I wasn't going to bother with writing a review for this flight, but I thought there were some worthwhile data points regarding Dulles to share. The purpose of this trip is just a quick visit home to join my family on a short trip to Canada.
It's been quite a long time (last August?) since I flew out of Dulles. It's not the most convenient for living in DC, but eventually the Silver Line is supposed to reach all the way here. Eventually Dulles is supposed to get a Polaris Lounge (promised in 2017, now scheduled for early 2020). There is also some talk about an Amex Centurion lounge. I arrived early to the airport both to grab a free meal and also to sign up for CLEAR now that it is free for United 1Ks.
The enrollment process for CLEAR was very fast. Given how empty the TSA-Pre line was though, it didn't actually save me any time - just saved me the hassle of getting out my driver's license. I can imagine how this would come in handy if the TSA-Pre line was packed.
After clearing security, I took the train to the C Gates to hit up Chef Geoff, a Priority Pass restaurant conveniently located right up the escalator from the train. I had the Chef Geoff burger. It was okay. You can see the full menu below.
One thing to note is that the staff was very confused about what Priority Pass still worked. It seemed like they knew that Amex doesn't work anymore, knew that Chase does work, but were confused regarding Citi. I imagine there may be some confusion this week regarding Priority Pass at all the different restaurants.
After that, it was a quick ride on the train back to the A Gates. I originally wanted to go to the new Air France/KLM Lounge, but despite Priority Pass saying it opened at 10:30am, it was not yet open.
I decided to go to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse instead - located right across from A32. I could have gone to the Turkish Airlines Lounge (Priority Pass) or the Lufthansa Senator Lounge (Star Alliance Gold), but given that I only had a short while before boarding, I didn't want to walk all the way over.
It was a small lounge, not too crowded while I was there. The spread was fairly meh, but I think it's only that way during Priority Pass hours and is better if you are actually flying Virgin. I found the space to be rather aesthetically pleasing. There's also a small sitting around on the second floor, but it was full so I didn't take a picture.
The Lounge had a very small cold and hot spread, a few $10 bottles of wine, some beer and soft drinks, and coffee and Nongshim noodles.
The bathrooms were spacious, but a bit unkempt. I appreciated the Cowshed lotion though.
I sat in one of the tarmac-facing seats for about 30 minutes before heading to my gate: A1B.
Can't have a review of Dulles without a picture of one of these people movers!
Here's my ride to Roanoke. Just kidding! A Korean Air 777-300ER.
The UnitedExpress gates in Concourse A:
Boarding was precisely on-time - 12:20pm. A nice change of pace from the usual slight delay. Here's my chariot home: N14173, a 14-years old ERJ-145.
There is only one cabin. I was seated in 1A, right across from the galley. United's ERJ-145s are arranged in a 1-2 configuration. The overhead bins are too small to accommodate most rolling bags, so those have to be gate-checked. Not much to say about the seats. I would hate to be in one for much more than one hour. There is a little bit more leg space for 1A due to the bulkhead though.
Some basic overhead controls:
Boarding was quick and the doors closed at 12:38pm. The captain announced a flight time of 34 minutes and we pushed back a little early at 12:42pm. Got to do a little planespotting during the taxi. Sorry the window was very dirty, so it was hard to take clear pictures.
A Saudia 777-300ER (the Ad-Diriyah E-Prix livery) and a South African A330-200. The Saudia jet pulled into the gate connected to the Virgin Clubhouse right after I left the lounge.
A Eurowings A330-300. I think this is a Brussels Airlines one.
Overall, the flight was uneventful. We took off at 12:53pm. Service began at 1:09pm and completed with trash pickup starting at 1:15pm. It was very quick - all the flight attendant had time to do was offer everyone a cup of water.
We began our descent at 1:19 and touched down at 1:26pm. Given how small Roanoke is, we were at the gate 2 minutes later and I was by the baggage claim 3 minutes after that.
Lounge: The Virgin Clubhouse is hardly the best lounge, or even the best Priority Pass lounge at Dulles. However, it is convenient for people departing from the A Gates and comfortable for a short stay.
Seat & Cabin: It's a one-cabin ERJ-145. That should say everything.
Service: Given that we were in the air for barely more than 30 minutes, I didn't really expect anything. The flight attendant passed out water and smiled - good enough. I'm not going to compare this to what might have been offered on a domestic hop on ANA.
Meal & Catering: Just water.
Bottom Line: This is a very quick flight. Last time I had a horrible experience with taking the Amtrak to Roanoke, so at least for the Southbound leg, I am going to be flying for a while even given the significant price differential.