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Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:27 pm

This is my first trip report. I hope you enjoy it! I apologize in advance for the photos, I only had my iPhone. (I also had a DSLR, but I don’t have a lens that is appropriate for the small confines of an airplane.)

This trip was done to use up some miles that were nearing expiration. As I didn’t have any trips coming up for the foreseeable future I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to: take a day trip to the west coast. I originally looked at PDX, SFO, and SEA; but none of these worked out with much time on the ground. So I ended up with LAX.

My routing would be BDL-ORD-LAX outbound, then the redeye LAX-IAD-BDL.

19 January 2011
UA 381
Depart: 06:45, Arrive: 08:23
A320 – N431UA
Seat: 16A

I woke up at 04:30, with plan to leave at 05:00. My father works in Connecticut en route to Bradley so this worked perfectly. I had a cup of coffee; made sure my backpack was packed, and checked in with United Mobile. It was easy enough, though kind of annoying to go through the usual up selling UA makes you go through when checking in for a flight. (E+, Premier Line, Award Accelerator, etc.)

It was very foggy in the morning. From the ramp up to Departures I had a hard time seeing anything at the gate. This eventually burned off once the sun started to come off. BDL is quite busy at 05:30. Almost every major airline serving BDL has a departure between 05:30 and 07:00. While the check in desks had lines, security fortunately was moving efficiently. I got in line, only to have the agent tell me I was in the wrong line—for a mobile boarding pass you needed to be in the “Expert Traveler” lane, something I wasn’t aware of, and wasn’t posted. While the first person was nice, all of the other agents seemed put out that I used the mobile boarding pass. *eyeroll*

I checked the departures board and everything was on time, so I made my way to the gate to scope things out. Then I took a walk around the airport. When I was growing up I was here often for flights to Florida to see grandparents. They’ve since moved back up to Massachusetts. Combined with most of my flights have left from BOS in the last few years, it had been 5,5 years since I have departed from BDL, though I did arrive here when I returned from Korea last year. It’s typical airport fare, though it has evolved to be much nicer than I remember 10-15 years ago. I grabbed a coffee at LavAzza, then checked out the action. Almost all of the airlines have company gate displays, which is nice, though UA, AC, and US don’t.

Main terminal, after security:

Gates 1-12

UA flight to IAD

Old School BDL logo:

Nice to see JetBlue here! They inaugurated service here in November.

My plane:

After some roaming and emailing boarding was winding up, so I hopped in line. The mobile boarding was nice, though the angle I was holding my iPhone ended up making the screen constantly rotate. I apologized to the gate agent and locked the screen orientation for the rest of the trip.

This was my first trip in ages where I had a window seat. My inclination is always for an aisle seat. Pretty neat to see a de-icing. I’m sure I’ve seen one before as I normally fly in the winter, but I think sitting in the aisle, I simply haven’t noticed it. It didn’t take long to push back and head out to the runway. Just a few minutes after ETD, we were off.

Obligatory leg room shot.

Ch. 9 operational!

I love that United shows 30 Rock. Probably my favorite show on TV. They showed the Season 4 finale, which includes Matt Damon playing the pilot Carol. “Yeah I’m a doorman…to the SKY!”

Love that they serve Starbucks. Even if it isn’t the same as you’d get in their stores:

In flight:

Loads in F were 100%, while Y was just over 66% (Pretty easy to figure as almost every single middle seat was empty.) Unfortunately my reading light flickered continuously whenever it was on. So I watched 30 Rock. By the time the episode was over, the sun had risen enough that I could read my paper and listen to Ch. 9. The crew did beverage service followed by a water run and a coffee run (Which I think is really great) mid flight. The cabin crew made regular rounds and was very friendly to everyone. Other than that, not much to report, there was very little turbulence, and we arrived into ORD a few minutes early.

My seat:

This was my first time at ORD. A friend of mine who is AA Platinum despises ORD, but I really didn’t mind it. I thought there was a lot of natural light which alleviated the sometimes cramped nature of it. I also appreciate greatly any airport which lets the concourses mingle after security. A nice opportunity to stretch my legs and see what AA’s side of the fence looked like. Unfortunately the only interesting flights I saw were JAL and ANA, which was sporting a Star Alliance livery.
Walking about ORD:

19 January 2011
Depart: 10:16, Arrive: 12:44
767 – N666UA
Seat: 25H, ended up in 25F

My 767:

After wandering the terminals, razzing my friend about AA, and grabbing a Starbucks city mug, boarding began to LA. The boarding process took ages as everyone was scrambling for overhead bin space.

