A warm welcome back to another installation of my latest trip back to the US, and more specifically New York and Seattle. This report, sadly, will be the last of this United sub-section of the journey, which was definitely the best part of the journey.
I experienced 5 new products in a total of 7 flights (including this one). I'll be keeping you in suspense by announcing each new segment as it comes. Here's where the routing stands at this report:
Now that this the final part of this sub-trip, I can finally announce how I booked it. I booked this as a round-trip EWR-SEA for $440, and upgraded the SFO-SEA-SFO segment thanks to my status and the EWR-SFO-EWR portion was upgraded thanks to PlusPoints, United's fantastic new upgrade system. I wrote about PlusPoints in my report about UA840, but if you'd like to learn more about it, check out this article on the from the United Hub. Here's how the entire trip looked like on a map, thanks to the Great Circle Mapper, now that it's all done:
My flight from Seattle arrived at Terminal 3E and my departing flight was leaving from Terminal 3F. The two concourses are connected, and it doesn't take long at all to get from one to the other. I visited my absolute favorite United Club in the whole system, the one in Terminal 3F.
The grand hallway, unchanged from since when I first started flying United in 2003.
I absolutely love this lounge because it's classy, reminds me of United's good old days, and the views are fantastic. The lounge dragon told me that she heard rumors that they were going to renovate it to match the new corporate identity, which I really hope they don't, as whenever I'm there I remember coming back from a long Asian trip after a 747 flight and relaxing there. Ahh, good times. Anyways, I went to find a seat in the back of the lounge, a section which only those in the know know about :-)
I didn't eat anything in the lounge, as the buffet doesn't offer anything special and I knew that I would eat onboard. Before leaving, I took one photo of the great view from the lounge.
I headed to gate F16, where my flight UA213 was departing from.
I got to my gate just as boarding was beginning. I didn't get a good shot of my aircraft from the gate area…
…but I did get a good shot of the nose from a little window next to the jetbridge. My ride across the country was N510UA, a vintage May 1990-built Boeing 757-222(WL) that had been with United for its entire life.
Down the jetbridge.
Just as I was about to board, one of the flight attendants came from the direction of the flight deck and told me and the few others in the jetbridge that we'd have to wait for a few minutes before we could get on. So, we waited.
After a few minutes of waiting, the Captain emerged and told us that maintenance found some engine problem, and that we'd have to go back to the gate area for a bit until they fixed it. He said that he couldn't give a time estimate. So as I got back to the gate area, I noticed that at the gate next to mine was a 787-8 operating the super-delayed UA2065 to Newark, which was scheduled to leave SFO at 9:30 AM, but had a new departure time of 4:30 PM, 15 minutes after my original flight was supposed to leave. I went to one of that flight's gate agents about why it was so late, and as it turned out the flight was supposed to the operated by a 787-10, but the inbound aircraft from Newark had some kind of issue and was still in Newark, so they had to find a replacement aircraft, which had just arrived from Paris.
I asked if I could switch flights and keep my upgrade, and within 5 minutes I had a boarding pass for 6A, a window seat on the Dreamliner! Kudos to the awesome UA ground staff at SFO! My new aircraft was N45905 (fleet number 0905), the 55th 787 ever built, which was delivered to United in December 2012, making it 7 years old at the time of my flight.
Boarding commenced at 4:15 PM, when my original flight was supposed to depart.
Our Dreamliner's fuselage soaking in the California sun!
United Wi-Fi and Private Screening sticker at the door.
Unlike my previous flight, the service on this flight was phenomenal, probably one of the best United crews I've ever had. The entire crew was Newark-based, with the exception of the pilots, who were San Francisco-based. I was greeted with a smile and a "welcome aboard" by the purser who pointed me toward my seat.
The legroom was, of course, fantastic, at 78".
Remote for the TV.
High quality headphones behind the seat, along with the safety card, a universal power outlet…
…and the same Star Wars amenity kit from UA840, which I won't show again.
Also at my seat was the same Saks Fifth Avenue bedding as on UA840.
Within 5 minutes of settling in to my seat, one of the flight attendants came through the cabin was PDBs. I went with water, as always.
Wing view from my seat, as well as a neighboring United 737 off to Portland, OR.
Once boarding was completed, the purser apologized for the lack of menus on the flight, but said that the options were Chicken, Four Cheese Ravioli with Tomato Sauce, and something else that I forgot. I chose the Ravioli, with Chicken being my second choice.
One of my favorite things about the Dreamliner is the windows!
