At the end of my trip I chose to visit some friends in Chicago and NYC before returning to Texas. As luck would have it, my old man still had a few RPUs left that were going to expire at the end of the month. So we applied them to this trip. The upgrade for this flight cleared about a day before the flight. I spent the night in Chicago after my EVA flight (Click Here) instead of going straight to NYC. Despite having flown through Chicago dozens of times in my life, I have never actually left the confines of O'Hare until now.
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
I knew that the flight was going to be delayed somewhat as the incoming aircraft was delayed by more than an hour. However, I still wanted to get to the airport at a decent time because I wasn't sure how the government shutdown was affecting PreCheck or anything else. Turns out, everything felt normal and I was through security very quickly. My roller bag did get flagged for an extra search - I think some snacks I was carrying from China was triggering it. It would be the same for my next flight.
I wouldn't normally take a picture of this, but this was a full 15 minutes before the scheduled boarding time. There literally was not a plane at the gate at this time. Everyone should have known by now that we were going to be delayed for a solid amount of time. I just couldn't believe that there were so many people already lined up!
The incoming aircraft was estimated at 1 hour 5 minutes late and arrived at the gate at 11:56am, which was 6 minutes after our scheduled boarding time. I figured we'll be a little late, but not too bad because of the time they build into the schedule. However, at 12:10, the gate agent made an announcement there needed to be a maintenance check, but that there was nothing major to worry about.
I was encouraged by the sign of the catering truck loading the plane and figured that meant we'd be on our way soon enough.
Then a few minutes later, at 12:17, there was an announcement that there will be an announcement to make a decision at 1:00pm (not a 1:00pm departure). Uh oh! Finally, the gate lice disband the line. At approximately 12:45pm, we were told a new plane was needed (so much for nothing major) and they were in the process of finding one. Luckily, they made an announcement a few minutes later that we had found a plane, but that it was in Concourse C (we were currently at Gate B12).
So off we went all the way to the C Gates for our new plane.
We boarded shortly, roughly around 1:15pm.
For whatever reason, the seats felt very tired to me, even if they may not look that way in the pictures. I was surprised because they looked like the newer Domestic First seats and shouldn't have been around that long.
Of course, these "new" seats do not have IFEs.
There are outlets right underneath the central armest. The little faux marble platform also has another tray underneath it that pulls out for more space.
The armest on the window side.
Plenty of legroom for a 90-minute flight.
The catering truck pulled up after boarding had started and began unloading.
Coats were taken after boarding had completed, but no predeparture beverages were offered. That makes sense since nothing was loaded until after boarding was well underway. The captain gave his welcome at 1:35pm and was apologetic about the delay and even more so that there was very little he could do to make up time in the air as it was a straight-shoot and a rather short flight.
We pushed back at 1:54pm, before sitting by the gate for a while. About 5 minutes later, the captain came back on to tell us our plane needed to be de-iced and that the flight time would be 91 minutes. The purser began taking orders for the flight a few minutes afterwards, in order of status. By the time it got around to me, there was only the Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese left. An arugula salad was the other option. She also took my drink order at this time. I don't really care that much about pre-departure beverages on such a short flight, but if we're going to sit for nearly half an hour extra - United could have provided the PDBs at this time. I understand why it wasn't offered initially, but this seemed like a missed opportunity to make up for it (unless there is a regulation that prohibits it, of course).
Our plane being de-iced.
We started moving again at 2:18pm and took off shortly at 2:24pm.
I snagged a few quick pictures during takeoff.
If you look closely, right next to the KLM 747-400 is one of ANA's Star Wars jets! It is the BB-8 jet, a 777-300ER.
Service began with a hot towel at around 2:50pm. Somehow I managed to doze off during the climb and didn't get the exact time. Nice to see that United has somewhat improved its hot towel - the one I had on my last United Domestic First flight was rather skimpy.
Service began with drinks and nuts. I had ordered a vodka sprite earlier. It was too heavy on the vodka, I didn't drink much of it. The nuts were heated.
Here's the meal: a Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese. It was a hearty meal, a bit too much so given that we were a few hours later than scheduled. It would have been a normal lunch at a little past noon otherwise, but I was hungry and eaten at the airport earlier and couldn't quite finish this meal. It was about what you expect despite how short the flight is given how competitive the ORD-LGA route is.
The purser came around offering red or white wine to go along with the meal. I had a glass of the red.
Afterwards, she came by offering coffee - I opted for tea instead, even though it's the rather yucky black tea they always serve. This is the price I pay for not drinking coffee I guess.
I had time to check out the bathroom - cramped as expected on an A320.
The captain announced our descent at around 3:25pm Central Time with the estimated touchdown time at 5:00pm Eastern Time. I had picked this exact flight because I had hoped to dodge traffic going into the city by arriving around 3:00pm, so much for that strategy.
As we were descending, there were some beautiful views of the sunset.
We landed at 5:05pm and I was shortly on my way into the city. As for LaGuardia…I remember being taught in school that if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything.
Chicago - ORD
New York - LGA
Seat & Cabin: The seats felt rather tired despite being the "newish" Domestic First seats. They're about what you expect, I personally don't mind the lack of IFEs and usually prefer streaming from a tablet anyways.
Service: The service was average, about what you expect. I thought the lack of PDBs during the wait for de-icing was a missed opportunity though. Maybe there is a regulation against that?
Meal & Catering: It was a fairly hearty meal, as expected given the importance of this route. The food wasn't great, but more than edible.
Bottom Line: This is literally one of the most traveled domestic routes in the U.S., so I feel like I don't have too much to add. United handled the delay decently well and didn't take very long to find a replacement plane. We were only delayed about 1.5 hours getting into NYC, so not too much of an issue.
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