No question what city is UA’s hometown:

I had selected an aisle, but got lucky as the entire row next to me was open! Once the doors closed, I slipped over to 25 F. When the safety video started playing, and Jeff Smisek came on the screen, the older woman in the row behind me blurted out: “Oooh! He’s cute!” *facetray* Then: “I like his smile!” I turned around a little with a little bit of a stunned look at my face.


Leg room:

No Ch. 9 on this flight. The first officer was chatty on the PA. The Captain spoke a few words, and sounded like Dan Akroyd doing his Jimmy Carter impression. The Loads were 100% in F, and around 75-80% in Y. This was my first domestic widebody flight in years. This 767 was definitely showing its age.

They showed Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps on this flight, which I really wanted to see. Last year, while returning home from Korea, I ended up with a free drink coupon, which I tried to redeem twice, but each time they just comped me the drink and told me to keep the coupon. So I ordered a G&T, stretched out, and watched the movie.

The cabin crew was professional, though a bit slow, and towards the end of the flight they lounged in the last 2 rows of the D-F seats loudly chatting and laughing.

Descent seemed very sudden. I was reading a copy of Airways I had bought for the trip and it caught me by surprise. It must have caught the cabin crew off guard too, as they suddenly started to collect trash, but only lasted 2-3 minutes before the FO instructed them to take their seats.

I regret that I moved to the middle as that meant no window views. From what little I could see, the mountains were absolutely gorgeous on approach. As we taxied to the gate, I saw Emirates, LAN, China Airlines, a DL 744, and I swear I saw John Travolta’s 707. Alas, no photos!

My seat:

I thanked the crew as I deplaned, then set off to check out the terminal quickly before I headed into the city. Being that I was returning that night, I wanted to know what to expect, so I checked out Terminals 6, 7, and 8. I made sure that one of the Starbucks had LA mugs, grabbed the Flyaway bus, and headed into LA!

A few photos from while I was in Hollywood:
From Trip Report
From Trip Report
From Trip Report
From Trip Report
From Trip Report

Obvious signs it’s Koreatown:
From Trip Report
From Trip Report
From Trip Report

After grabbing a few drinks at the bar at Union Station and sending some postcards, it was time to head back to LAX.
From Trip Report
From Trip Report
From Trip Report

Here’s where the only difficulty I had started. I went to the kiosks to check in, and it only listed me as having a LAX-IAD segment. It had no record of my IAD-BDL segment. Strange. I checked twice, then printed a receipt, which showed all 4 segments. Tried the mobile check in, and it wouldn’t let me sign in at all, so I asked a nearby UA employee, who couldn’t help me, but showed me where the gate agents were. When I approached the line guardian and explained, she told me: “That’s a code share flight, you need to go to another terminal.” I replied, “No, actually it is a United main line flight…” She cut me off, and told me: “No, it looks like that, and it might say United, but it’s not. You need to go to a different terminal.” Keep in mind, she never even looked at the itinerary I tried to show her. I calmly told her: “I’m sorry, but this is in fact a United operated flight. It is flight 444, a main line flight…” She cut me off again but instead told me I shouldn’t do any of this at Ticketing, but instead should go to the gate agent. Without being too rude I said “Listen, I am a frequent flyer, I know what a code share is, and this isn’t one. And there’s no reason I shouldn’t straighten this out now. I need to speak with a ticketing agent. Please.” With a sigh she reluctantly unhooked the barrier and let me through. Less than 5 minutes later, the ticketing agent checked me in, printed the boarding pass and apologized for the problem.
This concerns me, as I know what I am doing. What if this was someone who didn’t? I mean she could’ve at least pretended to look at my papers.

Anywho, I made it through security without much hassle. I had to go to terminal 6 to get an LA Starbucks mug. (Terminal 7 and 8 only had California mugs, and while they were nice, I have to set some limits.) En route to the gate, I grabbed a UA 747die cast plane, and a snack.

Not a lot to say other than, LAX is pretty crummy. Not a lot going on, though I took a walk through 6 and 8. Before my flight departed, the flight to Sydney was missing two passengers who had checked in, but not arrived at the gate, so they were constantly paging these two women who eventually were driven on a courtesy cart to the gate and ran on board shouting.