Before the safety video screened, Captain Mike welcomed us on board and announced a short flying time of 4h30m and apologized profusely for the delay, saying that the crew would provide excellent service to make up for it (and that they did!) As we pushed back, I glanced through the windows on the other side of the aircraft to see my original flight still at its gate with the jetbridge connected, which made me smile. The Star Wars safety video screened during the push. We ended up pushing back at 5 PM.
My favorite airline CEO making his usual safety video cameo!
Here's the video, and Oscar's cameo is at 3:55 :-)
Beginning our taxi to Runway 1R.
EVA Air 777-300ER being towed before flying to Taipei-Taoyuan.
Lining up on Runway 1R.
"United 2065 Heavy, Runway 1 Right, cleared for takeoff".
Quite possibly my most beautiful takeoff ever!
Goodnight, San Francisco!
What. A. View.
Last rays of sunlight.
Cabin after departure.
The remote showed the flight's progress.
The service commenced with a thick oshibori.
That was followed by warm nuts…
…and a glass of water.
The entertainment selection on this flight was much better than the selection the 757 I flew, as there were a ton of movies and shows. Combined with WiFi and United Private Screening, there's no way you could get bored. My only complaint was that when an announcement was made, the screen would change, as opposed to having a small pop up, which was rather annoying. Fortunately, the only announcement during the flight was the purser's, explaining how passengers could get compensation for the delay.
The appetizer consisted of some salad, and a delicious cheese and prosciutto plate. I love the table set up, especially the dark blue color that United has made prevalent. Again, everything was brought by hand from the galley, which is a nice touch.
A bread basket was passed around, and I chose garlic bread, which was warm and delicious.
For the main, I got my first choice of Ravioli. I've found that pasta is usually overcooked on airplanes, but this dish was perfectly cooked, and super tasty. When they decided to feed their Premium passengers, they do a really good job 😉 Well done, United.
For desert, United does the service from a cart so you can see the choices, which I like. I went for the famous United sundae, though the cheese plate looked tasty as well.
The reason I loved this crew was because they were genuine, friendly, brisk, and super professional. Class act. After dinner, I decided to take a walk around the aircraft. A must when flying a widebody 😉 Here's a few shot of Economy, which seemed nice enough.
The rear Polaris Cabin. While I'm not a fan of the 2-2-2 configuration, this one is well done, as there is still a bit of privacy between you and your neighbor, there is a good bit of storage, and it actually feels pretty spacious. Much better than Lufthansa Business Class on all fronts. United's 787-8 has 36 Polaris seats in two cabins, each with 3 rows, which is nice and intimate.
Nothing to see outside except the beacon on the engine.
I reclined my seat to sleep, and discovered two buttons, one for recline and one for light. The recline button is a nice feature, as you don't have to lean forward to reach the switch to get up.
The crew passed out bottles of water for the short night.
I went to sleep around halfway through the flight.
I was woken up gently by one of the flight attendants was we descended through 7,000 feet.
Cabin during descent. I love the mood lighting.
The view when I got up.
Left turn over Parsippany, NJ
Slats coming down.
Manhattan in the distance.
Over the airport.
One final smooth United landing on Runway 22L at 12:43 AM, after being in the air for 4h22m, which was way too short 😔 That was 15 minutes after my original flight was schedule to land. UA213 ended up landing at 1:24 AM.
Vacating the runway.
Taxiing to our gate.
The map reset itself after landing.
One final look at my cozy home of the past 5ish hours.
We flew with local vectors from San Francisco to Denver, and directly from Denver to Newark. We started the flight at 39,000 feet, but descended to 37,000 feet over Iowa. We commenced our descent to Newark over the Susquehannock State Forest in Pennsylvania.
After I bid farewell to the crew, I made my way to the pickup area. As it was too late to take a train back to Manhattan, I took a Lyft. My driver was a Russian guy who was thrilled to have just moved to the US. It's always nice to meet new people and welcome them to my city :-) I was home around an hour after landing. Thanks so much for reading, and stay tuned for the next report. It's not going to be as interesting, but check it out nonetheless 😉
Yet another all-around great United flight.
+ Great SFO Lounge that brings back memories
+ Ability to switch flights
+ Nice, fresh 787 and cozy Polaris cabin
+ Phenomenal service
+ Delicious food
+ Great entertainment options
Once again, I have nothing bad to say about the flight, aside from the 2-2-2 configuration. United will retrofit all 787-8 and -9s, though, so that won't be an issue in a few years. I can't wait to try the 'real' Polaris, and I hope I get the chance soon. I wish everyone had such great experiences with United as I do, that way they won't be ranked #120 in the FR rankings. They are, in my opinion, hands down the best American carrier.