This series covers a two-week vacation to Europe that will feature stops in SOF, BEG, TIV, LIS, ARN, and ATH. For background and planning, please refer back to Part 1. As a reminder, the routing for this series is:
Part 1 – IAH-IAD [UA 373, Boeing B767-300ER, Economy] – Here Part 2 – IAD-MUC [UA 106, Boeing B767-400ER, Economy] – You are here Part 3 – MUC-SOF [LH 1702, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here Part 4 – SOF-BEG [JU 123, Aérospatiale/Alenia ATR 72-200, Economy] – Here Part 5 – BEG-TIV [YM 201, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here Part 6 – TIV-BEG [YM 202, Fokker F100, Economy] – Here Part 7 – BEG-LHR [JU 380, Airbus A319, Business] – Here Part 8 – LHR-MAD [IB 3167, Airbus A330-300, Business] – Here Part 9 – MAD-LIS [IB 3118, Airbus A321, Business] – Here Part 10 – LIS-LHR [BA 499, Airbus A320, Business] – Here Part 11 – LHR-ARN [BA 780, Boeing B767-300ER, Business] – Here Part 12 – ARN-BEG [JU 411, Airbus A319, Business] – Here Part 13 – BEG-ATH [JU 512, Airbus A319, Business] – Here Part 14 – ATH-IST [TK 1850, Boeing B737-900ER, Economy] – Here Part 15 – IST-ATH [TK 1843, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here Part 16 – ATH-FRA [A3 830, Airbus A321, Economy] – Here Part 17 – FRA-IAH [UA 47, Boeing B787-900, EconomyPlus] – Here
Sofia – Part 4 Kotor – Part 6 Belgrade – Part 7 Lisbon – Part 9 Sintra – Part 10 Stockholm – Part 12 Athens – Part 16
This report will cover the flight from IAD to MUC. It will be a short and sweet report since I had a very short connection time in IAD and an aisle seat on the flight.
After deplaning in IAD, I had about 25 minutes until boarding was scheduled to start and a long walk ahead of me. IAD is pretty drab and has no moving walkways so it is a hike to get across the terminal. I eventually get close to my gate and stop into the United Club near gate C17. Entering, I hand over my boarding pass and TK card. He enters me into the system, thanks me for being a *A Gold member, and then directs me downstairs.
Artwork in the lounge heading down the stairs.
The lounge (as expected) is extremely crowded and it is hard to find any open seats. The food offering is void of any hot offerings. Thankfully, I’m only here a short time so I grab a coffee and a couple items to appease the readers.
I finally find a quiet seat in the business area. It’s dark, but at least somewhat private.
I stay less than 10 minutes before heading to the gate. On my way, I stumble across Marathon’s twin. I wanted to take a picture of the FIDS, but this guy was just standing there for several minutes gazing deeply into the FIDS.
IAD is extremely unfriendly to spotting. You can’t get close to the windows and they are too small to frame entire aircraft. This is the only view of my plane that I could get.
United Airlines, UA 106 Equipment: Boeing B767-400ER [N77066, delivered May 2002] Departure: 17:20 (ATD: 17:38) Arrival: 7:40 (ATA: 7:25) Flight time: 7:47
Boarding was called on time, but was a complete mess. The gate area was completely jammed pack blocking the entire concourse. Boarding was extremely confusing since an announcement was made that economy will be boarded first. I was standing in Group 2, which is a priority lane, but they started boarding with Group 3. The agent later stated that maintenance was still being done in the J cabin so they reversed boarding to make sure the plane left on time. That makes sense, but doesn’t really help people travelling in Y that aren’t in Y boarding groups… Eventually someone near the front complained and the agents started pulling Y passengers out of Group 2 to merge into Group 4’s boarding sequence.
The blind jetbridge.
Boarding, the FAs were smiling and had a warm greeting.
Cabin shot. There are two Y cabins. The first is all Y+ and the second is all Y.
