Bonne Année 2018! Welcome to my second part of American Travel Story!
The Law of Inevitability: UA/NH/NQ to Houston
This series will cover my business trip to the US in Feb 2017. To make the series not so boring, I will reveal the itinerary as we go on.
The report will be broken down as follows (all in Y): Chapter 1 - NQ812 HKG-NRT B767-300ER [Here] Chapter 2 - UA804 NRT-IAD B777-200ER [You are here!] Chapter 3 - UA6238 IAD-IAH ERJ-195 [Here] Chapter 4 - [Please wait] Chapter 5 - [Sorry I am very busy! I will try my best lol]
This chapter will cover the flight from Tokyo Narita to Washington Dulles. It is my first time in a true vintage UA B772.
BTW, where did I go?
This American Travel Story is about consequences and continuity. This time we travelled to a US city which is not San Francisco (SF is the result of the Story, we have to trace the origins^^). There are no direct flights between HK and our destination. Thankfully I was notified about this trip in advance and had allowed sufficient time for the travel. In order to complete the UA Premier at-least-4-UA-flights requirement ASAP, I constructed a little indirect itinerary to my destination. It means the Head and I parted ways and departed NRT with different routings. Also, I would have another layover in Dulles and take 1 more leg to my destination.
As a UA Premier Silver member, I could select the free economy plus seat on this flight 24 hours before departure. But during OLCI the seat map showed only few middle seats left. For a full long haul an aisle Y- seat is anytime better than a middle Y+ seat. Therefore I kept my choice.
Up to now I had taken 3 UA TPAC flights previously in the following order (all in Y): 1. UA33 NRT-LAX B787-9 (ex-CO crews) [Impressive] 2. UA869 SFO-HKG B747-400 (ex-UA crews) [OMG] 3. UA876 HND-SFO B787-9 (ex-CO crews) [Excellent]
So would this flight be a hit or miss? Let's talk about that!
This flight will also be a good comparison to how UA perform in TPAC Y where fellow Jetsetpanda flew the United Queen from NRT to SFO 1 day after my flight (thanks Adan’s permission for citing his report here^^)
Narita International Airport
Erstwhile on last report, the Head and I were here once we cleared the security. The FIDS showed my flight would depart at Gate 31 on time
As we arrived NRT much earlier than expected, the Head and I went to explore the Smoking Lounges there. We headed to the North Wing which mainly houses the SkyTeam flights. A DL B763 just arrived from SEA
Besides HND, Mevius should have put lots of $$$ in promotion at NRT. Happy to see the Mevius store near the No.1 Satellite^^
And there is a Smoking Lounge opposite to the Mevius store :D
The lounge has an OITNB design with no windows. But it had less people and good ventilation
Next we went to buy some omiyage for the US colleagues. An omiyage shop in the Narita North Street.
Knowing that she is afraid of flying, I had the responsibility to bring Sarah Paulson (Lana!) on board to help her cope with her flying phobia
We then headed to the South Wing which houses all UA flights. Crossing the sofa maze in the Central Building
Passing by the United Club
Still having time, I made some ex-CO plane spotting. As always, the ex-CO B738 at Gate 32 from GUM
An ex-CO B772 to Newark
Another ex-CO B772 to the Space City
My Gate 31 was not ready yet. The FAs were still waiting for entering the plane
Not many passengers in the gate area at this moment
My plane was already here. It is a 19-year-old Boeing B772 with *A livery (N794UA, delivered in Nov 1997). Another UA B772 to ORD was taxiing behind.
I joined the Head which was recharging inside the smoking lounge next to Gate 33 (my favorite in NRT^^). We enjoyed the sunset view with the Delta Queen
It was about time to board, I bided farewell with the Head where his flight would depart after mine. I went to the washroom on the left side of the United services counters before returning to my gate
It was clean and tidy
Changing the diaper is a man job in Narita
My Gate was packed with people now. The very long boarding group lines reaffirmed my assumption that it would be a full flight. I joined the Group 2 queue.
My boarding pass for this flight (I took it in HKG)
Boarding was unexpectedly organized and quick. A pleasure to have both the Delta and United Queens escorted me embark^^
This was my last time seeing the Delta Queen!
