It's been a while since I've been on Flight-Report. Hopefully I remember how to do this. I wouldn't normally report on a work trip, but figured it would be a nice warm-up report.
For this flight, I was traveling for a quick trip to Houston, Texas. Conveniently for me, IAH is one of the few airports that United flies out of DCA (it only has flights to hubs here). DCA tends to be the preferred airport for residents of actual DC (not Northern Virginia). After moving to the area, I agree–not only is it much closer, the airport layout is just so much more convenient than IAD.
The Bracket Room is a Priority Pass restaurant and sports bar by the United gates. The food menu is fairly limited at the moment (not sure if this is the norm), but there is a wide selection of drinks.
I ordered the "Jumbo Chicken Wings." There was nothing jumbo about them, and I would not recommend the dry rub (too bland). I also had a glass of the Franziskaner Hefeweisse, which folks who have frequented any Lufthansa lounges are familiar with. The total came out to $24.75, which was covered by Priority Pass. Always remember to tip though, as that is not covered.
There is nothing special about the Bracket Room except that it is located directly across from Gate 12, where my flight was scheduled to depart from.
Here is my ride: N88310, a 6-years old ERJ-175.
Pre-boarding began at 2:20 pm with passengers requiring assistance. I boarded shortly afterwards.
In terms of regional jets, I like the ERJ-175s because of the 1-2 layouts in first class. Of course, there is the awkwardness of the port-side overhead bins being too small to accommodate much of anything. Boarding early becomes important in that instance. I've seen several cases where a first class passenger boarded later and was unable to find nearby overhead bin space for their luggage. However, on this flight, it seemed like everything fit just fine.
The ERJ first-class seats are nothing special: standard recliner seats without a IFE monitor. There is a nifty pull-out tray on the left side for drinks in addition to the standard pull-out tray table. There are adjustable air nozzles on top and a power outlet at each seat. I was seated in 4A this flight, the last remaining solo seat. The only defect of 4A is that the window is a bit more forward than the seat.
Right after boarding was completed, a girl got a shout-out from her mom via the purser wishing her a happy 16th birthday. Don't think I've ever heard a birthday announced before. Doors closed shortly thereafter at 2:45pm ET and we pushed back 4 minutes later.
As we were taxing, here's an American A319 pulling back for its flight to JFK.
Ahead of us for takeoff is a Delta A321 bound for Atlanta.
We took off at 3:05pm ET and after an uneventful climb, service began in the front around 16 minutes after takeoff. For this flight, first-class passengers were offered a choice of the "Takeoff" or the "Tapas" snack boxes as catering has not returned to normal. Alcoholic beverages are available, but no glassware. I asked for the "Takeoff" snack box and red wine.
I'll let the pictures of the snack box speak for itself, it consisted primarily of crackers, cheese spreads, and some salami.
For comparison, here is the meal from my last United domestic first flight back in June . . . no, it was not really edible. I'll take a snack box over this.
The red wine was Punda Milia Shiraz. Let's just say I'm not going to rush to buy on my own any time soon.
I checked out the forward lavatory mid-flight. As you imagine, on a regional jet it's a tight squeeze. Soap and hand sanitizer were available, but no plastic cups.
Throughout the flight I asked for water several times, each time it was presented to me quickly and cheerfully. I never got the name of the flight attendant serving the front, but she was quick, efficient, and did things with a smile.
We began our descent at around 4:23pm CT. Approximately 13 minutes before landing, we passed by our destination for an aerial view of IAH.
We landed at 4:52pm CT and arrived at the gate 10 minutes later.
Lounge: The Bracket Room is nothing special, but it is a very convenient Priority Pass restaurant perfect for United flights out of DCA.
Cabin & Seat: As far as regional jets go, ERJ-175s are fairly comfortable with 1-2 seating in first class. Of course, it would be nice to have seatback entertainment. Oh well.
Service: Service was efficient and pleasant, but otherwise nothing to comment on.
Meal & Catering: United really needs to bring hot meals back, these snack boxes are a poor substitute given that it is what 1Ks are supposed to get in economy when we are not upgraded.
Bottom Line: United offers a decent schedule between DCA and IAH, but I think they're currently lagging behind the other carriers in terms of returning to normalcy as far as catering goes.