Hello! I hope you all enjoy this report. I hope you find it to be one the more detailed ones you have read. Let me tell you, all the pictures in this report have been resized to 450x300, instead of the full 3000x2000 pixel originals, if you'd like, I will post 1024x768 versions if you ask me to, but I have not done that to keep it from taking forever to load. Well, enjoy!
KDEN (Denver Int'l) - KSFO (San Francisco Int'l)
Aircraft - 747-400
Registration - N194UA
Seat 57K - Window
Departure Gate - B34 and B36
Scheduled departure: 5:20 PM
Actual Departure - 5:36 PM
Wheels off time - 5:51
Flight time - 2 hours 36 minutes
Wheels on time - 6:57
Scheduled arrival - 6:51
Actual arrival - 7:12
Arrival Gate - 80
Baggage Claim - [N/A]
Load - 100% (overbooked)
I hate flights in the evening, not very good shooting conditions in the dark and you have to wait all day before the flight happens. Well, what usually happens, happened. I showed up for the flight about 5 hours early. I was dropped off by my grandfather. We proceeded to the United Easy check in. Of course, there are about 50 open ones that only accept carry on bags. What a pain. I had to go stand in line, and of course, there is a long one. Well, it wasn't like I was running late, so oh well. The guy in front of me was going to LHR and had to check his snowboarding equipment, he came from LHR just to ski here! That took forever though. Finally, I got up and it told us to see a representative. Everyone was busy as heck, and it took another ten minutes to get someone. It was because the machines were not working well that day. We got our boarding passes and took the bridge to concourse A for the shorter security screening and views of the planes.
Ahhh, what a breeze. I cannot say much here, it was as simple as removing my shoes and walking through. No bells, buzzers, etc.
Now more to a picture filled part of the report. After security, we went across the A bridge, of course it is no good for pictures because of the windows and glare produced by them.
Frontier Lineup, the only 318 there is in the waaayyy back.
Looks like a TED subbed for a uniTED, I wonder who got the first class seats...
I decided to get something to eat, at the B concourse McDonalds. I was there after a quick train trip.
I took my nuggets and sat at the window and snapped a few.
Woah! Is that a new color 733 I see? I caught it goin round the corner. I better find that later.
After finishing the chicken, I set out to find the 733 I saw a few minutes ago. For some reason, I started down towards the RJ end of the concourse. There are a few other planes though down there.
A Lufthansa 744
Notice anything unusual? Maybe a winglet missing.
The other side...
One RJ picture
Heading way down to the other end, I saw it. BTW, it is a looong walk from one end of B to the other.
Well, now that I have accomplished that, I headed back to my gate where it was about time my 744 came in. Unfortunatly, it was already there when I showed up.
Gate agents started to appear, so I had a plan. But before that, I was hearing from An-225 that UA had overbooked pretty much all flights that day. I was interested in a free ticket. I asked my first question, yes they were overbooked by about 18 people! and they did need volunteers. Now I had to ask when I could leave next. They said I could get out on the next days flight, in the morning, but no 744. Talk about nixxing the idea. Next question; since my flight was going to arrive in the twilight hours of the day in SFO, I wanted to get a flight deck shot off before we left. After all, I wasn't about to get crappy pictures on my first 747 flight. I asked the guy up there, who turns out to be the head flight attendant. (On a side story, this guy turns out to be my dad's brother's friend, who does those motorcycle trips upto stergis with him, did I spell stergis right?, anyway, his name is Joe.) He was very nice, I had no idea until two weeks ago it was him, and he told me to come up during first class boarding and he would take me up there himself. Very cool.
Well, I waited and waited, and finally, about 2 hours later, it came time to board. I went upto the gate, and the guy there had no idea of our arrangements, and let me tell you, he was a jerk about it too. He did however, reluctantly let me on. Immediatly when I was on, he recognized me and took me upstairs. My first impression of the upper cabin was that it was too small. The windows were tiny and I don't think you could see the wing. Still, it might be something I will do just so I can say I did. I was led in, and I was awwed by the spaciousness of the flight deck up there, I think I recall like 3-4 jumpseats. Joe said, "We have an aviation enthusiast here, who wants a few photos." I was stunned, this Joe guy, actually called me correctly, an aviation enthusiast. By now, the captain had invited me in. Things were going great! I was kinda excited and just was taking pictures without adjusting my setting to the right exposure.
