February 23, 2002
I wouldn’t miss this view for the world, let alone a bunch of husky no-necks slugging it out over pigskin. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not the biggest football fan
* This TR also includes a 20 second *.mpg video clip of 952’s T/O roll
United 952 SFO ORD 86 B17
Scheduled: 1350 | 1943 CST
Actuals: 2:20 | 8:10
My journey began when I found out I could not get back from Singapore. Upon arriving at SFO, I intended on heading to SIN to see my aunt and cousin. However, as a 3F, I’m never guaranteed a seat aboard. And coming back from SIN on Wednesday, the loads filled up at the last minute. We were overbooked by over 120 that day. Why risk it?
As I was all dressed up for premium travel, and was at the airport already, my long-held desire to fly both in the nose of a 747, and to fly in United’s First Suite, kicked it. I now could do it, if there was room. Lo and behold, UA#952 from SFO to Chicago’s O’Hare was boarding right across the moving walkways from the terminal where I was logged in to. I quickly scanned the levels for F class:
This was the CRS readout. The first number indicates the capacity, the second the amount of revenue passengers booked, the third the amount of 3Fs listed, and the fourth the total. However, more important was how many of those 3Fs had checked in. The readcout showed that only 7 had checked in. I was in luck!
At 1:33, I said goodbye to my comrades at Gate 87A and walked 50 feet to Gate 88 in Terminal 3. “Hi, I’m on the DM list,” I said and showed her my ID, “how’s it looking up front?” I asked this knowing full well how it was, with a wry smile on my face. The UA CSR told me she had one more seat for me, which surprised me. Apparently we had two upgrades. It felt strange to see people in the F cabin and know that >50% were 3Fs…
I plopped down in 5J, a window and the last row in the herringbone configuration. I had always wanted to fly in the nose of a Jumbo Jet just to experience the sensations of flight in the quietest, smoothest riding part of the aircraft. I sat down with satisfaction after the purser, Craig, took my coat. He noticed my Flight Attendant wings, and after I told him I wasn’t one but that a friendly F/A had given that to me, told me I had him fooled.
I did not have time to catch the rego of this Boeing 747-400 as I experienced the fastest boarding ever. Ending up where I wanted to just happened so fast and so easily, that I was still taking it in. In ORD, I couldn’t catch the nose number either, because we were parked a B17, where the angle at which the aircraft is parked at, in addition to the lack of windows in the area, makes it almost impossible to view ANY aircrafts’ rego.
Anyhow, here’s the view from 5J (these photos were also submitted in higher resolution):
My ideal seat would have been 1J, pictured here:
But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right?
Around our departure time, Captain Hurley announced there would be a slight delay due to a pooling of hydraulic fluid near the right wing. He explained: “This plane came from.. uhh… I wanna say… Tokyo or Shanghai… uhh… at 8AM this morning… and… uhh… has just been sitting here all day, so… uhh… it’s not uncommon to notice some small leak like this that has… uhh… built up after a lot of idle time. Right now I’m going to… uhh… cycle the flight controls and flight panels on the wing… uhh… and once the mechanics confirm that it’s fine we’ll… uhh… be on our way.”
That’s when I started writing this report:
I was kind of disappointed that the Captain didn’t know where his plane had come from—isn’t this a thing every pilot should know? I checked to see what the mechanics were up to then realized I couldn’t—from so far up front, I couldn’t see any part of the wing—not the wing, not the engines, not even the winglet. For the best I guess, as I think I would have been slightly unnerved if I had seen the big white patch they placed over the #4 pylon that I noticed upon deplaning and glancing back at her majesty in ORD.
I had a glass of OJ was my pre-departure beverage, browsed through the entertainment guide and February Hemispheres, and read part of my homework assignment as I waited.
It took some time to adjust to all the gadgetry in my Suite. Boy, was it SWEET. The CD audio seemed better than usual, the LCD had better resolution than the C class PTV, and the seat movement controls were flawless. There’s even a button to make sure the seat is ready for Takeoff and Landing. I utilized this feature as soon as we started pushing back.
