I'm going to try and get this set of reports out as fast as I can, but between school and jet lag, it might take a while.
A bit of preface regarding my trip. My high school in Connecticut has a sister school in Qingdao, China. Every few years we send some students there, and they send some here. A total of 26 of us went on this trip, so it was interesting to see how groups work on airlines.
We started out at 6:30 on a coach bus for the ride to Newark, seems early for an 11:50 flight right? We arrived at the Terminal C around 8:15, and it was relatively empty, as most of the morning flights had already checked in/departed.
A lady redirected us upstairs to the group chat, and since nobody really knew what we were doing, we went up. When we made it upstairs, the only group listed was the Charleston Tennis Group. This of course resulted in a lot of hubbub, but they eventually figured out who we were and we check in, slowly, 1 by 1.
We made our way through relatively quick, and moved on into the terminal area.
There seemed to be a good amount of shops and restaurants, but I didn't check any of them out, and headed for the gate. I was actually surprised we had a gate at that hour, considering our flight wasn't scheduled to leave for another 2.5 hours. Today we were at gate C123, not too far a walk from security.
Wait, where are all the seats?? Ah, there they are.
Spotting at Newark is hard between the security and the odd shape of the terminal, but there was plenty of time for it. The flight to Shanghai was parked next to us, and the plane coming in behind is was ours.
We were on N78008, 16 years old, ex-Continental, configured in the old 2 (3) class configuration, with what I believe to be the most ridiculous economy plus ever. Extra money for 4 extra inches of legroom just doesn't seem worth it. The seats in the boarding area were fine at best, and there were many of these power plug things scattered around the terminal. I managed to get 15 minutes free off gogo, but that's all EWR has to offer, unless you want to pay. Regardless, it was fast, and I could actually stream netflix without a problem
I was originally assigned to seat 36D, but managed to swap for 24L, as I love the window seats. Boarding commenced around 11:00. United has the separate lines for boarding groups, which seemed to be semi effective, but it was still quite chaotic.
We headed down the jetway, and were met with this logo at the end. Yay wifi!
I made my way through the aircraft, passing business class on the way to my seat. Looked fine, but nothing amazing…
Aaaaaand here we are! The view from 24L
We pushed back at 11:56, only 6 minutes behind schedule. The safety video was interesting, travel themed, but of course, incomparable to Virgin America's…
I've got a few pictures from our taxi out to Runway 22R, a short taxi from Terminal C
We were number 4 in line for takeoff, getting off the ground at 12:19, 29 minutes late. Not terrible. Up to 30,000 feet we went, where the first meal was served, about 1 hour after takeoff. No menu here, but there was an option of chicken with rice or pasta with tomato sauce. Everyone in my row opted for the chicken, so I have no pictures of the pasta unfortunately. Food wise, it was normal. The chicken was a weird rubbery consistency, and came with green beans and carrots along with possibly the weirdest sauce I've ever tasted. Additionally, we got a typical tasteless salad, a brownie, and a roll. Overall probably a 7/10 meal.
I watched 2 movies as we went up to 36,000 feet.
United's selection of Movies, Music, TV, etc. I have to say was phenomenal. There were probably over 70 movies total. However, the actual screen required about 5 taps to get it to work. I didn't mind this though, because once you got where you were going, it was worth it (on Lufthansa's A380s, it take 4x as long to get where you're going, and when you do, the selection is god awful). I went to sleep and woke up in time for the second meal, more like a snack. Ham and cheese on a roll, a chocolate chip cookie, and potato chips. Only complaint is the crinkly bag it came in…made tons of noise while people were trying to sleep. We received this meal about 5 hours into the flight. One of my classmates tried to order in chinese with one of the Asian crew members, only to get the response Your chinese is probably better than mine is… nice to see a bit of humor with the FA's
United made us keep the window shades closed for the entire flight. Not a terrible idea actually. You can see the glow of all the screens over the north pole, and I snuck a few pictures out the window.
I slept some more, and woke up for meal number 3, around 2 hours before landing. This time we had a choice between an omelet or noodles. I soon learned that noodles are typical breakfast food in China, so I went with those. It was pretty good. My first reaction was those are noodles?? Turns out it was noodles with some kind of breaded meat that tasted like chicken nuggets, accompanied by a similar sauce from meal one and some of the worst tasting vegetables I've ever eaten. We got a sugar cookie and another roll as well.
Even though there was a wifi symbol and a hump on the plane, it didn't work at all for the entire flight. The network was there (United_Wi_Fi), but it could never connect to the server so you could pay to use it. We began our descent from 39,000 feet at 00:38 NYC time, aka 12:38 in China.
And touchdown! We hit the ground at 13:23 local time, 17 minutes ahead of schedule, on runway 18L
Spotting out of a dirty window isn't great, but I had to take advantage of what I had. Soooo many new airlines for me.
We got to the gate at 13:33, terminal 3, still 7 minutes ahead of schedule. Go united! Last view of our plane
However, Beijing airport is SLOOOOOOWWWWWW, while modern and spotless though. Immigration took forever in an extremely disorganized line from what seemed like 50 different flights. Then we had to take a train to get our bags in a completely separate building, luckily everything had come out because everything else took so long.
Overall, this flight wasn't nearly as painful as I had expected, but United still has a long way to go!
Hopefully you enjoyed this report, and will continue to read about the rest of my trip! Comments are welcomed :)
Newark - EWR
Beijing - PEK
Newark Terminal C- Slow (like the rest of EWR), but much MUCH nicer than terminal A
Seats- Legroom was standard, seat was moderately comfortable
Food- Pretty good, definitely could be better, but it was for the most part edible and enjoyable
Crew- Cracked a few jokes, overall quite friendly
IFE- Great selection, but slow TVs
Beijing Terminal 3- SLOW but spotless!
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