I'll be sure to tell him he's hit property...here. lol
Trip Report: Day 2 of This Week's UAL Travels
I decided to do a follow up trip report of IAD
. The headwinds were quite strong and we did not take a great circle route but rather flew direct IAD
... making for a 5 and 1/2 hour flight.
Pictures of the new ERJ spotted at IAD
, and my seat, are here:
May 13, 2004
Flight 201, IAD-SFO, 767-300ER, N654UA, Seat 2A, United First
This report is being written in the air (on my laptop), as I lounge back in my international sleeper seat. What luck! Over the last two days, United has treated me very, very well.
Per my previous trip report, just the day before I’m writing this I got to ride on the new colors triple seven. Now, I’m sitting in First on a premium domestic route in a three-class airplane (which I’m not supposed to be doing… read on).
As I write this I am actually experiencing some of the heaviest clear air turbulence (CAT) I’ve ever experienced. We are at a cruising altitude of FL410, and it’s rare that turbulence is encountered here. Looking at Airshow, it indicates we are above Kansas, midway on our long 5 hour, 19 minute journey to SFO
I’m listening to the United Entertainment Network channel 2, dubbed “Center Stage”. This month they actually have a good selection of artists. Ben Jelen and Tyler Hilton are the highlights, and right now I’m listening to Michelle Branch’s “Are you happy now?”
Ok, sorry, enough with the stream-of-consciousness writing.
My trip today started out in IND
, where I took an Air Wisconson CRJ-200LR, N463ZW, to IAD
. I need not write a trip report for that leg because I hate RJs. Having been in the spacious biz class of a 777 just a little over 12 hours earlier, the cramped CRJ interior seemed even more claustrophobic than I remembered.
, coincidence struck when I saw my friend Tina from school as I turned around after checking in. She didn’t recognize me because I was all dressed up and business-like; a drastic change from the casual outfits and sandals I had been wearing daily since it got warmer in Indiana . She was on her way to China by way of Chicago and AA
), Japan">NRT, then onto Shanghai by way of ANA. The aviation dork in me asked her why she didn’t just go through SFO
so she could take the nonstop flight on United. Well, she was on a free, Mileage Plus Star Award ticket (and so was I), and apparently this was the only routing with award inventory available. Makes sense, I guess, as United’s SFO
has been doing exceptionally well lately.
I’ve been so spoiled over the past year traveling on United, always in business class or better, that I decided to splurge and go for a first class award ticket using my miles. Well, it wasn’ a complete splurge. The only way I could do a 3 hour layover at Dulles was to use 40,000 miles for a Saver first class domestic award, since there was no award inventory left for the flights that I wanted for a Saver economy class domestic award.
Upon arrival at IAD
, we parked on the C/D concourse where there is a temporary UAX ramp in the middle of the two concourses. While taxiing in, I noticed that construction of the new UAX facility was almost done. The new regional terminal looks almost exactly like the ACA
digs out at the B concourse…
I also spotted the first ERJ in the new color scheme (a trans states bird) -- see link at the top of this post.
Anyway, after I conducted the business I had to do during my 3 hour layover, on the tram ride back to the C/D concourse, I noticed that there was a three-class 767-300ER parked at the gate where my SFO
flight was. I thought that there must have been some mistake.
You see, when redeeming a first class domestic award, it entitles you to United First on a two-class aircraft, or United Business on a three-class aircraft. The agent on the phone who booked my reservation put me in 2A, and I assumed it was a domestic two-class 767-300. This assumption was further reinforced when the gate agent announced boarding of United First rows 1-15, with no mention of United business…
However, upon boarding, it ended up being a three-class mama.Woohoo! I had been in 2A two years before, on my way to EZE
. It is a great seat. The international United First seat on United’s 767-300ERs is a sleeper, but is not a fully-flat product. Still, it is very nice, and is a very similar seat to the “coffins” that AA
used to have on its 767-300ERs until they went all two-class. In fact, while they are no privacy screens with UA
’s seat, I found it much more comfortable than AA
’s coffin, which I rode two Thanksgivings ago.
The strange thing is that, while the F seat features 62" of legroom as opposed to the Business seat's 55", it reclines less. This is made up for, however, by the legrest going up fully flat. The seat is electronic.
I’m guessing that it was equipment switch as the gate agent seemed to be under the impression that it was a two class aircraft as well… and thankfully my originally reserved seat of 2A wasn’t re-assigned. The flight went out full in both United First and United Business, and reasonably full in United Economy. There was only one employee in First as far as I could tell – he was chatting to one of the pilots pre-departure about the goings on at the SFO
The service provided by the purser on our flight was excellent in every respect. Every little detail of his service was truly Ritz-Carlton… for instance, when serving the wine, he would present the label first, to get a customer’s approval. He would always reply to thank you’s with a “my pleasure” or “certainly” and was generous with foodstuffs.
Now, I’m sheepish about receiving this type of service cause it makes me feel like the rest of the old farts that are sitting in United First… but I can recognize when a flight attendant does an awesome job.
The menu was distributed with the first warm nut service. I have transcribed the menu here for your viewing pleasure.
*Seasonal greens with tomatoes and parmesan cheese*
Honey Dijon dill vinaigrette or ranch dressing
*Oriental braised beef short ribs with steamed Jasmine rice*
Blanched carrots and baby bok choy
*Roasted breast of chicken with shallot and balsamic demi-glace*
Oven-roasted swetpotatoes and sautéed baby spinach with lemon
*Mixed-nut crusted mahi-mahi with saffron tomato sauce*
Baby bok choy with red peppers and garlic mashed potatoes with chives
*Ice cream with sundae toppings*
--I like wine, but am not a connoisseur, so who cares!—
I chose the mahi-mahi. Like the pecan-crusted chicken I had a couple weeks back, it was quite bland, actually. But hey, still good, restaurant quality food.
For dessert, they rolled out an elaborate cart with an elegantly laid out display of coffee cups on saucers, port glasses, the Ben&Jerry’s ice cream sundaes, and Eli’s mud pie. The cart was decorated with fresh cut flowers and linens. Nice touch!
When given a choice between the ice cream and Eli’s pie, I told the F/A ‘man that’s a tough choice’. He was generous and told me I *should* have both since there were plenty of extras. “If you insist”
The rest of the flight was smooth and uneventful. The first half I spent watching Love, Actually over the Distributed Video System (DVS), while the during the second half I popped in the movie I had selected for my personal movie player (8mm tape), the excellent “Lost in Translation” with the always entertaining Bill Murray.
We landed in SFO
a bit early. I relished watching the approach onto 28R I was so accustomed to seeing… The approach always makes me nostalgic. As we paralleled the peninsula, it gave me a bird's eye view of the area where I spent most of my life, and nearly all of my teenage years. There’s Shoreline Ampitheatre, where I’d seen some great concerts. There’s Stanford, where I’d taken summer school and have some of my best memories of. There’s Palo Alto and San Carlos Airports, where I’d taken friends and family up to enjoy a similar view after getting my pilot’s license. There are the golf courses where I’d played. The restaurants I’d been to. The approach into SFO
is simply the best.
Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed reading about my stroke of good luck!
[Edited 2004-05-14 17:45:36]