Soon, we were taxiing to 1R… One of the first sensations I noticed while in the nose was how fast Taxiing felt. You could really feel the momentum of the 747 here. The angle of the seats also makes for better viewing. It’s nice not to have your neck cramp up from looking sideways the whole time because you’re already facing a window. I could hardly tell as the engines throttled up to full thrust, the noise from the engines was practically silent. I don’t usually time take off rolls like other people, but I unwittingly did it when I filmed the takeoff roll. I decided to start filming about 10 seconds after the engines revved, figuring that a typical roll was around 40 seconds. My digital camera can only shoot :30 clips at a time, so I shot 20 seconds worth of footage—until after we rotated, so you gotta figure all in all that the T/O was under 30 seconds. What a powerful monster.
Download the 3MB 20-second avi:
The ascent into clear blue skies was so smooth…I think I’ve forever been spoiled by the ambience nose of the 747. The abundance of windows and angling of the cabin created the perfect natural lighting, and the only noise was the air passing by the fuselage.
The service started out with a ramekin, a fancy word for warm nuts. Here are My Nuts!
Oh my, Hass, they’re so big!!!
I popped in ‘Summer Catch’ into my Personal Video Player, and once I soon realized what a crappy selection I had made, switched back to Airshow.
Mono lake in the right hand corner.
Can u tell whether this is Utah or Colorado?
I chose to have the Chicken Cajun sandwich, which was not a bad choice as you can see:
Craig, the purser, offered me doubles on Eli’s Mocha cheesecake and I gladly accepted. He knew what I wanted. After the meal, I brought him my tray and talked with him and another F/A, Jules, about various subject matter. I saw galley carts blocking off the 2 First class lavatories from the forward Business Class cabin. Because the new United policy restricts the closing of cabin curtains, I was informed that an Onboard Service Manager was aboard and had instructed the crew to use galley carts. Kind of primitive looking, I thought. At least they kept those Business Class hoodlums from poaching our lavs!
After chatting it up in the galley, I became sleepy and nestled in my Suite to watch ‘The Others’ (creepy movie with a kewl ending) and doze off for a bit.
Landing in Chicago was spectacular. I have never been to ORD while it was snowing before, and our descent was kind of surreal. The low lying clouds were glowing from above. As we swooped down into the cloud cover, all I could see were various shades of white, the landing lights flashing this way and that. When we broke below the cloud ceiling, all of Chicagoland was unusually well-lit because of the reflections of light on all the snow. I wish I could have recorded the landing, but digital cameras are horrible with dark shots.
Another thing about the sensations in the nose. When the nose gear was dropped, it was pretty violent. There was also a lot of whooshing very noticeable from the nose, the air rushing through the wheel well. We arrived in Chicago a little less than half an hour late.
Bye Bye my precious!
United 139 ORD SFO B8 81
Scheduled: 0915 | 1138 PST
This trip was pretty uneventful, except this time I was seated in Economy Plus. Kind of a drastic change, but it was comfy enough for me. The most notable thing on this flight was that this baby still smelled new! If you’ll look over at the Civil Aviation forum, I describe the new interior in detail. Other than that, the crew were very friendly. The Economy cabin was given multiple (3) drink services, with frequent offers of water or coffee. Excellent job, United. The snack boxes passed out contained substantial snacks. They even included a large, gourmet candy bar. Harry London’s Cookie Joy. So yummy…
It made me want to order them from UKcandies.com, but they’re expensive.
Unfortunately, my camera’s batteries died in ORD. I wasn’t able to snap photos of Décor 5.6, but I’m dedicated to spotting those sometime in the near future again. I will fly again just to take those pics!
A bunch of high school seniors on their way back from a field trip (I think they were from Burlingame’s Aragon High School) sat in the back… one of them recognised me from the high school game show I was on two years ago when I was in high school.
We taxied into Gate 81 after repeated thank-yous by the flight crew. United certainly is a friendly airline. BTW, I was still able to listen to the Super Bowl on Channel 9
SFOintern / Hass