Even though I work for American Eagle I ended up buying a ticket on United because I wanted to go to Las Vegas on a busy convention weekend. On my own airline there was no chance for standby and a confirmed ticket on an overbooked flight would have been first class only and about $800 outbound on the day I wanted. I got a really good deal on UA, and I like flying on them because of channel 9 anyway.
It ended up working out great because DFW had a dust storm and 40-45kt crosswinds which shut DFW down for several hours on Saturday. I went to LAS on Sunday, so all the flights were full of stranded, cancelled passengers. The same storm had dumped a ton of snow on DEN that Friday and Saturday, so most flights through DEN were booked to capacity. And once again, the same storm had disrupted ORD due to winter precip, so all flights going anywhere were totally full.
UA 765 12:42p
This flight was scheduled to be a 737-500, but ended up being a 737-300 because the aircraft had been stranded at DFW for about 24 hours. This was the first UA departure since the previous afternoon, though there had been one Skywest CRJ 700. When I booked the flight, I couldn't get a seat assignment for either of my flights going to LAS, so I checked in almost exactly 24 hours in advance on the internet, and got my choice of seating in the last three rows of the plane. I picked a window on the left. They offered an "upgrade" to ecomony plus for $29 per leg X 2 legs for $58. No thanks! My legs fit fine on any 30" pitch plane. I printed out my boarding passes and was glad to have a window.
I was in zone 2, as all window seats are zone 2. UA has super-duper customers as zone 1, windows zone 2, center zone 3, and aisle zone 4. The people next to me boarded with their zone. The wife came on first, since she was in the center. A few minutes later her husband showed up, as he was zone 4. I thought this was quite strange.
As soon as I sat down, I plugged in the headphones to listen to channel 9. We had already gotten our clearance, because I heard DFW ground. I really am a huge fan of United's channel 9. I wish more carriers would do it, or bring it back, in the case of American. I remember when I was a kid, flying on AA 5 to HNL from DFW listening to ATC.
My aircraft was an old grey paint scheme. UA tail N351UA. I didn't take a picture of the interior, but it's a little bit wild, though as the time progressed, I got used to it and decided it was OK.
On the flight I asked for some water and some coffee. I got the coffee, but they had no water available. She offered me a club soda or an Orange Juice. I took the juice. No snacks/crackers or anything. The one thing I was most impressed with was that they had 4 flight attendants on a 737-300. They had a coffee service later in the flight after the drink cart was long gone. I thought that was a nice touch.
Snow as we approached DEN.
A runway to the south/southeast of DEN. I'm sure someone here will know what it is.
On final to runway 16L
We parked next to a 737 in the new paint scheme.
I planned my connection to have a 1hr 45min layover. I like to have a chance to walk around the airport. Also, I have Priority Pass, so I went to the Delta Crown Room to check it out. It has a nice view of the ramp looking at the DL gates at concourse C.
About 45 mins before my flight, I left the club to find my UA gate to LAS. Since I printed my boarding pass the day before, there was no gate information on it. Also, they did not announce any gate information when we arrived DEN. I don't know if UA does that or not, but I was expecting it, since AA always announces it. When I got into concourse B, I noticed people really looked a bit confused. I thought it was just me, but everyone seemed confused. The arrival/departure boards were all stuck on 4:41am. My flight was a Ted and I thought Ted was at the end of the concourse toward B15, so I figured I would just find it.
As I walked toward B15-B20 I noticed that no UA gates had any information at all. They were all dark. None of the boards were lighted up. Some gates had cities and flight numbers written on paper taped to the board where the flight info usually displays. Obviously there was some sort of computer meltdown, hopefully not on the scale of USAirways. I called the 800 number for automated flight info and when I told it my flight number it hung up on me. I started to get a bit concerned because it was about 25 mins to departure time at this point and I really didn't know what my gate was. When I arrived at my gate, if they didn't have gate info posted I still wouldn't know if it was the right gate. So I called my brother who was at his work and asked him to get the info for me from united.com. Luckily it came up easily for him there. That was a good thing, because the United Customer Service counter in mid-concourse had a huge line.
The gate was B15 after all, which is the very end of the concourse. There were a couple 777s that I noticed, but I didn't do much spotting on the walk due to the confusion. As I approached the gate I heard them say they are boarding groups 1 and 2 for Las Vegas, so I walked right on. It was a dual jetbridge gate, and in the jetbridge it said rows 11 and higher to the right, though it was blocked off. I thought that was pretty cool. I was seated toward the rear on the left, so I saw the huge jetbridge that attaches to the back. Soon after I sat down they connected it to the plane and people boarded from the rear. I wished I had boarded that way, but oh well.
