Review of United flight Los Angeles San Francisco in Economy

Airline United
Flight UA 460
Class Economy
Seat 32A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:25
Take-off 28 Oct 16, 16:45
Arrival at 28 Oct 16, 18:10
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
NGO85
By 1089
Published on 2nd November 2016
Background:

This report covers a quick weekend trip to the Bay Area to visit family. This trip was booked 2 weeks out for $109 round-trip, pretty much the same fares on AA and UA, but I went with UA for the lounge access. I loathe UA and this trip did nothing to improve my image of the carrier. UA just knows how to sap the fun out of flying. I had over 4 hours of delays resulting from these two flights as UA struggled to send out any planes on time. The routing was:

Part 1 – LAX-SFO [UA 460, Airbus A320, Economy] – You are here
Part 2 – SFO-LAX [UA 1529, Airbus A320, EconomyPlus] – No report

This report will cover the flight from LAX to SFO with stops in the *A Lounge (TBIT) and United Club (T7). Instead of doing a report on the return flight, I’ll just give a comparison in the report of the pitch (used some guile to get a free EconomyPlus seat for SFO-LAX) and briefly compare the UA Club at LAX to the ones at SFO. The bonus at the end will be night spotting at SFO.



Pre-flight:

After leaving work early, I arrived at LAX to park my car. The weather was cool, so I decided to walk instead of taking the shuttle bus to the terminal. Since UA is T7, it’s the last stop on all the shuttle routes, so it can be a gruesome ride on a bus.

photo 3

Billboards advertising the new UA J product.

photo 4

Upstairs to the check-in areas. The whole T7/8 areas are a mess since UA is trying to renovate its terminals.

photo 5

I had done OLCI the night before, where UA tries to sell off the last of the EconomyPlus seats. At $39 for a LAX-SFO sector, that is a complete rip-off. Especially since the $39 was for a middle seat, the only window seat left was running $45. I find the UA pricing structure to be much higher than on AA.

photo 1photo 2

I had TSA PreCheck, so was quickly airside and decided to do the long walk to TBIT to use the *A Lounge.

photo 6

AS B739 in a Boeing 100th Anniversary special livery.

photo 7

Part of the TBIT line-up.

photo 8

AZ B772 in ST special livery.

photo 9

SU B77W.

photo 10

KL B744 and TN A343.

photo 11

The *A Lounge. I scan my boarding pass; the agent looks down at her screen and then up at me saying, “United???” I tell her that I am well aware of how long the walk is back to T7 (~20-30 minutes) as I enter the lounge.

photo 12

The dining area.

photo 13

The buffet this afternoon.



I start doing some math to see how many of these I need to drink to offset my airfare.

photo 19

My offering.

photo 20photo 21

The lounge isn’t too bad in the afternoon since it’s mainly traffic to Europe leaving.

photo 22

The outside terrace on a sunny afternoon, just a TK B77W down below.

photo 23

Artwork near the showers.

photo 24

45 minutes to departure, I start the trek out of TBIT back to T7.

photo 25

A brief stop at the UA Club in T7. The one benefit (if you want to call it that) of being a non-UA *G is the access to the UA lounges on domestic flights.

photo 26

The lounge is windowless and crowded. They are opening a new UA Club in December so we’ll see what that one looks like, but this one is in bad shape.

photo 27

The buffet at LAX.

photo 28photo 29

There was also soup and some rolls. The soup was okay, but the bread was rubbery.

photo 30

As a comparison, this was the catering in the SFO UA Clubs from the return trip (all 3 lounges at SFO had the same catering, they only differ in the decor). I found the SFO soups and salads to be much better.

photo 31photo 32

Walking to my gate in T7.

photo 33

FIDS. There is no shortage of flights to SFO, they leave hourly.

photo 34

UA’s operations and an A320 in *A special livery.

photo 35photo 36

There is a lot less seating areas at T7 than in T4 or T5 (AA and DL).

photo 37

My gate is deserted….

photo 38

…Because everyone is already in line to board.

photo 39



————————-

United Airlines, UA 460
Equipment: Airbus A320 [N490UA, delivered February 2002]
Departure: 16:45 (ATD: 17:30)
Arrival: 18:11 (ATA: 18:17)
Flight time: 0:47


I guess you can consider the boarding to be orderly, but I find it ridiculous that half the plane boards in Group 2 since it includes EconomyPlus passengers. I think *G deserves to board before EconomyPlus and not with them.

photo 40

Logjam entering the plane.

photo 41

I got a “hey” from a FA as I go through the F cabin. At the back of the bus.

photo 42

My window seat in Row 32.

photo 43

Knee-crunching 30” pitch on the A320s.

photo 44photo 45

As a comparison, here is the seat pitch in EconomyPlus (Row 8) from the return SFO-LAX sector.

photo 46

Not only is the pitch tight, but you have to note that the tray table sticks 2” more into your face. It was very claustrophobic and I wouldn’t want to be in these seats for longer than 1 hour.

photo 47photo 48

There was no power outlets on this plane and there weren't even any overhead monitors.

