I already wrote about the trip ORD
-SEA United ORD-SEA F-Class Take Two: Comparison Report (by RoseFlyer Aug 18 2006 in Trip Reports)
, so I thought I would give you another trip report for SEA
. This was a bit different since I flew economy this time. Domestically I fly first class about 50% of the time. I also flew this same route on a Red-Eye flight 22 days earlier. That was in first class. You can see that trip report too: United SEA-ORD Redeye In First Class (by RoseFlyer Jul 20 2006 in Trip Reports)
. I will keep writing these reports if people say they like them and want more. As an added benefit, I actually took pictures this time around.
After 4 days in Seattle, it was time to go back to work. After going to lunch and shopping with my sister, I was dropped off at the airport for the 3:54pm departure to ORD
. This is the last daylight flight to ORD
from Seattle. I printed my boarding pass out earlier in the day and picked seat 11F. I was assigned 11A, but decided to sit on the other side of the plane. I had only carryon luggage and fortunately this flight was a few days before the terrorism threats happened in London, so liquids were still permitted on the plane. I took a seat briefly in the departure lobby to remove all the items from my body that would set off the metal detector so that I would be faster when I actually got to the security. There were very few people in the departures area at this time of day. United only has a few flights late in the day to DEN
Security still had a line because Alaska never stops in Seattle and always has a crowd in their never ending quest to expand in Seattle. On a side note, it is still really weird to see Alaska planes at the North Satellite. I really wish it had become the Star Satellite, but the US Airways moved in with America West in concourse A instead of the other way around. Fortunately in Seattle, there was no one at the priority line. I went there and noticed that only Premier Executive 1Ks and Star Alliance gold were allowed on United. It is weird that Premier Executive is not included, especially because Premier Executive is equivalent to Star Gold. Well it said Premier Executive on my economy ticket and the agent let me through, so there were no worries. I walked to the end and got through security without much trouble. The TSA
people were decently friendly. I really hate it when people say horrible blanket statements of TSA
agents, since I have encountered quite a few nice and friendly people in Seattle.
After security I went down the escalators and on to the train to take me to the north satellite. It was the first stop and I got off. The Red Carpet Club is downstairs at SEA
, but I have never gotten to the point of getting a membership. Maybe one day I will, but for now I am satisfied with sitting in the terminal and watching the planes rather than in an underground cave. I go up and see that the flight is departing out of N15. There are a ton of people in the area as a flight to Vancouver is about to board at N13, Alaska had a slightly delayed flight (which is oh so typical) at N14 to Sacramento and United was just about to start boarding a flight to SFO
from N16. N15 had no plane though. All these gates are quite close and share a seating area. When the terminal was last refurbished, UA
controlled all the gates and had very little utilization. Up until recently I had never even seen N14 used. Once the flight to Vancouver boarded, I grabbed a seat next to an electrical outlet and pulled out my laptop. Since I had 1hr 30min before my flight, I paid the $7.95 for wireless internet and surfed around for no good reason. I wish SEA
had free wireless internet, but not that many airports that you actually want to go to have it.
I watched some things happen and saw two of the Air Canada/United Express agents get all worked up and go to the window. And then I saw it. A Saudi 747SP was being towed by. I grabbed a quick photo of it since it is such an unusual visitor to Seattle. It was towed to the North Cargo area and it was still there when I left.
I shut my laptop down and stopped by the bathroom. I considered food, but was not hungry after lunch. I could wait until Chicago or Rockford in a worst case scenario for dinner. When I got back up stairs they had already started boarding. I did not know what was being boarded, so I just waited. Next they called seating area 2, so I went ahead even though I was actually in seating area 1. I made my way on to a newly painted A320. This is the first mainline plane that I have been on that is in the new livery. I have been on plenty of new livery United Express planes and have been on three Ted painted planes although one of those was actually operating a mainline flight, on you guessed it ORD
. Do you think I fly this route too much? I do since I have flown between the two cities 11 times in the last year.
