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Report No: 2019-301E
Welcome to this new short series that would mainly include three domestic flights on United. As I needed to head west for that specific weekend, I have decided to use United this time as I needed miles to reach Elite Plus status on Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles. On this series, I would be able to report three different aircraft types, four different airports, three different lounges. All these flights would be on the Economy cabin.
The first flight would be a transcontinental flight from Washington Dulles Airport to San Francisco Airport onboard the United 737-800. As this flight isn't considered as transcontinental and just considered as domestic, it was an uneventful regular 3h+ United domestic flight. However, I was able to visit the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Dulles for the first time.
As I was going to head to Los Angeles, I have checked the prices of all airlines. I wanted to leave Thursday afternoon and return with a red-eye flight on Sunday night. For the first leg to LAX, I had discovered a saver fare for Burbank via SFO on the United website so I went for it as Burbank Airport was closer to my destination is the Los Angeles area. However, if I didn't need the miles; the difference between the American Airlines direct flight from IAD to LAX which departs at 18:50ish was only $10. However, this didn't make an effect on my choice as I was available after 14:00 that day and instead of spending time on DC, I have spent time in the air. For the return, Alaska Airlines ( to BWI ) and United ( to IAD ) had the cheapest fares and I have first intended for the United red-eye at 21:05 which was cheaper, but after an event planned at 08:00 in the Monday morning in DC, I was able to change my flight for free to the 13:00 departure and rest the night at DC for the event.
First I have checked-in online from my mobile device with the seats staying same as pre-reserved for my flights.
However, then I have realized that there were better seating options for both flights so I have changed my seats 10 minutes after I first completed online check-in.
Before I forget, I would also share this e-mail that United sent me about the inflight entertainment options onboard both of the flights.
I had arrived to Washington Dulles Airport around 1 hours 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. I asked my Uber driver to drop me to the arrivals level and then I have directly went to the West Security Checkpoint which was a breeze with no wait.
FIDS for the day
As I had time, I had used the walkway to reach the A/B building where the Turkish Airlines Lounge and the Lufthansa Lounges are situated.
As I used the escalator to reach the gate level, this Saudia aircraft with the special livery appeared.
The international section of the A/B building has flags of different countries, while the domestic section has the flags of the states in the USA.
Today, this was not the aircraft that I was going to fly with.
As United is a Star Alliance member, I was entitled to use the Turkish Airlines Lounge due to my Star Alliance Gold status. First, I was planning on a lounge hopping but then I realized that I didn't have time for the hopping so the only lounge that I visited in IAD was the TK one.
As the lounge was full of South African Airlines passengers, Saudia passengers and some Lufthansa/Austrian passengers that preferred to use this lounge, it was almost full so they didn't accept Priority Pass members at that time. However, I was able to find a seat at the lounge.
Even though, the lounge is decorated in the Turkish Airlines concept, the lounge is operated by TAV Primeclass.
There were various amount of hot dishes and Mediterranean mezzes.
Turkish deserts and Turkish tea was also available
Bread and nuts were also available
Packaged tea, coffee and cheeses were present, just next to the desserts.
The lounge has also great views as I was able to spot this Qatar 777-300ER.
And this Lufthansa 747-8i
Later on, I checked the status of my flight and then decided to leave the lounge as it would take time until I reach C gates.
Before leaving the lounge I have realized something, the Lufthansa 747-8i was catered by Flying Food Group instead of LSG Sky Chefs. This seemed really interesting to me as LSG Sky Chefs has facilities in Dulles Airport.
The lounge also has a bar at the back, where various adult drinks are offered to passengers.
Later on, after I exited the lounge I have walked to the AirTrain station in A gates. As I walked, I have realized that the AF lounge was closed for maintenance.
And, this KLM A330 had just arrived to its parking position from Amsterdam while I was passing by.
And the AirTrain station.
Finally, the airport management had removed Primera Air and JetBlue from the list.
After a short AirTrain ride, I had arrived to concourse C.
While entering concourse C, this advertisement appeared in front of me. My answer was "No thank you."
Our aircraft ( N33289 ) from the boarding gate.
Boarding has started on time with priorities being respected, I was in the Group 1 line and I have boarded 4-5 minutes after boarding has begun.