After I took a few, he asked me something that just made my jaw drop. "Would you like a picture of yourself in my seat?" Uhhhhhh, yeah! I handed him my camera, and I sat down, and then he said something even more surprising, "Lets make it more official." He took off his hat and put it on me. This was to cool. He took two pictures.
We continued to chat a little, he was seriously, one of the nicest people I have met. Thanks so much to the captain for making that one of the best days of my life!
I exited the cockpit and the upper deck was filling up, and it was tight. I was definitly in everyone's way, they just kept coming up too. I was cornered in the upper galley with three flight attendants who seemed to be getting annoyed, but what could I do until people stopped coming up? I eventually managed to make it down and back to my coach seat, 57K. I had a backpack full of my camera equipment. I will not check my camera stuff, way too much value to even put in the overhead bin. I could barely squeeze it under the seat infront of me. The 744 is really tight! By the way, keep in mind, I do not use all my equipment for aviation photography, I do alot of landscape and animal photography too when I go upto Portland/Seattle area. I looked out and saw a CR7 just sitting there and a fire truck, wonder what was going. I tried going to channel 9 to see if it was on, but dangit, it was not.
Another 744, going to LAX, next to us
Well, it was time to leave. Waiting... waiting... 10 minutes... 15... finally about 16 minutes, we pushed back. We went straight back, it did not seem to be enough for us to turn. Since there was no channel 9, I wondered where we would taxi to. The engines started up, barley noticable. It seemed like we had sat there forever when we started to move, to the left. I knew it was either the 16s or 25, but it turned out to be 16R, look at our taxi path.
More taxiing pictures
I cannot explain the excitement I was going through. The engines revved up and we were off!
We rotated about midway of the 12000 foot runway, at the Continental/Frontier hangar.
The acceleration was massive, as was the climb.
We banked to the left and headed towards SFO. The flight attendants got up and put the screens down, the flight map was on there with our altitude and such. To bad I knew it would not be there for long. That is the one thing I like PTVs for, the flight map. Screw TV programming. I looked out and it was sunset time, I knew this was perfect for some shots. By now, the screen had gone to the mpvie, I have no idea what it was, I took no interest in it. What, am I supposed to spend my first 744 flight gleaming out the window or watching some stinkiing movie I can see at home?
Looking out, I saw:
Blurred due to poor light. We climbed to 39 thousand feet, when the captain came on and announced that. It was driving me nuts not to have channel nine. I had better ask, so I had pressed the FA call button ever since they got up after takeoff. I understand they were busy, but the were just ignoring it, they even wlaked by a few times. Ughhh. We flew over an overcast sky, but the sunset just got better and better, from this:
Photo © Ryan Richter
Drink service had started and nearly was to me. This is when I asked about channel nine, she said whe would look into it. She also gave me a menu to buy food off of. I looked at it and passed it up. I took a Coke (yes, a full can :roll Time went by fast, it was time for an update on the ATC. I caught her on my bathroom run. "Oh, we don't have that, the captain had no idea what you were talking about." Uh huh, yeah... right... Well whatever, not worth the trouble. The flight was a bit bumpy all the way, nothing that kept the fasten seat belt sign on. We eventually descended into the Oakland area, with the last light of dusk leaving.
Landing was 28R, and I have a cool video on a mini Sony dv tape, if anyone can put it on here, I would appreciate it.
Landing was very nice with full reverse thrust and brakes, not like my 777 trip last July to SFO, where we glided down with barely any sensation of decelleration. After, it was the usual, welcome to San Fran, it is XX time and there will be a gate agent to help you make a connecting flight, baggage is on carousel XX, etc... We had a taxi irregularity, I will let you see the path first:
We started to pull into gate 80, but then made a full 360º loop around and stopped. The engines shut down and the captain came over the PA. He said that gate 80 was not made for a 747, and a tug would have to pull us in. Lets see, we are already late, I have a 58 minute connection, and this is taking forever. Not a good combo. We were hooked up and pulled in quite slowly, I wish I had time to go up and talk to the captain after the flight, but I did not. My first 744 flight was over, I was very overwhlemed and sadened that it was over. I stepped out into the jetway, and it was over. I took one quick pic of the terminal, forgetting my exposure settings were not right for this environment.
Thanks for reading. Part 2, SFO-PDX is coming up soon. Thanks United!
Please let me know what you think. I love writing trip reports, and want to do the best job possible, and the only way to make that possible is your comments. Thanks again!
[Edited 2004-06-03 02:15:16]