I said hello to a flight attendant and made my way back to the exit row. I was in the second exit row on this A320, which is pretty much the best economy seat on the plane since you have all the extra legroom afforded by the exit row, but still get a reclining seat. I love it. Of course regular economy plus has more than adequate legroom anyway, but the exit rows are still considered economy plus, so non elite members cannot book them ahead of time. Eventually a very very large man comes in and sits in 11D. And by very large, I mean the type that has parts of his body spill in to the aisle and middle seat. He must have been very uncomfortable as he was wedged in there. I then see a guy in a suit talking on his cell phone in the aisle, and of course he sat next to me in the middle seat. I like sitting next to interesting people and talking on planes. I have had some very interesting conversations. My best seat mate was on a DEN
flight in first class when the number 3 most senior flight attendant for United sat next to me. She was a 777 purser and we talked about all sorts of stuff and we realized that she had outlasted the entire fleet since not one of the planes that she first flew on (DC10, 742, DC8, 727 or 732) were still in the fleet. But this guy I knew would probably end up being a jerk. Then I hear an annoying kid behind me that kind of reminded me of the kid I saw running around while waiting for my ORD
flight five days earlier. I turn around and see the kid is sitting behind me and I say hello to his mother who I had briefly chatted with in the terminal in ORD
five days earlier and asked how her trip went. She was overwhelmed with a poorly behaved five year old. The kid was being stupid, and I just look at the guy I am sitting next to and he comments that this will be a very long four hours. I felt sorry for him. But just then the overly large man in the aisle gets up and says, I will let you have a little more space and switch seats with my daughter. So he left and a thinner woman came, which was good.
Eventually boarding was completed. Of course this was a full flight since you really cannot expect anything less than that nowadays. Even the redeyes are usually completely filled. A male flight attendant came by and did a pretty poor job of asking if we were qualified to sit in the exit row. I know he is required to get a verbal confirmation, but he accepted nods. He asked the woman in front of me, and she obviously did not understand him as she looked like she just came from Japan. He tries to explain the requirements, but just told her to read the card and tell him if she was not qualified. I doubt the poor woman understood any of what the guy said. So that begs the question, why did he let her sit there? His little check of the passengers served no purpose because he found someone that was not qualified to sit in the exit row due to not speaking English, but did nothing about it. Sometimes people do not understand the point of the regulations.
With the door shut, all the carryon luggage actually fit in the overhead compartments. Sometimes SEA
gets a lot of business people with rollaboards, so there are some gate checked bags, but today there seemed to be more leisure travelers and less junk on board. I had my briefcase under the seat in front of me, but I wanted my laptop in flight and also I did not need the extra legroom since the exit row has more than enough space. The video screens popped down with the typical oohs and ahhs from passengers that are amazed that LCD
screens pop out from the overhead consol. The safety demo was the new one and again the subtitles flashed by both in English and Spanish so quickly that they were not readable.
We pushed back right on time, which has been a very common occurrence for me on United lately. After the safety demo I listened to channel 9 as we began to taxi to the south end of the airport in our white and blue A320. I was on the wrong side to watch all the planes, but at this time of the day, there is just an influx of Alaska 737s and not too much else to see. The airport is fairly quiet in the afternoon. We taxi for a full length takeoff. A Horizon Dash 8 made an intersection departure, and a Continental 737 went before it was our turn. It was weird to watch the Dash 8 make a 90 degree left turn at 1000ft. I have never seen that departure before, but it allowed the CO
737 to takeoff quicker.
The engines spooled up and we went racing down the runway. It was a pretty uneventful 38 second takeoff roll. It took the exact same amount of time that it took the 757 to take off from ORD
when I flew out to SEA
a few days earlier. We lifted off in the vicinity of concourse C. I was staring down and had to really arch my neck to see the Saudi 747SP still at the cargo ramp. We climbed smoothly out without a bump to be felt. When we were over Husky Stadium we turned to the east to make our way to Chicago. I caught some great views during the turn of Mercer Island, which is where I grew up and was also able to get a photo of the city of Seattle as well as BFI
A view out the window as we bank
You can see two airports serving Seattle. SEA
is on the left and BFI
is on the right. The two airports are extremely close together.
