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So another throwback, this time to my January/February 2018 USA Tour, where I look back on my first ever flight with United Airlines.
One of my key missions for this mega-tour was to try out all US "Big Three" Airlines, I had some DL flights already booked, a mile-run on American Airlines booked and I needed to fit in United Airlines somewhere- and this was the result!
My day trip to San Francisco from Los Angeles saw me do two flights on the United Airlines Airbus A320
So I booked a day trip to San Francisco from Los Angeles, and I opted to use United Airlines on that route as they had a hub in both airports and I had plans in mind for the other airlines. I initially booked to fly one way on a Boeing 737-800 and the other on an Airbus A320, however a flight/plane change between me booking in April 2017 & the day in January 2018 meant I flew on two Airbus A320. So I thought I'd cover the out bound flight. I paid roughly £110 for the return in the airlines Main Cabin product.
LAX & SFO are both major United Airlines hubs offering services across the USA, South America, Europe, Canada, Pacific & Asia.
Whilst I have reported on most of my USA Tour flights, I didn't cover the United flights for some reason, so I thought now would be a good time to look back into the pre-CV19 archives again!
Maybe in the future? I originally planned to fly on a Boeing 737-NG with United as well as the Airbus A320, which didn't happen!
It was an early start for me that day, but I managed to get up and take an Airport Shuttle from my Hotel over to San Francisco. Luckily I still had another night in LAX, so I could leave my suitcase in LA! Only took my rucksack and essentials with me to San Francisco.
United Airlines operates out of Terminal 7, which was undergoing work at the time. I got through security quickly enough from what I can recall. I had an hour or so before boarding was to begin, so I went over to the Gate that was shown and just sat at a charging point for a short while.
All aboard the Friendly Skies.
Before long boarding began. I don't hold status with Star Alliance, simply a basic level card with Lufthansa's Miles & More to collect points for future "cash ins", so I boarded in one of the last groups, I had selected a seat towards the back of the plane to maximise views on this flight, or specifically Seat 24A.
Compare to the Boeing 737-NG & Airbus A320 that can be found on longer flights, this A320 had a somewhat basic economy class cabin seating. No IFE available here.
I don't have many images of the flight due to a hard drive crash a few years later, however, the surviving images from my GoPro & mobile phone show off the amazing dawn break sunrise as we departed from Los Angeles and headed north-bound for San Francisco. I got an amazing view of the Dockweiler Beach as we darted out.
LAX is the only airport to serve as a HUB for all of the USA's Big Three Airlines; United, American & Delta.
Departure early over the Dockweiler Beach, quite a different view compare to my local Avon Beach in Dorset!
It was early morning and United was offering a free round of drinks on this one hour flight across California, along with a few tasty caramel stroopwaffels, I love these! I paired my two packets off with a cup of tea.
Nothing fancy, but a nice snack for a 70 minute flight intra-state. BA used to offer something similar until 2017.
As the night headed out into the pacific and the day became clearer, I was impressed with the amazing Pacific/California views as we flew over. It felt strange but amazing to be flying a domestic route in the US for the first time, having being somewhat accustomed to the UK landscape.
I managed to get over to the Galley whilst it was quiet and the crew were off working in the cabins, so I got a nice shot of the United A320 galley.
We began our descent before long, coming in over the south of San Francisco before flying out towards the sea and lining up for our final approach into San Francisco.
Enter San Francisco!
We arrived into San Francisco rather punctual, so if we were behind or ahead, it would have been a less than 5 minutes difference.
Taxiing around as we went for our gate, it was quite obvious to see who the main airline of San Francisco was, there was a huge number of various United Airlines aircraft ranging from the Boeing 777/787 to the Boeing 767/757 and various Boeing 737-NG & Airbus A319/A320. Various Star Alliance airlines could also be found, including a then brand new Airbus A350-900 of Singapore Airlines!
SFO is definitely a United Airlines hub through & through!
We parked up, and I waited for most of the other passengers to disembark, I went up and enquired about a flight deck visit and photo to add to my growing collection on this USA Tour, the two ladies who had flown the plane up from LAX kindly obliged and asked about my trip, which I tried to fill in as briefly as possible (it was quite a large & complex mission), but I didn't hang around too long as the crew had to take their Airbus A320 onto the next destination, which I can't recall as I'm writing this some four years later…
The Domestic First cabin of a United Airlines Airbus A320 (as of 2018), I wonder if Tom Stuker has flown in this very cabin?
It was quite a nice introduction to United Airlines, and my flight back is another story, overall a good flight, but I feel I need to make another (longer) flight experience to get a better judgement, Hopefully on a different aircraft type or two, I am quite happy to not go out of my way for a United A320 for a bit!
Here is a brief look at my day out in San Francisco before I took the second United flight back to LAX! First off I got onto the BART Train from the Airport into the city centre…
I had a booking to go to the Alcatraz State Penn museum. But first I had a wonder about the Bay area of SF. A fog had descended on the area, which is typical for that time of year, so it made for some interesting views on the Sky Scrapers.
I ended up on the Ferry that runs from the city to the Alcatraz island.
The Golden State Bridge looked amazing from the ship, despite the hazy conditions.
The island and former prison of Alcatraz offered many hours of exploring that day, it took up a good 50-60% of my time in San Fancisco.
It is a fascinating place to visit and a must for any crime & punishment enthusiast, the story about the island in the late 1960s (after the prison was closed) is also worth looking up! As of 2020 three (possibly 6) former Alcatraz prisoners remain alive.
And of course, as its yours truly, a Hard Rock Cafe visit was in order- so I went to the uniquely 1960s themed SFO Hard Rock location on the Bay, by Pier 256.
United Airlines was a pretty good airline based on my experience, offering a decent product on this California shuttle. I would love to fly with them some more to get a better overall opinion of the airline though, I feel like I haven't had the proper best of United!
San Francisco was amazing that day, hopefully a longer visit will crop up in the nearest future setting!