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The average flight time is 2 hours and 12 minutes.More information
Report No: 2020-1201
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the first part of this US domestic series where I would be presenting the Economy product of United and United Express on a journey from Washington Reagan Airport to Los Angeles via Chicago O'Hare Airport.
The first report would be onboard the United Express Embraer E-175 on a flight from Washington DCA to Chicago O'Hare on a flight operated by SkyWest Airlines. As the United Club in DCA is currently closed, there would be no lounge report this time.
Here is the routing ( parts 2 & 3 would be revealed soon ).
Loads for this flight
Domestic First: 100%
Before starting the online check-in process, I needed to verify that I accept to wear a face covering and was not diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
I also needed to confirm that I acknowledge that I needed to fill the LA county's online form and acknowledge that I should ( not must ) practice a 14 day quarantine.
This information was also provided by e-mail
Here is my itinerary
For the first flight, I kept my assigned seat. Upgrade to Domestic First was $99.
For the second and longer leg, I moved a bit forward to row 23A. For non-UA *G members, preferred seats become free at online check-in and before online check-in, these members could only choose regular Economy seats for free.
The upgrade fee for this flight was $209.
After checking-in I had the alert that I needed to finish checking-in at the airport, however, without any issues, I was able to issue my mobile boarding passes so that box on the top was a glitch.
A few minutes after online check-in, I received an e-mail about the entertainment options about my flights.
As I knew that there wouldn't be any lounge access for myself the day of departure, I arrived at the airport 55 minutes before scheduled departure time.
The National Hall
That day, there was no priority security offered at DCA. The only two lanes were general boarding and TSA Pre. I was in the general boarding lane and with the document check, it took about 5-10 minutes to clear security.
After security, I directly headed to the gate area.
United Express aircrafts including the one taking me to Chicago was already there
As I mentioned previously, the United Club at DCA was closed.
N622UX, an Embraer 1.2 years old was going to operate this flight to Chicago.
View of N622UX from another angle
Before boarding, announcements regarding the face-covering policy of United and the temporary onboard changes were made. About 20-25 minutes before our scheduled departure time, boarding had begun with passengers requiring extra assistance.
Later on, boarding followed by active military members, MileagePlus Global Services and Premier 1K members, and First Class passengers.
United no longer offer priority boarding for their Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and for other airlines Star Alliance Gold members due to COVID-19.
So, I needed to wait until my row was announced.
After being handed a hand sanitizing wipe at the aircraft door, I headed to my seat 17D. The new United regional seats does not have headrests, although they are much comfortable than the older seats.
The legroom was generous compared to a regional jet product.
The newer United Express aircraft also have universal power outlets located under each seat
The hand sanitizing wipe that was provided during boarding
A view from the window. Our neighbor was going to fly to Houston-IAH as UA6034
As there weren't that much passengers onboard, boarding was completed within 7-8 minutes and one of the cabin crew offered some passengers who were seated next to a stranger to move to the empty EconomyPlus rows to maximize social distancing. From the beginning of the boarding process, I didn't have a neighbor so I stayed at my seat.
The overhead panel
At that time a Delta A319 was passing by
Also a reminder that, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, United does not provide any written literature at the seat pockets so the only contents available are the safety card and a waste bag.
Shortly later, it was our turn to push back and we were on our way.
United aircraft at Terminal B
United A319 at a remote stand
United CRJ550 that would head to Newark that afternoon. When I have the chance, I would really like to try the 50 seater jet.
Southwest aircraft at Terminal A
And, we were number one for takeoff so without any wait, we took off towards the north.
Which meant great views of Washington DC
The District Wharf
The Washington Monument, The National Mall and the US Capitol building
The White House
The Lincoln Memorial at the bottom of the photo
Northern suburbs of DC
Another aircraft passing by at a lower altitude
Shortly after departure, I've decided to browse the personal entertainment system
Here is the route map
Internet was available on this flight for $10.99
As well as a selection of movies & TV shows
Shortly after takeoff, the beverage service had begun. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, United stopped offering snacks on flights shorter than 2h20mins in the Economy cabin.
For today's flight, I've opted for a hot chocolate which was promptly served
While enjoying my hot chocolate, I've realized that there was snow outside.
South Bend, IN
Before landing, trash was collected by the cabin crew and we started our descend into Chicago
There wasn't snow in Illinois.
Another aircraft was descending towards a parallel runway at the same time
And we've touched down ahead of schedule
United aircraft at Terminal 1 C gates.
More United aircraft
After a short taxi, we've arrived at Terminal 2 where a bus was blocking our pathway to our gate.
Shortly later, that bus cleared the way and we've parked at gate E4 at Terminal 2.
For those who are unfamiliar with Chicago O'Hare aircraft, some United Express flights including our one departs from/arrives at Terminal 2 rather than Terminal 1 where the United mainline operation is being handled at.
While disembarking the aircraft, there were no row-by-row deboarding announcements, however, all passengers respected social distancing and waited for those passengers seated in their front to leave the aircraft before stepping in the aisle.
After saying goodbye to the crew, I left the aircraft and took this fuselage shot.
Shortly later, I found myself inside O'Hare's Terminal 2 for the first time.
Now, it was time to walk to Terminal 1 for my next flight.
The journey would continue in the next report.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
My experience with United Express on this flight was pleasant. First, it was a pleasure flying on a new E-175 with comfortable seats with the adjacent seat empty. The flight experience was decent with a beverage service being offered and personal device entertainment being available. Having a power outlet and a friendly crew onboard made the experience even better. The ground experience in DCA was alright but it is a bit annoyable that the United Club in DCA is closed ( there is no local restriction as the AA Club in the other terminal is open ) and United does not offer priority boarding for Premier Gold, Platinum and non-*G cardholders. Luckily on this flight, the overhead space was not full otherwise, it wouldn't be nice to gate check my carry-on bag. However, the ground staff at DCA was friendly towards passengers.
(-) Priority boarding no longer offered for alliance elites
(-) The lounge was closed
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) Full beverage service on a short flight
(+) Friendly crew
(+) Power outlets available at each seat
Nothing special to mention