Seat details, with adjustable headrest (a nice feature of these seats).

photo 49

Setback contents.

photo 50

Hemispheres

photo 51

Safety card for this A320.

photo 52photo 53

We push back 20 minutes late.

photo 54

TN A343 taking off.

photo 55

EY B772 taxing out.

photo 56

AS B739 in Disneyland special livery.

photo 57

KE B77F taking off.

photo 58

KE A380 sitting at a remote stand.

photo 59

DL B772 landing from PVG.

photo 60

TK B77W heading back to IST.

photo 61

We align onto the runway as a DL B717 lifts up.

photo 62

NZ B77W heading off to LHR behind us.

photo 63

Rolling down the runway.

photo 64

LX B77W.

photo 65

Typical TBIT visitors: the all white plane is the SQ B777 in *A special livery leaving for ICN.

photo 66

Lifting up over the airport.

photo 67

The 2 QF A380s working on their tans.

photo 68

We roll into the Pacific and turn north to start our run up to SFO.

photo 69photo 70

Drink service is done along with a packet of “savory” snack mix. They got rid of the fancier flavors.

photo 71photo 72

As soon as the drink service is done, we are dropping into the Bay Area.

photo 73

Foster City.

photo 74

TK B77W as we touch down at SFO.

photo 75photo 76

BR B77W heading out to TPE.

photo 77

SFO = home of UA B744s.

photo 78

We pull into Gate 60 and quickly deplane. There are a lot of passengers connecting to flight to Asia.

photo 79

I take the AirTrain over to the rental car terminal to pick up my car and meet my sister downtown for dinner.

photo 80photo 81

That concludes this report/series.





***BONUS***: Spotting at SFO during my long delay.

LX A343.

photo 82photo 83photo 84

UA B772.

photo 85photo 86

CZ B788.

photo 87

CM B738 (I have flown this special livery LAX-PTY).

photo 88photo 89

BR B77W.

photo 90

LH A346.

photo 91

NZ B77W.

photo 92

UA B789.

photo 93
See more

Verdict

United

4.8/10
Cabin5.5
Cabin crew6.5
Entertainment/wifi1.0
Meal/catering6.0

Star Alliance Lounge Business Class Section

9.0/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services9.5

Los Angeles - LAX

6.4/10
Efficiency7.0
Access6.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness6.5

San Francisco - SFO

7.8/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness7.5

Conclusion

Oh where, oh where to start with UA. Let's pick out some positives: adjustable headrests. The negatives: everything else. The seat pitch on UA is 1-2" shorter than what DL/AA offers, the crews are just bitter because they are working overtime because flights aren't on time, and LAX's T7 is awful.

Cabin comfort: Maybe I'm missing something, but UA definitely has the tightest pitches of the major US carriers, even WN has 1-2" more legroom than UA. And with the seatback pocket encroaching into you face, it feels like the 28" you'd get on NK. An older A320 on top of all of this just doesn't make it very comfortable.

Crew: I do have to feel a little bad for them, they get screwed over when the airline can't operate on schedule. That said, they are just average at best and weren't even greeting passengers boarding since they were frantically trying to get their bearings in the plane.

Meal and catering: The catering is the same as everyone else, packet of savory snacks and a drink. The coffee was pretty decent, so I'll give UA credit for that.

Entertainment: No newspapers. Standard seatback literature. No personal IFE and no overhead monitors. Maybe doesn't matter on a flight like this, but this plane also operates longer distance segments. Also, there is no power on this plane, so better have those devices pre-charged before boarding.

Information on the route Los Angeles (LAX) San Francisco (SFO)

12 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 372641 by
    Drewj21 21 Comments

    The a320's were the first to be fitted with the new cabins. On domestic flights, unless you are in a legacy Continental plane (You can differentiate by the DirecTV), your IFE will be free streaming from united.com This can be found in the seat back pocket.

    • Comment 372662 by
      Drewj21 21 Comments

      Plugs in those new Cabins are installed only in F and sometimes Y+

    • Comment 372931 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1640 Comments

      Hi Drew, thanks for stopping by!

      Your comments all point to the same criticism I have for UA: it's been years since the CO\UA merger yet there has been nothing done to homogenize the fleet. As a native Houstonian, I loved CO, but then UA destroyed them. I hated UA pre-merger, I always try and fly PMCO planes, but SFO is a PMUA hub so still operates all the old PMUA planes.