3:19pm on time
N498UA Ted A320
See the jetbridge over the wing. Before we pushed, this moved way up high in the air. And I do mean really high!
So I sat down and tuned in channel 9. I was glad to hear it was going.
We had to wait for some military traffic to clear, plus they were separating westbound departures 20 miles in trail (I know this thanks to channel 9) so we had a long wait before takeoff on 25.
I had a bad window, but here's the takeoff roll.
Rugged terrain before landing at LAS. Standard beverage service during the flight with no munchies. I took coffee once again as I was a bit sleep deprived. I had eaten a sandwich in DEN. Once again they had 4 flight attendants, but that's the minimum on an all-coach A320 with 156 seats. They had 2 carts in the aisle, one toward the front and one toward the back, which was nice to see. Late in the flight they did a coffee service, which was once again, a nice touch. I'm starting to get impressed with their inflight service.
Here's the landing video with a surprise at the end. As luck would have it, Virgin 747 G-VTOP was taxiing out as we taxied in. You can see it, though not close up, as we taxi.
LAS-SFO-DFW Feb 28th
I got to the airport early, as you never know how good or bad it will be at LAS Terminal D security. It wasn't a bad line at all. This was on Wednesday the 28th at 11am or so.
Ted 1589 LAS-SFO
1:10pm On time-almost
The self-service checkin offered me Economy Plus for $52, but I declined.
Since I had time, I wandered around the terminal.
Eagle doing a quick-turn to/from LAX. (N841AE)
A "heavy" 757-300 to Houston.
I saw a JetBlue A320 (N546JB) loading up for JFK, but coudln't get an angle to take a decent picture of it.
Here are the slot machines in the terminal. They don't take coins anymore, so I didn't feed them this time. None of the machines in Las Vegas take coins anymore, at least not on the strip where I went.
This next picture is very strange and ugly. Let me explain!
As I started walking toward the UA gates, there was a crowd by the window, and they weren't airplane spotters. I could tell! They were freaking out because it was snowing in Las Vegas! Isn't that odd? Snow in Las Vegas? Anyway, on the following ugly picture, you will see some white specs against the background. Yes, that's real snow in Vegas.
Yes it's ugly, but you can see the white flakes on the red and grey background. OK my weather report is over (though just FYI, we didn't bother deicing).
I walked on as one of the first passengers, so I got to take a picture of the cabin. (The zone 1 people didn't sit as far back as I did.)
The Ted cabin.
A view from my window at the gate.
As we waited to push, they announced that another United or Ted flight had just diverted to LAS and they were going to fill it up as full as possible before we departed. Until this point there was a free middle seat, but they did as they said and filled it up. While boarding I overhead the flight attendants say we were 65% full.
We taxied out and there was a long departure line for 25R due to having to wait for some arrivals on the 19s.
I don't really get the feeling that United takes Ted seriously, because the PA announcements thank everyone for flying United, and the callsign is United. However, their inflight magazine is Ted-specific. Also, they have things like Ted-tunes, etc. So maybe they do.
The Ted Brand! Ted cup and napkin.
After the drink service they offered a quick water service, as this was a shorter flight. Once again, nice touch Ted!
Descending into SFO.
There was snow on the mountains below as we descended through the clouds, so I took this short 19 second clip of that. It's a short pointless video, but it's kinda nice.
I liked how the sun reflected in the patterns in the harbor as we prepared for a landing on 28L.
The landing in SFO. Once again, dirty window and it was one of those where the window is not at a decent angle. LH 747 with a soccer nose was about to take off--and I lost the registration, unfortunately. Must have been on that Ted napkin!
NZ 777 and EVA 747 as we taxied in. NZ (ZK-OKA)
A view of the plane I just got off of. I forgot to snap a picture of it in LAS.
In SFO I had a nearly 4 hour layover (by design and it was the cheapest flight as well). We parked at gate 75, which is adjacent to the Int'l terminal. There's a sign above the gate pointing toward a security point and it said that way to the International Terminal, so I thought I would see if I can get in the terminal. I didn't know if it was connected to the main terminals or not (like how DFW ATL and IAH are all accessible but LAX is not). As soon as I went through that area I was outside security, so I went up to the train to get a view of what was at SFO. As soon as I got on the train, KLM MD11 was taking off.
KLM MD11. Sorry for the small picture. I didn't bring my good camera on this trip for some reason. There's a better of this KLM at SFO in an older trip report I did, when I brought my good camera on basically this same connection last year on UA!
At first I thought...wow I thought Virgin parks up by BA. What are they doing way out there? Then I realized those were Virgin America planes! That's my first view of Virgin America.
