have our bags scanned for explosives. The TSA over there kind of seemed like they were a little unsure about what they were doing.

Anyway, we took the escalators down and joined the security line. It was incredible. The line was out to the doors to the short-term parking lot (for those of you familiar with PIT). After 90 minutes in the security line, we took the tram over the Airside Terminal, and headed to our gate, C53. Walking around, I noticed how dead Concourse C is. There’s United at C51 and C53, and AirTran at C54, and that’s about it. I guess it gets busier when the European flights arrive down at the end. At the gate, there was our 737-500 in regular UA colors, and another 737-500 in Shuttle by United colors sitting at C51. I noticed a ramper doing push-ups on the tarmac next to the 737. I thought that was a little strange. We sat at the gate for about 20 minutes, and the agent began boarding. I noticed UA changed their boarding procedure. Instead of calling row numbers, they call by “section numbers,” which are printed on the boarding passes. We were section 3.

June 23, 2003

United 1597
Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) – Chicago, IL (ORD)
Gate C53
Boeing 737-500
Seat 11A
Scheduled departure time: 8:40 AM (08:40)

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Photo © Aaron David Mandolesi

Took my seat at 11A, and wow, it was pretty hot on that 737. We later learned from the captain that the APU wasn’t working, and he had to request from ATC to start an engine at the gate so the air conditioning could be turned on. I heard the no. 1 engine start, and shortly after, we pushed back and started our second engine. I turned on Channel 9 (that’s awesome) and listened to the controller give us taxiing instructions. We taxied out, gave clearance to a Delta MD-80, and departed from Runway 28R.

After a few turns, we reached our final altitude, FL290. The F/A’s came around for drink service. (By the way, the head F/A [“purser”] was really funny. After boarding, she announced, “Ladies and gentleman, we’d like to welcome you aboard United Airlines flight 1597. We’ll be heading out to Chicago this morning. If Chicago is not a part of your travel plans, now would be an excellent time to deplane.” and during the safety demonstration, “Tampering with, disabling, or destroying lavatory smoke detectors is prohibited by law, not to mention what the flight attendants will do to you.”)

After a very smooth flight, we began our approach into Chicago. Final approach was absolutely incredible. We flew north over Lake Michigan, and made a left turn, cornering downtown Chicago. There was an incredible view of the Sears Tower. After the left turn off Lake Michigan, we made our final descent and landed at O’Hare, parking at gate C28. We made our way down to C16, where our flight to LAX was leaving from. When we got there, they were just beginning to board, so we had no wait at all. I couldn’t really see through the windows, but I was getting really excited, my first 747 flight!!!

United 109
Chicago, IL (ORD) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Gate C16
Boeing 747-400
Seat 49A
Scheduled departure time: 10:00 AM (10:00)

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Photo © Chris Starnes

After stepping on to the plane, to the left were the First Suites, and then we passed through United Business, and made our way to economy. After a meeting with the lavatory, I took my seat at 49A. Parked next to us was a 777 just getting ready to push back. After a bit of settling in, we pushed back and I turned on Channel 9. During taxiing, I saw a UA 777 (the one parked next to us earlier), the JAL 747-400, a plethora of AA MD-80’s and 737-800’s, with an F-100 or two, plenty of American Eagle ERJ’s, and a few United Express CRJ’s. We taxiied out and departed on 27L (I think, I’m not sure). The 744 has an incredible wing span! Looking out, I could only see one engine (#1), and the winglet all the way on the end of the wing as we passed over what looked like an industrial area. After a few minor turns, we reached our cruising altitude FL390. Shortly thereafter, we were passed over to K.C. Center. While passing through a few thunderstorms, the F/A’s came around with the initial drink service and started the movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. A little later, they passed around the “snacks,” which consisted of tortilla chips and salsa, crackers and cheese, two sugar cookies, and orchard mix. I wasn’t that hungry, so it wasn’t bad. I watched the movie most of the way, while switching over the Channel 9 every now and then. The movie wasn’t bad, it had some humor to it. We made our way up to FL410 over Kansas or Missouri to avoid some thunderstorms, and stayed there most of the rest of the flight. The flight was, for the most part, uneventful. I switched back and forth between the movie audio on Channel 1 and ATC on Channel 9, and listened as we passed center to center, K.C. to Denver, Denver to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque to LA. We made a few turns on approach, and the captain made a very smooth and professional landing. I believe we landed on one of the 24’s, but I’m not sure again. We were informed that we would have to shut all engines down and be towed into the gate. We parked at Terminal 7, gate 77.

