Review of United Express (Mesa Airlines) flight Washington Minneapolis in Economy

Flight UA6324
Class Economy
Seat 11A
Aircraft Embraer E-175
Flight time 02:46
Take-off 15 Jun 17, 22:00
Arrival at 15 Jun 17, 23:46
YV 6 reviews
jish.b
By SILVER 632
Published on 25th June 2018


INTRODUCTION


Alrighty then, the second to last part of this summer 2017 series, a trip that we have established to be kinda very unlucky from small things to somethings very big. I mentioned at the very beginning of this series of trip reports that this summer was pretty much planned around Iron Maiden’s tour surrounding their new album - The Book of Souls. They were due to play at Minneapolis on the 16th of June. The Etihad flight was to get me back in to Washington DC at 5pm on the 15th.

IAD TO MSP…BUT HOW?!


I had to work out what option would work out cheapest for me: stay the night @ IAD and take a morning flight in to MSP? Or just fly out of IAD on a pretty late night flight out of IAD to MSP and hope that whatever worked best for me and check in late at a BnB. I settled for flying out late at night out of Washington.

The next option was: Dulles? Or Reagan? Reagan seemed tempting given that it was a Sun Country Airlines flight - a new airline for me. However, United Express had a similarly timed departure at a similar price - made sense to save the $35 which would’ve gone in a taxi ride across. And of course, no time pressure given this would’ve been rush hour.

UNITED IT IS!


Even better - the United Express flight operated by Mesa Airlines (do not think Jar Jar Binks, do not think Jar Jar Binks, do not think Jar Jar….god damn it! was on a CRJ-700ER. Score - the Delta one didn’t work out but I had a better shot of finally logging a CRJ-700 flight! This booking was done on Expedia because of their 24 hour cancellation guarantee in case the AirBnb host didn’t get back. In the end - it all worked out pretty well!
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UNCLUCKY #19: STILL NO CRJ-700 FOR ME….


…..and it happened to me again. United Express (Mesa Airlines) changed the CRJ-700ER to an…ERJ-175. My second flight on the type - but a real bummer I’m yet to log a flight on the CRJ-700ER.
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THE DAY OF…. JUNE 15TH 2017


Alrighty - back to the day of. I was relived after the stressful trip that was with Etihad during the electronics ban. Sure, I was aware of my having to give up my laptop at Abu Dhabi, but the incident at Mumbai really didn't help with the plan(s). Anyway, all done and dusted, all well. I waited around at arrivals for a little bit just catching up with everything. There ads playing for Air India's imminent launch of flights from Delhi to Dulles - the Capital Express between two pretty powerful countries.
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CHECK IN!


Headed up to United's check in at around 1730 hours - a good 4.5 hours before departure. However, this didn't stop me from check in. There was a very nice lady who helped with using the kiosks and tagging checked baggage. Flight details confirmed - she proceeded to start removing the bar code tags off my suitcase. 'Hi, would you mind please leaving those there? I like to keep them as a memory of my travels' I told her. 'Oh my Gosh I am so sorry! You know, I haven't seen any one collect these other than my grandson' she said, cheerfully. 'Here you go, and god bless you!' This was easily, by far the best ground staff I have interacted with in the USA - its the small things that go a long way. Dropped off my suitcase and headed to the gates for some spotting - back to the Etihad B787 I spotted earlier! Did some quick spotting of the traffic around, nice and easy.


On the way to security:
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Long way across concourses, yes I decided to walk :)
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Spotting, QR B77W, again very empty due to the blockade…
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Intl concourse
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VS A330
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Hey, its not like I flew on this one or anything, eh?
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Head on with the Iceland Air B767
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RAM B787
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As I walked around I found a Five Guys restaurant around - supper was sorted! It was great to have a burger after being away in India for a month where burgers are decidedly frowned upon. I took this opportunity to see where the plane operating my flight was at - it was about to depart from Norfolk (Virginia). A quick and short flight for the E175 before there was a long turnaround at IAD.
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Dawdled around for a little bit before finally deciding to head to concourse D - two hours prior to departure. It was at this point I realized I had the opportunity to be on the mobile lounge - something I have only seen in Hollywood movies so far, nice! It was a nice & quick fun ride on this.


Concourse D to be honest just looked….depressing. There wasn’t any daylight coming through the already small windows. No opportunity to look at planes out from here. United is the dominant airline here - my flight would depart from Gate D8. There were boards all around advertising 'most on time-departures out of Dulles' signs, and power ports at the gates - typical of most all United gates around in the USA.

BOARDING


Boarding was called at 2130 hours - half on hour before departure time. There was just one passenger on a wheelchair, and one with a toddler which meant a fairly efficient boarding process, and everyone had boarded within twenty minutes.
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UNCLUKY #20: ADVENTURES OF THE AWKWARD SEAT MATE….


Unfortunately, the wheelchair passenger was seated on 12C - right beside me. So this meant there was the awkward hop over to the window seat because they wouldn't move. Oh boy. They had a placard around their neck with their name, where they're off to and contact details, and the fact that communication was going to be weak.
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There was one seat empty up in First, 3 empty in Main Cabin + or whatever they call it. Captain gave us a comprehensive announcement of the details of our flight. We were waiting for pushback clearance, but the possibility of a delay due to runway change as the weather was coming in.

The two flight attendants- Lulu & Precious seemed very energetic, and if anything a little over-eager at their jobs for this late night flight. So for them, unfortunately putting phones to airplane mode was not quite going to be enough. They made sure people had their phones powered down all the way, and they wouldn't move from the rows in question until this was done. Kinda annoying - most all airlines allow for airplane mode anyway.