A Lily Rabe-look-like FA welcomed me on board and I said Hello. She turned out to be one of the FAs working on my aisle in the Y cabin.
Passing the 2-4-2 business class cabin which proves that it is a true UA aircraft
The economy plus cabin
My economy minus cabin. Both Y cabins are in 3-3-3 configuration
My aisle seat 35H. Pillow and blanket were already placed on the seat.
The touchable old generation IFE is smaller than those in ex-CO B772
View from the wing. Bye UA Queen!
The seat is comfortable and has good seat pitch. IMO it is more comfortable than those in B787. Power outlets are installed under the seats.
The arm rest with recline button
The tray table with a coat hook
Later a woman came who was my windows seatmate. We greeted each other and chatted. “Why you fly that way?!” She was shocked when knowing my destination. She apologized that she had a fever but would keep sleeping throughout the flight.
The seatback materials with a barf bag
We should appreciate the inner beauty of a blanket before open it
Cabin view from my seat. Today the Asian FAs mainly served the J. Because of flu season, around 20% of Y passengers wore masks based on my observation.
A group of Japanese boys were the last boarded. They all wore masks and one of them was my middle seatmate. Once he sat down he kept apologized that he had はつねつ (fever). Whoa today our flight was designated for the sick travelers!
The headphone was distributed before push back. It looks pathetic.
Soon the plane pushed back on 16:49. United propaganda video was played which emphasizes they do not exploit its tarmac staff.
Following was safety video which Joanna teaches me how to fasten my belt
At the same time the Jessica Lange-look-like FA demonstrated the safety instruction
The female captain made on board announcement regarding today flight plan when we had a long taxiing to the South runway
Suddenly the FAs sitting at the jump seats in 4 corners became mad and yelled, “SIR PLEASE SIT DOWN AND FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT! OUR PLANE IS ABOUT TO TAKE OFF! IF YOU STILL OPEN THE BIN WE WILL BACK TO THE GATE AND DUMP YOU FROM THE PLANE!” The horrified middle seat man in the middle column instantly obeyed the order lol
We took off sharply at 1700
Instead of Pacific Ocean, we had an unusual U-turn to Tōhoku region (東北地方) of Honshū Island
Once the seatbelt sign was off, the FAs started distributing the immigration forms
Aperitif service began when we were over Aomori (青森).
I was thrilled to see the Goose IPA on this TPAC flight which I had never seen before! But being an ill person, I elected not to drink alcohol on this flight.
Otsumami were provided and I requested OJ for absorbing more Vitamin C.
Flipping through the Hemispheres magazine and studied the evolution of American Gothic
What if A Song of Ice and Fire was actually a musical? What if the unconscious Jon Snow raised by a White Walker became Snow White? Glad I did not hear The Rains of Castamere on the flight…
Dinner service commenced about an hour into the flight
Our meals were being reheated
The nuns from the Briarcliff Manor Sanitarium served my aisle while the Angela Bassett-look-like FA served another aisle
A quick look of special meal which was placed on the top
I didn't know what happened to my aisle where the tray delivery was super slow despite we experienced very light turbulence today. The FAs stopped the carts outside the middle toilets and chatted but did not do their job. Meanwhile on another aisle the Angela-look-like FA was already serving the rows behind mine
Finally the FAs moved on and arrived my row 15 minutes later and asked “chicken or pasta?” Both my seatmates and I went for the Chicken. I translated for my middle seatmate and he sided with us. I ordered OJ for drinks.
Passport was used for size reference
The bread and the corn salad were exactly the same as my HND-SFO flight. The bread was again a rubber. The visually deceptive 2-bite salad was too raw and blend with no dressing.
For the entrée it was Karaage (fried chicken) in sweet cream sauce. The chicken tasted OK but it was soggy and its texture liked McNuggets. The vegetables and rice were also overcooked.
Browsing the IFE. Although it contains an assortment of programs, it was laggy and hot. I was impatient for that so left it in map view for the whole flight
Captain Sully seemed very busy in his new job
It was understanding for UA not featuring any American Horror Story series. But I was a bit surprised by the presence of British Horror Story (Penny Dreadful in HK’s translation)
Tray collecting was in low-speed too. Ice-cream and bottled water were distributed in half an hour late
It was Glico vanilla ice-cream and very tasty! My windows seatmate made her ice-cream giveaway to me!