I’m on an aisle in the 3-seat section. The two other seats were already filled, so no shot of the seat. Pre-placed in the seat were blanket and pillow. Settling in, the pitch is very tight for long-haul.
Seatback pocket contents.
I also found this empty water bottle in my seatback pocket. UA is 2/2 on poor cabin cleaning in this series.
Safety card for this B764.
It will be a completely full flight. We finish boarding on time despite the maintenance to the J cabin. I will commend UA for doing the reverse boarding in order to make sure the plane leaves on time. We push back and the safety video plays. We take off with very little wait.
After leveling off, aperitif service is conducted. I ask for a beer (they have Goose Island IPA as a surprise addition to their menu) and water. It is served with “cheese” and crackers. The cheese and crackers is better than the nuts served with other US carriers.
Meal service was then conducted. The options were “spinach manicotti” or “ chicken with couscous.” She was just saying “chicken or pasta,” but I asked for the real names. I opted for the pasta. The tray as delivered.
The starter/salad is visually good, much better than standard industrial salads. This is very similar to what I saw SFO-KIX. Portion size is small, but taste is good.
I was actually really surprised by the pasta, it was very good for Y standards. I would have eaten a second serving. So the alleged improvements to UA catering may be true.
Meal service was done with a drink service, so more beer and water.
After dinner, raspberry sorbet for dessert. This is also better than the desserts I saw on DL.
Coffee/tea service was done and water bottles were distributed. The FA had a good laugh with me, she thought she heard me say “coffee and mayonnaise” instead of “coffee and Bailey’s.” It was a mature crew, but they were in good spirits, which was nice to see on UA.
The meal service ended here.
I spent the “nightime” portion of the flight watching Dr. No and A View To Kill from the Bond collection on UA’s IFE. The selection on UA is above average. The FAs came through every 90 minutes offering water. I never checked the rear galley to see if they had anything.
About an hour to arrival, the lights came back on and “breakfast” service started.
The breakfast service with this packaged croissant that was rubbery and had strawberry jam inside the wrapper. Probably not worth waking up for if you were sleeping.
Two drink passes were done with the breakfast service.
We had strong tail winds so were well ahead of schedule into MUC. We touch down on a foggy morning in MUC and taxi quickly into our gate next to another UA B767.
The cabin deplaning.
The same FA that wanted to serve me mayonnaise wished me a good trip deplaning as I head up into the jetbridge.
My flight to SOF is also non-Schengen so I don’t have to clear immigration or security and can immediately head towards the LH Lounge to grab a proper breakfast.
I’ll leave off this series here as I transit in MUC. Tune into the next report for the MUC-SOF service on LH and a stop in the LH Senator Lounge.
United Club (Gate C17)
Washington - IAD
Munich - MUC
A solid performance by UA on this TATL. Nothing good, nothing bad. For the fare I paid, it met my expectations. UA isn't a great product, but there are some improvements to the catering, the IFE is good, and this time the crew was good. The downside is cramped cabin and poor pre-arrival meal.
Cabin comfort: The B767s have a pretty tight seat pitch. With a full cabin, there isn't much space to breathe. Thankfully, this is a shorter TATL. Seats are not well-padded and discomfort was noticeable so I had to use the pillow for extra padding. Again, a dirty cabin with trash in my seatback pocket (they shouldn't miss a large water bottle).
Crew: A good UA crew. They seemed friendlier than the UA crews I remember. It made the experience less painful than it could have been.
Meal and catering: The real meal was a good offering by UA. There do seem to be some improvements to the catering, which is nice to see. I think the quality of the food has improved even if quantity has remained small. The pre-arrival service is a joke, which detracts from any service improvements.
Entertainment: Standard seatback literature. IFE had the normal UA selection, which is quite good.
On-time performance: We left on-time and landed early.
IAD/MUC security/access left at 7.5
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