We continued a smooth climb up to altitude. Eventually the flight attendants started with a beverage service. It was a pretty uneventful flight. They started a movie, but I did not care very much to watch it. I was kind of tired after a busy weekend, so I reclined my seat and relaxed. Usually I feel bad reclining my seat, but in economy plus it does not matter since there is enough space normally. But since this is the last row of economy plus, the row behind has only 31 inch pitch. There was just an annoying kid behind me, so I decided that it did not matter. I closed my eyes and pretty quickly fell asleep. I was pretty relaxed. There was plenty of room in the exit row. On a late afternoon flight like this, I was content on sitting in economy. I was not hungry. First class is always nicer, but this was perfectly ok. I pay more money to fly United so that I can enjoy economy plus, get exit rows and upgrades.
After an hour and a half nap, I woke up and it was getting a bit darker outside as the sun would be setting soon. I needed to get up and use the lavatory, so I walked to the back of the plane. Unfortunately my blanket got caught in my shoe when I put it on and it dragged behind me as I got out of the window seat. I felt like an idiot. I walked back and when I came back got a glass of water. The flight attendants in the back galley were just chatting. It was a pretty uneventful flight. When I got back to my seat I pulled out my laptop and began writing a trip report. I also snapped some pictures.
It was really starting to get dark and I was listening to channel 9. This was a pretty short flight at just 3hr 15min. Flying to the east coast is nice since it is shorter when you have the jetstream at your back. But I guess some a.netters prefer going the other way since they really enjoy being on the plane longer. Channel 9 was pretty quiet. It was about 9:30pm and ORD
was pretty quiet. I have never flown in to the airport without there being speed restrictions. However most of the planes have departed by this time and the airplanes that will RON in ORD
will slowly trickle in over the late evening. We made good time as we were cleared to first descent do 23,000 by 10 miles south of Janesville. I look out the window and notice Rockford coming up, which is where I live. I knew I would be driving back there shortly. It is about 80 miles west of Chicago. UA
flies to RFD twice a day from Denver, but it was cheaper to fly nonstop out of ORD
The flight attendants came by collecting garbage and shortly the seatbelt sign came on. It was a pretty typical descent. I brought my seat back up and turned off my computer. I then stuffed it in my briefcase and put it under the seat in front of me. Next came the double chime as we descended to about 7,000 ft. We were making a straight in approach to runway 9. The pilot asked approach if we could switch to the other runway in the same direction to shorten the taxi time, but approach said that they would have to wait until speaking with the tower. The plane behind us was told to contact tower, and our plane asked permission to contact tower, which is quickly received.
We were cleared to land and the pilot did not make the request to switch over runways since we were very close to the ground. We passed over the threshold and make a beautiful landing. The pilot slows us with reverse thrust. We pull off the runway as the flight attendant welcomes us to Chicago. It is now 9:50pm, so we are four minutes ahead of time. We start our very long taxi back to our gate. ORD
is relatively compact, but to keep things moving smoothly albeit slowly, they move the planes around in a clockwise direction a lot, which can lead to long taxis. We end up pulling in to concourse C. The seat belt sign went off and people began to gather their belongings. I waited a while since it takes people a while to get moving. Eventually I grabbed my bag out from under the seat and grabbed my rollaboard. I made my way forward and said thank you to the purser before exiting in to the terminal. It was pretty quiet, but there were some departures till that had not left. This flight is primarily O/D since it arrives after the last bank, but a few people probably had connections. SEA
is a highly O/D market and is dominated by United as far as capacity goes.
I made my way through the tunnel and off to the departures level. I went on the walkway to the train station and waited to get a ride to the economy parking. At this time of night, the trains only leave every 6 minutes, so it was a pretty long wait. But I made it to my car and drove back to Rockford. I got in about 11:30pm, which was far better than taking the redeye for my previous trip to Seattle.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report. United offers a pretty stable product. Everything was on time and there were no problems. Economy plus is really comfortable and nice. It makes economy decent. I travel about half in first class and half in economy, but definitely am willing to pay a bit more to fly United. I am not sure what my next trip report will be since I do not have any plans made, but I will do some more traveling before the year is done.
Thanks for reading. Please leave any comments.
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