19 January 2011
UA 44
Depart: 22:39, Arrive: 06:24
767 – ! I forgot to write down the Registration number! Can anyone help me out?
Seat: 25A

Got on board to find that F was 100% and Y was 90-95%. A nice touch though was that a blanket and pillow was nicely placed on each seat. I’ve flown red-eyes on UA before, and never had the pillow and blanket lain out.
I don’t have a lot to report on this flight. Although I can’t sleep on planes, I watched some movies on my iPhone, and zoned out for a while. The flight was moderately turbulent for a good part of it. I got a thank you from the FA as I waited for the fasten seat belt sign to be turned off before using the lav. (This meant a lot of waiting.) There was no Ch. 9, and the main screen was flickering occasionally throughout. The programming was by and large awful, except that they showed Arrested Development! The episode was 6 years old, so it pleasantly surprised me.
Unfortunately, I had a seat-mate. I had been on a surprising streak of having seats open. (ICN-SFO, SFO-IAD, IAD-BDL, BDL-ORD, ORD-LAX) Fortunately though we arrived a bit early into IAD.

While we taxied to the gate, I spotted ET, and TACA.

I went to Starbucks, grabbed a fresh cup of my favorite Komodo Dragon blend, and set off to explore IAD. (Last time I was there, I had been in transit for about 34 hours, and dozed at the gate.)

While the C/D concourses are nothing to write home about, the others are nice. And the Skytrain is great. It reminded me a little of the shuttle between the main terminal and foreign terminal at ICN. My only critique is that the announcements sounded like they were done with MacInTalk.

While exploring I grabbed a postcard for a friend of mine, wrote it out, and went looking for a mailbox. Apparently there was one, but it was after security in the main terminal. Seeing as I had time, I went looking for it. No one could give me an exact location. I got to see the main terminal though! Very nice looking, in my opinion. I must admit, I am a sucker for the typeface that is used throughout the terminal.

I walked all over, picking up some Japanese language NH literature for my brother (who is studying Japanese) but never did find the mailbox. (Does anyone know where it is?)

I went back through security, and got flagged for additional screening. It got sorted out (the TSA were very professional at IAD) and I dashed off to the gate. I had a few minutes so I grabbed some donuts for the plane, and was greeted by the gate agent by name. (In a friendly way, I was the last to board.) The flight boarded so fast as there were only 8 pax in F, and 20 or 25 in Y!

20 January 2011
UA 444
Depart: 08:19, Arrive: 09:31
A320 – N421UA
Seat: 14A assigned, ended up in 15A


I grabbed the row behind me as it was open, and enjoyed the flight. Given the light loads, the cabin crew did the service individually, asking what each person would like and going to the galley to grab it. Ch. 9 was definitely working as the purser enthusiastically recommended it to everyone over the PA.

El Jefe:

Take off:

And so, about 27 or so hours after my day trip began, I was back home in the cold and snow. All in all, it was a solid trip. I had a lot of fun, got to see a city I had never seen before, and got to escape the cold and snow, if only for a day.

My ride:

I hope you enjoyed reading this TR!
Posts: 215
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 5:51 pm

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:55 am

Great report. Pleasure to read. Ive always wanted to do something like that.
Posts: 264
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:50 am

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:30 am

Nice Trip Report- very detailed. It looks to be a very accurate portrayal of United today, however fortunate/unfortunate that may be, as you experienced both ends of the spectrum   

You flew N676UA on LAX-IAD on the 19th.
The opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of Delta Air Lines.
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Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:41 pm

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:44 am

Quoting United (Reply 2):
You flew N676UA on LAX-IAD on the 19th.

Thanks so much! The double windows at LAX prevented me from looking, and I was so antsy to get off the plane in the morning I forgot to ask.
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:27 pm

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:16 am

Quoting PeterJ (Thread starter):
I must admit, I am a sucker for the typeface that is used throughout the terminal.

I agree wholeheartedly with you, it's got that utilitarian and functional sort of look blended with a bit of 70's sci-fi movie title styling.

Excellent report by the way.
I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.
Posts: 122
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:26 pm

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:06 am

Quoting PeterJ (Thread starter):
This concerns me, as I know what I am doing. What if this was someone who didn’t? I mean she could’ve at least pretended to look at my papers.

That's a huge problem when an airline employee tells you the wrong information. Airlines should really put questions about daily airport operations such as codeshares on the entrance exams. It's a shame. Imagine a 70 year old grandmother asking this employee. She would have had to walk to another terminal just to be told she had to go back to UA.
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:13 pm

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:38 am

Quoting PeterJ (Thread starter):
I swear I saw John Travolta’s 707

N707JT is at LAX frequently, and it is at the moment I type this as well. It hasn't left in a few weeks as far as I know.
Jetblue: The official airline of Springfield! And Eventually: The official airline of Quahog, RI
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Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:16 am

RE: Day Trip To The West Coast, BDL-ORD-LAX-IAD-BDL

Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:32 pm

Nice trip report!!

Thanks for sharing!
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer

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