      For me, BYOIFE is a terrible trend especially when power or USB is not provided for charging and will thus be rated as such. I criticize AS for also being BYOIFE as well, but they at least have in-seat charging options.

  • Comment 372676 by
    Numero_2 TEAM 10143 Comments

    Thanks Michael !

    Lounge hopping at LAX is now your hobby #1. ^^

    How fancy that UA Club is. :P

    I hope I won't have such a delay on my upcoming DCA-ERW...

    • Comment 372932 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1640 Comments

      Merci Clement^^

      "Lounge hopping at LAX is now your hobby #1. ^^"
      - we get goods lounges at TBIT, so why not!

      I hope I won't have such a delay on my upcoming DCA-ERW..."
      - UA typically has delays late in the day. Their schedule is too tight so delays just start to snowball as planes leave late and they lose their landing slots at busy airports.

  • Comment 372786 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Absolutely fantastic spotting shots, love the huge variety at TBIT.

    Nice shots from the lounges.

    “UA’s operations and an A320 in *A special livery.”
    - Stunning!

    Seats look good visually but that doesn't necessarily translate to good comfort.

    “Knee-crunching 30” pitch on the A320s.”
    - Better than LH's seat pitch in their 320neos at 28-29,1” (less than Ryanair). It's probably a matter of time before this is the norm for legacy carriers too. Thankfully this flight was very short

    Beautiful spotting shots while taxiing, looks great with the sunset.

    Sorry to hear about that delay!

    Your spotting shots from SFO at night are just amazing, thanks for sharing!

    Have a good one, see you.

    • Comment 372935 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1640 Comments

      "Absolutely fantastic spotting shots, love the huge variety at TBIT."
      - I didn't think the SU B77W is regular here, its normally a A330. The TN planes are always around since they operate both LAX-PPT and LAX-CDG.

      "Seats look good visually but that doesn't necessarily translate to good comfort."
      - these are the same as my B789 report, they are only marginally comfortable, but the adjustable headrest is nice. The pitch is terribly uncomfortable, thankfully the row in front did not recline!!

      "Sorry to hear about that delay!"
      - unlike AS, the delay wasn't announced until I was at the airport and so I was stuck there. I tried to standby on the earlier flight, but everyone had the same idea since there were over 50 people on the standby list and the flight was already over sold.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • Comment 372848 by
    757Fan 612 Comments

    Thanks for sharing, Michael. I used to like UA, but I've not had many good flights with them of late, and I agree with you totally that their legroom is terrible. I am so cramped whenever I fly with them, and I try to stick with Delta whenever possible with everything.

    "After leaving work early, I arrived at LAX to park my car. The weather was cool, so I decided to walk instead of taking the shuttle bus to the terminal. Since UA is T7, it’s the last stop on all the shuttle routes, so it can be a gruesome ride on a bus."

    I can imagine. When my wife and I returned our rental car at LAX back in May and took a shuttle to the Delta terminal, it felt like we were on the bus forever!

    Looking forward to your next report. Sorry to hear about the delay.

    Matthew

    • Comment 372940 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1640 Comments

      Hi Matthew,

      I couldn't agree more and I wish I didnt feel so obligated to fly them, but with *A I'm trapped into UA. I'm planning on flying them again when I go up to visit my sister again in January, just not excited about it...

      Yesterday, the shuttle driver just did the arrivals level loop because he said the departures level was gridlocked. They really should just invest in a monorail like SFO.

      Thanks for your comments Matthew!

  • Comment 373086 by
    aussenrist 225 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this flight report! Sorry for late reply (because the Cubs win!!!^^)

    IME T8 looks better than T7 with more organized layout. Decent food offering in the *A Lounge. The UA Club… um I hope the new one would be much improved. BTW beautiful tarmac and aerial shots always!
    The seat pitch is even worse than my ERJ-175 flight. The “savory” snack mix is not the same with my later flight where mine is purple. Nothing to say on UA. I usually hugely lower my UA expectation pre-flight and in return UA would bring me so many surprises lol

    Look forward to next series!

    • Comment 373489 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1640 Comments

      "Cubs win!!!^^"
      - No comment...

      "IME T8 looks better than T7 with more organized layout."
      - I thought we arrived into T8 and it was also a total dump, maybe I mis-remembered since I was in such a hurry to get out of there and home.

      "The seat pitch is even worse than my ERJ-175 flight."
      - I'm doing this routing again in January and went with B739s that are ex-CO in order to get better legroom.

      "I usually hugely lower my UA expectation pre-flight"
      - UA is one of the few airlines where I dread the upcoming flight. I just know it's going to be bad, it's just a matter of what is going to go wrong^^

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Login to post a comment.