UA 747 in the good paint scheme.
By this point my memory on my camera was nearly full. I forgot to bring my adapter to download it to my computer, so I couldn't take many more pictures.
At least I had room for this Qantas 747. (VH-OED) My first time seeing them in SFO.
Also I saw Virgin 747 (G-VTOP)
BA 747 (G-BNLD)
Later another BA 747 taxied in (G-BNLC). I wondered if this was the first time they were together since the production line! Probably not.
I made my way to the Delta Crown Room in SFO, which is in an old hallway outside of security. It was a really nice facility though. I was surprised to see that DL had a 6:45pm departure to HNL. While in the lounge I watched a JAL 747 go a go-around. It made a left turn over the building where I was and the engines were really screaming.
Eventually it was time to make my way back toward UA to get on my A320 to DFW.
The flight home:
6:42pm on time (arrived early)
My Ted A320 was N438UA and my United A320 was N435UA. The United was in the old grey paint scheme.
I usually don't bother with trying to film anything at night using the camera that I do. I tried it this time anyway. It's like 30 seconds into the video before it finally focuses, but here's our takeoff at night:
Yeah I know. Not the best. Oh well. I didn't bother with filming the landing. It was a 11:45pm arrival into DFW.
This flight was one of the most comfortable coach experiences in recent memory. The entire back of the plane was empty. I was 4 rows from the back, and on those 4 rows was a total of 3 people. The guy behind me was a UA pilot non-rev or deadheader--probably non-rev since he wasn't in first, which wasn't full. Economy Plus was probably 50% full and the rest of the coach area was like 20% full. It was a Wednesday night flight.
In all the A320s, as I have failed to mention, there are flip-down screens. On this flight, it was long enough to show a movie. It was "A Good Year" (or is it "A Good Day") I forget. It's the flick starring Russell Crowe. I didn't watch it as I had something I needed to read for a class I'm taking. I read that while I listened to ATC. We were on frequency with all the UPS and FedEx. My overhead lamp randomly came on and went off, so I just used the middle seat light after a while.
On this flight they offered buy-on-board snack boxes, with like 4 choices of what junk food you want for $5. I had a sandwich in the terminal before we left. Since I didn't buy a snack box, I actually was given pretzels on this flight. That's an amazing amount of food to be served in coach on a US carrier in this day and age (yes I know, Continental still feeds you).
Due to the light load, I guess, this was the only flight on my trip to have 3 flight attendants. It was really relaxed and pleasant. Oh yes, one more detail. I checked luggage both ways and it made it both ways! My luggage came out very quickly in DFW due to the light load. That's always nice. Well I can't think of anything else to add to the trip report. Hope you enjoyed it!
See, I knew American Eagle was first class all along!
Yes! They sure do! It is the BEST way to get to the islands non-rev. Everytime I've checked there is always at least 100-150 seats open in Y and F is never close to full... but UA/AA/HA are always close to full or overbooked. I don't get it.
I'm thinking this flight will be a 757 if it stays around once Delta gets those aircraft.
Very nice trip report. I especially liked the pics at SFO. Their international terminal is beautiful.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): As soon as I sat down, I plugged in the headphones to listen to channel 9. We had already gotten our clearance, because I heard DFW ground. I really am a huge fan of United's channel 9. I wish more carriers would do it, or bring it back, in the case of American. I remember when I was a kid, flying on AA 5 to HNL from DFW listening to ATC.
You are probably referring to when AA had cockpit cameras on the DC10's. They would turn it on for takeoff and landing and you could also listen to ATC on one of the channels. They discontinued that about 20 years ago. It's too bad because I always enjoyed flying on the DC10's when they turned it on.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): I don't really get the feeling that United takes Ted seriously, because the PA announcements thank everyone for flying United, and the callsign is United. However, their inflight magazine is Ted-specific. Also, they have things like Ted-tunes, etc. So maybe they do.
Even though you are flying on TED, you are really flying United. There is no seperate "TED" certificate, and everything operates under the "United" banner."
Under the tail number is a verbage that says "Part of United Airlines," because they are required by law to show who is really operating the aircraft.
Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.
Quoting DFW13L (Thread starter): As I started walking toward the UA gates, there was a crowd by the window, and they weren't airplane spotters. I could tell! They were freaking out because it was snowing in Las Vegas! Isn't that odd? Snow in Las Vegas? Anyway, on the following ugly picture, you will see some white specs against the background. Yes, that's real snow in Vegas.
u came here in a bad week for LAS. the wind was blowin almost the whole week. really cool TR!!