This is the second homebound segment of my weekend trip to Merida.
For those of you who have not been through Houston, the international connection process is an utter mess. Global Entry speeds up the documents portion of the connection, but the security screening is incredibly slow. When I got to the queue, the line was out of the room and moving very slowly. As far as I could tell, there was only one line open and folks going through were not so travel-savvy (i.e. lots of drinks being poured out, arguing about devices, belts, etc . . .). If you're making an international to domestic connection at IAH, definitely make sure you have the time between flights. Despite over an hour to connect, I didn't make it to the gate until 11:30am CT, approximately 13 minutes after boarding started and right after they called Group 2.
My flight home was N73299, a 15-years old 737-800.
Seats are standard, much like my previous flight from DCA to IAH. Most importantly, power outlets are beneath and in between the seats. I chose 11D this time (often in economy I prefer aisle so I can make a quicker exit).
We pushed back at 11:57am CT and after taxing for a bit, took off at 12:13pm CT.
Service began 20 minutes later. I simply opted for a cup of tea. I didn't grab any of the snacks and there were no buy-onboard options for economy (they announced this before departure). I'm not sure why the buy-onboard food hasn't returned yet when alcohol sales have returned. In any case, that means I can't take advantage of the free food item as an un-upgraded 1K (I wasn't feeling any alcohol; one drink would have been available and free for me).
I checked out the back lavatories at one point. They were kept reasonably clean throughout the flight.
It was a fairly uneventful flight and we landed at 3:32pm ET and was at my usual Gate 12 4 minutes later.
Once I got out of the airport, naturally rideshare prices were exorbitant (as has been the case generally in DC the last few months). I took the Metro instead.
Cabin & Seat: Third flight in a row on the same plane type, not much to say here. The Economy Plus seats aren't much different from the ones on the 737-700s. I appreciate having a bit more spacious by virtue of an aisle seat.
Service: It's really hard to comment on economy service in the Pandemic era because . . . what is there to say? It's hard to even tell if the FAs are smiling or anything. The beverage service did start very quickly after takeoff and they made multiple trash runs. With all they're given to work with, I don't think you can ask for much more from the FAs.
Meal & Catering: The only thing missing from the pre-Pandemic service is buy-onboard food options in the back. Of course, I would just appreciate it for the free food any time I am not upgraded.
Bottom Line: I've taken this flight countless times now (due to work), but haven't actually flown it in economy this year. United's schedule between DCA and IAH have more or less returned to pre-Pandemic times, so the flexibility is much appreciated. Nothing to nice to say about IAH's international connection situation though.