Hello! Welcome to my 2nd flight review. This review will cover my flight on UA to AMS from EWR. I have two additional flights left after I land in AMS but bills won't pay themselves! I'll make it up by posting a GVA-MUC-LUX next week on Swiss/Lufthansa. Until then, sit back, relax and lets fly the friendly skies!
1. Check in 7. Food/ Drink
2. Flight Info 8. Landing
Exactly 24 hours before departure I checked in via the United Website. I had booked a basic economy fare and had the opportunity to purchase seats in advance but I chose to wait for a free selection. 767s aren't too big and even being stuck in the back isn't the worst thing in the world. I was not allowed to choose a seat and seat 44K was allocated to me. At the end of the process I was also informed that a paper ticket must be had and that a mobile boarding pass would not suffice. This seemed odd as I have traveled international on United Basic Economy several times this year, but no big deal. After exiting check in, I logged back in via my trip and attempted to view the seat map. Of course, they would not let me change it and I am the last row on the plane, but an aisle seat. It appears for now I am stuck in 44K, I better pray for good weather and no delays. I was able to get a mobile boarding pass via the app and decided to forgo the paper pass. I had no issues with this and would do it again in the future.
Airline: United Airlines (UA)
Aircraft: 767-424 (ER)
Delivered: 18 years old
Departure Gate: C120
Departure Runway: 22R
Scheduled Departure Time: 5:45
Actual Departure Time: 6:05
Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:15
Actual Arrival Time: 6:58
Landing Runway: 18R
Arrival Gate: D2
Scheduled Flight Time: 7:30
Actual Flight Time: 6:43
I had left the airport earlier after arriving at Terminal A and ate at Tops Dinner in Newark. It was well worth the side trip and very doable if you have around 4 hours to kill. My friend dropped me off curbside at Terminal C. Newark has 3 Terminals. Terminal C is solely United and has a mix of International, Mainline and Regional flights. Terminal B is a mix of all sorts of flights including some United. Terminal A houses American and Spirit Air amongst others.
I arrived at EWR around 45 minutes prior to 4:55 scheduled boarding time. The line for security looked very long but as I had TSA precheck I continued following the signs. Despite a dozen or so people in the line I managed to clear ID check and security within 5 minutes of entering the line. I could only image the wait for regular security. TSA precheck had the new automated security bin set up. Despite the lack of personal moving people to free stations it went smooth. Maybe frequent travelers have become accustomed to this procedure?
Terminal C has 3 piers. I was headed to the far left one from security. Along the walk I passed the Polaris Lounge, a couple of shops, and a wonderful veterans memorial. Memorial day was the day prior but in my experience this memorial is ever present in Terminal C. Gate C120 is the first gate on the right as you enter the pier. This part of C has a good many restaurants and has a very open feel to it. I had a few minutes to kill so I decided to do some plane spotting. Most gates had widebodies 767s,777s and 1 787-10 (bound for TLV). Due to the gate placement of C120, I was not able to get a picture of the bird that would take me to AMS. I have noticed before at EWR that flights bound for TLV are placed where the area can be rearranged for controlled access prior to boarding. I had not seen this before at JFK as Delta flights bound for Israel have been boarding next door to my European bound flights.
The boarding area for C120 is very small so most people just waited outside the area. Boarding began right at 4:55 with pre-boarding then Group 1. I was group 4 of 5 and that group was called just 9 minutes later. It took me 4-5 minutes to get to the gate agent and then I was on my way. The gate agents were a bit slow, but a lot of this was due to passengers not having passports open and ready even though a almost constant reminder was given over the load speaker.
The gangway was empty of passengers during the first section and just a few at the boarding door. I was able to snap a goodish picture of the doorway. I entered door 2L and crossed over the galley and turned…..right. 44K is the very last row of the plane. I had to pass the Economy Plus section that offered 4 more inches of pitch and a couple of rows of regular economy. Polaris was to the left of Door two and featured an outdated 2-1-2. Economy Plus and Economy was 2-3-2. The only bathrooms for both cabins was in-between the main economy section and the hybrid Economy Plus/Economy section. This was confusing and many people walked to the back galley only to be told to walk back to the middle section.
We started our taxi right on schedule and within 20 minutes we were airborne for the Netherlands. Two very important things to point out.
1. As boarding was finishing a gentlemen a few rows up gifted the flight attended a bag full of chocolates and candy that he had purchased in the terminal. The FA were very surprised and each one came by the give the man a hug and to personally thank him.
