Review of United flight Houston Los Angeles in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 1169
Class Economy
Seat 25K
Aircraft Boeing 757-200
Flight time 04:00
Take-off 26 Jan 15, 07:20
Arrival at 26 Jan 15, 09:20
UA   #49 out of 71 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 368 reviews
AznWrldTrvlr
Published on 19th January 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard this latest adventure by AznWrldTrvlr. A month after we took that amazing trip to Auckland and melbourne with a quick stop in Singapore, I started to plan for our next trip! Today we will be jetting our way to MNL via LAX and NRT.

I try to do a trip to the Philippines at least once a year just to reconnect with who I am. The ideal time I visit is from November to February where the temperatures tend to be nicer and less occurrence of the heavy rains. I had started planning this trip since October 2014. We particularly wanted to fly on a *A carrier to maintain *G on A3. The airline had redone their Miles+Bonus program and now needed 24000miles to renew on a yearly basis if we did not fly at least four segments on A3.

I started my usual search on the UA website to get an idea of how much fares might cost to, but would only credit us 50%. Yet ever since a disappointing experience doing MNL-GUM-HNL-IAH with UA, my parents felt they needed to boycott taking UA internationally with the lack of food and lack of service. Back in the CO days, that route would have been easy to do. Post merger, I had never wanted to get off a plane as fast as I could!

My parents suggested that they might want to retry PR because of a recent trip one of my uncles in SF did, and he enjoyed it. Relatives in LA and SF have the joys of the nonstop on PR to MNL. We too had a sour history on PR the very first time I visited the Philippines at the age of 5. The airline lacks both strong hard and soft products that put them behind other Southeast Asian airlines, in particular SQ. Still, I looked at flights with them and even peaked at how much J might cost on the nonstop. I was a bit surprised they were nicely priced. A bit of further digging around and many flights to MNL on a couple of airlines were all reasonably priced in J, especially from LAX and SFO.

In the past, we had tried to avoid using LAX or SFO as a port of entry, especially LAX. Yet with the continued modernization of the Tom Bradley International Terminal - TBIT, I figured we could make an exception. This exception proved beneficial because prices dropped dramatically if we did a separate domestic and international flights. The one problem, especially on our departure, would we arrive on time to easily make the connection between flights when on two separate reservations.

Thus, we booked a Y IAH-LAX-IAH on UA at a damn good price! We would get to fly the 757s on this itinerary, though I wish it was the 788 so that I could have taken my first Dreamliner flight. It would be a couple of months later I would, but not on UA.

This trip report focuses on the quick flight between IAH and LAX where we would connect onto the NH flight.

At the 24hr mark, I woke up rather early so I can check in and see if any closer seats opened up, particularly Y+. Yet, all seats had been grayed out. I had packed, repacked, and then repacked one more time to make sure I had everything I needed to bring and give to relatives. This flight was on a separate itinerary from our international portion of the our trip because of the significant savings in airfare. Thus, we had to abide by UA baggage rules. My *G status entitled me to one free check-in bag at 50lbs. Because it's a bit hard to limit what I take to the Philippines at 50lbs, I decided to pay for the second bag and load it up with "pasalubong", gifts in Tagalog. I needed to make sure that I printed all necessary itineraries so I could get our bags checked all the way through to MNL rather than dealing with them at LAX.

photo ba7a0921-ec12-4388-ac23-3376c732b0c8_zpsly1vvzwv
My UA Passbook boarding pass

I did not sleep that night before the flight because we needed to get there by 05:20 to make it before the 2hrs mark for the extra X-ray screening for an international flight. I had an experience where I was a bit late checking my bags within the 2hr timeframe that when I got to DUB after doing a IAH-CDG-DUB flight that my bags did not make it because I checked in my bags just shy of the 2hr "requirement", despite checking in ahead of time online.

I called for a taxi to take myself and three of there to the airport at 04:30 from Midtown Houston and we got to IAH by 04:48. Talk about Speedy Gonzales!

We get there to check the weight of our checked bags just to make sure we're at the 50lb limit. After a bit of rearranging we headed to the Premium check in desks. Now I had not paid to check in the second bag. I was about to confirm a second bag when an actual UA agent approached us and asked if we were OK. I noticed she had watched us while we were rearranging items between bags to get them at the allowed weight. I already had a print out of my NH itinerary and asked if it is possible to get my bags checked all the way to MNL since we had purchased the NH portion as a separate itinerary. It took her a bit since the system started to act up on her and had to call, I assumed, technical support. After a few keyboard strokes she got what she needed and then the tags printed out; because she saw we had J itineraries, I assumed she waved the 35USD 2nd bag fee. A sub-contracted person helped out tag our bags. The UA agent stapled all the baggage tags together onto my NH itinerary and told us we were good to go and to have a good trip. After thanking her and with everyone completely checked in, we enjoyed our rather short pornographic encounter with the TSA in less than 5min.

photo FC520E34-BDD3-45E0-AD18-F91EC01095E9_zpswcu4s4bh
Past security at Terminal E and an ad promoting free WiFi at IAH.

While I had wanted to have a couple of breakfast tacos from Whataburger in Terminal B to enjoy on the plane, we decided just to enjoy the free snacks available at the UA lounge, free access courtesy of our *G status on A3. While it looked like the old President's Club that was among the best in the system back in the day, today, it just didn't have that same charm as a UA Club. Once through we headed to the quieter third floor to enjoy a couple minutes of breakfast nibble before heading to E8.

photo F4CBAE32-B010-4AC4-9C5E-54F9D7BF6727_zpszefl1upu
Breakfast offerings at the UA Club in Terminal E.

