Hello all! This is the second part of my long summer trip back home. The flights to get to Mumbai (at least) were as follows: DL3909 (opb Endeavor Air for Delta Connection) Grand Forks to Minneapolis/St. Paul dep: 0505 hours, arr: 0614 hours 17th May 2016 CRJ-900LR —3hr47min of yay— UA686 Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago O'Hare dep: 1001 hours, arr: 1135 hours 17th May 2016 A320-200 (changed to A319-100 later) —4hr25min of yay— LH431 Chicago O'Hare to Frankfurt Am-Main dep: 1600 hours, arr: 0715+1 hours 17th May 2016 B747-8 Intercontinental —6hr30min of yay— LH760 Frankfurt Am-Main to New Delhi, dep: 1345 hours, arr: 0055 hours 18th May 2016+1 A380-800 —6hr05min of yay— AI401 New Delhi to Kolkata dep: 0700 hours, arr: 0915 hours 19th May 2016 B787-8 Dream)liner —22hr40min of real, not sarcastic yay— SG488 Kolkata to Mumbai dep: 0755 hours, arr: 1055 hours 20th May 2016 B737-900ER
Find the video trip report here:
A CHEAP FIND!
The next flight was on United Airlines. My first time on this carrier. My Lufthansa booking in late 2015, which included a United Airlines flight (UA953/LH9568 MUC-ORD), was supposed to be the first one, but instead this was my first flight with them instead. Now, here’s why I selected United. I did a thorough fare calculation, including Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines, including seat booking, luggage, etc. It worked out to be WAY more expensive than a one way ticket on United Airlines from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Chicago O’Hare, $35.10. There was no waiting, the second I found out that the flight timings fit my travel needs, I booked it. However, it was on an Airbus A320 within the United States of America, which felt a bit strange.
It was so cheap!
ABOUT THE FLIGHT
This UA686 is quite an interesting flight. Like many flights in the United States, the same flight number is used for more than one flight. I guess some of you be thinking ‘oh, but that’s how hopping flights work’, but in the USA, the same flight number could be operated on very different aircraft and to various different destinations that have no relation with the other. UA686 was the same, it’d operate the MSP-ORD flight, the plane would go elsewhere, but another UA686 would operate a ORD-IAD flight, a few hours later. UA686 was operated by a combination of A319/A320/B73H aircraft. My flight got changed from an A320 to A319. Pretty okay, I find the A320’s little sibling to be a very cute aircraft :D
I did a web check-in for this flight. United’s process is a bit strange because it asks you way too many different questions, answers that could’ve been found on the booking itself. I also decided to buy a seat in Economy +, a more legroom seat and a seat closer to the IAEv2500 engines. And of course, one piece of checked luggage because airlines in America really love ripping their passengers off. But that's how it is, not complaining considering the very cheap fare I found! Some screenshots: Home page
No infants, not an infant :P
Check in confirmation
THE FLIGHT ITSELF
Back to the day, May 17th 2016. I headed up the escalators and found the United Airlines check in counter, that was (unsurprisingly) placed next to its Star Alliance buddies Air Canada, the lovely Air Canada.
Unlike Delta, quite like Alaska Airlines, United Airlines have their check in kiosks that print out both the boarding pass supermarket receipt and the checked luggage tag. I liked this. There was a lady helping people out with this process, and also all counters were manned.
AV gave me the idea to check my luggage all the way to New Delhi, India thanks to the interlining that exists between all the Star Alliance members. I asked if this was possible, the guy at the counter asked me to wait in front of the special services line. Another nice lady helped me out over there. She asked for my passport (US visa, specially), and the Lufthansa ticket. The process took a while I was beginning to give up hope. However, there came a luggage tag that read ORD/FRA/DEL. All the way from Minneapolis/St. Paul to New Delhi via Chicago O’Hare and Frankfurt! I thanked the lovely lady there and she said ‘Always happy to help whenever these pop up!’.
Oh, TSA were next. It was quite busy. Once again, it was a tale of two completely different stories here. There was a nice lady guiding us to different lines with a cheerful smile and greeting us. And then there was the usual yelling ‘make sure there is nothing in the pockets please push the trays forward put all laptops in the tray’ like a broken recorder. And if anyone did something even minutely wrong, they’d get a big yelling from the TSA. Well, that was that I guess….
THE WAIT TILL BOARDING…
Gate E10 for my flight. Concourse E. I figured that I’ve been to most concourses at Minneapolis at least once: A, B, C, E, F, G. Not D and H yet, and of course there was the 'low-cost carrier terminal' 2 Humphrey. Concourse E actually had a lot of the fun stuff, the not-Delta stuff. American Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines, Spirit Airlines! It was awesome to see these. However, concourses D and F were around, there were some pretty interesting Delta planes there, such as the B757-300 and MD90.