2. As the 75th anniversary of D-day was just a week away, several service members who took part in the invasion were on-board. The bursar came on and made a special announcement to honor these fine individuals and the whole plane gave them a round of applause.
One of the WW2 heros!
Standard Economy seats are 17.3" wide however due to the curvature of the aircraft row 44K is slightly narrower. I was fine though I am only 160 pounds. The headrest was adjustable with wings that also could be adjusted for cradling. A very small and flat pillow and blanket was waiting on the seats. USB power was available on the personal monitor and a universal power outlet was under the seat. Overhead space was easily found as it typically is on long-haul flights. My ebags fit with no problem. The guy next to me did store his large book bag under the seat but that was more for convenience as he did not get up a single time during the flight. I did vist the toilet a few times but did not take a picture. They were standard with just soap available. Even as we closed in on AMS the bathroom was still reasonably clean despite a near full Economy and Economy Plus section (133 pax +70 Pax). A safety card and Hemispheres (United Magazine) were in the seat pocket. I wonder what person/dog chewed the top of the magazine??
Each seat featured its own seatback system. The system was stocked with a good many movies and TV shoes. The list was not as extensive as other airlines but for a roughly 7 hour hop it was more than enough. The music selection is just half a dozen or so different genres but you cannot pick what artist you want. It was more like radio than CDs as is usual on other airlines. I watched the new Sherlock Homes movie with Will Ferrell in it. It wasn't great but not bad either. It served its purpose. After trying to sleep for several hours I watched the only two episodes of How I met Your Mother that they had. The touchscreen was very responsive. The headphone jack was of the single prong type. FA passed out headphones while taxing and they were ok. WIFI was available but I decided not purchase it. The price wasn't great and from prior experience the signal not great either.
The flight route map was not responsive. You were at the mercy of the slide show. Really outdated and one of the worst i've experienced.
Around 23 minutes after takeoff (due to some rough air) FA begin food and beverage service. The standard choices were available along with a packet of pretzels to hold everyone over till meals were served. Being the last row of the aircraft will make you wonder how quickly you will be served, but UA had a FA service the back of the aircraft from the galley. I went with a Seagrams Seltzer water. Solid choice. The guy next to me ordered a Stella and received it just slightly colder than room temp. The FA apologized multiple times about that and ensured him the next one would be ice cold…it was. The bag of pretzels was fine.
Meal service began about an hour into the flight. The three options were Asian chicken with rice, spinach lasagna, and veggie stir fry. the passenger right in front of me took the last chicken, so I ordered the lasagna (I was choosing this the whole time). Along with the entrée, you get a roll with butter, a grain salad with a few springs of spinach and that's it. No desert. Just kidding, vanilla ice cream was passed out afterwards; I declined so that I could try to sleep. The grain salad was ok. Served cold and tasteless. I really wish airlines would just serve more of a traditional salad. The bread roll was reasonably soft and along with cold butter was decent. The spinach lasagna was tasteless. After adding salt and pepper it become just "ok". While the lasagna was large it, was the only item that had any substance to it. I really think United can improve here.
Small water bottles were passed around after ice cream. I could have missed it but as far as I could notice, no additional rounds were made until "breakfast" was served 90 minutes before landing. When I say "breakfast", I mean strawberry yogurt and a room temp croissant. This was forgettable and is only acceptable due to the fact that main meals were just 4 hours prior and the flight was short. One round of drinks were served. I settled for a coffee. It was ok. No refills were offered though this is typical for United.
We landed early at 6:58. However, any time gained was lost as we had to taxi what seemed like was to the other side of the country. After pulling up into D2, I grabbed my bag and waited on a plane load of people disembarked. It took only 5-8 minutes for me to reach Door 2L and walk onto the gangway. I must apologize for lack of photos from the window as I had an aisle seat. I was in a bit of a rush once I reached AMS, so I decided to stop reporting when I left the aircraft. However, I can say that I was through passport control and in the Schengen gate area within 15 minutes.
I really want to mention how super the FA were on this flight. Maybe it was the gentlemen gifting them candy before we left or this crew was just really good but they were amazing. Every single FA was smiling and talking to passengers. They really tried to make everyone as comfortable as they could. This crew was one of the best I have had regardless of carrier this year and I've been on over 50 flights so far in various cabin classes. Thank you United and thank you for making this flight reflect your slogan "Fly the friendly skies"… but please upgrade your food offering and the flight map!
Good flight. Food was typical. FA were amazing. I will be flying UA again as I am staying loyal to Star Alliance.