As were walking through Business Class toward the door, my dad saw some people going to the upper deck, so he asked one of the F/A’s if we could take a look upstairs. “Sure,” she said. Upstairs, I walked through and poked my head into the cockpit, just to see. The captain was still there, but the F/O was nowhere to be seen. “Come on in,” says to captain to me. I walked in and looked around a bit. “Can I get a picture or two?” I say. “Absolutely.” “Hey, why don’t your mom or dad get a picture of you in here. Go ahead and have a seat,” he says. “Great!” I say. I sit in the captain’s chair, and as my dad begins to get a picture, the captain interrupts, “Wait, let’s make it look real. Put your hands on the flight yoke and throttle, and here, let’s turn these on,” as he turns on display screens. My dad got a really nice picture. “So where does she go from here?” I ask. “Aahh, nowhere exciting, just back to Chicago.” I asked him a few more things. He was a really great guy. Heading out of the flight deck, a male flight attendant came the stairs and handed out United Airlines Boeing 747-400 fact cards to everyone up there. We finally headed downstairs and into the airport. What a great experience.


After some great time spent in Santa Monica and Long Beach, it was time to head back home. We returned our rental car and arrived at the airport around 11:00. There were masses of people in United’s check-in with several ticket agents walking around yelling out instructions. It turned out the lines weren’t that long and we had our bags checked through to Pittsburgh and obtained our boarding passes using the one of the self-service check-in machines in minutes. We took our bags over to the screening area and we on our way to our gate. The security line was fairly short. The screeners were friendly and efficient. We made our way to Terminal 7 and found gate 76 with ease. We had plenty of time to kill, so I just got something at McDonald’s and walked around a bit. The flight must have been overbooked because there was a huge line at the podium at the gate with people asking for new seats and the agent telling them there were no empty seats. The agent then called for boarding, and they opened two gates, with three lines.

July 2, 2003

United 816
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Chicago, IL (ORD)
Gate 76
Boeing 747-400
Seat 41F, Economy Plus
Scheduled departure time: 1:40 PM (13:40)

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Photo © Tim Samples

I took my seat at 41F, economy plus!!! I have no clue how we got into economy plus. However, it was the middle section and I like window seats better, but oh well. An older gentleman took the seat next to me. I plugged my earphones in, but there was no Channel 9. Turns out there wouldn’t be for the entire flight. It was just as hot on this 747 as it was on the 737 I flew first. I figured the APU wasn’t working again, and the captain confirmed that minutes later. He said he’d start an engine, but it would take all four engines to get the cabin completely cooled. We pushed back a few minutes later, and taxiied out. I didn’t like not being able to see anything. After a fairly short takeoff roll, we began our climb out of LAX. A few minutes into our climb, the flight attendants announced snack and beverage service, and they’d be showing the movie, “Bringing Down the House.” The flight attendants, who were very friendly and helpful on this flight, first came around with beverage service. I got a Pepsi. Has United recently switched from Coke to Pepsi? I thought they served Coke when I flew them last year. The snack service came later, which turned out to be… chips and salsa, crackers and cheese, two sugar cookies, and orchard mix. The exact same snack as on the flight out. Oh well, it was decent.

The projector screen was pulled down and they started the movie. I didn’t pay any attention to it and slept off and on a little. The flight was incredibly smooth. After the movie, the flight attendants came around and offered drinks again and passed out breath mints. Once the movie ended, they showed some type of programming and then airshow for the rest of the flight. Groundspeed of 596 mph is indeed a bit quick. We flew over northern Kansas, along the Iowa/Missouri border, and then over northern Illinois and began our descent into ORD. There were a few sharp turns for the approach, but we made a smooth touchdown. We taxied into gate B15 (I think). Our connecting gate to PIT was B2. I really like the glass ceilings of UA’s ORD terminals. It makes the terminal really bright and airy. Gate B2 was just finishing loading a flight to Boise, so I grabbed some pizza first. By the time I was done, the display had changed from “Boise” to “Pittsburgh.” Shortly after the Boise 733 pushed back, the A320 pulled up from Las Vegas.

United 700
Chicago, IL (ORD) – Pittsburgh, PA (PIT)
Gate B2
Airbus A320
Seat 17F
Scheduled departure time: 8:55 PM (20:55)

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Photo © Gregg Stansbery

After unloading the LAS passengers, the agent began boarding and I took my seat at 17F. Window, good. Compared to the 744, it was freezing on this A320. I plugged my headphones in, but there was no Channel 9, in fact, no audio at all!! I tried a different pair of headphones, to see if maybe mine weren’t working, but no audio again. Oh well. I looked out the window and watched some UA Express stuff and the ground workers loading the baggage. Shortly after we pushed back, started up and taxied out. The Airbus made its typical weird screeching noises. We joined the queue behind an American Eagle ERJ and soon after departed. The flight attendants, who were not friendly at all, offered drinks to everyone. Another person who wasn’t friendly was the captain, who spoke to the passengers a total of one time during the entire flight and that was “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been cleared for departure. Flight attendants be seated.”

