This is the first segment of my return journey from Merida.
I arrived fairly early at Merida International Airport because I had never flown out o here before. I always error on the safe side when it's a new airport (for me).
The United check-in can be found after turning left into the terminal, towards the end. Check-in was quick and efficient and the agent quickly verified my negative Covid test. Unfortunately, I got SSSS this time.
The airport started off fairly empty–not surprising given the hour. There were only a few flights displayed on the departure boards.
There is only one Priority Pass option at Mérida–the Caral VIP Lounge, which is unfortunately located before security.
A trend on this trip seemed to be people trying to get in without proper access. The gentleman in front of me kept demanding to know why his particular Citi card was insufficient for access (guess it doesn't have Priority Pass). After he was satisfied with an explanation, I was checked in very quickly.
It appeared that I was the first guest of the lounge that day. The lounge was one long room with a small bar area right after the entrance sitting area.
Bathrooms can be found at the end.
The bar had several choices of alcohol and soft drinks.
The bar attendant came by with a snack basket and asked if I wanted any drinks or prepared food. This is unexpectedly great service for such a small lounge.
I asked for coffee and a sandwich. Hardly amazing, but the lounge already surpassed my expectations with food/beverage to-order and brought to each individual guest. I wonder if this was a Covid-safety precaution. U.S. airlines and their lounges should take note–Covid-safety does not mean security theater to hide cost-cutting!
I stayed in the lounge for about 40 minutes before heading off to go through security. The journey from the lounge to Gate 1 was approximately 15 minutes.
My flight back to the States was on N33264, a 20-years-old 737-800.
SSSS is such an annoying thing. Not sure what triggered it this time around. When I tried to ask the gate agent if I could get screened early, she told me it would only take a minute and I could do it after I boarded with my group (spoiler: it took longer).
Boarding began at 7:34am, which was shown properly on the app (the boarding pass showed 7:15am for some reason).
Despite pre-boarding as a 1K, by the time I was finished with my secondary screening, Group 3 was already boarding.
Unlike the flight in, this time the forward cabin was full. My seat was 2B this time (upgrade cleared the day before).
Luckily, these were older seats with IFE monitors! The screens were tiny and had poor resolution, but better than nothing!
We pushed back at 8:07am and took off 11 minutes later.
Service began about 15 minutes after takeoff and was again this sad little bag. Good thing I had a sandwich and coffee in the lounge. I had asked for orange juice and prosecco to make my own mimosa. An interesting addition this time was that after the initial beverage and snack service, the purser, Alex, came around offering thin blankets. A few passengers took him up on his offer. I did not.
The lavatory was the same as the previous flight, but definitely a bit messier.
Overall, it was another uneventful flight. We began our descent at 9:32am CT and touched down early at 10:02am. This gave me hope that I might make it through IAH's abysmal international-domestic connection security with enough time to maybe enjoy some time in the lounge. However, that didn't help because the our assigned gate was still occupied. So it was another 20 minutes before we actually parked at Gate E20.
Lounge: This is the only lounge available to Priority Pass and non-Sky Team passengers here at Merida. I wasn't expecting much, but it definitely surpassed my expectations. The service may be a function of Covid, but it was a nice touch.
Cabin & Seat: Nothing new to update compared to the previous flight report except for the IFE monitors. United's 737-800s are rather dated and I look forward to when the fleet finally standardizes with refreshed seats and IFE screens across the board.
Service: Service was quick and efficient, but nothing much else to say.
Meal & Catering: Catering was just as bad as the previous flight. United really needs to return to some semblance of normalcy up front.
Bottom Line: As I mentioned with my flight to Merida, there aren't too many options in and out of the city. United offers convenient schedule that works for me and what appears to be fairly good upgrade chances on these flights. I'll take it.