I walked past the Spirit Airlines flight to Los Angeles, and there I found a fourth individual I knew personally - a coworker from my workplace (well, duh)! I sat around at Burger King for quite some time and had a pretty uninspiring breakfast. I watched the Spirit Air flight depart to Los Angeles, and it was a unique pushback. One engine was fired up at the stand itself, before being pushed back quite a long distance to start up its other engine, and began taxiing.
I headed for my gate E10 and waited around. N827UA, a 17 year old Airbus A319-131 was inbound from Chicago O’Hare as UA943. Some very loud 1980-like sounds were made as an American Airlines MD80 showed up on the other side of the concourse. I didn’t bother walking, I was too tired lol. There was some action happening on the runway, but most of it included Delta Air Lines CRJs. I noticed the United Air Lines boarding passes and the rows for boarding, they were divided only in to 1/2/3/4/5. Not a specific code for different loyalty members printed on the boarding pass that might cause confusion (looking at you, Delta). This was going to be a full flight, judging by the crowds around.
Quite a while before time, N827UA arrived from Chicago O’Hare and taxied towards gate E10
Boarding was called soon after and I joined the line for Group 3. Group 1 was all the Star Alliance hotshots and the First Class folk, I guess.
The gate agent was another very cheerful and helpful lady, she acknowledged all passengers, which was very nice. For some reason, my boarding document supermarket receipt beeped, the nice lady had to confirm something about my interlined luggage, which was all okay afterwards. Pretty good ground staff on behalf of United at Minneapolis/St. Paul!
Onboard however, it wasn’t a very warm welcome, but I didn’t know what to expect anyway. Took my seat 10A which was the third row of Economy behind the two First Class rows.
The leather seats were pretty comfortable (despite being the slimline ones), and legroom was plentiful! There was the LCC type hard pocket right in front of which was filled with the magazine, safety card, entertainment/services guide and lots of other ads. The tray table had an advertisement stuck on it, too. It did feel a bit tacky, to be honest. n American Airlines B737 captain took the seat 10B, and a college-going girl took 10C. Obviously, the nerd in me asked many questions to the Captain. He used to be a first officer on the Boeing 777, and he had very many flights to/from New Delhi and Europe back when AA had the Delhi flights! Unfortunately, he was tired, I was tired, it was not a particularly good time to talk, I figured.
Cute Air Canada Express/Air Georgian CRJ-200…I like this livery. Not a Delta lookalike ;)
Boarding completed and doors armed, we departed three minutes early at 0958 hours. One of the two IAEV2500 engines were fired up. We slowly began a long taxi towards runway 17, wherein the second IAEV2500 engine was fired up, too. We were number one for take off, but my God were there so many more planes behind us! The engines produced some lovely sounds as we took off and set course for Chicago O’Hare.
Take off video:
Images of tray table and seat back content:
By and large, a very sleepy flight. Wifi entertainment was available, but I didn’t bother using it because I was pretty tired. Service included the usual stuff, drinks and a small, not-at-all-filling snack. On United Airlines, it was a mini caramel waffle that would melt if placed over something warm. Many people tried it! :D
There were quite a few ads about United’s very own credit card and stuff, none of which I could use any way lol. The short flight was coming to an end fairly quickly as we began descent into Chicago O’Hare.
DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
Descent was a bit choppy initially but it all calmed down, we lined up with Rwy 09L for a smooth touchdown at 1059 hours, just an hour after we were pushed back! Braking was quite loud as the entire aircraft rattled and shook - it almost felt like the entire baby bus would break apart! Nothing of that sort, however. It was another very long taxi towards Concourse B. We docked at Gate B5, among many United Airlines birds, and the odd ANA plane. Landing video:
Disembarkation was pretty quick, I thanked the crew for the flight and headed for the baggage claim…..
…..only to remember I’d get them in New Delhi! This began a very long wait for me, but it was now time to get to the serious end of flights right now…..
Thanks to TG for editing this report! :D
Airline/Flight No: United Airlines flight UA686 Date: May 17th 2016 Origin: Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota, United States of America (MSP/KMSP/MN) Destination: Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois, United States of America (ORD/KORD/IL) Seat no.: 10A, Economy Comfort Aircraft type: Airbus A319-131 Registration/Age: N827UA, 17 years old Departure time (scheduled/actual): 1001 hours CDT, 0958 hours CDT Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 1134 hours CDT, 1110 hours CDT Flying time (scheduled/actual): 1hr34min, 55 minutes Delay (if any): none Gate to gate time: 1hr12min Gates used (origin/destination): MSP - Gate E10, ORD - Gate B5 Terminals (origin/destination): Both MSP and ORD: Terminal 1 Runway: MSP - Runway 17; ORD - Runway 09L Route: RST7 RST ZZIPR FYTTE3
Minneapolis - MSP
Chicago - ORD
A fairly straightforward flight with United. While it was a good change after a string of six (!) long haul, domestic and regional flights with Delta, there is not much to choose between the two. But hey that said, the fare was incredible!
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