The farther we got from Chicago, the darker it got, and soon, I could clearly see our red beacon flashing in complete darkness. All I could see on the ground were a bunch of lit cities and towns. Before I knew it, I could see the X-shaped terminal of PIT off to the right. Obviously there would be a long right turn ahead, and there was. We made our turn and set up for our final approach to Runway 28L. We touched down, used a lot of brake and a little reverse thrust, and taxied in toward Concourse C. During taxiing, I noticed a bunch of construction equipment on Rwy 28C. Anyone know what they’re doing? We parked at C51 next to a UA Express Jetstream 41. I saw no other aircraft except for a US Airways 737 parked at Concourse B.

Overall, I was very impressed with United. Their people are great and I wish them the best of luck.

Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.

Btw, hopefully I’ll have another trip report on my recent CO Express trip to Mexico.

[Edited 2003-07-23 01:35:40]
Posts: 1921
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2001 8:10 am


Wed Jul 23, 2003 1:58 pm

Hey, you did a great trip report! United is a wonderfull airline, I think they are awesome, always have, Although I have never got on one of their 744s. Would you mind sharing the first name of this United Captain on the 744 with me? Please feel free to e mail me in reguardes to this message (See Profile) thank you

Topic Author
Posts: 1443
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 9:55 am


Thu Jul 24, 2003 1:09 am

Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, I didn't get the captain's name.  Sad Sorry.
Posts: 346
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 11:33 am


Thu Jul 24, 2003 3:29 am

That report was DA BOMB!!!! (or shouldn't I say that in an aviation forum? hehehe!!)!
First off, I'd like to say welcome to Airliners.net!! At first, I thought that me and this other kid were like the only other people under the age of 18 on this site, but I guess you've just proved me wrong.

the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport is my FAVORITE airport!!!! It's soooo cool!! It's quiet and it looks so modern and I love the way the air side terminal looks. It's so spacy and new looking and I don't get the feeling of being cramped. No matter how many people are there this terminal just doesn't seem to be crowded. I like that. The people are also very nice there. Don't you think the people movers (trams) are just SWEET????? I love them. That makes it seem more advanced.

United Airlines is definitely my favorite airline even though I've only flown them once (which was earlier this year. After reading your report I decided that I'm going to write about my trip from PIT-ORD-DEN-ORD-PIT)!!! It seems like your trip was like a twin to mine because the security line was pretty long (not that long, though), and the air conditioning wasn't working on our flight until they turned on the engines either. I love how friendly and jovial the flight attendants are. They made me feel so welcome!! They had really good food and I'm a coke drinker, but I guess I could handle pepsi with united because everything else they did was just PER-FECT (accent on the T if you know what I'm say'n)! They are nice people.

OMG!!! I think that Chicago-O'Hare International Airport has the COOLEST, if not, second coolest (compared to PIT) looking terminal I've ever seen!! That is another airport that just makes me feel good because I don't feel cramped because of the spaciousness. I love the glass ceilings (that's cool how we both made note of that)! I also like how the gates are set up besides for the fact that you can't see your aircraft from them. That was a lovely airport.

I'm am totally jealous of you, dude!!!! YOU FLEW A BOEING 747-400 aircraft????? That is like my dream aircraft to fly, I mean they are so massive and just soo cool looking (if that made any sense at all). The movies that they showed were good ones. How to Lose a Guy is funny, but Bringin' Down the House is FUNNIER!!!! I can't believe you didn't watch it (shame on you). Explain in detail (if you can) everything that you saw in the Buisness Class cabin at the top of the 747! I am dying to hear!

Well, I take it you had the most awesomest flight!!! I'm soo glad you did. I think it just feels really cool to tell about your flights and hear what people have to say about them. Honestly, you should have titled this story "the Fairy Tale Flight!" Thanx, and God bless!!!

Ne vous inquietez pas. Je ne vous hais pas . . . . encore, mais faites attention !
Adam T.
Posts: 796
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 7:01 am


Thu Jul 24, 2003 12:49 pm

Great Trip report!! I'm jealous of you to, you got to fly a Boeing 747-400. I'm going to get on one of these babies one day though.
I'm scheduled on United 3 weeks from Sunday on a flight from SEA to DEN. And the part of you getting that picture in the cockpit is just way too cool!!
Adam  Smile
Adam T.
Posts: 796
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 7:01 am


Thu Jul 24, 2003 12:49 pm

Great Trip report!! I'm jealous of you to, you got to fly on a Boeing 747-400. I'm going to get on one of these babies one day though.
I'm scheduled on United 3 weeks from Sunday on a flight from SEA to DEN. And the part of you getting that picture in the cockpit is just way too cool!!
Adam  Smile

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