As the crew at the door didn't welcome passengers, I directly headed to my seat 22F for the medium-range flight to SFO. The seats were comfortable and the legroom was decent for a Boeing 737-800. As United does not offer free EconomyPlus for non-UA Star Alliance Gold members, I didn't paid for the EconomyPlus seats.
The seat was equipped with DirecTV. Unfortunately, there were no power sources as United only offers power sources on their First and EconomyPlus cabin.
The overhead panel
A view from the window at our parking position.
The literature in the seat pocket looked like this.
UA North American destinations
The menu options for today's flight
The inflight entertainment options as seen from the United Hemispheres magazine
Private screening ( mobile IFE ) was available on this flight. It didn't worked for the first ten minutes of the flight and after a reboot of systems it worked until we had parked to our gate in SFO.
Another UA 737 next door
As we were waiting for our push-back, I have opened this channel to watch a bit tennis.
But, it was shortly interrupted with the safety video being screened.
Air France 777-300ER
Virgin Atlantic A330-300
SAS A330-300 and a BA Queen of The Skies
Southwest 737-800 which was pushing back
Delta Connection aircraft at the end of the terminal
While we had passed the Delta aircraft, a video had been screened that told us passengers the movie options for today and how to use DirecTV. Unlike the past, DirecTV is now free on all United flights.
Before taking off, the ATC tower was visible
And we took off
And we started to gain altitude
An hour later than our takeoff,
The crew came in for the BoB service and distribute complimentary drinks and snacks. As one package was really small, the cabin crew gave 2 pretzels for each passenger.
After rubbish was collected, I has visited the lavatories which were not clean at that time. They were quite small compared to other carriers 737-800's.
Then I have opened my laptop to watch a movie.
The route map one more time
The internet options for today's flight which I find it too expensive
Unfortunately, United Private Screening did not support Safari so I had to watch a movie of my choice on my mobile phone.
By the way, water runs were made throughout the flight
I have chosen to watch the "Bad Times at the El Royale" that day.
Route map as I finished my movie
After my movie has finished, I have re-opened DirecTV and started to watch the tennis game between Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka.
While I was watching that match, the cabin crew prepared the cabin for landing.
As we are descending
There was an enormous traffic at the San Mateo Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge
Soon, we had landed to SFO airport
And started our short taxi to gate 61.
Our parking position
American aircraft at Terminal 2
And the same United 737 that I have shared three photos above
Later on after saying goodbye to the crew, this time the same cabin crew member who didn't welcomed me, said goodbye and I have left the aircraft.
And I have headed to the United Club until the short time period for my next flight.
This report has came to an end. Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
After arriving a bit early to the airport, I reasonably had time to visit one of the *A lounges in concourse AB as security was a breeze as well even without PreCheck or Clear. As I was going to fly LH the next week, I have decided to use the TK lounge and it was crowded due to Saudia pax and SAA pax at that time. Despite the hardness of finding seats, the food offering was great and as well as beverages. During boarding, priorities were being respected and I have boarded with Group 1. The seat was the usual ex-CO UA seat and the legroom was OK. The seat featured free DirecTV as United turned from the mistake from asking $7.99 for this service. Also PED entertainment was available, even though it didn't work at the first few minutes of the flight, after the reboot of the systems it worked perfectly. Wi-Fi was also available but it was expensive. Food is one of the negative things when flying US domestic. The only thing for free was pretzels and no other complimentary snacks for the next 5 hours. The BoB is really unreasonable so that day, I haven't purchased anything as I dined at the Turkish Airlines Lounge. After an arrival on time we had shortly arrived to our gate.
(+) Security checkpoint wait times
(+) Priorities respected throughout the boarding process
Turkish Airlines Lounge IAD
(+) Nice food and beverage selection
(-) Difficult to find a seat as the lounge was crowded
(+) Decent legroom for a 6h flight
(+) Availability of the Mobile IFE system
(-) Toilets were not clean throughout the flight
(-) BoB options; not reasonable and expensive. Especially the snack boxes and the cheese plate
(-) The consideration of United as defining this flights as domestic instead of transcontinental
(+) Quickly parked to a gate, no wait at one of the taxiways