After the dinner my middle seatmate looked very bad. He held on the barf bag and threw up subsequently. He was extremely embarrassed and kept saying すみません.
The FAs shut the cabin light unexpectedly and made a weird announcement requesting all of us to close the windows for at least 4 hours (?) My windows seatmate fell asleep throughout the flight.
Trying the inflight Wi-Fi. It was fast yet I did not pay for it.
I went to the rear toilet before resting. From the cabin shot you can see all the toilets were jammed.
The Leftovers otsumami and bottled water were placed along in the rear galley
You could only control your moving map there
In the galley the Lily-look-like FA took off her shoes, chatted loudly with her colleagues and mentioned her family was deciding which college her daughter should apply. Hey I had a suggestion: why not the Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies? ;)
Oh no the toilet was totally disgusting given that it was just the beginning of the flight lol
Unlike Narita, changing the diaper is the woman job on this plane
I backed to my seat, took my pills and rested. Sadly I could not sleep well since a lot of passengers coughed constantly like an orchestra and my mind kept looping a song lol
Halfway right over Alaska, mid-flight snack was provided
Everyone got a snack bag
It contained a burger, a pack of otsumami, a tissue and a Kit-Kat
The turkey and cheese burger without a piece of vegetable looked unhealthy, but it was very tasty which totally beats the 2 in-flight meals!
After the snack my desperate middle seatmate got out for second round vomiting. I headed to the toilet and strolled through the cabin. My seat in mid-flight.
Dominique -nique -nique s'en allait tout simplement… Routier, pauvre et chantant…
Aw Jeez all the 3 middle toilets had thrown in the towel mid-flight! Only the 2 rear toilets could use in Y then! I had no choices but went to the rear one lol
The cabin was dirty. You could see the garbage not only on the right side…
But also the left side lol They kept lying there until landed
The overhead bins with the legacy UA tulip logo
If you were still hungry, you could grab the leftovers snack bags in the galley
I was shocked once spotting a painful looking man leaning on the rear door and sleeping outside the rear toilet… The male FA passed by, saw my face and explained “Oh he has been there awhile, I think he just makes sure he can reach the toilet ASAP!” The rear toilet was still as awful as my previous visit.
I napped again. 1.5 hours before arrival we were over Lake Michigan and pre-arrival meal services started
Food were being prepared
The FAs resumed the cabin lighting
En tous chemins, en tous lieux, Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu, Il ne parle que du Bon Dieu…
Meal delivery was as slow as the dinner. I went to the rear door windows for looking the beauty outside. Views over Canada
Questions only again: Omelet or Chicken? I did not want the super boring omelet, so I chose the chicken. My windows seatmates also opted for chicken. By the time the middle seatmate was still sleeping. We assumed as a Japanese he would prefer Japan food so we chose Chicken for him. The meal size was small. It was just a container with 2 pieces of cookies.
It was Oyakodon (chicken & egg rice) which was again the same as my HND-SFO flight. It tasted much better than the first meal but was still inferior than the Haneda kitchen. The made in Japan cookies was everything you expect from Japan food.
Beverage services. Knowing that UA was proud of taking the upgraded premium Illy coffee to new heights, I would like to try one.
The coffee was completely a joke. It was too dilute and tasteless. I did not think it was worthy of the Illy brand. Unfortunately, things went very wrong then…
Few minutes later I did feel very uncomfortable and sick after drinking the coffee. Soon I threw up…
Not only me, but several passengers who had Illy coffee on my aisle (including my front and back seatmates) were also not feeling well and vomited. The FAs should be aware the vomit disaster, but they acted nothing happened…
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU UNITED?! WE’RE PASSENGER!
At that moment I was very angry and really wanted Oscar to do his walk of shame!
I went to the galley to throw out the barf bag. Cabin after the pre-arrival meal. The smiley Kathy Bates-look-like FA walked through and asked if anyone wanted more coffee (no thank you!)
My left seatmate across the aisle stopped the Jessica-look-like FA and politely inquired how he could transfer from IAD to DCA to catch a connecting flight. The moody FA replied “you will know it once arrive!” and walked away!