DEPARTURE


Doors closed at 2158 hours - we pushed back at 2208 hours. So technically, in UA's books, another on time departure out of IAD. However, the captain came around saying that we'd park close to the runway and have engines off until we received a sure clearance from ATC for departure. Hah, so a delay was inbound - and I bet on UA blaming ATC for this, just to cover their backs.

Cabin, while we waited…
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Fired up an engine, taxied to a remote bay and shut down engines. Well, that didn't last long - LOL! Lights came back on and we are allowed to move around, use the restroom, use our phones (thankfully, I guess?) and the crew came around with drinks.
And now we wait….
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I made the critical mistake of consuming a cup of water. More on this later. Some traffic around were a United Express CRJ-700ER parked right beside, taunting me again… Royal Air Maroc & British Airways 747-400 departing, UPS B767-300F parked beside… all well and good.
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Captain came around on the PA mentioning that there be another 15 minutes before we actually departed. However this extended for another 10 extra minutes in addition to the 15, engines fired up at 2143 we lined up on Runway 30 and finally took off at 2309 hours with a departure delay of 1hr and 9 minutes.


INFLIGHT


Climb out itself felt a little weird (or maybe I'm just not used to ERJ-175s as much) - while it seemed like the plane was barely pitched up we really were climbing. We eventually climbed up to 34000 feet and the E175 was incredibly quiet. Nice plane, nice plane.

Service started - it wasn't a cart being rolled up as you would normally expect. Maybe because it was a red eye flight and the crew figured everyone would want to sleep - or maybe it was because there wasn't going to be any BoB on this late night flight anyway. Snacks were handed out and drink orders taken. I requested for a ginger ale, but a coca cola showed up. 'Heya, I think I ordered a ginger ale…' 'Oh right, of course you did! My apologies - I will be back with your drink, but in the mean time please enjoy this'. Well, double drinks - not bad for a USA domestic, right? Wrong. Wrong decided my bladder as it started to get full, slowly but surely. There was still a good long chunk of this flight to go.
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A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS?!


Some of you might recognize this title from Lemony Snicket's very popular book & eventual Netflix series, however this accurate depicts what happened on this flight: quite easily the longest 2 hour flight I have had….

As my bladder filled up, drip by drip, turbulence happened which made things less ideal. Add to my misery - the wheelchair assisted seatmate I had started to doze off. And by doze off I mean really passed out - they started leaning in to my seat area, took control of my armrest, put their leg under the seat in front me - pretty much giving me no room whatsoever to make the slightest movement. This was slowly turning in to a nightmarish flight (albeit half of it was probably my fault….). There was nothing to be done about my seat mate. It would've been rude to wake some one as old as them up. The flight attendants even saw my predicament and whispered from the aisle 'I'm so sorry!' Well, there was nothing to be done anymore. Just wait and hope the remainder of the flight went quickly. I tried out the wifi in flight entertainment - it was pretty decent.
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We got closer and the arrival preparations were ongoing. I decided to try and head for the lav even if seatbelt signs were on, but first I decided to ask the crew. Nothing more embarrassing than being yelled by a crew for disobeying seatbelt signs. One of the two showed up pretty soon. 'Would there be any way I can use the restroom? I really need to go.' 'Oh you should've gone earlier then hon' she said as she walked away. When? While the seatbelt signs were on for the turbulence? Wow. This crew were such a mixed bag, unfortunately.

DESCENT & ARRIVAL


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Well, other than a bladder full, descent was a little bumpy but otherwise very uneventful. Landed on Runway 30L and at 0018 hours I was so fortunate it was barely a 2 minute taxi to the gate. Docked at gate F11 at 0023 hours, 28 minutes late. Not too bad in the end I guess. Engines off, seat belt signs off I decided to head for the lavatory as fast as I could. Of course, not helped by my seatmate who wasn't able to move - I was glad to be finally able to stretch after the nightmare that was my predicament. There's only so much that could've been done….
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Relieved myself, picked up my stuff from the seat and headed for baggage claim and eventually the AirBnb down at St. Paul. I was just an Iron Maiden concert and a CRJ-200 flight away from being home.
Arrival @ MSP


Concert set up….
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Flight details…
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Well, a bit of a strange flight I would say. Departed early, waited for ATC, slept a little, got leaned on and space taken up, overfilled myself with fluids and then landed just under half an hour late. Pretty alright for the most part. Crew were two ends of the spectrum, and IFE was pretty good. Seat was alright until my seatmate took up a lot of the space.
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Verdict

United Express (Mesa Airlines)

6.4/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew5.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering5.0

Washington - IAD

7.3/10
Efficiency5.0
Access7.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness8.0

Minneapolis - MSP

6.5/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.5
Services4.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Well, a bit of a strange flight I would say. Departed early, waited for ATC, slept a little, got leaned on and space taken up, overfilled myself with fluids and then landed just under half an hour late. Pretty alright for the most part. Crew were two ends of the spectrum, and IFE was pretty good. Seat was alright until my seatmate took up a lot of the space.

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2 Comments

  • Comment 452224 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4998 Comments

    Hi Jish, thanks for a nice report as usual! I live in DC and I have never dared to walk between the concourses, lol. You're much braver than I! I guess in a way it's good your equipment was changed to an E175, because your overflowing seatmate would have been even more invasive in the much narrower CRJ700 seats. P.S. I updated the carrier to United Express (Mesa) for you. Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 453363 by
      jish.b SILVER AUTHOR 258 Comments

      Hey Kevin thank you for your response! Haha, I had so much time to kill - I managed to sit by the gate for a good hour! Yeah, would've been awkward with the CRJ-700.... thanks for changing it to Mesa - I couldn't find it in the first go!

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