UA 1169
26 January 2015
IAH-LAX
ETD: 07:20
ATD: 07:29
ETA: 09:19
ATA: 08:56
757-200
Seat 25K

Our boarding pass indicated a boarding time of 06:35. We left the lounge around 06:30 and debated on our way to the gate if we should get something else to eat or just wing it till we get to LAX. By the time we had gotten to the gate, all of Group 1 had boarded and they had started on Group 2. We had Group 1 on our boarding passes so we just walked up to the Group 1 lane and went on through. I was actually surprised we got Group 1 because I thought *G members from other airlines would be grouped into Group 2.

photo A29F7CBF-EC35-4CB4-8852-2141ECAD7069_zpsbovu9nee
The early morning calm of Terminal E as we head to our gate.

Once I scanned my boarding pass, I could now proceed down the jetway into the sCO 752. It would have been nice to have paid for the upgrade when they had offered it at 259USD, but I did not react in time. Thus, I enjoyed my Y window seat at 25F.

photo DD466DDB-DEE5-40A8-99EF-26DF2B9BCBB4_zps177ajd70
A bit of traffic hold up in the jetway.

photo 607A16AC-B8E9-45D8-86E9-702C52757742_zpsnxsm00t0
Go UH Cougars!

photo 48AC3E90-0360-44C6-89F2-907C2A27A069_zpsri5lfolb
Traffic at 2L.

Upon entering, the lead FA did not welcome us on board as he appeared busy fumbling around the small galley at 2R. Many in Y+ had taken their seats while just a handful were in regular Y. The bins had started to fill up, but lucked out that bins over our seat remained available. Because this would be a full flight, you could feel the tension with people competing for baggage space.

photo 201A98BB-F30C-48B1-A23A-BB23F31C592A_zpshd5bg89x

I was surprised this flight would have only 4 female FAs, all wearing the dress with scarves, and the lone male lead FA Eric. He kept warm throughout the flight with the light blue sweater that matches the dress. Otherwise the amount, or lack of, service made it seemed like a typical flight on a North American legacy carrier.

photo F14A1AD6-5572-4AED-BA21-0EC76AB73AB4_zpsgxxt6cul

At 07:00, the lead FA gave a welcome with the majority of passengers already on board. At this point passengers on board tried to look for available overhead bin space, which was towards the back.

photo 9F9BC90D-68B2-4A0F-9D0E-16A964C81C30_zpsojkpnfo0
This is Houston

At 07:11 Captain Barker and his First Officer Simpson gave their welcome to those on board. He said our expected travel time to LAX would be 3h02m and would be running late in departing but would still have an early arrival into LAX. He explained our late departure because of passengers arriving a bit late from connecting flights. We waited about 10minures and noticed a steady stream of South American passengers connecting from EZE, GIG, GRU, and SCL. As we waited, the APUs started blowing hot air into cabin making it stuffy.

photo 4C1F2315-566C-454F-9081-0CE2F7096786_zps1c5kalsv
Pushback

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A320 headed to LGA

photo FEC90F0F-7DAB-4F2E-94BA-46E704A4E4E9_zpstrkqx8mk

https://youtu.be/dXsUrFJ3n6E
UA's latest Safety Video

We sat next to an A320 heading to LGA before the storm as the airline expected to cancel many flights heading to that part of the country. By 07:20 the last passenger had boarded and doors closed. Eric turned on the safety video seen here. During the video with the jetway retracted, the flight deck allowed cooler air to circulate in the cabin. Once the video completed, we pushed back into the central "pit" of Terminal E next to the LGA-bound A320. The taxiways were a bit busy so we waited for things to clear before we headed to runway 16L. By 07:47 we lifted off and made our way to LAX and the start of my latest journey!

https://youtu.be/CX7sO5Zt520
Departure video

Basically after we took off, I fell asleep. I did not watch too many movies despite some good ones. I thought they already had Into the Woods already on their programming, but it was just a small preview. I started to watch "One Hundred Foot Journey" but I fell asleep. I missed the four times they wheeled the carts up and down the aisle so did not get any water or purchase anything.

I did wake up in a daze needing a quick visit to the lav as I noticed our approach to the CA/AZ border. By the time I returned my seat they prepared us for some strong turbulence during our descent that the flight deck asked the FAs to prepare the cabin earlier. With the cabin secured our approach to LAX remained smooth. It was the first time I actually noticed the location of the famous HOLLYWOOD sign. Before I knew it, we gently kissed runway 1R and headed to Gate 77, parking next to a UA 788 waiting for its trip to NRT.

photo 415DD398-FFC2-4D34-88EC-7E8B3FEC6AEB_zpst3s6l2v6

We arrived early and did not wait too long to dock at the gate. This gave us plenty of time to check-in for our next flight after walking to TBIT.
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Verdict

United

5.1/10
Cabin5.5
Cabin crew4.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering4.0

Continental Airlines Presidents Club - E

5.5/10
Comfort5.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Services5.0

Houston - IAH

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Los Angeles - LAX

6.5/10
Efficiency6.5
Access6.5
Services6.5
Cleanliness6.5

Conclusion

I used to love writing trip reports about my CO flights. Lately domestic flights on UA are just not as exciting. They make flying less enjoyable while it feels they try to squeeze as much money out here you by giving you the bare minimum. I know a couple of IAH-based UAs who wish for the old CO days because they do not enjoy the pairings anymore because of working multiple flights with short turnarounds, especially overnights.

I know you have a choice in trip reports. If this is your first time, thank you! If you are a repeat reader, welcome back! Thanks for reading so far and please comment!

Information on the route Houston (IAH) Los Angeles (LAX)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Houston (IAH) → Los Angeles (LAX).


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The airline with the best average rating is United with 6.7/10.

The average flight time is 3 hours and 56 minutes.

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