The captain made the arrival announcement when we were crossing the Appalachian. She updated that DC was in unusually warm of 21C today
I vomited again during descending lol I was so thankful that I kept my mid-flight snack bag because I could not find another barf bag. At this point I doubted all barf bags were used up on this plane…
Eventually our plane landed on the runway 19L sharply at 3pm
Taxiing to the United “Temporary” Terminal C. In the end our plane arrived at Gate C3
We were released from the Asylum!
Passing the Polaris disaster
Gate agents were ready for the wheelchairs service
Instead of riding on the moon buggy, I followed the purple transfer sign
Last view of my bird. At least a sunny day in DC made me feel not so bad…
Yet it did not save me from vomiting. I felt sick again when going down to the immigration. Fortunately there is a washroom before the CBP which I rushed into it and threw up the third time. I thought I should have vomited all I ate today lol Anyway the Dulles’ toilet is much hygienic than the toilets on my UA plane!
There was a long queue to the immigration counters because several international flights arrived at IAD concurrently. But it was smooth and more importantly I started feeling better after the 3rd vomiting lol
A friendly immigration staff greeted me. He could tell something wasn’t right with my face so he asked if I was ok. I told him the coffee accident. “OMG you flew United!” The chatty staff was jaw-dropped and kept telling how bad he experienced on UA when I handed over my passport. The inspection lasted for about 10 minutes and the staff advised me not to fly UA anymore before I left lol
The baggage claim behind the immigration. Our baggage was already delivered and grouped according to their origins. I took my bag and passed it to an agent for recheck
Following was the TSA checkpoint. There were 2 counters opened with few people waiting. I quickly passed it in 5 minutes.
Cleared the TSA, I took the escalator upstairs
I returned to the departure level and started my layover there
This is The People v. United Airlines: American Crime Story. Please stop by the rest of this series. This was what I saw on my next journey:
Now I am giving an obvious hint for my destination: and know the place for the first time
Thanks for your reading!
Tokyo - NRT
Washington - IAD
To me United is a funny airline because it gives me either very good (with ex-CO crews) or very bad (with ex-UA crews) TPAC experience, but not an uneventful one. Unfortunately this flight is totally a miss. I hope this is my standalone United poor experience and won’t happen next time. This flight is a clear example of inconsistency between ex-CO and ex-UA even they merged 6 years ago. In alternate perspective, United making passengers suffered from their own flying experience is also kind of crime lol
Would I dump UA forever? TBH MileagePlus is my FFP and it has some sweet spots which CX doesn’t. Also personally in HK UA is way better than CX in both hotline services and price. I don't mind keep flying UA just won't drink their “premium” coffee anymore…
Cabin: Poor. It is an ex-UA aircraft. The cabin is dirty which trash can be seen everywhere. The toilets are horrible and the FAs seldom cleaned them. It is panic when 3 of the 5 Y toilets are already out of order mid-flight. Nevertheless the seat is more comfortable than those in B787/747 and seat pitch is good. The power plug can charge my devices quickly.
Cabin Crew: Average. They are real UA crews for a true UA plane. They seem disinterested in handling passengers and perform the minimum duties only. Their handling of abnormal situation is totally unacceptable. The FAs are nice if you are cooperative, but they will be very rude once you hinder their work. Thankfully they are not rude and hostile to me throughout the flight.
Entertainment: Average. Standard seatback literature. Although the IFE has a good variety of programs, its screen is small and unresponsive. The in-flight Wi-Fi is fast. The United app flight info is more informative than the IFE.
Meal and catering: Failed. I generally have no expectation on UA food but this time I am speechless. The catering services are very slow on my aisle. The 2 meal trays are small and quality is not good. The salad is a decline from what they reintroduced by Oscar a year ago. The snack burger is much better than 2 meals. The coffee is catastrophic. As a kind person, I give 0.5 marks for the mid-flight snacks, the Oyakodon and the ice-cream each.
For IAD, transfer immigration and baggage recheck are more convenient and faster than I expected. The airport has clear signs for transfer. The toilet is spacious and clean. A good impression at this point.
12 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
Flight-Report is a free website hosting more than 500 000 pictures and 17 000 reviews, without ads, this website can't exist. We understand that ads can be annoying, this is why we only display a maximum of 2 non-invasive ads per page.
To continue using Flight-Report, we invite you to add Flight-Report to your blocker's "white list".